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unusual 303 identification please


Staff member
Premium Member
First apologies ,this round is from eodda.s post i deleted it by accident when posting the picture :( .Eodda please can you add your info again
Anyway this was found whilst clearing a wrecked aircraft,A 303 round with a lead spigot does anyone have any ideas what it is
The picture shows a 303 bullet recovered earlier in the summer from an aircraft (Blenheim) crash site in the UK. The aircraft crashed in July 1942 while on a training sortie. As you can see there's a rather odd looking spigot sticking out of the base of the bullet. The spigot appears to be an extension of the core because (apart from a slight ability to 'wiggle') it is solidly fixed in the jacket. It appears to be made of lead and is about the same length as the bullet (approx 34 mm or almost 1.5 inches in old money). The remains of about 200+ rounds were uncovered at the site, but this was the only one of this type that I found. All of the ammunition had 'cooked-off' in the crash and was mostly split open. The majority of the cartridge cases were fired (I don't know if the Blenheim retained its empty cases on firing). I kept one of the cases - it has the Broad Arrow, Roman \"VI\" (for Mk. 6Z ??)and \"1941\" stamped on it. Assuming that the spigot took up space for propellant in the case and would have affected the ballistics of the bullet in flight, the only thing that I can think of is that is is some sort of low power/low velocity training round, but that's only a guess. I've never seen anything like it before. Anyone got any ideas?

I have seen this before on bullets recovered from aircraft crash sites.

I realise it is hard to credit but I believe this is the core of the bullet that has been extruded from the bullet. This can be caused if the bullet had a fibre or compressed paper tip instead of an aluminium one (this was a wartime expedient to save valuable Aluminium). If the round is subjected to enough heat to burn the fibre/paper, but not enough to melt the lead, then the gas pressure produced by the burning tip will force our the lead core. The reason it is so long is that the base of the bullet where the envelope is turned over is smaller than the lead core diameter.

I suspect if you were to section the bullet you would find that this is the case.

I have posted the question on a couple of other forums. Here is a response so far:

I would propose to weigh it first and then x-ray it before you do anything violent to it.

I think that 1st. given answer is very much unlikely.

I would tend to agree. It doesn't look like something that was formed by heat. It is too uniform and manufactured looking.

just my 2 cents....

Will update as soon as I find anything out.
There were no training rounds in service as you suggest. The last of the reduced velocity short range ball rounds (the Mark IV) was pre-WWI.

Also, The headstamp of the case would have been either \"(arrow) 1941 VII\" indicating Ball Mark VII manufactured at ROF Radway Green, or \"(arrow) 1941 B.VIz\" indicating Incendiary Mark VIz made at RG. The Mark VI ball round had a 215 grain round nosed bullet and was long gone from service by that date.

I will be very interested to hear what the bullet weighs, but I assure you it was never made like that.

eodda, can you measure and weigh the projectile. I would be interested in its overall weight and the length of the \"tail\" piece.

The explanation given by TonyE (who is a respected authority on 303) is correct. Although I have never seen this for myself, it has been confirmed by someone with a vast experience of dealing with ammunition fires and also destroying ammunition by burning.

Thank you for the support for my theory. Without having the actual round to hand it is difficult to be sure, but I cannot think of any other way this could have occurred.

One way of confirming would be if the bullet had a makers monogram on the base of the core. If it did and it survived then that would be fairly conclusive evidence.

some of the answers from other sites ref this round

Found many of these in a far past when I searched crash sites from ww2. The given answer that it is the lead core pushed out by heat always was my idea on what they were.

I think the 'answer' as given is true. A long time ago when young and wild I heated several .30-03 bullets to see the tracerlights but sometimes the lead from nontracers came out more or less the same way. I am curious what a Xray will show in this case

these replys are from WK2AMMO
Here is an answer from another site :D

I have been reading with interest all the theories on the 303 with what appears to be the extruded lead through the base of the bullet. It seems to me that no one is going to weigh the bullet or X Ray it so I decided on a simple trial. Get a few .303 ball bullets and heat them up to see what happens. The first problem of course is that it is impossible to tell which have aluminium tips and which have fibre tips so it was just a question of heating a few up by different means. Using the gas ring established two things, firstly the melting point of the lead was quickly reached even just heating up the tip, and secondly it did not amuse the wife. Next I decided on using a small meths burner in the garage, (the kitchen now being out of bounds). I put the bullet in a vice and heated up the tip but nothing happened. On some bullets as well as heating up the tips with a meths burner I used a candle to heat the rest of the bullet moving it when it appeared that the lead was about to melt. As nothing major happened I cut off the top of the bullets to discover that all had aluminium fillings in the tips. Only one showed any signs of extruding the lead.

The last bullet I did had a somewhat different result. I placed it in the vice and began heating the tip as well as the central section lightly with a candle. Watching carefully I could see the lead starting to extrude, and thought this is good. It must have pushed out about a of an inch when after about 15-20 seconds it blew up with a crack similar to a primer going off. Wife then came into the garage not amused and asked what was going on. I still cant find the lead core, but the bullet envelope is shown in the picture. I hope it gives some idea of the force behind the bang. I reckon that if you got the heating just right you could in fact get the core to extrude in the manner shown in the original picture. I guess this supports Tony Es theory.

Once I get over the tinnitus I might give it another go, this time with ear defenders.



Sorry about the delay in replying to the posts on 'my' bullet - I have been away for the Christmas holidays! I will weigh it and will also try and get it x-rayed (might be a little difficult to arrange). Watch this space.

I acknowledge Tony's theory about the extruded lead core. Could be correct...... I am willing to let someone else have a close look at it (after I've weighed it and tried to have it X-rayed). Any takers?

eodda, weighing will be easy. The projectile should be close to 174 grains. As for xray.... a dentist office may do it for you if you ask nice and explain that it wont blow up. They have small xray film so it shouldn't cost very much.
Hi missingsomehing
I will weigh it on some accurate scales when I return to work next Monday: might also 'persuade' resident on-site NDT people to x-ray it for me......

Happy New Year to all

It's coming! I persuaded someone at work to x-ray it and weigh it. I'll get the result on Monday, when I'm there next.

Super..... didn't want to seem pushy but I posted this on 2 other forums and I am waiting with baited breath.

Seems to be a very interesting conversation piece :D

Hi Missingsomething

Sorry I've been so tardy with the weight and photo - I have the info but I've been out of touch for a week.

Spotter - can you please remind me of the address to send piccies to? I'll do it later today......


Empty envelope, weight is 11.29 grams which is 174.2 grains.....

Gentleman, my case rests.