โœ… SOLVED Ideas on These Bullets from an Indian Wars site

Mason Jarr

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I found these five bullets in about a three foot circle. The fort site was used in the late 1860s/early 1870s. My thought is they're pistol bullets, but I suppose they could've been in a .44 Henry rifle round. The average weight is in the 224 grain range, but they varied from 223.6 to 226.2 grains.
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They didn't suffer much damage, maybe shot long range. I think that style/weight bullet has been around a long time. probably home cast 45 cal 230 grain. Lot of cartridge idea's , .45 LC , 45 S&W, 45 ACP. Too big for 44/40 or 44 S&W. I could be way off, interesting to see what you find.
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Mason Jarr

Mason Jarr

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Modern 45 Auto 230 lead cast bullets. Lost some weight and diameter upon being fired.
I cast and shot these often/
I don't think they're modern. I've found lots of period items in the general area where I found these bullets. They look very similar to the .44 Colt bullet listed on this black powder bullet chart I have.
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Tedyoh

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Looks like ram rod "scars" on the bullets, yet lacks the powdery white patina/oxidation from pure lead bullets used back then....maybe modern cast bullets shot from a muzzle loaded weapon....take a pair of wire cutters and try and snip one in half....pure lead will cut easilly....a modern cast bullet will more than likely have an alloy added to the lead to harden it and will be a PITA to cut, which "should " rule out a modern cast .45 ACP or Colt bullet.
 
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Mason Jarr

Mason Jarr

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Looks like ram rod "scars" on the bullets, yet lacks the powdery white patina/oxidation from pure lead bullets used back then....maybe modern cast bullets shot from a muzzle loaded weapon....take a pair of wire cutters and try and snip one in half....pure lead will cut easilly....a modern cast bullet will more than likely have an alloy added to the lead to harden it and will be a PITA to cut, which "should " rule out a modern cast .45 ACP or Colt bullet.
In the west, I rarely dig lead that has the white look like they get in the CW states. I don't really want to destroy one of them, but I'm 90% positive these aren't modern. I've dug a lot of IW relics at this site including 100 3 ringers in one hole. Thanks for your input!
 
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They didn't suffer much damage, maybe shot long range. I think that style/weight bullet has been around a long time. probably home cast 45 cal 230 grain. Lot of cartridge idea's , .45 LC , 45 S&W, 45 ACP. Too big for 44/40 or 44 S&W. I could be way off, interesting to see what you find.
 
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BAW

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I found these five bullets in about a three foot circle. The fort site was used in the late 1860s/early 1870s. My thought is they're pistol bullets, but I suppose they could've been in a .44 Henry rifle round. The average weight is in the 224 grain range, but they varied from 223.6 to 226.2 grains. View attachment 2057872 View attachment 2057873 View attachment 2057874
These bullets look very much like .45 acp bullets cast in a modern Lyman #452374 mold, even down to the single wide grease groove, but the weight and especially the diameter given are wrong for this bullet. They do, however, almost precisely match the weight and diameter of the .44 Colt bullet used in the Richards Conversion Colt revolvers used by the US army from 1871 through 1873. These bullets also had a single grease groove. However - the .44 Colt bullet was heeled - that is to say that the body of the bullet was .441 in diameter and the heel that fits inside of the case was stepped down to .430. Your bullets do not seem to do this. The picture of the base of one bullet seems to show a rough spot made by a sprue cutter, which would indicate that it was cast in a mold, and the marks encircling the bullets near the point could have been made by a nose punch pushing the bullet through a sizing die. Factory and arsenal - produced bullets of the 1870's were usually swaged and would probably not have these marks, but bullets made using modern reloading equipment might.
All the above put together adds up to this - there are several indications that they are .44 Colt bullets and several indications that they are not. I don't suppose that is very helpful, is it?
It might be useful to determine the number of grooves and the direction of the twist engraved on the bullet when it was fired. The Colt conversions that used the .44 Colt cartridge had 7 grooves and a left-hand twist. I have seen original unopened boxes of cartridges made at the Frankfort Arsenal in the early 1870's with labels marked "For Colts & Remington revolver caliber .44". I have never seen a Remington 1858 or 1863 revolver converted to .44 centerfire,but the label implies that they existed. If the bullets in question were fired from one they would show 5 grooves with a right-hand twist.
 
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Mason Jarr

Mason Jarr

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These bullets look very much like .45 acp bullets cast in a modern Lyman #452374 mold, even down to the single wide grease groove, but the weight and especially the diameter given are wrong for this bullet. They do, however, almost precisely match the weight and diameter of the .44 Colt bullet used in the Richards Conversion Colt revolvers used by the US army from 1871 through 1873. These bullets also had a single grease groove. However - the .44 Colt bullet was heeled - that is to say that the body of the bullet was .441 in diameter and the heel that fits inside of the case was stepped down to .430. Your bullets do not seem to do this. The picture of the base of one bullet seems to show a rough spot made by a sprue cutter, which would indicate that it was cast in a mold, and the marks encircling the bullets near the point could have been made by a nose punch pushing the bullet through a sizing die. Factory and arsenal - produced bullets of the 1870's were usually swaged and would probably not have these marks, but bullets made using modern reloading equipment might.
All the above put together adds up to this - there are several indications that they are .44 Colt bullets and several indications that they are not. I don't suppose that is very helpful, is it?
It might be useful to determine the number of grooves and the direction of the twist engraved on the bullet when it was fired. The Colt conversions that used the .44 Colt cartridge had 7 grooves and a left-hand twist. I have seen original unopened boxes of cartridges made at the Frankfort Arsenal in the early 1870's with labels marked "For Colts & Remington revolver caliber .44". I have never seen a Remington 1858 or 1863 revolver converted to .44 centerfire,but the label implies that they existed. If the bullets in question were fired from one they would show 5 grooves with a right-hand twist.
Thanks, BAW. That's indeed a very detailed description even if it doesn't give a definitive answer. After reading your comments. I reexamined the bullets and took another photo. I'm hoping you can see the small chamfer on the base of each bullet. I'm not sure if that's the stepped down lip you described, but as best I could measure with my caliper they are in the .43 range. I also counted the rifling grooves and here's another dilemma....there seems to be 6 rather than 7 or 5, but they are left hand twist. I hope this additional photo might help. The site is pretty remote, but it is on a ranch and people do go there so they could be modern bullets, I suppose. I also included a photo (which I've posted before) of the 100 three ringers I dug there from one hole.
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Mason Jarr

