Author Topic: Did they reload?  (Read 392 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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Online 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 »

Online 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

Online Abilene

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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. 

Billy