Author Topic: Did they reload?  (Read 12946 times)

Offline Stopsign32v

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Did they reload?
« on: May 29, 2019, 06:57:04 pm »
Well I got to looking at pictures of general stores and saw a ?gunpowder? barrel. That got me to thinking... The gunslingers of the time as we now know them. The gentlemen that shot a lot, either for practice or by self defense. Do we know if it was more common to buy a box of bullets or did they value reloading?

Offline Mogorilla

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2019, 07:07:58 am »
I believe there is documentation for Buffalo hunters reloading.    I also read an article that postulated the idea that Native Americans in Arizona, probably Apache, reloaded spent rimfire cases.  This was postulated based on finds of rimfire cases with multiple hits, from apparently different firearms.   I am not sure if they had documentation but it was stated that the natives "melted" the fulminated mercury from percussion caps and spinning the rimfire cases to distribute it.  Then loading them as normal.  Interesting thoughts. 

Look to the catalogs of the era, if the items are listed, people were doing it.
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Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2019, 07:38:05 am »
James Hunt, who used to post here a lot, did some extensive research on the subject particularly on the buffalo hunters.  I had a catalog from a hardware store in California form the period that listed reloading equipment.  The catalog is among the missing items from my move 4 yrs ago. 
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2019, 11:32:53 am »
First, we have to define the term "Gunslingers."  Then we have to define the period and circumstances.  Then we have to go dig in the history books to find what was "real."  In the age of the formation of what is called the "Wild West" there were no "Gunslingers."  The gunfight in the street is Hollywood Myth.  Except for Hickok and Tutt, simply didn't happen.  Hired Guns weren't "gunfighters," they were assassins.  Most liked a Shotgun in the back or a Rifle from a ways away.  Gunplay with pistols was done in a Card Room or Saloon at 3 to 6 FEET.  Normally by the intoxicated. 

Raiders used lots of pistols.  Much quicker in a fight than a carbine (single shot).  Raiders and outlaws did not reload.  When a pistol ran dry they simply tossed it and pulled another.  Raiders and outlaws normally carried between 4 and 8 pistols.  Percussion Pistols.

Cartridge users, either Outlaw or Lawman are undocumented.  I can't find anything about those who went in harms' way with cartridge pistols.  Near as I can tell, the advent of "reloading" came into being around the same time as boxer primed cartridges became popular but was not widely practiced.  I can only surmise that most, simply went to the hardware store and bought a fresh box of cartridges.  I would think that would hold true for both "good guys" and "bad guys" as reloading at that time was well time consuming.  Something pursued as a hobby perhaps.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 11:52:05 am by Coffinmaker »

Offline Dave T

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2019, 04:54:10 pm »
First, we have to define the term "Gunslingers."  Then we have to define the period and circumstances.  Then we have to go dig in the history books to find what was "real."  In the age of the formation of what is called the "Wild West" there were no "Gunslingers."  The gunfight in the street is Hollywood Myth.  Except for Hickok and Tutt, simply didn't happen.  Hired Guns weren't "gunfighters," they were assassins.  Most liked a Shotgun in the back or a Rifle from a ways away.  Gunplay with pistols was done in a Card Room or Saloon at 3 to 6 FEET.  Normally by the intoxicated. 

Raiders used lots of pistols.  Much quicker in a fight than a carbine (single shot).  Raiders and outlaws did not reload.  When a pistol ran dry they simply tossed it and pulled another.  Raiders and outlaws normally carried between 4 and 8 pistols.  Percussion Pistols.

Cartridge users, either Outlaw or Lawman are undocumented.  I can't find anything about those who went in harms' way with cartridge pistols.  Near as I can tell, the advent of "reloading" came into being around the same time as boxer primed cartridges became popular but was not widely practiced.  I can only surmise that most, simply went to the hardware store and bought a fresh box of cartridges.  I would think that would hold true for both "good guys" and "bad guys" as reloading at that time was well time consuming.  Something pursued as a hobby perhaps.

Coffinmaker has struck the nail upon the flat part. I've spent a fair number of years researching the subject of post Civil War armed confrontations. These occured mostly between lawmen and outlaws (not gunslingers), between drunks (not gunslingers), and between people who couldn't manage to settle their differences any other way (not gunslingers).

