.45-70....Whatizit?


#1

Here is an odd (to me, anyway) .45-70 I have had kicking around for a while…

Headstamp is “R” at 12 o’clock, “B” at 6 o’clock, “45” at 9 o’clock, and “70” at 3 o’clock…

Bullet is weird, there is a copper looking insert in the tip…whats the deal with that? Some sort of early expansion thing, or just something weird someone did to it at some point…pics aren’t the best, let me know if I need to try to get better ones…

So who made it, timeframe, and what is it?

TIA, Mike

Side view…

Headstamp…

Odd bullet…


#2

The RB stands for Rifle Bridgeport and the case was made by Union Metallic Cartridge Co, of Bridgeport, Connecticut.


#3

Hmmm, could this have possibly been a military load…IIRC prior to 1892, military .45-70 cases were marked “R” or “C” for rifle or carbine, since there was no good way to visually tell them apart (bullets seated to the same depth)…

If this is a military round I would keep it, since I only collect military rounds…

Any ideas on the funky bullet?


#4

Pzjgr: The cartridge case is from a Berdan-primed military contract .45-70 cartridge made by UMC for the U.S. government, but the bullet is a copper tube type sporting bullet. The case has either been reloaded after its initial firing, or the original all-lead bullet was replaced with this one. JG


#5

Hi,

As stated by Armourer, the case was made by UMC. The “R” designates the load as a rifle load. The “B” stands for Bridgeport, Conn. which is where UMC was located. These cartridges were usually loaded with 405 grain bullets.

The rounds were intended for the U.S. Springfield Rifle Musket M1874 and were termed as the “Contract Rifle Ball Berdan .45”. The contract was filled during the during the late 1870 and early 1880s.

The bullet appears to have an expander plug inserted in the nose which was supposed to make the bullet expand on impact. I am not aware of any of bullets used by the US military with an expander plug. Perhaps what you have may be a reloaded military contract case with a later bullet with an expander plug.

Regards,

Heavyiron


#6

Interesting, what the heck is a copper tube type sporting bullet? Was the copper insert an attempt at making an expanding bullet for hunting?

Given it was a military round, I will probably hang on to it for now.

The headstamp threw me, all the military .45-70’s I have (all are late 1890’s) have typical military FA and date headstamps…while I figured this wasn’t miltary arsenal manufactured, it didn’t quite strike me as a civilian headstamp either…but then again, I don’t know much about this earlier stuff…mostly I stick to post 1900 type military ammo…sometimes I pick up earlier stuff in groups, but I am always trying to learn!


#7

Interesting, what the heck is a copper tube type sporting bullet? Was the copper insert an attempt at making an expanding bullet for hunting?

Given it was a military round, I will probably hang on to it for now.

The headstamp threw me, all the military .45-70’s I have (all are late 1890’s) have typical military FA and date headstamps…while I figured this wasn’t miltary arsenal manufactured, it didn’t quite strike me as a civilian headstamp either…but then again, I don’t know much about this earlier stuff…mostly I stick to post 1900 type military ammo…sometimes I pick up earlier stuff in groups, but I am always trying to learn![/quote]

Answered by Heavyiron…Thanks for the info!

Too bad it is not original loading…


#8

Pzjgr, this is almost certainly the bullet you have except yours is additionally paper patched. A late 1800’s U.M.C. cartridge board lithograph pictures the bullet loaded in an “S H” headstamped case and titled “45-70 GOV’T PATCHED EX.”

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#9

That is an early headstamp, dating from 1878. The first contract with commercial manufacturers for military .45-70 ammunition was with UMC. They initially produced an unheadstamped folded head Berdan primed cartridge, followed soon after by the same cartridge with the R B 45 70 headstamp. In September and October of 1878, their headstamp included the month and year (R B 9 78 and R B 10 78). All of their contract ammunition produced after October 1878 was supplied witrh the commercial headstamp that was in use at the time, either UMC S H 45-70 or UMC 45 GOVT.


#10

Quite a bit of the 45-70 and 45-55 ammunition was made by contract suppliers. Primarily UMC, USC Co, and Winchester. They also made ammunition for State Militia units armed with the “trapdoor” and you will find a lot of the 50-70 ammunition likewise made and headstamped.

Many of the bullet boxes, such as the one shown, are marked as “Government” but they are strictly civilian components, as far as I know. Using the word “Government” or “Government Standard”, or some such was, was a sales gimmick.

Ray


#11

Was use of the word “Government” actually a slaes gimmick, or perhaps did it mean that the bullets were intended for the .45 Government caliber? The term “.45 Government” was certainly more descriptive than “.45-70” since there were Government loads that did not use 70 grains of powder, even though I know in the old cartridge nomenclature, the powder-weight designation referred to case capacity, and not necessarily to the amount of powder actually used in every loading. Probably only people with a real interest in shooting and in ammunition knew that then, just like many casual shooters and gun users today don’t know technical language.

Just a thought. Certainly “hype” is not a new invention.


#12

John

The bullets could have been used in any appropriate 45 caliber rifle cartridge. But I believe that in those quaint old days the unwashed masses looked at the “Government” or military in a different way than we do today. The word connotated authority, something better or bigger or more powerful than what the average guy on the street was accustomed to. Manufacturers of any product were certainly going to capitalize on that perception. You continued to see such advertizing well into the 20th Century. “As used by our armed forces overseas”. “The drink of Astronauts”. Etc.

Of course I wasn’t there, so I’m only speculating. OK, I was there for the majority of the 20th Century. :) :)

Ray

Ray


#13

I have a Sharps cartridge with that same type of bullet. I am sure by studying it that it has been replaced. I will try to take pics and post later tonight for anyone interested.


#14

OK, mine is not 45-70, but I thought it might shed light on the subject nevertheless. This one is a 45-125 for a Sharps rifle. Headstamped “UMC S H 45-125.” I have studied my cartridge and am 100% sure the bullet, which I believe is called a copper tube express bullet, has been seated into my casing sometime after its original manufacture. These express bullets were primarily hunting bullets, NOT military. Mine has two slight squared off indents on the bullet indicating a pliers grip or vise grip to hold it while it was probably being pulled from the native case. My case is in nice shape with a nice patina, but the headstamp area was cleaned a bit, I believe the brass primer to be original. Who knows why anyone does these things? I was recently offered $40 for it and almost sold it, but decided to wait for a trade only, as I need various Henry headstamps for my collection. I may have passed on a good deal for me, but, who cares what it’s worth, it’s only worth a Henry trade to me. I hope these pics help you out with your ID. Take it from me, the guys on this board are knowledgeable, as they have helped me a bunch!http://picasaweb.google.com/tonyg289/Sharps