Please help identify

Or maybe not a cartridge? A pin of sorts?

Have you tried a magnet to the case and base piece? The base piece looks like it is showing rust. I doubt you will want to try scratching the parts with a needle file to see what metal they are underneath the corrosion.

Is the “bullet” lead or could this be some sort of locking pin as Rick suggested?

The mysterious large “base” piece that appears to be some sort of “shell holder” looks as it it may be the head of a rifle (or machine gun/gatling??)bolt which has become fused to the base of the cartridge case.

Note the slot on one side where an extractor could have been located. The nearby hole could have been for securing it to the rest of the bolt. The central hole (thought to be for external ignition by some) would be the hole for the firing pin. I do not recognize this as being from any specific model rifle that I am familiar with.

Anyone have some suggested straight case .64 caliber cartridges to suggest if we just ignore the big base thing?

Of course, it may not be a cartridge at all, but some sort of machinery or vehicle part or geologist sampling tool or other strange gizmo that just resembles a cartridge.

Looks like the item should be sectioned ;-)

Neither part magnetic, you said. Not counting the bullet I take it. Can you tell if the bullet is lead, (or what?), and is the body brass or copper?
And the same for the head. (brass or copper?). Quite a puzzel you have there! We may have to ask the experts!

Smokey…also…any way to accurately weigh this thing…might give a clue as to whether this is a cartridge of sorts, i.e., hollow inside, with the exception of powder, or solid metal, a pin or tool of some sort maybe, as Rick suggests…and Pepper’s suggestion and offer of X-ray is definitely a good one…Randy

OK, here is the pic of the base. I believe the case is brass. It is fairly heavy and it is still full of powder.

I though John S. was onto something with his suggestion that the ‘base’ might be the front of a Gatling bolt, but the picture looking at the front of the 'base shows that there is no allowance for the case rim. The rim would have to have sheared off.

The cartridge doesn’t appear to be a size that would have been in use in Yellowstone, nor would there have been mush use for a Gatling gun. The largest cartridge that would have been used was the .45-70-500.

I’m beginning to side with the opinion that it might be something else - a type of pin that just happens to look very much like a cartridge. The ‘bullet’ and ‘case mouth’ look so much like a cartridge - perhaps it was a decorative piece that was intended to resemble a cartridge. The hole and the groove in the edge of the base were possibly intended for securing it to something.

Looking at the last picture of the head the “thing” on the base sure looks like it is in one piece with the “case” Gatling bolts were 1 piece and the face was shaped like a fat T with the extractor moved in different models from the top to a 45 degree to the bottom. some models had a cartridge guide also. The hole in the side if the base is very peculiar. Have never seen a wagon part like that. Guess this is going to be like the newly discovered varity of lichen they found in Yosemite Park.


I actually have several of the 45-70-500 cartridges from that period in the same site along with 32-20 and several other misc. calibers. This was the only one that stumped me. It is not a pin. There is still powder left in the case. We were going to try to pull the bullet, but thought it would be better to keep the thing whole. Looks like the bullet may have 2 or 3 rings.

I am not sure the government will let me section it. This was a project in co-operation with Yellowstone National Park and they will be adding this to a display for an interpretive center.

I was guessing a possible .65 Cal. Gatlin but I needed more input. Not sure but maybe a .65 Dutch?

I’m guessing by now that most people are stumped. I may have to take you up on the offer Pepper! Will discuss the situation with collegues.

Well, it looks like the experts are stumped as well. We sent the images and measurements to a munitions expert and the reply was unexpected. He has no idea what the round is. Well, that is another route down.