As to the OP, I found no indication of anyone reloading handgun ammunition until the introduction of the Lyman/Ideal Tong Tool. That was some time around the turn of the last century (1900).

Dave

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2019, 05:01:32 pm »
The keg of gunpowder in the old picture could have had multiple uses.  Percussion firearms remained very popular throughout the settling of the west, so they had to buy powder whether they cast balls and shot or bought them.

Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2019, 06:29:58 pm »
I waited awhile to see what others had to say.  I have several books about reloading tools.  I personally like using the original tools to do some of my reloading for older calibers.

Anyway the authors tend to say that reloading tools for Winchester CF rifles followed almost immediately after its' development.  First patent went to Winchester's son in Oct of 1874 with improvements in Oct of 1875.  These tools where first 'marketed' in Oct of 1875.  This appear to show there was public interest in reloading spent casings.  In 1880 a tool came out for the newer 1876 rifles with cartridge of 45/75.   Then there was an 1882 model.  Would you really have to ask -- Why?  Public demand.

Remington tools had a patent date of April of 1875.

Smith and Wesson produced reloading tools in 1874 after is CF cartridges were released.  Even before Winchester.

Barlow's patents did not hit until 1884 and the Ideal company started after he quit Winchester reloading machine shop.(I think that is correct).

John Browning created a loading tool Oct of 1881.  If they were not being used or profitable, why would he have produced one rather than just concentrating on firearm designs.

Side note a lot of the older tools even had a Berdan depriming option so not only Boxer casings where reloaded.  My older Win 1882 tool in 45/60 has such a chisel point.

Another side note Powder measuring devices where patented in July of 1877.  Not factory sized but for smaller volumes for personal use.

'No one really reloaded'.  Really?  I also read somewhere that a single 45Colt loaded cartridge cost 25 cents back in '75 or '76.  That would be $12.50 per box of 50.  People did not have that type of money when or after buying a Win73 carbine for $40 in '76 (per Gillet's - 6 years with the Texas Rangers book).

I believe that in the mid 1880's loading tools were even sold with the purchase of a rifle.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2019, 09:09:51 pm by Black River Smith »
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Offline rbertalotto

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2019, 05:58:08 am »
Buffalo hunters absolutely reloaded. The gun powder came in lead barrels. Lead was shaved off and melted in the same frying pan they just cooked breakfast in. Sharps rifles and others were supplied with bullet molds on request .
 One book I read talked about trying to shoot a bison in such a way so the bullet could be recovered and melted down and used again.
 Everything a bison hunter needed was easily obtained in the wild, except primers, lead and powder. Had to come back to a town or trading post for that.

 I don?t find any documentation that cowboys reloaded. They simply didn?t fire their guns enough and would not want to carry extra weight.
 
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Offline Yeso Bill

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2019, 01:56:16 pm »
There are several old rock house ruins on the Yeso Creek here in New Mexico that date back to at least the 1880s.  One of them was a store that Hugo Zuber owned / ran.  Whether it was also a saloon, I couldn't say. 

It has been many years since I was at them but one of them had a ton of old cases scattered in front of it.  Since there is no oral or written record of any gunfight that happened on the creek, I would presume that somebody, or a bunch of somebodies, did an awful lot of practicing.  They certainly didn't reload or they would have picked up the cases. 

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Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 01:58:03 pm »
Buffalo hunters absolutely reloaded. The gun powder came in lead barrels. Lead was shaved off and melted in the same frying pan they just cooked breakfast in. Sharps rifles and others were supplied with bullet molds on request .
 One book I read talked about trying to shoot a bison in such a way so the bullet could be recovered and melted down and used again.
 Everything a bison hunter needed was easily obtained in the wild, except primers, lead and powder. Had to come back to a town or trading post for that.

 I don?t find any documentation that cowboys reloaded. They simply didn?t fire their guns enough and would not want to carry extra weight.

rbertalotto, do you recall the historic source of Buffalo hunters carrying their powder in lead canisters? I know it was done during the Lewis and Clark expedition but all the period powder cans that I have ranging from the 1840s to 1900 are of either tin or zinc. Also, I'd like to check that source's credibility especially when it came to melting it down in frypans.  Lead poisoning was very well known then and I even have mid-1800s family medical books that address proper treatment for one who was careless enough to be poisoned. Not saying it wasn't said, I'd just like to add this resource to my archives.  Thanks for sharing this; it's an insight worth investigating.

