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.303 British

.303 British

History

 
Over a period of 35 years the British military underwent major technological advances from the musket through to the adoption of the radically innovative bolt action magazine fed rifle. 
 
Britain’s last service musket was the pattern (P) 53 Enfield rifle – musket, this was adopted in 1853 and remained in service as late as 1867.  The P53 was built at the royal arms factory at Enfield, a muzzle loaded rifle firing a .577” 450 grain lead bullet at a velocity of 1300fps. 
 
Within a few years the invention of breach loading weapons posed a serious threat to the British infantry.  In 1864 the British military formed a commission to find a replacement for the P53 resulting in the temporary adoption of the Snider Enfield, the Snider action designed by American Jacob Snider.  The Snider breach loading system enabled existing P53’s to be converted to breach feed (M53/66) while all newly produced breach fed rifles built after 1866 at the Enfield Armory were designated M1866. 
 
Eight years later the M1866 .577”  Snider Enfield was phased out with the adoption of the breach loading Martini-Henry rifle.  Based on a modified Peabody action designed by Friedrich Von Martini of Switzerland along with the exceptional rifling system of Edinburgh gun maker Alexander Henry, the stronger safer Martini Henry was trialed in 1869 going to full service in 1871.  The Martin Henry fired a new cartridge based on  the .577” case  necked down to .45 caliber and was named the .577/450 Martini Henry.  This fired a 480 grain bullet at 1350fps (similar to the .45-70) giving superior accuracy over the original .577”  out to test ranges of 1000 yards.
 
By the mid 1880’s the inventions of smokeless powder, small bore high velocity cartridges and prototype bolt action magazine fed rifles stemmed an arms race.  The lee bolt action rifle was designed by James Paris Lee.  Born in Scotland, Lee moved to Canada with his family at the age of five eventually moving to America to embark on a career as a firearms designer.  While working with Remington, Lee designed and patented his bolt action magazine rifle in 1874. 
 
The Lee rifle was adopted by the US Navy in small numbers but generally received little attention over the next decade.  By 1887 the British were again forming a commission to find a suitable replacement for their breach loading weapons.  The trials of 1887 resulted in Britain’s adoption of the Lee Box magazine fed bolt action rifle.  Minor modifications were made to the action along with a change to a two piece stock, implemented by Enfield engineers. 
 
The .303 British cartridge was designed by a Major Rubini, superintendent of the Swiss government arms laboratory.  The cartridge fired a 215 grain .311” bullet over 70 grains of black powder for a muzzle velocity of 1850fps.  Having not yet developed a suitable replacement for black powder the British adopted a rifling system designed by William Metford.  Metford’s rifling featured seven slightly rounded and shallow grooves to minimize the heavy fouling caused by black powder.  The resulting rifle was adopted in 1888 designated the Lee-Metford Mark I calibre .303.
 
By 1892 the British had developed a Nitro Glycerin based smokeless propellant given the name cordite.  The .303 loading was then increased to fire a 215 grain Cupro-Nickel jacketed round nosed projectile at 2060fps, from 1892, rifles built to fire this load were designated Mark I * .  The new Cordite powder proved to be incredibly corrosive to barrels, eroding the shallow Metford rifling and destroying accuracy.  In 1895, deeper square five groove rifling was successfully designed and introduced by Enfield engineers.    The rifle was re-designated as the Rifle Magazine Lee Enfield Mark I (MLE).  To this end, 1895 marked the historical introduction of the Lee Enfield rifle. 

The Lee Enfield’s earliest foray into battle was during the South African Boer war.  The rifle was issued in two barrel lengths 30.2” for infantry (MLE) and 21.2” for cavalry or LEC (Lee Enfield Carbine).  Unfortunately the longer MLE or Long Tom as it was commonly known was extremely unwieldy while both models gave inferior accuracy at long ranges compared to the 7x57 Mauser used by the Afrikaners as a part of their guerrilla warfare strategy during the second Boer war. The British managed to win this war via attrition and a scorched earth policy, the war ultimately being a tragedy for both sides. Following the second Boer war, the British army immediately sought to improve the Lee-Enfield. 
 
In 1904 the Short, Magazine Lee Enfield Mark I (SMLE Mk I) was introduced with a standard barrel length of 25.2” to be used by all soldiers.  Further minor modifications were also made over the next few years, these resulted in the SMLE Mk II (1906) followed by the Mk III (1907).  The SMLE Mk’s I to III fired a 174 grain pointed bullet at 2440fps, designated the Mk VII loading, this became the standard loading for all Lee-Enfield model rifles.
 
 Despite the modifications made to create the SMLE, it was debated whether there was enough of an improvement over the original MLE design.  This debate lead to the opening of a commission in 1910 to develop a completely new rifle at the Enfield Armory.  The new prototype rifle copied the Mauser action design with locking lugs at the front rather than at the rear (as found on the SMLE) for potentially superior accuracy. 
 
The prototype action was made longer and stronger than the SMLE to accommodate a more powerful cartridge while a one piece stock was created to further increase accuracy. Aperture sights were chosen over the traditional V sights for superior target acquisition.  As a compromise to the fast cock on closing of the SMLE action and the rigidity of the front locking but slower feeding Mauser action, the new rifle achieved half cock on opening with the final full cock on closing.  The rifle fired a new cartridge from a five shot internal magazine, nominated the .276 Enfield. This prototype cartridge fired a 165 grain 7mm bullet at 2785fps, the design based on the Canadian .280 Ross cartridge.
 
The .276 Enfield cartridge case was of a rimless design, alleviating the problem of jamming associated with the rimmed .303 if cartridges were not placed in their magazine correctly.  Designated Pattern 1913 Enfield or simply P13, around 1000 rifles were trialed by British soldiers.  Within a short period time, the .276 cartridge’s high recoil and severe barrel erosion due to heavy loadings of cordite led to an abandonment of the 7mm magnum style round.  The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 halting further experimentation and the P13 was simply modified to fire the .303 cartridge and re-designated as the P14 Enfield.
 
Because the P14 was still in the early stages of production as war broke out, the SMLE was the principle infantry weapon of the British Army.  The two greatest virtues of the SMLE were its slick, fast handling rear locking action and ten shot magazine.  More importantly however was the training of the British soldier.  The military had urged the British war office to purchase a large number of machine guns prior to the war in light of the fact that other European countries had been eager to adopt such designs.  Unfortunately, it was decided that a large number of such weapons would be uneconomical.  Therefore; British military superiors trained their soldiers to produce rapid yet well aimed fire.  On the 14th of August 1914, Britain declared war with Germany, engaging the enemy on French soil at Le Chateau.  On August the 25th the advancing Germans became convinced they were under fire from machine gun nests, only later discovering they were under fire from British soldiers armed with the SMLE.
 
