Spirit of the Original versus...erm... not

This one should throw the cat amongst the pigeons...

I used to be a strong advocate of Spirit of the Original, with Full Service Loads and all of that. As all good, right-thinking people were.

However, I have changed my tune significantly in the last few years, for several reasons:

1. Cost of components -- this has gone through the roof in the last few years, and availability (particularly of 311-diameter bullets) can be patchy. 70 pounds for a kilo of powder that will load around 300 rounds? You're having a laugh. Add onto that over 10 pounds per hundred for S&B or Privi FMJ's, or almost 30 pounds per hundred for something decent like Sierra match kings, 25-30 pounds per thousand for primers and you already looking at pushing 40 pence a round for blatting ammo, or over 50 pence per round for match.

2. Cost of replacement barrels/new rifles -- again, through the roof. Arm-and-a-leg Sarony will do you a new barrel for a number 4 for about 350 pounds! So not wanting to wear out a barrel with full house loads is certainly a valid argument.

3. My personal circumstances -- I have weekly access to a 100 m range and almost never have access to longer.

4. Cast bullet accuracy -- is actually not an awful lot better out of old military rifles than FMJ, yet costs an absolute fraction of what FMJ costs.

So, I now have no complaints whatsoever about people shooting cast bullets, even ones tailored to different distances -- they are really only protecting their barrels and their shoulders without any competitive advantage (let's not forget that slow, cast loads get blown around far more than 180gn MK's @ 2400fps).

I know some of you have strong opinions on this, so flame on!
That's the spirit!

But then, last week I went down the range and blitzed through 78 rounds of 303, and it cost me less than a fiver... and I was spared a trip to the physiotherapist to recover!

There's something special about spending an evening emptying an ice cream tub full of 303 and it not costing a whole lot more than the ice cream did!


I did deliberately provoke an argument on the HBSA forum over this issue, should you decide to tailor a load to a particular distance then under the spirit of the original you should declare this and withdraw from the prize lists, after all its only fair isnt it?
I expect incoming for this comment, but I feel that "spirit of the original" has had its day with regards to ammunition.

Back in the day when there was plenty of surplus ammunition of reasonable quality and good value, and plenty of rifles under 350 pounds, it made a lot of sense. When ammunition was around 25 pounds per hundred there really wasn't any point in reloading.

Nowadays I feel the more weight should be put on the idea of preserving many of these old rifles in shooting condition, and keeping them shooting.

Since I don't think that there is really any competitive advantage shooting the slower, cast bullets (what you make up for in reduced recoil you lose again in increased barrel time and wind sensitivity), I don't think they should be excluded.

Rifle setup, slings, and ancillaries should of course be kept "spirit of the original", but I think it is now time to relax the requirements on the ammunition.

Ed Harris, THE cast bullet daddy, for instance, reckons that his 200 yard load (13 grains of red dot pushing a 150/160 grain bullet in a full-size military case) has the same wind sensitivity in terms of minutes of angle at 200 yards as a service load does at 600 yards.


Not incoming but should you enter a match which stipulates this and then use non service ammo it should be declared. If no one anymore uses service ammo then it wont be an issue, I certainly attempt to load to service levels with handloads but I also have a good stock of service ammo and currently Privi Partisan is a lot better than Indep at quality, shocking I know. The price is important but if its too high then I'd be surprised if the rules werent ammended. You also have to shoot a whole lot of ammo to burn out a barrel with FMJ. All of my classic service rifles had reasonable bores despite my shooting them a hell of a lot when the NRA wasnt so **** about everything!
Sure, if that's the match conditions, then of course you should be allowed to shoot with cast but not be eligible for prizes. No argument there.

However I think that the stipulation for service ammunition should be dropped...

Another aspect to it: I would wager that there are plenty of Long Lees kicking around the place that won't shoot for toffee with anything jacketed, but would shoot as God intended with a cast pill correctly sized to the throat. I wonder if the relaxation in the ammunition rules would get these old ponies back out on the field again?


Most shooters here dont get checked on ammo, LERA used to issue match ammo but HBSA runs on trust! Now the NRA have calmed down over handloads (I suspect that they realised they could make money from it) its almost impossible without a chrono to prove. I seem to recall in entry forms that you are/were expected to meet certain criteria nd be willing to have ammo tetsed if necessary but it was more for maximum than minimum.
I am surprised/unsurprised (*delete as appropriate) about the NRA's bloody-minded insistence on keeping issued ammunition for most TR, especially now as they have decided to drop RG because it is crap.

Simple solution: allow hand-loads, reduce the diameter of the scoring zones, and crack on. But that's too revolutionary, even though the Canadians have already done it...

But anyway, this is about historic -- I'm again surprised/unsurprised that the NRA in all their infinite wisdom and experience had a hissy fit over hand-loads (do tell more, dear ugly, for I had not heard about this!)


