Wire Patched Bullet (Sectioned)


#1

A wire patched bullet is a cast lead bullet wrapped with wire on the bearing surface to strengthen the bullet and permit higher velocities without stripping or leading the bore.

Several different methods and types of wire were used. This particular bullet is wrapped with bare copper “bell” wire that was coiled and positioned in the bullet mould prior to casting, making it a part of the bullet.

It is loaded into a W.R.A. Co. 30 G. 1903 case.

Ray


#2

2 questions:
a) What happens when this bullet hits the target? I’ve seen AK rounds hitting the sandy backdrop of the range and looking like metallic spiders. Would you have a photo of this bullet after landing?
b) Was/is this used in any European armies?


#3

Vlad

The wire-patched bullets were made for handloading hunting cartridges and were not used by any military, as far as I know. As I said, they came in various designs and methods of attaching the wire. They were sold in just about any caliber desired and were popular for a short time. Some worked well, some did not. Much depended on the cartridge they were used in, the velocity, and the target. I don’t have a recovered bullet or a photo of one.

Ray


#4

Ray,
Rats? I probably have thrown away a hundred .30-06 cartridges with pointed lead bullets over the years which were to me just worthless reloads. Some of these may well have been wire-patched. I’m headed out to the shed now to dig through my 5 gallon bucket of throw-aways. I guess I need to start pulling the bullets before I pitch anything to see what hidden surprises they might have.


#5

The reason I’ve asked about military use is that it seems to me this coil may easily expand and fragment after the front of the bullet enters the target thus augmenting the damage. Seems like the military overlooked an opportunity. Is there any way to tell the wired bullet from the outside without pulling it out?


#6

Vlad, that would have been against the Geneva Convention then. (or one of the others applicable)


#7

[quote=“Guy Hildebrand”]Ray,
Rats? I probably have thrown away a hundred .30-06 cartridges with pointed lead bullets over the years which were to me just worthless reloads. Some of these may well have been wire-patched. I’m headed out to the shed now to dig through my 5 gallon bucket of throw-aways. I guess I need to start pulling the bullets before I pitch anything to see what hidden surprises they might have.[/quote]

Guy

It should be an easy job. According to Phil Sharpe, you might find wire-patched bullets in the following cartridges:

30-30
30-40
30-03
30-06
303 Savage
303 British
32 Special
32 Ideal
33 WCF
38-55
38-40
38 LC
35 WCF
38-56
38-70
38-90
38-72
40-65
40-70
40-82
405 Win
44 Special
45-70

Good hunting :)

I found mine by pure luck. I was looking through a bunch of ammo from an old shooter (older than me !!) and spotted this 30-03 cartridge. I thought it was a drill round or something so I glommed onto it. When I looked at it closer I saw a little bit of copper sticking out above the case neck and I thought - half jacket bullet? Pulled it and, voila. It’s the only one I’ve ever had BTW. Of the thousands made they must have either been shot or they are in that 5-gallon bucket in your shed.

Ray


#8

In 1913 when the British were developing the .276" round that would have become the Pattern 13, problems with excessive metal fouling and bore wear were encountered.

Kings Norton Metal Co.attempted to overcome this by wire wrapping the CNCS bullets for the .276.

Had this succeeded and the .276 entered service it is conceivable that there would have been a military wire wrapped bullet.

Regards
TonyE


#9

Ray,

Were all the “wire patched” cartridges on the list the copper wire or did they include the National Wire Wrapped bullet (thread wrapped steel/iron wire)? If the list includes the National Wire bullet you can add the 32-40 Remington Hepburn. I guess if these were after market reloads you might find them in about anything.

Paul


#10

Paul

The list comes from Sharpe’s book and refers to bullets made by National Projectile Works which, in a later edition, he calls the National Wire Patch bullet so I think they are the same as the ones you mentioned.

Just about every material known to man was used ranging from copper to silver to steel. I’ve even heard of some wrapped with fiber cord.

I think the one I have is the Hensley & Gibbs version and was originated to try and make “jacketed” bullets during the war years when regular jackets were unavailable.

Ray


#11

If the bullets are in the same condition as Ray’s photograph indicates, then the wire-wrapping will be visible on X-ray. It will show up as a lucency between the wire and the case neck.
So the simplest way to do it would be to place all the cartridges you want to test on a 35x43 cm card, tape them in place and then do a single X-ray exposure, with a coin at one corner of the image (for orientation, especially with film-based imaging).
You can then identify the wire-wrapped rounds very quickly, no pulling necessary.
Tony I see you are in London: if you have any examples you would like me to X-ray, we can meet up and I can do it. The results will be posted here. Or perhaps someone else can give Tony some of these and I’ll X-ray them.