.303 click....pause....bang!

Discussion in 'RLC' started by Lost-Jock, Apr 16, 2008.

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  1. So,

    Living fat in the land of the free (or is it living free in the land of the fat?) I bought a case of 1200 rnds surplus .303 (because I can).

    About 600 rounds is mid 50's RG and goes off just fine. About 200 rnds are 1948 Pakistan that looks like shit but also goes bang when asked and ends up more or less where it's pointed.

    Of the remaining lot half is 1945 RG and half Canadian and RG 1943 and 1944 with a few '42s.

    The 1945 RG has a distinct pause between firing pin strike and final bang. I have not yet tried any of the earlier stuff.

    I have used it in two rifles with the same results.

    Can anyone tell me the shelf life for cordite?

    Should I

    a) Check my medical insurance for reconstructive surgery coverage

    b) Just have fun seeing if I can change target between pin strike and bang

    c) Listen to the Emperor and take all the little sticks out to make a really loud firework
  2. I remember as a cadet circa 1980( when .303 was our bag) on Dechmont ranges, we had the same problem with a load of Ammo from Pakistan. As a skinny wee brat that you could knock down with a sock full of diahorrea, I was expecting the usual kick in the shoulder. It was disconcerting to say the least when there was a " Flash to Bang time " delay. The whole batch was binned. Don't know if the grown ups got the money back though.
  3. You didn't buy this crap, did you?

  4. Dechmont = luxury lad, luxury. At least you didn't have to do Far Flag at Dreghorn!
  5. I dont remember ever having issues like that but then the last time I shot 303 was over 20 years ago.

    I would personally probably not deliberately use ammo from over half a century ago just to save a couple of quid (or dollars).

    Surely you could get someone to re-load the cases for you with new propellent etc.
  6. It's a real pain in the arse getting cordite out of the cases and the rds will have old berdan primers.

  7. With the amount of cheep ammo around and the distances I shoot nowadays
    I'm not too bothered what I shoot with or where it comes from. I remember my competition days where we were like old wine connoisseurs looking for the good vintages. (1953 and 1957 stick in the mind, can't remember if it was because they good or bad. I do remember some nitro '73 that just went anywhere but where you aimed)
    I just don't want either a) a bolt in my face or b) a round stuck
    halfway down a now bulged barrel.

    I'm leaning towards the impressively loud firework.
  8. See you at the accident investigation :wink:
  9. you could allways deactivate the 45 dated rounds & sell it to reenactors, you'd make a fortune !.
  10. The wartime dated rounds are better sold to a collector as they are.

    I had some 1960 South African 303 that used to have a momentary hang-fire. It was good for getting you into the habit of following through!

    The Pakistani stuff is probably collectible too for the headstamp collectors. I've even got 1948 Israeli 303 in my collection believe it or not!

    I doubt any will fail to go off (or explode violently) but keep a cleaning rod with you for pushing the bullets out of the barrel if you get one that gives a muffled report.

    If you get a misfire, give it a good 45 seconds before you open the bolt and even then make sure the bolt isn't going to hit you if it goes off as you open it.
  11. Current DOSG "scientific" thinking is that the stabiliser in cordite (carbamite jelly) is all used up in around 25 years and that there is a realistic chance of auto ignition at any time after that (or earlier if subject to temperature cycling).

    My own opinion, based on years of firing old ammo is that this is not wholly true, certainly in the case of rifle calibre cordite. I have seen many instances of 40+ year old cordite performing to MoA standards, and as good as the day it was made.

    Cordite is really quite a remarkable propellant, although I suspect that this was more by good luck than judgement. It is extraordinarily flexible, you can use it in 14" Naval guns and .303 SAA. It seems to last forever if it is stored correctly. Just a pity we don't make it any more...!

    There is a problem however if you do not store it correctly, and yes, it will break down if it goes bad. Talk to the old sweat ATs about Able heat testing of propellant...

    In the case of delayed ignition however, I would suspect the cap rather than the propellant. Deterioration of the cap compound can result in a delayed or weak ignition. Also old caps compounds are invariably corrosive and contain mercury and other "Fun" compounds... Make sure you boil out your barrel witin 12 hours if you use this stuff...

    Realistically, if you want to continue to shoot .303, then you need to switch away from using surplus, particualry of this vintage. The Greeks (HXP) were the last to load it for military use, and there are some batches of this around from the 80's - opinions vary as to the quality, however the cases are boxer primed and can be easily reloaded. The Portugese also load .303 - I forget the headstamp, and this is pretty good.

    Ultimately, you need to get into reloading this stuff to be sure of a supply...
  12. HXP is now looking very difficult to find; I shot my last batch over three years ago now, however if you can find some once fired cases they are probably the best "milsurp" (gosh that sounds terribly American!) to reload from.
    The South African stuff from the 70's wasn't too bad, although I did have a batch that was covered in green varnish that shot very high and inconsistently until I broke the seal between bullet and case in a vice (yes I know!) after that it was very good.
    I'm currently shooting Privi Partisan which is avalible from the NRA office, Fulton's and LERA, if you are a member.
    Without a doubt this is the best I have shot to date, without reloading my own of course.
  13. 'Mornin HT!

    I have a load of HXP cases with funny sausage shape striker marks...! (Generated by myself!! - a very memorable day!)

    I am always a bit twitchy about using Privi - not that sure about supporting the Serb arms industry! However beggers can't be choosers I suppose, and they seem to be the only source of 8mm Lebel cases at them moment so I suppose I will just have to hold my nose etc...
  14. I did some tests on a variety of new and old 303 and found the Privi was way down on velocity compared with the standard. !950's RG was still spot on the numbers.

    There's not much choice available at present unless you want to buy at least 10,000 rds.
  15. EX_Stab; what were you using when we "cleaned up" in the historic class the other day?

    On another note I was doing some reloading a couple of years ago when propellant spewed out of one of my HXP cases; thinking I had double charged it I emptied and refilled it, once again it spewed everywhere.
    On shaking the case I could hear movment inside so I cut the case down the middle and found a coiled shard of brass which was enough to stop the correct amount of propellent being filled.
    This explains one of those unexplained flyers you sometimes get!