 
In 1915, contracts were given to the US firms Remington and Winchester to produce P14 rifles for the British Army.  These rifles would be used as sniper rifles and in secondary roles such as the British home guard.  When the US entered the war in 1917, a shortage of Springfield rifles coupled with the completion of the P14 contract enabled the US military to simply continue the production of the P14 modified to fire the .30-06 cartridge.  The US rifle was designated M1917 and was produced in greater numbers and saw more front line service than the Springfield rifle.
 
By the end of the First World War, further modifications to the SMLE Mk III resulted in the SMLE Mk III* but by now, the system of designations had become a source of confusion. This resulted in a re-designation of all SMLE rifles in 1926.  The SMLE Mk III* was now re-designated as the SMLE No.1 Mk III.  SMLE No.2 was a 22LR training conversion.  Rifle No.3 was the new designation of the British P14 .303. 
 
In 1939, war broke out yet again in Europe.  With the SMLE No.1 Mk III having proved itself so well during the First World War there was no doubt that this would be the standard infantry weapon in the battles ahead.  It soon became apparent however that a great many more rifles would be needed within a very short time requiring a redesign of the SMLE for ease of mass production.  This also gave Enfield engineers an opportunity to make further improvements to the rifle resulting in the SMLE No.4 Mk I. 
 
Although similar in appearance to the No.1 Mk III the new No.4 Mk I was a much different rifle.  The action was designed with thick heavy flat surfaces rather than the carefully rounded surfaces of the No.1 Mk III.  Along with this, much of the action was left in the rough showing all evidence of milling cuts.  The barrel of the No.4 Mk I was also much heavier than the No.1 MK III to increase accuracy during sustained fire where high barrel temperatures occur.  The barrel was also free floated from the first barrel band forwards while the bottom of the action featured a flat surface and increased bedding area.  The most recognizable features of the No.4 Mk I were the protrusion of the barrel some 1.5” beyond the fore end nose cap and a two position micrometer adjustable aperture sight.  The first sight position featured a wide, fixed, close range battle aperture but when flipped up revealed a finer and more precise aperture for longer range work.
 
Prior to the introduction of the No.4, the No.1 Mk III had been produced by several British arsenals, notably Enfield, Birmingham Small Arms (BSA), London Small Arms (LSA) and Fazakerley.  Foreign arsenals included the Indian Isaphore Arsenal, Pakistan and Australia’s Lithgow Arsenal.  Although these arsenals should have been capable of meeting production demands for the new rifle, insufficient time and ability to produce and export tooling initially limited production of the No.4 Mk I to British arsenals prior to Canadian production.  
 
During the First World War, Canada, a strong Commonwealth ally, sent 600,000 soldiers  into battle immediately after Britain had declared war on Germany, a response which Germany had not anticipated, adding greatly to its defeat.  The Canadian military had adopted the Ross Straight pull rifle chambered in .303 British.  Invented by Scottish born Canadian Sir Charles Ross, Ross would have preferred to have had his own cartridge adopted as well. The .280 Ross cartridge fired a 140 grain bullet at between 2900 and 3100fps, it was submitted for military use but rejected in favour of the .303 cartridge.
 
Unfortunately the Ross Straight pull rifle had many shortcomings in battle.  It was designed to be extremely accurate with the action machined to such close tolerances that it was prone to jamming in muddy conditions.  Further design flaws made the Ross a very unreliable and dangerous (to the operator) battle rifle.  Within a short period of time, Canadian soldiers were taking the more reliable Lee-Enfield from fallen English soldiers until finally in 1916 the Lee-Enfield was officially adopted as the Canadian service rifle.
 
As the Second World War broke out, Canada was again quick to respond, sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the conflict.  This time however, with a demand for many more rifles, the Long branch Arsenal in Ontario tooled up for production of the SMLE No.4 Mk I. 
 
Along with English and Canadian production, the British government formed a lend-lease agreement with the US government to produce some three million No.4 mkI rifles.  When the US firm Savage won the contract to produce SMLE rifles, Savage engineers found further ways to simplify production.  A simple two position 300/600 yard flip up aperture sight was found to be just as suitable as the micrometer adjustable sight. It is worth noting that individual soldiers reported success when engaging enemy soldiers when ranges happened to be around the 600 yard mark.  At intermediate ranges (eg 500 yards), the soldier could also aim underneath his target, allowing the bullet to strike high, firing for effect.  This allowed for a full picture of the target, not blocked by the foresight.  It was also found that the barrel would shoot just as accurately with a two groove 1:10 twist barrel rather than the more complex to produce five groove 1:10 twist barrel, Long Branch tests also confirming these results.  These modifications lead to the variant rifle No.4 Mk I*. All Savage produced rifles were stamped “US property”.
 
When Japan attempted to increase its territories by occupying the jungle islands of the South Pacific, allied forces had to find weapons more suitable for jungle warfare.  The Sten and Thompson sub machine guns were now in use and found to be extremely effective jungle weapons but the standard infantry rifle, the No.4 Mk I, was found to be too long and unwieldy. Sub machine guns (SMG’s) like the Thompson could not be fully standardized as infantry weapons as one could not guarantee where troops would be based. Therefore, a shorter variant of the SMLE was created for jungle warfare.  Produced at the Fazakerley Arsenal during 1944 in smaller quantities, the No.5 Mk I jungle carbine featured a short 18.5” barrel, half stock, a rubber recoil pad and flash director.  Unfortunately, the No.5 rifle received a bad reputation for producing poor accuracy including a wandering zero.  
 
A last variant of the No.4 rifle was the No.4 Mk II.  The Mk II had its trigger mounted on the butt socket rather on the floor plate assembly for smoother trigger let off and no change of trigger pull with wood warpage under damp conditions, a rather important design modification.   A number of No.4 Mk I rifles were factory thorough repaired (FTR) to this specification and given the designation No.4 Mk I/2 or No.4 Mk I/3. 
 
The No.4 rifle was also issued as a sniper rifle (T) with accurate rifles selected from production lines having proved capable of producing groups of under 5” at 200 yards.  Sniper rifles featured screw on cheek pieces and were fitted with 3 power scopes.  These modifications were carried out by the Enfield arsenal as well as the custom gun makers Holland & Holland.  Canadian sniper rifles were reworked by the custom gun building firm Griffin & Howe of New York. 
 
