Reloading & ammunition


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If you are the holder of a UK firearms certificate (Section 1) and want to shoot your historic ant-tank rifles then here you will find information on where to buy ammunition and reloading equipment and components. If you are not a license holder then there are no "live" rifles of this type available to the collector, although the original First World War 13.2mm T-Gewehr rifle is now on the Home Office obsolete list (Firearms Law, Appendix 5 'Guidance to the Police'). However it should be noted that this particular rifle cannot be used, even if ammunition were discovered, unless it (and the ammunition) was registered onto a Firearms Certificate. Any anti-tank rifle can be purchased without a license if it has been deactivated to UK standards, and in the case of semi-auto anti-tank rifles then you'll need to obtain a Section 5 license to own a live gun, (wont be able to shoot it though!) as such its much easier for the UK collector to buy a deactivated semi-auto AT rifle, however where possible a good condition bolt action Section 1 rifle should never be deactivated and the appropriate collectors license obtained from your local Police authority, deactivated weapons are worth less than half the value of a 'live' firearm, and even less abroad.

Reloading the big cartridges

The .55 Boys and 14.5mm x 113/114 can be reloaded, although its not as simple as reloading the average 50BMG cartridge. This is because not only are components not readily available, but both of the above are Berdan primed, plus the 14.5mm uses a primer cap that is just under 9mm diameter (8.90mm). The standard 50BMG boxer type primer is 8mm diameter, these can be used with the 14.5mm cartridge, but only after some modifications are made to the primer pocket on the case. Thankfully Berdan 50BMG primers will fit the Boys case, so reloading those is fairly straight forward assuming you can find someone who'll sell you a tin of primers, although removing the primers can take a while, using a small drill to perforate the cap and then a sturdy but small hook to pull them out - never had any luck with the hydraulic ram technique.

These pictures show the process of fitting a 50BMG 8mm primer to a 14.5mm case with its 9mm primer pocket, you'll need access to a lathe to perform this modification. The same process would be used with any similar large cartridge.

The case is steel and as such the primer pocket isn't in a good way, as seen in the first picture.

Above: primer removed

Below: 50BMG primer sits far too loose in case to use without modification

Therefore requires a sleeve.

The anvil is also removed as its not required for 50BMG Boxer primers

Above: Brass sleeve press fitted and machined flush

Next step is to drill out the flash hole, 50BMG standard is between 3.4mm and 3.5mm, however we don't want the hole to get too close to the existing flash holes so we'll go for 3mm, that's big enough for a standard RCBS 50BMG decapping pin. Note that the new hole doesn't look central compared to the two Berdan flash holes, this is because the original primer pocket wasn't perfectly concentric, fairly typical of mass produced Russian steel cases.


To follow: Next we fit the primer and get some bullets drawn in CAD and machined up - pictures to follow



Reloading hardware

High quality 'obsolete calibre' dies as well as larger calibres such as the .55 Boys and anything up to 20mm are made by: Drop Dave an email, he'll even make up bushing dies to accommodate thin brass or undersize bullets. They also manufacture bullet pullers and lots of other 50BMG type reloading kit such as high capacity powder throwers.

Live ammunition and components

Only 50BMG ammunition is readily available, the FCSA UK keep stocks for club members to buy. Reloading components for WW2 anti-tank rifles are now generally only obtained as expensive one-off collectors items, however there is no reason why cases for some of the very rare 7.92mm German anti-tank rifles can't be formed from 50BMG cases and Boys .55 cases can be made from 50BMG cases, 20mm cases for the Lahti are now being manufactured in stainless steel. Some of the Vit powders are suitable for 20mm, and any other large capacity case although most primers for all but the Boys cartridges are unobtainable. This said, many shooters of these weapons in the USA use 20mm or 50BMG primers pressed into a threaded or pressed inserts in the base of the cartridge case, easily done by anyone with a lathe (as described above). Bullets can be turned from solid bronze although CNC machining is the best option for bulk production - check all lathe turned projectiles for the correct outer diameter as it would only take a small variation to render the projectile oversize and thus likely to create severe back pressure and destroy your rifle (and you!).

Copy of letter from the DTI regarding the import of a 50 calibre rifle from the USA. (The same applies to importing any anti-tank rifle that does not fall into the section 5 category). Note: Not all semi-auto 20mm anti-tank rifles were kept as semi-auto, many were converted to manually operated due to problems with the gas operated system, assuming the conversions were done as part of a 're-manufacture' process then these 20mm rifles would be classified as section 1.

Dear Mr Stevenson

 Thank you for your e-mail, received in this office on 30 June 2003.

 I can confirm that a .50 calibre rifle consigned from the USA is not subject to a specific DTI import licence providing you are a resident within the UK as there is a concession for the personal importation of firearms, ammunition and component parts consigned from outside the European Community. This concession is administered by H M Customs and Excise and only the relevant UK domestic authority need be presented to allow the importation instead of a specific DTI import licence.

 I hope that this clarifies the matter.

 Should you have further queries, however, please do not hesitate to contact this office.

 Yours sincerely

Inge Rõõmussaar

Department of Trade and Industry


Import Licensing Branch
Queensway House
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TS23 2NF

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This site was last updated 02/12/13