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Ps should i inform police or lose it deep in garden?
Dummy Drill cartridges are by far the most numerous of any type of .303 inch ammunition. In addition to the eleven types of drill cartridge formally approved for British service there was a plethora of expedient, semi-official types and Local Patterns introduced, adding up to the twenty eight included on these pages.
Within a given Mark there were often several patterns as the type evolved, for example the Dummy Drill Mark III, such that if these variations are included the total of different types approaches fifty. This makes precise identification difficult in some cases as there are considerable similarities between types.
Obviously the primary function of a drill round is that it should be inert, but beyond that there is a conflict of requirements between appearance and functionality.
The Dummy Drill cartridge was intended for training troops in the handling and functioning of their weapons. To meet this requirement the cartridge needs to be dimensionally a copy of the service ball cartridge, but visually as different as possible to avoid accidents caused by confusing a live round with a drill round. The “Textbook on Small Arms, 1929” states that it “must conform to standard .303 inch limits, and must be of sufficiently robust construction to function continually in the rifle or machine gun when worked by hand.”. As will be seen, the problem of durability was one that continually exercised the minds of designers in both World Wars. The use of “Dummy” was dropped from the title of this type of cartridge in May 1922 and henceforth simply included “Drill”. "Dummy then came to be used exclusively for Inspection rounds.
Dummy Drill Mark I
"Cartridge S.A. Dummy Drill Magazine Rifle Mark I" was approved in February 1890 and shown in LoC Paragraph 6057 dated July 1890. The title was later changed to "Cartridge S.A. Dummy Drill .303 inch Mark I".
The cartridge used the service case with either a Boxer or Berdan cap chamber but without a cap. An empty round nosed brass bullet envelope was soldered into the neck and the cartridge was tinned all over. In February 1905 it was ordered that two pairs of holes should be bored in the case at right angles to each other but this appears to have been seldom done judging by surviving examples.
Initially reject ball cases were used so that the headstamp could be any of those of the Powder Ball Mark I or II, but later new Berdan cases were made that included the headstamp "R/|\L I".
It was found that the bullet of the Mark I worked loose in service so a strengthened design was introduced.
Dummy Drill Mark II
"Cartridge S.A. Dummy Drill Magazine Rifle Mark II" was approved in November 1898 and shown in LoC Paragraph 9519 dated April 1899.
Like the previous Mark, the Mark II used the service case with either a Boxer or Berdan cap chamber but without a cap. An empty round nosed brass bullet envelope was soldered into the neck and further secured initially by coning the case neck into the bullet and later by adding neck indents. The cartridge was tinned all over.
In February 1905 it was ordered that two pairs of holes should be bored in the case at right angles to each other but this appears to have been seldom done judging by surviving examples. Cartridges were to be re-tinned when the tinning wore off.
Initially the Mark II was made by converting obsolete blackpowder ball cases so that the headstamp could be any of those of the Powder Ball Mark I or II, but later new Berdan cases were made that included the headstamp "R/|\L II".
Dummy Drill Mark III
"Cartridge S.A. Dummy Drill .303 inch Mark III" was approved to design RL 12859 in May 1903 and shown in LoC Paragragh 12451 dated October 1903. The word "Dummy" was dropped from the title in 1922.
This was a more economical drill round than the previous marks but proved unsuitable for training machine gunners in WWI. Despite this the Mark III was used throughout the war and over the period of its use underwent several changes.
As originally introduced, it consisted of a reject service case with Berdan cap chamber but no cap. A plain round nosed wood bullet was fitted into the neck and secured by indenting and the original ball headstamp was covered by a cancelling ring. The case was tinned.
The first change was in February 1905 when it was ordered that two pairs of holes be drilled in the case at right angles to each other.At the same time it was stated that new production should no longer be tinned and that existing rounds would not be re-tinned when the tinning wore off.
Above: Original tinned Mark III with plain wood bullet.
In 1907 the plain wood bullets were ordered to be dyed red.
