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  #1  
Old 09-26-2010, 04:53 AM
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Forming 303.35 cases


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Evening folks I'm a novice with Wildcats, this is my first - I have a soft spot for Lee Enfields and in particular have wanted a Wildcat based on the .303 case using a SMLE action, it's an Aussie thing. Usually .303 Wildcats are necked down but about 20 years ago I heard about necking the .303 case up to .358 - it was known as the .35 Territory and uses the same overall case length as the .303 British

I'm using a Lithgow No1 Mk3 action and have been researching the various ways of forming my brass. I'm aware the No4 action is regarded as a better option but I like and already have a No1 Mk3

I am organising getting a .303 Lee RGB resizing die, bored out to .358 when the new barrel is chambered and then will be fitting .35 caliber buttons. I've ordered a .358 Winchester tapered expander die set that I plan to do the initial necking up with and have been advised I could fit the button from it into the bored out Lee die. I also have .357 dies I can swap parts from

Neck sizing die - I understand I will need to full length size when forming the brass and that its a good idea to neck size only after first firing as it will increase case life with the .303 case as it's prone to stretching due to the Lee Enfield action and the case design with it's long taper. Would you folks simply adjust a full length resizing die to neck size only or would you buy a .35 cal neck sizing dies, Simplex offer them for $30au

Opinions on the above thankyou ?

I have also looked into fire forming the brass. Is it really as simple as shooting off a .303 case in the .303.35 chamber. I reload for my .357 and .44 mag lever rifles so have plenty of ADI2205 and AP70N on hand and will look around for a suitable filler. I have plenty of bee's wax on hand to provide the seal

Am I on the right path? Any and all advise thankyou

I have new Remington and some once fired Highland brass on hand

Last edited by JackoP; 09-26-2010 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:50 AM
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Is your cartridge going to be Improved, with a reduction in case taper and a sharper shoulder, or is it strictly a 303Brit necked up to 35 caliber?

If it's an Improved case, you'll have to fire-form, if not it won't be necessary. Although, every fully-sized case is "fire-formed" to the chamber it was shot from, to a certain extent. If your case is not Improved, you will most likely need to simply neck up the 303 case, prime, charge and seat the 35 caliber bullet. In some cases it is wise to seat heavy-for-caliber bullets just into the lands, over a modest charge of fast burning powder, to finish forming the case. This depends on how close to chamber dimensions your case prep work gets you. These are typical concerns with a wildcat round but nothing that can't be resolved pretty easily.
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:55 AM
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One option for neck sizing is to carefully use a carbide .357 Mag sizer die (if those are available). Yes, you'll have to adjust the technique so that the shoulder isn't bumped back, but I do this all the time for .35 Rem experiments and it works just great. No lube, and very easy to do. If neck expansion is needed to start the bullet, I recommend the Lyman "M" expander, or similar (again, if available).

You can try fire-forming, but my thought would be to do the expansion, load a bullet, and head to the range! Can even use cast bullets for the first firings. Load them long so that they jam into the rifling when the bolt closes.

Good luck.
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:17 PM
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jm - no mate the case is not an improved / epps version, this would be very nice. It's simply the .303 British necked up to to .358.

Most likely I'll be using 225gr or 250gr jacketed projectiles, we'll see which ones gives me the best results but had wondered about loading up the 180gr cast projectiles which are commercial hardcast's using an anti fouling coating I use for my .357 mag and lighter loads to finish forming the cases off after necking up. I have asked for my Gunsmith to ream a tighter chamber and set minimum head space

What is the thinking behind using heavier bullets for the first firing ?

Mike I have a .357 mag carbide die set, I will have a play and see how I go with it. Is there a minimum or maximum clearance from the shoulder or is this trial and error.

What is the thinking behind loading cast bullets so they jam into the rifling?? I assume over a light charge but still the risk of skyrocketing pressures concerns me

Lastly being a naturally lazy bloke I have received advice to just load up a .303 cartridge and bang away to form cases - has it's appeal on a no work basis BUT I'm also naturally cautious - wouldn't the bullet just rattle down the bore and there be a risk of throat damage?

