.303 Ammo for Bren - Specially Issued?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by Jaeger, Aug 1, 2010.

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  1. Can somebody out there please settle an arguement I'm currently engaged in on another forum. It has been alleged that when in service, the .303 Bren was normally issued with a different type of .303 ammunition to the stuff issued for use in the Lee Enfields used by the rest of the section. Now this sounds like utter hoop to me and although I'm strictly an SLR/GPMG man by age and experience I'm pretty f**king sure this is a non-starter as I have never heard of such a thing before, despite being a bit of an Army nut since I was about 8. It goes against all common sense for a starter and would clearly present all sorts of logistical problems for eveyone from the "BOWOW" down to the section 2i/c. My opponent is adamant that:

    "A standard round contains granular powder as the propellant and is not filled to capacity. The round for a Bren contained 'sticks' of cordite and is packed tightly. The annular ring colour code is different.

    Specialist rounds are not "found out" in QC, they are manufactured deliberately as specialist rounds."

    (NB. This point refers to my assertion that in my day (L42!) both 7.62 Sniper and competition ammo were taken from batches identified as above-average when tested at the relevant ROF (Radway Green) and marked as "Green Spot". I'm sure I remember this from one of my very earliest SAA lectures many many moons ago?)

    "As for "mixing up" ammo types, it happened to me once. A single round designated Bren was inserted into a magazine by someone else, four rounds standard, one round bren. I got a broken collar bone (chipped), he got charged with negligence.
    One of the reasons why machine gunners and riflemen didn't/don't load magazines together."

    Now as an Infanteer of no small experience this sounds to me like total balls, but you have to admit, he's got conviction!

    Any thoughts? I should add that this guy is not speaking from a British Army perspective.
  2. no, the BREN used the same ammo as the Lee-Enfield.

    he is getting confused with belted ammo for the VICKERS MG, which used a 'hot' load called the MKVIII and MKVIIIz and had the diff propellant and primer paint.

    wiki is your friend................

    Vickers machine gun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    .303 British - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    quote > In 1938 the Mark 8 (Mark VIII and Mark VIIIz) round was approved to obtain greater range from the Vickers machine gun.[10] Slightly heavier than Mk 7 ammunition at 175 grains (11.3 g), the primary difference was the addition of a boat-tail and more propellant (41 grains of nitrocelluose powder in the case of the Mk VIIIz), giving a muzzle velocity of 2,525–2,900 ft/s (780–884 m/s). As a result, the chamber pressure was significantly higher, at 42,000–60,000 lbf/sq&#8201;in (approximately 280–414 MPa), depending upon loading, compared to the 39,000 lbf/sq&#8201;in of the Mark VII round.[11] Cross-sectional images of Mk 8 ammunition indicate that its boat-tail bullet was long and gently tapered, providing a very high ballistic coefficient. Mk 8 ammunition was described as being for "All suitably-sighted .303-inch small arms and machine guns" but caused significant bore erosion in weapons formerly using Mk VII cordite, ascribed to the channelling effect of the boat-tail projectile. As a result it was prohibited from general use with rifles and light machine guns, except in an emergency where no other ammunition was available.[12] As a somewhat natural reaction to this official prohibition, ordnance personnel reported that every man that could get his hands on Mk 8 ammunition promptly used it in his own rifle. <unquote

    "As for "mixing up" ammo types, it happened to me once. A single round designated Bren was inserted into a magazine by someone else, four rounds standard, one round bren. I got a broken collar bone (chipped), he got charged with negligence.
    One of the reasons why machine gunners and riflemen didn't/don't load magazines together."

    this is compleate BS, sounds like this bloke your in argument with has never been in or fired any .303 weapon and is full of it.

    call his bluff and him a cnut.
  3. There was a Mk8z round which was designed for the Vickers MG IIRC, it had a heavier bullet for the different twist barrel. Rifles used the Mk7z round I believe. Perhaps this is what they mean?
  4. Beaten to it, but as I thought
  5. Also, the 0.303" ammunition used in the RAF's fighters was subject to special quality control measures to minimise the risk of stappages. Or so I think I remember reading many years ago.
  6. Years back I bought 500 Privi Partizan .303 8z, in 250 round boxes, belted up in Browning disintegrating link. I shot it out of a Savage built No.4 - two groove barrel - and it shot like a dream. No ill effects whatsoever.

    I seem to recall that the Yugos received umpteen hundred air-type Brownings, either dropped to them or recovered from wrecks and I suppose they still had a lot in service.

