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Thread: .303 British: Reeellly light gallery type loads?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    .303 British: Reeellly light gallery type loads?

    Short explanation: my younger brother suffered a whiplash injury bad enough he was designated 100% disabled for work and sent into early retirement. Amongst the other stuff, his specialist told him his days of shooting his centerfire rifles are over. Even the hand shock from shooting his recurves aggravates the injury, but he built himself a 45 lb long bow for hunting and finds that tolerable. His rimfire rifles he can still shoot with no problems.

    So... one of his rifles is a No. 4 Mk1 Lee Enfield I gave him a few decades ago. He's heading over here in a few days, and I want to put together a REALLY light load that he can try and see if he can shoot it without irritation. Something below "The Load" levels of velocity and resulting recoil. I'm hoping that something with a velocity of about 700 - 800 fps with either one of my 175/185 grain moulds will be something that doesn't aggravate his neck injury. At least that would allow him to shoot targets/gophers, etc out to hopefully 50 yards at least.

    I'm thinking/guessing of starting with 5 grains of Bullseye, W231, Clays, 700-X, Red Dot, Unique, C-300 (some of what I have on hand) to see how that goes and what the chronograph tells me. I'll be checking the bore after every shot for a bit to ensure I haven't stuck a bullet in the bore before the next round goes in the chamber.

    Before I start assembling loads... anybody out there who's already done something similar in .303 British with similar weights of cast bullets? How did it go and what kind of velocities and accuracy did you get?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I used NOE version of 314299 without the GC, lubing with Lee Liquid Alox and loading bullets as-cast and unsized. 5 grains of any of the powders you mentioned will get the bullet out of the barrel OK. No filler is necessary with the easily ignited flake pistol or shotgun powders. I got best accuracy with 6 grains of Red Dot or 700X, which gave a bit over 1000 fps. I set the battlesight at 500 yards to zero at 100 yards. Accuracy was as good as military surplus ball ammo. Increasing the charge got higher velocity and was louder, but did not improve grouping. I would work in the range of 5-7 grains and see which your rifle likes.

    Above 8 grains bullets will lead unless gas checked.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    I haven't tried going that slow but do you have any .32 H&R boolits around? Might be able to make a nice light accurate combo with that.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I haven't gone that light but I do have a couple of lighter than normal boolits I've used over moderate charges of IMR4227. They'd likely recoil a bit much for your purpose but...

    One mould is the Mihec 316410 130 gr. solid or 126 gr. HP. It shoots very well from my guns but does not feed from the magazine due to short boolit.

    The other is a homemade mould clone of the Ness Safety Bullet I made when there was a group buy going on. I wanted it but was concerned that the enormously deep HP pin would be a problem with sticking so I made a push out smooth sided mould with same pin and found that it cast really well and didn't stick! In the end I decided not to get in the group buy and just used my mould. This one is a 150mgr. HP and it feeds just fine.

    Point being if you go for a really light boolit it may not feed. I'd suggest the Lee 0.312" 155 or 165 gr. for .303.

    Longbow

  5. #5
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    If plinking at paper or groundhogs, how about the Lee 90gr. semiwadcutter on top of Red Dot or Unique? No recoil, super accurate and fun to shoot.
    About the injury, can a chiropractor help?
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  6. #6
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    If you want to shoot the .303 at very short ranges , get yourself a Chamber Adapter to shoot pistol ammo out if it.
    I bought ones for my .303 , .308 , .30-06 and 7.62x54.
    I shoot .32 S&W and .32 S&W long but haven't tried .32 H&R yet.
    They are so quiet that they sound quieter than my .22s.
    At .50 yards they are accurate once you adjust your sights for the lighter handgun rounds.
    I found that it is easier to reload the handgun ammo that I use with a Lee Classic Reloader than to try and Reduce Rifle loads down to mouse fart loads.
    Your rifle loads can also be loaded the lighter pistol .32 caliber Boolits that makes a good Gallery load.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    You can use a 32 pistole bullet 90 to 100 gr with 3.2 of bullseye. This is a very good 50 yard load just like a really good 22 rifle. I tumble lube with Alox or white label 45/45/10. This is a very good load in 308,303 7.62x54r . I use the lee tl.314 90 gr swc. I also use the lee .311 100 gr 2R in my 308.sized .311 in 308. The 7.62x54R and 303 I use the .314 90 gr swc not sized load as it dropped from the mold.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    I've used as little as 3gr Clays to drive boolits through the bore 170 up to 198 gr if I remember. The bore tends to get rather sooty. 5gr of Clays gave good velocity (sub-sonic) and accuracy behind a 141 gr paper patched boolit. I'm only finding 4.4gr loads as a minimum in my notes but with 180gr to 194gr boolits. Those are slow enough anyway. I have used 5gr of Trail Boss which is quite light. Lighter than 5gr Clays.
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  9. #9
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    What Jniedbalski said. Any cast .32 cast pistol bullet of .314 weighing 85 - 118 gr over 3.2 gr Bullseye [no wad or filler needed] will be less than shooting a 22LR in a light sporter.

