Center Fire Pistol Cartridges
Center Fire Cartridges
Central-fire Cartridges.—This type of cartridge has a brass or copper primer fitted with a skeleton anvil of brass and charged with a small quantity of priming composition containing a sensitive explosive for igniting the powder charge. The primer fits water-tight in a socket in the center of the base of the shell. After being discharged, the primer can be renewed and the shell reloaded.
In all the central-fire cartridges the lubrication of the bullet is inside of the shell, rendering the ammunition much more serviceable and less liable to be damaged.
Mantled bullets designated as " metal pointed " and " full metal patched " can be supplied by the ammunition manufacturers for all the central-fire cartridges at a cost of one dollar per thousand more than the regular lead bullets. The mantled bullets do not deform as readily in handling, shipping, etc., and give slightly increased penetration in soft woods, animal tissue, etc., as compared with the plain lead bullet with the same powder charge.
The .32-caliber S. & W. cartridge is adapted to the Smith & Wesson, Colt, or other pocket revolvers. Occasionally single-shot pistols are chambered for this cartridge. It is fairly accurate at ranges up to 50 yds. A gallery charge is furnished in this shell consisting of 4 grains of black powder and a spherical or " round " bullet weighing 47 grains.
The .32-cal. S. & W. Long is more accurate and powerful than the preceding cartridge. It gives excellent results in both the pistol and revolver. The gallery charge is the same as that of the .32 S. & W.
The -32-caliber Colt New Police is also an accurate cartridge, and was designed specially for the Colt New Police revolver. The flat point adds to its effectiveness.
The -32-.44 S. & W. and the .38-44 S. & W. were special black powder cartridges designed for the S. & W. Russian Model revolver bored for these calibers. The shells were un-crimped and the bullets seated inside of the shells flush with the mouth. A large variety of special bullets of varying weights were designed for these cartridges and much experimentation was done with them. The .38-44 Caliber was originally designed for and largely used by Chevalier Ira A. Paine, the noted pistol shot in his exhibitions.
While these cartridges proved very accurate and were popular when black powder was in general u* they are entirely unsuited for smoke
The .45 Colt Army is the most powerful of all the revolver cartridges. It was formerly the United States army service ammunition. The charge was so heavy, and the recoil so excessive that it was almost impossible to shoot it without flinching. The smokeless powder charge of 5 grains of Bullseye makes it much more practical and very similar to the .44 S. & W. Special cartridge. Both of these are exceedingly powerful and accurate and suitable for military service.
The caliber of the service ammunition for the revolver of the British army is .455. This is a very accurate cartridge, but not as powerful as the corresponding military cartridges used in this country. A special cylindrical bullet with a deep convex hollow point is furnished in the same shell and is known as the "man stopper."
This form of bullet is used in the English .450 and .38 caliber cartridges also.
The .450 Welby is another English cartridge that is accurate, and pleasant to shoot. It is used largely at Bisley in the annual revolver competitions of the National Rifle Association of Great Britain.
In order to avoid excessive fouling with black powders a self-lubricating bullet has been invented and introduced by Smith & Wesson, which can be furnished in all calibers above .32. The bullet has a hollow core open in the rear. Lubricant is filled into the core, after which it is closed with a lead plunger. Four small ducts communicate from the forward end of the core to the exterior of the bullet just ahead of its bearing on the barrel. At the moment of discharge the plunger is driven forward, forcing the lubricant through the ducts into the barrel ahead of the bullet.
This bullet has given excellent results and will be found decidedly advantageous when black powder is used. With it a hundred or more shots may be fired with black powder without causing sufficient fouling to impair the accuracy.
Revolvers are sometimes chambered for the .44-40-200, the .38-40-180, and the .32-20-115 rifle cartridges. These charges in black powder load are not as accurate as the corresponding revolver cartridges in these calibers, but can be relied on to shoot inside a 5-inch circle at 50 yards. These cartridges are desirable for revolvers only when it is an advantage to use the same ammunition in the rifle and revolver, or in certain localities where only a few varieties of ammunition are to be had. The large powder charge makes the recoil of the first two cartridges named rather unpleasant. The .32-20-115 is the most accurate of these cartridges, and gives the best results in the pistol or revolver. All these cartridges having flat-pointed bullets are well adapted for game shooting. None of these rifle cartridges loaded with smokeless powder will give good results in revolvers because the brand of powder generally used in rifle ammunition requires a long barrel to consume the charge. Fired from a short barrel only part of the charge will be consumed and the rest will be expelled unburned, thus reducing the velocity and power of the charge and sometimes increasing the recoil. It is of course entirely practicable to adapt a charge of bullseye or similar smokeless powder to these shells which would make them much more satisfactory. Another disadvantage of using the rifle cartridge in revolvers is the possibility of inexperienced persons using the new high velocity rifle ammunition, which would prove not only most unsatisfactory but extremely dangerous in revolvers. There are no reduced or gallery loads supplied in these shells.
Himmelwright, A.L.A.. Pistol and Revolver Shooting. New York: MacMillan, 1922.
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