The .300 Sherwood Cartridge

Some Notes on the Cartridge and Rifles in that Caliber.

Robert D. Sherwood, Ph.D.  

    Frank Barnes's "Cartridges of the World" (8th Ed., 1997, DBI Books), p.320, lists the .300 Sherwood cartridge as being introduced in 1901 by the Westley Richards company as an answer to the .310 Greener cartridge in Great Britain.  The first rifles chambered for it were, as expected,  made by Westley Richards and included a Martini action single-shot rifle and the "Sherwood" target rifle.  Other manufacturers did, however, produce rifles in the caliber and examples by BSA (Birmingham Small Arms), Vickers, and Francotte are known by the author of these pages.  Very high end double rifles by Holland & Holland and Westley Richards were also produced in the caliber and in 2002 a "Westley Richards Boxlock Ejector Double Rifle" is offered as a used rifle by Westley Richards for a price of $7,900.  Needless to say, most collectors, who have interest in the caliber, are looking for a more modestly priced example.

    The cartridge itself is of a straight walled design with a rimmed case of length 1.54 inches, .320 diameter, and an overall length of 2.02 inches.  The bullet diameter is .300 (not the much more common .308 diameter of the .30 caliber family of cartridges) and is generally provided with a 140 grain lead or "LT capped bullet".  Barnes lists a muzzle velocity of 1400 ft/sec and a muzzle energy of 610 foot-lbs for a 140 grain JHP bullet as the factory load.  A later chart in Barnes (p. 343) lists a loading of 8.5 grains of "Cordite" for a 140 grain lead bullet producing the same muzzle velocity as previously noted.  

    Two varieties of .300 Sherwood cartridges have been obtained by the author.  Below is a scan of the two with the Kynoch example on top and an unknown manufacturer (no headstamp) below it.  The Kynoch headstamp is also shown. The overall length of the Kynoch is 2.035 inches with a case length of 1.54 inches.  The case diameter just above the rim is .318 very slightly tapering to .315, basically as straight wall case.  The rim thickness is .045 inches.  All of the dimensions are very close to the Barnes listing.  A picture of the Kynoch box is also shown.


 
two cartridges                                headstamp

box


    In an extremely well researched and informative article in the January, 2002 issue of the magazine, Rifle , (p. 199), Ross Seyfried has described his experiences with both the .300 Sherwood and the .310 Cadet.  He provides excellent information on reloading for both cartridges as well as shooting results.  His rifle is a Westley-Richards with a Martini action with takedown capabilities.  His suggestions for obtaining components for the cartridge have helped this author immensely.

   
    After substantial searching, the author has found a  rifle in .300 Sherwood caliber.  Since the .300 Sherwood caliber was trademarked by the Westley Richards company rifles in this caliber are often marked .300 Extra Long as is this example.  The two caliber designations are for the same cartridge and a reproduction of the 1929 Vickers Limited Firearms Catalog (available from Armory Publications ) shows their ".300 Martini Rifle" as being in the caliber .300 Extra Long, but the illustration of the cartridge on the same page is marked .300 Sherwood.  The price of the Vickers  rifle in 1929 was Five British Pounds.

    The rifle illustrated below is BSA manufactured Martini actioned single shot rifle.  Barrel length is just over 24 inches and overall length is just under 40 inches.  Pictures of the rifle, the generous proof marks (and additional information), caliber and manufacturers lines, and the BSA trademark on the left side of the receiver are shown below.

BSA Martini
BSA Martini rifle in .300 Extra Long (.300 Sherwood) Caliber


Proof Marks
Close-up on Proof Marks, Caliber Marking (300), Cartridge Length (1.55"),
and Loading Information (7 grains Cordite powder - 140 grain bullet)

caliber lines
Manufacturer, Country, and Caliber lines on barrel between receiver and rear sight

BSA Trademark
BSA Trade Marks on left side of Receiver

 

