.303 British, good for nothing or classic African cartridge?

Discussion in 'Up To .375' started by HWL, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    As the second member of my "very british battery ;)", I purchased a .303 British.

    It is a Ruger No. 1, same as my .450/400 3" NE.

    Does it make sense, to bring it to Africa or is it good for nothing?
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    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  2. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Heck yeah it a classic! Take it with, shoot it, repeat....
     

  3. Ragman

    Ragman AH Elite

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    Was a very common caliber around my neck of the woods up until the last 15 or 20 years. Many, many moose and deer shot with the .303 here in Saskatchewan.
     

  4. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Will do anything an '06 will do.
     
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  5. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Hello HWL,

    The owner of Hannes Swanepoel Safaris told me a local client (Limpopo District, South Africa), showed up in camp with a sporterized Lee-Enfield .303, and hand loaded Woodleigh 215 grain round nose softs.
    I don’t recall the velocity any more but it was slow, by today’s standards.
    He may have said “2100 fps?

    At any rate, the fellow bagged several animals, most of which were pass-through shots, with somewhat larger than .30, to about golf ball sized exit wounds, indicating the bullets were “mushroomed” before exiting.
    The most interesting autopsy result was from a large bull kudu.
    The bullet had travelled nearly the full length of the animal and was found at the opposite end with again, perfect mushroom shape.

    Personally, I wish one of today’s double rifle makers would produce one in .303, at a working Joe’s price ($10,000. to $15,000., according to features, ejectors vs extractors, fancy wood vs plain, etc), with 26” barrels and classic lines.
    Merkel already does this but with 23” short barrels and never in .303, for some weird reason.
    Seems to me such a rifle would sell like mad, at least for a couple years until the market became saturated, might take longer than only a couple years.

    Regarding African critters, if you’re planning on hunting eland, zebra and waterbuck, I’d bring that .400 NE of yours.
    But for most other “normal” sized antelopes and warthog, I expect your .303 will do just right.
    Well anyway, load it with good bullets and shoot it straight, you’ll be happy.

    Cheers,
    Velo Dog.
     

  6. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    A classic for sure! I would definitely take it. Related to this, while in RSA, on a farm, I found a .303 case with a diamond on the headstamp. Found out from the PH, it was probably shot by his father or grandfather when there was an ammo factory in Kimberly.
     
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  7. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Fanatic

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    Agreed it's a good cartridge, but let's not get carried away. :whistle:
     
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  8. BWH

    BWH AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    It’s has sure served many well on Safari & the battlefield.
     

  9. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    Hi, Velo Dog

    ...you already answered my next question!!! .....what bullet to load?

    I think, my first attempt will be a 215 gr Woodleigh round nose.

    Scope is next question...

    Because my .450/400 has iron sights only, I think a "light" 3-9xsomething scope will be appropriate?


    HWL
     

  10. Rick Cox

    Rick Cox SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I was raised up in the Peace River country and used good ol .303 which accounted for a lot deer, moose and a few grizzly.
    That pair would be a nice combo.
    For what it is worth, Pawprint Safaris in SA uses one as a rental rifle.
     
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  11. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    This is what I built and stocked in the Lee Speed fashion for myself on a 1901 BSA MLE action. I was able to trade into a very nice 5 shot magazine to complete the reproduction. Have done a number of these stocks now and find they are about as user friendly as any rifle I have had in hand. BSA 303 Lee Speed.png Photo2416.jpg Photo2417.jpg
     

  12. IvW

    IvW AH Legend

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    With the right bullets it will do anything you will need on African plains game. In the Nr.1 action if you reload it would be, well just about an ideal and classic all round light caliber in an excellent rifle. With 215 gr bullets you could hunt up to eland no problem...

    By all means take it but do not leave the 450/400 at home..
     

  13. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    I will...so help me god!!!

    ;)

    HWL
     

  14. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Enthusiast

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    Took a lee-enfield number V mk1 as my only rifle my first African Safari. With 1940’s ammunition (cordite loaded no less).
    It did just find on Wilderbeast.
     

  15. Fred Gunner

    Fred Gunner AH Enthusiast

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    In my humble opinion the Lee-Enfield SMLE MK III is the fastest bolt action combat rifle ever fielded.. Note I said fastest not the most accurate. I’ve owned three and currently own an Ishapore 2A1 rifle in 7.62×51mm NATO caliber. I use it for hunting here in the Adirondacks.

    In its day the .303 cartridge was the best battle cartridge and since it was fielded with the British Army in Africa from the Boer Wars right through WW2 it was naturally used to hunt African Game…I’m sure poachers are still using them to this day.

    That being said it’s about the last Cartridge and Rifle combination it would hunt African game with.
     

  16. lwaters

    lwaters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I have a Ruger no 1 in 450/400 also. When I was looking for a no 1 to go with it I wanted a 303 British or a 30-40 Krag. I think in the no 1 with good hand loads either will do what the 30-06 can do. I like rimed rounds for the no.1 but I couldn't find either one so I bought the 30-06.
     
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  17. 1dirthawker

    1dirthawker AH Enthusiast

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    after looking up some load data on the 303, they only load it to 43,000 cup max. i suspect that in a single shot you could (if you thought it necessary) load it up to 56,000+ like a 308 or 06. i bet it would have similar velocities for similar bullet weights and your ruger #1 would manage that nicely.

    as velo dog noted, it still kills stuff plenty dead, just like it has for over a hundred years. well, unlike a 30/06 the 303 bullets will likely just bounce off of game. ;)
     

  18. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    used within its ballistic capability, however yo load it, it is useful.
    what kills it is that the main rifle it is used in is the lee enfield.
    while a good military rifle in its era, it has a crap trigger, and stretches brass woefully due to being rear locking.
    the 10 shot mag, so useful in battle, is a hindrance in a hunting rifle.
    and don"t forget to make sure all rims are on front of lower ones in the mag, or it will jam.
    some find cock on closing not to their liking.
    a good blow on the back of the firing pin will override the safety and permit an accidental discharge.
    as a nostalgia piece, a ruger no 1 in 303 would be nice to own.
    more nostalgia with a martini.
    with 150 gn bullets it has a place, and another place with the 215 type bullets.
    the mk7 military load was totally unsuited to hunting (ethically), while the mk 6 load had certain merit.
    bruce.
     
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  19. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    Finding a Ruger No. 1 in .450/400 3" NE as well as a .303 British in almost new condition made me really happy!

    I checked the Woodleigh Bullets Loading Manual and found, 2300 f/s are possible with 40,0 grs of Norma 203B and the 215 gr Round Nose in the American & European Cartridges Section.

    Only 2140 f/s seem to be possible with H4350 in the Section British Cartridges & Double Rifle Cartridges.

    I think, to choose the American load and to rely on the strength of the Ruger No. 1 is justifiable.

    Loads calculated with "Quick Load", meeting European CIP standards, seem to be even more powerful.


    HWL
     

  20. HWL

    HWL AH Fanatic

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    Of German & Austrian origin, I was born with a Mauser M98 in my right hand and a Mannlicher-Schoenauer in my left!;)

    There are a few things on this planet, Germans never have tried to improve..... the Lee-Enfield is an example.:sneaky:

    But I think the .303 British is a fine cartridge, close in performance to the 7mm Mauser.(y)

    And it contains a lot of history....


    HWL
     

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