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Thread: .303??

  1. #1


    I have always wondered why the .303 never took off as a sporting calibre, after all several other military rounds have well established sporting variants, the .223, 30-06, 7.62 etc.

    So my question basically is why is the .303 not a popular stalking calibre?

  2. #2


    the .303 has taken loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of stuff over the years. it has killed plains game like billyo in africa and big game in india.

    one of the problems with the calibre was the lee enfield rifles lock at the rear of the bolt not at the front so it is not quite as happy with the higher pressures of more modern loads. I suppose one of the reasons it did't take off is becuase in america they were using .30-06 so american rifles were made for that cartridge which is a better round. the europeans used the fantastic mauser action which was used on a variety of rounds, the 7.92 mauser (8x57 i think) and the 7 x 57 mauser. The mauser action is still made by most makers.

    I think that as propellants have got better and pressures higher the .303 has become more obsolete.


  3. #3
    The British military knew the 303 was obsolete in 1913, they wanted to change to a 270 calí then (.276) bore. Then again in 1955 the Military wanted a 7mm cal, weapon. But the yanks want a 30 cal,(308).

    The above said the old 303 will get the job done, about 3 years ago my mate took one red deer stalking it was Enfield that had been sportised by J Rigby in the 1930s it was a lovely rifle, open sights only on it.

    Best rgds


  4. #4
    I shot a rigby .303 recently on Mauser 98 action. very lightweight and a low power scope. With factory loads it was doing about an inch at 100 which I thought was reasonable for something approaching its 9oth birthday! Quite a gentle calibre to shoot too. I wonder what the .303 would do in a modern rifle? A Thompson would be a great action to have one on or a Ruger No 1. Hmmmmmm

  5. #5
    One reason that the .303 never became popular is that its a rimmed rounded . Its a nice round and as others have said it has shot a lot of game in the old British empire. It shoots a .311 bullet .

  6. #6
    Sikamalc has a very nice 303 sniper rifle (without the scope). He showed me what it could do when I was last in Scotland with him. Yep it does what it says on the box!

  7. #7
    As Mr B mentioned I have a 303 1954 model light beech wood, and as luck would have it I managed to get one of the last sporterised stocks for it in Birmingham a few years back for the princly sum of £35 result.

    I have a tube Burris scope on it, and have loaded ammo for it using modern powders, never had a problem. I have used it in Africa on Blesbuck and Wildebeest, no problem downed then in one. Although a heavy rifle it is a joy to shoot, and I also take it stalking on odd occassions and have taken Red, Sika and Fallow with it.

    Its a bit like owning a classic car, it only gets let out when the sun shines, but its fun to own and shoot. And it is a very accurate rifle, which believe it or not I had given to me by an American friend from brand new, it was still in the grease paper when I got it, never been fired

  8. #8

    lock it up

    is it one of the later models which locks up at the front mauser style? is it called a P14 action?


  9. #9
    The P14 was a Mauser action .303 also made in America in .30-06 cal. as the P17.
    I was County full-bore rifle champion at 500 yards in 1956 using a borrowed P14 .303 rifle and County full-bore rapid fire champion at 300 yards the following year.
    Oh to be young again !!


  10. #10
    It's a well-worn phrase - but the .303 British has take more head of game than any other cartridge in the history of firearms - and possibly more human lives also.

    The other well-worn phrase, we had the SMLE, the best battle rifle ever used in war and the Americans had the best target rifle (P14) ever used in war ..................

    The Americans were always more prepared to use "marketing" than us reserved Brits, hence the prejudice against rear-locking actions.

    The pressure in a round is limited by the strength of the cartridge case, not the action.

    Rimmed case - worked extremely well to the extent that the Vickers and Lewis guns were used as scythes of men between 1914 and 18. The fact that cartridge length is not very significant in a rimmed round allowed the Short, Magazine Lee Enfield to be the premier battle rifle of all time.

    The Vickers and Lewis (and the LE No4, and the Bren gun) also went through WW2 in .303 and IIRC, we won!

    In battle situations, the duty of the rifle is to accept dirty, tarnished, corroded rounds and still make them go bang.

    The SMLE's "cock on closing" action, again villified by our Colonial Cousins, is vastly superior to the "cock on opening" systems (Mauser, et al) IN A BATTLE RIFLE where extraction of the fired case is the significant factor. If you can't get the case out of the chamber, you can't reload! A lesson learned from Mk1 - 3 Martini Henry days.

    Rant over.

    I'll fetch my coat.

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