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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that Frankford Arsenal manufactured the benet-primed ammo for early US Cavalry Model 1873 SAA revolvers. What did civilians shoot in their very early .45 cal. SAAs. I just bought one that dates to 1875 and I'm curious to know what ammo was originally available to the civilian market?
 

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Take a look at ammunition from WESTERN cartridge, WRA, and UMC for starters.
WESTERN bought Winchester Repeating Arms from bankruptcy, and UMC bought the Remington Arms Company form the same situation. There was money to be made in ammunition if you knew your punkins.
 

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Here is a selection of .45 Colt cartridges through the years. The cartridge on the left is an early UMC blackpowder round. Commercial ammunition of the day was brass cased, with a copper mercuric primer of the Boxer type, actually a Farrington primer early on, but reloadable. Bullet was the 250 or 255 gr. lead with a 40 gr. powder charge.



While military ammunition had coppper cases and inside priming, commercial ammunition was always reloadable.

Bob Wright

P.S. Somewhere in my notes I have the note that UMC (Union Metallic Cartridge Co.) supplied the ammunition to the Army for the first test and evaluation of the SAA. UMC went on to purchase, along with Winchester, the failing E. Remington Arms Co.


P.P.S. There has been some thinking that the opriginal 40 grs. was reduced to 28 grs. However, I broke down a round known to be 1880 vintage and while the powder had deterioted, from mercury reaction with the brass, it still weighted 38 grains, looked like minature lumps of coal.
 

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I have read that the original Civilian Loading, in a longer Barrel SAA, with the 40 Grains of 3f BP, and the 255 Grain Bullet, was good for right around 1000 fps.


That would be a pretty healthy whallop for whoever or whatever was on the receiving end.
 

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I have read that the original Civilian Loading, in a longer Barrel SAA, with the 40 Grains of 3f BP, and the 255 Grain Bullet, was good for right around 1000 fps.


That would be a pretty healthy whallop for whoever or whatever was on the receiving end.
The .45 Colt remained the most powerful handgun cartridge until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935.

Bob Wright
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great info. Thanks, Bob! Did those early cartridges have a headstamp? I would really like to see a photo of the base of an early cartridge from 1873-1880.
 

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Great info. Thanks, Bob! Did those early cartridges have a headstamp? I would really like to see a photo of the base of an early cartridge from 1873-1880.
Well, now that you ask, here 'tis:



The UMC round is of that vintage. All commercial ammuniton has always been headstamped with a few exceptions, notably those of E. Remington & Sons which bore no headstamp, but were identified by a raised circle around the primer pocket. Early inside primed ammunition from Frankford Arsenal was not H/S:

Here is a Benet primed round on the left, and a Martin primed round on the right from Frankford Arsenal:



Bob Wright
 

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Hi Bob Wright,


When my family ( and me ) moved to the San Francisco Peninsula in 1964, a place I liked to play, was an 'undeveloped' little spot on the edge of suburbia, and, one day I found some old Copper Cartridge Shells in the gravelly dirt.

I did not save them, but, they were either .44 or .45, and Revolver length...and, I knew they were 'early' for being 'Copper'. They'd been mashed and were in poor shape and somewhat eroded and Pin Holey. But, someone had been shooting there I s'pose, way back when! And dumped their empty shells on the ground.


Was it only the Military Shells which were Copper in the beginning? Or, were the Commercials Shells Copper also for a while?


I think I recall that the Battle of Little Big Horn, the US Cavalry had 'Copper' Shells for their Revolver and Rifle Ammunition, and, that this had caused some troubles ( in the Rifles anyway ) when the Extractor would merely cut through that part of the Rim, and one had to hassle with the Cleaning Rod or a Pen Knife or other, to remove the now offending empty Shell from the Breech.


Also, if memory serve, the Alloy which was decided on to replace Copper, was then called "Bloomfield Guilding Metal"...which to the naïve Eye, would appear to be 'Brass'...but has a little more to it than Brass, as such, would tend to.


Are the Alloys used for present day 'Brass' Cartridge Cases, "Trade Secrets"? Or are they known?
 

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As to brass, "cartridge brass" is a fixed alloy, per centage copper to nickel stated, which I currently don't have before me, and is available from metal suppliers as such.

Guilding metal, as far as I know, was always used in bullet jackets, never in cartridge cases.

Only commercial cases made of copper were rimfire cartridges. Could have been a few exceptions, but all I've encountered were brass.

Bob Wright


P.S. I just did a quick search of some of my references and found no mention of commercially made copper cased centerfire ammunition.
 
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