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.303 inch Rifle Grenade

If the proliferation of early blank cartridges is confusing, then the nomenclature and identification of the rifle grenade discharger cartridges of World War One is considerably worse. It is often impossible to confirm the identification of some of these without either having the packet label or disassembling the round. Once the nomenclature and headstamps changed in the 1920s there was no longer any problem. 


Short Rifle Grenade Mark I


The static trench warfare that dominated most of World War I was the impetus for the introduction of the rifle grenade. 

"Cartridge S.A. Blank .303 inch Short Rifle Grenade Mark I" was approved to design CIW 6125 on 1st March 1915 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 17122 dated March 1915. It was for use with the first of the rodded grenades, the No.3 Mark I.

The case was the normal service case with the neck left uncrimped but sealed with beeswax and shellac. Any contemporary ball headstamp may be found.

The charge was 35 grains of Cordite size 3 3/4  with a 1 grain tuft of guncotton at each end.


No.3 Mark I Grenade

Rifle Grenade 35 grains Mark I

"Cartridge S.A..303 inch Rifle Grenade 35 Grains Cordite MDT Size 3 3/4 Mark I" was approved to design RL22146/1 in April 1915. It was declared obsolete for Land service in April 1918 and for Naval service in June 1919.

It appears to be a re-titling of the above round.

The case was the normal service case with the neck left uncrimped but sealed with beeswax and shellac. Any contemporary ball headstamp may be found.

The charge was 35 grains of Cordite size 3 3/4  with a 1.4 grain tuft of guncotton yarn at each end.



Rifle Grenade 37 1/2 grains Mark I



"Cartrdige S.A. .303 inch Rifle Grenade 37 1/2 Grains Cordite MDT Size 5-2 Mark I" was approved in 1916 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 18511 "for record" in May 1917.

The case was a normal Ball Mark VII round with the bullet removed. The charge and wad were left in place and the neck sealed with tallow. Any contemporary ball headstamp may be found.

The charge was 37.5 grains of Cordite MDT 5-2.





Rifle Grenade 43 grains Mark I

"Cartridge S.A. .303 inch Rifle Grenade 43 Grains Cordite MD Size 4 1/4 Mark I" was approved to design RL 23605 early in 1916 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 19087 dated September 1917.

The case was the normal service case with the neck left uncrimped but sealed with a paper disc covered with shellac. The complete case was blackened for identification and any contemporary ball headstamp may be found.

The charge was 43 grains of Cordite MD size 4 1/4 with a 1 grain tuft of guncotton on each end.



Rifle Grenade 43 grains Mark II

"Cartridge S.A. .303 inch Rifle Grenade 43 Grains Cordite MD Size 4 1/4 Mark II" was approved to design IDW 3871 in July 1917
for Land service and was shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 19087.  LoC paragraph 19925 replaced the over powder wad with a paper cup.The title was changed in December 1927 to "Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark II"

It was for firing the No.23 grenade with 6 inch rod and other rodded grenades except the No24 and No.35 with 11 inch rods.
It was later extended to Naval service as a line throwing cartridge and after becoming obsolete for Land service in 1945 the title was changed in 1948 to "Cartridge S.A. Line Throwing .303 inch Cordite H Mark II"

The case was the normal service case with the neck left uncrimped but sealed with a paper disc covered with shellac. Early examples had an over powder wad covered in shellac.The complete case was blackened for identification and any contemporary ball headstamp may be found.

The charge was 43 grains of Cordite MD size 4 1/4 with a 1 grain tuft of guncotton on each end. From 1942 WM.042 was authorised as an alternative charge.

Rifle Grenade Ballistite Mark I

"Cartridge S.A. .303 inch Rifle Grenade 30 Grains Ballistite Mark I" was approved to design IDW 4076 in August 1917 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph 19456 dated November 1917. The design number was changed in 1938 by DD/L/8552. The title was changed in December 1927 to "Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark Iz".

It was designed to fire grenades form the cup discharger and was later authorised for the Smoke generator No.8 Mark I and in Lists of
Changes in 1948 was approved for use in shrapnel mines.

The case was the normal service case with the neck left uncrimped. early rounds had the case mouth sealed witha paper cup or a cardboard wad but from October 1917 it was ealed with an inverted paper cup covered in shellac. The charge was held in a paper container. The top half of the case was blackened for identification. 

Originally any ball headstamp was used but post WWI the "VII"code of the ball headstamp was replaced by a "I" and after 1928 the code H I Z" was used

The charge was 30 grains of ballistite but in WWII 31 grains of "Superim" double based powder and Hercules 81mm mortar propellant were both authorised as alternative propellants.




