45-70


#1

I have a 45-70 Govt Benet Primed cartridge that has a flat nosed bullet the case doesn’t appear to have been altered in any way. Is this a bullet that came from the arsenal. I can’t find any info on a flat nosed bullet ever being made. The bullet does have a seam so I assume it’s cast. The cartridge weights the same as other ones I have.
Carolyn


#2

Carolyn: Any headstamp? Jack


#3

It’s headstamped R F 3 82


#4

Carolyn: This cartridge case was produced just about the point one could reasonably expect it to have been loaded with a 500 gr. bullet in lieu of the 405 used earlier; also it was produced just shortly before the inside primed case was superseded by the Boxer-primed type. Taking the foregoing into account, I would suggest this cartridge case had its original bullet pulled and the case, with powder, set aside for use as a blank. At a subsequent time–probably very subsequent–a bullet was inserted into the case. Some of these ball round to blank conversions had the case mouth heavily crimped so that inserting another bullet would require opening the case mouth and leaving evidence of this work, but sometimes the original bullet was merely pulled and the case left straight and essentially uncrimped. Jack


#5

Looking through both Elias’s, & Dibbern’s, 45-70 books I find no mention of it in their respective “Census” or compilations. Only the Remington Keene load which, as you know, has a 300 gr. bullet and would not weight the same. Elias lists 2 82, 4 82 and 5 82 dated, Benet primed cases but showing the “C F” headstamp.

May I ask how do you know it “came from the arsenal”? Did you open a sealed box? Were there others like it in the box?

The case mouth / crimp certainly looks right. If it were a load into a new primed case, it would only need a slight reforming of the mouth to obtain a nice crimp.

PS & please I’m offering this following as information only. If it has a seam - cast mark it was cast in a mold. Where the molds parts join, a small amount of lead will take the join & we see the cast mark. Swaged bullets are made by forcing the lead through a die.

So no need to assume, yours was cast and looks it.

I may be wrong, but I think these are the only two practical ways lead bullets were / are manufactured / formed, other than “whittled on” with a knife, which is not so practical.

Wikipedia states-> Swaging is a forging process in which the dimensions of an item are altered using a die or dies, into which the item is forced.[1] Swaging is usually a cold working process, however it is sometimes done as a hot working process.[2]


#6

Carolyn

Don’t throw that cartridge into the trash bin just yet. Frankford Arsenal did experiment with a flat nose bullet in the late 1870s and early 1880s. They were made especially for tubular magazine rifles such as the Remington-Keene.

Get a copy of HWS I and look on page 207. If you don’t have it I’ll be happy to scan it for you.

You will also find the flat nose bullets loaded for the 45-70 Marlin rifle but most of those are in commercial cases. Additionally, when surplus Springfields started being offered by outfits such as Meacham’s and others, including Sears & Roebuck, ammunition was sold along with them. It was mostly GI surplus but some of it was handloaded especially for the trade. I don’t think your cartridge was from that era but it could be.

There were some bullets used by FA that were cast rather than swadged. They were primarily used in long range tests and were purchased from commercial manufacturers rather than being made by FA.

Never say never, and always avoid the use of the word always.

Ray


#7

In swaging a bullet with grease grooves, how is it removed from the swaging die unless the die is split and opened in some manner?

Would that leave the same seam as appears in a cast bullet where the mold blocks join?

No split die would be needed for bullets that are cylindrical or tapered where they can be pushed back out of the die from the nose end by a plunger arrangement. But with grease grooves, how can the completed bullet be removed?


#8

Hi Pete & Ray
I was wondering if the arsenal sent empty primed cases to forts for some reason or another and the possibly that it got loaded there. It didn’t come from a sealed box that I opened; it’s just a single specimen that I purchased.

I have the books by Dibbern & HWS. My husband just bought Dibbern’s book a couple months ago and doesn’t know how accurate it is or how complete the info is. In Dibbern’s book he does list a RF 12 81 with flat nose bullet 405 grs. My cartridge isn’t that far off from that round so possibly it could be a second batch for testing. My husband was thinking that it would probably be easier for the arsenal to build a mold for casting the bullets instead of a swaging die and then having to interrupt production.
Carolyn


#9

Loading kits were issued to military units in those days, generall supplied by Franford Arsenal. I have never had a complete one go through my hands, but I have had a coupld of the moulds. One was for, of all things. .38 Wadcutter bullets - it was about an eight cavity mould as I recall.
The date indicated that it had to be for the .38 Long Colt, which came as a surprise to me, because I had never seen a .38 LC in my life with a wadcutter bullet in it. Not sure I have to this day. Of course, I don’t pay much attention to them since I don’t collect them.

