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Making an obsolete rimfire cartridge

By Jim

We had a customer come in with a very old gun, and he needed some ammunition for it, if possible. No problem for us here at Coastal Defense. Not only do we repair modern firearms, but we also specialize in antiques. In this particular instance, the antique firearm is an 1859 patent Sharps and Hankins Navy carbine. The caliber is the Number 56 Sharps cartridge, or the .52 Sharps rimfire. This is how I duplicated that ammo.

I started out with some 32 gauge brass shotshells made by MagTec.

The shells were marked to appropriate length with blue Dykem, and cut to that length.

The old centerfire primer hole is fluxed and filled with silver solder. Normally heating a case head anneals and softens it too much to safely use, but the cases hold well against black powder pressures. Considering that the original cases were made from drawn copper, this is not a problem.

The cases are then trimmed to the proper rim thickness and then polished.

It's off to the milling machine now, to drill an offset hole and countersink to seat the new rimfire primer.

The new primer is made by pulling the projectile from a .22 long rifle case and dumping out the powder. The case is then cut down to fit the new rimfire priming hole.

The primer hole was cleaned with the appropriate chucking reamer up after drilling, and the new primer is a press fit.

This is what the interior looks like with the new rimfire primer I place.

The case is charged with black powder and the .52 caliber 350 grain projectile is greased, then seated.

The entire cartridge is ready to be loaded and fired.

This picture shows a loaded cartridge next to an ungreased projectile. Since the Sharps and Hankins is a single shot breech loading carbine, you simply load the cartridge with the primer at the 12 o'clock position and this ensures contact with the firing pin every time.

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