.303 case length

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by Blogg, Nov 9, 2010.

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  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.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  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.
  4. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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. 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.
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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!
  7. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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.
  8. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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. 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. 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.
  13. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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

  14. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    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. 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.