Along with upgrades, various individuals also experimented with converting the SMLE to fully automatic fire.  One successful conversion was the Charlton Automatic Rifle designed by Philip Charlton of New Zealand.  This rifle was adopted in small numbers by the NZ army, used by the home guard as a light machine gun.
 
The Lee-Enfield and .303 British cartridge served Commonwealth forces up until 1954, being officially replaced by the Belgian FAL rifle and variants in the 7.62 NATO caliber.  A small quantity of No.4 rifles were converted to 7.62 NATO in 1964 through to 1965, designated 2A and 2A1. These rifles were used by Commonwealth military snipers and law enforcement officers through the 1960’s.  India’s Isaphore arsenal, determined to adopt the 7.62 NATO cartridge but not tooled up to produce either the FAL or No.4 rifle, chose to increase the metallurgic quality and heat treatment of the No.1 Mk III rifle enabling a change to the higher pressure 7.62 cartridge. 
 
All told the production of the Lee-Enfield exceeded some ten million rifles spanning 59 years of service- with one exception.  The Canadian Rangers, a reserve force of normally 5000 voluntary soldiers, have officially continued to utilize the No.4 SMLE rifle and .303 British cartridge to this day. The rifles are all original post war production (1945 - 1954), being continually serviced (barrel replacement etc) as required.  Spokespersons for the Canadian military have stated that in the coldest regions of Canada, the Lee-Enfield has continually proven to be extremely reliable under such adverse conditions, making replacement an extremely difficult proposition. Even now, as the Canadian military work towards the goal of replacement of the SMLE in 2016, it is a struggle to find a suitable rifle. This speaks volumes of the SMLE as a combat rifle.  And for those who would laugh at the old bolt action in comparison to modern semi or fully automatic assault rifle designs- accurate rapid fire field testing quickly puts foot to mouth.
 
By the end of the First World War, the Lee-Enfield had become an unmistakable and iconic symbol of the Commonwealth.  This made the SMLE the ultimate choice for the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand hunter, the SMLE far outlasting its service as a military rifle.  In Britain, the Lee-Enfield was commercially sporterized by the Parker Hale company.  That said, the sport of deer stalking in Britain was to a large extent dominated by the upper class who tended to favor high end sporting rifles, limiting the popularity of the sporterized SMLE. 
 
In  the colonies of South Africa, although  not a part of the Commonwealth, the SMLE became popular with farmers and hunters due to the abundance of inexpensive surplus rifles and ammunition.  The .303 cartridge achieved adequate penetration on  medium game using FMJ ammunition but because of the nature of FMJ ammunition combined with  the relatively small bullet diameter of the .303 in comparison to traditional medium and large bores in use at the time, the .303 was never viewed as spectacular killer of African plains game.
 
In New Zealand, the military surplus SMLE entered a new war, the war on feral game.  When New Zealand soldiers returned home after the First World War, the game animals which had been introduced the previous century had reached epidemic numbers in the absence of New Zealand’s only natural predator, man.  Government employed cullers were issued SMLE rifles which were either left fully wooded or sporterized by removing the upper and fore end wood.  Ammunition was delivered to cullers by the case load, in later years via aerial drops.  A culler could easily wear out a barrel in one year.  The worn barrel would be heated with a gas torch and bent to 90 degrees, the barrel would then be unscrewed and the new barrel screwed on.  Head spacing of the SMLE was achieved by the removable bolt heads which Enfield designed and made in several sizes to save machining time.
 
By the mid 1950’s, New Zealand cullers were using scoped No.4 Mk I and II rifles beside newer commercial sporting arms in commercial calibers.  For cullers living in the harshest conditions facing days of mud and rain, the slick SMLE performed flawlessly, its ten shot magazine and fast action accounting for high tallies of deer. 
 
Newer commercial sporting arms often suffered in these ongoing wet, muddy conditions. Stocks would often warp so badly that many rifles were taken out of service within just two weeks. Delicate bluing wore off in days, shallow rifling lost its grip on projectiles after wear and corrosion set in.  Over time however, with cullers giving more attention to maintenance of the sporting rifle, the newer rifle designs gradually replaced the Lee-Enfield for reasons of superior accuracy and faster killing. 
 
The ammunition used by cullers in the SMLE up until the later 1950’s consisted of the corrosive military surplus Mk VII 174 grain bullet at 2440fps.  Early Mk VII ammunition featured either a cardboard or aluminium tip inserted into the nose of the projectile before the lead core was swaged into the jacket.  The rear heavy projectile remained stable in flight but on impact tumbled to produce severe wounds.  This ammunition was soon discontinued by the British as a party to the Hague convention but was for a time available to hunters.  Apart from this, the FMJ bullet used by cullers would sometimes tumble but more often than not would drill through game allowing animals to escape considerable distances.  This prevented the culler from being able to locate and retrieve tails as a record of the kill.  For those who had the patience, hollow pointing FMJ ammunition using a 1/16” drill bit created a spectacular killing frangible projectile. Other cullers simply carried side cutters in their kit, docking the tips off ammunition for a similar result. In a few isolated cases hunters docked too much projectile off causing the lead of the projectile to fire, leaving the jacket mid-way within the bore.  The next bullet would burst the barrel at the jam.
 
As newer rifles and cartridges became available, attitudes towards the iconic SMLE and its cartridge began to change.  The SMLE was always a box of chocolates, some rifles were accurate, some weren’t, a culler couldn’t guarantee that his rifle would still be accurate after the next barrel swap.  Scope mounting was not always successful either.  Some mount systems were rough at best, the optics not much better.  Trigger pull weights varied from rifle to rifle, stock fit was also a problem, especially with scoped rifles, the comb of the SMLE being way out of alignment for scope use. 
 
Although soft point 150 grain .303 ammunition had become available, the NZ government began offering and supplying other cartridge options. Cullers located in the high open spaces of the South Island found that cartridges such as the .270 Winchester shot a lot flatter than the .303. Both the .243 and .270 Winchesters produced poleaxe through hydrostatic shock at high velocity and although the term or mechanisms of hydrostatic shock was not well understood at this time, cullers certainly understood the difference between poleaxed game and dead running game (Red deer up to 300 yards).
 
The new .243 Winchester produced fast killing on lean game during winter months via its light (100 grain) bullet meeting increased body resistance, promoting faster bullet expansion than traditional .303 sporting ammunition. 
 
