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Old 02-26-2021, 12:28 AM
IfindFe IfindFe is offline
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Location: Milton-Freewater, Oregon
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Default Question about striations on lead balls.

I used to reload ammo, and cast my own bullets. But I know very little about muzzle loaders or cast ball ammo. I found this group of .38 cal. balls, with the one .55 cal. ball close by. The .38 cal. balls have a somewhat flattened and striated "belt" around the equator. The sprue is always at a pole compared to the belt. I cleaned the ball at bottom of photo for a better look at the striations. The striations do not look like any kind of rifling marks to me. They don't look like mold marks to me. The flattened "belt" doesn't make any sense to me. All of these .38 cal. balls are like this.

These were in a draw near an old cemetery. I'm certain it was a target practice spot. I'm in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Our area didn't begin to be settled until about 1860. I occasionally find old rimfire and internal primer cartridge cases.

Any help out there? I'm really curious about the striated belts.
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Old 02-26-2021, 07:40 AM
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duggap duggap is offline
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What you have may be a variety of shot gun slugs.
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  #3  
Old 02-26-2021, 09:44 AM
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Rock Jock Rock Jock is offline
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I suggest that the ball with the belt that you cleaned up is a .36 cal pistol ball that was cast slightly oversize (as is normal). When you seat the ball in the cylinder with a lever style seating linkage (under the barrel, typical for "cap & ball" revolvers), it creates the "belt", which is still slightly oversize compared to the forcing cone/barrel diameter. The sprue of the ball would typically be centered as best as possible (given reloading conditions) prior to seating. After seating, it was a good idea to put lube (I used Crisco) over the ball to prevent (minimize?) a "cook off" (multiple chambers firing at once) and to soften the black powder residue for cleanup. The striations you see on the belt are the marks from the ridges and lands of the rifling to impart a spin to the ball for sake of accuracy. Hope this helps.

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Last edited by Rock Jock; 02-26-2021 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:51 PM
IfindFe IfindFe is offline
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Well that jogged my memory. 50 years ago, a friend had a Colt Navy revolver. I can picture the loading process. On an internet search I see the cartridge was a paper-wrapped .36 caliber. It also mentions a .38 Short Colt conversion. I'll do a bit more research. I'll also check out the shotgun slug idea, though it seems that there would be too much slop for a .38 cal. slug in a .410 shotgun. But again, I've never been around shotgun slugs.
Hey, thanks for the responses.

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