I don’t know if empty cases were issued or not. I don’t see how that type of case could be reloaded, and it would show a firing pin mark if it was possible. Exchange of bullets could have taken place, but to my eye, the round in the picture looks like it has an untampered-with crimp and shows no other signs of ever being reloaded in any way.

It is a nice item and if I collected this caliber, I would want one.

John Moss


#10

[quote=“JohnS”]In swaging a bullet with grease grooves, how is it removed from the swaging die unless the die is split and opened in some manner?

Would that leave the same seam as appears in a cast bullet where the mold blocks join?

No split die would be needed for bullets that are cylindrical or tapered where they can be pushed back out of the die from the nose end by a plunger arrangement. But with grease grooves, how can the completed bullet be removed?[/quote]

John

Most inside lubricated bullets of the 19th Century were swaged (also spelled swadged & swedged). There were several ways to make them with the lubricating grooves. They could be swaged as a cylinder and the grooves knurled or rolled in, or they could be swaged in a three-piece die. The front of the die formed the nose while the back was two pieces and formed the grooves. A punch formed the cavity in the base.

If you will look closely at a large caliber bullet, such as the 45-70, you can usually see the seam mark from the two parts of the die that formed the grooves.

FA bullets started as a lead slug that was swaged, then trimmed, and finally lubricated.

Ray


#11

Ray,

I understand that the factory bullets were mostly swaged. My posting referred to the reloading kits supplied to primarily frontier posts. They show up for sale once in awhile but I have never owned one of the complete kits. As I mentioned, though, I have had two different Frankford Arsenal bullet moulds go through my hands, and believe they probably also went to military posts rather than just being used in the factory. My second mould was for round-ball “guard loads” for the .30 USA (.30-40 Krag), another strange mould, but I have seen, I am almost sure, a .45-70 mould from FA with fairly nromal looking cavities - normal for a service bullet, I mean.

I once, years ago, had a picture of several of the loading kits a friend gave me because I had a trapdoor Springfield rifle and carbine, and he thought they would be of interest to me. I was actually only a shooter when it came to trapdoors at the time, and I passed it on to a member of our collector’s club (I was collecting auto pistols then). I wish I had it back. If anyone has one or more of these kits, maybe they should post them on the Forum. They are somewhat interesting. I am talking about the Frankford Arsenal “Official” kits, not just nay reloading tools for the .4570 cartridge.

John Moss


#12

Perhaps some boxes or perhaps crates of new empty cases were sent to some outposts for loading, after all the 20 ga Forager shell exists, although it was somewhat later than the Benet primed cases, and those were packaged as empty primed cases. I’ve not seen a 20 size 45-70 box or ever, that I can remember, heard of a box of just new primed empty’s, but that doesn’t mean that after the contents were removed they weren’t used to start a fire, explaining the lack thereof today.

But perhaps not, the main reason for shipping MT cases might be / would be weight? & then the lead & powder would also need shipped, and I’d think the powers that be would reason it was easier to manufacture a loaded round, and ship, it “ready to use”, than ship separate components to the ‘field’.


#13

Last night I got my box of oddments out to refresh my thinking & had an additional thought to Ray’s about the seams visible on .45-70 and similar swaged or pressed bullets. That is, in the .58 rifle musket bullets these seams in the cylindrical body of the projectile are often very detectable indeed, showing up even on dug specimens in some cases. Then as the technology matured, as it will do, the seams became progressively less obvious. Jack


#14

Pete - I believe the reloading kits sent to frontier posts were just that - reloading kits meant for reloading fired cases, which of course, would mean those recovered on qualification & practice ranges, not in the field, I would think. Remembering that the Army was absolutely impoverished after the Civil War (why they cold swaged and refurbished musket bayonets to fit the .45-70 springfields, and why you see many pictures of frontier troopers in mixed uniform and civilian garb, often even with civilian revolver holsters on their belts. Military items worn out could often not be replaced due to shortages), the motive was probably saving money wherever they could. Just my take on it. I guess I should read again my Trapdoor Springfield books - haven’t even looked at them since I sold my U.S. Infantry Rifle Collection 10 years ago.
There must be something about the subject in one of them, at least.