In the North Island of New Zealand where game animals were often encountered at close ranges, the .243 and .308 Winchesters became exceedingly popular.  That said, the .308 Winchester virtually duplicated the performance of the .303 but by this time, game numbers were dropping and pin point accurate sporting rifles were the key to success. Along with the .243, .270 and 308 cartridges, the .222 became popular in New Zealand for neck/head shooting deer as meat and skin markets appeared, offering cullers new income streams. By this time, Sako was the most popular brand of sporting rifle amongst cullers.  BSA was also a popular rifle brand amongst cullers followed by such famous designs as the pre 64 Winchester M70.
 
In New Zealand and Australia, the SMLE retained major popularity with private hunters into the early 1990’s, though it did have to compete with the M98 Mauser and Swedish Mauser as economical rifle offerings. Today, the SMLE is still considered an iconic symbol of new Zealand history but its usage is now more in line with the rest of the world.
 
World wide, The SMLE is currently enjoyed by hunters, service rifle shooters and military arms collectors. For a time, it was somewhat difficult to find SMLE rifles with good bores or to find replacement barrels. To this end, SMLE rifles in good original condition can fetch very high prices. More recently in New Zealand, True-Flite NZ Ltd  tooled up for the production of .303 British barrels (.311”).
 
Surprisingly, the SMLE is still used in military conflicts, often in third world countries by individuals or militias unable to obtain modern arms.  The SMLE still retains its strengths and is not to be under estimated in these instances, capable of producing acceptable accuracy at extended ranges in desert/mountain warfare along with much higher down range energy and penetration than either the AK 47 or M4 platforms.
 
As can be expected, the .303 cartridge has been wildcatted extensively over the years following its military service.  Australian shooters are notable for the greatest amount of experimentation, necking the cartridge down to .277”, then to .257” and right down to the .224” caliber.  In NZ, the .303 has been necked up to .358 caliber, roughly duplicating the .358 Winchester. SMLE rifles have also been rechambered to several configurations from .45 ACP through to .45/70.  Feeding is however a problem with radically different cartridge designs, the SMLE magazine being somewhat stubborn in what it will accept feed and how much alteration it will allow. 
 
To be sure, there is nothing quite like working over an SMLE action, the sound that is made when fast cycling the action and the feel of the SMLE is simply unique. The smell of decade’s worth of ‘Young’s .303 gun cleaner and rust preventative’ soaked into the wood and metal work is like no other. For this New Zealand author, taking the SMLE into the hills for a hunt touches the core of my being, bringing back memories extending to my earliest years.
 

Performance

 
With conventional soft point projectiles, the .303 British gives performance identical to the .308 Winchester, regardless of 100fps differences in velocities.  But with the availability of enhanced bullet designs for the .30 cal bore, the .303 has been left behind in killing performance.
 
Using 125 grain bullets driven at velocities of 2900-3000fps, the .303 can produce fast killing on light framed game out to moderate ranges.  Light bullets in the .303 caliber lose velocity very quickly due to low BC’s, therefore killing can be delayed  at ranges beyond 200 yards.  
 
150 grain .303 loads produce relatively fast killing on lighter medium game, especially lean bodied deer species. Factory 150 grain loads tend to produce muzzle velocities of 2600fps in SMLE rifles. Hand loads can produce muzzle velocities of 2700-2750fps.  Like the .30 caliber, conventional soft point .303 projectiles do not generally have the ability to produce hydrostatic shock (shock waves travelling to the CNS) at impact velocities of 2600fps and below. Even with hand loads at 2700-2750fps, the BC’s of 150 grain .303 bullets are generally low (.360) and therefore, hydrostatic shock is diminished at ranges beyond 50 yards.  Nevertheless, hydraulic shock (disproportionate to caliber wounding) remains thorough with all brands of 150 grain soft point ammunition down to impact velocities of around 2200fps. At these impact velocities (150-170 yards), killing is clean but often delayed. Below 2200fps, wounding gradually becomes narrower and killing more delayed.
 
Like the .30 calibers, 174-180 grain .303 bullets are sometimes best suited to game weighing greater than 90kg (200lb). However in the .303 caliber, bullet weight selection is not entirely straight forwards.  With open sighted SMLE rifles, the differences in POI when using 150 grain ammunition can be so large that hunters simply cannot get 150 grain loads to match military sight settings. Yet another factor to confuse the issue, is that factory 180 grain ammunition is normally loaded to higher pressures than 150 grain ammunition, yielding greater ‘close range’ energies. For example, 180 grain factory loads normally produce 2400fps in SMLE rifles.  To achieve similar energy levels with 150 grain bullets, muzzle velocities need to be in the region of 2700fps, yet factory 150 grain loads usually yield only 2600fps. The result of higher energy is often greater hydraulic shock for broad wounding- providing impact velocities are high enough to promote wide wounding and bullet construction is soft enough to cause fast expansion. Down range, things become more confused, some 180 grain bullets have the same BC’s as 150 grain bullets with both bullet weights arriving at similar energy figures at ranges of around 200 yards.
 
Generally speaking, the faster the load (or greater the retained down range velocity), the wider the wounding. On lean game, a lighter bullet meets more resistance than a heavier bullet which can sometimes cleave to its momentum. Therefore to some extent, the faster stepping 150 grain .303 loads can outperform 180 grain loads on light framed game (which consists of a major percentage of the world’s game species) yet as suggested, in the .303 caliber, performance is not so straight forwards. Along with POI challenges and higher close range energies of 180 grain factory loads, there are some very fast expanding 180 grain loads that out-expand and outperform 150 grain loads when used on light framed game, continuing to perform well on large medium game.  All of these factors tend to muddy the waters of bullet suitability in the .303 caliber. To this extent, bullet performance in the .303 caliber on light to mid weight game species must be observed on an individual bullet by bullet basis.
 
On large medium game, the .303 performs well.  The mild muzzle velocities of the .303 minimize the risk of bullet blow up with 174-180 grain bullets for adequate penetration yet velocities are high enough to render wide wounding on large bodied deer species out to moderate ranges of around 300 yards for clean killing.
 
Regarding the performance of the SMLE rifle; while rear locking actions (eg: Shultz and Larson) are capable of delivering excellent accuracy, due to the military tolerances of the SMLE, changing ammunition brands or bullet weights in the SMLE causes dramatic shifts in points of impact.  Changing brands of 180 grain ammunition usually requires only small adjustments in windage but changing from the 180 grain bullet weight to 150 grain ammunition can cause a shift of  12” and sometimes the POI shifts down, not up.  Hand loads show even greater dispersion.
 
