Ammo Rifle cartridges

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
This past year I began casting my own bullets and making my own cartridges for both a .36 cal Colt and .577/.58 cal rifles, a p53 Enfield and a 61 Springfield (all reproductions). Doing so made me wonder why muzzleloading cartridges for rifles were not fashioned like revolver cartridges, i.e. to be loaded with powder and ball as an integral cartridge of either paper or maybe linen. Wouldn’t doing so save time and increase fire? I did some online research but I found neither evidence that it was done nor reasons why it was not. Perhaps one of you brilliant, knowledgeable folks could enlighten me?
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
Just a guess, but going about an inch into a cylinder probably it would stay intact. Whereas ramming down a 30-40" fouled barrel would surely rip open and not get the charge seated
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
The wrapper used on the Enfield cartridge was in effect a "paper patch". It worked somewhat like the cloth or leather patch used with a round ball in rifles like the Kentucky types. It was lightly coated with bee's wax and tallow and lubed the rifle bore when it was loaded AND fired. It kept powder residue soft and allowed more shots between cleaning sessions. It also prevented serious leading in the bore. Paper back then was rag based and held up quite well even being shot down the bore. There was an article in MUZZLE BLASTS magazine showing how to make the CORRECT live round for the Enfield. (I don't recall what issue) but if you search on line using "Enfield paper cartridge construction" as key word search you'll probably be able to find it. A lot of reenactor/shooters are disappointed with the performance of their Enfields but they're not using the right cartridge. And for what it's worth even though the Enfield and Springfield rounds were "interchangeable" the Springfield tended to cause jamming due to a slightly larger bullet and a lack of the paper patch and the lube being on the bullet instead of on the wrapper itself. (The "Pritchett" bullet used in the Enfield did NOT have grease grooves and there was not one drop of lube on it. It was all on the paper. The bullet was at the bottom on the cartridge and the powder charge on top and double wrapped with paper. There was a tapered box-wood plug in the hollow base of the bullet and expanded the "skirt" on firing to engage the rifling.)
 

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Thanks, Peter. I have only made the US-style cartridges for my own use in both my Enfield and Springfield reproductions. My p53 Enfield is an early Parker Hale and features progressive-depth rifling but in a 1:48 twist. I think I will try the British cartridge design, I.e. with paper patch and see if that improves accuracy. Do you happen to know what would have been the British standard ball diameter for .577 caliber rifles?

BTW, I have read about the British-style cartridge and it sure seems more complicated to produce. Ill probably skip the whole cartridge but use the paper patch. I admit I’m getting a bit lazy.
 

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Just re-read Wikipedia that states the Enfield rifle was .58 cal and used a .577 cal ball. I wonder how reliable that info is. Anyone?
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
This past year I began casting my own bullets and making my own cartridges for both a .36 cal Colt and .577/.58 cal rifles, a p53 Enfield and a 61 Springfield (all reproductions). Doing so made me wonder why muzzleloading cartridges for rifles were not fashioned like revolver cartridges, i.e. to be loaded with powder and ball as an integral cartridge of either paper or maybe linen. Wouldn’t doing so save time and increase fire? I did some online research but I found neither evidence that it was done nor reasons why it was not. Perhaps one of you brilliant, knowledgeable folks could enlighten me?
What bullet/Minie design are you casting for .577"/.58" rifles?

Kevin Dally
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
This past year I began casting my own bullets and making my own cartridges for both a .36 cal Colt and .577/.58 cal rifles, a p53 Enfield and a 61 Springfield (all reproductions). Doing so made me wonder why muzzleloading cartridges for rifles were not fashioned like revolver cartridges, i.e. to be loaded with powder and ball as an integral cartridge of either paper or maybe linen. Wouldn’t doing so save time and increase fire? I did some online research but I found neither evidence that it was done nor reasons why it was not. Perhaps one of you brilliant, knowledgeable folks could enlighten me?
They were.

