I have never seen very much regarding the Eley needle fire cartridge, and have wondered for some time just how they were constructed. Robert Buttweiler’s description (Vol III, #2, Lot 27 - ‘the Eley needlefire system used a small pellet of fulminate above a series of paper, cardboard or felt wads held together with a light brass wrap. The brass enclosure was seated at the base of the case, below the powder charge.’) wasn’t too helpful. I decided yesterday to section a duplicate 110 bore needle fire to satisfy my curiosity. Here’s what I found:
The cartridge consists of a case made of thin (.007") sheet brass covered a couple of layers of equally thin paper. The paper-covered case is then folded over at the base leaving a .01" hole in the center, which is covered on the inside by a thin (.007") disc of brass, followed by a .07" thick paper wad. What appears to be a shallow flanged percussion cap with a small ignition hole in its center is seated with its open side against the wad, followed by the charge of black powder, a .35" thick paper wad, and the cast bullet. The top of the wad is cup-shaped to accept the tapered lower portion of the heeled bullet. A groove at the top of the heel is filled with grease.