.303 case length

#1
Right, need one of those really tedious arguments settled.

Mr X claims that since the specified maximum length for the case is 2.222 inches, that is the length they should properly be trimmed to as that gives the maximum amount of support for the bullet

Mr Y cries rubbish and states that obviously they must be done to the "trim to" length in his reloading manuals, given as 2.212 inches, or the sky will fall in.

Both claim that my radical suggestion of being happy with anything that falls somewhere along that vast 0.01 inch range (because variable chamber dimensions render it all pointless) is foolishness.

So, .303 reloaders, what do ye trim to?
 
#2
Can't remember the exact figure, but it is at least about 0.5 mm, if not more, under the maximum trim-to length so that I don't have to trim them every time, since they grow like bamboo.

Fundamentally, provided the cartridge length is not dangerously long (something which is probably impossible in a well-worn Enfield), so long as they're all the same it won't make the blindest bit of difference.

As for the theories of your mates:

Mate 1: bullet support? You could probably halve the neck length and still have adequate support. Does your mate realise quite how far the bullet has to go before it hits metal, even in a "new" barrel, when loaded to magazine length? Miles. In many cases, and particularly in well-worn barrels with boattail bullets, I would wager that the rear shoulder of the bullet has left the case before the ogive has contacted the rifling.

Mate 2: really, so long as they are within safe bounds and all the same it doesn't matter. If he religiously wants to stick to a particular length he will have to trim every time he reloads each case.

What I tend to do is trim them in batches a little short, and then if I find a couple going over the maximum length I re-trim the whole batch, which is a pretty easy task with a press-mounted motorised case trimmer... but does end up full-length sizing.
 
#3
Stoaty have you tried RCBS X dies? They allegedly prevent case "growth" when properly set up. Another method is to check the headspace with the appropriate tool and resize the case to 2 thou under that value, works well in bolt action rifles, but in semi autos needs to be about 5 thou under.

As for 303 case length, I always go by the value given in the reloading manuals and trimm a shade shorter.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#4
I dont trim my .303, if it gets to that point I sell the brass as I have so much. 2,22 inches always rang a bell. I bought a case trimmer, a nice Lyman one but its the least used bit of reloading equipment I have in the last 20 years!
 
#5
Stoaty have you tried RCBS X dies? They allegedly prevent case "growth" when properly set up. Another method is to check the headspace with the appropriate tool and resize the case to 2 thou under that value, works well in bolt action rifles, but in semi autos needs to be about 5 thou under.

As for 303 case length, I always go by the value given in the reloading manuals and trimm a shade shorter.
If I'm only using the ammunition for slow fire, I typically neck size with a Lee collet die, which does not stretch the cases. If I'm using it for rapid, I full-length size because it needs to chamber without resistance, and that's when they grow.

There is also a nifty trick with standard dies which minimises growth, but is a bit more involved:

1. Remove the expander ball, and size normally.
2. Replace expander ball, set die significantly shallow.
3. Run the cases through the die again.

What this does is prevents the expander ball from pulling material towards the case mouth when it reopens the neck. There also exists the possibility (although I've never tested it) that doing this could potentially buckle the brass slightly in the case of insufficient lubrication, or reduce the concentricity of the necks (maybe? Would it make any difference?)

Also, note that 303 head spaces on the rim, not the shoulder.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
I used to seperate the brass from each of my .303s and then neck size, as I have only the one now I shall order a full length x die!
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#7
Is that because you can buy .303 easily and cheaply aand you handload each case 2 million times otherwise?

yes I am hinting at your possibly scottish ancestry.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#8
Joking aside, its a pity that there isnt a way of reaming the chambers to a uniform such as the Nordics did with the 6.5 Skan.
 
#9
With some chambers I could only get two loads from each case because of the chambers. Just ain't worth it when it is cheap.

Regarding my ancestory, the sir names in my family are Abernathy, Hall, Hudson, Iles, Tucker, etc. You tell me my ancestory as I really never cared enough to look into it because it matters not what they were, but who I am.

My wife is a quarter Cherokee and half German. Though she and our kids can register with the Cherokee Nation, that doesn't make them any more native American or German than I am Scot.
Are there any perks with being registered with one of the native Indian groups? Can you avoid tax or something, or have any other concessions? Just curious.
 
#10
Thanks for the replies, which pretty much confirm that I am not alone in thinking these two should get a life.

I get about 4 or 5 reloads on average with my No.4 which is fine but only 1 or 2 (at best 3) from my SMLE's which is also fine since I have boxes full of HXP & Privi brass and no longer put lots of rounds through them anyway.

I think people miss the point that the .303 started off as a round that could be chambered under adverse conditions, particularly given that black powder fouling had to be considered in the early days. Nobody ever gave a rats about case stretch so long as within safety limts because of the expected one time use of brass.

So I find it slightly amusing but a bit sad that these two punters are crapping on endlessly over something that will make no material difference in their worn rifles. Still, keeps them off the streets I suppose.
 
#11
It does make a difference. A material difference. That's why the disagreement. Chambers designed "loose" for battlefield conditions just ain't that great for sporting rifles. Note the SMLE's contemporaries, the Pattern 1914/M1917 properly cared for in their lives do not have that problem nor due the Mausers in their various military guises including the U.S. M1903.
Major difference: the M 17, 1903, Mauser etc all shoot rimless cartridges, which by definition have to have tighter chambers which will have given up working while the old SMLE will just keep on chuntering away quite happily when full of kak

By the way, it has been fondling a G41(M), FG42 2nd model, Stg 44 , M 1941 Johnson rifle and machine gun, amongst other yummies.
 
