Cartridge design owner - wildcat adopted by factory

Hi all, I am compiling a list of major cartridge designers and the cartridges they made. For instance, all cartridges designed by Colt, Weatherby, JDJ, Winchester, etc.

So, the question I have: sometimes a cartridge was wildcatted based on a parent cartridge and then later the factory adopted that cartridge as a “factory design”. For instance, the 7mm-300 Weatherby Magnum started as a wildcat, but was adopted as a factory cartridge in 1961. Should I include this as a “Factory” weatherby since it was adopted by them or leave it in the wildcat category? I don’t know if there are any “official” rules on this or if it simply a matter of personal preference.

I fear you are taking on the Labours of Hercules tied in a Gordian Knot (or something). There are no rules that everyone is likely to agree on, just different interpretations. Good luck, anyway!

Difficult question as Tony notes.

For example the .257 Roberts was developed by Ned Roberts as a wildcat, but it was later slightly modified (shoulder angle) to become the .25 Roberts so not exactly the same but adopted.

Personally because of this physical difference I consider them two case types. The same thing has happened to other case types like the 7x61 Sharpe, when Norma began production it was quite different that Phil Sharps original he submitted to them.

So study each as much as you can and then determine how you wish to classify & relate to it. No hard and fast rules it’s your collection & how you build & evolve with it.

A word about your classifying something as “factory design”, that implies the factory originally designed it, in my mind. Perhaps factory re-design?

Pete’s point about “re-design” is well taken. For example, you show on your list a number of cartridges under Colt. The majority of these were designed by John Browning, working with various ammunition companies like Winchester, FN, UMC, etc. In fact, the first .32 Browning-caliber pistol was made in 1899 by Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre, Liege–Herstal, Belgium. FN had much imput into the cartridge and, of course, Colt did not introduce their .32 ACP-caliber pistol until 1903. Colt does not make ammunition, even though a few years ago, they introduced a line of cartridges under their name. None of those current cartridges are actually made by, nor were they designed by, Colt.

In the case of the .45 Auto, development of the cartridge actually began in February 1904, with the receipt of specifications from a “Mr. Thomas,” who I believe was with Colt, at the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. Between Mar and November 1905, UMC sent Colt various experimental lots of .45 ammo for testing. It was not until December 7, 1905, that UMC received a pistol from Colt, and proceeded with serial production of the cartridge. In the daily log entries, John Browning is mentioned several times as offering advice for corrections of certain details of the cartridge, which UMC did.

So, lots of avenues were traveled by a lot of cartridges, making it sometimes difficult to know who the Designer, or even the designing entity, was.

I saw your list on the other thread, and overall, it is quite impressive how many calibers you covered. I did not have time to go over it thoroughly, and of course, would not be qualified to discuss much other than auto pistol calibers.

John Moss

John: Mr. Thomas is surely William Morgan Thomas, who was with UMC virtually from its beginning and its grand old man of anything pertaining to cartridge manufacture and, probably, cartridge design. Jack

Interesting points. It may be worth looking at the actual designers of the cartridges (ie. John Browning) rather than the cartridges made by the companies they worked for as JohnMoss points out. This could be much more interesting and accurate, albeit quite a bit more difficult to get information on. I’ll try to finish my list first with the companies and then add a column for “designer” as the engineer/engineers who did the actual design work and see how many of the cartridges I can nail down that way.

Jack - thanks for the information on William Thomas. I assumed he was with Colt, because the UMC daily log speaks of them receiving information from him with which they would start development of the .45 cartridge. The wording sounded like he was with a different company than UMC, but apparently, it was simply a different office than their engineering department, or whatever department it was the received the information from him. I will try to remember to right a note in my copy with his full name and that he was with UMC.

Thanks again for the correction and the full name. I like that type of information very much.
It kind of puts a face to things.

John M.

William Thomas Morgan is discussed briefly at this link, which has links to several other sources with more info on UMC’s “Chief Ballistician.”

John - Thank you. Although that actual article has nothing much to offer, the answers to it did. I see there was an article in the 1998 Gun Digest about William Morgan Thomas. I have every issue of that publication, since 1944, the first edition, as I recall. When I have time, I will look it up, and xerox it for my own files and quicker reference. For some reason, I have become very interested in UMC over the past 8 or 9 years, although their manufacturing span for my cartridges of interest was pretty short.

Your reference was a good help!

John M.

John: My main source of info on Thomas was the obituary article on him in The American Rifleman in the 1920s which surely was a source of the Gun Digest article. If the GD article seems skimpy I’d be glad to help you out with a copy of my fuzzy photocopy of the AR article. Jack

Jack, Thanks. I think for my purpose, the GD article will likely be sufficient. Haven’t gotten to looking it up yet, but I certainly will.


Jack - I read the Gun Digest Article on “UMC” Thomas, and thank you again for the reference. It showed me, for one thing, what a short memory I now have. I wrote an article on the UMC .45 ACP cartridges for IAA jounral 487, September/October 2012, pages 18-21. In that article I talk about Mr. Thomas and accurately described his working at UMC. In the 6 years since, I seem to have forgotten some of that research.

The author of the Gun Digest did a good job and it was a good read. I learned more from that article and had it been remembered by me, I would probably have had a few thoughts in the article that I wrote that were not there, based on the GD article.

Thanks again for jogging my memory for me!

John Moss