Several manufacturers made rifle cartridges with combustible paper envelopes, and I should think that the ability to simply "handle cartridge" and put it directly into the muzzle without tearing the cartridge and spilling the powder would have been a tremendous asset in the age of rifle muskets. Furthermore, I would wager--admittedly speculative on my part, and even ill-informed perhaps--that the ability to make such cartridges was relatively easy in the North during the Civil War. Such cartridges as were used were privately purchased.
 

Attachments

  • US33393 Algernon Johnston Lorenzo Dow crtrdg (1).pdf
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Out of curiosity, I referred to my copy of The Rifled Musket by Claud E. Fuller to see what there was about cartridges. If you don't know this book, it is full of original sources. I have to admit, once I saw the number & wild variety of rifle cartridges depicted, had to share. The next section of the book is about poisoned & exploding bullets. Yes, the Union Army did issue exploding rifle bullets that were used at Gettysburg by the 2nd New Hampshire.


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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Most of the weird, wild and woolly cartridges listed are for breech loaders, revolvers, or "magazine guns" but there are indeed some combustible muzzle loading rifle cartridges.

Claud E. Fuller, p. 274: "33, 393 Johnston and Dow, Oct. 1, 1861. Case of gun cotton which may be coated with collodion (No drawing).
Johnston and Dow. Jan. 7. 1862. Case of gun cotton, sealed with collodion. (No drawing.).
J. Hotchkiss. Feb 11, 1862. Layers of gut wound separately in opposite directions.
... Doremus and Rudd. March 25, 1862 [Powder pressed in a cake upon pin, or into base of bullet. Powder may be in layers of varying combustibility, so as to .... accelerating (no drawing)] Same as preceding coated with collodion. (No drawing).
... Johnston and Dow. June 24, 1862. Case coated with collodion (No drawing). ...

E.O. Potter. July 22, 1862 Pressed powder coated with collodion, united to bullet by twist of collodion.
R. Bartholow. Aug 5, 1862. Collodion mixed with gun powder and molded into cartridge (No drawing). .
W.R. Pomeroy. Aug 5, 1862. Outside paper tube pulls off from the side paper case, instead of being torn off. ... "
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Thanks, Peter. I have only made the US-style cartridges for my own use in both my Enfield and Springfield reproductions. My p53 Enfield is an early Parker Hale and features progressive-depth rifling but in a 1:48 twist. I think I will try the British cartridge design, I.e. with paper patch and see if that improves accuracy. Do you happen to know what would have been the British standard ball diameter for .577 caliber rifles?

BTW, I have read about the British-style cartridge and it sure seems more complicated to produce. Ill probably skip the whole cartridge but use the paper patch. I admit I’m getting a bit lazy.

Contact the "Jefferson Arsenal" for an Enfield cartridge kit:
https://www.thejeffersonarsenal.com/product-page/cartridge-kit-577cal-enfield-20rds

I broke one of the forming rods by using it incorrectly, but I was able to get a new one.

every now and then it is fun to use the actual cartridges rather than loading from the bench. Once you get used to making them from the kit provided, you can try your hand at making up additional materials.
 

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
I have several varieties of paper for making cartridges - I just haven’t yet tried my hand at the British pattern.

I would like to try and make exploding bullets. I wonder how difficult it would be to copy those used in the ACW. For target use, only, of course.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I have several varieties of paper for making cartridges - I just haven’t yet tried my hand at the British pattern.

I would like to try and make exploding bullets. I wonder how difficult it would be to copy those used in the ACW. For target use, only, of course.
There are diagrams in The Rifled Musket
 

CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
Thanks, Peter. I have only made the US-style cartridges for my own use in both my Enfield and Springfield reproductions. My p53 Enfield is an early Parker Hale and features progressive-depth rifling but in a 1:48 twist. I think I will try the British cartridge design, I.e. with paper patch and see if that improves accuracy. Do you happen to know what would have been the British standard ball diameter for .577 caliber rifles?

BTW, I have read about the British-style cartridge and it sure seems more complicated to produce. Ill probably skip the whole cartridge but use the paper patch. I admit I’m getting a bit lazy.
Check this site out, he offers Enfield cartridges with a .568 and a .550 bullet.

