How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

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Damper
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How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

Post by Damper » 05 Feb 2019 18:30

I'm curious in particular about the period pre 1939, and whether they considered the effect of the .303 rimmed round on a future Semi Automatic Rifle.

Gary Kennedy
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Re: How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

Post by Gary Kennedy » 05 Feb 2019 19:58

There's some discussion midwar, in Progress Bulletin (Infantry) of August 1943.
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Knouterer
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Re: How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

Post by Knouterer » 18 Mar 2019 09:30

While a rimmed cartridge makes sense in a single-shot rifle (such as the Martini-Henry) it is not practical in any kind of magazine. The British were planning to replace it with a rimless .276 cartridge even before WWI, but the outbreak of war prevented the change. After the war, there were so many weapons chambered for the .303, plus ammunition and machinery for producing it, that no change was contemplated.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.276_Enfield
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Sheldrake
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Re: How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Mar 2019 11:15

Choosing a small arms cartridge is one of those little decisions that can be very difficult to change. Like choosing railway gauges, video or PC operating systems.

At the end of WW1 the British had huge stockpiles of .303 ammunition and weapons to use this cartridge equiping the armed forces across a third of the globe. As the armed forces re-equipped to face the threat of Hitler, redesigning small arms cartridges was far from close to any priority for funding. In the C19th small arms was the leading edge military technology,. Differences between muzzle and breach loading repeating and magazine rifles altered the course of history. By 1939 differences in small arms were insignificant compared to engines aircraft, radar, tanks and anti tank guns bombs and atomic weapons.

Even in regarding infantry weapons British attention was gripped by whether to adopt a machine carbine or sub machine gun, and how to give the infantryman an anti tank weapon.


Post war the British did look at the enfield .280 cartidge as the base for a Bullpup
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EM-2_rifle But NATO went for the 7.62mm US round. However the EM2 may have been an exercise in cleverness at the expense of robustness and the ability to take up a fire position on either side of cover...

See also https://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/SA-80

Juha
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Re: How much thought did the UK put into replacing the .303 rimmed Cartridge.

Post by Juha » 19 Mar 2019 13:41

IIRC British were thinking to switch over to rimless before the WWII but only the RAC got mg using rimless ammo, namely 7.92 mm Besa. This was possible because the chain of supply of the RAC was separated from the other fighting arms of the British Army.

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