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Old March 26, 2014, 07:31 PM   #1
spacecoast
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Made my first combustible cartridge

Considering the effort it takes, this one may be my last, but I wanted at least one for discussion purposes. I talked my daughter's history teacher into letting me do a show and tell with some of my Civil War-era BP pistols near the end of the school year for the AP History class, and I plan to discuss both the evolution of handguns and ammunition during the war. I thought it was important to have one of these available since they were the preferred ammo format in practice.

Using the instructions at http://www.civilwarguns.com/9508.html, construction was really pretty straightforward, and I'm sure I would get faster with practice. I can just imagine scores of people sitting on the home front making these as fast as possible to ship up to the front. However, considering the need for lube on top of the bullet (as opposed to a wad underneath), I think I'll stick to the traditional loading method at the range unless I get into a situation where speed is important.

I realize the paper probably isn't high enough on the ball, but I think this will provide a general idea of the time savings using a pre-loaded paper cartridge.

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Old March 26, 2014, 08:56 PM   #2
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The civil was group I used to be in did 12-15 school presentations a year. My little 20 minuet speal was on Civil War Soldiering and firearms. Springfield rifled musket, colt army and navy, G&G, Remington new army.....and on occasion the Philadelphia derringer.

Hats off to you sir for doing a presentation on such an important subject .

Another common round-ball "cartridge" (or charger rather since it wouldnt truly be a combustible cartridge) would be basically what you have there, but with the ball enclosed inside the paper tube; and a cotton thread tied above and below the lead ball. Nip off the pigtail end (normally with thine teeth ) dump in the powder, then rip the ball from the paper and seat it as normal. This cartridge and loading process is clearly depicted in the back of "An Introduction TO Civil War Small Arms" by E.J. Coats and D.S. Thomas.



(we always used coarse grained salt in light of powder just for the Schools red tape sake)
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Old March 27, 2014, 09:17 AM   #3
gunslinger2000
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I used ground walnut shells from my tumbler for a powder simulant. Dyed some black with Rit dye to use in powder and priming horns. Used paper from old books for an added touch. Gunslinger
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Old March 27, 2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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Agree with Berdan.

Cartridges for round balls, including early revolver ammunition, were made the same way they were made for muskets, as Berdan's illustration shows.

They were not combustible, they were simply a package that contained the ball and powder. The opinion of them for revolvers was poor, because they were so small and fiddly it was difficult to get the powder into the desired chamber. Not surprisingly this resulted in combustible cartridges where the entire package could be rammed into the chamber.

All of the combustible cartridges I am aware of used heeled conical bullets.

The 4-volume series Round ball to Rimfire by Dean Thomas covers the evolution of firearm ammunition in fantastic detail. One of the volumes is specifically devoted to pistol ammunition.

Steve
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Old March 27, 2014, 01:23 PM   #5
spacecoast
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Quote:
Cartridges for round balls, including early revolver ammunition, were made the same way they were made for muskets, as Berdan's illustration shows.
Not trying to argue, you guys know a lot more about it than I do, but the pic at ammo-one.com seems to show round ball CCs as well in these replica packages.

http://www.ammo-one.com/ColtCombustible.html

Undoubtedly conicals were also used in this format, my point in making this one is to show their role as time savers vs. separate ball and powder, not to say that exclusively one type of projectile was used vs. another.
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Old March 27, 2014, 03:03 PM   #6
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First off.....good gravy! Thanks a bunch for posting that link! I've been looking for somewhere to buy pre mades in reproduction packaging...very cool sir, thank you


Secondly, I was just saying if you wanted easier to make (but still correct) cap and ball munition, what I posted is a good option. There were examples of combustible roundball cartridges, but the chargers came first I do believe. And as Maillemaker stated, they were most defiantly not a popular option for pistols.

The conical bullet cartridges are much easier to make also, and were the more prevalent type.
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Old March 27, 2014, 03:55 PM   #7
spacecoast
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Well, lacking an authentic .45 conical bullet, I may have to fake it with a 230 gr. LRN.
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Old March 27, 2014, 05:44 PM   #8
maillemaker
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Quote:
Not trying to argue, you guys know a lot more about it than I do, but the pic at ammo-one.com seems to show round ball CCs as well in these replica packages.

http://www.ammo-one.com/ColtCombustible.html

Undoubtedly conicals were also used in this format, my point in making this one is to show their role as time savers vs. separate ball and powder, not to say that exclusively one type of projectile was used vs. another.
I don't doubt the guy's packages, but I'm skeptical of his cartridges.

But it's been a while since I had the Round Ball to Rimfire books from the library. I don't remember any combustible revolver cartridges with round bullets but I could be wrong.

