View Full Version : Wrapping in paper instead of lube?

July 11, 2010, 06:37 AM
I was reading a book recently about the buffalo hunter era of the old west. The book mentioned one guy who would wrap the bullet in paper before seating it in the casing and didn't use the traditional lube. It said that if prevented leading in the barrel. He was using a Sharps's 45 or 50 Has anyone heard of this? It sounded interesting.

Jim Watson
July 11, 2010, 06:55 AM
The paper patched bullet was a common thing in those days, factory and reload. I saw a chart of the Sharps calibers and everything except the .45-70 Government had a paper patched bullet. They were used in British black powder express rifles and the .577-.450 Martini-Henry service rifle. If you go to the Shiloh board you will find a lot of discussion on paper patched bullets.

Step-by-step pictures of applying a paper patch at:

You could also buy bullets with paper patch already applied. Can you imagine sitting at a table rolling paper patches all day? A job considered suitable for women because of their small nimble hands. Hugo Borchardt designed a paper patch machine that would run 25,000 a day but I do not know if it was actually used much. It would have been expensive to set up and widows and old maids worked cheap.

Article with short take on loading PP bullets at:

July 11, 2010, 08:49 AM
In many cases the bullets were specific to paper patching in that they had smooth sides with no lube grooves.
I tried paper patching some 45/70 bullets with the normal lube grooves and found it to be difficult and non-productive. I made enough to know it was something I did not wish to pursue. The ones I did complete did not shoot any better or worse than the standard lubed bullet.

Jim Watson
July 11, 2010, 10:04 AM
In nearly all cases the paper patch bullet was smooth sided. Patching a grease grooved bullet is kind of an expedient to let you try it with little expense.

There are two schools of thought on paper patching.
1. Patch a bore diameter bullet up to groove diameter or a little more. I think this would be necessary with smokeless.
2. Patch an undersize bullet up to bore diameter. This is what was done in the day, depending on the black powder to "bump" the soft bullet up so it and the paper filled the grooves.

July 12, 2010, 07:02 AM
Thanks guys. I never realized that they patched bullets before loading them into brass shells. You learn something new all the time.