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Originally Posted by craigd
But, to make it shoot, is it better to get the length of the bullet close or the weight, for the same shape?

I think much of it depends on the rifle and what you are trying to accomplish. I take it this is a double rifle so it may likely have been made to shoot more than one bullet weight. The rate of twist must be fast enough to stabilize the bullet, for hunting accuracy a bit faster twist will not be an issue. Many other factors go in to getting a black powder double to regulate such as powder charge, wadding, bullet lube etc.

I would be interested in what the mass spec machine shows.


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Originally Posted by craigd
Backing up, if it was known to be a paper patch bullet and suspected to be swayed, it is likely a softer alloy and specific percentages may not matter quite as much. The size of the copper tube void(?) can probably be calculated. But, to make it shoot, is it better to get the length of the bullet close or the weight, for the same shape?

If it is a paper patched bullet, lead/tin alloy is critically important to best accuracy, especially if it has a long nose. Swaging 16:1 is something I have done by hand for many thousands of rounds. Harder alloy can be done with the right equipment, so those bullets could be anything. But I'm extremely doubtful that the two bullets are even from the same die or mould.

As for which is more important to get it to shoot, length or weight? Well, yes. Both are. If skeettx really wants to figure this out, we need a whole bunch more information.


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I know many things have been done and are possible, but with what we know, there may not be the need for match ammo prep. I would guess that the new mold is an attempt to replicate that didn't translate as would be hoped.

I would almost universally lean towards softer alloys for antiques assuming I'll get whatever bump up that was needed. How many mold weights and designs, and alloys are worth pursuing? Maybe, get some mileage on that first mold out at the range, minute of pie plate is honest and reasonable. I bet the second mold, if ever wanted, will hit the goals better after some experience with the rifle.

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craig I don't know what you mean by softer, but we shoot 16:1 in any gun without a problem, from Rigbys to Ballards, Sharps, trapdoors, etc. Some guys mess with antimony and wheel weights. I don't bother with them, but they do work. If skeettx is serious about it, he will get back to us with a lot more information and then it will be pretty trivial to find a bullet mould or design one for whatever purpose. This is not rocket science (though that can be helpful).


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You are comparing the weights of a solid bullet and an express bullet. Of course the weights are going to be different.
It's usually about 25 grains for the 400 and 40 for the 450. The bullets are the same length.
This is being made way more complicated than it needs to be.

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Ok, having kicked this hornet’s nest, and being so very very appreciative of everyone’s best effort here, I have helpful information and an update:

A) The helpful information: The ledger entry for this Lancaster 450/400 double oval bore rifle calls for two projectiles. A 225-grain bullet, and a 230-grain “shell.” I took the 230-grain shell to be an explosive shell. But that’s supposition. That others here made the same conclusion about this particular bullet is interesting.

Additionally, I pulled the antique paper patched bullet from an 1880s loaded shell. It is in pretty much the same shape it was when it was in situ.The copper plug is going to be pulled. The SECOND bullet was cast of pure lead in a new adjustable Brooks mold made to accommodate different bullet weights and sizes, as needed.

B) Update: Tomorrow morning, McCreath Labs here in Harrisburg PA are conducting a hand-held mass spectrometer test for free. If that test provides improbable results, then the bullet will be subjected to a full mass spec test that results in the destruction of the projectile. For those lamenting the loss of this rare bullet, I hear you. But I have another nine loaded antique rounds in perfect shape, and this one was pulled precisely to inform us of the bullet’s character.

Thank you for all your ideas, suggestions, math tutoring, and insights. I’m doing my best


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It all sounds interesting so I'm eager to hear more.

Is it possible that the copper may have an explosive charge in it? I have not encountered anything like it. Be careful.

Also, measure the twist rate on your rifle. That will help a bit also.


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Originally Posted by BrentD
It all sounds interesting so I'm eager to hear more.

Is it possible that the copper may have an explosive charge in it? I have not encountered anything like it. Be careful.

Also, measure the twist rate on your rifle. That will help a bit also.
Brent, measuring the twist rate in a black powder oval bore is just about the same as measuring the twist rate in a shotgun barrel. It’s difficult. Plenty of slips.


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I can't see why it would be hard. But bump up a bullet to engrave in the "rifling" and have at it. I've measured a belted ball gun. I would not expect it to be too much different.

Was the original bullet oval from the mould/swage?


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"I took the 230-grain shell to be an explosive shell." -- Why?

British rifle ammunition for the 450/400 3 1/4" cartridge was made primarily (and perhaps exclusively) by Kynoch and Eley.
Their early 20th Century catalogs make no mention of an "explosive shell" nor does Fleming in "British Sporting Rifle Cartridges."

Can anyone cite a source for explosive bullets in British commercial metallic sporting rifle ammunition?

Explosive bullets are historically associated with Sir Samuel Baker and George Fosbery. In Baker's case, his bullets were being
launched from a 4-bore barrel. A detailed study of explosive rifle bullets used in the Civil War can be found in the journal of
the American Society of Arms Collectors. They were used to shoot at observation balloons in WWI and Germany experimented
with the B-Patron in WWII. If they were ever practical - as bullet size decreased, they became impractical.

Pantaman - suggested topic for your next investigation. Weight of the priming compound in the No.40 Berdan primer.

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