Whitworth Hexagonal Bullet Mould

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Written by: W.S. Curtis

Pictured below is an original Whitworth Hexagonal Mould, part of a cased set from 1859.

Weight of mould with handle and cut off plate is 12 ounces (343 grams). Base plug and handle is 4 ounces (114 grams) and push out rod for the bullet is 3.3 ounces (95 grams).

Inscriptions read:
WHITWORTH / MANCHESTER / 112 and on the other side
530.G. C .470 / F .440

These last refer the measurements across the corners and flats.

Whitworth hexagonal mould

Nearly all of the original moulds provided by Whitworth’s Companies carried serial numbers and usually also the data of the bullet that they produced (as above). It cannot be understood more clearly that these numbers are never connected to the serial numbers of the rifles they were sold with. The Whitworth Research Project has identified mould serial numbers noted in the range from 17 to 966, to date, 43 in all. No letter has ever been seen with the moulds. It appears that none were ever made outside this one thousand group. Where the rest of them went no one knows. They appear to be about 50/50 hexagonals and cylindricals. Please contact Research Press if you have or have details of an original Whitworth bullet mould. 

Whitworth made moulds were the typical sort of thing that Whitworth as a brilliant engineer might produce but Whitworth, lacking the practical experience of casting bullets, made a hash of them. They are completely impractical, they make bad bullets, they get far too hot and they burn their own wood work. Original instructions for Loading & Cleaning The Whitworth Patent Military Rifle note, “Projectiles cast from the mould are not to be relied upon for accurate shooting, unless they are passed through a die-press.” The vast majority of Whitworth shooting was done with cylindricals as the ammunition worked just as well, could be bought from Eley, Ludlow or any of the usual cartridge makers and was cheaper than Whitworth’s own special make, very fine though they were.

[photograph and text; courtesy W.S. Curtis]