John Moss


#15

Frasca & Hill “The .45-70 Springfield” (Volume 1) shows a cardboard Frankford Arsenal box of “Fifty Carbine Bullets” on pages 243 and 245. It is not possible to tell from the photos the exact shape of the tips of the bullets.

One advanced collector reports that he has a similar box for 500 gran bullets, so it appears that both 405 grain (carbine) and 500 grain (rifle) bullets were packed that way. How common this was is not clear.

Trapdoor collectors seem to agree that the only molds furnished by the Army were the round ball molds for “gallery practice” use.

Still, use of the above would only be applicable to the external primed “Reloading” cases which came after the internal primed case which started this thread.

I can not find any indication that empty unprimed cases or empty primed cases (internal or external) were provided by the Army via Frankford Arsenal or contractors in .45-70 caliber. (Or .45-55 for carbines if you want to quibble about terminology.)


#16

Here’s one of the reloading sets that has be mentioned a few times in this thread. This is the 1883 set; it has separate tools for loading the .45-55-405, .45-70-500, and .45 revolver cartridges.


#17

JohnS - Your comment about moulds only for round ball practice loads would fit in with the two moulds I had - one
for .30-40 Krag round ball which I thought were for guard loads, but practice loads make more sense,
and one for .38 LC wadcutter bullets. I forget the date on the .38 mould, but it was compatible with the issue of
the Colt Series 1892-1904 .38 LC Revolvers. I used to have one each of that series. They were not, at the time
I started picking them up, popular with collectors, and they could be had in nice condition relatively
cheaply. I had only the Army Models - no civilian or Navy - with the exception of the 1905 (and 1909 USMC .45) versions.
I did well on them when I sold them, but wish I had kept them.

Thanks for that information. Even though I don’t have the moulds anymore, it is nice to know more
about their purpose.

John Moss


#18

[quote=“JohnMoss”]Pete - I believe the reloading kits sent to frontier posts were just that - reloading kits meant for reloading fired cases, which of course, would mean those recovered on qualification & practice ranges, not in the field, I would think. Remembering that the Army was absolutely impoverished after the Civil War (why they cold swaged and refurbished musket bayonets to fit the .45-70 springfields, and why you see many pictures of frontier troopers in mixed uniform and civilian garb, often even with civilian revolver holsters on their belts. Military items worn out could often not be replaced due to shortages), the motive was probably saving money wherever they could. Just my take on it. I guess I should read again my Trapdoor Springfield books - haven’t even looked at them since I sold my U.S. Infantry Rifle Collection 10 years ago.
There must be something about the subject in one of them, at least.

John Moss[/quote]

John yes to reloading kits being available & in use, however as this thread was about the Benet primed example my remarks that I’ve not seen a new primed empty box & etc. were about the Benet variation, not the later reloadable cases in which it was also noted, [I think on the other, current 45-70 thread], that even the boxes were marked as such.
Your very likely correct about not being used in the field, but in on post training exercises. Somehow I can’t see the 1st Shirt yelling “Dismount & police that brass, soldier” after a skirmish with hostiles.

Nice set Guy, very nice.


#19

Lots of chatter on this cartridge. A book written in 1985 by James Zupan called Tools, Targets and Troopers covers most of this subject.
It has information, pictures of all the different FA loading tools. Cartridges and boxes of primed shells, bullets as the king of Siam said in the King and I etc,etc,etc. Copies of instruction sheets. Letters of requesting tools be issued. I have a later bench loading set that is heavier that anything built today. It has a resizer, priming tool and bullet seater.

Gourd


#20

[quote="PetedeCoux . . .Your very likely correct about not being used in the field, but in on post training exercises. Somehow I can’t see the 1st Shirt yelling “Dismount & police that brass, soldier” after a skirmish with hostiles… . . [/quote]

Pete

General Orders No. 13 required such policing. I wrote an article in a long-ago issue of THE GUN REPORT that described and showed fired cases from Indian War battle sites that had been rendered unusable. So the orders were taken seriously by some field commanders.

Ray