.... May   2008 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Reloading Blackpowder Shotshells with Antique Tooling – No 3    by Red Sun SASS#635

Welcome back to this series of articles. This month we'll cover some historical tidbits, priming the hull, and the components that will be loaded. Well close with a series of photos showing the tools we'll use for the loading process. Now let's get started with some of the priming tools that were around back then and the one that will be used for priming.

Last month, we showed a few priming tools (cappers and decappers) that were considered “bench top” styles. Below are some of the more rudimentary “clamp” configurations.

The tools pictured are (L-R) BGI (Bridgeport Gun Implement Company) Berdan primer tool, unmarked clamshell priming tool, and 2 BGI priming tools. Below is a detail of the 2 BGI tools and their differing priming post diameters.

As you can see, the differences are significant. We will use the larger black handled tool for seating the 209 primer of our shotshell hull. This larger post will safely support the base of the modern battery cup design for our purposes. The process is shown below.

Now that we have the primer installed with this tool, let's take a look at some of tools that will be used to measure and dispense the powder and shot. Shown below are a few types from that vintage era.

Most of these powder and shot “dippers” as they were sometimes referred to were dual purpose since the standard rule of thumb with black powder was equal volumes of powder to shot. Below is a close-up of the graduations on one of them. Most of these tools had markings for both powder and shot. Powder indicated in Drams and Shot in ounces (oz). The one pictured below shows the graduations. These were simply adjusted by the “Cup Base” where one would twist the marker out of the indentation and slide the internal cup in or out.

Shot and Powder Graduations

Adjustment Marker

Cup Base

We plan to use this with the settings at 1 oz of shot and 2 ½ Drams of powder. The powder weight equivalent is approximately 60-65 grains by weight.

Next we have the tools used to support the hull and pack the components once they're dispensed. You've probably seen some of these so-called plunger and funnel tools and thought about how they were utilized. The actual name for these tools as a group is called the “Barclay Loader”. Below is a set offered by BGI that we'll be using.

The tool set is comprised of the Plunger unit that can also be reconfigured as a primer de-capper. The post is simply twisted out and reversed on the handle. This is shown below.

If you're wondering what that hockey puck was for, it used to support the base of the hull during the decapping process. The photo to the right shows a vintage hull and a primer that would be supported by this tool. Notice the size of the hole and the primer itself compared to the conventional 209 primer of today. Also, you'll see how much smaller the decapping pin is in the post. These were intended for the earlier vintage primers that were quite a bit smaller than the conventional battery cup configuration used today.

In preparing for the component loading, we'll insert the hull into the funnel and place it on the base. 

Now we'll gather the components that we'll use and the sequence to how they will be installed. Below is the whole ensemble of the items. The shot cup is the remaining cup portion of a Winchester 1 oz wad with the spring base and gas seal cut off. We also have a punched milk carton card and a fiber wad/seal that replaces the spring and gas seal cut off from the plastic wad. And last, there is the over-shot card that's need prior to the roll crimping. The powder and shot are shown in their “dumped” piles for illustration.

So with the hull installed in the funnel, we can start loading each of these components. Next month we'll have a series of photos showing the loading of these components and the final roll crimping of the shotshell.

In the meantime, your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please forward those to Redsun635@aol.com.

Happy Reloading,
Red Sun

Hotchkiss gun From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Hotchkiss gun can refer to different products of the Hotchkiss arms company starting in the late 1800s. It usually refers to the 1.65-inch (42 mm) light mountain gun; there was also a 3-inch (76 mm) Hotchkiss gun. They were intended to be mounted on a light carriage or packed on mules to accompany a troop of cavalry or an army travelling in rough country.

The 1.65 inch gun and accessories could be packed on two mules. The gun was introduced as a modern replacement for the aging twelve pound mountain Howitzer. The first gun purchased by the U.S. military from the French arms firm of Hotchkiss was employed against the Nez Percés in 1877. Over the next twenty years the U.S would purchase fifty more. They were used in Cuba for the attack on San Juan Hill and in the Philippine-American War. It was also used at the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Hotchkiss Gun

The term "Hotchkiss gun" also refers to the Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon, a revolving barrel machine gun invented in 1872 by Benjamin B. Hotchkiss (1826-1885), founder of Hotchkiss et Cie. It was a built-up, rifled, rapid-fire gun of oil-tempered steel, having a rectangular breechblock which moved in a mortise cut completely through the jacket. It was designed to be light enough to travel with cavalry, and had an effective range beyond that of rifled small-arms.

The revolving Hotchkiss cannon had five 37-mm barrels, and was capable of firing 43 rounds per minute with an accuracy range of 2,000 yards (±1,800 meters, or a little over 1 mile). Each feed magazine held 10 rounds and weighed approximately 18 pounds (8 kg). The cannon was accompanied by a horse-drawn ammunition limber, which held 110 rounds plus six loaded magazines, totaling 170 rounds.

Picture published 1874

HOTCHKISS - Rapid-Firing Guns. Documented penetration of iron plates for US Congress of the 3 pounder (47mm) system.

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