As suggested, for those using open sights, it is often preferable to use 180 grain factory loads as these shoot close to military sight settings.  Sights can of course be modified, in the past, NZ cullers who wish to use lighter faster 150 grain commercial loadings gained foresight height by replacing the foresight with a horse shoe nail due to its dovetail shaped head. The nail was then ground down until the correct POI was obtained.  The scoped SMLE does of course eliminate the problems of vertical dispersion.  
 
In military configuration the No.4 rifle has greater accuracy potential than the No.1 Mk III.  Nevertheless, like any mass produced military arm, variations in quality and condition exist. The No. 4 rifles can group anywhere from MOA (usually .9" to 1.2" in the most accurate of rifles)  to the more common 3 MOA average, depending on the individual rifle. The same can be said of the No.1 Mk 3.  The P14 rifle has the greatest accuracy potential of the military .303 rifles, however it is quite rare to see a P14 .303 in the field these days. 
 
Of the three styles of military sights, the open V sights are most effective in the hands of younger shooters or those who have retained 20/20 vision. Even then, the V sight requires the alignment of three objects, the rear sight, the fore sight and the target.  But with weekly practice and providing the rifle is very accurate, it is possible to achieve consistent accuracy in the field at ranges of between 300-400 yards.  Aperture sights are much simpler and faster to use, requiring only the foresight to be lined up with the target.  The shooters eye should naturally be able to align the rear sight as long as the aperture ring is simply ignored.  Yet some shooters do struggle with aperture sights, often over thinking the process.  
 
The micrometer adjustable aperture sight is very useful, the large battle aperture is effective at close ranges, the smaller fine aperture ideal for shooting at ranges beyond 100 yards, though its intended use was for ranges of 300 yards and beyond.  The later 300/600 flip up aperture is slightly less flexible.  The 300 yard aperture has the typical wide ghost ring, the 600 yard hole being much smaller.  For those who prefer a small aperture at close as well as longer ranges, the 600 yard hole can be used if the foresight blade is replaced and regulated, ideally set to print 3” high at 100 yards.  
 
Although British snipers commonly engaged targets at ranges of around 300 yards using scoped rifles, longer shots were also taken.  By the same token, individual soldiers would push the envelope, successfully attempting to engage targets at ranges between 300-600 yards. Marksmanship was everything.  In my own family after the war, my Grandfather would often use his SMLE to shoot rabbits for the table.  Of an evening, he would position himself in the loft of a two story barn and attempt to head shoot rabbits at whatever range they presented themselves.  Of course this did not always work to plan but the goal of optimum marksmanship was a constant for the veteran.
 
For my own part, of the several SMLE rifles I owned (during the era when local hunters could chose whatever rifle they liked off the gun store wall as long as it was an SMLE), I had one rifle which could shoot  MOA (again .9 to 1.2"), the rifle was a No.1 Mk 3.  With this rifle and weekly, often daily practice, I was able to hunt and shoot out to ranges of 300-440 yards.  The cullers were much the same, shooting out to similar ranges in the South Island of NZ, hollow pointed Mk. 7 ammunition was very effective at these ranges.  Most cullers utilized aperture sights for tops hunting once these rifle models became available. Practice is the key to this level of performance with the open sighted SMLE.  Without constant practice and fine tuning of sights to match hunting loads, an accurate SMLE is effective out to a range of around 200 yards with greater success rates inside 100 yards. Varying light conditions wreak havoc with foresight and target acquisition, a major hurdle for those not familiar with open sighted rifles.  The scoped SMLE is much simpler to use and often a more humane killing tool.  But again, initial fine tuning of the rifle for optimum accuracy is a major factor.
 
As mentioned in the history section, the SMLE action can be cycled with immense speed.  British soldiers practiced and competed in the ‘mad minute’ which involved fifteen shots fired within one minute, then scored.  In New Zealand at the Trentham Military Camp, one shooter demonstrated the speed of the SMLE in comparison to modern semi-automatic eastern bloc rifles, placing 10 shots within the 100 yard bull within 45 seconds.
 
As can be expected, New Zealand cullers used this speed of cycling to great advantage.  From my own experiences culling, the open sighted SMLE was/is indeed vastly more effective than many open sighted semi auto rifle designs, the minute pause slowing the shooter down enough to allow for highly accurate consecutive shots, yet without any real loss in speed and certainly no loss in efficiency or effectiveness.  Today, fast cycling is not a great requirement of a hunting rifle.  Nevertheless, it seems almost neglectful to not mention this aspect of the SMLE design. 
 
Performance of the SMLE is certainly wrought with contradictions. The rear locking design of the action can potentially effect accuracy yet it is fast cycling.  The two piece stock is not as stable as a one piece stock, again potentially effecting accuracy, yet the rifles were strong enough to be used in unimaginable roles. Most SMLE rifles were somewhat inaccurate. Many were extremely inaccurate, such rifles cursed by hunters and soldiers alike. The cordite powder ate bores within hours so the chances of a bore remaining accurate were next to nil. But on the other hand, a well cared for and properly tuned SMLE was and still remains a highly effective tool.
 

Factory ammunition

 
Presently there are a number of factory loads available for the .303 British.  Most sources of economical military surplus 174 grain ammunition have dried up in recent years with retailers occasionally obtaining supplies from such far away places as Pakistan.  For those who have access to military surplus ammunition (in safe condition), hollow pointing military FMJ ammunition can produce spectacular results. Once hollow pointed, 174 grain projectiles become frangible, performing the same as the 168-178 grain Amax projectiles. Hollow pointed  FMJ ammunition tends to work well on a wide range of game weights (up to and above 150kg/330lb), helped by a relatively high SD so that penetration is not limited.  Readers are advised to be careful though, extremely wide or deep hollow points can cause jacket core separation within the bore of a rifle.  What has to be remembered is that due to the forming process of military ammunition, the base is always exposed, not sealed like a hunting projectile which has the lead tip at the front exposed.  But with a little care, cheap surplus FMJ ammunition can often be modified to produce dramatic results
 
Advertised muzzle velocities for .303 factory ammunition are often quoted at much higher levels than are obtained in SMLE barrels. One factor that affects this, is that quite often the factory test barrels have much tighter tolerances than military rifles. Along with this, the vast majority of .303 bores are fairly worn now after many decades of service. Norma used to produce the most potent .303 factory ammunition, consisting of a 150 grain soft point bullet at an advertised velocity of 2750fps. In some rifles, this load achieved is advertised velocity, yet in very worn bores, velocity could be as low as 2650fps.  Fortunately, even though modern factory loads may not yield advertised velocities in SMLE rifles, 180 grain loads do duplicate military specifications (which were potent enough), usually achieving right on 2400fps.
 
