Surplus Ammo Questions

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TurboCam92
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Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by TurboCam92 »

I recently bought a batch of British .303 surplus ammo, and discovered that one of the rounds had a crack in it. I figured this was to be expected, since they are over 70 years old, and I was okay with it since I wanted a deactivated one for my Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk. I display anyways. After going through the other 99 rounds, I found two more with similar cracks and a tracer. After pulling the bullets out, I discovered that the powder had congealed together into a solid mass.
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My questions are as follows:
1. What do I do with these cartridges with the solid chunks of powder? I’m fairly certain throwing them away is at least mildly dangerous.
2. What do I do with this tracer? I can’t exactly pull the bullet off by hand (like I did the other three) and empty it out, and I know for certain it’s not a good idea to throw it out.
3. What is the best way to deactivate the primers on these rounds? I know the ones with the congealed powder are a different matter, but I still have one casing that is TECHNICALLY live, since it still has the primer.
4. What do I do with the powder from the first round?

Any assistance is appreciated!


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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by lurker »

i'd try soaking in water but i think i've heard wd-40 deactivates powder and primers. or, once you get the powder out, just feed them thru your rifle to punch the primers.

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by senorgrand »

Does your local range have a "dud round" canister?
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by lurker »

wait, is that cupronickel? what's the headstamp?

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by SailDesign »

lurker wrote:wait, is that cupronickel? what's the headstamp?
Good eyes... They're not boat-tailed, though. :(
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

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SailDesign wrote:
lurker wrote:wait, is that cupronickel? what's the headstamp?
Good eyes... They're not boat-tailed, though. :(
i wouldn't expect them to be. the vast majority of Cu-NI bullets i've seen are ww1 vintage (if not older) and all of the bullets of that period i've seen (admittedly very few) were flat-based. from my reading the british made .303 in cupronickel well into ww2.

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by TurboCam92 »

lurker wrote:
SailDesign wrote:
lurker wrote:wait, is that cupronickel? what's the headstamp?
Good eyes... They're not boat-tailed, though. :(
i wouldn't expect them to be. the vast majority of Cu-NI bullets i've seen are ww1 vintage (if not older) and all of the bullets of that period i've seen (admittedly very few) were flat-based. from my reading the british made .303 in cupronickel well into ww2.
I don’t remember the exact head stamp on them, but all of three rounds with the cracked casings were dated 1941.


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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by CDFingers »

I'd not shoot them. Get new brass to reload, or buy commercial ammo. Pricey, but not dangerous.

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

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lurker wrote:
SailDesign wrote:
lurker wrote:wait, is that cupronickel? what's the headstamp?
Good eyes... They're not boat-tailed, though. :(
i wouldn't expect them to be. the vast majority of Cu-NI bullets i've seen are ww1 vintage (if not older) and all of the bullets of that period i've seen (admittedly very few) were flat-based. from my reading the british made .303 in cupronickel well into ww2.
We had some lovely mid-50s stuff at Bisley oneyear. Boat-tailed CuNi, lovely acurate stuff rumoured to have been made for sniper use in Malaya. Shot my best-ever 303 target with that.
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by TurboCam92 »

SailDesign wrote:We had some lovely mid-50s stuff at Bisley oneyear. Boat-tailed CuNi, lovely acurate stuff rumoured to have been made for sniper use in Malaya. Shot my best-ever 303 target with that.
Then maybe it’s good that I separated it from all of the copper-jacketed rounds? LOL Image


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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by shinzen »

The powder makes good plant food. Not 100% sure on the tracer bullet, but you could take the empty cases to the range and pop the primers while you're there. The range should have a discard for the tracer?
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by lurker »

SailDesign wrote: We had some lovely mid-50s stuff at Bisley one year. Boat-tailed CuNi, lovely acurate stuff rumoured to have been made for sniper use in Malaya. Shot my best-ever 303 target with that.
i'm well past the limit of actual knowledge here, but i was under the impression that boat-tail bullets came into common use post-ww2 (nato?). i have two buckets of bullets for reloading 30-06, one is flat base, allegedly pulled from 30-06(included a couple of tracers), and the other is boat-tailed, pulled from 7.62 nato.

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by beaurrr »

Some of those 303 rounds can be funky. I have some early '60s Pakistani stuff filled with Cordite that gave serious hang fires.
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by SailDesign »

beaurrr wrote:Some of those 303 rounds can be funky. I have some early '60s Pakistani stuff filled with Cordite that gave serious hang fires.
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But, there is NOTHING like the smell of Cordite in the morning to wake you up.
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by Bang »

shinzen wrote:The powder makes good plant food. Not 100% sure on the tracer bullet, but you could take the empty cases to the range and pop the primers while you're there. The range should have a discard for the tracer?
Does it really? I'd always imagined gunpowder is pretty toxic stuff to get inside you. It doesn't harm plants?

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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by Mason »

Bang wrote:
shinzen wrote:The powder makes good plant food. Not 100% sure on the tracer bullet, but you could take the empty cases to the range and pop the primers while you're there. The range should have a discard for the tracer?
Does it really? I'd always imagined gunpowder is pretty toxic stuff to get inside you. It doesn't harm plants?
It's potassium nitrate. Fertilizer.

Edit. Nitrocellulose. My bad. Nitrogen. Plants like nitrogen. Nitrocellulose is also film. Old negatives can be used as smokeless powder.
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by rascally »

Mason wrote:
Bang wrote:
shinzen wrote:The powder makes good plant food. Not 100% sure on the tracer bullet, but you could take the empty cases to the range and pop the primers while you're there. The range should have a discard for the tracer?
Does it really? I'd always imagined gunpowder is pretty toxic stuff to get inside you. It doesn't harm plants?
It's potassium nitrate. Fertilizer.

Edit. Nitrocellulose. My bad. Nitrogen. Plants like nitrogen. Nitrocellulose is also film. Old negatives can be used as smokeless powder.
Plants *LOVE* nitrogen, and ammonia. They also love (and need, the more the better) carbon dioxide.
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Re: Surplus Ammo Questions

Post by AndyH »

rascally wrote:Plants *LOVE* nitrogen, and ammonia. They also love (and need, the more the better) carbon dioxide.
Plants do love those things within a range - too much fertilizer will just wash away and contribute to a dead zone somewhere. Too much CO2 leads to warming which plants definitely do not like as they have evolved a fairly narrow range of comfort. Even in a greenhouse - some CO2 enrichment leads to faster growth. Adding too much kills the plants.
https://www.maximumyield.com/the-missin ... co2/2/1214

Old powder is a fun way to start the fireplace (just have a little bit of extra draft if you add pyrodex and don't want the smoke alarms going off! :w00t: )

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