View Full Version : 4 bore "explosive shells" for dangerous game?

January 8, 2011, 12:59 AM
I read an old Ross Seyfried article last night where he mentioned "explosive shells" for 4-8 bore rifles and hunting large, dangerous game. He used them on large bulls, etc overseas, I believe Australia, in British game rifles.

I have seen sketches of large ctg rifle slugs that were made to accept an inverted .22 ctg. But Seyfried seemed to be using a large, hollow cast projectile, I suspect filled w/ some type of compound. He made only limited reference, but described, "jet of flame and smoke" at the entrance wound.

Can anyone advise on the details of such a large bore projectile, the nature of the explosive mix, how it was detonated (percussion?) etc.

Pretty exotic and extreme!!!!!

January 8, 2011, 01:22 AM
I have made a few 4 bore rifles, but never an exploding shell. The drawing for them is in James Forsyth's book. "The Sporting Rifle and it's Projectiles" from 1863.
It's interesting to read. Forsyth used "detonating powder" (which I assume is just the old fulminate of mercury mix of primers, ) and fine black powder to load the shells with.

4V50 Gary
January 8, 2011, 01:33 AM
Jacobs bullet perhap? Its military application was supposed to be to destroy artillery cassion or limbers. Shells were carried in cassions or limbers and if you destroyed that, the artillery piece would be useless. Here's more on Jacob's bullet: Link (http://myjacobfamily.com/articleskennethjacob/generaljacobarticle.htm)

Here's an image I found.http://myjacobfamily.com/photos/riflebullets.jpg There are four belts around the bullet. The rifling correspondingly have four grooves which these belts fit into. As adapted by the Russians (Luttich Rifle), they were used to counter the minie armed French and British soldiers during the Crimean War.

Ideal Tool
January 8, 2011, 01:48 AM
Hello, I first read about explosive bullets in a slim little booklet put out by the NRA about American civil war firearms..it might still be available. Anyway, it seems there were explosive bullets used first by the British & later by U.S. troups. Their main purpose was to blow up enemy artilery cassons..but of course there were human targets also..reports from wounded solders told of how they could hear and feel the bullet exploading inside them! Some used percussion type detonation, but most had a 31/4 sec. fuse & sometimes they went off in air.
As a result of this exiting reading...I of course had to try it. I had made a mould for casting .22 lead 40gr. bullets. I drilled out nose in bench lathe for press fit on #4 lead shot. Into this cavity I packed toy gun cap powder & pressed shot in. I shudder even now some 40 years later how I ever came out of these experiments with both my eyes and all ten fingers! Anyway..shooting into 2X4 blocks, bullet always went thru 1st. block..2nd was penetrated about 1/2 way. Splitting open revealed a blackened walnut sized cavity imbedded with lead splinters & only the very base of bullet. Kind of exiting shooting at rocks at night!

4V50 Gary
January 8, 2011, 02:44 AM
I recall reading about a special ram rod tip that was made for those explosive bullets. It was hollowed out in the center so as not to you wouldn't blow up the bullet while you were pushing it down the barrel.

Jim Watson
January 8, 2011, 09:59 AM
Later on, they used a different charge in explosive shells to replace the touchy fulminate priming compound and black powder. It is described in The Gun and its Development by W.W. Greener. I would not be surprised if that were what Ross Seyfried used, he is a stickler for authenticity.

Y'all be careful, now, you hear?

January 8, 2011, 09:59 AM
War is war. Those exploding shells were often as dangerous to the shooter as to the shootee.
IMHO, completely nutso to mess with them just for fun.
Like Ideal Tool, I did stuff as a kid that was beyond nutso and I wonder how I survived intact.

January 9, 2011, 02:21 AM
Thanks guys. The Seyfried article mentioned the "forsyth shell" which I picked up on on my second read. Would it be percussion detonated I suppose.

I am familiar with "musket shells" from the American Civil War.

January 9, 2011, 06:45 PM
My brother and I as teens made exploding bullets out of 16 Ga shotgun shells full of b/p with primer removed and cannon fuse put through primer hole and down side of shell with match head glued to end of fuse, loaded brass up in our .75 cal smoothbore cannon. Fantastic at night, but after one exploded 3' from the barrel, we stopped using them. They were packed right on top of the powder and the match head always lit the fuse, just not consistant burn time, sometimes it hit the ground then blew other times it blew in air and then just in front of the cannon, all with 2 3/4" of fuse.:rolleyes::rolleyes:

January 9, 2011, 07:47 PM
No way I'd set off a round that fulminate of mercury in the bullet, sheesh! I suppose there was quite a lot of practical study.