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Thread: 25/303 -why did these never catch on the uk when popular in other parts of the Empire

  1. #1

    25/303 -why did these never catch on the uk when popular in other parts of the Empire

    After the war in southern Africa and Australia sporting rifles based on the lee Enfield became very popular, and a whole range of 303 based cartridges became popular. The 25/303 seems to have been the most common and was produced in factory loaded versions. Given that here in the uk we had a good gun industry with huge numbers of war surplus rifles why did the likes of Parker Hale just sporterise into 303 versions and never pick up some of these other calibres which seem to be very suitable for deer use?

  2. #2
    Interesting question! My immediate thoughts would be:
    1. Brits are sticks-in-the-mud
    2. Because we had a reasonable gun trade, and good commercial links with Europe and USA, other commercial rounds such as .270W, various 6.5mm and 7mm offerings were more readily available than in SA/Oz, so
    2.1 it made no sense for the trade to dilute demand for those offerings or
    2.2 there was no demand/interest in fancy-pants wildcats

  3. #3
    Better strength in the Mauser designs? Higher pressures, better ballistics... Lee action is OK but no varminter pressures...
    I like the look of the 303 sporters but don't own a 303 any more...

  4. #4
    The 25/303 was fairly popular out here until about 10 to 15 yrs ago, as was the 35/303. They were effective calibers within reasonable ranges. I knew one old boy who shot everything with his 35/303 that was put together by Ellwood Epps, a well known Canadian gunsmith from Ontario. Epps also chambered a number of "improved" cartridges based on the 303 Brit in P-14's that had been rebuilt as sporters. Some of his improved cartridges were quite powerful for a round based on the 303 Brit. They still come up for sale here on a regular basis, some of the higher end ones, like Epps, command a good price when available

  5. #5
    Possibly also a prejudice against rimmed ammunition hindered the uptake of .303 and its derivatives? Regards JCS

  6. #6
    Wildcatting and none factory offered chamberings are a relatively new thing for Rifleman in this country with popularity of such an off piste approach being in direct proportion to the explosion of interest in stalking/hunting with a rifle.

    Target shooting was similarly prescriptive until 'F' Class and Benchrest took off.

    In short if you kick-back 40 years why would a Highland Stalker, be he/she an estate servant or visiting client, consider commissioning such a clambering given what the London Makers then offered or could be sourced from Europe or the US - read 270 etc?



  7. #7
    I am surprised that no one has pointed out the real reason.

    In Australia the Government banned the public from owning military cartridges so 303 MkV1 and MkV11 was out. So as Australia still have factories to produce the Lee Enfield cartridges like the 303x54R ( this was made by puling the barrel and turnign off one turn of the thread and deepening the extractor slot), 25/303, 270/303 etc came about. Add the costs and import duties added to help "pay" for the recent war.

    Plus of course there was loads of Lee Enfields available cheap. In the UK firms like BSA, Parker-Hale, London Armoury, Greeners, Stirlng were building fine sporting rifles on the Lee Enfields and the P-14/17's however in the UK we had restrictive laws and of course Stalking was not for the common man.

    ​Australia and Canada plus the African colonies had far more scope for the budding nimrod that the home country. India was already highly restricted in to what sporting arms could be used and 303 British was a very big No-No. The government there even today does not trust it's populace with firearms. The restrictions in the UK are minor to those in India even today. Across the boarder in Pakistan it's easier to own a firearm but hunting is all together another ball game.

  8. #8
    In short if you kick-back 40 years why would a Highland Stalker,
    Ahhh also remember the ridiculas restrictions on bore and velocity brought in with the deer act. overnight classic rifles and cartridges were no longer "legal" all on the whim of a few "enlightened souls" the 303 MkV11 was just allowed but 6.5x54MS for an example was not longer capable of taking deer cleanly.

    Add in the difficulty in the UK of obtaining reloading components.

  9. #9
    Of course there is nothing at all wrong with the .25 () bore as the many owners of 6.5 variants will surely acknowledge!


  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Klenchblaize View Post
    Of course there is nothing at all wrong with the .25 () bore as the many owners of 6.5 variants will surely acknowledge!


    Please don't confuse them yes "WE" know that the bore size of the 6.5mm is 0.256" and this is in fact the calibre but this fact always confuses the majority and especially Firearms Licensing .

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