Rifle Grenade H Mark III

"Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark II" was approved to Indian design KF 586 for use in tropical climates.It was the equivalent of the H Mark I as ballistite was not considered suitable for hot climates so Cordite was used instead. it was designed for use with the cup discharger.

The case was the normal service case left open at the neck. It was closed with a brown paper cup that rested on the propellant charge and the open top was closed with a glazeboard wad covered in shellac. The case had two black rings each about .12 inch wide midway up the case for identification.

No examples are known so the drawing from the Kirkee Ammumition manual is shown.


Rifle Grenade H Mark IV

Whilst the principal use of the rifle grenade in WWI had been anti-personnel, the different conditions in WW2 meant that they saw far less use. However, there was a growing need for an anti-tank grenade and so the American M9A1 grenade was adopted by Britain as the No.85 in 1944 for use with the spigot launcher of the No.5 rifle, requiring a new discharger cartridge.

“Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark IV”  was approved to design DD/L/14006.H4 in September 1944 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph C.131 dated August 1945. The nitro-cellulose version, “Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark IV” was approved slightly later. Despite being declared obsolete in February 1949 the H Mark 4z was made in the UK until at least 1953.

The case was the normal service case but differed from preceding Marks by being closed with a rosette crimp.  The case had the top and bottom thirds blackened to distinguish it. The headstamp included the code "H4" or "H4Z

The propellant of the H Mark 4 was 39 grains of Cordite MDT 5-2 with a wad and the H Mark 4z was 37 grains of nitro-cellulose with wad.

As well as the UK, the H Mark 4 was made in Australia but production there differed from the UK as it was intended for use with the No.1 and No.4 rifles so had a slightly heavier charge of cordite; it also had a red lacquer seal over the crimp. Canada also manufactured the H Mark IV but the only examples seen have had a ball headstamp. 



Rifle Grenade H Mark V

"Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch H Mark V" was approved to Design IA.476 for manufacture and issue in India but was not shown in Lists of Changes. It was designed for use with the American M9A1 grenade (British No.85) in hot climates and was specifically not for use in the European theatre of war.

The case was the normal service case closed with a rosette crimp. The inside of the neck was sealed with a glazeboard cup.and the neck was lacquered red for identification. The specification stated the headstamp should be “V” or cancelled ball headstamp with the last two digits struck out. Some are actually headstamped “H5”

It was also manufactured by Pakistan post-Partition. These also have a red lacquered neck.


Rifle Grenade Carbine H Mark V

"Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade .303 inch Carbine H Mark V" was approved to Design IA.98 for manufacture and issue in India but was not shown in Lists of Changes. It was designed for use with carbines fitted to armoured vehicles to fire the No.63 smoke grenade.

The case was the normal service case left open at the neck and sealed with a glazeboard cup covered in shellac. On the side of the case was stencilled "16 GRAINS". The headstamp included the code "H" unless a converted ball case was used in which case the original headstamp was left intact.

No examples are known so the drawing from the1945  Kirkee Ammunition manual is shown.







Rifle Grenade H Mark 7z

"Cartridge S.A. Rifle Grenade H Mark 7z" was approved to design DD/L/14006.H7 in May 1951 and shown in Lists of Changes
Paragraph C.6551 dated March 1955. Its use was extended to Naval service in August 1955.

The case was the normal service case closed with a rosette crimp covered in wax.  Virtually all rounds were made by Fabrique Nationale  in Belgium and have the code "FN" but did not include the code "H" in the headstamp. The lower half is blackened for identification but some early 1950 production was left plain.

The charge was 35 grains of Bofors powder ot 30 grains of NRN10 nitro-cellulose.

It was proposed in 1957 that a UK manufactured version of the H Mark 7z should be sealed as the H Mark 8z, but this was refused on the grounds that it would cause unnecessary confusion and no such rounds entered service.

Smoke Discharger E Mark IT

"Cartridge S.A. Discharger Smoke Generator .303 inch E Mark I.T" was approved to design DD/L/7186 in January 1936 and shown in Lists of Changes Paragraph A.9910 dated August 1936. It was used for discharging "Generators Smoke No.8 Mark I" from SMLE discharger cups fitted to armoured vehicles. It was later replaced by the Grenade Cartridge H Mark Iz.

The case was the normal service case left uncrimped with the mouth sealed with varnished cork. The headstamp included the code "E.I.T" ("E" for Smoke discharger and "T" for blackpowder). The bottom half of the case was blackened for identification.

The charge was 30 grains of RFG.2 blackpowder.






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