#12
There were plenty of battlefield complaints of Mauser rifles overheating and giving up, or getting filthy and giving up. Luckily to the Germans they had no doctrine of rapid rifle fire like the British had.

And in sporting use one is not likely to encounter the mud and requirement for rapidfire that one was likely to in the First World War.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#13
I'd like to read those accounts, as I've never run across those complaints regarding failure/stoppages due to the chambers. Though I have read often that in sporting use, especially against dangerous game, of the absolute necessity of control round feeding ala Mauser.
May I suggest a quick look for this book, I know its not cheap but Dr Stortz was awareded the HBSA Presidents medal for his research work, I feel a copy coming my way very soon


This book is outstanding, weighs six pounds and 464 pages with fantastic illustrations. If this book does not answer questions about the G98 rifle, I do not know what will. If one is serious about or just curious about Mauser rifles, this book is a must.
"Rifle & Carbine 98" "M98 Firearms of the German Army 1898 to 1918" by Dieter Storz, copyright 2006, Verlag Militaria, Vienna, Austria, ISBN 3-902526-05-X (English edition).
Book Description: ENGLISH TEXT. FROM MILITARIA VERLAG IN AUSTRIA. 2006, hard bound in dust jacket, 10 x 12, glossy page stock, 464 pages, approx. 850 photographs and illustrations. In 1898 the German army introduced a new rifle that was to influence not only the armament of the German armed forces until the mid 20th century, but also that of many other countries. This book deals in detail with the history of M 98 rifles and carbines in Germany between 1898 and 1918. The book relies above all on the collections of the major military historical museums in Germany such as the Bayerisches Armeemuseum in Ingolstadt, the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung in Koblenz and the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr in Dresden. The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin and the Royal Army Museum in Brussels also made their stocks available for this book. After years of research work in the archives in Munich, Dresden, Stuttgart and Suhl, new data, facts and contexts can now be presented to the public.Hitherto unknown experimental rifles originating from the Prussian Rifle Inspection Commission allow the path to be reconstructed leading to the new weapon. Exotic models and special patterns such as rifles with telescopic sights, accessories, ammunition, bayonets and many other things belonging to the rifle are presented in detail in the illustrations and text. But the book is not confined to describing the artifacts, it also illuminates the historical, military and technological background. The reader learns how troops handled weapons, how rifles and carbines were maintained at the time, how and according to which principles rifle training was carried out in peacetime and during the war and what role the rifle played in combat. The book also treats in detail technical modifications, manufacturing methods, the organization of mass production, state-run and private arms industry, production figures and the problems of arms supply during the First World War.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#14
If you read "A Rifleman Went To War" then you would find that as with many wars it isnt always the rifle but different batches of ammunition that were the source of many of the problems. Soft brass, over and undersized cartridges and bullets, the Canadian arsenals even had problems with Nato ball in the 1970's.
 
#15
I'd like to read those accounts, as I've never run across those complaints regarding failure/stoppages due to the chambers. Though I have read often that in sporting use, especially against dangerous game, of the absolute necessity of control round feeding ala Mauser.
The Lee bolt action had control-round feeding at least a decade before any of Mister Mauser's designs.

Don't believe me? Fill a magazine, and then empty it by simply working the bolt linearly backwards and forwards without locking it.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#16
Thats the problem, internet myths grow from 100 year old sales pitches. I have used front and rear locking bolts for shooting live game and they all have plus and minus points, they also all share similar defects.
 
#17
A lot of the mythos surrounding the Mauser comes from the fact that they had a very, very good marketing department, and many of the same myths are floating around today. HK seemed also to have inherited their marketing genius for marketing things that are either substandard, overengineered, over-expensive, or any combination of the 3.

As for the majority of the Mauser rifles for military use, they really are rather average.

Oh, but apparently the Mauser has to be superior because you can make exceptionally fine sporting rifles from them. Great. You're not buying a sporting rifle; you're buying a military rifle.

And apparently the Mauser has to be better because it is front locking and therefore (theoretically) stronger, and can handle larger cartridges as a result. Great. Again, you're not buying a big-game rifle; you're buying a military rifle in which you're not firing African game cartridges, and anything to reduce bolt throw and overheating of the locking system is definitely an advantage (which re-locking achieves).

And, of course, cocking on opening, which allows a heavier firing pin spring and thus a fractionally reduced lock time. Again, you're not buying a match rifle or a sporting rifle. Cocking on closing makes working the bolt significantly easier and faster, since you don't have to work against the firing pin spring while extracting a hot, sticky empty case from a hot, dirty rifle.

These things are still floating around 100 years on when people should know better.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#18
If they were brilliant BATF wouldnt have banned further import of Mausers with a Thumb notch in the receiver!
That said the 1950's FN Mausers made lovely sporting rifles but again they all suffer the same issues, ejection when shooting down hill etc. I know for a fact that the Lee Enfield action can be fitted to a single piece stock so that removes those issues for sporting use!
 
#19
I know for a fact that the Lee Enfield action can be fitted to a single piece stock so that removes those issues for sporting use!
Aah, the good old Whittaker Special.

Does anyone make that kind of stock any more, or would it be a custom job?
 
#20
Gas management in the Enfield is fine: you will find that there is a gas escape hole in the receiver ring.

Likewise, strength is fine: I have never heard of a catastrophic failure of an Enfield action. Tests involving overpressure cartridges tend to cause the action to stretch. Badly heat-treated Springfields, on the other hand...

As for the headspace, check it.

You will find that your objections are entirely theoretical
 
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