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GUNS Magazine September 2010 - Page 48
o B So le Te Sh o oTi n G a n Ti qu e, o r ju ST Pl a in o ld G u n S. ohn Barsness once wrote that I have made a career out of J writing about black powder cartridge rifles. He was on the right track but still a bit off base. The truth is, I have made most of my Mike “duke” Venturino Photos: Yvonne Venturino career about shooting and reloading for antique, obsolete or just plain old guns. I certainly have not limited myself to black-powder cartridges or rifles. I began hunting with antique and obsolete rifles and calibers in 1982 and started competing with all types of “old guns” in 1984. Anyway, evidently many of you readers feel the same about “old guns” because they keep paying me for writing about them. Shooting antique, obsolete or just plain old guns is fairly easy nowadays. Indeed it is far easier to do so in 2010 than it was when I started. Here’s the heart of the matter. Primers and propellants are more or less universal, with, of course that proviso the correct types and amounts must be mated to specific cartridges and purposes. What are not universal are brass and bullets. With them, the right dimensions are a must. Thirty years ago the brass and bullets situation was primitive. Most obsolete cases had to be formed from current commercial ones. For example .45-70 cases could be used to make .4065, .38-56, .33 Winchester and even the .40-50 Sharps Bottleneck (SBN). As for bullets, we had to haunt gun shows for discontinued Ideal or Lyman bullet moulds and cast our own. Besides .45-70, about the only thing we had going for us in regards to brass was a company named BELL (Brass Extrusion Laboratory Limited) that made “basic” brass. Those were 3.25" cases in .40, .45 and .50 calibers. Those long, basic cases could be cut, formed and/or reamed into a plethora of old cartridge cases. For instance, a knowledgeable reloader could make a .45 Basic case into .45-110 Sharps, .45-100 Sharps, .45-90 Sharps Duke began his hunting career using antique and obsolete rifles and calibers in 1982 with this bull elk. Rifle was a Shiloh Model 1874 Sharps .50-90. Duke was pleased to be able to fire a genuine German MP44, but was also surprised to find hornady is making factory new 7.92mm kurz ammunition for it. or Winchester, .40-90 SBN, .40-82 Winchester, .40-70 SBN and many others. Those named just happen to be the ones I have personally made from .45 Basic brass. Here’s another example of the lengths to which we old-gun shooters used to go. In 1989, I decided the .4070 Sharps Straight would be ideal for BPCR Silhouette competition. The problem was no one produced .4070SS brass. A little research showed cases could be formed by cutting .405 Winchesters from 2.58" to 2.50". Bertram Brass Ltd. of Australia did make ready-to-load .405 cases then, so I carefully adjusted the file trim die of my .40-70 SBN forming set and then hacksawed and filed smooth more than 600 of those things! No wonder my hands have arthritis now! Now, let’s take a look at the current brass situation. Starline makes readyto-load .50-90s and .50-70s. Their 2.40", .45-90 cases can be sized in a full-length sizing die to make .40-82s or cut and formed to make .40-70 SBN. Bertram now makes properly 48 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2010