Why did historical molds have roundball?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by gtrgy888, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Too bad the Outlaw Kid wasn't around. He could have set them straight. :) I bet Walker wished he had some OKB's. (Outlaw Kid Bullets)
     
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  2. Wolfman0125

    Wolfman0125 Member

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    It has been said that the Colt Walker was notorious for blowing up due to too much powder capacity and conicals being loaded backwards. However, I believe that there were far fewer incidents of that actually happening versus what was reported officially. USMR soldiers weren’t stupid. They were professionals in Rangering. I believe that they capitalized on a few instances of these incidents just to get new weapons issued. (Dragoon’s) and the Walkers took a walk so to speak into the private arsenal of the Rangers who continued to put them to good use. It is doubtful that they were ever returned to Colt. I think they jumped on the “me too” bandwagon. The picket bullets lacking a heel to seat squarely often were canted and the nose was defaced by the rammer to provide any real consistent accuracy. The dragoon bullet fixed the problem.
     
  3. Ironhand54

    Ironhand54 Member

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    Why RB and conical? To sell more guns. More options means wider appeal and more sales. That's what Sam Colt did best.
     
  4. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    The answer is likely simpler than what people have been making it out to be.

    Projectile technology slowly advanced as firearms technology advanced. And just as firearms ownership and usage represented a mix of old and new over time, so to did the projectiles.

    This is not to say that people did not use one or the other for "reasons", because they most assuredly did. Some reasons were likely "legitimate", such as "this is what the gun was designed for" or "this is what is available". Others maybe not so legitimate, such as "this is what I've always shot" and "if it was good enough for my paw, it's good enough for me".
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Must have been the 9mm v. 45 ACP level argument of the era. I dunno.
     
  6. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Member

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    For penetration there is room for more powder behind a round ball.
     
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  7. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    In Sixguns, Elmer Keith wrote that he felt the roundball was more effective than the conical. He also wrote that veterans of the civil war had told him the same thing.

    "For its size and weight nothing is so deadly as the round ball of pure lead when driven at fairly good velocity. Maximum loads give these slugs fairly high velocity from a 7-1/2 inch barrel gun."

    "Both Maj. Stratton and Sam Fletcher (civil war veterans) told me the .36 Navy with full loads was a far better man killer than any .38 Special they had ever seen used in gun fights."

    "Maj. Stratton said that for a man stopper he preferred the round ball with chamber full of FFG to the pointed conical bullet. Sam Fletcher also told me he preferred a pure lead round ball in his Navy Colts with chamber full of black powder, to the issued conical ball load."

    "Fletcher claimed the round ball dropped enemy cavalrymen much better and took all the fight out of them, whereas the pointed bullet at times would only wound and leave them fighting. Fletcher stated, however, that when foraging and shooting cattle for meat, the pointed bullet was the best for body shots that had to be taken where penetration was needed. But that on all frontal shots on beef, the old round ball was plenty good and would reach the brain --- even on bulls."

    Beyond that, I personally use conicals for making paper cartridges, and roundballs for loading loose. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that folks were doing the same thing in 1860.
     
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  8. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    RetiredUSNChief ..."technology slowly advanced as firearms technology advanced. And just as firearms ownership and usage represented a mix of old and new over time, so to did the projectiles."
    From readings of Ned Roberts and Sam Fadala, conicals were developed to improve accuracy and ease loading process. Remember RBs usually got shaved when loaded in revolvers and could take up to 15 minutes to load a cylinder. Picket bullets were much faster, but had a problem of going in canted. Ned Roberts, in his book "The Muzzleloading Cap Lock Rifle" shows examples of 5, 2 part projectiles as well as solid picket and sugar loaf types. The two part bullets were created to eliminate deforming while loading and to improve accuracy by having each part either hard or soft lead. Conicals were made to help seal the bore and provide more force. In addition, there was barrel residue, (conicals only needed .004 rifling) and would easily push a lot of fowling out the muzzle. Of course we know RBs didn't do well in that area and needed far more deep rifling and could easily fowl out depending upon the quality of the powder.
    What I found interesting was that people were experimenting with boat tail picket bullets as early as 1835.
     
  9. Eyrie G. Dogg

    Eyrie G. Dogg Member

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    After using the Patterson in .36 to good effect the Rangers and the Ordinance Department felt that they needed something heavier. This is known. They also wanted to be able to run 50 projectiles from a single one pound ingot. Round ball fit the bill perfectly.

    7000 / 140 = 50

    I've long wondered if this was the genesis of the .44 combat handgun.

    Any thoughts on this, boys?
     
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  10. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    If you need 15 minutes to load six shots, you are terribly slow. I can do it in five minutes...or less.
     
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  11. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Member

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    1. With paper cartridges and caps laid out on the bench I can load in just a little over a minute.
     
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  12. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    I'm glad to hear we have all these "quick loading experts" in the group. Now lets imagine your a buck private at the Little Big Horn with General Custer or on a battle line during Sherman's march to the sea. Let see how quickly you can reload while someone is shooting back at you and your stuff is not cleanly laid out in front of you in a nice quiet area.
     
