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I'm relatively new to guns, but just got a british 303 rifle. Im used to shooting my Mauser and Mosin-nagants at about 25c a round and dont want to pay $1+ for ammo. I received about 150 rounds of mixed berdan primed surplus 303 with the gun, of which i shot a hundred rounds in two range sessions. I was looking into getting into reloading and wondered if there is any, clean (non-hydraulic method), economical (not the $80 rcbs tool) way to deprime these? and is there any priming tool that will work straight out of the box for berdan primers, or will I have to modify one? I was looking at getting a lee turret press. will this work for these primers without too much modification? Thanks for the answers
 

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The odds are that your once-fired military brass is going to use the .250" berdan primer, which hasn't been commercially available in the US for some time. Almost impossible to find.

You would do far better buying some Boxer-primed Privi Partizan, which you can get for a bit under $.75 a round (plus shipping) from a number of suppliers on the Internet. Check in with Gun-deals.com for 14 current, various, .303 offerings.

On the site, shipping is listed for the quantity ordered (typically one box, one package, or one case). This can mislead you as to the total cost per round. You can optimize your shipping cost by opening up an order form on the selected supplier's website and vary the number of boxes ordered from the site until the itemized shipping cost hits the next price level. (The last time I ordered 7.63 Mauser online, this 'step' happened at the sixth box. I ordered five.)

Don't think of it as $.75 a round. Think of it as $.35 a round to shoot, and $.40 a round (plus shipping) for the reloadable brass.

When it comes time to reload the brass, you can break down some of your 7.62X54R for bullets and powder, you just need to reduce the powder charge you use in the .303 case to a level more appropriate to .303 pressure limitations. I am sure that someone who has done this will come along and give you an idea of what powder charge would be appropriate in your .303.


Reloaded .303 Boxer brass has a reputation for short case life, due to some unique issues regarding the Enfield headspace standards used during WWII. There are ways around this problem. The simplest one is to neck-size only your fired cases and if you end up with multiple Enfields, keep the cases segregated to the gun they were initially fired in. For further improvements in case life, research the 'o ring trick' that can be used when initially firing the ammunition in a given gun.
 

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Just buy some Boxer cases and forget the others. You'll thank me later.
+1

Hello TCHAND,

I've been reloading for 42 years and the ONLY Berdan primed brass I reload are older British Kynoch cases for my .450 NE 3 1/4" and .500 NE 3" double-rifles. Nitro-Express brass is quite expensive, so it's worth the effort. I purchased 2,000 Berdan primers for this brass years ago and have worked my way through approximately half of them.

However, I only use the Kynoch loaded ammunition for practice on the range. I deem it too dangerous to use in the field compared to Boxer primed cases. This is due to the potential of accidentally damaging the anvil when removing the spent primers. The last thing one wants in a tight spot is a miss-fire! While I have never had a miss-fire yet with the Berdan primed cartridges, over the years I have thrown out about 1/3 of the cases I started with due to accidental damage of the anvil.

Right now at Midway, a box of 20 Bertram Boxer primed brass for .450 NE 3 1/4" or .500 NE 3" brass costs $104 for 20 cases. That's $5.20 per case! This is why I make the effort to reload the older Berdan primed Kynoch cases for practice. I use my new Bertram Boxer primed loads in the field.

However, .303 British Boxer primed brass is much less expensive! You can buy Remington brass for $ .60 per case (plus shipping). If you don't use maximum loads, neck-size only and anneal every other reload, the brass should last for at least seven to eight reloads.

http://www.natchezss.com/product.cfm?contentID=productDetail&prodID=FAAE223GTV#q=.303%20brass

Compared to the headache of trying to find the right size Berdan primers for surplus .303 cases, this is without a doubt the best way to go.

Hope this helps!

Warmest regareds,

JPS
 

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Right now the advice to buy PPU (PRVI Partizan) brass or ammo is about the best advice anyone can offer.
The .303 Lee-Enfield rifles can produce short case life with most American made brands because they measure about .450 just in front of the rim. This causes excessive expansion and leads to case head separation. Normal reloading practice will often yield only 3 or 4 reloads per case.
PPU measures .454 to .455 at that same location. The Lee-Enfield's chambers measure about .460 at the same point. Some US made brass has the shoulder far short of the chamber shoulders. All of this you cannot do a lot about except use PPU brass and moderate loads.

If you are a good shopper/scrounger you can get started without too much pain, especially if you find an experienced reloader to help you find the right equipment.

A good start on an equipment list is:


