.50-70 "big primer" UMC cartridge


I am trying to ID this rimmed round with a conical lead bullet. Total lenght-57mm, cartridge length-44.5mm, rim-17mm, shell next to rim-14.3mm, rim-0.17mm thick. These measuremens are not precise, I am using manual calipers.


Bullet diameter? Straight or bottle-necked case? If the latter, how far above the base does one find the shoulder and what is the length of the neck?



Bullet at the base is 13mm. This cartridge has a very gentle hardly palpable bottleneck, above the neck -13.5mm, below - almost 14mm, the neck is about 33mm from the headstamp, the internal ring in the headstamp is embossed by a hardly visible amount, the neck is about 11mm long.



Looks like a plain old 50-70 to me.



Here is a side-by-side scan. I am not familiar with this calibre, the round on the right is loaded like a shotgun shell, it is also about a mm shorter than the one without headstamp. I was thrown by a huge difference in primers.


Question: Is 50-70 a bottleneck or straight?



The cartridge you pictured is, I’m sure, a 50-70 govt. It can be found in different primer types and sizes. Boxer, Berdan, Benet, Martin, Inside primed, Outside primed, large, small. The UMC SH case pictured could be a blank or a shot shell.

Straight or bottle-neck? Good question. I think the 50-70 is technically considered to be a straight case although you will find many specimens with the slight bottleneck as seen on yours.



One last question. How do I tell the manufacturer? Or, in more general terms, I have dozens of un-marked old rounds. What approach may I take in identifying these rounds’ manufacturers?



Ditto. I think you have a 50-70 Government.

According to one of my sources the 50-70 has a 0.515-inch bullet, 1.75-inch case length, and 2.25-inch OAL, which is almost the same as your measurements.

Probably to identify the manufacturer of the cartridge will require someone who is familiar with the styles of case heads produced by the different manufacturers of that period. Some the cartridges produced without headstamps are never known. My best guess would be UMC, but that guess is subject to opinion.



I concur on .50-70 and the tentative ID as a UMC product . . . sure has the look of the early UMC bases, in part because of the “big” primer. Almost certainly it is a Berdan primer, which was fairly common in the earliest CF blackpowder rounds on this side of the pond as on the other, where it remained popular. There were many competing primer designs in the American market in the years following the Civil War before we standardized on the Boxer type toward the later 1800s. Solely my subjective personal opinion, but I associate UMC with the use of the Berdan to a higher degree than other makers.



Hi, Vlad and all…the cartridge you picture with the Berdan primer is most assuredly made by UMC…UMC began manufacture of the .50-70 about 1867 or so, when there was not yet a decent “Boxer” primer in existence, and they continued to use the Berdan primer in many cartridges long after the Boxer primer came along. (UMC had an exclusive royalty agreement with Hiram Berdan for the use of his primer, the idea for which, he “borrowed” from Frankford Arsenal, beginning in the late 1860’s) Your .50-70 has the typical UMC Ringed Folded Head, which you will see on many calibers of the latter part of the 19th century, particularly many of the Sharps cartridges made by UMC. Randy