I have two 45-70 Govt. Benet primed cartridges one is h/s R F 6 81 with a OAL of 2.590 and a total weight of 664 gr the other is h/s R F 5 81 with a OAL of 2.550 and a total weight of 630 gr. Is the longer one a 500 gr bullet and the shorter one a 405 gr?

Rimfire blank identification request


No. Probably just manufacturing tolerances, or they’ve been messed with in some way. The 500 grain cartridge will weigh close to 750 grains and is 2.8" long. Plus, the 500 grain bullets were not introduced until 1882.



I can accept the OAL difference but why the 35gr difference in weight. The cartridge does not appear to have been messed with in any way.



I don’t have an answer. Pitman shows the cartridges from that period weighing in at 625 - 630 grains. Maybe the BP has absorbed moisture?

I do know that it’s not a 500 grain bullet.



Thank You


Part of the reason could very well be the powder charge difference between the Carbine loading (55 grs.) and the standard cartridge (70 grs.)




The headstamps tell us they are both rifle loads.



Oops! Thank you Ray. I overlooked that. THe weight difference must then be in the case construction.

Looking through the book .45-70 Cartridge Variations by Bill Dibbern, he shows a cartridge headstamped RF 4-77 with a 500 gr. bullet / 2.375" long case. Must have been experimental(?). Perhaps this was the cartridge termed .45-80-500 used in the Sandy Hook tests in 1879(?)
researchpress.co.uk/longrang … hook04.htm

They also mention the use of a 45-70-500 in the same tests and Bill does does show a listing of a BENET primed .45-70 with a 500 gr. bullet with the headstamp RF 7 -78…




Yes, there were experimental types with heavier bullets. Note that the first one you mentioned had a longer case. Also the pre-“Sharpshooter” cartridges used a commercial 500 grain paper patched bullet. The first production 500 grain loads were in Jan 1882 using the Benet primed case. They were short-lived, being replaced just a few months later with the external primed case.




[quote=“w30wcf”]Part of the reason could very well be the powder charge difference between the Carbine loading (55 grs.) and the standard cartridge (70 grs.)



One other note - the wads or liner used in the 45-55-405 Carbine loads typically weighed close to 10 grains so the total weight difference between a carbine and a rifle cartridge was very small. Manufacturing tolerances could have obscured that difference which is why it was virtually impossible to to tell the early un-headstamped cartridges apart once they were removed from the box.



Could the Benet cartridges be reloaded by the remote posts. If so, maybe a Rifle case was reloaded as a Carbine load.



The Benet case was not reloadable. Regulations required that troops in the field render fired cases unusable since they felt that hostile Indians could find a way to reload them. I have found many examples of the flattened cases at Indian War battle sites, but the regulations were not often followed. I wrote an article on this subject for Man At Arms back in the 80s or 90s.

But regardless, the Carbine cartridge weighed about the same as a Rifle cartridge whereas Carolyn has a specemin that weighs about 30 - 35 grains more than it should.



Would it have been possible for more wads to have been loaded than normal, there by increasing the weight and OAL.



The rifle cartridges did not have wads. The carbine rounds had either wads or a liner to take up the space created as a result of using 15 grains less powder.

It would take a lot of wads to add 30-35 grains weight to a cartridge. So many that you would not be able to seat a bullet to the standard length.

Unless someone can come up with an answer I think the only way you’d know what you have, exactly, would be to pull the bullet. I wouldn’t recommend that since you’d never be able to restore it to it’s original condition.

Do you have a photo of the two that we could see? Maybe we could spot something that you overlooked. 6 eyes are better than two (I have 4). 8 or 10 eyes even better.



Here’s a photo of the 45 cal cartridge that Carolyn is trying to ID.

Anybody have any comments? To my eye it looks “different” somehow but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. Surface is too smooth? Not enough crimp?



bullet doesn’t have the normal 405 or 500 gr ojive for one thing, the mouth crimp doesn’t appear enough, to my eye either Ray.
Does the bullet show cast marks?
I don’t see anything close in the Small Arms Exhibit 1876 Phila. by Lewis, Or in Hoyem vol 2.
My 1 1/2 cents is that it has been fooled with, but could well be wrong. Perhaps an X-ray is needed?


Yeah Pete, I asked Carolyn to look for mould marks and to try and get a photo side by side with the other cartridge. We’ll see what she comes up with.



Hi Ray & Pete
Here is a picture of 2 cartridges the one on the left is a good one. My husband looked at the cartridge with a 10 power eye loupe and he says there are no mold marks.
The bullet crimp does appear to be not as pronounced as a standard round

Thank You Carolyn



I know that we keep bombarding you with questions, but we didn’t ask an obvious one - is the bullet magnetic?

You’re getting better with the new camera. I’ve had mine for a couple of weeks and you’re ahead of me on the learning curve.



The bullet is lead