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  #1  
Old 11-13-2019, 09:44 PM
Tommiep54 Tommiep54 is online now
 
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Default Ammo for my SMLE .303

Hello,

Next week I'm taking out my 1916 SMLE No. 1 mk III* to the range with a few friends. Awhile back I had some rounds keyhole and different box of ammo shot pretty well. I have only shot this rifle a couple of times. This is before I found out about different sized bullets being used by different ammo companies. Also, I believe I read that some of the barrels were of slightly varying size as well. I also remember reading something about boat tail rounds but don't remember if they shot well or terribly in these. Can anyone give me some ideas on options? Open to all advice as I just don't want people that have never shot one of these to be disappointed. For starters I was just going to bring a variety of brands of .303 ammo I already have and if one box shoots poorly switch to a different one. I do not own any .303 military surplus right now, just commercial ammo.

Thank you,

Tom
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  #2  
Old 11-14-2019, 06:28 AM
rcolarco rcolarco is offline
 
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Every one of these rifles is an individual. What shoots well in one may shoot miserably in the next. There is no one ammunition that is a guaranteed performer in every rifle. Military ammunition seemed to shoot well (because it must), but military ammunition is now scarce.

Bore dimensions are all over the place in these rifles, which wreaks havoc on accuracy. Generally, a bullet which fits the bore tightly will give good accuracy. (None of these rifles show great accuracy, but 2-3 MOA is achievable.) I have had good luck handloading Hornady 0.312" bullets.

Boat tail has no effect on accuracy in and of itself. British boat tailed bullets were in play for a long time, and seemed to satisfy the troops.

There are a couple of ways to attack the problem. The first is to try different ammunition. When you find something you like, buy a lot of it. Since no one has made a rifle in .303 for a long time, the demand for ammunition, and hence the supply and variety of ammunition, will gradually decrease.

Before I shot any new ammunition, I would measure bullet diameter just at the neck. If it measures much less than 0.312", I would not hope for much accuracy.

The other way is to make ammunition. Reload using a variety of bullets. When you find something that works, stick to it and resist the urge to experiment. Cast bullets are favored by some. You can make your own cast bullets, or buy them. Control diameters, 0.312" or a bit larger.
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  #3  
Old 11-14-2019, 07:57 AM
Tommiep54 Tommiep54 is online now
 
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Great information there, thank you, I will take your advice. Haven't gotten in to hand loading yet but plan on it soon once I do some more research so I know what I'm buying.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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  #4  
Old 11-14-2019, 08:11 AM
navyrifleman navyrifleman is online now
 
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I agree with reloading ammunition for these older rifles using cast lead bullets. Save your brass.

Commercial ammo should be Boxer Primed - that is there will be one primer hole seen from inside the case, vice two (Berdan Primed). It is the Boxer type primers that are easiest to use in reloading.

Many who reload suggest "slugging" your barrel buy driving a soft lead bullet down the bore using a rod and mallet. Then measure that slug with a micrometer to see what the actual bore size is.

A number of companies; Lee, Lyman, and RCBS (to name a few) make bullet molds in many different calibers and weights. Do some research in advance to see what is available in the size of your bore.

A lead bullet cast to any given measurement can be "sized" down to a slightly smaller diameter. For instance, I cast a bullet measuring .311 out of the mold, and then run it through a Lee sizer to make it .309 for use in my 30-06.

While there is a range of actual bore sizes between rifles, generally two other rifles in the same stated caliber as the .303 British are the Russian 7.62 mm Mosin Nagant and the Japanese 7.7mm Arisaka.

Lyman publishes a very good "Cast Bullet Handbook" which discusses the subject in depth. Load recipes for cast bullets generally produce less pressure than load recipes for jacketed bullets, and hence less recoil.

The Cast Bullet Association (CBA) publishes good articles on the subject and many of its members compete in matches using historical military rifles like yours.
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:16 AM
ceresco ceresco is online now
 
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I would not shoot .303 military ammo. Most of it was cordite and corrosive. It was very hard on barrels as evidenced by the often poor condition of SMLE bores. Best ammo IMO, is .311-.312" bullets handloaded with moderate charges of the usual powders...IMR 3031 is fine. The 123-125gr bullets sold for the 7.62x39mm are preferred for usual 100-200yd shooting. Winchester makes a .311" 125gr soft point that has been excellent. Hornaday makes a 174gr boat tail. I see no advantage in the heavier bullet and possible problems with the reduced bearing surface in worn bores. If you are limited to commercial ammo, you will just need to experiment (at considerable expense). Period literature indicates that the Mk 3 rifles were capable of good accuracy when barrel condition was good and the stocks fitted properly. Many of these rifles have terrible bores and will not perform. SARCO has replacement barrels. Good Shooting. ... Addendum: cast bullets are an option, but involve a lot more than simply using jacketed bullets. Additionally, rough bores will not work at all with lead bullets. Might mention that my first centerfire rifle was a $16 Mk1#4. I still have it, tried many versions of cast and jacketed handloads over the years and it will still shoot just over one moa in it's current Weaver scoped 19" barrel sporterized version.