All of the ones I remember seeing looked like this:

http://www.americancivilwarrelics.com/Y253.htm

http://www.campsiteartifacts.com/ima..._Colt36b-3.jpg

Steve
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Old March 27, 2014, 06:10 PM   #9
oldknotty
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paper cartridges

If you go to youtube and look up " making paper cartridges for an 1858 Remington " by Boom 1850 ,You can see how fast you can actually make a box of rounds .I am asking question in a different thread about using them on my Traditions 1851 revolver .
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Old March 29, 2014, 06:28 AM   #10
spacecoast
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I'm interested in making the round ball "charger" shown by BerdanSS, but in the mean time I had a few old 45 Colt bullets laying around (.454" coincidentally) and made an attempt at a conical - these old bullets appear to be jacketed or plated and are likely heavier at 255 grains than the real thing, but how did I do? The discoloration is from some lube in the bottom of the chamber. It fits, but more snugly than the other. I liked the idea of using salt so that's the filler.

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Old March 29, 2014, 06:28 PM   #11
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I was sitting in the office working on a landscape print, and Google Sketchup was driving me mad doing what I wanted to do....so I took a break and tried a "roundball cartridge" for giggles.

I've made many a paper cartridge, but hats off to you sir. Using a lead ball in place of a conical was a downright PITA for me. I've never in my life taken that long to make one up LOL conical combustibles I can roll up as fast as I can pick up boolets not so with the LRBs



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Old March 29, 2014, 07:04 PM   #12
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The U.S. military didn't purchase round ball cartridges, only conicals.
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Old March 29, 2014, 07:41 PM   #13
spacecoast
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BerdanSS - that's a really nice looking LRB CC. I think I'll give each another try and make them look more like yours and the links you posted earlier.

By the way, what was the primary advantage of the conical bullet? I read that accuracy was not necessarily better, was it the ballistics?
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Old March 29, 2014, 11:04 PM   #14
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Mike (duelist1954) did a great video on the subject, youtube search 44 roundballs vs. Conicals part 1, 2 and 3
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Old March 30, 2014, 09:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
By the way, what was the primary advantage of the conical bullet? I read that accuracy was not necessarily better, was it the ballistics?
The primary advantage was a more massive bullet.

Remember that rifling matters, particularly rate of twist. Original revolvers had different rifling than today's revolvers. I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of the early Colts had gain-twist rifling. It started out with no rifling and then spun up as it approached the muzzle. They're rifling may have been optimized for conical bullets.

They say modern reproductions are optimized for round ball. You can get good conical performance out of them but you will need to use a shorter conical bullet. Mike Bellevue has an nice write-up on round ball vs. some conical bullets in an article in Guns of the Old West.

Rate of twist matters a lot in regards to bullet length. I use an RCBS Hodgdon bullet in my 1:72 twist Richmond Carbine and 1:72 twist P53, but it shoots horribly in my 1:48 P58. A long, original-style Minie works best in it.

Steve
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Old March 30, 2014, 10:01 AM   #16
spacecoast
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Quote:
Mike (duelist1954) did a great video on the subject, youtube search 44 roundballs vs. Conicals part 1, 2 and 3
Thanks, very interesting videos indeed. The conicals had a great advantage penetration-wise (not sure how much was due to shape, and how much due to weight). - any guesses?

Accuracy-wise, I'm not convinced that the conicals are much if any better than the round balls from the videos. I'd have to do similar testing myself. When I did my first round ball shooting, I did a 4.25" 7-shot group at 15 yards shooting one-handed and not even aiming at a spot, just toward the middle of a 7-inch circle. It would also be interesting to do this at 15, 25 and 50 yards. Hopefully this summer I will have a chance to do just that.
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Old March 30, 2014, 01:11 PM   #17
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I have tried conicals in .36's and .44's. My experience is that round balls are more accurate. The conicals are accurate but hit higher due to the extra weight and have a looser group.
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Old March 30, 2014, 02:28 PM   #18
spacecoast
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This discussion prompts me to ask if anyone has tried full wadcutters in their BP pistol. I have some .452" 225 gr. Penn WCBBs that I use in my modern S&Ws, plus a Traditions replica 1858 on the way. Would those bullets be worth a try in that gun? Any problems foreseen?
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Old March 30, 2014, 03:17 PM   #19
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Not full wadcutters but I have tried .452 230 grain SWC's. They weren't anywhere near as accurate as round balls but hit like a freight train.
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Old March 30, 2014, 03:57 PM   #20
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As long as they were soft pure lead I don't see a problem.
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