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May 07, 2008

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Alberta Bear Hunt: .303 British

303british In case you’ve never noticed our sporting Canadian brethren are a bit different from us, eh?

Go into any Canadian store that sells hunting stuff and you’ll see that the ammo section usually features an ample supply of ammo in .303 British, which was certainly the case with the local hardware store here in High Level.

Converted sporters chambered in that venerable British military cartridge are still very much in vogue with hunters who call Canada home.

One of the guides in camp, Randy Erasmus, wouldn’t shoot anything else.

“I have a .303 and shoot a 180-grain,” he says. “My dad brought that rifle from the Army and gave it to me. That’s the fastest gun I’ve ever had. That’s my baby. I have a new .30-06 I got a while back but it is covered in dust. I don’t even know why I bought it.”

The standard 180-grain load has a muzzle velocity of 2,460 fps more or less and generates 2,418 foot-pounds of energy. Sighted in about an inch and a half high at 100 yards, the bullet will be dead on at 150 and strike 3 inches low at 200. The round starts to run out of steam at longer distances, dropping more than 16 inches at 300 yards while carrying 1,300 foot-pounds of energy.

—John Snow


Jim in Mo.

I had a very good friend (now deceased) who bought a military .303. I helped him sight it in and he asked me if I thought it would be a good deer 'round. I said Pat thats probably the perfect deer 'round.


Yes, it's true that it's long-distance performance is not the best. However, just remember the round was used by the British in their military rifles from 1897 to 1956 with dramatic results - the Lee-Enfield No.4 was ranked as the third best military rifle of all time, well ahead of the Mauser and just ahead of the Garand.

My son has a No. 4 and I have a No. 5 Jungle Carbine (ROF) he calls "Pepe, the little mule" because of its recoil, but he wants it whenever I'll part with it. And it'll take any game up to 200 yards with iron sights. It shoots better than most men can with more expensive arms.