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Online Kent Shootwell

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2019, 02:17:48 pm »
As to buffalo hunters the book ?Getting a Stand? has several first hand accounts of reloading to include casting bullets. One says he used a frying pan but didn?t indicate that it was also used for cooking. The kegs of powder don?t seem to be lead as the lead was bought at the same time along with primers and patching paper.
In “Pinnacle Jake” he writes of going to Moorcroft Wyoming to get 900 pounds of rifle cartridges. At that time he is working for the 101 ranch. Doesn’t say what size or what for.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 03:18:22 pm by Kent Shootwell »
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Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2019, 10:55:04 am »
Thanks Kent,

Everything you just said makes way more sense. I have quite a few re-purposed old plates and a discarded frypan that I use in the shop to catch solvents, etc. on various projects; and because I have done so, I'd never serve up breakfast on any of them again.

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Offline Niederlander

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2019, 06:11:02 pm »
It would seem to me if reloading tools were available, at least some people were using them.  I'd venture to guess (always dangerous!) that most people just bought factory loaded rounds, as most people still do.  Your more dedicated shooters would likely be the ones to reload cartridges.  Even today, most of us who practice a lot reload.  Most people who shoot two or three boxes of pistol cartridges a year just buy them new.  The guy who uses one round a year to shoot a deer does the same, as a twenty round box lasts him ten or fifteen years.
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Online Ranch 13

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2019, 09:36:19 pm »
 The market hunters did use reloaded ammunition as the store bought stuff they bought started running low, that was the job of the camp tender to get the empties loaded up. The Buffalo Hunters Encyclopedia books document a number of ledgers from various trading houses during the buffalo hunt era.
 Lead came in blocks, powder came in cans, and patching paper was sold in both sheet and precut patches. Primers can in tins similar to what we see today as cap tins.
 I think the powder in lead kegs thing came out of Mishner's Centennial book, and doesn't have much other solid documentation. Not saying it didn't happen, but if it did it was pretty rare and the lead kegs would of been something done by some one other than the powder companies.
 The average person not involved in market hunting bought their factory ammo, and while there were surely some that reloaded, the vast majority probably didn't shoot a box of shells in a year and probably closer to two or three years.
 Reloading didn't really get to be the thing until after WW2, and even at that it was generally a real rifle crank, that did reload, most folks content to buy a box of "catidges" as needed. (as one of my uncles that only owned a model P colt and a 73 in 44wcf and a single shot 12 until he died in the mid 60's) called them.
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2019, 07:50:50 am »
I waited awhile to see what others had to say.  I have several books about reloading tools.  I personally like using the original tools to do some of my reloading for older calibers.

Anyway the authors tend to say that reloading tools for Winchester CF rifles followed almost immediately after its' development.  First patent went to Winchester's son in Oct of 1874 with improvements in Oct of 1875.  These tools where first 'marketed' in Oct of 1875.  This appear to show there was public interest in reloading spent casings.  In 1880 a tool came out for the newer 1876 rifles with cartridge of 45/75.   Then there was an 1882 model.  Would you really have to ask -- Why?  Public demand.

Remington tools had a patent date of April of 1875.

Smith and Wesson produced reloading tools in 1874 after is CF cartridges were released.  Even before Winchester.

Barlow's patents did not hit until 1884 and the Ideal company started after he quit Winchester reloading machine shop.(I think that is correct).

John Browning created a loading tool Oct of 1881.  If they were not being used or profitable, why would he have produced one rather than just concentrating on firearm designs.

Side note a lot of the older tools even had a Berdan depriming option so not only Boxer casings where reloaded.  My older Win 1882 tool in 45/60 has such a chisel point.

Another side note Powder measuring devices where patented in July of 1877.  Not factory sized but for smaller volumes for personal use.

'No one really reloaded'.  Really?  I also read somewhere that a single 45Colt loaded cartridge cost 25 cents back in '75 or '76.  That would be $12.50 per box of 50.  People did not have that type of money when or after buying a Win73 carbine for $40 in '76 (per Gillet's - 6 years with the Texas Rangers book).

I believe that in the mid 1880's loading tools were even sold with the purchase of a rifle.