    I still have half a dozen belted for my collection; the head-stamp is "&#1055;&#1087;&#1091;-81 .303 Mk 8z" - mixed script, I know, but that's the way it is.
  7. The assertion is partly true although it relates to blank rather than ball ammuntion. The Bren when fitted with a blank-firing 'Masher Barrel' used 'Bulleted Blank'. That is to say, instead of .303 Blank with a crimped end, the blank ammuntion used on the Bren had, in place of the copper and lead-filled head, an identically shaped head made of soft wood and dyed dark blue in colour. The base of the 'bulleted blank had a blue annular ring at its base. When fired, it behaved in exactly the same way as a conventional round with the gas projecting the woooden head up the barrel escaping through the gas regular to operate the piston, while the wooden head collided with and was shredded against the head of the 'Masher Barrel', with the wooden shards creating a not inconsiderable danger area in front of the weapon. It was often the case that an unfortunate caught in the danger area had to have the wooden splinters removed from his rear end. Clearly, the bulleted blank had to be issued separately from conventional blank ammunition since to fire bulleted blank from a .303 No 4 Rifle on an exercise usually had lethal consequences at close range. I therefore submit that it is this 'blank firing' characteristic of the Bren that has caused the confusion.
  8. I once met a bloke who'd fired one (1) Mk. VIIIz round through an SMLE without realising what it was. The only things that saved him from injury were firing from standing unsupported, and using a clapped-out rifle with a very worn bore. The range officer confiscated the rest of the ammo, and told him what to look out for next time. On looking down the barrel, he said 'You no longer have a rifle, you now have a gun!'

    ISTR reading that Mk.VIIIz had a phenomenal effective range, measured in multiples of 1,000 yds; anyone know?
  9. mate, i'v fired LOTs of MK8 and MK8z through Lee-Enfields, SMLE's and No4's, with no hassles at all, the action is well up to taking it and its only a little more FPS, and that means only a tad more recoil, and you honestly cant tell the diff between the two.
    the surplus ammo was widely available in cloth belts at around 40-60 cents a shot back in NZ in the late 70's early 80's, at the shop we used to sell it by the yard. get it home, file away the point till about a milimeter of lead is exposed to make it a soft point and 'cheap and nasty hunting ammos' your dead goat/boar/deer. was practically issue for the gov pest destruction boards.
    I have never heard or read about any substantiated account of MK8 or MK8z blowing-up a lee-enfield.
    all these 'chipped shoulder' and 'saving him from injury by being unsupported' claims are crap. no joke. theres not that much more extra grunt behind it to get the effects people are claiming.
    the reason it had longer effective range was because the projectile (bullet) was a boat-tail, longer, heavier with a fantastic ballistic coefficient compered to the normal MK7 rd.
  10. OK, fair enough then; I wouldn't know one way or the other.
  11. MkVIIIz ammo is identical in every way to MkVIIz, with the exception that it has a boat-tailed bullet instead of a flat base. Both in turn are virtually identical in terms of velocity, pressure, etc to MkVII cordite.

    (The MkVIIIz is basically the final iteration of "303 magnum" long-range target match ammo development that took place at Bisley between 1919 and 1938. Kynoch developed a series of "streamlined" bullet designs, which became the future boat-tail, and various powders and cases - including rimless and semi-rimmed - were trialled by a team of contributing experts. It was eventually found that the original .303 case was perfectly adequate for the powder load developed, so the final issues of Bisley special target ammo were in standard .303 format. The military had been following the match ammo development, so the final product was more or less adopted as the new MkVIIIz long-range MG ammo.)

    Boat-tailed bullets often do not stabilise properly in weapons that have been part-worn by cordite, which is why many rifles have problems firing modern commercial ammo, and why official instruction limited certain weapons to one type of ammo - ie to ensure the reliability of overhead MG fire, or the accuracy of aimed rifle fire, for instance.

    The strength of Lee Enfields rear-locking actions have always been the subject of huge myth, mostly originating from US where Mauser-type actions have always found favour. In fact the Lee Enfield action, when used with its intended rimmed ammunition, is actually far stronger than a Mauser action using rimless ammunition. In tests, No1 rifles were shown to be able to withstand 30 ton proof loads without harm (service load is usually 8-10 tons), whereas all the test Mauser actions (G98, Springfield, M17) failed well before this.
  12. Further on the subject of .303 ammo..................does anyone know of anybody with .303 surplus ammo for sale? As opposed to the new Privy stuff at damn near £50/100?
  13. Wish I did
  14. 11/10 and you get a complementary ATO badge :)

    The blue wooden bullet was inded a dangerous piece of kit and the Half Yearly Summary of Ammunition Incidents used to be full of such stuff - and people firing Training ENERGA greandes at each other ("It only has a powder filled marker on the end so I didn't think it would hurt Sarge").
  15. You're not wrong there! ISTR that one of the funniest things I remember from my service was a summary of "Ammunition Incidents" during training at BATUS in the 80's, F**k me! You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh!