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Thread: Paper patching the .303 British

  1. #1
    Boolit Master tacklebury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Paper patching the .303 British

    I'm really struggling to find any of the few .303 bullets in .312 with weights I'm interested in. Has anyone attempted to paper patch .308 leads to work in the .303 british? Just a curiousity question.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Vancouver Island
    Yes I have. I had my best success in sizing them down to .304” and then patching up to .314”.
    A final sizing at .314” for concentricity, and a bit of paste wax applied. ( actually I lubed first to aid sizing the pp bullet )
    I shot an elk a number of years back with this recipe.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy andrew375's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    I am currently playing with pp in my mosin,.3145" groove diameter. Bullets are the Lee 200gr..308 and the 155gr tl. I use them as cast. After patching I lube with briwax furniture polish and push through my .315" sizer. Accuracy isn't great but it's looking promising.
    "Consciousness is a lie your brain tells you to make you think you know what you are doing." Professor Maria Goncalves.

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Brushy Mountains of NC
    I haven't done any in a while but I sized cast to .308 and used 2 wraps of tracing paper to get .316. I then lubed with Lee alox and sized to .314. I have also paper patched jacketed .308 bullets to .312 and shot them in the Brit. Like I said I haven't done it in a while and don't remember all the numbers but it can be done. It is very time consuming. Accuracy is as good as anything else if done properly.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Nobade's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    SE WV
    303 Guy should show up before too long here. He's the master of patching for those rifles.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Castlegar, B.C., Canada
    I made a push out mould for PP boolits for my .308 which worked well and accuracy wass good. The mould cast at 0.301". However, when I tried paper patching for my .303's using the same cast boolit but thicker paper to suit the .303's accuracy was poor. I thought maybe the boolit was undersize since the general approach is to use a bore size to a thou or two over bore size boolit then patch to groove diameter and my .303 bore is 0.303". So I tried knurling those boolits to 0.303"/.0.304" then paper patching to groove diameter and that worked for me.

    I wasn't sure whether it was the diameter increase or the knurling... or a bit of both but it worked. Having read posts where people have trouble with "slicks" and paper patches slipping I am thinking a bit of both.

    My boolits were cast from ACWW so possibly a softer alloy would have responded differently.

    I didn't do a lot of paper patching for the .303's so no significant experience beyond that.

    I'd start with a boolit sized to bore diameter or a thou or two over then patch to groove and try that. Alternately you could patch then size to groove diameter after which seems to work for some people.


  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    +1 to beemer.

    I have an old P-14 with about .3125" groove diameter, and roughly .318"-.320" throat. Lately I've been taking pretty much any .30 cal bullet, sizing it to .310", paper patching, and then sizing the patched bullet to .316" and loading it into a .303 cartridge that's been resized, and run through a .317" expander.

    Sizing the bullet first helps get the outer surfaces even, which makes it easier to put the patch on straight. Patching w/ 2 layers of ~.004" paper increases the patched bullet diameter to .320" or more, which might be okay for my throat -- actually I've fired them like that, from an unsized case, and it works okay -- but sizing the patched bullet again, to .316", makes it seat nicely, with good neck tension, in .303 cases that have been through my .317" neck expander. Also, sizing after patching seems to bond the patch onto the bullet a little. Unrolling one of those patches, and looking at things, shows the paper surface texture lightly swaged into the surface of the bullet, which I'd imagine helps prevent the patch from slipping. So, all in all, I've pretty much settled on this process.

    At least a couple of these techniques are a bit Off The Reservation, but I have evidence that my pressures are perfectly safe -- fired primers stick out of the case head a few thou -- and I've had the experience of hitting 9 out of the 10 two hundred yard silhouettes at a recent BCPR match, which most likely wouldn't happen if the load was no good.

    (What's a P-14 doing at a BCPR match? Another whole story.)

    I haven't mentioned any loading data, partly because tacklebury didn't say what kind of rifle, and the SMLE's can be a little weird with reduced loads, but also because I'm using a filler (to prevent leading, rough bore), which is a completely different subject, probably not appropriate here.

    BTW, "hi" to 303Guy. Look!! I got it working! (Hope you & yours are well and happy.)

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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