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Cartridge belt caution

Discussion in 'Handguns: Holsters and Accessories' started by RealGun, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    I had 32 cal and 357 belts loaded up for a couple years and when renewing interest in them found the brass cases completely stuck, as in glued, in the loops. After trying a couple of ideas that wouldn't spoil the leather, I tried a tool I had in the shop that would grip the cartridge heads. That worked.

    The effort to clean the glue-like crud off the cases finally came down to 000 steel wool and tumbling in walnut shells for an hour. The 357s were purchased rounds of JHP in Starline brass, and the 327 Federal Magnums were lead reloads, again Starline cases.

    I also had a belt of 45 Colt, but those were nicklel cases, which did not visibly react with the leather and were not stuck. So, if I was going to leave belts full of ammo, I would choose ammo with nickel cases or maybe some with brass that I had lacquered.
     
  2. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    This is why nickel-plated brass became popular for ammo to be carried in a leather belt/pouch. The nickel doesn't oxidize nearly as fast.
     
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  3. Billyzz

    Billyzz Member

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    Looks spiffy too!
     
  4. Drail

    Drail Member

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    If the cartridge holders were not acid tanned leather, the brass would not turn green. The chemicals in the leather are the problem. I would not leave cartridges in the loops regardless. Oil tanned leather won't attack the brass but it cannot be made as stiff as acid tanned leather. Cartridges with heavy corrosion should not be fired.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  5. stoky

    stoky Member

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  6. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Thanks, but if the belt isn't loaded, it isn't "ready". Loading a belt with good cartridge retention is not trivial. Belts made of synthetics do have an advantage. I prefer the idea of using plated cases. I am still wondering about spray lacquer for brass as well, especially since my shop has a spray room.
     
  7. CaptHank

    CaptHank Member

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    Verdigris, is the problem. Leather and brass, results in some of the copper being leached out of the brass.
     
  8. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    The belts are all reloaded with Gold Dots (327) or Critical Defense (357).
     
  9. Bullseye
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    Bullseye Member

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    Glad I see this topic once in awhile. It reminded me to check.
    Last time I had brass and it was a mess in my belt in just a few months. Green verdigris started rather quickly with brass.
    These nickel cartridges are just starting to discolor after a year and a half or so. Time to clean them up.

    View attachment 226671

    Actually they aren't bad at all. That one is an odd flash reflection off the belt or brass rivet.

    View attachment 226672
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
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  10. Dog Soldier
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    Dog Soldier Member

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    The gun belts with loops appeared in the "B" Westerns. I have examined many original Frontier belts and holsters. It is rare to find one made from heavy leather or adorned with cartridge loops. A "Drover" if he owned a revolver could not often afford or need more than a few rounds. They would buy 6 rounds or less. The belt exposed these expensive Ctgs to rain snow and damage. A top hand made $18 dollars a month an Army surplus SAA could cost you a months pay. The ammo was expensive on the Frontier.
    As mentioned the plated brass was a modern process mad for police.:)
     
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  11. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I agree, an empty belt isnt of much use. I leave most of my belts loaded, some have been for 30 years or more. They get cruddy, I clean them off a couple times a year, some maybe once a year, or first of the season I take a belt out if it isn't a daily user. I wipe the rounds clean with a rag and use a nylon bore brush of a smaller caliber to gently clean the inside of the loops out. Nickel shells are OK, but not always as easy to get. I also use nickel in some, like 45 Colt and 45-70 as an easy ID for the heavier loads, so the others in the belt are not all going to be the extra heavy ones.

    Some do it more than others. The way the leather was tanned or treated makes a difference, but I don't think Ive seen any that never ever got some verdigris over time.

    I don't agree that cartridge loops weren't around much until movie days. Individuals and saddlers in the military started adding loops to plain military pistol belts in the 1860s and it took off from there. No, they weren't the heavy leather so much, but cartridge belts were certainly around. Soft leather, doubled over was common, they were sometimes called money belts, coins or papers could be slid into the end of the belt. The book Packing Iron has some good history with many excellent pictures, as do some of the earliest films. Look, at their rigs, they aren't "Hollywood" fast draw style belts with the holsters hanging off a loop on the side of the belt, they are plain, old time cartridge belts, some with loops torn loose, the well worn working gear of the guys they got to play cowboy extras in the early days, not professional actors or people outfitted with prop gear. Museums have plenty of old leather, as do real period photos. Cartridge belts are generally commonly seen. Many wore them with the loops on the front, I have at times, its much easier to reach the loads if hunting or its cold and wearing a coat that restricts movement.

