Ammo A little help needed with ammo, please.

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
I have three balls :wink: (two Minie and one musket) that I'm trying to get a little more info on. The Minies are both 3-row. The one on top measures .58" and weighs 473 grains. The bottom one is .54" at 426 grains. The musket ball is .65", weighing in at 371 grains. I have been trying to find 4-1-1 on various calibers and weights of CW ammo with little to no luck. One website showed pics of different types of balls, listing calibers and what guns they were used in, but not how heavy they were. Can anyone help with a bit more identification on what these are? I have a feeling that the two Minies are the original diameter (.54 & .58), but the musket may have been a .69, unless some were made a bit smaller. Any help would really be appreciated. Thanx.

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ucvrelics

Colonel
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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
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I wouldn't get all hung up on the weights. Can you post photos of the bottom cavities. The 3 ringer and round ball are very common bullets that would have been fired from a lot of different muskets.
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Thanx for your reply. I was able to find bottom cavities on the Minie balls, but not the round ball (just kidding). The one on the left is the .54 and the other one is the .58. I happen to reload various pistol calibers so that's why I threw in the weights (force of habit). A website I found listed a bunch of rifles that fired 3-ring Minies in those calibers. I was just hoping to find out a little more info on them, if possible.

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5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
I wouldn't get all hung up on the weights. Can you post photos of the bottom cavities. The 3 ringer and round ball are very common bullets that would have been fired from a lot of different muskets.
Did those bottom cavity pics help any to identify those bullets?

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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
The .65 caliber round ball was used in the standard U.S. smoothbore .69 muskets. These were deliberately undersized so that they could be loaded as the barrel fouled due to the black powder propellant. The first .69 muskets, the same caliber as those used by France, and thus by the Continental Army as well, and later selected as the U.S. army standard, used .643" balls. Later, by the early 19th century, .65 was selected. The first few shots would be stuffed in paper and all, but eventually the ball would have to be completely freed from the cartridge paper in order to fit down the barrel.

.54 and .58 caliber rifles were widely used by both armies. .58 was the standard, and used in everything from the Model 1855, the Model 1861 Springfield, and even in British-pattern .577 Enfields. Austrian arms were often .54 caliber, and there were un-modified Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles with 7 groove rifling designed for a patched .530" ball. Nonetheless, the CSA made .54 Minie/Burton ammunition for these, since it was faster and more efficient to load and shoot than the old combination of patched round ball with a heavy rammer.
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
The .65 caliber round ball was used in the standard U.S. smoothbore .69 muskets. These were deliberately undersized so that they could be loaded as the barrel fouled due to the black powder propellant. The first .69 muskets, the same caliber as those used by France, and thus by the Continental Army as well, and later selected as the U.S. army standard, used .643" balls. Later, by the early 19th century, .65 was selected. The first few shots would be stuffed in paper and all, but eventually the ball would have to be completely freed from the cartridge paper in order to fit down the barrel.

.54 and .58 caliber rifles were widely used by both armies. .58 was the standard, and used in everything from the Model 1855, the Model 1861 Springfield, and even in British-pattern .577 Enfields. Austrian arms were often .54 caliber, and there were un-modified Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles with 7 groove rifling designed for a patched .530" ball. Nonetheless, the CSA made .54 Minie/Burton ammunition for these, since it was faster and more efficient to load and shoot than the old combination of patched round ball with a heavy rammer.
Thanx for your reply. I joined CWT only a few weeks ago and already I have learned a lot. Another poster asked for pics of the bottom cavities. How does that help in identification? Thanx again.

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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Thanx for your reply. I joined CWT only a few weeks ago and already I have learned a lot. Another poster asked for pics of the bottom cavities. How does that help in identification? Thanx again.

Sent from my Commodore 64 running Windoze 95
Well, if you are really lucky, there are markings of various types from the moulds or from the swaging machines used in the manufacture of the bullets. Some of these marks have been researched, and can pin-point with a greater degree of certitude where a particular projectile came from. There are many small details that have been catalogued and so on. For example, there are projectiles made for all of the common caliber arms in service from North Carolina that are quite distinctive. There are also the mysterious so-called "Nessler" balls that appear where Tar Heels fought, but it remains a source of conjecture about whether these were for smooth-bore .69 muskets or 12-ga. shotguns both?

