.41 l.d.a


#1

I’m really stumped on this one. These three cartridges (below) were found in a remote piece of west Texas desert. I’ve got the Peters .30-30 (left) and the .38 WCF (right) figured out. However, what I can’t find any information on is the one in the middle: the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. .41 L.D.A.

I can find references to it on the internet in antique auctions, for example, but no information at all on what it is, or even what “LDA” stands for.

Even my copy of “Cartridges of the World” doesn’t have anything on it.

Photo (the middle cartridge):

Can anyone help me out with what this is, what firearms it was used in, and how old it might be?


#2

It’s a 41 Long Double Action.

First made for the Colt “Thunderer” double action revolver that was introduced in 1877.

The first ones were outside lubricated with a case length of .935" Later ones were inside lubricated with a case length of 1.130" The early ones were a true 41 caliber while the later ones had a bullet diameter of .386".

I cannot say what the age of your particular case is. They are fairly common cartridges. The long-cased version is commonly called the 41 Long Colt. There is also a 41 Short Double Action.

Ray


#3

[quote=“Ray Meketa”]It’s a 41 Long Double Action.
First made for the Colt “Thunderer” double action revolver that was introduced in 1877. [/quote]

Aha! I was looking at the Long Colt but wasn’t sure if it was the same thing. The keyword “long double action” got Google to magically make much more info appear in a search, and I’ve now got what I wanted to know.

Fascinating stuff, as a window for revealing the wide variety of firearms that were in use in that part of Texas in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Thank you for your help, and the amazing details.

What does “outside lubricated” mean? Was that a wax coating on the lead bullet? Or was there lube on the case too?


#4

Give those three rounds a rub over with a brass (NOT steel) wire brush. This should remove the dirt while leaving behind the patina. I have used this method very successfully on cases that have come out of the ground, even with dirt that appears corroded onto the case.


#5

John…Refer back to Ray’s posting of the case lengths. The earliest version of many cartridges, mostly for revolvers, were made with a short case, with that part of the bullet protruding from the case mouth having exposed grooves containing lubricant made of tallow and beeswax, among other things…Messy. So, a bit later on, they began making the cases slightly longer to encase the lubed part of the bullet down inside the case, making the bullet appear “shorter”…but overall cartridge length about the same, and, as Ray noted, sometimes with a change in bullet diameter…Randy


#6

Weren’t inside lubricated bullets mostly intended to keep the lubricant free from contamination from grit etc?


#7

Can you give us some more background on how these cartridges were found? Sounds to me like there is an interesting story behind all this.


#8

Actually, they’re still out there in the desert. These were located in Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, so artifact collecting is prohibited. I took the photos, then left the cases behind.

But, you make a good point. I need to include a brass brush in my backpack so I can clean these things up when I find them to get a decent photo of the headstamps. And maybe a small ruler to measure case lengths. A small notebook is already part of my gear, so I’m ready to make notes about anything I find, for later research.

  • John Rich

#9

Thanks very much for that wonderful explanation of “inside” and “outside” lubrication. I’m a modern rifle shooter, so these kinds of things are foreign to me. You taught me something new.


#10

Yes, one of the things I love about these finds is the history behind them.

The were found in Big Bend National Park (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/) at a place called Muskhog Spring. It’s a small waterhole in a small canyon, which was the site of a ranch owned by the Rice family in the 1930’s.

Photo: http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b108/JohnRich/MuskhogSpring.jpg

The area has a history of human occupation going back 15,000 years, and was a major Indian site. It was settled by Anglo-Americans starting in the mid-1800’s. The U.S. Army cavalry patrolled the area to keep the settlers safe, and there were several skirmishes with the Indians in the area. It was sparsely settled by ranchers and miners through 1940, when the Park Service bought the land. The Park Service then bulldozed all the current homes because they weren’t “historic”, and the idea was to return the land to its native state. So all that remains of the history of the settlers is a lot of debris, like these cartridge casings. So they give interesting clues as to the type of firearms that were owned by those settlers.

The water holes, like this one, were few and far between, so they were vitally important. The Indians traveled from water hole to water hole, and so did the settlers. Thus, these places were sources of conflict between the two, when they happened to show up at the same time.

Of course, these cartridges were not necessarily fired in conflict, but could have just been from the ranch workers doing target practice, or hunting varmints.

This concludes my brief history lesson from Big Bend.

I’ve spent a total of about two months in this park over the last seven years, and it’s an amazing place. I try to get there at least once a year, for a full week.


#11

John
Thanks for that John, I can see why you like the place so much. Part of the reason I was so curious about how they came to be there is my belief that years ago people didn’t just eject their cases and walk away.
Ammunition was incredibly expensive in relation to people’s incomes and even if they didn’t reload them it just wasn’t in their nature to waste anything at all. They even used to re-use nails for goodness sake!

Thats the great thing about finding things like that. You can almost feel the ghost of some old pioneer in his battered hat looking over your shoulder. Who knows, maybe he was!


#12

Yes, I tend to agree, which makes these findings a bit curious. I guess some of them were doing well enough, despite the hardships of that life, that they didn’t feel the need to save their brass. Or maybe acquiring the reloading tools and components was out of their reach so they didn’t feel the need to save the brass. Or some of the cases might have just escaped their attempts to find them.

I recall stories of buffalo hunters digging their spent bullets out of the carcasses at the end of the day, so they could melt the deformed lead down and cast new bullets overnight to be ready for the next days shooting.

One of the things that amazes me is the logistics of so many different types of ammo being available in such remote locations. They were probably quite frugal with the expenditure of ammo, and didn’t waste it. A box of 50 might have lasted them for many months.

I also find things like German china and windmills from Chicago. These all must have come in by train, since there was a rail station about 85 miles north. The flow of goods was quite healthy, despite the distances and hardships.


#13

I did a lot of metal detecting in my younger days, primarily as research at Indian War battle sites. One thing I found common at most every site was the existance of cartridge cases (and other junk) not related to the time period. Everything up to and including modern hunting calibers. Things like this have always confounded professional historians and archaeologists who have little knowledge when it comes to cartridges. Makes for some interesting analyses and interpretations, though.

Ray


#14

Actually, they’re still out there in the desert. These were located in Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, so artifact collecting is prohibited. I took the photos, then left the cases behind.

But, you make a good point. I need to include a brass brush in my backpack so I can clean these things up when I find them to get a decent photo of the headstamps. And maybe a small ruler to measure case lengths. A small notebook is already part of my gear, so I’m ready to make notes about anything I find, for later research.

  • John Rich[/quote]
    Are you searched for artifacts before you leave? Is there any hunting allowed in the park? Is there is, how would the park staff know what era the cases were from?

#15

Removing “ANYTHING” from a National Park is forbidden and if you are chaught it can be a world of hurt on your wallet. Is is on the honor system and most people are never asked or searched but it can happen.

There is “NO” hunting allowed by private citizens in the parks.

The only thing you should remove from the parks is your junk…