  1. Several good loading manuals - Lyman, Speer, Hornady. Learn the mechanics and safety requirements for reloading and handling primers and powder safely.
  2. A good table to mount the press on
  3. Work space with good lighting and humidity control to prevent rust
  4. Heavy duty single stage press with compound mechanical advantage. These are the presses with the 2 long links that attach to the toggle block. No the fastest but certainly the most flexible. Examples are the Lee Classic Cast, RBCS Rockchucker, etc. I think Hornady and Redding each make several. There are some old ones around that are excellent and there are a lot of cheap junkers.
  5. Good dies - most brands work OK some work better. I like RCBS, Redding & Forster dies. Lee's also work. You will need shell holders too.
  6. ***A good balance beam scale*** - Ohaus makes many of the scales in use. I like the triple poise scales like the RCBS 505 and the older scale sold by Pacific, Hornady and Bair that had 3 poise - I find that the triple poise scale is easier to set than the rolling drum type or those with 2 poise. If you cannot find or do not like the triple poise scales the RCBS 5-10 works but is more expensive. *** Electronic scales are not recommended for weighing powder but are excellent for weighing bullets and cases. If they malfunction you do not have a good way to detect it unless you keep a check weight set handy.
  7. A set of Lee dippers can be your first powder measure or you can take your pick. The RCBS Uniflow is very common used for $25 to $50.
  8. Deburring tool - RCBS or Wilson are both good and will last a life time but a pocket knife with work in a pinch.
  9. Case trimmer - for small scale reloading the little Lee trimmer tool with removable length pilots work OK. If you trim a lot the Forster is about the most versatile and common trimmer. Certain designs on the market really stink. Hornady makes one but the design is not too hot. RCBS makes what looks like a decent trimmer but they are more expensive and are not as common on the used market. Collets and pilots add cost some. A lot of Wilson trimmers show up used at decent prices. With a Wilson trimmer you have to buy case holders. Accurate but a expensive if you buy a dozen.
  10. Loading blocks
  11. Imperial Case lube
  12. Hand priming tool - this can wait if the press has a good priming system.
  13. Powder funnel
  14. Dial Calipers - some of the cheap Chinese calipers work OK
  15. Good micrometer when you have spare cash in the future.
  16. MTM or similar 50 round cartridges boxes in the correct sizes for your ammo
  17. Doodads
    1. primer pocket cleaners - you can modify a 3/16" common screw driver or use an electric screw driver bit.
    2. A hand punch set to knock the primer out of really nasty cases - also good for military brass
    3. An tapered tool with no sharp edges to open the mouths of dented brass- these are usually improvised out of a cheap screw driver or something similar.
    4. A glass pan or plastic tub to wash cases in.
    5. Plastic primer flipper
    6. A piece of Scotch Brite to scrub corrosion off of the occasional case.

Comment where I got it wrong or missed something.
 

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1. There is info here in the ARCHIVES if you care to search. Some of your questions have been answered before
2. Don't start investing heavily in a reloading setup until you determine where, if and how much POWDER you can get your hands on. While some ammunition is making a slow come back, reloading POWDER has been almost totally absent for almost two years now! You can obtain bullets, brass and primers but start your search for POWDER that can be used for your particular caliber and bullet selection. Unless you can score a large enough quantity to keep you loading for six months or more, exercise in futility!
 

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One thing you can do with a Lee-Enfield is stand a fired case beside a new case or a factory loaded cartridge that has never been fired.
So this with a half dozen cases just for practice. Turn your fired round in 60 to 90 degrees increments and compare the case perpendicularity to a new straight case. If your brass looks like the Leaning Tower of Pizza your rifle may be a problem to load for. Wear, clearance between the reciever and bolt plus the clearance in the bolt head threads may allow the bolt to forced out of line with the barrel. You can also see a symptom of it when the firing pin dimple in the primer is way off center.
 

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Hello Gents,

I fire my .303 in a Canadian Mk II M1905 Ross and by neck sizing only and annealing, have never experienced the wear that you describe? I have no trouble getting seven to eight reloads per case with mild loads. Is the SMLE that much different in terms of chamber dimensions? I've never fired any of the No I MkIII SMLE's.

Warmest regards,

JPS
 

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JPS yes the Ross is very different, significantly it was pulled from general service because of it's tight chamber that made it unreliable in the field using service grade .303 ammo. The Happy Medium in chambers is the P-14.. mine is tight but still reliable chambers and ejects any milslurp I feed it.. very easy on brass.. nice.

I reload for about a dozen Enfield's .. (was for 10 for many years but recently I have been tripping over No5's and I broke down and bought a couple) Anyway.. my longest relationship in reloading for Enfield's is a pair of Factory wrapped unfired sequentially serial numbered No4 mk2's made in the mid 50's .. Peace Time.. not rush jobs.. the cream de la cream.. beautiful Rifles once I got the cosmo off.. Blonds.. BUT I cannot chamber once fired brass from one in the other without full length resizing.. in fact, to get them to shoot to the same point of aim the loads have to be a half grain different. And it is all chamber difference near as I can tell ... they both will chamber any 70 year old dull brassed milslurp I care to feed them without problem .. ( I was curious given the once fired brass problem) but I only feed them HXP if I am going to actually fire the round or reloads on HXP brass. Proper care on neck sizing and midrange loads along with the rare annealing and I am up in the teens on reloads on the brass, with no sign of brass problems or web thinning.. mostly I attribute that to the quality of HPX brass. I mostly use HPX brass, but I have some 1940's WRA and Canadian DI in reserve if I ever run out of the HXP ( not likely, once I discovered the quality, I bought every round I could find and imported about 1000 virgin cases to boot) .. I keep 100 rounds of segregated brass for each Enfield, and each Enfield had to go thru the full load work up to find the best load for each rifle. Not that I load the same powder and bullet weight for all of them.. One of the reasons I held off for so long on buying more No.5's is that , in my dotage, I have to load light loads behind 123 grain AK style soft point bullets to be able to enjoy shooting a No. 5 ( good accuracy out to 200 yards and adequate for local deer inside 100 yards with proper placement, and very pleasant and soft on my old shoulder, Kids love them as well). My goto powders are IMR4064 and then IMR 3031 as second choice.
 
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