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Making .55 caliber shotgun shells

By Jim

This is the process of making obsolete shotgun shells for a Frank Wesson two trigger single shot shotgun type 2. It's unusual in the fact the it's a rimfire cartridge and no other guns were ever made for this cartridge. The Frank Wesson collectors book shows serial number 7. This particular gun is serial number 12. The highest recorded serial number for shotguns made by Frank Wesson is serial number 67.

I started off with some 32 gauge shotshells from MagTech. Then I stuffed them into the breech and marked the depth to begin the cutting.

I turned the body down about ten thousandths from the mark to the rim. And turned the rim itself down to approximately .600".

I then check to ensure each cartridge will fit and extract from the chamber of the gun.

After trimming the cases, I then convert them to rimfire much the same way as I did making the Sharps and Hankins rifle cartridges, using cut down .22 long cartridges as the primer.

Then I loaded each case with 25 grains of 3ffg black powder and approximately 1/2 ounce of number 8 shot. Along with the appropriate cardboard wads.

The original cartridges were made from drawn copper. But the new brass cases I make are reloadable and reusable. Very little information is available on this particular cartridge except in the collector's book.

I based my idea for making these cartridges on the fact that this particular gun is rimfire only and it would hurt the collectors value to modify the gun in any way. Also based on the rimfire percussion cartridges that were available from the manufacturer at one time, but are extremely rare themselves.

The gun that I'm making the cartridges for in my shop. Frank Wesson breech loaders were made from about 1859 until 1888. Some of the rifles were used by the Union Army during the Civil War. This smoothbore shotgun was probably produced post war for hunting varmints around farmsteads.

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