    Or as you surmise use your bullets and start with 5 gr Bullseye and work up to 8 gr. Should keep them below 1200 fps.
    Larry Gibson

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  10. #10
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    Thanks all. It sounds like I'm in the right place to start, using 5 grains of the powders I mentioned having on hand as a starting point. I can move lighter than that, hopefully, depending on what the chronograph and targets tell me, in the time between now and when my brother gets here in a bit.

    My guestimate is that if I can drop down from a starting point of 5 grains, get down to consistent velocities around 600 fps with these bullets, that would be a reliable load I wouldn't have to worry about sticking a bullet in the barrel, and hopefully accurate on paper as well.

    The pistol bullet approach would be a no brainer, given the much lighter weight, but I don't have any jacketed bullets of that caliber on hand, and THE sporting goods store that serves the area doesn't have anything like that in stock. I can order some up, but they won't get here in time.

    We will see how his neck responds to these light little loads. If they're both physically tolerable and he finds them enjoyable, then we can move on to his 25/06, 30/06, .308 Norma Magnum, and .338 Winchester if he's interested. I'll confess that if I were in his shoes and hunting loads out of my elk and moose hunting rifles was a door permanently closed to me, I'm not sure I would have any much interest in using those same hunting rifles to poke holes in paper at 50/100 yards would be all that appealing. It's a rough go for my little brother for sure; he's not even 60 years old quite yet, and his retirement plan was more big game hunting, not no big game hunting.

    As for the chiropractor suggestion, this is a trauma injury to his cervical spine, not something that can be mitigated or corrected by manipulation. His last trip to the specialist, they were using imaging equipment to push needles from the anterior aspects of his neck to the proximity to nerve networks and then heating the end of the needle to specific temperatures to kill/deaden the nerve for a while at least. He said the doc said hopefully pain would be minimalized for at least six months, maybe more. The bright side of all of this is he's still walking around and living a normal life other than issues with what kind of movement his neck will tolerate i.e. recoil from firearms or shock transmitted through his arms from firing a bow. The things we never think are connected until we find they are... Far, far better for example than a diagnosis of cancer or something similar, which far too many of us have had with our parents and siblings.

    Anyways, thanks to those who shared their experiences going light and others who offered their suggestions. If I have the time, I'll post up the resulting velocities and target results should someone in future also end up deciding to go down this path and be looking for a starting point.

  11. #11
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    Sell one of the Moose rifles for a good .22 LR and go to town. Maybe a .17 HMR?

  12. #12
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    I realize this is sort of off the topic of your request-- but if light loads don't do the job he should consider a lead sled. There are versions of the lead sled that have a bracket that the butt of the stock fits into-- absolutely no recoil to the shooter.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    The Limbsaver slip on pad is amazing for this. I eased back to shooting medium rifles with light loads and the pad; after shoulder surgery once and after brain injury once. The lead sled is recoil free as stated above.

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  14. #14
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    How will these loads effect cases stretching in the web area ?
    I HATE auto-correct


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    What Jniedbalski said. Any cast .32 cast pistol bullet of .314 weighing 85 - 118 gr over 3.2 gr Bullseye [no wad or filler needed] will be less than shooting a 22LR in a light sporter.

    Or as you surmise use your bullets and start with 5 gr Bullseye and work up to 8 gr. Should keep them below 1200 fps.
    Like Larry said 5 to 8 gr. With heavier bullets. I used 5 to 8 gr bullseye with my Noe mold .314 129 gr ,it’s a real sharp point bullet, and lee .312 160 2 r and my Noe .314 202 gr . 6 to 7 gr seemed like a very good load at 100 yards.They where not gas checked. I left them off and lube was 45/45/10 white label or lee alox. I did shoot some at 8 to 9 gr but used a gas check and they also shot good. The only bad thing about this load I can think is you better load a lot because they are so fun that every body that shoots it says can I shoot one more.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krag 1901 View Post
    Sell one of the Moose rifles for a good .22 LR and go to town. Maybe a .17 HMR?
    He's already got a pin driving Ruger 10/22 that possibly the only remaining original part is the receiver. And an Anschutz position rifle. I truthfully don't even know if he'll have any real interest in super light loads out of his existing centerfire rifles - the Lee Enfield was for Service Rifle competition, and I expect that is just as over as the moose and elk hunting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hick View Post
    I realize this is sort of off the topic of your request-- but if light loads don't do the job he should consider a lead sled. There are versions of the lead sled that have a bracket that the butt of the stock fits into-- absolutely no recoil to the shooter.
    We already have one of those in the family - the middle brother suffered a pretty good shoulder separation at work and had to have orthoscopic surgery to put it back together. It's been gathering dust for years; I tried it once out of curiosity and it felt like snuggling up to a rebar jungle (this was the Caldwell version of those out there). I assume the two of them may have already talked about the lead sled, but shooting from a lead sled is a far cry from silhouette competition and service rifle, along with hunting elk and moose.

