.45-70 Blanks

Today I got a .45-70 Blank headstamped “W.R.A.Co. 45-70”. This has the neck reduced in diameter at the end over a white paper wad. Is this a line Throwing or mine cable cutter blank? I seem to remember the cable cutters had a special headstamp.

Falcon–These are standard blanks made for the Accles Feed system used on Gaitling Guns. The standard, shorter blank would not feed properly.


What is the case length? Is the card wad held in place by a rolled cannelure? It could be just a plain ordinary blank.


Falcon–Here are a number of different .45-70 blanks. The first 3 are made special for the Gaitling Gun. The 3rd from the left was the one I was refering to in my earlier post. Do any of these look like yours?

@Ray: Yes, the wad is held in place by a rolled cannelure. Case length is 2.10".

@Ron: It looks like the one furthest on the right in your picture.

Falcon–In that case it is just a standard .45-70 Blank for Rifle use. Althrough W.R.A.Co. did sell some blanks to the government with the standard commercial headstamp, the same blank was sold on the commercial market as well. Without the box there is no way to tell the difference.’

What do the line throwing blanks have to identify them? I realise that this is unlikely to be a line thrower as it is not sealed from seawater.

Falcon–Between 1921 and 1931 the U.S. Navy ordered a total of 25,000 “Special Blanks for Line Throwing” from Winchester.These contained 50 gr. of Black Powder. But, to my knowledge, no one has ever found a box labeled for these so I do not know exactly what they looked like. It is presumed they had commercial headstamps. I would presume they would have a deep seated wad like the MK-1 and M32 blanks described below.

During WW-II, the “Cartridge, Blank, Cal. .45, MK-1, Line Throwing” was issued. Most of these carry the headstamp “WCC 45-70 MK-1-1943” but can also be found with “REM-UMC 45 GOVT” and “WESTERN 45-70 GOVT”. They are a straight case with a felt wad seated about midway in the case. They normally have a red or green primer annulus. They have a charge of 50 gr. of Black Powder.

About 1955, the “Cartridge, Blank, Cal. .45, M32, Line Throwing” was issued. Most of these carry the headstamp “WCC 56 45 M32”. These are Smokeless Powder and again have a deep seated wad with a red primer annulus.

Thanks for everyon’s input, I’d say from that that this is an ordinary blank, probably smokeless as there is no case corrosion that would probably be present of it was black powder.

Falcon–It has been my experience that there is seldom case corrosion from black powder unless the cartridge has been fired and reloaded. Black powder is certainly more stable than the early smokeless powders. I have MANY black powder loads that are as clean as the day they were made.

You can usually tell a black powder load from a smokeless by shaking it. Most black powder loads, especially blanks, use a compressed load while a smokeless powder load will have a loose charge that can be heard.


This is nit-picking, but serious nit-picking to be sure.

There IS A BIG DIFFERENCE between ordinary smokeless powder and blank powder. Smokeless propellant powder requires pressure to burn efficiently and the required pressure is provided by the weight, friction and resistance of the bullet or projectile. Blank powder, on the other hand, is designed to burn completely with many times the rapidity of a propellant powder. The card wad is there only to prevent spillage of the powder and to seal the mouth against moisture. The heavy mouth crimp provides all the resistance needed to build the necessary pressure (and to permit feeding). A bullet in front of a charge of blank powder is about the same as lighting a stick of dynamite.

Fortunately, powder manufacturers usually make blank powders in a grain shape and color that sets them apart from propellant smokeless or black powders.

The best advice to give regarding blank powder is, DON’T mess with it. This same rule applies to powder from ANY blank cartridge and to powder from things such as grenade cartridges as well.


Blank powder, like DuPont E.C., is so difficult and dangerious to handle that, as far as I know, no cartridge or powder company will sell it to the public.

I was aware that blank powder burned much faster than regular propellant, and knew it was more sensitive than smokeless propellant powder.