The Australian .303 Wildcats (.22,.243,.25,.27-303, etc)

Leica Amplus 6

caberslash

Well-Known Member
A phenomenon many on here may never of heard of, but I'm sure our brethren in the Southern Hemisphere will have, especially due to their undying love for Lee-Enfields!

Import restrictions in post-war Australia meant sporting rifles and their respective cartridges were not readily attainable. However, the ingenuity of local gunsmiths combined with surplus .303's meant a blossoming industry of locally produced wildcats based on the rimmed .303 British case and respective Lee Enfield actions which were duly sporterised.

I don't know how many of such rifles are still in use, but it seems that the pro shooters were quick to start reloading due to dies,powder, primers and projectiles being produced locally to a high standard.

I suspect that the difficulty of getting a necked-down, rimmed case to work well in different rifles which may of had varying chamber dimensions meant that commercial sporting rifles from the USA and UK took over once they were allowed in, but these eyebrow raising wildcats had their time in the sun...:coat:

Screenshot_20210721-142157_Adobe Acrobat.jpg Screenshot_20210721-141035_Adobe Acrobat.jpg
Screenshot_20210721-142207_Adobe Acrobat.jpg

e6e74b346949f38164d635f41ad4b82082384ad9.jpeg
87278bb73964ddb3873591467601f216ea4d5cdf.jpeg

Info and pictures stolen from: Australian 303/22 cartridges
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
I am surprised that some of these never got more attention in the UK, but the UK never had much demand for rifles on the domestic side. In Africa everybody just used the 303, although I think some of the South African gunsmiths did neck down the 303. In Australia was there a prohibition on using the 303 in its original form - ie because it was a military calibre.
 

SpikeD

Well-Known Member
Well if you're after actual example of rifles in the UK the Bullet Cache in Hythe a .303/30 and .303/25 at prices much keener than a SMLE or No4 these days
I have an old ICI loading brochure from 1970 that listed loading data for the .303/22, the .303/25 & .303/270 though with a warning to reduce powder charges by 3 grains for Lee Enfield actions so there must have been sufficient interest back then for them to develop loads.
 

Dalua

Well-Known Member
Surprising that the rear aperture peep sight was often removed along with stripper clip guides.
Not sure about the stripper-clip guides, but is it possible that these are converted SMLEs, rather than No4s?
In Australia was there a prohibition on using the 303 in its original form - ie because it was a military calibre.
This is a surprise: when was that prohibition passed? I'd have thought they'd have wanted civilian folk to be able to use/practice with the standard service cartridge, in the '40s and '50s at least.
 

alberta boy

Well-Known Member
The 25/303 was a fairly popular cartridge around here at one time . Ellwood Epps chambered his rifles in it , along with the 303 Epps and 35/303 cartridges . Still very useful hunting rounds in extremely reliable actions , both the Enfield and Lee Enfield based sporters .

AB
 

Pedro

Well-Known Member
Not sure about the stripper-clip guides, but is it possible that these are converted SMLEs, rather than No4s?

This is a surprise: when was that prohibition passed? I'd have thought they'd have wanted civilian folk to be able to use/practice with the standard service cartridge, in the '40s and '50s at least.
Quite possible. The No4 was never made in Australia I believe, they just kept making SMLEs. Although I bet a good few migrated there.
 

SamHuntVic

Well-Known Member
I have both of those. No good posting a pic of the 303/25 as it looks just like my .303. I load the Speer .25 Hot Cor. It's good to shoot but being so old the accuracy is not one ragged hole stuff but I'd say 4" at 100m. No doubt a bit of load development would fix that a bit but it's not worthwhile for me. I have a few rounds left of the old Super brand in 100gr and 87gr.
Works very well on Fallow but not Sambar legal here in Victoria.
Grant.
 

Attachments

  • CIMG8064.JPG
    CIMG8064.JPG
    265.5 KB · Views: 14
Last edited:

harrygrey382

Well-Known Member
I think the popularity of cartridges like the 303-25 was a desire for a flatter shooting cartridge along with an abundance of SMLEs, nothing more complex. Although reduced recoil wouldn’t have been minded to help with accuracy at a guess too. Most of the wildcats have died off leaving a fair few 303s still kicking though.
Quite possible. The No4 was never made in Australia I believe, they just kept making SMLEs. Although I bet a good few migrated there.
Yeah heaps and heaps of No4s were brought in and sporterised by “Sportco”
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
I think the popularity of cartridges like the 303-25 was a desire for a flatter shooting cartridge along with an abundance of SMLEs, nothing more complex. Although reduced recoil wouldn’t have been minded to help with accuracy at a guess too. Most of the wildcats have died off leaving a fair few 303s still kicking though.

Yeah heaps and heaps of No4s were brought in and sporterised by “Sportco”

I assume the fox pelt market also necessitated smaller caliber rifles?

Interesting times for sure!
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
I've got one converted to .22 Hornet made at Lithgow for Slazengers Pty Ltd at the end of WW2.
Cracking light weight rifle! Shoots well over open sights. Can carry it all day.....

Any pics to share?

Very interested to see what work (if any) was carried out on the magazine to ensure good feeding.

Cheers!
 
BRACES of Bristol - Dark Fox Package, Mauser M12, LIEMKE Thermal Scope, Wildcat Mod
Top