25 roberts - 257 roberts


#1

Early in the 20th Century, several experimenters and wildcatters were playing with 25 caliber cartridges based on the 30-40 Krag case, similar to what Dr. Franklin Mann had introduced to the world in his treatise The Bullet’s Flight. One of those pioneers was N. H. (Ned) Roberts. He set out to design a rimless case having a capacity similar to the rimmed 25 Krag-Mann, considering the advances in powders since Mann’s experiments. Roberts settled on the 7x57mm Mauser case and began months of testing different bullets, barrels, and chambers. He finally settled on a 15 degree shoulder and a 2.160" case length, dubbing it the 25 Roberts. Michigan rifle maker A. O. Niedner agreed to make barrels, hand formed cases, and complete rifles, and shooters of the day commonly called the new cartridge the 25 Niedner Roberts.

In 1930, New York gun makers Griffin & Howe began to produce ammunition and rifles. They determined that case forming could be expedited if the case was left full length. Roberts tested the longer case, approved it’s design, and it quickly came to be called the 25 G & H Roberts.

In 1934 Remington proposed to legitimize the wildcat and introduce it in their Model 30-S Express rifle. They concluded that the manufacture of new brass cases could be facilitated by simply necking the 7x57mm case to 25 caliber, with no other changes. The new cartridge was named the 25 Roberts and cases were headstamped accordingly. Several noted riflemen raised flags of concern since it could be mistaken for the original 25 Roberts. Within a year the cartridge was renamed the 257 Remington Roberts and the headstamp changed to 257 REM. A year later, Winchester came on board with their cartridge named the 257 Winchester Roberts, headstamped 257 Roberts. With the passing of time both the Remington and Winchester cartridges came to be known as simply the 257 Roberts.


#2

Ray,
Here’s that early Remington .25 Roberts box:


#3

Nice & very interesting article.
I may well be wrong but I believe there is a very small difference in the shoulder angle (1-2º) in production REM-UMC headstamped cases bearing the 25 Roberts headstamp and those with the 257 REM headstamp. Not enough, I don’t think, to effect function or accuracy but for those looking for nit’s to pick, or another case type?


#4

Pete

I had not heard that. I looked at the two side by side and they appear to be the same but it would be hard to see a 1 or 2 degree difference without an optical scanner. I always assumed that since Rem was set up to make 7mm cases they would simply neck the case down to 25 thereby saving a lot of tooling costs.

The 25 Roberts cartridges and cases are very collectible. They are near impossible to find but that’s understandable since Guy H probably has them all. ;)

I have about 5 boxes of the 25 G&H Roberts along with some targets and a couple of letters written by Roberts in the 1930s. The target groups are not very good by today’s standards but must have been considered exceptional in their day.

As everyone knows, the 257 Roberts was necked down to 6mm in the early 1950s, the shoulder angle changed, and it became the 244 Remington and, later, the 6mm Remington. Even it was a wildcat originally, the 243 Rockchucker. Those danged wildcatters were everywhere!

Ray


#5

Letters by Roberts ! That is very neat!
Good on ya!


#6

Ray,
How about a picture of one of your G&H boxes.


#7

Guy

I suppose I should have been a little more specific - I have 5 boxes of 25 G&H Roberts cartridges. The boxes are the plain brown two-piece Western Cartridge Co. 7MM Mauser Unprimed Shells which were used as the basis for the cartridges. 7 MM is crossed out and 25 Roberts is handwritten on the front of the lid and loading data is hand written on the front of the box under the lid.

I cannot say if these are boxes from G&H. They are typical of custom handloads from the pre-WW II era when new unprimed brass was used. But, they could be G&H, or Niedner, or Roberts, or John Smith, for all that I know.

Ray


#8

Was the 243 Rockchucker the forerunner of the 6 mm Remington or was it derived from it?


#9

Pivi

The 243 Rockchucker was a wildcat of Fred Huntington (RCBS). He developed it after WW II using the 257 Roberts (or 7mm Mauser) necked down, with a 32 degree shoulder. At the same time, Warren Page developed the 240 Page which was based on the experimental T65 brass necked down with a 30 degree shoulder. Those guys tried to sell Winchester and Remington on the merits of the cartridges but the factories pretended not to be interested. Winchester introduced the 243W and Remington the 244R just a few years later.

There are several versions of both the Rockchucker and Page.

All of this is in an article I wrote for the JOURNAL not too long ago. The mini-article on the 257 Roberts is also based on a JOURNAL article. And, there is one on the 25-06 too.

Copies of back issues of the JOURNAL are available.

Ray


#10

I recently purchased a Neidner-made rifle, built before 1930. It is thought to be in an older, wildcat version of the .257 Roberts, probably the one referred to as the .25 Roberts. If any collectors here have specimens of that cartridge, could someone measure its case length to assist me in determining if this is the right chambering?

David

Photos:

zincavage.org/N-S1.jpg

zincavage.org/N-S2.jpg

zincavage.org/N-S3.jpg

zincavage.org/N-S9.jpg

Underside of barrel, marked by Sukalle:

zincavage.org/N-S13.jpg


#11

JDZ

Go back to the beginning of this thread. I gave the case length of all 3 of the wildcats.

I still have 4 boxes of the G&H Roberts cases and loaded ammunition. If interested, send me an email.

Ray


#12

[quote=“RayMeketa”]JDZ

Go back to the beginning of this thread. I gave the case length of all 3 of the wildcats.

