Info or history about re-usable shot shells


#1

I found these 12 gauge cases in a box of stuff that was given to me with other ammo. One is steel and and says on the bottom “black powder” and “C.A.I”. The other is brass and has a threaded removable base and has a name I can’t read and a patent date of Nov 29 1864.

Looking for any kind of information about who made them and the exact purpose. There were also some large caliber steel such as 8 gauge and 10 gauge but I only showed two here.

Thanks in advance,
Michael


#2

THE SECOND SHELL YOU DEPICT WAS PATENTED ON NOVEMBER 29, 1864 BY WILLIAM H. WILLS OF BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - U.S. PATENT No. 45,292. THEY WERE MANUFACTUED BY F.D. DRAPER & Co. IN SEVERAL DIFFERENT SIZES, NO. 10 AND 12 BEING THE MORE COMMON.

SORRY I CAN’T HELP ON THE FIRST SHELL YOU DEPICT EXCEPT TO SAY IT APPEARS TO BE OF MORE MODERN FABRICATION. I’M SURE ONE OF OUR SHOTSHELL AUTHORITIES WILL PIN IT DOWN FOR YOU.


#3

Would they use caps or a Berdan primer or something else?


#4

I can tell you a little about the ‘Black Powder’ cartridge because I used to have one though not that make. It was an attempt to turn your breechloading shotgun into a muzzle loader of sorts temporarily. Though why anybody would actually want to was never really explained. A gimmick or a bit of fun according to which way you looked at it.

Perhaps such things had more purpose years ago.


#5

The head of the Draper shell is threaded and can be unscrewed. With the head removed, a muzzle loading style nipple is exposed and the shell can be easily reprimed with a muzzle loading type cap. Replacing the head secures the cap in place. Many Draper shells are corroded and the head is frozen in place. This was the case with the example I own. I used muriatic acid then heat from pentane micro torch with a cold water quench. The head turned loose after a few repetitions of heating and cooling. I didn’t get anywhere near a red heat. I just heated it until I couldn’t hold it in my fingers and then dropped it into the sink. The acid may not have done anything and penetrating oil might be a better route.


#6

XPH2USN, thankfully, I got two of the Draper 12 gauge cases in the lot and both are in great condition and both unscrew with the anvil in perfect condition as well.

I don’t plan on using them even though I have a very old black powder side by side shotgun, I just like to catalog my collection as most of us do and know exactly how it was used and such.

Thanks everyone for the awesome information.

Michael


#7

Boy, I am so far out of my field here, I am hesitant to contribute, because I am probably wrong. The item marked “C.A.I.” at the bottom does look modern to me. These initials are found on guns with the required import markings, for surplus guns imported by Century Arms Inc. (Century Arms International???). Could this be something made for them. Again, I am totally beyond my depth here, so forgive me if this information is foolish. I chimed in simply because everyone seemed to ignore the possible meaning of those initials. Maybe this will inspire someone who really knows to point out my error, if I have made one.


#8

I think a reasonable answer to your question is these cartridges were introduced at the time of the change over from capped muzzle loaders to centre fire (lets ignore pinfire as these came and went quite quickly as far as shotguns were concerned). And yes the first one is a modern copy/imitation of the original style.
In the main these cartridges date from the 1860’s & 70’s. The availability of centre fire cartridges and their components would have been very limited to the main cities, where as caps powder and shot could be found almost everywhere. So you have a few factors taking place.
These cases could be used with existing supplies of caps i.e. ones designed to fit “over” a nipple (widely available), rather than into a precision hole.
This type was also capable of being reloaded many times anywhere, with practically no tools required. Once you were away from civilisation a reasonable quantity would have seen you ok for quite some time. So I would assume that for a short time these types of designs had a lot going for them but as supplies of the new-fangled pre-loaded centre fire cartridges caught on and increased, with availability improving in more and more remote areas, the “use em up” cases would have rapidly faded into history.

Another version courtesy of Jim.

Mike.


#9

I was sure I had this CAI shell & a package for it but can’t lay hands on either.

At any rate these were made to use a percussion cap and a black powder load, in a modern or older gun for reinactors and such.


#10

Years ago there would have been a strong financial advantage for using something like this compared to the cost of store bought cartridges.
Ralph T Walker writes of growing up in rural Michigan in the 20s where muzzle loaders were still in regular use because they were so much cheaper to shoot and the only reason people shot was to put food on the table.

Today you can pay more for a cup of coffee than you do for a box of shotshells but in those days every penny counted. We tend to forget just how expensive ammunition was to people back then. A box of 25 12ga cartridges would have cost the equivilent of a day’s wages to a farm labourer during the Depression according to Walker.