8 x 50R 1886 D bullet manufacture


I have seen references to this bullet being lathe-turned from 90/100 brass rod. However, in examining loose bullets the only sign that I can see of lathe turning is in the area of the crimp cannelure. The remainder of the surface, ogive, boattail and base looks more like it was swaged from a solid slug.

There is a short film, linked from this website but I cannot find it at the moment, which shows the machining of these bullets but only shows cutting of the cannelure. The part-formed bullets have a distinct web or skirt around the centre, perhaps excess metal displaced when two swaging dies, one for the ogive and the other for the boattail and base squeeze the slug into shape. The collar is exactly on a level with the cannelure and is neatly removed when the cannelure is cut.

Does anyone have information on the manufacture of these bullets? I do know that the UK contractors had great difficulty in producing this bullet.



Are you referring to French production or just the British contract rounds, Dave?

If the latter, I don’t have any documentary evidence to support it but I believe they were swaged as you say. I have examples by Aerators, BMMCo and Greenwood & Batley from WWI and none show any signs of lathe turning. There is nothing helpful in the Ministry of Munitions history and the BMMCo and Kynoch drawings do not show the method of making the bullet.

When Aerators developed the .303 inch Tracer Mark VIIT they had problems of concentricity when drilling the tracer cavity, and I think KNMCo. had problems at first with the Ball bullet.




I was querying the French way of making these bullets whilst assuming that the British contractors would follow the same methods. All of the loose bullets that I examined, under magnification, were of french origin.



A drawing is a thousand words



Thank you chassepot, that is exactly what I wanted to see and confirms what I deduced from examining bullets and watching the film.



Bullets for the American contracts were made the same way.


I suppose anyone with a Corbin Hydraulic swager (CHP II) could make these with the appropriate dies ( or any other calibre, for that matter.)
Corbin rates his Hydraulic press to be able to swage .50 cal Copper alloy Projectiles… But I still get my “Dummy” projectiles turned by CNC these days ( cheap by the 10,000s and clean & no tool marks.).

Just a mechanical thought. ( not a handloading etc. advice).

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


DocAV, do you get them turned from mild steel and then copper plated to look like the real thing?


For the “silver” ( CuNi type) replicas, we use soft stainless (304) rod.
Goes well for WW I and early WW II projectiles for a number of countries.( Round-nose and Spitzer)…For the “GM clad” replicas, we use 60/40 brass rod, and then dip the projectiles in a mixture of Caustic Soda and Ammonia solution…until the right shade of “Copper” is achieved. For the majority of “Set dressing” the colour of the projectile is immaterial…not so close up that it will be noticed.

WE have not been able to source “Manufacturing Bronze” ( trade name for 90/10 Gilding Metal–a brass technically) but if we can get it, we will use it. ( as used in Balle D ).

WE have found that brass solids weigh about 1/6th less than the lead core originals ( ie, and .30M2 is 152 grains, our brass replica is 126 grains.).
As further info is in the “Reloading area’” you will have to contact me directly or on Gunboards.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics Film Ordnance Services

…later today…
PS, Have just found Aust. Supplier of 90/10 GM ( “manufacturing bronze”)
and they supply Rod. Will check with them on Monday to see of they have our “diameters” required for Turning ( and maybe “swaging”)