Cordite

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
When did we stop using cordite as the main propellant for rifle ammunition.

I know that the Americans have been using granular powders since the start of smokeless powder, but were we still using cordite till late 1980’s?
 

1066

Well-Known Member
I can't think of anywhere where we were still using cordite as late as the 1980's, although of course, there were still plenty of military surplus .303 ammunition being still used then and no doubt still a fair bit about now. Certainly when I started shooting at Bisley in the 1960's all ammunition for competitions was supplied (heavily subsidised by the government, only .303 was used) as part of your entry fee. The ammunition was all string cordite 1940's production.

I believe it was also used until later as an artillery propellent and also in solid fuel rockets, maybe something like the Bloodhound missile. I believe also, the way .303 ammunition using strings of cordite was made was rather odd. I think the part formed cases were filled with the spaghetti like strings of cordite and then the neck cold formed to shape.

The early days a smokeless propellent is very confusing with governments developing their own or similar versions at the same time although the long strings of cordite are quite distinctive.

Laurie Holland is the chap to tell you about this. - Certainly and interesting area to research.
 

Sash

Well-Known Member
When we switched from .303 to 7.62mm
IIRC 7.62 was never designed to use cordite (and was a US-developed round).
i don’t know, but would be surprised if the .280 Enfield round would have used cordite, either.
 

potshotpat

Well-Known Member
Can't help with the dates but my old boss was in the RAF as a rear gunner in Halifax's. I remember him telling us that a question that was asked by new gunners was, what was the smell made when firing their guns. They were told when your firing it's Cordite, when it's being fired at you it's S**TE. :norty:
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
If Brit ammo has a 'Z' after the Mark Number...ie .303 VIIz or .380 IIz it is nitro cellulose powder. No 'Z' it is cordite.

But where that ammunition was NEVER loaded, ever, with cordite there's no 'Z'.
 

1066

Well-Known Member
If Brit ammo has a 'Z' after the Mark Number...ie .303 VIIz or .380 IIz it is nitro cellulose powder. No 'Z' it is cordite.

But where that ammunition was NEVER loaded, ever, with cordite there's no 'Z'.
That sounds confusing - So 9mm x19 Mk 1Z and 2Z, does that indicate that at some time they WERE loaded with cordite at one time?
 

enfieldspares

Well-Known Member
Mk I 9mm apparently did exist. You can search on the internet. But what propellant it used I'm surprised unsure.

But there's cordite, though, and cordite. Some, yes, British handgun cartridges used chopped cordite.

Which looks like a half scale version of H4831SC. Except it's ochre coloured.

Neonite though isn't cordite. It has no nitro glycerine in it and is a nitro cellulose type powder.
 

A Guy Out West

Well-Known Member
Funny thing, from time to time our news people will describe a shooting by saying “the smell of cordite hung in the air”. Guess the evil doers are using WW 2 British surplus stuff.
 

1066

Well-Known Member
In the supposable accurate account of the Battle of Waterloo "Four days in June" the author Iain Gale describes the "reek of cordite hanging over the battlefield" A man about 60 years ahead of his time I think.
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
Can't help with the dates but my old boss was in the RAF as a rear gunner in Halifax's. I remember him telling us that a question that was asked by new gunners was, what was the smell made when firing their guns. They were told when your firing it's Cordite, when it's being fired at you it's S**TE. :norty:
My dad was a rear gunner in a Halifax. He sometimes made reference to being "too stinky" to chat with a lady that gave out coffee or tea to returning airmen. I wonder if that was the cause?? Interesting.~Muir
 

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