    As seen in the pictures, the rifle is in excellent condition and the author is indebted to Mr. John M. Appleton of the John M. Appleton Co . for contacting me when it became available.  Mr. Appleton's only history on the rifle was that it came from an estate in New Jersey where a collector had obtained it in the 50's or early 60's.  It shows no import mark which would indicate it was imported before the Gun Control Act of 1968.  The .300 Sherwood cartridges owned by the author chambered and extracted fully.  .300 Sherwood cartridges are difficult to find and expensive (one dealer had a box of 50 for $150) so the author is reloading cartridges for it.  Bertram (Australia) manufacturers .300 Sherwood cases that are imported by several dealers (Huntington's ).  The Seyfried article provided powder suggestions (7.5 grains of Blue Dot) and and the suggestion that a custom mold be made (Colorado Shooter's Supply) since no cast bullet appear to meet the criteria.  CH4D produced custom loading dies. Comments from readers about possible alternatives and other loading suggestions would be appreciated.  Any comments about this web page are also welcome.  

E-mail: sherwoodrd@comcast.net

    Listing of various loading attempts for the .300 Sherwood cartridge


During the year 2003 various attempts were made to produce a reasonable load for the .300 Sherwood.  Listed below are some of the successes and failures.  This information is presented as a service and no warranty as to how well these loads will work in your rifle is given.  As always it is better to start low and work your way up when it comes to loads (something that I did not do and resulted in split cases).  Some comments about some of the issues encountered is provided after the table.

Date in 2003

Bullet Dia./Weight

Bullet Source

Powder

Lube

GC

General Results

Late March

0.299 in    145 g

Liberty

7.5 g Blue Dot

Liberty

Soft

4 of 4 cases split - TOO HOT

April 3rd

0.299        145

Liberty

5.0 g Blue Dot

Liberty

Soft

1 of 10 cases split - ok accuracy at 25

May 14th

0.299        145    

Liberty

4.5 g Blue Dot

Liberty

Soft

no splits - 2 in spread at 50 yards

July 18th

0.302        130

Huntington

4.5 g Blue Dot

unknown

None

4 in spread at 50 yards

July 18th

0.302        130

Huntington

4.5 g Blue Dot

u + Alox

None

1.8 in spread at 50 yards

Sept. 15th

0.299        145

Liberty

4.5 g Blue Dot

Liberty

Soft

"keyholes"  at 100 yards

Sept. 15th

0.302        130

Huntington

4.5 g Blue Dot

unknown

None

3 in spread at 50 yards

Dec. 15th

0.302        130

Huntington

4.5 g Blue Dot

unknown

Soft

1 in spread at 50 yards


    Some conclusions appear to be reasonable from the data collected.  First the combination of 7.5 grains of  Blue Dot with the Liberty 145 grain bullet (actually designed for the 7.35 Carcano) is not a good load.  The pressure level reached, which after some additional reading appears to be from the reduction in space in the cartridge due to the relatively long (.970 in length)145 grain bullet, is too much for the rather thin walls of the Bertram cases.  A major reduction in powder level reached a point where no splits occurred allow accuracy was generally poor.  It appears that the .299 bullet is not stabilized enough.  Finding a .301-.302 already cast bullet was a problem so a custom sizing die was ordered from Lee in .302 and a lighter and shorter (.835 in length) round nose lead bullet of 130 grains and .308 diameter was found in the Huntington's catalog (item #410). The Huntington bullets are lubed but its type is unknown.  After sizing, Alox was used to re-lube but on later trials this did not seem to be needed.  The gas checks used were a soft type, mainly used by BP reloaders and are available from CFVentures (509 Harvey Dr., Bloomington, IN. 47403-1715, no phone or e-mail, $25.00 for a trial set).  Now that a reasonable level of accuracy has been obtained some experiments with increased powder loads will be undertaken.

It appeared that the front sight of the rifle was too short given that at 50 yards, the rifle had to be sighted about six inches below the target to produce shots close to the center.  Luckily a Lyman sight of greater height was available and it was switched.  This, along with a BSA No. 8 Aperture sight (shown below) which was obtained from another collector late in 2003, has helped rifle accuracy substantially.  

No. 8 sight


    The search for the right bullet for the Sherwood continues with both success and failures.  Liberty Shooting Supplies has gone out of business and Huntington's has stopped carrying the .308 lead bullets used previously.  Graf & Sons carried for a very short time a 150 grain spire point .300 bullet designed for the 7.35 Carcano.  Some cartridges were loaded with 7.5 grains of Blue Dot which again resulted in split cases.  A lighter load of 5.0 grains was successful.   Western Bullet Company carries a 130 grain RN .309 diameter bullet which they list as coming from the Lyman #311410 mould.  Some have been ordered and will be tested as time permits.
 

