1940 Short Video on British Ammo Making in South Africa
Russ Chastain 10.16.20
(Image: Screenshot from video)
Have you ever craved a bit more than two minutes’ worth of British ammo-making video from 1940? Me neither… but I didn’t know what I was missing.
“How it’s made” type videos are usually interesting, especially when they’re about ammunition. This one gets right down to business by showing molten brass being cast into billets to become the cartridge cases.
Pretoria, South Africa is where this is taking place, and the legendary 303 British cartridge is what they’re making. From billets the brass is rolled into thin strips, then small brass cups are punched out which will eventually be formed into the cases, or shells.
Large lead cylinders are pressed through forming dies to make lead wire, which will form the bulk of each bullet. Our British narrator enjoys some interesting turns of phrase.
“It’s the core of the bullet — the ‘go-to-it’ end of the cartridge.”
Hunks of lead wire are cut to length and shaped properly, then “they’re tipped with metal and fitted into the envelopes.”
Eh what, old bloke? One must assume an “envelope” is what we Americans call a jacket.
Each bullet gets inspected by a real live person.
“There’s still room for the human element; after all the machines aren’t blessed with blue eyes.”
The “detonator caps” mentioned are what we’d call primers, of course.
I love the cordite! It’s reeled off of large spools like string, a bunch of which are fed through machinery where “it’s cut into strips and pressed into the cases.” I reckon this is how modern cylindrical smokeless powders appear before being cut into the short little bits we weigh out and put into our hand-loaded cartridges.
Watching the bullets being seated is also interesting; instead of seating one at a time, a large tray of cordite-filled shells has a perforated plate laid over it with the bullets, then a flat plate laid over all and the tray set under a press. Down with the press, and the ammo is built.
“And that, my dear Chumley, is how the point-three-oh-three cartridge is made. So pick up your rifle and… go to it.”