My .318 Experience and How it Compares with my 9.3 - By Lindsay Jamieson

Left: 9.3x62 Mauser. Right: 318 WR Photo Courtecy: 9.3x62 Mauser Journal

Also, in my collection of rifles, is one which is in a lot of ways similar to the 9.3 and I was surprised to find that close comparisons were being made between the 9.3 case and the 30.06 case. (9.3 Journal; 3rd edition; P. 165.} My close relative is the .318 Westley Richards (WR) and, in fact, when ammunition supplies dried up it became standard practice to convert 30.06 cases to .318. So here is my story:

.318 Westley Richards Accelerated Express

The .318 figures in the Ganyana/Haley book ( Hunters Guide to Classic African Cartridges) thus making it a must for me and is very similar ballistically to the 9.3×62 with factory specification ammunition being a 250gr bullet at 2,400fps vs. the 9.3 with a 286 gr bullet also at around 2,400fps. The action is pure Mauser and I am sure all that WR did was to machine off the Mauser makers name from the action. The .318 size is across the rifling, but the actual bore diameter is .330.

(LJ with .318 in use)

I found my .318 in a dealer friend’s shop in very nice original condition with a nice patina from use. It was definitely not a glossy, polished, fully refurbished rifle that one would hesitate to take into the bush.  According to WR, it was manufactured in 1922 and sold. Two years later it came back to WR, and it was sold to a Mr. Ratcliffe Holmes and on further investigation I find that he was an author, lecturer and wildlife film maker at a time when most trips across Africa were undertaken with 50 plus porters carrying all the camp and other kit.  No lorries in those days. (But more about Holmes later). And these porters needed feeding, so a rifle that was effective on plains game was a must, and it is here that both the .318 and the 9.3 excelled.

My rifle came with 100 rounds of original factory Kynoch ammunition and I acquired a further 60 round of factory ammunition in an auction, so I could immediately take it to the range for testing and it shot very nicely. The only problem was that the fired case would extract but not eject, fortunately this was an easy problem for an experienced gunsmith to fix. The next problem was to find an alternative source of ammunition for when my factory Kynoch ran out, and ‘Cartridges of the World’ revealed that it was possible to convert 30.06 cases, indeed at one time RCBS listed a conversion die which is naturally no longer available. Yes, .318 cases are available from Bertram Brass, but they are expensive and quite hard to come by.


So let us look at the options available and compare the three different cases.318, 30-06 and 9.3, they are all very similar as you can see in the photograph.

(photo of the three cases)

So how do I convert the 30.06 case to .318. Firstly it has to be trimmed by 2.7mm, so I modified a Lee case length gauge and used the standard Lee case trimmer to trim the cases to the correct length. And then necked them up from .308 diameter to .330 using the standard neck expander button in the normal resizing die. If you look at the picture, we can see that the shoulder on both the .318 case and the 30.06 case is in roughly the same place, so no problem there. Job done.  So I am slightly surprised that, as stated at the beginning of this section, people find it worthwhile to convert 30.06 cases to 9.3×62. The step up from .308 to .366 is a big one and I cannot see how that can be undertaken without risking splitting the necks if it is done in one movement of the press. I am not an engineer and I am aware that brass cases have some elasticity, but to go from 7.6mm to 9.3mm in one movement of the neck expander button seems a bit much.  Also with cases readily available from Norma, RWS and now PMP, I just don’t see the point.

.318 bullets are a bit of a problem though as Woodleigh, who list them, are expensive for range use and availability here in the UK is also an issue, but a friend put me on to a .330 diameter, 208 grain bullet originally intended for the 8×56 Steyr Mannlicher Hungarian military round. It started as a black powder cartridge but is now available in nitro. Yes, it is a bit lighter than the factory spec Kynoch, but still shoots well and I can save the Kynoch ammo for any hunting trips that I hope to make one day.

But back to the second known owner. Ratcliffe Holmes was a wildlife film maker, lecturer and author in the 1920s and in one of his books from 1929, I found reference to the fact that he must have had at least one .318 probably two on his trips as they were deemed to be good meat getters with which to feed the 50 or so porters that would be essential for such trips.   

(Picture of porters.) [Ratcliffe & Porters]

A 9.3 would have fed the team just as well, but in the aftermath of World War 1, I suspect that Ratcliff Holmes would have favoured a British made rifle (despite its Mauser origins) rather than a German one. As well as the book, I also found a lecture programme from the 1920s in which some unusual companies took advertising space, including WR.

(copy of Wesley Richards advert)

The British Film Institute have a copy of one of Ratcliffe Holmes films, but won’t show it or make a copy for me as it is too fragile. I will persevere on this one as I would like a copy.

According to Pondoro Taylor, the .318 was inferior to the 9.3 as its performance on plains game was excellent, but on the big stuff it just wasn’t up to scratch, and a lot of hunters came badly unstuck because of this. I enjoy them both, but If I was out in hick bush where dangerous game are prevalent, which one would I carry? My 9.3 of course.