Mason Jarr

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They didn't suffer much damage, maybe shot long range. I think that style/weight bullet has been around a long time. probably home cast 45 cal 230 grain. Lot of cartridge idea's , .45 LC , 45 S&W, 45 ACP. Too big for 44/40 or 44 S&W. I could be way off, interesting to see what you find.
My thoughts as well. This is the "Rocky" Mountains and its rare to find fired bullets that aren't deformed, let alone five of them. I will add that they were in an area by a spring that's naturally wet and has a thick covering of grasses and moss so maybe that cushioned the impact. Thanks for your input!
 
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Tedyoh

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Can you clean the base of one really really well and post a close up pic of the base....
 
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Tedyoh

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Perfect....thanks.....I've cast 1,000's of .44's (the actual diameter is .430, I guess ".43 magnum" doesn't sound as cool as ".44 magnum"), and in my unprofessional opinion I think it's safe to say your bullets have had an alloy added to them and are not pure lead. I've attached pictures of a pure lead ingot and an ingot that has had about 7% antimony added to it, to make the lead harder..notice how much "grainier" the ingot looks on the bottom of the alloy ingot...many reasons for hardening pure lead now a days, the main reason is to cut down on lead fowling in the barrel....pure lead through a barrel after 3 to 5 shots, accuracy degrades tremendously and barrel pressures spike to unsafe levels....not a huge deal back in the mid to late 1800's when black powder was used but todays powders (propellants) burn at a much faster rate resulting in much higher pressures.....when casting bullets with an alloy, (usually antimony and or tin, tin is actually used more to help the lead "flow or fill" the mold more completely but does provide some extra hardness) the alloy is always lighter than the lead which results in the alloy floating to the top, as seen in your bullet base and on the base of my alloy lead ingot , when they are cooling. I powder coat my lead / alloy cast bullets and get zero lead fowling in my rifles. My best guess is your bullets are more modern because of the grainy texture on the base....just a guess though....only way to know for sure is to cut one, which you do not want to do...pure lead you could cut with one hand....alloy added...2 hands would be needed. BTW...awsome find on that pile of minnies...I guess someone's ammo pouch fell
off their horse....banner find in my eyes
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Mason Jarr

Mason Jarr

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Perfect....thanks.....I've cast 1,000's of .44's (the actual diameter is .430, I guess ".43 magnum" doesn't sound as cool as ".44 magnum"), and in my unprofessional opinion I think it's safe to say your bullets have had an alloy added to them and are not pure lead. I've attached pictures of a pure lead ingot and an ingot that has had about 7% antimony added to it, to make the lead harder..notice how much "grainier" the ingot looks on the bottom of the alloy ingot...many reasons for hardening pure lead now a days, the main reason is to cut down on lead fowling in the barrel....pure lead through a barrel after 3 to 5 shots, accuracy degrades tremendously and barrel pressures spike to unsafe levels....not a huge deal back in the mid to late 1800's when black powder was used but todays powders (propellants) burn at a much faster rate resulting in much higher pressures.....when casting bullets with an alloy, (usually antimony and or tin, tin is actually used more to help the lead "flow or fill" the mold more completely but does provide some extra hardness) the alloy is always lighter than the lead which results in the alloy floating to the top, as seen in your bullet base and on the base of my alloy lead ingot , when they are cooling. I powder coat my lead / alloy cast bullets and get zero lead fowling in my rifles. My best guess is your bullets are more modern because of the grainy texture on the base....just a guess though....only way to know for sure is to cut one, which you do not want to do...pure lead you could cut with one hand....alloy added...2 hands would be needed. BTW...awsome find on that pile of minnies...I guess someone's ammo pouch fell
off their horse....banner find in my eyes
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Thanks for your detailed and informative input! I do lots of reloading although I don't cast my own bullets. I have several varieties of bullets for a .45ACP. I've measured each variety and all are slightly over .45 inches in diameter. While I agree that fired bullets might lose some diameter and weight after being fired I don't think the condition of these bullets would make me believe they were .45 caliber. I agree with your assessment that they're likely .44 caliber. I might try cutting one of these later on to see if they're pure lead, but not just yet. You have made a good argument with facts that causes me to think they might not be from the era of the forts use. As I mentioned in another post, it's remote, but an active ranch and people do still go there. I find lots of bullets at most of the sites I visit. I'm getting pretty good at determining what the rifle bullets are, but not do much with the handguns. That said, you've made me feel these are likely more modern and I'll mark it as solved. Thanks, again.
 
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Tedyoh

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If you do happen to cut one and it is pure lead, then I would suppose that the grainy base shown on your bullet is from the "slag" that can and will float to the top of the lead when being melted...when melting lead, ideally you should Flux the lead, either with simple sawdust or bees wax....very possible that if pure lead it wasn't fluxed and the slag wasn't skimmed off the top....another simple test would be to take your fingernail and see it you can indent the bullet base with good pressure, obviously a large dent would indicate pure lead, no dent or very small would indicate an alloy as been added
 
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