What is the best flintlock muzzle loader

Paper cartridge - papadum

A. Paper cartridge is one of several types of small arms ammunition prior to the advent of the metal cartridge. These cartridges consisted of a paper cylinder or cone containing the projectile, gunpowder, and in some cases a primer or one


Paper cartridges have been used almost as long as handguns, with a number of sources dating back to their use in the late 14th century. Historians note their use of Christian I by soldiers in 1586, while the Dresden Museum has evidence of their use dating back to 1591, and Capo Bianco writes in 1597 that paper cartridges were long used by Neapolitan soldiers. Their use spread in the 17th century. The first army to officially use paper cartridges is believed to be "piechota wybraniecka" from Poland under the rule of Stephen Báthory.

Cultural impact

Paper cartridges were often made with beeswax

The standard procedure for loading a musket or rifle musket was to bite open the cartridge. This created problems for those with severe dietary restrictions. In 1857, a new sebum-greased cartridge helped start the Indian Rebellion of 1857. It was rumored that the fat used on these cartridges contained tallow made from beef, which would be offensive to Hindus, and pork, which would be offensive to Muslims - and the sepoy soldiers in the British clerk were mostly Hindu or Muslim. Rumors of the use of lard and sebum in lubricating the cartridges used were part of the 1857 rebellion.

Construction and use

The most common uses for paper cartridges were in muzzle loaders in firearms. While these can be loaded with loose powder and balls or balls, a paper cartridge combines a pre-measured amount of powder with the ball in a sealed unit. This eliminated the process of measuring the powder while loading. In the case where multiple projectiles have been used, e.g. B. Buck and ball charges, the cartridge was also used to pack the projectiles so that they did not have to be measured or counted. The paper also served as a plaster in smooth-barreled firearms, which fired bullets that were smaller than the diameter of the bore and wrapped a paper or cloth plaster to make them fit snugly.

The paper used in cartridges varied considerably. The Guide to Making Enfield Paper Cartridges, published in 1859, using three pieces of paper of two different strengths, shows the complexity that could be involved. Some cartridges, e.g. B. for percussion revolver, nitrided paper used. Treated by soaking it in a potassium nitrate solution and then drying it, this made the paper far more flammable and ensured that it burned completely when burned.

Despite the complexity of their construction, paper cartridges were used in the 19th century, from the Napoleonic Wars to the American Civil War, after which they were replaced by modern metal cartridges and the

Paper cartridges varied in construction based on the buyer's specifications or the manufacturer's practices; A cartridge was usually built with a specific weapon, with a specific charge of powder and a bullet or bullet of the correct size. A cartridge made for a .65 caliber musket obviously could not be used in a .50 caliber weapon. However, similar sized weapons can often share cartridges. During the American Civil War, the primary small arms used by each side were the .58-caliber Springfield rifle musket, Springfield Model 1861 (north) and the .577-caliber Enfield rifle musket (south). The two guns were so similar that both sides could easily use ammunition captured by the enemy. The loose fit of mini-bullet ammunition in rifle muskets meant that slightly undersized ammunition could be used in a pinch, although accuracy would be compromised when compared to correctly sized ammunition.

There are a number of features that are not specific to a particular weapon and therefore apply to any paper cartridge. For example, the cartridge must be robust enough to withstand the expected handling. This means that either a sturdy paper must be used or the cartridge must be reinforced for reasons of strength. The importance of paper cartridges is evident in the existence of cartridge paper, a paper specially made for making paper cartridges. In some cases, the cartridges have been made directly from paper pulp and formed into a seamless cylinder of the correct diameter.

For smooth bore muskets

Smooth bore muskets were loaded with lead bullets that were slightly smaller than the diameter of the bore to make it easier for them to ram into the barrel (especially if debris formed); A "piece" of paper or cloth was wrapped around the ball before it was inserted into the barrel so that it would be snug so that it would not roll out again when the muzzle was tipped down. It also helped that the ball didn't bounce around inside the barrel when fired (see wind). A typical flintlock cartridge consisted of a paper tube tied in three places to form two compartments. The first compartment contained the projectile or projectiles, either a single round bullet or a large round bullet plus three rounds with a load of buck and bullet. The second compartment contained the powder cargo. To load the musket the following steps were performed:

  • Holding the musket straight, set it on half a tap and open the lightning pan.
  • Bite open a cartridge, pour a small amount of powder into the pan. and close it
  • Holding the musket vertically, pour the remaining powder into the barrel.
  • Use the ramrod to ram the bullet and remaining paper into the barrel.

The paper, usually thick, sturdy, keeps the undersized ball centered in the hole. As each shot from the black powder leaves more and more dirt in the barrel, each shot is more and more difficult to load. This can be helped by the use of a lubricant that not only serves to make the ball slide over the barrel, but also serves to soften fouling in the bore so that it is pushed freely when loading.

For drum rifles

Diagram of an 1853 Enfield pattern musket cartridge showing the three layers of paper and their combination to form the cartridge.

With the advent of the rifle musket and widespread acceptance of spherical barrels by the armed forces, the spherical projectile eventually died out - although the new elongated bullets were still referred to as bullets in the military (in fact, full metal jacket ammunition is called ball ammunition to this day). While both tapered bullets and bullets were used with rifles, both in cartridge and loose form, for several hundred years, the mid-19th century minié ball contained a number of important innovations that made it possible to use rifle weapons from the Main weapon to take over infantry units instead of being reserved for elite skirmishers and rifle units as before.