    The cavalry issued cartridge belts for rifle cartridges in the 70s, and buffalo hunters used them commonly. Ive seen what looked like a handmade one in the Winchester Museum made for 50-70 cartridges and used with a Sharps full military rifle, used as a buffalo rifle which I believe was a cartridge conversion, something done quite a lot by both individual gunsmiths, and the Sharps factory several years before the 1874 model came out. I think many people tend to have tunnel vision of the old west from watching too many western films, there were far more types of people in the west than just cowboys, who may or may not be able to afford a pistol or even a carbine, and some outfits even restricting carry. That may have worked in Texas, but not in the mountain and plains country of the northern states. Many of what may be considered frontier types wouldnt consider going out without a rifle at least, some of those people lived from their guns for food, and protection during the Indian wars period as well as outlaws. Some may have punched cows part time, or in later years. Many in earlier times were trappers, wolfers, buffalo hunters, prospectors, woodcutters for the riverboats, freighters, teamsters, scouts for the military, meat hunters, and all manner of wild types. As various gold fields opened, there also flowed the hopeful ones, and the dregs that preyed upon them.

    Cartridge belts aren't as common, or perhaps not as commonly used today, but they still are a very handy and relatively compact way to have accessible ammo for your gun. I keep a belt of 30-30 cartridges with my carbine in my truck, another hanging by the door, and several boxes of ammo close by with each for spares. Same for my most used pistols. I walk every day some. I like being able to grab the belt rig for the pistol, and/or the belt for the carbine on the way out the door, to walk, go to town, or whatever. I keep a few light loads for skunks, snakes or grouse, as well as regular full power loads in the belts.

    Ive had this belt since about 82 or 83. Its been loaded since I got it. It was a 44, but eventually stretched out enough that it became a 45 colt belt. Its ben restitched 2 or 3 times. For a cheap belt its held up fairly well. The holster is only a few years old, it hasn't acquired much character yet.

    IMG_5853.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
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  12. Dog Soldier
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    They existed no argument there. But working "Drovers" did not wear these bullet laden belts on the range. The Cowboy rigs are mostly Hollywood creations. There were some rodeo "Parade" gun fighters that wore these in the 1930-1950s. But as they say when the Legends become facts, stay with the Legends.:)
     
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  13. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I think it was likely similar to now, some folks just feel naked or unprepared (or undressed) without a gun, some just don't really care that much but may carry if they think it may be needed, or its a part time thing or whatever.
     
  14. Bullseye
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    I am one of those rodeo "Parade" gun fighters I suppose. :)
    My 18 nickel cartridges I removed were easily wiped off with a paper towel in a couple minutes.
    So, for me it's nickel cartridges in leather gunbelt loops.
     
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  15. Dog Soldier
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    Now that is a solid fact. I carry a Colt 1911 SS .38 Super in a Yaqui slide. My street belts are made at the saddle shop with a harness/roller buckle on skirt leather. I never leave home with out my pipe and the Colt .38 Super.:thumbup:
     
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  16. Dog Soldier
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    Bullseye I never thought you were one of those guys. I doubt you were around in 1930.:D I did not intend to label you. Please accept my sincere apology.:)
     
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  17. Bullseye
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    Dog, That holster hangs on a post in my man cave. It's functional I suppose. I have never worn it other than to try it on.
    If somebody takes me to a SASS get together or something like that, I'll throw on my cowboy hat, stick a six-gun in that holster and go have a bowl of bean soup. But I wouldn't be caught dead in my boots with dirty green brass.
     
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  18. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    [​IMG]
    Dunno about cowboys, but it seems gunfighters kept extra ammo handy. This photo is Billy The Kid.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  19. Dog Soldier
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    Yes, I don't mean to be picky. But the Western Photographic studios supplied props when you had a picture made. You could send the folks back East your picture. It helped spread the image. As you know that photo confused people for a century.. He was not left handed. The photo recently sold for $20,000 dollars.
    William Bonney was too small to do real cowboy work. He indulged in stealing Army saddles. The Cavalryman visited the houses of ill repute. Bonney would steal their saddles. It became common for troopers to tie a rope to their saddles and run it to their beds. Yes, he was not a gun fighter he was a petty thieve and a "Bush Wacker".:)
     
  20. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Should I find other examples that cartridge belts were indeed used historically?

    BTW the photo seems to show him right handed.
     
  21. Dog Soldier
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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  22. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    So okay, this image shows him left handed, while the real topic was whether cartridge belts were used historically.
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Dog Soldier
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  24. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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  25. Dog Soldier
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    I have never said, that did not exist. My point is they were simply not employed by the 19th Century "Drovers". The heavily armed sagging gun belts with 50 rounds of ammo and 2 SAA revolvers were found in Louis L'aMour and Roy Roger's yarns. I am glad to see you enjoy the Western Genre. I wish more people did.:thumbup:
     

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