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Discussion Starter #1
Curiosity bug bit again, and I've been doing a lot of research lately on the forefathers to modern firearms, specifically during the 1800s and the advent of the first metallic ammunition cartridges. Interestingly, I can't find very much information - at all - about what specific materials were used in metallic cartridge cases.

I know rimfire were replaced with centerfire cases due to the the centerfire cases' ability to withstand greater pressures than equivalent caliber rimfire cases. I know that modern cases are brass and steel. I know that pictures I have of the oldest centerfire and rimfire ammunition, specifically for revolvers, looks like brass or copper.

Any help at all would be appreciated.


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I did not know about that site, actually. Thanks. I'll see if I can get in touch with them and report here if I learn somethin' cool. :hand10:


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Got a couple of responses. I love historians.

The earliest metallic cartridges were made of either pure copper or of an assembled combination of sheet brass, copper and iron as in the British Boxer type types (.577 Snider for example). The Gras, being later (1874) was of drawn brass. The earliest dateable cartridge cases that I have are from pinfire revolvers recovered from Crimean War battle sites (1854-56) and these are all of copper.
My understanding is copper was the initial material for self-contained METALLIC cartridge cases, though when you look at some of the early items you see paper and some sort of metal (sometimes iron) like unto a paper shotgun shell. But by definitionl those aren't metallic cartridges, now are they?

So - copper as far as i know. And once you went to CF of reasonable power, it was a mistake. Copper cases tended to do things like tear rims off and leave most of the case stuck in the chamber (look into some of the problems the US Army had with the trapdoor - part of that wsa early issue copper-cased ammo).
I think I'm still gonna hit up the folks at Colt and S&W to see if they can go into more detail.


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