 

CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
This past year I began casting my own bullets and making my own cartridges for both a .36 cal Colt and .577/.58 cal rifles, a p53 Enfield and a 61 Springfield (all reproductions). Doing so made me wonder why muzzleloading cartridges for rifles were not fashioned like revolver cartridges, i.e. to be loaded with powder and ball as an integral cartridge of either paper or maybe linen. Wouldn’t doing so save time and increase fire? I did some online research but I found neither evidence that it was done nor reasons why it was not. Perhaps one of you brilliant, knowledgeable folks could enlighten me?
I would love to hear about your methods and results on the paper envelope revolver cartridges............
 

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Well, CowCavalry, here’s the skinny.

I don’t know any other BP hobbyists so I read a lot and watched a lot of videos online then created my own systems for both rifle and revolver cartridges for my reproduction weapons.

About a year ago, after making one purchase of Minie balls from someone else at about $1.00 each, I realized I could easily save enough to pay for the equipment if I began casting my own bullets. I bought a cheap furnace, used bullet molds and some scrap lead, and began casting. I’ve only cast maybe 250 Minie balls, and while I am still learning, the results so far have been satisfying and a lot of fun.

I later bought a revolver and at first just used round balls and loaded the cylinder from a bench. It was such a hassle that I decided to try my hand at making cartridges. I bought a mold for conical bullets, made my own former from a wood dowel, and after a little experimentation produced what I think is a respectable cartridge. I just used some masking paper that I had already purchased for my rifle cartridges but found that it doesn’t quite burn all the way - there is often a little bit of unburned paper left in the chamber. For my next batch I plan to make my own nitrated paper and see if I get better results.

I’ve attached a pic of some of my work. Y’all don’t be too critical - I didn’t have anything to go by except what I could glean online.

BTW, I made a couple of arsenal packs like the one shown with my own Minie balls but with black sand instead of real powder to show visitors at reenacting events what one might have looked like. This is the only one I have left. I ended up giving away my inert cartridges to enthusiastic youngsters.

I welcome any comments, criticisms, etc.
4BBB6F92-2612-4D00-8F91-9D1493AC4F22.jpeg
 

KHyatt

Corporal
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
What bullet/Minie design are you casting for .577"/.58" rifles?

Kevin, sorry I overlooked your question. I’ve been casting both the Lee .575/500 gr and the Lyman “old style” (575-213) .575/510 gr Minies. (At least I think those are the sizes. I have yet to unpack some stuff from a recent move.) I was surprised that neither mold casts a .575 diameter bullet. Both are a bit oversized, so I use .575, .576 and .577 sizing dies. I’m still experimenting with the sizes but the Springfield seems to like the Lyman bullet at .577 with 45 grains of powder. I haven’t yet found the perfect combination for the Enfield. Still working on it. Suggestions anyone?
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
I believe that the Lyman OS is a great looking bullet, but the mold I worked once with was .575", and was no good to me because it was terribly inaccurate in my 61 repro ArmiSport's .581" dia bore. The Lee bullet isn't a very good design, (and too often too small diameter for many reproduction CW rifles) and has a reputation for leaving busted off rings of lead (skirts) in a barrel. They need to mirror the cavity design of the original Civil War Minies.

Kevin Dally
 

CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
I later bought a revolver and at first just used round balls and loaded the cylinder from a bench. It was such a hassle that I decided to try my hand at making cartridges. I bought a mold for conical bullets, made my own former from a wood dowel, and after a little experimentation produced what I think is a respectable cartridge. I just used some masking paper that I had already purchased for my rifle cartridges but found that it doesn’t quite burn all the way - there is often a little bit of unburned paper left in the chamber. For my next batch I plan to make my own nitrated paper and see if I get better results.
Wow, looks great! Thank you. While I havent fired mine in years, I always loaded mine with loose powder and ball on the tailgate of the truck. Check out this link, this guy recommends magician's flash paper -(edited link to page one of linked article) http://www.geojohn.org/BlackPowder/CartridgesMobile.html
 
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