The proper lubrication of bullets is very important. If a rifle barrel becomes leaded inside, it is useless as far as accuracy goes; yet many shooters are very thoughtless about the lubrication of the bullets when preparing their ammunition; anything is good enough, and this is the cause of much trouble.
A barrel to do good work must be kept free from lead. All the grooves of a bullet should be packed full of a good fresh lubricant before being seated in the shells or in the breech of the barrel. Scantily lubricated or dry bullets will certainly lead the barrel. There are many recipes for lubrication; almost every shooter has one of his own. The following mixtures will, however, be found good: Beeswax and common cylinder oil, three parts wax to two of oil. Also beef tallow with enough vaseline to soften it as desired, or pure vaseline with enough paraffin to harden it as required. Japan wax with sperm' oil enough to soften it is also excellent. Never use fats or oils that have been salted or that have acids mixed with them, for they will rust or pit the barrel. In cold weather, the mixture should be softer than in warm, but never so hard as to crack and drop off while loading. Cartridges when loaded should be kept in a cool, dry place, never in the sun or in a hot place, for, if the lubricant melts it may get to the powder, and if so it will certainly destroy it. Verdigris or green corrosion near the mouth of shell indicates that ammunition is not fresh. Bullets that have been lubricated a long time are not as good as those freshly done, for the mixture may become hardened and lose some of its lubricating qualities. If in this condition, it will be best to remove the old lubrication by placing the bullets in hot water, which will soon melt it off, and then you can do them over freshly. Ammunition that has been made a long time, shipped about the country and stored in hot places, is frequently found to be worthless, simply on account of the lubrication melting and getting to the powder. Newly made ammunition is best, whether purchased or made by yourself. If the latter, you certainly know what powder is in it and how old it is. To lubricate your bullets, dip them into the melted lubricant, covering all of the grooves, and set them on a board to cool. When cool, remove the surplus grease by forcing the bullets up through a tube a trifle above the size of the bullets. Originally, all metallic ammunition was lubricated on the outside. All bullets were seated in the shell on the powder, or up to a shoulder, without lubrication, and that part of the bullet that projected beyond the muzzle of the shell was dipped into hot lubrication, and, when cold, packed into boxes ready for use. Such was the only ammunition made for years. It, of course, is very much more uncleanly than the later production, which have bullets with grooves filled with lubrication, and the bullets seated in the shell deep enough to cover the grooves and lubrication, preventing the adherence of dirt and grit.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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