Help Identify this Case


I found this case while metal detecting a very old trail in AZ. The trail appears on an 1877 map. There is no stamp on the base of the case. It is a little too short to be a .45-70. Can anyone I.D. this? Here’s the links to the photos of the case:


It looks like a .50-70 Government cartridge case. It’s not a product of the army’s Frankford Arsenal since it has an external primer; likely date of manufacture is 1874-1884, give or take a couple of years on either end. Jack


My original thought was an early .45-60 but I thats purely a guess, I don’t know. The thing that works against my suggestion is the firing pin indentation which looks too big in diameter for a Winchester type rifle.

Maybe some more accurate measurements if you can.


The .45-60 and .50-70 have similar proportions, so measurements–especially of the case body immediately in front of the rim and also the rim diameter–should sort the possibilities out. Lacking a headstamp, as is the apparent case here–a date from the mid 1870s to the mid 1880s is likely, tho one U.S. manufacturer (the United States Cartridge Company) did wait another decade or so to begin marking its centerfire rifle and handgun cartridges. Jack


Thanks for all the info, guys! I don’t have any tools to accurately measure the case. Just rulers and tape measures. The diameter of the case near the rim appears to be .50"


I sat me down with a round of .45-60 and a .50-70 case and decided Vince’s ID is likely correct; that is, that the fired case is a .45-60. The length to rim diameter of the .50-70 is on the order of 2.6 to 1; the .45-60 is 3 to 1, and as close as I can make out from the photos Chino’s case is 3 to 1. The rim diameter of the .45-60 is .620-.625 in., the case body forward of the rim is .500-.505. If Barnes’s date of introduction for the .45-60 as 1880 is correct, then this fired case likely dates between 1880 and 1885 or so. Jack


Thanks for that Jack, don’t cases like that get you wondering who fired it and what was the story behind it. Presumambly somebody hunting meat for the pot.

I wonder if he ever could have imagined, even in his wildest dreams that 130 years on that people on different sides of the world would be talking about his fired case.


A friend of mine found the 1877 map in an antique shop in Prescott AZ. It was hand drawn, but quite accurate. It shows an area encompassing where my friend lives on Hassayampa Creek. That is a very historic area. The first white people to explore and settle in central Arizona built a cabin here. That was May, 1863. Anyway, the map shows a road that we had not seen before. We went looking for it and found it right away. It was overgrown, but clearly it was the road on the map. Half way down it, my friend’s metal detector went off, and we found the case burried about five inches down.
Thanks for all the info!


We have a friend on this forum who lives in Prescott. He likes metal detecting as well. He may well be contacting you.