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Making obsolete ammunition

By Jim

Sometimes you have an old gun that you want to shoot, but ammo hasn't been available for decades or more. That's not a problem if you know where to start.

I have several reference books to help me figure out where to start.

Using an existing case such as .445 Supermagnum makes things easier. In this situation, we're going to make ammo for the .44 Evans Long.

I cast a number of projectiles from an original bullet mold to match how many rounds I'm going to make.

After cutting the brass to the required length, I next run them through the case trimmer to make the mouths even.

Here you can see the untrimmed case next to one that has been made ready. Next to it is a loaded cartridge. But there's a catch. .44 Evans Long requires a special set of dies that are pretty expensive and difficult to locate. What we're going to do is modify the chamber dimensions of the gun itself so the ammunition can be loaded with standard .44 magnum dies that are readily available. Since rimmed cartridges are headspaced off the rims and not the shoulder of the case or case mouth, this is a pretty straightforward process.

I simply run a chamber reamer in to open up the chamber area for the slightly larger cases. I'm careful not to touch the area where the rim itself rests so I don't change the headspace at all. This way the firing pin can still make contact with the primer in the cartridge.

The original ammunition will still fit and function in the rifle. But it's expensive to shoot and it is also a collector's item. The new ammunition can be made using existing brass cases and existing reloading dies.

You can do this same thing for any obsolete cartridge firearms that you have. Simply make a chamber casting with Cerrosafe and get a reference book to find your starting point.

The original .44 Evans ammo was packaged in cardboard boxes of 25 and 50 rounds each. I have decided that for my purposes, I have my cartridges packed in the smaller 25 round boxes. This adds up to one full loading for the rifle per box. I made my own private labels based on some of the originals. Use your imagination and have fun !

Get out there and shoot these old guns. But make sure you have them checked by a competent gunsmith first and use only the recommended gunpowder originally intended for your old gun. And only if it's in sound mechanical condition. Keep in mind that most antique guns were developed and built before the advent of modern smokeless gunpowder. They are made from material that was not meant for the higher pressures of smokeless gunpowder, so I advise against using the powder in cartridges made for older guns.

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