I regret that I have not had time to really update this page but between some temporary government service and my movement to a new university (Indiana University Bloomington), I have not had much time to devote to the .300 Sherwood

 

NEW RELOADING INFORMATION

 

Mr. Greg Mazur (mazudrilling@yahoo.com) has provided extremely useful information on reloading for the .300 Sherwood in the e-mail below. He has given me permission to add this to the webpage with the standard warning all loads be approached in increments due to variations of bore/barrel and firearms most often apparent in primer deformation. Personally his information would have saved me many problems (and a lot of split cases). His use of IMR 4198 powder really helps in filling the case much better. I have tried his instructions for the Hornady bullet (Graf and Sons is currently carrying them) with IMR (reduced by 10% just to make sure) and had the best accuracy I have ever had and only one split case (probably my fault on belling the case).

 

-----------------------

 

I have been shooting and reloading the 300 Sherwood for 8 years. Approx 180 rds per year.
My gun a Simson SXS cape gun , 300 Sherwood X 16ga. barrel length 28 in. 5 folding express leaf sight. As a hobby I hunt and collect with Drillings and combination guns, thus my email address "drilling" suffix. I find the 300 a perfect turkey/coyote/woodchuck/small game gun.
Since I use my guns for hunting , only jacketed bullets that expand at reasonable velocities are considered. I detest lead cast bullets, they perform poorly on meat, lead the bore and require special reloading techniques. Since most of my guns are made around the turn of the century I subject them to no more than adequate pressure to achieve bullet upset. I have no idea why you experienced a damaged barrel while firing a jacketed bullet from your 300 sherwood. There are other possible variables to consider and it goes against all reloading knowledge to expect it so. Cast bullets, possibly the only bullet available during the inception of the 300 Sherwood, I am confident that had jacketed bullets been available they would have been employed along with todays variable progressive powders.
First task ( which I do with all rifles subjected to cast bullets ), I undertook with the 300 was to clean the rifling/bore of lead. Various commercial solvents were used as well as mercury. Mercury will chemically leech lead from the bore. This produced nice clean rifling and allowed a true bore to be exposed that miked @ .30010 in. I never felt that any bullet over 130gr would allow me the velocity within the pressure boundaries that I had set. I also felt that the powder needed to occupy 3/4 of the case to allow good consistent progressive powder results.

Three bullets found by testing that meet my requirements:
128gr Hornady pointed softpoint dia .300.
128gr spitzer softpoint dia .298 (actually marked 123gr) available from Buffalo arms.
And last a 110gr remington soft point round nose (M1 carbine bullet) dia .307. This bullet dia .307 is run thru a sizing bullet die (avail from CH Tool) and sized down to .300.
All three of these bullets met my criteria, the Buffalo arms bullet available inexpensively and the Rem carbine bullet the least expensive and greatest velocity. The Hornady is hard to find and does not "upset" as well as the other two but works well.
Powder: After much trial and error resulted in 4198

Here are my loads, approach all reloading in increments, observing signs of excessive pressure, no two guns are the same.

128gr Buffalo Arms dia .298
case 1.512 length bertram brass, buffalo arms
primer cci small rifle
13.5 gr 4198
Overall length with bullet 2.325
Velocity @ muzzle 1405 fps

110gr Remington softpoint round nose dia .307 sized to .300
case 1.538
primer cci small rifle
OA 2.022
14gr 4198
velocity @ muzzle 1510fps

110 gr Remington softpoint round nose dia .307 sized to .300
case 1.540
primer cci small rifle
OA 2.022
12 gr 4198
velocity @ muzzle 1200fps

128gr Hornady dia .300
case 1.540
primmer cci small rifle
OA 2.260
12.5gr 4198
velocity @ muzzle 1150 fps

Bell cases to max depth to prevent damage during bullet seating. Need to remove die bullet seating plug to seat Rem 110gr bullets deep enough. All cases full length sized. No bullet crimping performed. Experienced very few case splitting.

Last Updated: June 2, 2012