My Sears 1897 catalog lists .45 colt cartridges for $.84 for a box of 50!!  ::)
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2019, 12:48:33 pm »
My Sears 1897 catalog lists .45 colt cartridges for $.84 for a box of 50!!  ::)


2 dollars a day was damn good wages also.
 
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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 02:48:26 pm »
Ok, I have the same catalog.  So I did one of those inflation calculators.  That 84 cents is $25.97 now.  I could not spend that kind of money just to blast off some ammo now-a-days at any appreciable rate.  Even in the early 90's when I started CAS I reloaded because it was cheaper to have fun playing the sport.

To me the only people back then that had that type of money were the law officers; robbers outlaws; larger ranch owners; cowboys once or twice a year; bankers; people like Sutter, Schieffelin, or miners that were lucky; the eastern wealthy; maybe gamblers that were good and /or the meat market hunters.  These are the people we look at for history but what about the rest of the country.  The farmers and the general towns people or just the small cattle and horse ranches.  They did not have high rates of income as Delmonico stated.

My comment came from something I read about Earp and Masterson.  Masterson at one time earned $40,000 a year collecting taxes around Dodge City counties and being Ford county sheriff.  He could buy factory ammo.  That was the timeframe and text where he stated that most men could not practice at 25 cents a cartridge.  I cannot put my hands on the text to defend it but it stuck when I read it some 30 or so years ago.

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« Last Edit: August 22, 2019, 02:55:10 pm by Black River Smith »
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2019, 07:35:38 am »
Ok, I have the same catalog.  So I did one of those inflation calculators.  That 84 cents is $25.97 now.  I could not spend that kind of money just to blast off some ammo now-a-days at any appreciable rate.  Even in the early 90's when I started CAS I reloaded because it was cheaper to have fun playing the sport.

To me the only people back then that had that type of money were the law officers; robbers outlaws; larger ranch owners; cowboys once or twice a year; bankers; people like Sutter, Schieffelin, or miners that were lucky; the eastern wealthy; maybe gamblers that were good and /or the meat market hunters.  These are the people we look at for history but what about the rest of the country.  The farmers and the general towns people or just the small cattle and horse ranches.  They did not have high rates of income as Delmonico stated.

My comment came from something I read about Earp and Masterson.  Masterson at one time earned $40,000 a year collecting taxes around Dodge City counties and being Ford county sheriff.  He could buy factory ammo.  That was the timeframe and text where he stated that most men could not practice at 25 cents a cartridge.  I cannot put my hands on the text to defend it but it stuck when I read it some 30 or so years ago.

BRS

How could cartridges sell for less than .02 apiece in 1897 and .25 cents in the 1880's? Think about it. Masterson and Earp were either misquoted or they were old and senile when they made that comment! LOL Also $40,000 a year collecting taxes?? Masterson was probably misquoted on that too! That would have made him a VERY rich man, which I doubt he was, unless he gambled it all away!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 08:20:54 am by Rye Miles »
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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2019, 09:26:23 am »
I think this will be my last posting on this, don't want any discussions getting out of hand.

1.  You all realize that the '70s and early part of the 80's some even say end of the 80's were depression years here in the US.  What does that do to access to money and the cost of any available goods.  Learned that in high school.

2.  You all heard of the industrial revolution from 1850's to early 1910's.  Learned that in high school, too.  That is where invented items are manufactured and produced at a higher rates and cheaper prices, than when originally created.  Even picked up by other companies and manufactured under their specs.  Anyone collect old bullets rimfire or primed.  Just how many variation are observed.

I am talking at the beginning of Colt Win and there new proprietary primed reloadable cartridges.  Others are looking at the height of the industrial period when more manufactures UMC/rem & Marlin were offering these select cartridges, in their guns and offering their manufactured versions.  Plus there maybe other cartridge companies out there that I cannot think of or remember.

I just do not think that every individuals could go to the Dry goods store daily, weekly, monthly and just buy ammo to blast away.  They were conservative with what they had and made it last, if they could.  They spent money on the necessary living items.  They bought what they could over time,  To me that is the idea of reloading components at a cheaper cost.

Rye, as far as misquoting in the text you would have to discuss that with the authors.  I just read and I have many books about the west because I like history.  And this timeframe especially.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 09:34:01 am by Black River Smith »
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2019, 11:29:00 am »
I think this will be my last posting on this, don't want any discussions getting out of hand.