Nice bullets, and hopefully the start of a great collection. There are a number of publications about civil war arms and ammunition, but it can be a very arcane study with a highly specialized literature. Good luck on finding out more about these bullets! So many millions were made, huge numbers actually fired, and still others unceremoniously dumped, dropped, or lost, but there are only some that have survived.

Happy hunting!
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Well, if you are really lucky, there are markings of various types from the moulds or from the swaging machines used in the manufacture of the bullets. Some of these marks have been researched, and can pin-point with a greater degree of certitude where a particular projectile came from. There are many small details that have been catalogued and so on. For example, there are projectiles made for all of the common caliber arms in service from North Carolina that are quite distinctive. There are also the mysterious so-called "Nessler" balls that appear where Tar Heels fought, but it remains a source of conjecture about whether these were for smooth-bore .69 muskets or 12-ga. shotguns both?

Nice bullets, and hopefully the start of a great collection. There are a number of publications about civil war arms and ammunition, but it can be a very arcane study with a highly specialized literature. Good luck on finding out more about these bullets! So many millions were made, huge numbers actually fired, and still others unceremoniously dumped, dropped, or lost, but there are only some that have survived.

Happy hunting!
Thanx for your reply. I have seen pics of some pretty well preserved bullets that may have identifiable markings. These are not those. ☹️ My two major areas of interest in American history are the civil war and depression-era gangsters. I may pick up a few more relics here and there but that's about it. It's more of a hobby than anything (along with ammo reloading). I really like coming here just to learn some things.

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KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
I may pick up a few more relics here and there but that's about it. It's more of a hobby than anything (along with ammo reloading). I really like coming here just to learn some things.
These just might be famous last words - or something. I too came to CWT a couple of years ago “just to learn some things.” I now own two original and four reproduction muskets and more than a dozen revolvers. I also now cast my own minie balls and revolver bullets and make paper cartridges for both. I haven’t yet got into collecting original relics of any kind, mostly because I collect things to use them and I’m unlikely to find a use for expensive ACW relics. Well, maybe a revolver or two or three...
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
I have three balls :wink: (two Minie and one musket) that I'm trying to get a little more info on. The Minies are both 3-row. The one on top measures .58" and weighs 473 grains. The bottom one is .54" at 426 grains. The musket ball is .65", weighing in at 371 grains. I have been trying to find 4-1-1 on various calibers and weights of CW ammo with little to no luck. One website showed pics of different types of balls, listing calibers and what guns they were used in, but not how heavy they were. Can anyone help with a bit more identification on what these are? I have a feeling that the two Minies are the original diameter (.54 & .58), but the musket may have been a .69, unless some were made a bit smaller. Any help would really be appreciated. Thanx.

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View attachment 380782
A couple of questions, do you know where these were recovered and would you show a picture of the nose, top down of the three ringers?
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
A couple of questions, do you know where these were recovered and would you show a picture of the nose, top down of the three ringers?
All I know is that they were found somewhere in Virginia or Maryland. Where specifically, I dunno.

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5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
These just might be famous last words - or something. I too came to CWT a couple of years ago “just to learn some things.” I now own two original and four reproduction muskets and more than a dozen revolvers. I also now cast my own minie balls and revolver bullets and make paper cartridges for both. I haven’t yet got into collecting original relics of any kind, mostly because I collect things to use them and I’m unlikely to find a use for expensive ACW relics. Well, maybe a revolver or two or three...
Maybe, but right now I'm pretty much involved with reloading a bunch of modern handgun calibers ranging from .32 up to .45. Casual shooting (tin cans, bowling pins, paper targets) is my main thing. I have a buddy that loans me his Pietta .44 cap and ball that's phun to shoot. The only thing is he uses real black powder instead of trip 7s, Pyrodex, etc. Cleanup is easy peasy with BP, it just needs to be done frequently. We get no more than about two times around with the cylinder b4 it needs to be removed and cleaned, which I guess comes with the "black powder experience."

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Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
All I know is that they were found somewhere in Virginia or Maryland. Where specifically, I dunno.

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View attachment 381202
So it is very difficult to say with any certainty from photographs, so I will use assumptions. I asked about the location because, if early war the odds differ.

The .54 cal. has a better chance of being Southern, but if it were from say, Manassas, an early war site, then it’s 50-50. The Federal army did its best to try and standardize on .58 where it could, particularly in the East.

The typical .54 weapons would be M1841 and the Austrian Lorenz, both were bored out by Federal arsenals to some degree. The South did not have this opportunity on a large scale and as such was more concerned with getting arms to its troops.

