• .256 inch and .276 inch Enfield Experimental Ammunition

    .256 inch and .276 inch Enfield Experimental Ammunition
    Authors: P. Labbett and P.J.F. Mead (Unpublished Enfield Pattern Room Manuscript)
    Source: Courtesy of Advisory Panel member Wheaty
    Format: 36 pages (text and technical diagrams)

    Sample pages ....

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    [quote]Pattern Room .256 inch and .276 inch
    Enfield Experimental Ammunition Study

    PDF file size = 51.68 Mb

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    Additional Credits: Original hard copy of complete manuscript provided courtesy of Advisory Panel member Wheaty and scanned with thanks to ~Angel~.

    Observations: by Badger
    Extracted from ".256 inch and .276 inch Enfield Experimental Ammunition"
    By P. Labbett and P.J.F. Mead (Unpublished Enfield Pattern Room Manuscript)

    By 1903 the first Mark of .303 inch Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifles had been approved for service, progressively replacing the earlier Lee Enfield and Lee Metford long rifles and carbines with the new rifle intended for common use by infantry, cavalry and other arms. Notwithstanding the fact that the SMLE rifle later proved itself as one of the most efficient bolt action rifles of all time, its initial introduction in Britain met with considerable adverse comment, not least from the target shooters who saw in the SMLE weapon inherently less accurate than the earlier long lee Enfield.

    The War Office, for somewhat different reasons, also had some reservations and did not see the SMLE as the long term future rifle. As early as 1908 the Chief Superintendent of Ordnance Factories had recommended to the Director of Artillery that .256 inch calibre ammunition to a new design should be made up for trial to gain experience with high velocity rimless cased ammunition. These ammunition trials had been extended by 1909 to include .276 inch calibre ammunition, the weapons being suitably chambered barrels of the appropriate calibre screwed on to Lee Enfield actions with the actions being altered to have front locking lugs to gain improved accuracy.

    In December 1912 the scale of issue of the Pattern 1913 "Experimental" Rifle (click here) and ammunition for troop trials, to be issued by May 1913 was shown as:

    Rifles Issued:

    Cavalry: 300 rifles (100 to each squadron in each of three cavalry regiments, one in South Africa, two in Britain.
    Infantry: 560 rifles (70 to one company in each of eight infantry Battalions, seven in Britain, on in Egypt)
    School of Musketry, Hythe: 75 rifles
    School of Musketry, Bloemfontein 75 rifles

    Ammunition Issued:

    Troops abroad - 250 rounds per rifle
    Troops at home - 700 rounds per rifle
    Schools - 500 rounds per rifle

    .276 inch ball cartridge
    RL 18000C (Troop Trials Cartridge)

    Overall Length: .................. 3.23 in. (82.0 mm)
    Case Length: ..................... 2.35 in. (59.7 mm)
    Head Diameter: ................. .528 in. (13.4 mm)
    Rim Diameter: ................... .517 in. (13.1 mm)
    Bullet: .............................. 165 grain, CNCS envelope, 98/2 lead/antimony core, secures by 6 indents 1.265 in. (34.7 mm) long.

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)
    (PIC Courtesy of TonyE)

    RL 18000C differed from RL 18000A, apart from having a different bullet, only in minor case details. The "C" variant had a slightly greater powder capacity by having slightly thinner walls and case head. The "C" variant also had a circumferential groove and cap chamber. The primer cap was of copper containing 0.6 grains of composition.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. There were a number of different .256" and .276" cartridges trialled between 1910 and 1913, and the one the P.13 is chambered for is design RL 18000C.

    Examples of the round are scarce rather than rare and fetch around $40 - $50 each in the UK. Most were made at Royal Laboratories and are headstamped simply R(arrow)L. There were also examples made at Kings Norton Metal Company (KN) and Greenwood & Batley (GB) but these are extremely rare. Strangely, the Canadian government let a contract to Winchester in 1916 for these rounds, which are headstamped "WRA Co 8-16".

    Here are pics of the 5 round charger for the P.13

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Here are pics of some various rounds for the P.13

    In the picture on the left of four rounds, they are from left to right:

    Ball ..... headstamp "R^L"
    Tinned Inspector’s dummy, no primer ..... headstamp "R^L"
    Wood bullet drill, no primer ..... headstamp "R^L"
    Ball, Canadian Winchester contract ..... headstamp "WRA Co. 8-16"

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    The steel dummy cartridges (pic on the right) are two of the experimental rounds that preceeded the RL18000C design used in the P.13. There were a considerable number of these, but not all were made as live ammunition. The steel dummies were made to test action and magazine design. ..... (Feedback by "TonyE")

    2. Here's a pic comparing the .276 Enfield cartridge against other common military cartridges of the day. I included the .280 Ross because some publications have stated that the .276 Enfield is identical to the .280 Ross. A look at the picture will show that to be erroneous. (Like the Pedersen cartridge, there were a number of development stages for the .276 Enfield, but all were basically the same in appearance.) ....... (Feedback by "Jim Keenan")

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: .256 inch and .276 inch Enfield Experimental Ammunition started by Badger View original post
The SMLE 1903-1989