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  1. #1
    Member EddieB's Avatar
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    Ammo, Corrosive or Not

    I recently picked up a new Enfield that came with a 50 cal can full of ammo. I have searched and searched. I find all kinds of information but nothing definitive about it being corrosive or not. I would appreciate any and all help. The Sellier & Bellot is in a box so I included a picture.




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    Really Senior Member Bruce_in_Oz's Avatar
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    The "DA" headstamped stuff is WW2 Canadianicon, and is both Mercuric-primed and "corrosive". Quick guide; if the primer cups are copper-coloured, the primers will be Mercuric-based. The corrosive thing? Treat ALL ammo as corrosive until proven otherwise; then clean properly anyway.

    The S&B uses Lead-based primers and MAY be corrosive.

    As an Australianicon growing up expending a LOT of .303 ammo, ALL of which was corrosive AND mercuric, I was made well aware of proper cleaning at an early age.

    Don't worry too much about the "mercuric" thing because that is only relevant to the reloading life of the brass. The chloride salts deposited by "corrosive" primers are what kills barrels.

    Thorough cleaning, as soon as possible after firing, will keep your barrel in good shape. Leaving it for a couple of days may do some nasty things to the rifling. A basic "wipe through' at the range and a thorough job when you get home will keep the rust bugs at bay. Re-cleaning and oiling a few days later is also a good idea.

    Just oiling it is not enough, as the salts are only water-soluble and will start to attack the barrel steel under the oil film.

    If you have a LOT of the DA stuff and intend to do a fair bit of "rapid' shooting, your barrel may just get some accelerated throat erosion. That is because the original "Cordite' propellant burns VERY hot. It is not "bad" ammo, just "full of surprises" for the unwary.

    In actual military systems, appropriate cleaning facilities and materials are provided and proper cleaning procedures are / were taught and enforced.. In "civilian" life? Not so much.

    Timely and appropriate cleaning is a LOT cheaper than a replacement barrel.

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    Member EddieB's Avatar
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    Thanks Bruce. I think I got one other headstamp in the batch, I will post a picture of that one when I get a chance.

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    Member EddieB's Avatar
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    Two More Images

    I found 2 more types. From what I can see the HXP 73 is non corrosive and should be good ammo. The other one is Winchester ammo so I would assume it is non corrosive, but I figured I would ask.

    I found this about the Winchester ammo:

    Winchester Western Division of Olin Industries, New Haven, Conn., USAicon. Produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 180 gr Jacketed soft point sporting Ammunition.

    I know this might sound stupid to a lot of people, but is nitro-cellulose corrosive?

    Thanks for any info.


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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    Nitro powder isn't corrosive. The concerns about corrosive effects on the barrel are spurred by the priming compounds whose residue contains hydroscopic salts as laid out by Bruce. It'll do a number on your barrel if left unattended.

    If you see original ball ammo head stamped Mk.VII like your Canadianicon Dominion Arsenal example, it's going to be cordite powder with corrosive primers. If the headstamp is Mk.VIIz, the cartridge will be loaded with nitro-cellulose powder and most likely have non-corrosive primers but not always. That being said, treat ALL ammo as corrosive and you'll never have a problem with it.

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    Member EddieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Dickicon View Post
    Nitro powder isn't corrosive. The concerns about corrosive effects on the barrel are spurred by the priming compounds whose residue contains hydroscopic salts as laid out by Bruce. It'll do a number on your barrel if left unattended.

    If you see original ball ammo head stamped Mk.VII like your Canadianicon Dominion Arsenal example, it's going to be cordite powder with corrosive primers. If the headstamp is Mk.VIIz, the cartridge will be loaded with nitro-cellulose powder and most likely have non-corrosive primers but not always. That being said, treat ALL ammo as corrosive and you'll never have a problem with it.
    Thanks Brian, your reply cleared up the nitro-cellulose question. I originally though that was what the primer was made off, now I understand that is the "powder". So any thoughts on if the Winchester round with the ww supper headstamp would have corrosive primers. I couldn't find anything stating if Winchester ever used corrosive primers.

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    Advisory Panel Nigel's Avatar
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    When I was a Cadet, as soon as we finished shooting and whilst the barrel was still warm, we would swab out the barrel with a patch soaked in Aquoil (3 parts water and one part Youngs 303). We used to call it "milk" because it was a milky colour. Obviously the water in the mix would neutralise the salts from the Mercuric primer. As soon as the patches started coming out clean we would revert to neat Youngs.

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    Really Senior Member jonnyc's Avatar
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    Not sure about the Canadianicon .303, but lots of Canadian wartime ammo was non-corrosive.......DUE TO THE PRIMING USED, NOT THE POWDER. The S&B commercial, Winchester, HXP are all NON-corrosive primed.

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    Member EddieB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyc View Post
    Not sure about the Canadianicon .303, but lots of Canadian wartime ammo was non-corrosive.......DUE TO THE PRIMING USED, NOT THE POWDER. The S&B commercial, Winchester, HXP are all NON-corrosive primed.
    Thanks for the post JonnyC. I have been looking and looking for info, for several days at this point, that is way I posted. Do you have any resources (links\websites) that you used to figure this out (for my future reference)? or are you using your personal experience with the different rounds?

    Just wanted to learn in case I run into this situation again the in future.

    Thanks Again

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    Really Senior Member Sunray's Avatar
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    The absolute best .303 Ball I've ever fired was 1944 vintage DA issued to my Cadet Corps(which I later Commanded) back in the Fall of about 1980. I was a BNIB Civilian Instructor. It was way more accurate than the IVI crappola we got later.
    1944 vintage DA stuff is not corrosive. No Cordite in it. The only "solvent" the CF issued for cleaning weapons, of any kind, was 10W-30 motor oil. We had no issues with rusting.
    The S&B and Winchester is current commercial ammo. It's not corrosive either.
    The HXP is Greek milsurp.
    Nitro-cellulose is "gun cotton". Used to make single base gun powders like most IMR stick powders. Nothing to worry about.
    Spelling and Grammar count!

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