Minie balls were made in a smaller diameter than the bore of the weapon in which they were intended to be used, just like a regular musket ball. This made it easy to load even if the gun was dirty, while a rifle ball had to be forcibly pushed into the tight-fitting barrel even with a hammer. When fired, the pressure of the gases would force the edge of the projectile to expand and fit snugly into the rifle grooves, unlike the loose and inaccurate musket ball. This was achieved by installing a deep cavity in the rear area into which a hemispherical iron bowl, later a conical clay or wooden plug, was fitted (initially), which caused the base of the projectile to expand when fired and to seal the skirt against the bore . So an undersized projectile can be used to make loading without a patch easier. (Eventually, the pressure of the powder gases was found to expand the base to fit the bore with no plug or filler.) Another was a number of grooves around the projectile, the leading edges of which were found to be more suitable to scrape out the debris to make the projectile more accurate when filled with a lubricant (traditionally made from beeswax and animal fat). As mentioned earlier, this lubricant also serves to keep the black powder fouling soft, making reloading the dirty barrel much easier.

As the speed of the projectile increased with better and more uniform black powder, loading and firing techniques, it was found that a tight fit lead projectile would leave streaks of lead behind which would add to the pollution of the projectile. The lubrication helped somewhat, but that too had problems picking up sand and other hard debris that damaged the gun's bore. The solution consisted of wrapping paper around the surface of the projectile, with a lubricated cotton ball or waxed cotton disc placed behind the projectile. In the case of a grooved projectile, the lubrication is directly available, so that often no further lubricated cotton wool is required behind the projectile.

In a rifle barrel, the projectile has to attack the rifle in order for it to give the spin that improves accuracy dramatically. The Minié sphere allowed for easy loading of a slightly undersized projectile that would expand to seal. or a loosely fitting round ball would use the cartridge's paper as a cotton ball and sealant. The accuracy increased from 50 to 100 yards for the smooth bore to about 400 to 600 yards with repeatable accuracy for rifle barrels. At the longest range, a gun barrel could reach 2,000 to 2,500 meters. Although lack of accuracy, effective harassment of fire at an enemy at some distance became possible, with units of disciplined riflemen taking turns firing volleys at a common target.

With a solid lead bullet used in a gun barrel, the paper around the bullet must be much thinner than in a smooth bore in order to fill the space between the bullet and the bore and to achieve a gas-tight fit. In order to meet this requirement and at the same time ensure a robust cartridge, the cartridges were made from several parts. The following describes the structure of a cartridge for a British Enfield musket from the inside out:

  • A short tube of stiff paper that provides strength for the cartridge.
  • A longer tube of thin paper, pushed in at one end, which serves to separate the powder from the ball.
  • A long tube of thin paper that holds the ball on one end and the stiffened powder container on the other end.

The ball end of the cartridge was crimped shut and the powder end was filled and folded shut. The ball end of the finished cartridge was then dipped in a mixture of melted beeswax and sebum to lubricate the ball.

To load the rifle, the powder end was unfolded or torn open and the powder was poured into the barrel. The ball end was then inserted up to the level of the thick paper tube, which was then torn off and discarded. The bullet was then set with the ramrod and the nipple primed with a striking cap.

Nitrided cartridges for percussion revolvers

.44 and .35 paper cartridges for Colt percussion revolvers

Typical paper cartridges for revolvers differ from the rugged percussion rifle cartridges in that the cartridge is inserted into the chamber whole and rammed into place. Revolver cartridges were often flammable, and the bullet is typically exposed, with the paper cartridge typically glued with sodium silicate, a high temperature glue that was widely used because it was also used to preserve fresh eggs. Many examples were tapered to a cone that was wider at the sphere than at the stern. Some commercially made cartridges, such as those made by Hayes of England, also had a small cloth release tab on the front to aid in removing the outer protective layer prior to loading the cartridge.

The revolver paper cartridge lasted longer than usual and encompassed a wider range of shapes, as Rollin White had the patent on a revolver bored through cylinders (adopted for a paper cartridge application). This patent was licensed exclusively from Smith & Wesson, which gave them an effective monopoly on the American manufacture of efficient cartridge revolvers until the patent expired. Other manufacturers had to stick with percussion systems or develop proprietary front-loading cartridges.

For bolt loaders

The concept of a completely self-contained paper cartridge Because a bolt loader was patented in 1808, just one year after the invention of the percussion cap. One of the earliest breech-loading firearms in widespread use was the Dreyse needle cannon, patented in 1839 and used by the Prussian army. The needle gun used a unitary cartridge containing the bullet, powder and primer in a paper wrapper. The primer was at the bottom of the projectile and the firing pin or needle penetrated the back of the case, went through the powder and struck the primer to ignite it.

Diagram of a Prussian needle cannon cartridge

The acorn-shaped ball used by the Prussians was carried in a paper mache sabot, which not only served to seal the bore, but also the detonator.

The fragility of the lock needle cannon was a major reason few military officials adopted the system. In the well-trained Prussian army, this was done by having each soldier carry several spare needles. This made it possible for the individual soldiers to repair their weapons on the spot.

Paper shot cartridges

Paper shotshells, consisting of a body of paper with a brass base and rim, continued to be manufactured and used for many years after their general replacement with plastic shotshells. The only areas where these are still used in relatively large numbers are in extremely cold areas, where plastic shells often split when fired at temperatures as low as -40 ° C (-40 ° F) and when using very old shotguns can be fired at very low pressure. Paper shot cartridges consist of a wrapped paper tube placed in a brass base, with the track of the housing made of compressed paper pulp. These cartridges are tough enough to be reloaded many times.


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