Rifle Musket /53 .568 Cartridges

Brothers Edwin and Alfred Ludlow were Birmingham small arms ammunition manufacturers. Illustrated is an original pack of ten of their cartridges for the Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle Musket, dated 1864. With their .568 diameter bullet they were probably intended for Rifle Volunteers engaged in target shooting competition. The service bullet at the time was .55 diameter.

Snider Cartridge Creaser

James Dixon & Sons, Cornish Place, Sheffield, manufactured a huge variety of implements for muzzle loading, pin fire and centre fire breech-loading arms. Included were cartridge creasers and this short article features that for the .577 cartridge.

Drams or Drachms?

Problems in the measurement of gun powder charges resulting from the use of different terminologies. De Witt Bailey and Bill Curtis investigated a wide variety of authors from Benjamin Robins in 1742 to Sir Henry Halford in 1888, with a view to finding out if these writers meant what they said. The basic conclusion was that while most did, for a certain period in the early 19th Century, a number became involved in the perpetuation of what appears to have begun as an incorrect translation of a French measure late in the 18th Century.

Eley’s Patent Wire Cartridge

The term ‘Cartridge’ in the context of the muzzle loading era did not always mean ‘a complete round with powder’. In shotgun terms, it meant a package containing the shot charge and possibly the wadding which could be loaded intact onto the powder charge already in the barrel.

Military Percussion Caps

Arthur B. Hawes in his ‘Rifle Ammunition’ (1859) describes the manufacture of the military percussion cap, his notes also including information on packing the finished caps. In 1858 British military percussion caps were issued in packs of 75 along with 60 cartridges. That year an additional 20 Eley waterproof caps were also issued.

Enfield Paper Cartridges

For today’s researcher into Enfield ammunition, the definitive reference is “Rifle Ammunition. Being Notes on the Manufactures connected therewith as conducted in The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich” by Arthur B. Hawes, Captain (r.h.p.), Bengal Army and published in London, 1859. Hawes writes in his introduction: “These notes, intended at first only for myself, were, I am happy so say, useful to others; and from that reason more than any other, I am induced now to offer them, imperfect as they are, for the perusal of all who feel interested in the preparation of ammunition of different descriptions, with the exterior of which all soldiers are so familiar.”

Report of Experiments

In the Annual Report of the National Rifle Association for 1875, General Alexander Shaler (President 1875-1877) reported on experiments with powder charges for long range shooting. The experiments commenced during the summer 1875 and were concluded that December. The aim was to determine the proper charge of powder to use in long range shooting in the Remington Creedmoor Rifle. Swaged bullets weighing 550 grains were used, and interestingly made of a hard alloy composed of fifteen parts lead and one of tin.

Sharps Long Range Bullets

Pictorial feature of boxed sets of long range bullets for the Sharps rifle, manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co.

Joshua Shaw, Artist And Inventor

This biography of Joshua Shaw, Artist and Inventor, from 1869 also features the early history of the copper percussion cap. Many people claimed invention of this system but it was such an obvious development from the patch lock that it must have occurred to a good many people almost simultaneously.

The Science of Long Range Shooting

It’s 1879, and since the 1874 International Match at Creedmoor there have been a lot of changes. Edwin Perry shares, in his Third Edition of Modern Observations on Rifle Shooting (1880), some of the major changes / advancements at Creedmoor in just a short 5 years. When it comes to bullet alloys, much of what has been passed around on the internet as fact about the advent of harder alloy bullets is, frankly, nothing but conjecture. And what has been passed off as fact is in effect WRONG. Very hard alloy bullets, were in vogue by 1879 for long range competition and were sold by Sharps and Remington. Factory ammo was no longer used by any of the big name shooters. Most had, after careful study, found that their own reloads had much better performance on the long range targets. Make no mistake about it, rapid advances in long range shooting were going on, and much of it we knew little about, until now.

Metford & Bullet Alloys

Some of William Metford’s letters to Sir Henry Halford survive and give a fascinating insight into the experimentation conducted by these gentlemen in the pursuit of accuracy. This short collection of extracts from their correspondence covers work with bullet alloys.