    It's all worth a thought - as is asking him if he has the slightest interest in benchrest shooting; selling his hunting and fullbore rifles and using that money to have a benchrest outfit built.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    How will these loads effect cases stretching in the web area ?
    Truth to be told, I never thought of it. Nor do I really care - if getting Len shooting again means short case life, I'd just keep buying cases as required.

    Now that you have me thinking of it, my guess is going to be "what case stretching in the web area"? All my cases after purchase have a false shoulder formed at the point where the bolt closing on the case is a light crush fit. So from the first time they're fired, they're essentially headspacing on the false shoulder/shoulder. Reloading consists of a Lee Collet die for sizing until the case gets to the point the shoulder needs setting back a bit.

    With doing that (the same procedure for all my loads, cast and jacketed, in Lee Enfield rifles), my presumption is that there isn't much free room for the cases to be stretching anywhere. Perhaps there are some surprises in store, but if I was forced to bet money, my bet would be that there won't be any unusual case stretching. If I encounter any, I'll post here to report it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jniedbalski View Post
    Like Larry said 5 to 8 gr. With heavier bullets. I used 5 to 8 gr bullseye with my Noe mold .314 129 gr ,it’s a real sharp point bullet, and lee .312 160 2 r and my Noe .314 202 gr . 6 to 7 gr seemed like a very good load at 100 yards.They where not gas checked. I left them off and lube was 45/45/10 white label or lee alox. I did shoot some at 8 to 9 gr but used a gas check and they also shot good.
    Both yourself and Larry's loads have confirmed to me my original guestimate of starting with 5 grains of the various powders I listed is a good place to start.

    It gets a bit weird after that (I think). Most would then see how much more velocity they could get without losing accuracy, leading, having to start using gas checks, etc. I'm going to see how far I can download to reduce velocity (and therefore recoil) while maintaining acceptable accuracy. Now, if the 5 grain starting point is quite comfortable, then of course I can start loading up until we figure out where irritation to his neck injury begins, then step down and back a bit from that point.

    To give an example of how much of a difference is possible, the Lee Enfield with a ball round has a recoil velocity of 9.91 fps and recoil energy of of 13.75 ft. lbs. Harris's "The Load" with this rifle would be roughly half of that: recoil velocity of 5.62 fps and recoil energy of 4.42 ft. lbs.

    In contrast to those, if 5 grains of those fast powders is somewhere up around 1,000 fps (if not less), then recoil velocity is down to 3.1 fps and recoil energy is 1.34 ft. lbs. Not quite a .22 rimfire obviously, but getting there.

    And if it works with the Lee Enfields, then it should certainly work with the rest of his rifles, except possibly the .338 Win Mag. But there are no doubt some short relatively light cast bullet moulds available for that as well.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    If you want to shoot the .303 at very short ranges , get yourself a Chamber Adapter to shoot pistol ammo out if it.
    I bought ones for my .303 , .308 , .30-06 and 7.62x54.
    I shoot .32 S&W and .32 S&W long but haven't tried .32 H&R yet.
    They are so quiet that they sound quieter than my .22s.
    At .50 yards they are accurate once you adjust your sights for the lighter handgun rounds.
    I found that it is easier to reload the handgun ammo that I use with a Lee Classic Reloader than to try and Reduce Rifle loads down to mouse fart loads.
    Your rifle loads can also be loaded the lighter pistol .32 caliber Boolits that makes a good Gallery load.
    Where did you get the adapters? I've only seen them for 32 ACP. I'd love to find a 32 long adapter for all the milsurps I have.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I have had very good luck with 3 to 4.6 grains of Red Dot under the Lee .314 90 gr truncated cone cast bullet. Size as needed to fit 30-30, etc. But for an Enfield .314 should be just right.

    Feels and sounds a lot like a .22lr, but in a heavier rifle recoil is virtually non existent. With a long barrel there is no muzzle blast.
    Powder has burned before the bullet is halfway down.

    I use 2-3 light coats of Bens Liquid Lube, apply sparingly, just a light hint of brass color showing.
    Set in front of a fan, and you can be loading them in half an hour.

    In my .30-30 these shoot to the sights at 25 yards, same setting as full power loads at 100.

    Good luck!
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check