.41 Eley Bros. Needle Fire


Here is a (I think) .41 Caliber / 75 Bore, Eley Brothers Needle-fire Rifle cartridge. Very thin brass foil case, with only a single layer of very thin paper and then covered with a reddish brown rubber-like layer. Is this “Gutta-Percha” natural rubber? Was it normal practice of Eley to use this type of case construction?


The reddish brown outer layer is the paper cover for the brass foil case. If it’s soft or feels rubbery, the why of that I have no idea. Perhaps oil might discolor it & make it soft?

From your photos I can’t see the thin, next to the brass, paper you talk about.

However these were mostly found with a tan to darkish tan or light brown outer paper coloring.

But it should be just a piece of paper. Not thin paper like on a bullet patch but thicker & this can be seen at the seam. & looks typical to me.

The base should have an orange or blue paper circular sticker with (usually) Eley’s Needle Fre Cartridge & the size in black print. The needle would penetrate the sticker & go though the base hole to the percussion cap.

Hope this is pf help


Look at the second and the third pictures. On the third one, the starting seam of the paper is visible. On the second one, the end seam of the paper is visible. The paper is so thin, that you can see right through it! The yellowish color, visible in the fourth picture, is actually the brass, shining through the paper! The brownish rubber-like layer is much thicker than the paper, but also translucent.
The white fluff on the surface is not paper fiber - it is elastic.
I was so stupid!!! I damaged the cartridge by cleaning it with acetone and throwing it in a tumbler, without even knowing what it was! It was so dirty, that I didn’t even know for sure that it was a cartridge!!


In the first picture the brown rubber-like layer can clearly be seen on the brass, around the needle-hole. If it’s not rubber, it must be a very elastic sealer or varnish? Whether it’s original, or added by a previous collector, I can not tell.
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge!


Howdy pablo

I’m sorry I can’t see any thin paper layer under the outer reddish brown outer cover, & have no idea what this elastic is your taking about it.

With the treatment of having been tumbled & treated with acetone, I have no idea unless the acetone caused the glue to change it’s structure & be absorbed into the paper? or concentrate?

Trying to back-track after treatment like that, I’d think would be almost impossible unless your a chemist, with a complete lab at your disposal.


Pablo, why do you think your round is made by Eley.

Looks a little different.



Can’t you see that the second and third pictures show 2 different seams on opposite sides of the cartridge? You can clearly feel that too. That’s how thin the paper are! Sorry, but I’m not rigged to take better photographs ;-(

I don’t. But I don’t know of any other manufacturers that made similar cartridges! Who else manufactured them? Can you recommend any books or websites?


Hi Dutch

Eley made these in a tan to darkish tan or light brown outer paper coloring plus the blue you show.

And bullets range from round ball to pointed.

Pablo’s has typical Eley construction other than missing the base ‘label’ sticker & case color.

Your blue variation is not often seen, & I have one like yours and one with the pointed lead bullet, so they exist.




Thank you for the Information.

I know you are specialised in this kind of cartridges.
This lonesome item is in my collection and I was hoping it could help a little.



Oh now I see what you mean with the two different “seams”.

I see it on several of my examples, (even the blue pointed bullet example) Your right, one is the start of the paper and the other the end which is a seam. The start is not a seam, as such.

I still don’t see the thin paper between this outer reddish brown paper and the brass, but I probably misinterpreted your remarks about that too.

This outer paper also exists with a coiled wrap, showing a diagonal seam.

Again I can only guess the elastic & build-up at the needle hole is from the acetone & tumbling.

PS Dutch, Eley also made shot loadings.


Sorry Pete!

It’s easier for me to explain something in Afrikaans or Zulu, but I’ll practice my English! ;-)

Can you perhaps recommend any books or websites on needle fire cartridges?


Not a problem pablo, some days I’m just not as smart as others & their are some who… Oh never mind I won’t go there!

Sorry but I don’t know of any books on just needlefire cartridges think there are some books on the guns, but doubt they go into much on the ammunition.

As to a web site, no idea.

Sorry !



PS Dutch, Eley also made shot loadings.[/quote]


Not picked up many Needle Fire Cartridges (shotshells) attached is a .410 (I think) judging from the measured size.

End markings.

Side View
What is under the paper? I have never tried to see.



mine is the same caliber as yours but with an orange base sticker.& seems to be mouth-crimped in the same manor.

Mine shows the edges of the coiled brass foil case underneath the outer paper at the mouth.

Oh yeah, also blank loading were made. I have one almost as long as your shot without any lead, very light in weight & the mouth has a plain white topwad, (not a OSC) barely crimped in. So either inert or just full of powder, so I’m going with a blank.

keep your powder dry


Just found another example of a .410 size Needle Fire cartridge which is quite different to the one I already had, pictures attached.



Mike, what is so different? The label? You’ll find these with the print centered or way, way off to one edge with large amounts of missing text, & everywhere in between.


Sorry Pete, the first one I never did a view on the crimp, on this one you can see the outer paper and the inner brass and the OSC, the first one has none of this visible (I am not sure how they should look at this end). Also the wording and the style of printing is different on the second one.


mouth of this last one is typical & from the looks of the other it would appear to have the same crimps.
As I said labels were a helter-skelter sort of thing for these. If you start looking them soon you can have big bunches of the same cartridge with that as the only difference.


Yeah I know what you mean but as finding them is so few and far between I don’t mind having a couple of them that only have a minor difference.