In a thread re: the 50 FAT MAC, I mentioned that there were fake cartridges in circulation as a warning to those who might encounter them. One reader, who I do not know, e-mailed me asking how someone would go about making a fake FAT MAC. I declined to answer and simply deleted his e-mail.

But it got me to thinking. About ten years ago there was an article in the IAA JOURNAL describing how to “make” a cartridge from available components to fill a void in your collection. The article was not very well received by the membership since it basically was a “how to” on constructing a fake cartridge, even though I don’t think the author intended it to be such.

I know that Chris P is always looking for new and interesting material for the JOURNAL so for those of you out there who are of the wannabe-writer persuasion, it may be time to revisit the subject of fakes. On the surface it may seem cut and dried but I don’t think it is. Sure, there are out and out fakes, but there are also legitimate reproductions, replicas, educational displays, reconstructions, and extensive preservation techniques that new collectors should be informed about.

Chris will edit your pore grammar and misplelling (although he has never had to do that for me) and, if you’re reading this, you already have a word processor. So why not try it.



The Mac Millan Fat Mac is a wildcat. They were custom formed using methods that can be acheived by an advanced hobbiest machinist, especially if he is willing to stand back and throw lots of hundred dollar bills at the project. I suppose the term fake could be applied to a cartridge case that was formed with the intention that it just has to look pretty sitting on a shelf. There are no mass produced “factory” Fat Macs anywhere, and the terms “original” and “authentic” are meaningless unless Mac Millan serial numbered their rounds and matched it up with a certificate of authenticity just like the dog blessed Franklin Mint!
I have a few wildcats in my collection, all made by annonymous handloaders. I wouldn’t mind being able to get rounds from the the originators. A certificate of authenticity is too much work, but autographed cases would be really cool. Does any body out there have a .25 Krag Ackley Improved with a verifiable “P.O.Ackley” scrawled on the case? How about J.D. Jones, he hasn’t been able to put proper headstamps on all of his cases yet, but I would be willing to pay a moderately inflated price for a signature series of his creations.



You make good points.

When I typed my post I made reference to wildcats, which the FAT MAC is, but erased it because it is a tricky area of collecting. But, believe it or not, I’m of the opinion that most of the ethics of cartridge collecting apply equally to wildcats. A big part of my own collection is wildcats and maybe I’m a nit picker but I don’t put much value on a wildcat that is not from the period of development and use. Over the years I’ve learned to spot those that aren’t, but like any type of fake, the really good ones will pass the most rigorous tests.

(Which brings to mind an old question from my martial arms collecting days. If a fake is so good that even the experts cannot spot it, is it really a fake?)

As far as FAT MAC “fakes” go, most that I have seen were easily spotted and those that were very good were made solely for the purpose of “having one just like the ones Gale MacMillan made.” It’s when such a specimen changes hands and eventually takes on the value of an original, whether with larceny in mind or not, that the ethics of collecting comes into play. And that is no different than any other rare or unusual cartridge that is assembled from components or outright faked.

That’s why I suggested someone should write an article for the JOURNAL giving collectors, especially new ones, some guidance in this area.



I have a few questions and comments on this topic.
Ray wrote an article about wildcat cartridges in his collection that were named after animals. Let’s take the Aardvark for example. There are several shooters that have rifles chambered for this cartriidge, so if Ray got his cartridge from a fellow shooter on the range in Arizona, would that make his wildcat cartridge more authentic than one that you received from a fellow shooter at the range in Minnisota? Especially if neither was the designer of this cartridge.
Another example would be the .228 Ackley Double-Shouldered Magnum. I sent the original cartridge from Richard Simmons’ collection to Mike Sirois at On Target Technologies and he used a CNC mill and EDM to make me a full-length sizing die and also chambered a Thompson Center barrel for me in that caliber. If I shoot the cartridge in my barrel and then sell some of the reloaded brass, does that mean that they are fakes? Or replicas? Does that mean that only the .228 Ackley Double-Shouldered Magnum that I sent to Mike is the only .228 Ackley Double-Shouldered Magnum that may be in existance? I can’t even swear that the “original” that I had from the Simmons’ collection was made by Ackley. It may have been made by another person in his shop, or maybe by Simmons himself. They’re all dead. There’s no one to verify the case.
One last example and I’ll get off of my soap box. Mike Sirois designs the OTTR series of cartridges. He has sent me dies and barrels to test fire in order to develop loads for a reloading manual project. So, Mike’s die. Mike’s barrel. I form the case as best that I can and fire it in Mike’s barrel. I resize the brass in Mike’s die. I develop the load and publish it. Is the cartridge that I just reloaded an original? Is it a fake? Is it a replica? Could it be that the only original is one made by Mike, fired by Mike and resized and reloaded by Mike using the load that I developed?
I wonder how P.O. Ackley had the time to design, develop, load, fire, resize and reload the millions of cartridges that are in collections all over the world that bear his name?


My 2 pence worth:

In my opinion a Wildcat rd that was designed say in the 1940’s and loaded then is only different from the same round loaded now in the age of the components. I don’t think the more recent one is in any way a fake or a replica.


Once again, I have to agree with both Ed and Walter. Their points are well taken. I have bought many wildcat cartridges from Ed and I do not view them as fakes. For many collectors, Ed is the only source for them to acquire cartridges that they otherwise would not be able to find anywhere else.

As I said, it is a tricky area. I suppose where I have the biggest concern, and what I was trying to say in my clumsy eloquence, is when someone makes a cartridge, which to most appearances, is a genuine example of a sought after and expensive round, and is made with the sole intention of fooling someone into shelling out hard earned dollars. You can insert the word “wildcat” or “experimental” or “Sharps” or even “30-06”, and there is no difference ethically.

By their nature, wildcats are simply harder to put into neat slots. And please don’t ask me to define one.

Welcome to the Forum Ed.