I still have 4 boxes of the G&H Roberts cases and loaded ammunition. If interested, send me an email.

Ray[/quote]

Thanks, I somehow failed to notice that.

I’m afraid that it is most probably the .25 Roberts that pertains to my rifle. If anybody had even a single round available of that one, I’d be very interested.


#13

JDZ

The cartridge second from the left is the original 25 Roberts. The cartridge on the right is the 25 Roberts later renamed the 257 Remington Roberts.

Keep in mind that the Roberts was a wildcat. Chamber dimensions could vary depending on the reamer. I did not see any indication of caliber on your rifle. Are you positive it is a 25 Roberts? Niedner had his own 25 caliber wildcat called the 25-50-117 which later became the 25 Niedner.

Ray


#14

The seller said that .257 Roberts brass wouldn’t chamber. The rifle, we can tell by Sukalle’s stamp, was made before 1935 (when he moved to Phoenix). We can tell that it was made before 1930 by the Neidner stamp.

I spoke to Dave Davison at CH4D about making me custom dies. He said that he had once made dies for a pre-257 Roberts wildcat, and when he made a new dies set for the first time, he told me that he always made a second set. He went off for a few minutes and came back with the dies. His notes said they were made for a guy who owned a Niedner rifle built in the early 1930s. They were labelled “.25 Roberts.” I think the odds are pretty good that .25 Roberts is the right chambering. (In any event, the dies are returnable.)

The chamber casting looks right.


#15

One of the original .25 Mann-Krag rifles was listed for the Amoskeag auction last Saturday, Lot 490. The rifle used specially made base-band bullets, not the conventional type in use today. You can see it on the Amoskeag site.


#16

I have the Amoskeag catalog. As soon as I bought the rifle, I emailed Mike Petrov, not knowing at the time that he passed away last February.

What’s a base band bullet? (I missed noticing that particular rifle.)

Ken Waters’ “Pet Loads” (1990) arrived last night. He has an article on the .257 Roberts which appeared originally in Handloader, November 1966. It says, in part:

"N.H. Roberts was one of the bright stars in the company of notable American riflemen. One of the relatively few in that select group to bridge the entire span of years from muzzleloaders to autoloaders, Ned was a man of diverseskills: rifleman, professor, writer, student of ballistics, and of course, cartridge designer.

Many of our readers are familiar with the historical fact that Ned Roberts, assisted by his friends F.J. Sage and A.O. Neidner, designed the .25 Roberts cartridge, later to become the .257 Roberts. Perhaps fewer of you know about the original cartridge without the “7” in its headstamp, but how many of you know that there were three different .25 Roberts cartridges? Most present day sources will tell you there were two, but shooters contemporary to the years 1930 to 1935 may remember the story as it actually happened.

The old .30-40 Krag case having already proven to be about the right capacity for necking down to .25 caliber, Ned selected the 7X57mm Mauser as a rimless case having about the same capacity. Perfectionist that he was, there followed years of trial-and-error testing which involved the making up of literally dozens of barrels for his .25-caliber wildcat, with different chambers, groove dimansions and rifling twists. Colonel Whelen once told the writer that he doubted if any man ever spent so much time perfecting a cartridge as Ned Roberts did with his .257 (or .25 Roberts, as he originally called it).

Early in the experiments, Roberts and Adolph Neidner were advised by Colonel Whelen and Mr. L. C. Weldin, ballistic engineer of the Hercules Powder Company, to specify a shoulder slope of 15 degrees for their new cartridge in order to hold down pressures with the rather fast-burning powders of those days (late 1920s). This suggestion was adopted and the 7mm vase necked down, formed to the new long-sloping shoulder, and trimmed approximately 1/16". A.O. Neidner then proceeded to make up barrels for the new cartridge with his usual close chambering.

These barrels, along with their hand-formed brass cases, were known as the “.25 Roberts” and were all that was available for the first couple years."

Then Griffin & Howe advocated leaving the case untrimmed, and you got version number 2.

Then along came Remington in 1934.

The Neidner stamp on my rifle is the stamp used 1920-1929. So it’s clear that it has to be the original .25 Roberts.


#17

The 4 boxes of cases and cartridges that I have are the G&H version. Roberts hisself switched to that version when it was developed by G&H. Examples of the original 25 Roberts are very few and far between. I had a couple of them at one time (one is shown in the photo) but I sold them several years ago when I got out of wildcat collecting.

Base Band bullets are two diameter. The front (ogive) is bore size while the rear is groove size. I don’t think Mann was the first to use them. They are still common today, particularly in 50 BMG competition rifles where they are more commonly known as Bore Rider bullets. I also had one of Mann’s cartridges with a hand made base band bullet. It’s gone too.

I think Petrov’s rifle were recently auctioned off. Some of them at least.

Ray


#18

Examples of the original 25 Roberts are very few and far between. I had a couple of them at one time (one is shown in the photo) but I sold them several years ago when I got out of wildcat collecting.

I clearly got here too late.


I think Petrov’s rifle were recently auctioned off. Some of them at least.

The auction was at Amoskeag last weekend. There were several collections sold, including Petrov’s. Michael Petrov must have owned something on the order of 60 extreme high-end custom .30-06 Springfields built by the greatest pre-WWII makers. There were something like half a dozen Wundhammers (including Townie Whelen’s) and as many Griffin & Howes. The catalog is worth buying as a reference.