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Shooting collector ammunition: 45 Express
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November 14, 2022 - 4:41 am
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tim tomlinson said
  For all that, several of the old cartridges have tiny pin holes all the way through the brass.  At least in the approx 60 years Bernie has had them, they have not been cleaned on the outside, so the perforations are seemingly from the inside (powder side) to the outside.  My assumption is they drew moisture into the powder and then corroded the brass enough to perforate. 

But I wonder what started formation of the pinholes.  Is it possible these were reloaded cases previously fired with mercuric primers, which, when fired, release free mercury which  amalgamates, or binds chemically, with the brass, causing it to become soft.  Cleaning the case after firing couldn’t stop this chemical reaction, though it evidently took some time to weaken the brass seriously enough to make it unsafe.

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November 14, 2022 - 5:14 am
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Well said, Tim. Modern ammunition will outlast our grandchildren if properly assembled and stored. BP ammo is 100 years old, or older, not nearly as stable, and most likely was not stored under optimal conditions. My 100+ year old firearms deserve better. I won’t risk the injury or discomfort of a ruptured case. Most cartridges can be duplicated using modern components. I’ve lost more than facial hair to vintage firearms and ammo. Please understand my skittishness, I have my reasons.

 

Mike

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November 14, 2022 - 5:12 pm
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clarence said

Chuck said

Well, it would show that 100+ year old black powder will or will not go off.  I dumped all of the powder into 1 container so maybe some of it is still good?

  

The weak link in the chain is the primer compound (probably mercury fulminate), which isn’t as stable as BP.  If the primer is still live, & the cartridge undamaged, there’s no reason to think it won’t fire. Potassium chlorate primers replaced fulminate because it was more stable, though corrosive.

  

Clarence, if I were to try to shoot some of this old powder I would shoot it in a new center fire case.  But I do have some Prime All that can be mixed up if I want to make my own priming compound.  The old Henry cartridges don’t go off because the priming compound has flaked off into the powder.  Believe me, when I try to clean the space where the priming compound was I sometimes get some sparks.

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November 14, 2022 - 11:12 pm
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Clarence and others, Yes, it is possible the cartridges were reloaded at some time and exposed to the mercuric priming, but they appear to be factory loads.  Still it is hard to say if loaded back in the day with the appropriate components.  Same could also have happened to the collector ammo being discussed.  Regardless, I DON’T think the risk is worth it.  Eventually some brass or modern loaded ammo will happen.  Buffalo Bore doesn’t currently have either.  I no longer recall the name, but think there was a man in FL who loaded obsolete ammo with modern components.  Enough years ago he might also be gone like so many of our age.  Right now even more common calibers go wanting for components.  I had thought it would have ended before now.  Tim

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November 14, 2022 - 11:45 pm
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tim tomlinson said
Clarence and others, Yes, it is possible the cartridges were reloaded at some time and exposed to the mercuric priming, but they appear to be factory loads.  Still it is hard to say if loaded back in the day with the appropriate components.  Same could also have happened to the collector ammo being discussed.  Regardless, I DON’T think the risk is worth it.  Eventually some brass or modern loaded ammo will happen.  Buffalo Bore doesn’t currently have either.  I no longer recall the name, but think there was a man in FL who loaded obsolete ammo with modern components.  Enough years ago he might also be gone like so many of our age.  Right now even more common calibers go wanting for components.  I had thought it would have ended before now.  Tim

  

I don’t either, Tim, but remember JC asked the question about using original cases ONLY because finding new-made cases for this odd-ball cartridge is apparently impossible.  So his dilemma is take the risk or make a wall-hanger out of this rifle.  

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