  13. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Member

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    Paper cartridges issuer to troops helped a lot. Shucking out empty cartridges and reloading a single action army takes time.
    Any one who had do it under stress would often reach for another revolver or their saber.
     
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  14. 99octane

    99octane Member

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    The round ball was considered a very good man stopper in its times, better than the conical, it appears.
     
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  15. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    If you had been a trooper with Custer's 7th at the Little Bighorn, your big problem would be when you tried to extract a spent .45-55 case from your hot, dirty Trapdoor and the extractor tipped off the copper cartridge's case head. Then you'd be prying the case out with your knife. Then an arrow would magically appear in your back and solve your stuck cartridge problem.:p:confused: .... :what:
     
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  16. 99octane

    99octane Member

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    They didn't reload, mostly. Cavalry sometimes did reload if there was a lull in the action and had a chance at a second pass, but mostly when a revolver went empty, they just switched to a loaded one, or the saber.
    Most people carried at least a second gun as backup, as the chance of some cap fragment jamming up the action was quite high.

    Quantrill's raiders, that employed guerrilla tactics and not formal military tactics, often carried 3 even 4 or 5 loaded revolvers, such as a brace of dragoons on saddle holsters, a brace of Navys on the belt and a Pocket or two as backup. There are reports of people carrying 5 revolvers on their person, 2 Navy and 2-3 Pockets in the belt or overcoat pockets. The Pockets were very light, but effective.

    This said, as a mere exercise, I can reload my Walker with paper cartridges in under 1 minute, and I'm not that skilled nor did I practice that much.

    Also, people which had battle experience in those times were pretty... cool blooded.
    The XIX century infantryman had to do exactly what you said: stand ramrod straight (literally) reloading while the other side sent high velocity 1 oz chunks of lead towards them, people falling and screaming and being killed and maimed in horrible ways all around. Cavalry required even more balls than that. But perhaps these were times were people attributed far lesser value to human life, including their own.
    Jonathan R: Davis and two associates were assaulted by 14 bandits, which almost instantly killed the other two. Davis was a civil war veteran, who didn't scare easily. With his two Colt revolvers and a Bowie knife he killed 11 of them, 7 with head shots, the others with the knife. Now, 7 hits out of 12 shots in the heat of a close quarter assault is pretty damn cold blooded marksmanship, let alone going after the remaining 7 guys with just a knife.
    I don't doubt such a man capacity of reloading quickly and flawlessly under fire if he had the bare minimum of cover to do it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2021
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  17. 99octane

    99octane Member

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    I believe the answer to your question is far simpler than many are making it: marketing, and choice.
    At those times both bullets were very popular, and while some preferred the conical bullet, particularly loaded in nitrated paper cartridges that made reloading comparatively easy and fast, some still vouched for the superior stopping power of the round ball, and liked that kind of bullet. So, why not give people as "factory issue" what they wanted? A two cavity mold, choose the bullet you like most, and that's it.

    A cavity was all you needed, after all. People didn't shoot that much, and in a couple of hours at the camp fire or a house hearth you could cast enough bullets to last you months.
    Heavy shooters could always buy a multiple cavity mold to speed up things if they wanted.
     
  18. Eyrie G. Dogg

    Eyrie G. Dogg Member

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    Why did the 19th Century revolver bullet designers ignore the killing capacity of a generous meplat? A flat nose of at least 40% of overall bullet diameter does a hell a lot more damage than hydrodynamic points and round nose.
     
  19. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I think it was performance at range. Conicals fly much further and hit harder when they get there. For military application, I would prefer the pointed tip conicals for range and a flattened down roundball for close range defense. If you seat them with a brass rod, they develop a nice flat top. If you want the best of both worlds and don’t mind bending history, the Kaido flattop conical is a real monster. I would NOT want to be on the wrong end of a boar killer like that. Even with a .36, I got through six boards of pine with the 140 grain over only 21 grains of powder. A flattened roundball over 30 grains only penetrated four, but broke two of them and dented a fifth board, so I like it for dumping energy violently in the target rather than punching through.
     
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  20. Miguel Loco

    Miguel Loco Member

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    Round balls were easier to carry.....I believe 44 round balls were 50 to the pound.....conicals were around 36 to the pound. Just more economical. I do know that Sam Colt had to provide a single mold for both round and conicals with his first order of Walkers. So the choice was there. I also believe you could order a pistol with whatever mold you wanted.....round - conical - one of each together.
     
  21. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Davis Tutt might disagree with that. Hickock was a good distance off when Tutt was killed with a single round ball from Hickock's .36. ;)

    That might be quite true, OR we may be overlooking something.....

    In the past the hunting rifle was provided with a round ball mold that was made to FIT the rifle. The same was often true for single shot, rifled pistols.

    Along comes mass production and the revolver..., Colt and the other manufacturers, when they provided a mold, provided a factory mold, not a custom fit mold. They may have done so to give the shooter the option to use the least amount of lead, OR they may have done so not being certain which of the two types of bullets would shoot well, or the best from that particular handgun.

    It might just be as simple as that. :confused:

    LD
     
  22. drobs

    drobs Member

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    Has anyone here tried (or read about) casting with an original Colt revolver mold?

    I've read complaints of the reproduction molds produce undersized ball.
     
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