Date needed for old bullets if possible


Ill start with a hello and a short intro.
I do a fair bit of metal detecting on the Victorian goldfields, mainly for relics and I have a good collection of projectiles right from the early musket balls to later copper clad stuff.
Last week I came across 2 very early lead bullets that I would like dated if at all possible, I have a feeling they are from the 1850’s?


The first one looks like a 357 magnum/ 38 special lead semi wad cutter bullet

what are their diameters?


The first is 10mm and weighs 15 grams.
The second is 9mm and weighs 10 grams.

They are a bit deformed from impact but the measurements would be close.


I’d say these are later than the 1850s, as during that time period, most handgun bullets were spherical. I’d guess these are not older than from the 1870’s when cylindrical bullets became prevalent, and may be much later. As noted earlier, the top bullet appears to be of the semi-wadcutter (Keith) style, which would make it no earlier than mid-20th century. The lower one is of the round-nose design, which could date from the late 19th century. Both appear to be inside lubricated, which would also tend to date them toward the later quarter of the 19th century at the earliest. Exactly where did these come from?


I dug them from a base of a tree in the goldfields in Victoria Au, from what I can gather the tree was used for target practice as I also dug some 12 small caliber (.22?) slugs from the ground, some of the small caliber was copper coated.


They are just basic revolver bullets. Very hard to put a calibre to them but not “historical”. I wouldn’t date them as Victorian. You could find bullets like that digging in a modern range.

The first one looks like a modern factory .41 mag ( 1964 onwards, the short nose being quite indicative) but the lack of deformation is interesting. The second looks like a standard .38 special

Not 1850s more like 1960s I would say. The first one has rolled knurling to hold a liquid dipped lubricant which makes it 1920s (earliest) onwards to present day The second one is cast judging by the cannelure but in both instances the lack of bullet before the crimp ie a short nose makes older dating very unlikely.

Old bullets had a lot of nose but little behind it because black powder dictated there was no room left in the case. Modern bullets tend to be the reverse, all behind the crimp because there is so much space that needs to be filled to achive a reasonable loading density.

These do not appear to me to be historical bullets and perhaps you should reconsider your dating


Don’t underestimate the popularity of conical bullets in percussion revolvers. Most Colt bullet molds for the firm’s post-Paterson percussion revolvers were cut to provide both round and elongated bullets, and the typical packets of skin cartridges contain conical bullets also. Jack