45-85 Ward Burton

hello new to this so if i make an error just say so. first off i have a few post to make and took some photos to post with my querry but i havent been able to post a photo for some reason i dont understand. so anyway i have a cartridge that resembles a short version of a 577-450 martini. dimentions are,bullet dia .450 bullet dia., accross paperpatch .460, case length 1.810, overall length 2.365, rim dia. .755, base dia. .657,shoulder dia .610, neck dia.485. any help will be appreciated.

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Does it have any headstamp?

Finally found out how to post photos so here are some of the cartridge I need help identifing. It is the cartridge on the right with no headstamp.

30-30remchester–I have edited your recent posts to make the images appear directly in your post. Please see a PM I have sent you about how to do this.

I think what you have is a 45-85 Ward Burton

Based on picture, agree with Jack Mack…

I agree…


Thats a new one on me. Is anyone able to fill in a bit of background on the calibre? It looks like something I should have known about but don’t.

Vince: “Ward Burton” appears to refer to Bethel Burton and W.G. Ward, whose patents (respectively) of 1859 and 1871 served as the basis of the experimental Ward Burton rifles and carbines produced at Springfield Armory in 1871. These arms were chambered for the standard .50-70 cartridge, whereas the cartridge pictured in this thread seems to have Peabody symptoms. Perhaps Peabody chambered some of its Martini-type rifles for this cartridge on behalf of the Ward Burton interests? JG

I notice that measurements are given for a .45-85 Ward burton Cartridge. Does anyone know where these listed measurements came from - I don’t mean taken from cartridges but rather the printed source of the information?
Also, does anyone know where the appellation “.45-85 Ward Burton” came from regarding this cartridge? I have a lot of material on U.S. Martial Arms, and while this cartridge is said to be for a Ward Burton magazine rifle tested in the 1871/1872 period, I can find nothing on it, including highly respected sources on U.S. Martial Arms.

Unfortunately, it falls into the most ignored period of U.S. Military Arms and ammunition development, the time from about 1866 to 1873. Lots of good books going up to the end of the Civil War, and excellent books on the Trapdoor springfield/Krag era, but very little truly comprehensive material on the period following the Civil War and preceding the adoption of the 1873 Springfield, except for material incidental to the Trapdoor Springfield - the various Allin-type conversions that led up to the Model 1873, which are well-covered.

I seem to have no cartridge book that shows the .45-85 Ward Burton cartridge either. It is very similar in appearance to the .45 Peabody-Martini Carbine round, and could be mistaken for it in pictures, but it is larger, judging from the given measurements on this thread, overall than the .45 Peabody-Martini Carbine, although proportionately similar.

This is out of my own specialty, although nothing in arms and ammunition is totally out of my field of interest and study, and I would appreciate if anyone has any real documentation justifying the name of the .45-85 Ward Burton cartridge or the firearms it was used in. I am not challenging the name - I don’t have enough information to know if it could be misidentified or not. I simply am curious as to where the cartridge desgination and a Ward-Burton Magazine Rifle are documented. The Ward-Burton single shot rifle, the first bolt action rifle ever used by the U.S. military, is documented and they were all .50-70 caliber. I have handled several of these scarce rifles, although I never owned one.

Thank you for any help anyone can give.

The measurments that I posted came from Curtis Steinhauer’s home page

I would like to see more documentation on this cartridge being a 45-85 Ward Burton.

The first commercial Ward Burton rifle, as supplied to the US Army, was chambered for the 50-70 Govt cartridge.

Later commercial Ward Burton magazine rifles were chambered for 45-60, 45-70, and 45-90. The 45-70 case was also loaded with powder charges ranging from 70 to 85 grains with bullets weighing between 350 and 500 grains. A single shot target rifle was chambered for both 45-60 and 45-90 cartridges.

There were two 45 Cal “Ward Burton” magazine firearms tested in the 1871-72 trials but I have no evidence of what the cartridge looked like.

I’m not saying that the cartridge is not a Ward Burton or that the Ward Burton rifles were never chambered for it - I’d just like to see some documentation.


One additional question.

Can a 1.8" CL hold 85 grains of BP?


