Please help identify

I am working on an archaeological site that is associated with Yellowstone National Park, in particular the Mammoth Hot Springs area. I have been trying to identify a cartridge that was uncovered but have not found any information. There is no headstamp and the cartridge is very unique. I would appreciate any assistance in determining the cartridge, manufacturer, and date range for the cartridge. Thanks! … D=24880292

Rim=1.0" x 0.345"
Neck Dia.=0.688"
Bullet Dia.=0.645"
Shoulder Dia.=0.725" x 0.234"

Just to make it quicker to see the pic I have loaded it onto my photobucket account.

smokey, I can remove the picture if you would prefer.

looks like a cartridge with the rim locked into a shellholder or something else…

Pivi’s idea seems a good one, and to help sort this object out it would be useful to know what, if any, part of it will attract a magnet. An image taken from the base end might also clarify matters some. JG

It MIGHT be an early .577 Snider, but the thing on the bottom has probably thrown some of your measurements off; it looks like a chamber-piece that was in the rifle somehow got stuck on the base of the cartridge. The rifles chambered for these cartridges were mainly in British and Canadian service during the 1860’s/1870s, but many of them were probably sold as surplus to Indian hunters later on. They worked sort of like the Springfield “trapdoor” rifles.

I also thought the bottom was separate until further investigations back at the lab revealed that it was one solid piece with no distinguishable weld.
The bullet is larger than the .577. It would either be classified as a .64 cal or .65 caliber. The measurements were made using a digital caliper.

Have you got a picture from the base? I have a hard time believing that the bottom piece is part of the cartridge, as it’s nothing like anything else I’ve ever seen, and there’s no reason for either an anchor-point for a set-screw (which the hole appears to be) or an extractor-slot (which the visible slot appears to be). The differing types of tarnish also suggest these are two separate materials.

I will try to get a pic tomorrow. The base is a different color due to cleaning the base with a soft sponge to try and locate any marks on it. It had the same patina as the rest of the cartridge when found. I was also curious about the set screw and extractor on the base because there was no reason for it to be paired with the cartridge casing.

From the base picture sure looks like a separate primed cartridge. Does the center hole go all the way into the powder charge?

Checked Hoyem volume 1 revised and Mattenheimer book and charts and see nothing like it.

Flying saucer dropped it maybe?


For what it’s worth…Yellowstone Park in the winter (having not seen it in the summer) is an awe inspiring place

my 2 cents…how about what an x-ray might reveal ?

An x-ray may add some information (as my uneducated guess) that the “gizmo” on the base is a remnant of “something” other than the original cartridge…could it be a tool or any type of breech block piece ???

Unfortunately we do not have the funding for x-ray. It is very difficult for a normal small public university to get federal funding for anything. Archaeology is one of those fields that is extremely difficult to fund as the NSF does not consider us to be scientific enough and the NEH believes we are too scientific.

I will offer to x-ray it (as best I can)(65 Kv medical machine)…if you would like…“freebie”

Pepper Burruss
IAA President

(and considering I think an exciting round is a color tipped 30-06 or a less lethal shotshell variant…you might see I have no vested interest in the antiquity)

PS…I hope to slide down the hill at Big Sky this winter…and maybe play on a “sled” in West Yellowstone (town and Park)

Your case looks like a fairly straight one, but your measurements don’t show it. And your case mouth dimension is only .01 larger than the bullet. (.005 thick case wall???) Can you please recheck it? And which parts, if any, are magnetic?

I will check measurements tomorrow and get other pics of the top of the head. All I know is that a bunch of our professors and grad students looked at it and were stunned at the find. A few of us do have a military background and can not explain the cartridge.

Smokey can sympathize with you on the funding problem. History is a bad word now a days. Nice offer Pepper for the X-ray. Was at a talk last night on the casualtys of the Civil War. The speaker is a friend. A fellow in the audience asked about what cartridge the Gatling used. Speaker asked me and I told him what few guns were used if any had the 58 caliber reloadable steel chambers. Some guy jumped up and said you do not know what you are talking about they used a 1" cartridge. Then I said they also used Accles feeders. Fellow sat down without comment :-) Later was asked what the Accles feed was. I explained it and said it was invented in 1883. Point was taken.

Gourd [/img]

From what I remember about the Gatlin, I believe it had 3 different calibers.

Smokey, It was actually cataloged for 30 different cartridges but whether any were chambered in some it is not clear. There were 2 different 58 caliber rimfires, standard and mountain. The last cartridge it was listed for was the 30-06 in the 1906 model! Despite all the hype it was never a very reliable gun as the many changes to the feed system and internal operating parts show.

Hope we get an answer to your mystery cartridge.


Anyway,according to me,what Smokey calls “shoulder” is actually the neck crimp.A better neck outside diam could be measured just behind the crimped portion

I updated the neck diameter and took pics that will be uploaded tonight after work. I can say without a doubt that the “Chamber Piece” or what ever it is, is definitely part of the cartridge case. There is definitely no separation between the case and the “Chamber Piece”. I am glad that this is as difficult for you as it was for me. But, it allows us to expand our knowledge on historic munitions. I tried the magnet test and neither part has magnetic characteristics.

Is there any damage on the nose? The only other thing I can think of might be that this is a cartridge that had the rim torn off, leaving it in the chamber, and the owner of the rifle tried to remove it by pouring the remainder of the case full of lead, then either working the extractor or tapping it out from the muzzle?