Winchester offer one load for the .303, the 180 grain Power Point at an advertised 2460fps, giving right around 2400fps in military barrels.  This load is perhaps the single best factory load available to .303 users.  The strengths of the Power Point can be found in the heavily notched jacket along with a large amount of exposed lead at the tip (duplicates 180 grain .308 Win Power Point performance). The Power Point expands extremely quickly and violently for very broad wounding and fast killing. A low muzzle velocity and high SD help ensure relatively deep penetration, ideal for light to mid weight deer species while being adequate for Elk sized game. About the only down side of the Power Point is its low BC of .369. The Power Point loses velocity fairly quickly but still produces wide wounding down at 1800fps (out to 300 yards).
 
Remington produce two loads for the .303, a service rifle competition load featuring a 174 grain FMJ projectile with for some reason, a relatively poor BC of .315 (the original Mk. 7 projectile BC was .400).  Velocity is advertised at 2475fps for a realistic 2400fps. Remington’s hunting load features the 180 grain Core-Lokt RNSP at an advertised 2460fps for 2400fps. As a close to moderate range hunting load, the Core-Lokt is reasonably hard hitting. Wounding is not exceptionally wide or as violent as the Power Point, yet penetration is somewhat better.  On light through to mid sized deer, this can be a good woods/bush load where tail on shots are to be expected as well as being perfectly adequate for large bodied deer out to moderate ranges of around 200 yards.
 
Hornady differ slightly from other ammunition makers, utilizing bullet diameters of .312” rather than the usual .311”.  This is especially useful in older worn bores, forming a tight seal for optimum accuracy. Hornady currently list the 150 grain Interlock bullet at an advertised 2685fps giving around 2600fps in the SMLE.  The 150 grain .303 Interlock bullet is a very good lighter medium game bullet producing clean but sometimes delayed killing due to the low velocity and absence of hydrostatic shock. Regardless of shock, the Interlock does produce fast expansion for relatively broad wounding coupled with fair penetration.
 
Occasionally due to its low SD, jacket core separation can occur with the .303 150 grain Interlock after initial penetration on light to mid weight game.  In most instances, if this occurs, it occurs after approximately 12” penetration  (the distance required to fully reduce the SD / bullet shank), usually on quartering on or quartering away shots where the separated cup and core can be found arrested against hide or bone. In such instances, wounding remains unaffected, penetration also remains unaffected to a greater extent in comparison to projectiles which to not suffer jacket core separation. On heavily built game, separation can occur on large round bones and ball joints during initial penetration.  The 150 grain Interlock is therefore much better suited to light to mid weight game than it is to very large animals.
 
Hornady now also produce a service rifle 174 grain BTHP match load at an advertised 2430fps with a BC of .470 (untested at this time of writing).  Poor expansion is typical of Hornady BTHP match bullets. If however the meplat (tip) is trimmed to a diameter of 1.8mm (70 thou), the Hornady BTHP projectiles are able to produce full expansion and fragmentation, ideal for longer range hunting of medium game, producing wide wounding at low velocities.  Although untested at this time, BC of meplat trimmed ammunition would be approximately .420. The effective range for wide wounding would be approximately 550 yards.
 
Federal’s traditional 150 grain Hi Shok bullet, now branded American Eagle, has an advertised velocity of 2690fps for a realistic 2600fps. Performance is fair and like the 150 grain Interlock load, the Federal bullet meets enough resistance on light framed game to initiate fat expansion and relatively broad wounding.  Again, hydrostatic shock is absent below 2600fps yet hydraulic shock is vivid, gradually tapering off as velocities fall below 2200fps. Federals heavyweight load features the 180 grain Speer Hotcor RNSP projectile at 2460fps for a realistic 2400fps. The Hotcor bullet gives an excellent balance of expansion versus deep penetration at close to moderate ranges.  This bullet is best suited to game weighing above 90kg (200lb), adequate for game weighing up to and above 320kg (700lb), generally coming to rest on the offside hide when tackling game of this size. The round nose design of the Hotcor is often effective at producing fast kills on lighter framed game at close ranges, this being a common occurrence with Speer round nose soft point projectiles in various calibers. However, at ranges beyond 50 yards, kills can be delayed on game weighing less than 90kg.
 
Czechoslovakian Prvi Partisan marketed in the South Pacific under the banner of Highland ammunition offer two good .303 loadings at economical prices.  Prvi are the only manufacturer to offer a 150 grain boat tail soft point for the .303.  From a muzzle velocity of 2600fps the Prvi projectile has a large amount of lead exposed at the tip which produces a large frontal area on impact.  The Prvi projectile jacket is swaged to the core in a similar fashion to Norma ammunition (similar but not identical to Remington Core-Lokt and Hornady Interlock bullets).  Penetration of the 150 grain bullet is on par with the Hornady Interlock.  Like the Interlock the Prvi jacket occasionally separates from its core when striking heavy bone or at the extremes of penetration however the Partisan has a harder lead core than the Hornady which on its own can produce relatively deep penetration. 
 
Prvi’s 180 grain boat tail soft point bullet produces a true 2400fps in the SMLE and shoots true to military sight settings.  Wound channels are generally good on light through to large bodied medium game. Jacket core separation can also occur with this bullet, primarily if striking heavy bone at velocities below 2100fps.  Above 2100fps, the frontal area and therefore the core of the 180 grain Partisan bullet tends to swage to the jacket as it rolls back. The 180 grain Prvi bullet is an acceptable performer on light framed game, more so if shot placement is held forwards.  As game weights approach 90kg (200lb), the 180 grain bullet comes into its own, working well on body weights of up to and above 320kg (700lb).
 

Hand loading

 
The .303 is relatively easy to hand load for and components are plentiful. Using powders in the H4895 (ADI 2206H) to Varget (ADI 2208) and IMR 4064 range, optimum velocities include 3000fps with 125 grain bullets, 2700fps with 150 grain bullets and 2400fps with 174-180 grain bullets.  Individual rifles can produce velocities 50-80fps higher than this without excessive pressure signs.  In the N0.4 Mk 1 rifle, it is sometimes possible to push 150 grain projectiles as fast as 2800fps and 180 grain projectiles to 2500fps, duplicating the .308 Winchester.
 