Thankyou for your advise gents, you've been helpful

regards Jacko
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:36 PM
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It doesn't hurt anything to start out cast bullets touching the rifling. The engraving pressure is so much lower than jacketed that there is no comparison. In fact, they seem to shoot best that way and it is suspected that starting the bullets at the rifling helps the powder start burning more uniformly.

Also, if you needed to fire-form the cases to the chamber, then having the bullets touch the throat would help keep the case back against the bolt for that first firing. So, if you can find some data for that bullet weight it might be fun to experiment. Do be sure to get all the copper out first (if it has been previously shot with jacketed bullets). I think you will be amazed at what cast bullets can do at rifle velocities, if they shoot well. Last thought, be sure to use gas-checked bullets if possible. If not, stay away from max loadings or the barrel may lead badly. Your rifle will tell you when it's time to stop adding more powder if lead starts to build up in the bore.

Varget a.k.a. Mulwex 2208 I think may be a good choice for cast bullet loadings. I am using Varget with cast bullets in both the .30-30 and .35 Rem with very good results. The .35 Rem probably has a little less case capacity than what you propose. If it were my gun, I would start those 180gr. cast bullets off at about 40 grains of Varget / 2208 and see how it goes. I'm loading slightly more powder than that in a .35 Rem case so I don't think you can get into trouble at that level. Probably 45 grains is a more realistic starting load but one needs to be cautious about cartridges for which there is little published data.

Just size the necks as best you can with the .357 carbide dies. You'll feel the slight bump as the carbide ring hits the case shoulder. With a light touch on the press handle it should be no problem. That will save you the cost of buying a neck sizing die and again, in my experience, it worked great and I hope it does for you as well.
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  #6  
Old 09-26-2010, 04:26 PM
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If the game you're going after isn't too heavy or tough, don't overlook using the 200gr Remington Core-lokt bullets. They perform very well at the velocity range you'll be getting.

Here's an exhaustive review of 35 caliber bullet performance...

http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/i...ic,7180.0.html
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2010, 03:16 AM
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Mike I load my .357 and .44 mag to around 1800 fps with Westcast coated hardcast projectiles and am very happy with how they shoot out of my Lever rifles but there is no suitable commercial hardcast projectiles available in Australia for the 303.35 that I have found.

I do not have the facility just know to cast my own projectiles despite beginning to gather wheel weights, pick up a mold for the .357 etc but am intrigued with the process of casting my own projectiles and paper patching. I think this 303.35 would be a great candidate for Paper Patching

JM that's a heavy read on Marlin owners, I will go back and read it thoroughly

I have tracked down some old load data that lists powders still available today, I'll bet the formula's have changed some so it will serve me as a guide only. I have also tracked down a couple of fella's that shoot 303.35's - they have given me some of their data and through my own research I have cross referenced it all and feel this 303.35 will shoot just under .356 / .358 Winchester levels. I think the No1 Mk3 action will be up to me pushing the 250 gr projectiles to 2300 fps with ease, WE WILL SEE.

I have bought a box of 225 gr Speer Game Kings simply as they are about the cheapest Jacketed bullet on the market. I will keep looking for suitable cast bullets. I have the Lever rifles for small to medium game and intend this rifle for game up to the size of Red Deer and Scrub Bulls. I have been told that in times past the 303.35 or 35 Territory as it is also known is a very effective Samber deer cartridge, of which the stags can be huge.

thanks again

regards Jacko
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  #8  
Old 09-27-2010, 07:18 AM
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The gist of the article from the Marlin site is that the 200gr Remington PSP Core-lokt and the 180gr SSP from Hornady work surprisingly well, at the indicated velocity. For deer and smaller, these are good options in jacketed bullets, for cartridges of modest capacity.
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