30 US Army Dingbat?

Another item from the junk box.Ii’s a 30 US Army case that has had the primer pocket drilled out.
The unusaul thing is that it has a brass sleeve inside the case.

The sleeve is 2.155 inches long and .311 inches in diameter. The ID at one end is 0.223 inches. the other end is drilled out to a 0.279 inch inside diameter to a depth of 0.81 inches… When in the case the sleeve protrudes slightly out of the case mouth.

Dingbat or did it serve some purpose?


There are so-called “whisper” cartridges which were used to shoot usually indoors or at a short range with a much reduced charge with a light weight bullet. However those usually have the inner chamber / rod secured and reinforced to actually be a chamber.
Perhaps this was something to fire a primer in, or perhaps a blank, but I’d guess it would need more support at the base for even a blank to be safely fired.
So I don’t know, not have I seen it’s like before

Could it be a make-shift cartridge to drive a Hollifield Dotter ?

Was Hollifield Dotter made in this calibre?

In .30 Caliber, I have Hollifield Dotters for M1903 Springfields and M1917 Enfields (obviously both in .30-'06). I was wondering if Rimfire’s cartridge could be a home-made activator in .30-40 Krag for one of the WW1 era Dotters.


I was thinking home made .22 sub caliber adapter, but not Hollifield, nice catch.

Yes, the Hollifield dotter was made for use in the .30-40 Krag rifles. Possibly Krag carbines as well, but I have not seen that set yet. I have a rifle set. (Repro dotter cartridges, however)

1 Like

IIRC, there was another training device before the Hollifield dotter. I think it needed a special “cartridge”, but had no primer or powder, just a bore-sized rod activated by firing pin strike.

The Hollifield dotter actually came with two rods for magazine fed rifles. The shorter rod was intended for use with the dotter cartridges, to get troops used to loading the magazine (singly in the Krag, from stripper clips in the M1903 or 1917), bolt operation, etc, not merely the aiming drill.
There was a longer rod which went the full length of the barrel so the firing pin struck the internal rod of the dotter device directly instead of using the dotter cartridge to bridge the gap between the bolt and and short rod.

There was a device invented by COL George Wingate of the New York militia which used the same “firing pin strikes a rod which is pushed out the muzzle a bit to poke a hole in a tiny target an inch or so from the muzzle” concept. The mechanics were a bit different, but they were used to some extent by the National Guard of several states (NY and Illinois at least). I am not aware of any surviving examples, or even a photo of an actual device, although there are some drawings from catalogs and the like. The Winder device did not use any sort of cartridge.
(Edited to correct name to Col George Wingate, not Winder, who was a later advocate of marksmanship training, credited with origin of the “Winder musket” military training version of the Winchester-Browning single shot rifle in .22 caliber.)

1 Like

The reference to the “other training device” sent me digging through reference books. Henry Havelock Cummings of Boston, Massachusetts, invented what was described as "a very complex and expensive marksmanship training device called “the Sub-Target Rifle Machine”. It did not use cartridges, but held a substantially modified service rifle in such a way that the trainee-soldier could aim at a target on a wall 60 feet distant, pull the trigger, and a “needle” or sharp pointer punched a hole in a miniature target that showed where the rifle was pointed when the trigger was pulled. It apparently worked as advertised, but was priced at $600 US dollars in 1900. A few hundred such machines were made and sold between 1900 and 1918.

Cummings also advertised “the Cummings Dot Rifle”. It was much cheaper, only $115. Was this another form of Hollifield Dotter?

The COL Winder mentioned was Lt.Col Charles S Winder, (formerly Corporal), Ohio National Guard. He was a very successful advocate of using .22 rimfire versions of military rifles for training, 1900-1920. The quite collectable .22 rimfire boxes of “Armory” cartridges are the result of his efforts.

1 Like

The Cummings design was produced by the Sub-Target [sometimes “Subtarget”] Gun Company. These were actually used extensively by the U.S. Navy both at shore stations and aboard ships; the U.S. Army and National Guard; at both USNA Annapolis and USMA West Point; and also by a number of New York City Public Schools.
They were also used by a number of foreign nations, with the basic machinery being the same, the only difference being what service rifle was modified for attachment to the contraption.

Basically, they allowed decent training in sight picture and firing with the results showing on a miniature target attached to the bulky machine. It could be done without need for a firing range with attendant safety issues, but used a distance to the target aimed at of about 50 feet. They actually held match competition among the NYC public schools with teams competing at Madison Square Garden circa 1908-1916.
No ammunition was used, and the rifles were modified for attachment to the machine with dovetails cut on the underside of the barrel, and mechanical cables linking the striker to the needle device to poke the hole when the shot was fired. Mechanical linkage moved the needle up/down-left right to record the position relative to the distant target used for aiming.

The “Sub-Target” machines were sort of the ultimate absurdity of aiming practice which had begun circa 1850s with “candle practice” where a percussion cap on a standard infantry weapon would generate enough air movement from the barrel to blow out a candle a few feet from the muzzle. This was continued in the 1870s with “candle practice” primers and cases for .45-70 trapdoors. (See Dwight Jackson article in IAA Journal 482, Nov/Dec 1022)

Col. George Wingate’s “Indicator for Aiming Drill” was patented in 1876 and the first of the “needle” type marksmanship devices. Then came the Hollifield, and finally the Sub-Target devices.

The limitations of simplistic aiming drills was superseded by more actual gallery practice on indoor ranges, especially with national guard or cadet type groups. Sometimes with service rifles with special subcaliber cartridges. Other times, special variations of service rifles were made to use subcaliber ammunition, often .22 rimfire. Initially the U.S. used the Hoffer-Thompson design with cartridge holders to simulate .30-06 cartridges for loading drill purposes, then they switched to .22 caliber versions of the Krag and 1903 rifles chambered specifically for .22 rimfire.

I did an article in the Arms Heritage Magazine Volume 8 number 4, August 2018 going into U.S. military gallery practice arms and ammunition in considerable detail.