Oldest commonly available cartridge

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The 1845 Folbert Parlor Rifle fired a cartridge called the Bulleted Breech Cap. Nowadays it is called the BB Cap.

The 1845 BB Cap was a .22 cal lead ball in a tapered percussion cap. There was no powder charge. (Can you say Colibri?)

A version with an actual rim like we know today evolved much later.

The .22 Short was the original cartridge for the S&W Model 1. It has been in continuous production since 1857!

It was three years later that the .44 Henry arrived. The .44 Henry was not even close to the .44WCF (.44-40)

The .44 S&W Russian cartridge came to be in 1870 but for many, many years was not commercially loaded.
The 9mm is over 100 years old. 1901-02 if I remember right. It may not be the oldest round still in military use, but I think it will outlast the .303 and 7.62x54.

Common ammo

One of my kids owns an Ace hardware and two manage some also. The most popular calibers are 22 rimfire, 30-30, 30-06, 38 special and 45acp. Those are the calibers used by the locals where the deer are abundant. They get a big laugh when the big city boys come, burn up their new fad magnum ammo missing the deer then cry when they can't find any more without going back home. The calibers mentioned can be found anywhere.

John Paul

Are you talking entered service dates? I guess if we are going to talk military cartridges that should be the standard. I was almost sure the Luger was around a couple of years prior to entering service with the Germans.

Oldest military cartridge in use is...

According to Chuck Hawks,

The 7.62x54R was developed in 1891, but it doesn't hold the honor of the oldest currently used military service cartridge.

The 7.5x55 dates back to 1883 in a black powder form, and was then made smokeless in 1889, so it's the oldest

This is nothing short of astonishing, considering that the 7.5x55 is a very "modern" cartridge, functioning like a .308 improved.

I'd say the 7.5x55 walks a thin line. Increasing, the bullet diameter by .010" might result in being a new cartridge. I would certainly not try to interchange them! On the other hand the 30 Borchardt (1892) is almost identical to the 7.63 Mauser, which is almost the same as 7.62 Tokarev! ;)

Seriously, I do think at least a couple of resources list the two 7.5x55 seperately, like the 30-03 and 30-06.


Probably the Swiss. I suspect it's still used in machine guns and possibly as the main arm for the second line soldiers.

I never even gave the 7.5x55 a thought.

Asterisk, was the bullet size on the 7.5x55 changed? I didn't think it had been. When?
You guys are giving me a mental workout this morning! If I remember right, the original cartridge used a .298 bullet. I THINK the switch came with the 1911 rifle, but I could be wrong on this one. It was the same time the dropped the roundnose bullet. Hornady used to make a .300" bullet that people used to reload them with. It's about 5 hours past my bedtime and I still have to go home. If nobody knows for sure, I'll try to verify and post tonight at work.

I think the Swiss use the 7.5x55 in a sniper rifle, I seem to remember...

Heck, if you want to go sort of the same, why not the 8mm Mauser? It dates back to the German Commission Rifle of 1888, don't it? It also changed bore diameter from .318 to .323 at one point. Even though it is obsolete, I would think there are a lot more mausers around and in use than 7.5 Swiss?

BTW, Mike, the reason there are no elephants in the USA is because of my elephant repellent spray. It must work because there are no elephants here. :neener:
Not to mention that the case on the 1889 version used a case that was 2 millimeters SHORTER than the 1911 version.

Sorry, but the 7.5x55 Schmidt-Rubin doesn't qualify. If the Swiss were still using the 7.5x53, then yes, I'd say it qualifies.

Different case, different bullet, different chamber = NOT the same cartridge.

It looks like it's still down to whether or not it's the .303 British or the 7.62x54R.

The 1888 Commission Mauser was chambered for the 7.92x57 Mauser cartridge, but used the .318 bullet, not the 1905 version with the .323 bullet.

Because of that, I'd have to disqualify the 7.92 Mauser.

As for elephants, there's a herd of elephants very near to where I live, so your spray isn't working. :)

On a similarly light note, for some time I told people that I drink Gin & Tonics in the summer to ward off malaria, and that it must work really well because there's no malaria anywhere in the Washington, DC, metro area.

Then, two summers ago, two teenagers in the county next to mine were diagnosed with malaria...

So much for the wide-net medicinal aspects. Now I just drink G&Ts because I like them....
Thanks Mike!
As usual, I was a little fuzzy on the details. Is the 8x57 still in military service anywhere (other than ceremonial duty)? I know that it pops up in Bosnia and Iraq and other hot spots, but is it still issue with anyone?

OK, if we exclude furrin military rifle cartridges and stick to domestic product I would say whoever called out the .45 Colt, .44 WCF (44/40), and .45/70 would be the winna. They all date to 1873 or a bit before. Yeah, the .22 short is older but who actually shoots those? Crap, every time I see em they are priced HIGHER than the LRs. :eek: :rolleyes: Not much demand, I guess.
The original question was "What is the oldest commonly available cartridge?"

.22short wins by over 10 years.

As I recall there are a lot of .22short Olympic style pistols all around the world. I'd bet that there are more .22shorts consumed world wide than there are .45 Colt, .44/40), and .45/70.

I know I still shoot several thousand a year because they're FUN.

.22 short in a NAA .22mag mini revolver using the .22lr conversion cylinder is FUN!

.22short out of my Marlin 39A is FUN!
AND I can cram 25 of them in there!
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