1.  You all realize that the '70s and early part of the 80's some even say end of the 80's were depression years here in the US.  What does that do to access to money and the cost of any available goods.  Learned that in high school.

2.  You all heard of the industrial revolution from 1850's to early 1910's.  Learned that in high school, too.  That is where invented items are manufactured and produced at a higher rates and cheaper prices, than when originally created.  Even picked up by other companies and manufactured under their specs.  Anyone collect old bullets rimfire or primed.  Just how many variation are observed.

I am talking at the beginning of Colt Win and there new proprietary primed reloadable cartridges.  Others are looking at the height of the industrial period when more manufactures UMC/rem & Marlin were offering these select cartridges, in their guns and offering their manufactured versions.  Plus there maybe other cartridge companies out there that I cannot think of or remember.

I just do not think that every individuals could go to the Dry goods store daily, weekly, monthly and just buy ammo to blast away.  They were conservative with what they had and made it last, if they could.  They spent money on the necessary living items.  They bought what they could over time,  To me that is the idea of reloading components at a cheaper cost.

Rye, as far as misquoting in the text you would have to discuss that with the authors.  I just read and I have many books about the west because I like history.  And this timeframe especially.

Well since I can't discuss with the authors I stand by the Sear catalog and simple math. $0.84 for a box of 50 would not break the bank lawmen, gamblers, gunfighters etc. A working cowboy made about $30.00 a month and found. $0.084 for a box of 50 wouldn't exactly send him to the poorhouse. Don't forget this price was from 1897!!! They were probably less in 1880!!


BTW who were these authors you're talking about?
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Online Abilene

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2019, 11:46:50 am »
1875 Winchester catalog lists prices for a large number of rimfire and centerfire cartridges.  45 Colt was $24 per 1000 cartridges.  2.4 cents each.  Now, that is buying in quantity, but still...

44 W.C.F. was 2 cents.  22 Short were the cheapest at 0.6 cents each in quantity.

Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2019, 05:56:16 pm »
Well this is an interesting thread, humm, most cowboys worked 7 days a week, got paid basically $1 a day, but can afford to pay 84% of a days wages for a box of ammo to practice?

That's kinda funny since a lot of cowboys didn't handguns or even a rifle or shotgun, many ranchers didn't allow their workers to be armed.

Besides what were they practicing for, them new fangled moving pictures that were about to come out showing a very distorted story of how cowboys lived.

And no, few people reloaded their own ammo, although one famous ranch owner did, rumors that probably could not be confirmed either way says he did actually load ammo
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Offline Montana Slim

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2019, 09:51:03 am »
Common practice for ordinary folks to load their own shotshells for those new breech loaders. First with all brass shells. This can be seen with the vast number of individual tools & a few complete kits I've seen at estate sales & auctions. Likely that many ordinary folks reloaded rifle cartridges as well, especially if they had powder & primers on hand for shotshells.

Anyone previously familiar with a percussion revolver was likely still "reloading? them as well.

Gunslingers, outlaws & lawmen? Not hardly....at least during their professional career days.

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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2019, 11:02:16 am »
Actually the paper shell pre-dated the brass shell. 

Also most don't realize that factory paper shot shells were sold loaded, but with out shot till the late 1880' to early 90's. 

This is mostly due to the fact that the industry had not settled on a standard shotsize.

The industry settled on the Tatum  sizing as used by the shot tower of that name out of St Louis.  This is the same system used in the US today.

Same as rifles, few people other than market hunters reloaded.
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2019, 07:15:14 pm »
Well this is an interesting thread, humm, most cowboys worked 7 days a week, got paid basically $1 a day, but can afford to pay 84% of a days wages for a box of ammo to practice?

That's kinda funny since a lot of cowboys didn't handguns or even a rifle or shotgun, many ranchers didn't allow their workers to be armed.

Besides what were they practicing for, them new fangled moving pictures that were about to come out showing a very distorted story of how cowboys lived.

And no, few people reloaded their own ammo, although one famous ranch owner did, rumors that probably could not be confirmed either way says he did actually load ammo
In that big white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia.

Well they wouldn't have bought a box every day! They probably spent more than that on booze and hookers! LOL
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 07:19:37 pm by Rye Miles »
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