The old Bisley Bible used to stipulate no handloads, all matches shot at Trafalger and HBSA LERAS open meetings were shot under HBSA rules in which handloads werent specifically banned but the Bisley Bible was supposed to be overriding when safety was the issue. Now that sadi it could be poited out that the NRA blanket ban of handloading in the 70's/80's was actually unsafe as many (especially pistol) shooters hand loaded and carried on regardless. It was the ban which definetly put back handloading 10 years although us classic shooters definetly carried loading as you couldnt get quite a few cartridges newly made when I started classics in the 80's. .303 was hens teeth, Any Mauser FMJ of any calibre was pricey and French and Swiss 7.5 just not imported as surplus. The Surplus French 7.5 was rubbish (stoarge was poor) and the Indep loads were underpowered with heavier bullts needing 400m on the sight to hit at 100 yds.
Thankfully those days are over!
stoatman said:
Simple solution: allow hand-loads, reduce the diameter of the scoring zones, and watch as people desert TR in droves as they have neither the time nor inclination to handload but know they're at a huge disadvantage by using issued ammo.
Probably not a bad thing to see TR cut back in favour of CSR but anyway...

At the moment, it's virtually impossible to dislodge any of the big names in TR from the top of the prize lists. If you permit handloads in the big meetings, you're giving the elite few a big advantage by allowing them to develop loads specifically tailored to their barrels. Joe Bloggs, who toddles along to the Imperial with his converted No.4, might get lucky and make it onto a list using the RG shite. If he's up against handloads, he doesn't stand a chance of even that.

The NRA are bloody irritating at the best of times, but in this instance I think they've got it spot on. For the majority of TR shooters (especially the younger ones - think of the sport's future!) we just don't have the time, money or knowledge to start loading our own.


Perhaps handloading would help, a good crack at handloading can get the most from your rifle and the top guys have as little time as the students in that respect! If you are allowing handloads then you need to stipulate certain limits or you end up with Free rifle.
But people are already running away from target rifle in droves because it is just too damn expensive and you really need to spend 2000 pounds on a rifle to remain competitive. Been there, didn't want to spend the money. And with the new RWS ammunition it's about to get a whole lot more expensive.

The fact that 60-year-old Joe Plonker still occasionally makes a possible with a crappy old P 14 just helps to prove that target rifle is the Special f*cking Olympics of the shooting world. The top shooter in the world should make a possible once or twice in his life. Nobody else. Frankly, I got bored and hacked off during the 1999 season when I would put in a crap shoot and still come away with a possible. The targetry just is not punishing enough, and until people get their heads around this Special Olympics attitude, the discipline will never get any serious international recognition.

The current targetry is perfect for shooting clunking old military rifles on though!, with a great shoot being in the high 40s.
The gnats fart smokeless loads have got my Metford shooting round holes so I'm well chuffed (thanks Stoaty). I underload almost all my blackpowder cartridges simply to save powder (and shoulder). Next on the list are 7.5 French and 7.5 Swiss. Might give 8mm Lebel a crack too.
Oh, and another thing (although this is delving deeper into the off topic line here...):

There are actually 5 calibres (IIRC) permitted for target rifle (well, 3 arguably...): 7.62 x 51; .308 Win; .303; 5.56 x 45; .223 Remington.

Nobody shoots 5.56/223 because the issued ammunition, when available, is L2A2 ball which is gash.

If you permit hand loading at the big meetings/matches, suddenly 223 Remington becomes competitive and cheaper than 7.62 x 51. Even if you can't be arrsed to hand-load it, there is some perfectly creditable HPBT match ammunition available, e.g. the 75 grain Prvi stuff. And I can currently buy that for EUR45/100.

Believe it or not, loaded with an 81/82 grain match king or equivalent, 223 Remington is actually a 1000 yard cartridge on all but the windiest of days.


I do believe that, a mate of mine, a very creditable match rifleman uses his .223 with VLDs and does well at some challenging ranges.
As for 7.5 French soft loads, a certain poster in the Milsurp after hours forum has some great loads for it. I followed Barnes and De Haas and replicated milspec with .30 146 gn fmjs over 48 grains of IMR 4895, shot to correct sight settings and was very good fun, I have resurrected it as an intermediate sporting load as a wildcat necked out 6.5 swede!
Surely the original GIAT bullets are still available for 7.5 French, since the Vectan load tables list it?

Croque-Monsieur has ordered some of the copperplated H&N stuff in 308 diameter for light yet supersonic loads, and I'll be interested to see if they perform better than cast. They do, of course, cost almost exactly 10 times more than a plain base cast bullet...
I have no problem with reduced loads, in my Garand and Springfield I use the lowest power loads compatible with decent accuracy. I have not as yet tried cast bullets in either of them, but it is something that I am considering. Of course it would be nice to go down the Swiss road, they supply 5.56 at subsidised rates that are so cheap that reloading that calibre is a non starter. Even their 7.5 is cheap in Switzerland, funny old thing as soon as it crosses the border the price goes ballistic.

Sorry about that, I will crawl back into my hole and continue to dream.


stoatman said:
Surely the original GIAT bullets are still available for 7.5 French, since the Vectan load tables list it?

Not sure but I found using the 146 gn fmjbt ok, basically Nato mg fodder although I did reload 20 original cases with new berdan primers, pulled ball both silver and copper coloured and used the IMR 4895 as a powder and found no difference between that and my .308 bulleted handloads.



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