Occasionally, hand loaders experiment with 85 to 100 grain .32-20 pistol projectiles. The .303 has a 1:10 twist which is not ideally suited to these light bullet weights but on occasion, reasonably accurate loads can be found.  Such loads can be used as either light recoiling plinking loads (mild powder charges) or driven above 3200fps for close to moderate range light game work, utilizing the fast expanding and violent wounding Hornady XTP bullet designs.
 
Most SMLE rifles display fairly loose head space tolerances to prevent dangerous pressures should mud or dirt enter the action during the battle.  For factory ammunition users this poses no problems but for hand loaders, excessive full length resizing can cause case head separations in as little as three reloads.  Neck sizing is a simple way to prevent case head separation.  Due to the tapered case design of the .303 British, this cartridge also responds well to partial sizing using a full length sizing die backed off from the shell holder. The .303 case design not suffer case extrusion (lengthening of the case) which sometimes happens in modern minimum taper cartridges if a full length sizing die is used for partial sizing.
 
Due to large variations in bore conditions and head spacing, reloading manuals cannot possibly be expected to supply pressure / velocity results that are true for all rifles.  As with all cartridges, the hand loader should start at the recommended charge, working up loads while looking for signs of pressure.  
 
Projectiles for the .303 are available in two diameters, Sierra and Speer bullets are .311” in diameter while Hornady produce .312” projectiles.  The actual term .303 is taken from the land diameter of the SMLE rifling which measures .303” whereas the grove diameter of SMLE rifles can measure from .311” to .312”.  In very worn bores, the hand loader has three options, either use a long 180 grain .311” projectile to obtain optimum obturation, use a .312” bullet or use a bullet that is both long and has a .312” diameter. In some instances however, worn bores can be as wide as .313” or greater due to past use of corrosive ammunition, eliminating any possibility of acceptable accuracy.
 
Sierra projectiles include the 125 grain Prohunter, the 150 grain Prohunter, the 174 grain HPBT Match King (SMK) and  the 180 grain Prohunter. The light 125 grain Prohunter is designed for use in the 7.62x39 Russian.  Loaded to around 3000fps, this projectile can be an extremely fast killer on game weighing up to 60kg (132lb).  The 125 grain bullet breaks 2600fps at 120 yards, losing the ability to produce hydrostatic shock. At 200 yards, the 125 grain bullet breaks the 2400fps and below this velocity parameter, wounding gradually becomes proportionate to caliber, resulting in more delayed killing. Penetration of the 125 grain Sierra Prohunter is fair, this is a very fast expanding bullet that meets a great deal of resistance when used on lighter medium game, yet its relatively stout jacket ensures adequate penetration, though jacket core separation is to be expected in some instances due to the very low SD of this bullet weight.
 
Sierra’s 150 grain Prohunter is a relatively stout bullet. Ideally suited to game weighing up to 90kg (200lb), the Prohunter will tackle larger body weights due to mild down range velocities and energies and at a push can be used on game weighing up to 150kg (330lb), though the 180 grain Prohunter is better suited to these body weights. The 150 grain Prohunter produces wide wounding out to a range of around 120 yards (2400fps) with wound channels gradually becoming smaller thereafter, with a larger reduction in wounding potential at impact velocities below 2200fps.  
 
Sierra Matchking bullets are unpredictable when used as hunting bullets, regardless of bullet diameter, bullet weights or game body weights.  When SMK bullets strike major leg bones, they will often fragment and create devastating fast killing wounds. But scapula shots, rear lung and liver shots allow the SMK to pencil through, often causing immensely slow kills. Like the VLD and Hornady Match bullets, performance can be altered by increasing the frontal area of the projectile, exposing more of the hollow point.  A meplat trimmer is necessary to perform this operation with the SMK and hand loaders are encouraged to try to obtain a meplat (tip) diameter of 1.8mm (70 thou).  This enables the SMK to achieve full fragmentation in impact, though on light or lean game, fragmentation can still be delayed.  The BC of the 174 grain SMK is (mid range) .499.  If the meplat is altered, the BC is reduced by approximately .050.  Hand loaders do need to test BC’s of altered bullets to confirm individual results. With a BC of .450, the altered SMK is able to produce clean killing on medium game out to ranges of around 460 yards (1600fps), steadily declining in performance (reliant on resistance) out to 600 yards (1400fps) at which point wound channels tend to become much smaller.  The .303 always produced exceptional performance with hollow pointed FMJ ammunition.  It may seem a chore to meplat trim or even hollow point match bullets when other hunting bullets are available however the benefits of a heavy frangible bullet are worth the effort.
 
The 180 grain Prohunter driven at 2400fps is best suited to game weighing between 90 and 320kg (200-700lb). This is a stout bullet and combined with mild velocities and a reasonably high SD, jacket core separation is minimized. The Prohunter does its best work at impact velocities above 2200fps or 100 yards.   
 
Hornady projectiles include the 150 grain spire point Interlock, the 174 grain RNSP interlock and a 174gr FMJ.  Unfortunately, Hornady do not supply their BTHP match bullet as a hand loading component. As described in the factory ammunition section, the 150 grain Interlock is a soft, fast expanding bullet.  On light or lean game, this is one of the most reliable (fast killing) .303 bullets available. Fast hand loads do help the 150 grain Interlock a good deal, extending the range of both hydrostatic and hydraulic shock. The 150 grain Interlock gives best results on game weighing less than 90kg (200lb).  Where bodyweights tend to be right around the 70-100kg mark (155-220lb) and where a 150 grain bullet is preferred, the 150 grain Prohunter or Speer Hotcor both show slightly superior penetration. 
 
The 174 grain round nose Interlock is a good bush/woods bullet for light to mid weight game species, about perfect for Mule and Red deer along with wild boar. This is a soft, fast expanding bullet, though wounds are not immensely wide.  With the exception of the Norma Vulkan bullet design, it is not until the .358” caliber that flat or round nose bullet styles show dramatic differences in performance in comparison to their pointed soft point counter parts. Nevertheless, the round nose design of the Hornady 174 grain bullet does ensure rapid expansion for wide internal wounding resulting in fast killing inside 100 yards, tapering off in performance as ranges approach 200 yards where velocity is just 1800fps.  At these ranges, the RNSP works surprisingly well with military sight settings, even though the BC of this bullet is only .262.  Although the 174 grain Interlock is adequate for Elk sized game, it shows its greatest strengths on game weighing up to 150kg (330lb).
 
