breach loading how?


October 16, 2003, 10:45 AM
Sorry for the dumb sounding subject.....Ok then, On a breach loading firearm, War of Northern Aggression time period, Paper cartriges were used. How was the load packed in? From the front Its easy to compress the bullet and powder, and we know that you want it tight, for safety. When loading from the breach, with paper, how do you get the bullet and powder compressed enough to be safe? Thanks.

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October 16, 2003, 11:03 AM
Do a little research on Civil War Federal carbines. Most were breech loading and used anything from self-primed metallic cartridges(Spenser), metallic cartridges with external primers(Smith and Burnside) to paper cartridges with external primers. The Sharps was typical of the latter. After the cartridge was loaded into the breech, closing the action cut off the end of the cartridge which in turn was ignited by the hammer hitting an external primer.

October 16, 2003, 11:52 AM
thanks for the quick reply. I was interested in the Sharps for example. I have seen them and how the paper is cut off by closing the breach. My question ,I guess rephrased is, how is the powder compressed in the load under the bullet, when it is loaded? or does it not compress a lot? When we shoot BP muzzleloaders we are told" MAKE SURE IT IS PACKED TIGHT!!!" to ensure there is no space left between powder and bullet. On these breech loaders the powder doesn't seem that it would be "tight" As I think about it now though on modern firearms unless it is a compressed charge there is a space of air between the powder and bullet in the cartridge.

Mike Irwin
October 16, 2003, 12:43 PM
War of Southern Stupidity breech-loading carbines used both rolled paper cartridges (Sharps, primarily) and metallic cartridges that were ignited with a separate percussion cap (most famous are the Burnside and Smith carbines).

Some rimfire guns were also used (Spencers).

In the Sharps, the powder is pre-compressed in the cartridge. When the breechblock slides up and slices off the back of the cartridge, the face of the breechblock maintains the powder column in the chamber.

Tight is a relative term. You want to make sure that you don't have any airspace between the bullet and the powder charge, as you note. Air space will invariably result in a ringed bore.

Tamping the bullet down so that the powder charge is tightly compressed isn't really necessary, though. As long as the bullet is in contact with the powder charge (which is the case with the Sharps), you won't have a problem, even if it's a bit looser than with a rammed bullet.

Tight compression does help a little bit with burning and generating a little less fouling.

4v50 Gary
October 18, 2003, 08:32 PM
Paper cartridges were originally tried with the Sharps but it was found that linen worked better. So, it was nitrate impregnated linen that was used for the Sharps.

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