Sniping Cartridges – 7.7x56mm R (.303 British)

The inclusion of the .303 British in my list of sniping calibers is based solely on its historical significance. As far as I can tell, there is no current sniper rifles chambered in the legendary .303. The reason is simply because the .308 (7.62×51 NATO) out performs the .303 in every aspect and the odd .311 diameter bullet just does not have a lot of support and as such does not have many good choices available. The .303 did see extensive action in WWI and WWII as a sniping round, especially in the No 4 Mk1 (T). This rifle/ammo combination was a very good performer, and served the British troops until well after WWII when finally the L42A1 was adopted (The L42A1 was a modified No4 Mk1 (T) with a shorter fore-end, and chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO). The limited availability of modern rifles has made the options for ammo shrink as well. PMC used to load a match load for the 303 but they are no longer in the picture either. There are still a few good components available, specifically the 174gr Sierra Match King bullet, so reloading some match grade ammo is an option. The size of the bullet is a bit odd (.311) so that makes availability of different bullets fairly small as well. I have talked to HSM about potentially loading some match grade ammo using that Sierra bullet and they would be willing if there was interest.

Recommendations: This round is used primarily in the ‘Historic’ sniper rifles, but in reality, it would serve just fine in both a limited military role and in a Law Enforcement situation. It doesn’t penetrate as much as the .308 but still yields good energy. The only problem is finding rifles and ammo in this caliber.

Military Applications:

Note: The ammo I choose is the Hornady Custom Classic 303 British round using a FMJBT in 174 gr.

  • Hornady Custom Classic, 174gr FMJBT – 2475fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)

+19.7 +34.2 +41.0 +38.8 25.8 Zero -40.9 -99.8 -179.9 -284.7

Energy (Muzzle – 2366 Ft.-Lbs.)

2035 1740 1480 1253 1056 889 748 634 544 476

Wind Drift (inches) – 10mph Crosswind

0.8 3.4 8.0 14.8 24.0 36.1 51.1 69.4 90.9 115.7

Law Enforcement Applications:

Note: Because pretty much all of the other loads for the .303 British are designed for hunting, I have decided to stick with the same Hornady custom classic load as I specified in the above military area. If a match grade load becomes available with the 174gr Sierra Match King, it would probably be a good idea to look at it here.

  • Hornady Custom Classic, 174gr FMJBT – 2475fps

Bullet Drop (Inches)

50y/46m 100y/92m 200y/183m 300y/275m
0.0 Zero -5.1 -18.0

Energy (Muzzle – 2366 Ft.-Lbs.)

2196 2035 1740 1481

Wind drift (inches) – 10 MPH crosswind

0.4 0.8 1.6 2.5