The 2nd Maryland CS, for example had over 10,000 rounds of .54 issued just before Gettysburg. We know that they had M1841s and from piecing together, it is figured that two companies had these weapons and were used on the flanks. The balance of the 2nd had a mixture of Enfields and captured Springfields in .577 and .58 respectively.

Without being able to see the grooves closely on the .58, it appears to be what is called a Williams Regulation Bullet with square grooves. Again it is hard to tell the groove configuration from the photos. Williams Regulation would be Federal.

Your round ball has a better chance of being Southern, but again that is just playing the percentages and as with the .54 it would depend on early or late war location. Even then there were Federal regiments that retained their .69 smooth bores out of preference. Most combat is within 100 yds, buck and ball was devastating within that range, firing at closely packed formations. I believe I see dimples where the three buck would nestle against the larger round ball, but again not being able to hold it, who knows.

Nice bullets and as @FedericoFCavada has stated, a start to a nice collection?
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
So it is very difficult to say with any certainty from photographs, so I will use assumptions. I asked about the location because, if early war the odds differ.

The .54 cal. has a better chance of being Southern, but if it were from say, Manassas, an early war site, then it’s 50-50. The Federal army did its best to try and standardize on .58 where it could, particularly in the East.

The typical .54 weapons would be M1841 and the Austrian Lorenz, both were bored out by Federal arsenals to some degree. The South did not have this opportunity on a large scale and as such was more concerned with getting arms to its troops.

The 2nd Maryland CS, for example had over 10,000 rounds of .54 issued just before Gettysburg. We know that they had M1841s and from piecing together, it is figured that two companies had these weapons and were used on the flanks. The balance of the 2nd had a mixture of Enfields and captured Springfields in .577 and .58 respectively.

Without being able to see the grooves closely on the .58, it appears to be what is called a Williams Regulation Bullet with square grooves. Again it is hard to tell the groove configuration from the photos. Williams Regulation would be Federal.

Your round ball has a better chance of being Southern, but again that is just playing the percentages and as with the .54 it would depend on early or late war location. Even then there were Federal regiments that retained their .69 smooth bores out of preference. Most combat is within 100 yds, buck and ball was devastating within that range, firing at closely packed formations. I believe I see dimples where the three buck would nestle against the larger round ball, but again not being able to hold it, who knows.

Nice bullets and as @FedericoFCavada has stated, a start to a nice collection?
Wow. Great explanation. I'm impressed. I prolly just learned at least as much as any CW class I took in school. I suppose I could ask my cousin if she has any more 4-1-1 on where these bullets came from. Thanx for your reply, Lieutenant.

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Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
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Boonville, MO.
Maybe, but right now I'm pretty much involved with reloading a bunch of modern handgun calibers ranging from .32 up to .45. Casual shooting (tin cans, bowling pins, paper targets) is my main thing. I have a buddy that loans me his Pietta .44 cap and ball that's phun to shoot. The only thing is he uses real black powder instead of trip 7s, Pyrodex, etc. Cleanup is easy peasy with BP, it just needs to be done frequently. We get no more than about two times around with the cylinder b4 it needs to be removed and cleaned, which I guess comes with the "black powder experience."

Sent from my Commodore 64 running Windoze 95
Your friend doing the right thing by using real black powder in his pistol. I don't know about Triple 7, but Pyrodex take a higher ignition temperature than black powder, and produces more pressure so only use it on a volume basis and not on an equal weight basis. I believe Pyrodex is actually more hydroscopic than black powder. Hodgen also says to use Pyrodex only in modern muzzleloaders and never in original (antique) guns.
 

5150

Private
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Your friend doing the right thing by using real black powder in his pistol. I don't know about Triple 7, but Pyrodex take a higher ignition temperature than black powder, and produces more pressure so only use it on a volume basis and not on an equal weight basis. I believe Pyrodex is actually more hydroscopic than black powder. Hodgen also says to use Pyrodex only in modern muzzleloaders and never in original (antique) guns.
His cap and ball is a modern reproduction Pietta so no worries there. The real BP is more phun cuz of the realism in shooting it. The only drawback to the BP is the mess it creates, but oh well.

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Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Even with Mason's bullet book in your hand identifying a bullet can be tough. Cavity shape, number of rings, diameter, length, weight and shape all go into identifying a bullet. Even these perimeters aren't written in stone as weight and length can vary a bit from bullet to bullet. YMMV
 
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