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Old 02-22-2004, 11:09 PM
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Default Civil War ammo manufacture

I have a Zouave rifled musket and I cast my Minie bullets in a mould.

But I'm wondering how the arsenals (North and South) manufactured their bullets....cast, or swaged, or...???
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Old 02-23-2004, 10:55 AM
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Lightbulb Steve

More rifles were made for use in the Civil War at the Springfield Armory and any other place. Since LBJ closed the armory in 1968 it's been turned into a museum, nice place to visit. They would have the answers to your questions.

Springfield Armory Museum
PO Box 4871
Springfield, Ma.
01101

Or on Google,
Springfield Armory (national historic site)
They have a field where you can e-mail questions.

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Old 03-09-2004, 03:12 PM
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I think that they were cast. I don't think the technology was around then to swage a hollow base bullet with such a large cavity. I have seen plenty of "Gang Moulds" at gun shows which can cast 10 bullets at a pop. They were all three piece with an insert in the bottom to make the hollow base and the sprue was at the tip of the bullet. This makes sense as the bullet will not be out of balance along it's longitudinal axis if the sprue is cut too long or too short. It will only change the weight of the projectile slightly.
Andy......on the whole, very few rifles were made at Springfield Armory....only 265,129 of the 1861 model and 273,265 of the 1863 model. The vast majority of Civil War Rifles were made by contractors such as Alfred Jenks & Sons (Bridesburg), Eagleville, Manton, Millbury, Mowry, Muir, Sarson & Roberts, Norfolk (Norfolk, Conn) Norwich, Parkers' Snow & Co., Providence Tool, Remington, Robinson, Savage, Schubarth, Norris & Clement, Trenton Locomotive & Machine Co., Union Arms, Watertown and even a German Manufacturer in Suhl, Germany, Whitney and Winsor Locks The 1861 Special Contract Rifle was made by Colt, Amoskeag, Lamson, Goodnow & Yale and E.G. Lamson & Co.
Well over 2 million Rifles.
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Old 03-09-2004, 04:30 PM
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1. Was there ever such a thing as a "Minie Ball" hollow-point, or the equivalent?

2. Was there ever such a thing as a "Minie Ball" full metal jacket, or the equivalent?

3. Of Civil War/War of Rebellion shoulder or side arm projectiles, which might be considered the more deadly, by today's standards?
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Old 03-09-2004, 06:42 PM
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There was a Confederate bullet called the Gardiner explosive bullet which was a minie ball with a hollowed out area and a small hole drilled into it. I don't believe they were very effective but I have a few in my collection; look for a 2 ringed mini ball with a hole drilled in the center of the conical depression.

When I was in the park service and they taught us how to use the molds; there were two important steps they taught us. One was to let the lead heat up to the point where you saw the impurities float to the surface. Then we skimmed them off with a small ladle. The other thing they did was to make sure we dipped the bullet into hot wax. The wax would cling to the depressions (rings) on the exterior of the bullet and serve as a seal to keep gases from escaping when the percussion cap and charge were ignited.

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Old 03-09-2004, 07:10 PM
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There were never any "Metal Jacketed" bullets during the Civil War. The metal in the barrles of that time were made of malleable iron and not steel....they would not stand up to a copper jacket. Modern steel was not used in rifle barrels until 1894 with the Whichester Mod. 94 being the first weapon made of good steel.
I have a buddy who had an 1878 Mod. Springfield Trapdoor in 45-70 that had a fairly decent bore. He proceeded to shoot modern copper jacketed factory loads in it. After about 150 shots he had a smooth bore. Now he can fire .410 shotgun loads in it. They also never used the equivalent of a "Hollow Point". Soldiers found by the enemy with crosses cut in their bullets would be shot out of hand. They were considered "Dum Dum" rounds which were named after Dum-Dum Arsenal in India where such bullets were made for the .577 Enfield Rifle and used with devastating results on Indians. The .58 Cal Minnie Ball was very effective without any modifications. If it hit bone the limb would be lost. If it hit in the torso it was almost certain death unless it was a hit at extremely long range. The only reason the minnie ball had the hollow base was so that the bullet would expand on firing and fill the lands and grooves of the rifling. You get the same effect when firing .38 SP hollow base wadcutter in a Colt Lightning Revolver. The bore of the old .38 Long Colt is .375 and the modern .38 bullet is smaller at .357 but if you fire the hollow base wadcutters they expand to fill the bore. The only other alternitave is to cast bullets using a .36 cal Colt Navy mold and using those to reload .38 Long Colt brass.
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Old 03-09-2004, 08:26 PM
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I think all Confederate ammunition manufacture fell under the Nitre and Mining Bureau - the same bureau responsible for the famous urine collection program for the manufacture of nitrates. I have some info and stats but that particular book got "permanently borrowed" and I'll have to get it back first.
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Old 03-10-2004, 02:45 AM
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Great stuff...

Bill & Murph & Des -

-When the Minie was being manufactured in factories, did they use the wax method there routinely too?

-Did the trooper in the field, if/when casting Minie's use the wax?

-Would, for example, Vaseline or heavy gear lube perform the same or a similar function as wax?

-So, as long as the end of the soft metal projectile is formed (with a concavity) so as to expand and fill the space, then it does not matter how well-filled everything in front of that place fills the space?

-Is ALL rifling on a curve within every barrel or are there other designs, such as straight?

-Is there ANY modern rifle that does NOT have rifling?

-Since the lead of a Minie is fairly soft, how were rounds carried so as to not ding up the surfaces with them banging into each other, running all over the place like they had to?

-If the effectiveness (kill/maim) of the Minie was so certain, why would any trooper even attempt to dum-dum a round?

-Do modern day fighters find it necessary to "beef up" shoulder arm rounds somehow? I have read on here about how some mortar and/or shoulder rocket (something, maybe it was bazooka) guys DO fiddle with loads per se. But what about ordinary rifle rounds? Doesn't seem necessary, but what the heck do I know, zip

-The normal (unaltered) Minie... in most cases then would enter the body. expand and stay inside, right? It would not go clear through a person as does, e.g. a .357 round (and another one Murph mentioned a couple weeks ago)?
I.e. Does the Minie expand upon striking soft tissue?
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Old 03-10-2004, 06:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BLUEHAWK Great stuff...

-Is there ANY modern rifle that does NOT have rifling?
Sure. Shotgun with a slug round.
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Old 03-10-2004, 12:27 PM
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Oh.

Des -

What would happen if a shotgun DID have rifling, using the same "slug" round?

What IS a "slug" round? I thought shotguns shot those rounds with carboard fronts and brass rear ends. Is that a slug round?
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