The famous.303 British is the longest serving military caliber in history. It was the main round used by the British from 1889 to 1950.This cartridge has a storied past including credit for the dispatching of Baron Manfred Von Richtofen the famous Red Baron. It has felled everything from mice to elephant and it is still in use by various military units to this day. And there are good reasons for this longevity. It is a very efficient catridge. The .303 is not only a renowned military round it is highly successful in the hunting fields and on target ranges. It is used thusly in the U.S. but is more popular in Canada and Australia.
The .303 was sprung upon the world in 1880 as a blackpowder round for the Lee-Metford rifle. It fired a 215 grain cupro-nickle spitzer bullet that was all the rage at the time. After this came cordite and nitrocellulose until finally being replaced by smokeless powder as were all other military firearms in the rest of the world. Bullet weights run from 150 to 215 grains. Power wise I would say it is on par with the 30-40 Krag or the 7.62x54R of Moison-Nagant fame.
I reload my own ammunition and I’ve found that the most accurrate bullet for the .303 is the 174grain Sierra matchking. I have a Lee-Enfield rifle No4 Mk1. It was made at the Long Branch Arsenal in Canada. It is a rugged dependable rifle. The bolt operates as smooth as butter with its famous short throw of 60 degrees. The trigger is typical military with a bunch of travel and a bit of creep but is easy to get accustomed to. I have mounted a variable 4 power scope on it so at 100 yards it gives a 1.75 inch pattern. Not bad for an old warhorse. It has a 10 round detatchable magazine, a sling, and a leather cheekpiece on the butt which really aids in firing the scoped rifle. And I must say it truly truly kicks like a mule!
I have used this rifle to hunt deer, wild boar, and antelope. I have never felt it was even remotely underpowered for anything I have used it for. It is well balanced and a breeze to carry in the field although a tad on the heavy side. Like many well made military firearms it has proved utterly dependable in many different weather conditions including one memorable Montana hunt when the mercury dipped to 31degrees below zero. It was terrible weather but when I pulled the trigger the rifle went bang. It is also easy to clean and maintain.
The .303 is used in several rifles such as the Short-Magazine-Lee-Enfield (S.M.L.E.) Mk I, II, and III as well as the No4 Mk1 and Mk2. It has also been chambered in other military rifles as well as custom made rifles. It served the British military for well over 50 years. And It has been proving its worth for all those years through many historic events. And though some thought its sun had already set this venerable round has proved them wrong. It is an old cartridge but is still as reliable and effective as the majority of modern rounds developed to replace it. Ido not know if it is the cartridge itself or the famous Lee-Enfield rifle that makes this my favorite centerfire round. But I have been a devoted fan ever since I saw one many years ago while watching a movie in which a young and dashing Peter O’Toole held one in his hands in Lawrence of Arabia. I guess I have become a Lawrence of Montana!