Hornady also offer 7.62X39 projectiles but bullet diameter is only .310”. Occasionally, it is possible to achieve a degree of accuracy in individual barrels with these bullets. Offerings include a 123 grain soft point and 123 grain V-max. Both have extremely soft, light jackets and both are suited to lighter medium game. 
 
Speer projectiles include the 150 grain Spitzer and 180 grain RNSP as loaded by Federal.  The 150 grain Speer is near identical in performance to Sierra’s 150 grain Prohunter.  That said, the Speer bullet can produce greater trauma, but this is usually only noticeable at higher impact velocities. The Speer 150 grain bullet finds its strengths on game in the 60-90kg (130-200lb) range, the light soldering of the jacket to the core has a tendency to allow for deeper penetration on mid weight deer species than the excellent Interlock which can prove a tad too soft in certain situations. This is a good bullet for hunting situations where slightly heavier than expected game weights could be encountered, yet always meeting enough resistance on light framed game as to ensure wide wounding for fast killing.
 
As described in the factory ammunition section, Speer round nose bullets can produce fast kills on lighter game where other round nose designs can prove lack luster in calibers smaller than .358”.  This performance is not usually dramatic, certainly not as dramatic as the Norma Vulcan (flat point) but is nonetheless effective. When I first started research many years ago, I used thoroughly sodding wet news print for initial testing of projectiles.  The Norma Vulcan in its various calibers produced shock rings on impact as well as blow back.  The Speer round nosed bullets (and some pointed Hotcor bullets) also produced shock rings, the shock rings extending into the media for around 3” depending on the bullet weight and impact velocity. The shock rings were identical to ripples on a pond, arrested and recorded in the news print. This did not however automatically prove the merit of the Hotcor as a hydrostatic shock producing bullet on all game.  In the field, game body weights (resistance) and impact velocities were still a factor.  Yet of the various round nose bullet designs, the Speer is a very good performer on lean game and in the .303 caliber, can be used on a wide range of body weights out to moderate ranges.
 
As can be expected, the 180 Speer RNSP comes into its own on heavier body weights.  The shock rings mentioned, are caused by a high buildup of expanded bullet frontal area.  This frontal area is held for a moment before the light core bonding eventually yields and the frontal area is reduced, allowing deep penetration.  The result of this micro pause is high trauma.  The mild muzzle velocity of the .303 helps ensure jacket core separation up does not occur on game weighing up to and around 320kg (700lb).
 
The latest projectiles available to hand loaders are the Prvi Partisan 150 and 180 grain BTSP projectiles.  The Partisan projectiles are extremely cheap and the 150 grain projectile gives very similar performance to the Hornady Interlock,  not because the Partisan is extremely soft but because of its large amount of exposed lead to initiate full expansion.  As mentioned in the factory ammunition section, both the 150 and 180 grain Partisan projectiles are immensely effective when appropriately matched to game weights.  Accuracy is usually very good (in accurate rifles), regardless of the budget pricing of these projectiles.
 
 

Closing comments

 
A battle rifle that could handle the harshest conditions with the fastest cycling bolt on the block. Ample power for medium game with appropriate bullet designs and in well tuned rifles, effective intermediate long range accuracy. A basic tool of the soldier, the hunter, the culler and the farmer is how the SMLE is remembered and it is because of this rich history that the value of SMLE rifles in good condition has climbed considerably in recent years. 
 
The SMLE is no longer a common sight in the field which is a shame, not because of its performance, but for what it represents; sacrifice, freedom from tyranny and the golden years which followed but which have long since passed.  50 years ago, NZ gun writer, the late Graeme Henry (Rod and Rifle) used to shoulder his SMLE, walk through Wellington city (the capitol of NZ) and board a train at the very heart of the city near the parliament buildings bound for the hills.  He recalled one occasion of an elderly lady that came to sit beside him hoping to hear a hunting tale or two and discuss her own sons hunting pursuits; it was a typical conversation for Henry on the train.  Today, if a man were to shoulder his rifle even in the most outer lying suburbs of Wellington, there would likely be an armed police response, not that this is any reflection of our police.  Moreover, it seems that in times of extended peace, crime rises, passion overcomes self discipline and people forget the value of freedom.  Lest we forget.
 
 
Suggested loads: .303 British Barrel length: 25.2”
No ID   Sectional density Ballistic coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL Winchester 180gr PP* .266 .369 2400 2302
2 FL Winchester 180gr PP .266 .369 2400 2302
3 HL 150gr Hornady SP
(Use also for 150gr Speer & Sierra)
.220 .361 2700 2428
4 HL 174gr Sierra HPBT MK
Meplat trimmed
.257 .450** 2400 2225
5 HL 180gr Sierra Prohunter .266 .411 2400 2302
6 HL 180gr Speer HC RNSP*** .266 .299 2400 2302
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 100 189 225 250 300      
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6 -13.7      
2 Yards 100 203 237 250 300 325 350  
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -4.5 -11.6 -16.2 -21.6  
3 Yards 100 232 268 300 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -6.5 -9.8 -13.7 -18.2 -23.4
4 Yards 100 207 242 300 325 350 375 400
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -10.4 -14.6 -19.5 -25 -31.3
5 Yards 100 206 241 300 325 350    
  Bt. path +3 0 -3 -10.9 -15.2 -20.3    
6 Yards 50 100 170 199 250 275 300  
  Bt. path +1 +2 0 -2 -7.9 -11.7 -16.4  
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 300 11 1766 1246
2 300 11 1766 1246
3 300 9.5 2005 1338
4 300 8.8 1871 1353
5 300 9.7 1824 1329
6 250 9.5 1750 1223
 
*Load 1 is for open sights at .5” above bore center.  All other loads are for scoped rifles at 1.6” above bore center line.  Note that with a scope, the trajectory is flattened by approximately 2” at 300 yards.  This can be used to interpolate data for loads 3,4,5,6 when comparing scoped rifle trajectories versus open sights.
**Load 4 MatchKing BC is .499 but with meplat trimmed to promote fragmentation, sample BC is .450.
 ***Load 6 also applicable to Federal factory load.  Trajectory also applicable to 174gr Hornady RNSP hand loads.

303 large doc final
 
.303 British Imperial Metric 
A .540 13.71
B .455 11.55
C 16 deg  
D .401 10.18
E .338 8.58
F 1.790 45.46
G .332 8.43
H 2.222 56.43
Max Case 2.222 56.43
Trim length 2.212 56.13
 
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