Musket balls?


#1

Musket balls?

Another question if I may, when would have been around the last time lead balls would have been used in the 1850’s goldrush of central Victoria Au?

Ive got a few that Ive detected and they have always intrigued me.


#2

I have no idea about Australian use. However, in the US lots of people used cap & ball revolvers well into the 20th century, because they had them and they worked. And Cowboy action shooters still use them. I have two replica and two original Colt C&Bs I shoot occasionally.

Back when I was growing up in the 1950s (which was in a rural Appalachian area), there were people still using muzzle loading revolvers and rifles with round balls and muzzle-loading shotguns. They were not re-enactors or hobbyists. They were folks who lived in the hills and back up the hollows and used them daily for hunting and other purposes as well (not a few had moonshine stills). I have lots of tales. I imagine the same may have been true in Australia.

Dating round balls as a practical matter is impossible, due to their very long period of use in the same form.


#3

Thanks for your reply, makes good sense, you have it so why not use it.

For some reason I thought there may have been a cut off date, thats what modern consumerism living does for you.


#4

In the US, and I suppose in other countries as well, shooting muzzle-loading firearms is still alive and well as a sporting activity, and there is a wide array of replica black powder muskets, rifles, pistols, revolvers, and shotguns available. There are even muzzle-loading rifles of modern design available for hunting (many states have special hunting seasons for muzzle loading weapons), but most users of those do not use round balls. Due to their collectible value, most ML shooters do not use original black powder weapons, but some do.

There is a large organized group of muzzle loader enthusiasts in the US, the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA), which has been around since the 1930s and holds matches in which all types of black powder firearms are used.

There are benefits to such guns. They are cheap to shoot (relatively), and are not regulated as firearms under Federal laws (and are also unregulated in most states).


#5

They are the only form of pistols we are still allowed to have here in Britain. So more used now than in the previous decades. Crazy really because they are still a potent weapon in the wrong hands.


#6

Wild Bill Hickok did pretty well with his pair of 1851 Colt Navies, which he allegedly fired and reloaded every day for practice. The various .44 C&Bs (Walkers, Dragoons, 1860 Armies) were fully capable of bringing down a horse, which is what they were intended for by the Cavalry, and would be just as effective on any unarmored human, then or now. They were the .44 Magnums of their day. I very briefly lived in a city which had extremely oppressive anti-handgun laws and a high violent crime rate, and I kept a loaded replica 1858 Remington C&B revolver (which was legal) around the house just in case. I never felt that I was under-armed, except for the six shot limitation.


#7

Here a few pics of my finds.


#8

Much of your collection of finds appears to be 20th century. If you provide information on the headstamps on the cartridge and shotshell cases, someone here could probably provide information about them. Any idea what the two pieces at the left side of the first picture are?


#9

Ive always thought they were from powder flasks, the third object I believe is the top of a powder flask that controlled the amount of powder.
I may be wrong, I just find the stuff and know little about it, thats why Im here. :)


#10

Yes its a powder flask. If you hunt through the Dixie catalog (or similar) you will probably find the same one still on sale today.


#11

I live in one now, London! Would your city be New York?


#12

Worse. Chicago.


#13

Brickie,
In your first pic there are quite a few different cases. Some rough IDs and very rough idea of age to give you an idea of what you have.
Top right 5 look to be 577/450 Martini Henry shells (the end 2 look very corroded and broken off or are something else entirely). The 3 to the left of those are also possibly the same but an earlier version made from rolled brass foil. These were most common in the 1890s and up to maybe WW1 and then less common after that.
Most of the longer ones in the bottom row look to be 303 shells - about 1900 to present.
11th from left looks like a 30-06 shell - most likely post WW2 up to present day.
12th from left looks like maybe a 22-250 or 220 swift - most definitely a modern shell.
14 and 15 look to be 44-40 Winchester followed by a few more revolver shells that are hard to ID. These could be from any time in the 20th century and maybe a touch before.
As I said, it is a rough idea and the dates are a very rough idea of when those cartridges would have been in common use here in Australia (not when they were developed, introduced or used in other countries).


#14

Thanks for the replies.
There is a 22-250 in there, its the only one I could read.


#15

I remember reading a discussion online a while ago asking why no company sells a cap and ball revolver styled like a modern .38 Snubnose. The one who asked the question was 18 and lived in a city in the USA where cartridge handguns were banned. He wanted one for the same reason that you used to keep yours. It probably wouldn’t be very effective compared to a cartridge revolver, but it’s far better than nothing. I wonder why no one has thought to market one yet, I’m sure it would sell here in the UK too. As they are not classed as firearms In the USA, can they be mailed straight to you?


#16

It would actually be quite useful if you could read the headstamps on some of those cases.


#17

Just been away for a week, Ill get to it tomorrow.