Last edited by ceresco; 11-14-2019 at 08:28 AM.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2019, 08:19 AM
mac1911 mac1911 is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceresco View Post
I would not shoot .303 military ammo. Most of it was cordite and corrosive. It was very hard on barrels as evidenced by the often poor condition of SMLE bores. Best ammo IMO, is .311-.312" bullets handloaded with moderate charges of the usual powders...IMR 3031 is fine. The 123-125gr bullets sold for the 7.62x39mm are preferred for usual 100-200yd shooting. Winchester makes a .311" 125gr soft point that has been excellent. Hornaday makes a 174gr boat tail. I see no advantage in the heavier bullet and possible problems with the reduced bearing surface in worn bores. If you are limited to commercial ammo, you will just need to experiment (at considerable expense). Period literature indicates that the Mk 3 rifles were capable of good accuracy when barrel condition was good and the stocks fitted properly. Many of these rifles have terrible bores and will not perform. SARCO has replacement barrels. Good Shooting. ... Addendum: cast bullets are an option, but involve a lot more than simply using jacketed bullets. Additionally, rough bores will not work at all with lead bullets. Might mention that my first centerfire rifle was a $16 Mk1#4. I still have it, tried many versions of cast and jacketed handloads over the years and it will still shoot just over one moa in it's current Weaver scoped 19" barrel sporterized version.
Lead casr bullets work well with worn or rough bores.
i have improved accuracy on my mosin/Enfield/type 99 and k98.
I run a 200 grain lyman at .314" gas checked and lubed with Lee tumble lube. Velocity are low 1500-1800 fps. In the mosin/enfield/K98
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  #7  
Old 11-16-2019, 08:24 AM
mac1911 mac1911 is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommiep54 View Post
Hello,

Next week I'm taking out my 1916 SMLE No. 1 mk III* to the range with a few friends. Awhile back I had some rounds keyhole and different box of ammo shot pretty well. I have only shot this rifle a couple of times. This is before I found out about different sized bullets being used by different ammo companies. Also, I believe I read that some of the barrels were of slightly varying size as well. I also remember reading something about boat tail rounds but don't remember if they shot well or terribly in these. Can anyone give me some ideas on options? Open to all advice as I just don't want people that have never shot one of these to be disappointed. For starters I was just going to bring a variety of brands of .303 ammo I already have and if one box shoots poorly switch to a different one. I do not own any .303 military surplus right now, just commercial ammo.

Thank you,

Tom
i have a No4 Mk2 bore sluged at .313" i run a . 314" cast bullet I can muster up 250/300 cmp games match.
When I shoot factory ammo only 2 get decent results.
Greek HXP 303 and PPU 150 gn soft point.
If I can find .312" bullets i have had good results with slightly lower veloxity loads with the lighter bullets.
I dont see .312" jacket bullets for much less than . 30 cents each these days so i rather buy the PPU.

https://www.targetsportsusa.com/prvi...p38-p-105.aspx

Only thing I noticed with new production 303 is there is no bevel on the case rim. You might get a little rim lock. My rifle does not lock up but S&B ammo definately is a bit grabby on the rims.

Another thing also is some cases the rims are thinner.
Winchester and remington are two. I also had a box of factory remington that had .308 bullets?

Last edited by mac1911; 11-16-2019 at 08:32 AM.
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  #8  
Old 11-16-2019, 11:06 AM
DougS DougS is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Michigan
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Awhile back, Wideners sold 7.62x54 pulled bullets that if available elsewhere might meet your reloading needs instead of cast. I had purchased some for reloading the 7.7mm Japanese.

Another Option:
https://americanreloading.com/en/331-303-british-311

Last edited by DougS; 11-16-2019 at 11:08 AM.
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  #9  
Old 11-16-2019, 12:23 PM
Kansasbobcat Kansasbobcat is offline
 
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The best surplus ammo I have found in .303 is HXP 69. Boxer primed and noncorrosive.
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  #10  
Old 11-18-2019, 08:20 AM
heckinohio heckinohio is online now
 
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Default .303 surplus

I have many rnds of 1964 from Vickers belts. If you want a few, lemme know.

PJH
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