Rigby .45 Match Rifle


I am seeking any information (or suggestions for sources) on the .45 cal rifle ammunition that was used in the Rigby B.L. match rifles of the 19th century. Technical drawings, photographs …?

I understand this used a straight solid drawn case 2 9/16" (or approx. 2.6") long similar to the 2.6" Sharps Straight. According to Kirton’s “The British Falling Block Breech-Loading Rifle” this fired a paper-patched 480 grain round nosed lead bullet with a charge of 83 grains of black powder.

Lieut.-Col. H.Bond’s 1884 “Treatise on Military Small Arms and Ammunition” says the case was loaded with - “charge 85 grains powder; bullet, 530 grains in weight; point ogival, rather acute, and hardened by a certain process which gives them a specific gravity greater than the alloys of lead and tin in general use.”

According to an article publishd in the New york herald in 1876, “the Rigby bullet is hardened with quicksilver, the percentage of which has not been altered for years”. This was with reference to the muzzle loaidng match rifle, however, quicksilver is a common name for the chemical element mercury. Can anyone confirm the use of quicksilver with the Rigby bullets?

Thanks for any comment.



I have 3 primed empty cases, 1 round loaded with shot and 1 ball round (reload I think) all of which I think are the round you describe. The Headstamp is .J.RIGBY & Co. The primers are copper. Would you like a photo posting on here ?

I can’t remember where I got them nor why 1 would be loaded with shot.



A picture of the ball round would be of interest. Thanks.

I’m also seeking info on how the round was loaded, whether any lubricating wad was added beneath the bullet, shape of the bullet etc.

I have a Deeley-Edge-Metford (an original 1878 action fitted with a new Metford barrel) and it is chambered for 45-2.6". I was interested in how close the Sharps cartridge and Rigby were and I am just trying to get some more details to compare.





The two do look and measure very close.


Thanks for posting the pictures.

Simon. I was expecting a paper patched bullet in the Rigby case, although you did say it may be a reload.

Jack. An interesting comparison. Thanks for that. The bullet I use is very similiar profile to that pictured in the Rigby case.




Are you able to confirm the case of the Rigby is 2.6" - it does look pretty much as the Sharps? I only ask because someone else has suggested it is 2.4" and that contradicts the information I have found to date.

Any chance of a picture of the base of the two cases you picture above? :)




David; The case on mine measures 2.592". I added a Sharps 2.4" to the photo to compare. My Sharps does not have a headstamp; Jack


Thanks very much for the pictures.

I have also been advised of the following details of the Rigby .45 Match which may be of interest. Info is from Volume 3 of THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION - by George A. Hoyem.

450x2.6" Rigby Match
Straight, rimmed
Bullet dia. 0.451
Case length 2.59
Rim dia. 0.610
Neck Dia. 0.470
Base dia. 0.507
Total length 3.70

Apparently there was also a 2.4" version.



The 2.4" case is the same as the Sharps, and as far as I know the only original rounds were in a cased Rigby Rifle once owned by John Amber (the American gun writer, gun collector & editor) The headstamp is “J. RIGBY & Co (<- o is underlined {over) + 1881 +”, and the pointed lead bullet is paper patched. OAL is 3.675" & I’d guess the bullet weight is 500 gr. or there abouts.
hope this is of help.


In 1880 the Irish Eight won the Elcho Shield and again in 1883. I understand that the cartridges used in the two wins were different. The NRA(GB) prohibited cleaning between shots in 1883 and I am interested in any changes to the loading that may have occured to attempt to better control the fouling.