17 April 2019
I have #38 and I use it all the time. I want to learn all I can about historical reloading because I like vintage rifles and would like to shoot them as whey were shot when they were new. I scrounged around for weeks trying to find load data, and just the other day I remembered that I have owned Ned Roberts' "the Schuetzen Rifle" since about 1980, and have read it numerous times. This book is still in print. For those of who don't remember or never got interested in the schuetzen rifle, Roberts wrote articles for various shooting magazines in the '20's through the late '40's and many of them dealt with schuetzen rifles and shooting before WW I. A friend of his compiled a number of these articles with some other things he wrote and published this book about 1952. Many of you know far more than I do about this subject, but I suspect that there are others who might like to know more about it.
The American scheutzen rifle was a single shot--Ballards, Stevens, Wincester '85's and a number of brands which haven't been seen in a hundred years. They were some of the first rifles which required home made cast bullets. I believe most buffalo hunting and Creedmore type target shooting was done with swaged bullets the shooters bought from Sharps and Remington. Bullets were tin--lead; about 1-25 to 1-40. They were made in a number of chamberings, but 32-40 and 38-55 were some of the most common, and I believe both of them originally were made by Ballard as target cartridges, and later used by Winchester as the basis for the 30-30.
Schuetzen shooting originally was off hand but then later the rifles were shot off a rest. About 1900 a man named Roland fired 10 consecutive shots into a group which measured about .7"--a record which stood for more than 50 years.
Roberts reported that the schuetzen rifle was loaded with the bullet pushed down the barrel from the muzzle or later, with it was breach seated in the barrel, then a shell filled to the top with black powder was chambered. About 1/16th inch gap separated the neck of the shell from the base of the bullet. Usually the shooter fired the course with only one shell, cleaned, reprimed, and reloaded for each shot.
When smokless powder came on the market some shooters used it instead of black, but others used about 4 or 5 grains against the primer, then the rest of the case filled with black. This duplex load burns much cleaner than black and allows 20 or 30 shots without cleaning black powder residue out of the barrel.
Roberts wrote about 4759 and 4227 and suggested loads for each powder, but all the other powders he mentioned were discontinued before any of us were born. This book is the only source I have found of reloading data from so long ago. I do not know when the first Ideal manual was published, or how one would get a copy of the earliest Ideal data.
Because Roberts' data allowed the whole case to be filled with powder, and probably referred to balloon head cases with larger capacity than modern cases, it will not necessarily perform in fixed ammunition for a lever action or a single shot. For example will one of his duplex loads be safe if we compress the charge in fixed ammo and use it in a trapdoor? The Lyman cast bullet book lists duplex 45-70 loads for Ruger #1and #2 , but not for trapdoors. I have tried Roberts' loads, both smokeless and duplex, in fixed ammunition in modern rifles, but I'll reduce them about 10% in my antiques. If anyone knows of a source of load data that cowboys and hunters used in the early 1900's, please let me know.