Author Topic: Reloading the Buffalo Load  (Read 8804 times)

Offline gw

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Reloading the Buffalo Load
« on: January 01, 2006, 08:38:28 AM »
Got a phone call a couple of months back from Herb Gindulis, NCOWS Convention Chairman, to do a seminar on loading for buffalo shoots at the 2006 NCOWS Convention. While I tried my best to weasel out of it, I thought it might just do some good to accept the challenge and give it a shot. Now, since that time, I've thought about just how I was going to present this topic and came up with a couple of ideas. My first thought was to just show how to load a cartridge with black powder and let it go at that. Then I got the idea that loading for a modern day buffalo shoot and loading for a real buffalo shoot might be a little more interesting. Shooting at a stationary steel plate and at a real live buffalo are certainly two different subjects altogether! My next thought was researching and trying to duplicate how actual buffalo hunters reloaded during the period 1870-1882. Since then, I've aquired (Thanks Santa!) 8 different books on the subject and am in the process of reading them. So far, I've found very little in the way of detailed information on actual loading of cartridges during this time period and am beginning to wonder if such information does in fact exist. I'm about half way into the third book and have only a couple of useable passages so far. Does anyone have any more details on where I might find info such as this? If you know of any books or specific info related to  period reloading during that time, please let me know.
    By the way, the seminar is scheduled for Sunday, Feb.19 9:00am Rm A of the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs Ia.

                                                                                    GW
NCOWS 1437-Territorial Representative  -Great Lakes Freight and Mining Co.- NCOWS Representative and Delegate to the Executive Board
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2006, 11:43:36 AM »
I've done some searching on the subjuct and I have some ideas, for the most part it ain't what most of us are looking for.  From what limited information I've found I was hazard a guess that most falls under what I refer to as "reloading" not the same as what most of us do that I refer to as "handloading." 

First forget a lot about what you have heard about them killing buffalo several hundred yards away.  Some did, to show off but most shot from 200 to maybe 300 yards at most.  Remember this was bussiness.

All you have to be able to do is shoot throught the lungs at that distance, the prefered shot, a target maybe what 4 times the size of a deers lung area.  2 moa is plenty for deer at that that range.  So to be safe 6 moa is more than plenty. 

So just cast some bullets, lube or patch them, deprime and reprime a case, fill it with powder, ad a wad, tap with a dowel and hammer to slightly compress the powder.  (I read somewhere at least some did.) and push a bullet into the case.  ammo loaded this way is good enough, takes little time and can be done by lantern light. 

You need a toot to deprime, if using Sharps cases it needs to be a lever type (Berdan Primers)  Winchester or UMC and some of the others you can use a sharpened nail and hammer and do this. 
Reprime with dowel and hammer and use same boot heel.
 
Wads and maybe a cutter.

Most seem to have carried moulds and lead so a pot, dipper and mould is needed.  Lube or patch, and seat the bullet on the wad by hand.  Crimp with a primative tool if desired, not really needed, carry good factory ammom in your belt in case of emergency, carry the reloads in a bucket.

Back before my cooking took over everything at living history events I did this demonstration for a couple of years at a place I could shoot them.  Took lubed bullets, a sharpened nail, a dowel, brass hammer, primers, a can of FFg and a cut off case.  Ended up with a load that whooped the muzzle loaders there for accuarcy and splat effect down range the 100 or so yards we shot down into the creek bottom.

When we were done some of the kids would go down and dig out the roundballs in the bank, they could never find one of my 500 gr 45's.

A bit of testing on the range at the farm shows this type load will go 3-4 moa easy at 200 yards.  I just had to know.
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline Forty Rod

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2006, 11:49:38 AM »
I hate to even bring this up, but have you checked out the liability issues?
People like me are the reason people like you have the right to bitch about people like me.

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2006, 12:18:57 PM »
Yes, in Nebraska I was covered by the G&P because I was doing a demo as an unpaid volunteer at an approved event on a state historical park doing things approved by the site manager.  Also any tourist had to stay so far back from where we were and there was a park employee to keep them there till we were done and had put the guns away.

Like anything, maybe not 100% but better than a jab with a sharp stick.

To be honest also, much less chance of any problems here than in other states closer to the Ocean. (Read that as over run with low life type lawyers and less of a gene pool for juries.)
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline TAkaho kid

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2006, 12:36:49 PM »
Check this site out: Not a lot of how too but a lot of neat old tools.

http://www.antiquereloadingtools.com/

Several things come to mind:

Most buff hunters used patched bullets

Most cartridges used Berdan primers thus the need for a cap awl (they cant be knocked out from the inside)
We take that for granted today

Siziing, swaging etc. was accomplished with a mallet (no RCBS Rock Crusher's)

Wads where punched by die and a swinging mallet as well

Sharps did offer most of the tools (at a price)

To make it more interesting take it ouside around a campfire - cast, patch, size and reload out there. Don't forget the howling wolves!

Or, simply buy some 45-70-550 paper patched cartrdiges from Republic Metallic and say the heck with it!


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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #5 on: Today at 06:16:19 PM »

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2006, 02:39:31 PM »
That they did load, there is no doubt, that they were of match quality or even up to factory ammo quality I have my doubts.

An interesting side note to this that comes from my friends who collect cartridges seriously and have done a lot of study, even with the 0.457--0.460 bores on the Sharps rifles in 45 for example, the Factory Sharps bullet only measures 0.451 as patched using the bump up principle.  The Winchester and at least some of the others use 0.458-0.459 dia.  Of course I am going to listen to these guys thats been collecting since the 1950's or so because this ammo is too valuable today to break down just to prove a point.

