450 Short Rev. Unknown Maker

I have had the cartridge shown at left below for some time and always wondered who made it. It appears to have a raised “L” on the headstamp though it is possible that this is a machining marks. Thanks to the generosity of Zac W. (“cartguy”) I was able to acquire a second, almost identical, specimen at St. Louis last year and this is shown at right below.

I have highlighted the raised marks on the case head which appear on both specimens. The case head colors are slightly distorted by the digital microscope – it does have a brass case.

It has a battery primer which is held in place solely by the force by which the primer holder was crimped in place. It resisted attempts to dislodge it during the sectioning process. Overall weight is 308.5 grains. Bullet weight is 226 grains and the powder charge is about 17 grains of fine blackpowder. Brass case and copper primer.

While the primer and primer holder have some minor visual similarities to Eley-made .450s, I am not convinced that it is British.

Any ideas ? Please – no discussions about ancient Aramaic script or Egyptian hieroglyphics !!

Chris P.

Just a wild guess Lindener as this is a very old specimen boxes survival rate certainly very low.So the experts will have a better approach


Hi Chris, very interesting cartridges. I don’t know who made them, but my only guess would be an Eley failed attempt to manufacture an ELEY • LONDON • 450 • raised headstamp.

Below you can see a translucent regular headstamp overlaying your example on the right. Not a perfect match, but note the correct spacing between the “L”, “N” and “D”. I used picture EL4-02 from your book, that also shows a similar crimp, bullet, case construction and primer.

EL402 vs unknown




Hi Fede,

GREAT detective work – thanks !! Of course, this revealed the possibility of a raised “ELEY LONDON 450” headstamp – I’m sooo excited !!

There are indeed similarities between this and “EL4-02” pictured below.

EL4 02

When I was cutting EL4-02, there was no indication that the groove in the head indicated a battery primer. I subjected the discarded bits to destructive examination to see if there were two parts and could detect none. However, it is possible that Eley had perfected high-pressure/contact welding and the joins are invisible, but metallurgy isn’t my strong point (if I had one at all).

On the “L” specimen the two pieces were quite visible while cutting, though the lines between them have been faded by the polishing. You can see the start of the line between the components on the image below.

None of this takes away from your suggestion that this is in fact an Eley round – at least one that escaped their quality control OR was an in-house test using a broken bunter or heading die. Thanks again.

Chris P.

Ok here an ask the Expert(s) question. Was the .450 S. Rev made before, at the same time of after the .380 Short (.675" / 17.16 CL) or intermediate length (.768" / 19.52mm CL). As both of those exist with a raised “ELEY BROs” headstamp. But neither has a battery cup / rivet style primer holder.
Eley Bros 380 rhs
PS the one on the right looks like a 340 in the photo but is a 380 under a glass.

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The .450 cartridge first appears in early 1867 (Adams submitted his revolver and 450 ammunition to the admiralty on July 18, 1867). .442 ammunition was also available in 1867 as the RIC were evaluating the Webley revolver and subsequently adopted it in January 1868. The earliest I have for .380 revolver ammunition is 1868. All 3 calibers were made by Eley at that time.

Initially .450 and 442 (and possibly 380?) were Boxer designs but when the first solid case .450, 442 or 380 ammunition was produced by Eley I do not know. I suspect the first raised headstamps would be the Eley bros. (like the.380) and then the “Eley Bros London…”. However, without the Eley records we’re all guessing. It is evident from Eley’s production of the .450 that they used old cases for some years.

EB rsd hs 1

If anyone can add to this now’s the time to speak up!

Chris P.

edited to correct “Eley Bros London”

Good to see you found one!

To either muddy da H2o’s or be of help dating these raised HS examples.

The only other example of the one on the right with the longer case I’m aware of is a “F J. .380” (impressed) & the C.L. of it is; .770" / 19.57mm.

Chris and Pete, thanks for the additional pictures and information.