Consequently any combination of the above features may be found on surviving rounds, including some American contract cases with Boxer primers that were converted during WWI. The Dummy Drill Mark III was widely made throughout the Commonwealth and so a very wide range of headstamps can be found.
Right: Later Mark III without tinning but with case holes and red wood bullet.
Dummy Drill Mark IV
With the introduction of the spitzer bullet on the Ball Mark VII a new drill round with a corresponding wood spitzer bullet was also introduced.
"Cartridge S.A.Dummy Drill .303 inch Mark IV" was approved in November 1910 and shown in LoC Paragraph 15630 dated October 1911.
It consisted of a brass service case with a Berdan anvil and fire holes but without cap. The case had two pairs of holes drilled at right angles to each other and was un-tinned. A red pointed wood bullet was seated and secured by neck indents. Reject ball cases were used and the headstamp was overstamped with a cancelling ring.
The round proved to be too fragile in service, the point frequently breaking on the bullet, so it was declared obsolete in 1913 and production reverted to the round nosed Drill Mark III.
Dummy Drill Mark V
The rapid expansion of the armies during WWI resulted in a demand for large numbers of drill rounds and the wastage rate added to the problem. The Drill Mark III was also found unsuitable for training machine gunners so a new drill round was called for. Experiments were held with two types of die-cast drill rounds but neither were adopted. Instead a new economical drill round was approved, again using reject ball cases.
"Cartridge S.A. Dummy Drill .303 inch Mark V" was approved in March 1917 and shown in LoC Paragraph 18972 dated August
A brass service case without cap was used, either a reject or a fired ball case with the headstamp overstamped with a cancelling ring and the anvil set down. Two pairs of holes were drilled in the case at right angles to each other and a defective ball bullet which had been reduced in diameter to .303 inch was secured into the case neck. The whole round was blackened for identification.
Originally the bullet was secured by a single heavy neck cannelure but in February 1918 this was amended by LoC Paragraph 20477 to a double cannelure if there was no wood distance piece in the case. If the latter was present then the bullet was to be secured by three indents. In April 1918 LoC Paragraph 20911 instructed that all future supplies of the Drill Mark V should have the wood distance piece and the bullet secured by indenting.
Dummy Drill Mark VI
The Drill Mark V proved to be insufficiently robust for service, even with the double cannelure, and was also easily confused with a live ball round and so a new drill round with a distinctive white metal case was introduced. It is believed that this design was proposed by Birmingham Metals and Munitions Company.
"Cartridge S.A.Dummy Drill .303 inch Mark VI" was approved to design IDW 4049 in July 1917 and shown in LoC Paragraph 20299 dated April 1918. The title was changed in May 1922 to "Cartridge S.A.Drill .303 inch Mark VI" and again in March 1928 to "Cartridge S.A.Drill .303 inch D Mark VI".
In 1934 the Royal Navy modified their Drill Mark VI by chrome plating and the mark was advanced to "Cartridge S.A. .303 inch D Mark VI*"
The case was of cupro-nickel or white metal with three vertical flutes. The cap chamber had no anvil or fire holes and these were painted red after about 1920.
The bullet could be either of two types:
The early bullet was made of scrap cupro-nickel of .303 inch diameter and secured in the csse by two heavy neck cannelures. No wood distance piece was fitted with this type of bullet.
The later type from May 1918 (LoC Paragraph 20911) was a service Mark VII bullet reduced to .303 inch diameter and supported on a wood distance piece. It was secured by neck indents.
The very earliest rounds had a ball headstamp, but cases made before about 1928 were marked with the numeral "VI". Later cases were headstamped with the code "D VI" and after chroming, Royal Navy rounds has an "*" added to the headstamp.
In 1918 one lot of Drill Mark VI were made using Inspector mark V cases and these had the original headstamp cancelled with a ring stamp
...maybe hopefully help
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‘R /|\ L’ is the makers mark - Royal Laboratories, Woolwich.
‘D VI’ is for Drill Mk6. Will date to 1930’s/WW2. It’s pre-1945, as it has Roman numerals. .303 rounds made from 1945 onwards used Arabic numbers.
Nice find, and okay to keep for the collection