The 50 caliber rounds from Sharps measure 0.509 those from Winchester measure 0.512 even though they are for some of the same guns.  Of course the serious long range target shooters would have been much more careful in their reloading.  But a man in camp with 50-75 rounds to load with the hand tools of the time would not be able to take the time to be as careful in his work esp. since their requirements did not really need ammo of this quality. 
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2006, 03:00:01 PM »
Great site TK.  I marked it for furthor study.  As a side note I own an old Winny mould that apears to be this one.

http://www.antiquereloadingtools.com/winchesterframes_5mold.html

It sure drops a bullet that looks like it, 255 grain, with 1/4 WW and 3/4 Lino is measures 0.379 and is used as cast and lubed with modern high speen lube in a 374 Win. big bore 94 at full power  (1900 or so fps)and does quite fine in choppin' stove wood into kindling for the cook. ;D

This is an early Big Bore with a 0.377 bore, not the proper 0.375 bore.

I also have one of the Ideal adjustable grease groove moulds in 22 cal.  It will drop a 35-120 gr. bullet.  I will try to remember to bring it in Feb if any one wants to see it.  It shows in none of their cataloges I've seen but there were at least two of them I took the best one.

(A note to Joss, didn't mean to hijack the thread, perhaps we could put some of this on a thread intitled tools.)
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline TAkaho kid

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2006, 07:30:44 PM »
A while back I pulled a PP bullet from an original Sharps 45 2-1/10 (hated to do it but got way to curious)
It measure 1.5" long, cupped base with a nice tapper. At the base its .445" Twice wrapped brings it to about .456" I had a custom nose pour mold made to duplicate it. How does it shoot? Very well!

I still think this would be a real cool Living History type Seminar complete with the fire, coffee pot and a helping of Buffalo hump.
Have fun with it! ;D


Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2006, 11:55:40 PM »
Now I got even more curious and headed to the reading room with the white chair and fetched out a copy of COTW. (It's a better way to spend reading time than Readers Digest. ;D)  I rechecked figures and I was sort of wrong in my memory, a bit too much pain meds in the last month.  He lists the 45-2.1 as having a 0.457 and the rest of the Sharps 45's as having a 0.451.  As they say, the plot thickens.

The little bit in Quigley about using the 450 #2 Musket lead caught my attention the second go around and I checked things out.  The 450 #2 Musket bullet is listed as 0.454 and would of course work in the 45-2 7/8 shaps just fine and would just not have to bump as far.  The 450 #2 is also the only English round from the time that would have worked.

It would be a lubed bullet but just for fun I am going to lube a few of my 500's up with case lube and run them through a 0.451 Lee die and size a bit of the neck with a 45 acp die to hold the bullet.  Don't know if it will revele anything, but I have plans to go to the range with a freind at the end of the week weather and me permiting.  Been planning on trying this for fun for a while as a just see.  The bullets do size nice this way.   I have made up a dummy round and it might work.
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline TAkaho kid

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2006, 11:28:29 AM »
Swaging down grease grooves is a great way to get paper patching fast. (I won't tell you what I paid to have my mold made, it was resonable but not cheap.)

As for Quigly, Mr. Sellick is one of the few people in Hollywood interested in doing things right. He's a gun and history lover himself and goes to great pain's to depict historicly accurate arms ammo ect. I can't remember which movie (Saber River?) but I sure loved seeing an Evans Rifle on screen! beats looking at nothing but Winchesters and Colts!

I use a firm Tapper crimp. It seems to drop the SD.

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #10 on: Today at 06:16:19 PM »

Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2006, 04:54:42 PM »
GW,

Sending you an email.

Editted:  GW I noticed I cannot send you an email.  What I have is a summary of reloading instructions from actual Sharps catalogs and brouchures.  These are from a book called Sharps Rifles -- The Gun That Shaped American Destiny by Martin Rywell.

Email me if you are interested and I will email you the Word file summary that I created for myself.


P.S. Evans rifle was used in Crossfire Trail.

Black River Smith
Black River Smith

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2006, 07:15:42 PM »
TK, I'm glad someone else thinks the same thing as I do about a taper crimp, most look at me and say HUH?
Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

Offline gw

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2006, 10:14:24 AM »
BRS and Del- Thanks for the info, I should have something to present at the seminar come Convention time. I thought it would be nice to provide as much info on how it was done back then as compared to how we do it today. Thanks again.
                                                   GW
NCOWS 1437-Territorial Representative  -Great Lakes Freight and Mining Co.- NCOWS Representative and Delegate to the Executive Board
SASS 5847 Life
NMLRA
NRA Life
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QUIGLEY SHOOTER Lifer

Offline PUNKINCHUNKER

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Re: Reloading the Buffalo Load
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2006, 04:51:37 PM »
GW: Other than the tools that we have today, the way we reload is about the same now as it was then. If you want to get back to how the buff hunters reloaded while they were in the field, check out Buffalo Arms web sight and look for the Lyman 310 reloading tool. That is about as close as you are going to get. They did not just use paper patched bullets only. They cast and pan lubed their bullets just like we do now. They popped out the primer anyway they could, hand washed their cases, and used a brush to clean the inside of the case. Then they just dried, re-primed, charged with powder, set the lubed bullet in the case, loaded the rifle and fired at a buff. Pretty standard stuff while out in the field. These guys were not compitition shooters unless things got boring around camp. The bullets they used were they cheapest, heaviest, most flat nosed ones they could find. The cases were what was important to them. They had to be used as many times as possible. My suggestion would be to not over complicate this subject and you will do fine. ;) Good luck, and I wish I could be there. Sounds like it will be a blast.------------PUNKINCHUNKER 

 

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