The Perfect Cartridge for the Lee-Enfield

I realize my following statements are going to shock many of you; please don't misinterpret what I am going to say.

After a long and useful life, I think the 303 British cartridge has seen better days. In a word, it is obsolete! Just like the 219 Zipper, the 348 Winchester, as well as a host of others, the 303 British has outlived its usefulness!

A parallel argument goes like this; we don't use 100-year-old steam-powered locomotives to haul our trains any longer. Why would we, when there is a much better option! So it is true for the 303 British. Why use this cartridge when there is a much better option?

You will probably be surprised to know that my pick as the perfect replacement is a series of wildcats based on the 444 Marlin cartridge! Why this cartridge?

Four great reasons:

  1. It is a stronger case with a heavier and thicker web.

  2. It feeds perfectly through the old 303 magazine.

  3. It fits the bolt-head of a Lee without any modifications.

  4. Finally, it uses a standard base diameter making a host of modern cartridges available for use.


Here is a perfect example. You purchase a Remington 700 take-off barrel in 308 Winchester. Turn the threads to fit the Lee-Enfield, extend the chamber and a new cartridge is born called the 308 x 444. To reload this round, use standard 308 reloading dies. This die only functions as a neck sizer die. To size the base, use a 444 Marlin die.


    (From left to right: 308 Winchester, 308 x 444 Marlin, 308 x 444 Marlin fully formed, 30-06 for comparison)

If you use a 7mm-08 barrel you can duplicate 7x57 Mauser performance. If you are a 6.5 fan, the 260 Remington fits. You can reload all of these cartridges with standard, easy to obtain reloading dies. No custom reloading dies are required.

If you take this concept to the extreme you end up with a power house call the 375 JDJ!

J.D. Jones, the president of SSK Industries, became famous for turning the Thompson Contender into what he called a "hand Cannon". The #4 Lee-Enfield is a little stronger action the the Thompson Contender. If J. D. Jones is able to get 2000 fps out of a 12 inch Contender barrel with a 270 grain bullet, what do you think will happen when this cartridge is used in a 24-inch Lee-Enfield barrel? You can do the math on that one!!


(Note: the JDJ version utilizes an Ackley shoulder. From left to right: 308, 338, 8mm, 35, 9.3mm, 375, 416 cartridges.)

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