I knew I had this somewhere…and I thought I also had an old add actually illustrating the gun and cartridge, but it escapes me at the moment…

Ray - you mention magazine rifles by War Burton being used in 1871-72 trials, but I have found a source that says 1875. However, I can find no scholarly source so far that shows these rifles or confirms they were ever tested by the Government. I also note, that as you point out, the the ad that Randy submitted, very, very interesting of its own right, does not show an 85 grain cartridge, but rather a 90 grain cartridge.

Now, where did you get your information about all these Ward Burton commercial rifles in various calibers. It is documentation that I am looking for. I do not challange any comment about Ward Burton that has appeared on this thread - I just want to find a scholarly source for information on these Ward Burton rifles, since they are ignored in many fine works on US rifles.


The 1872 trial arms are listed in the official report of the Board For Selecting A Breech System For Muskets and Carbines. aka the Terry Board. At one time I had the complete report but traded it off with several of my martial arms years ago. I still have the list. There were 99 arms submitted, not counting foreign arms that were also examined by the Board.

You are correct in that not all of the arms were tested. Some were rejected upon initial examination. Others were quickly eliminated after function and firing tests. Very few survived to the end.

Ward Burton submitted 4 arms. A 50 cal carbine, a 50 cal musket, a 45 cal magazine carbine, and a 45 cal magazine musket. I believe that the individuals and/or companies submitting arms supplied their own ammunition, except for the Govt arms, of course.

Whether the Ward Burton’s were all tested I cannot say. I wish I still had that book. It would tell us.

I believe that the two magazine arms formed the basis for the Ward Burton commercial arms that followed. There is not a whole lot of information on them. I found most of what I know in Phil Sharpe’s Rifle In America.

There was a parallel Board (The Benton Board) that investigated the cartridges. They built and tested approximately 70 cartridges. They too submitted a report. I had that at one time but it too is gone. IAA JOURNAL #420 has an article by the late Jim Sones that discusses and illustrates most (if not all) of the cartridges designed and tested. It does not show a “Ward Burton” cartridge but you’d have to get the complete report to see if it’s included. But, that board was more interested in testing different calibers, powder charges, case designs and rifleing twists rather than the weapons, so I wouldn’t expect to find a commercial cartridge listed.

Surely some IAA member has a copy of the Cartridge Board’s report.

The tests, as we know, resulted in the selection of the Cal 45 Rifle and Carbine cartridges (45-70-405, and 45-55-405), and the Allin System (trapdoor) rifle and carbine.

I hope this helps. I disposed of my entire martial arms and ammunition collection some years ago (a big mistake) so most of this is from memory, and we both know how that is.

PS - I made a vow to myself that I would limit my participation on the Forum because of it’s editorial policies, and here I’ve used up a whole month of posts.


There is supposed to be some info on the 45-85 Ward Burton in “The History and Development of Small Arms Ammunition” by Hoyem (volumes 2 & 3). Does anyone have this book?

Hoyem volume 2 page 43 lists the 45-85 Ward Burton as an experimental 1875 cartridge. Supposidly a necked down 58 musket. (Hoyem volume 4 page 109) Head and base dimensions are within tolerance of the 58 musket.
Seems kind of a short cartridge as compaired to others holding 85 grn powder


$100 for a rifle in those days! No wonder their address was in Wall St! I don’t suppose the building is still standing? Ask to see if they will let you have a look around in the basement.

Being in Wall St NY and supplying Creedmore Rifles at those sort of prices indicates to me that they were top end suppliers of what were then cutting edge target rifles. I know the Creedmore ranges were in NY State but I am not sure where in relation to this shop. Its amazing that a company like this can vanish so completely that their name is barely even recognised by some of the most knowledgeable posters on this forum.

Now I don’t know this cartridge, as I said before, but if the cartridge in the picture was used in a magazine rifle then most of my expectations of what makes a cartridge suitable for a magazine are challenged. Very much a single shot rifle round IMO and probably a good one. I can see martini/ peabody roots as mentioned before.

Its a shame it never caught on but as I said in a previous post, that era produced such an explosion of new calibres they were never all going to make it.
Its an era that interests me greatly but its not a subject over which I have much command. Partly because of what John said about a lack of documentation.