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Thread: .577cal Pritchett rifle comes home with me today!

  1. #1
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    .577cal Pritchett rifle comes home with me today!

    Well, we took the plunge this morning and went out - out of the local area that is - for the first time since the first week in June of last year. It was a 75 mile drive to the arms and militaria dealer advertising a very rare Pritchett rifle, named for the man who invented not only the form of rifling he used, but the smooth-sided and paper-patched bullet named after him.

    It was even better than I'd hoped - light to handle like a good shotgun and a lovely 'pointer', it would have been a wonderful skirmishing rifle, or, over in Europe, and in a more sporting scenario, a prize Battue gun. That 535gr bullet would easily put most boar wheels-up.

    The bore, he said, looked 'alright'. To me, it was as near perfect as it was possible to be, given that it was made in 1858, the year that Pritchett, who was by then the Guildmaster of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, moved his premises out of St James, and into more roomy real estate nearby. It has a hook breach to aid post-shooting clean-up, and the tightest and 'clickiest' lock I've ever encountered. I'll try and find out some more about it, bearing in mind that its history is lost beyond any hope of recovery now.

    I fully intend to add it on to my firearms certificate ASAP, as I have been granted another two .577 and a single .451 rifle. Loads, he suggests, are best between 60 and 70gr of Swiss Fg, and if using a Miniť, with the base cavity filled with a plug made from car-body filler. right now, having paid a small fortune for this lovely rifle, I'm too poor to buy a proper Pritchett mould...

    Hopefully, I'll be getting to shoot it soon - as soon as I've filled in the bases of a couple of dozen Miniť bullets, that is.

    Anybody coming over to Barnwell this coming Sunday can see it for real.

  2. #2
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    sounds nice, any pictures?

  3. #3
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    Yup, lots, but I can't post 'em.

    Email me and I'll send you some.

  4. #4
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    tac have you seen those wooden plugs on the auction site , they are tapered and squared ended so might be able to fit in your bullets with enough sticking out to expand
    e@ay number 353367895949
    i got some here somewhere so i try and find them
    email...... stephenbarrow@ntlworld.com
    3 bed static at thornwick bay to let 2016....pm for details

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by loiner1965 View Post
    tac have you seen those wooden plugs on the auction site , they are tapered and squared ended so might be able to fit in your bullets with enough sticking out to expand
    e@ay number 353367895949
    i got some here somewhere so i try and find them
    I'll take a look right now!!!

    Thanks for that!

    Edit - they are not conical to fit the conical indentation - good idea though!! When making them from Isopon or similar you first grease the inside of the hollow base and THEN splodge the gloop in, levelling off with a straight-edged knife. I used to do it with my first Snider back in the mid-80's, and it worked to some degree, but not as well as it did in the Musketoon.

  6. #6
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    got 2 bags here tac they are slightly conical .
    they dont need to go fully in as they need to sit slightly proud so when pushed by blast they expand the sides etc.....was going to use on my .577 but never put on ticket and when it arrived some one smooth bored it lol.......was bought at an online auction.
    email address i will post them down to you
    email...... stephenbarrow@ntlworld.com
    3 bed static at thornwick bay to let 2016....pm for details

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacfoley View Post
    Well, we took the plunge this morning and went out - out of the local area that is - for the first time since the first week in June of last year. It was a 75 mile drive to the arms and militaria dealer advertising a very rare Pritchett rifle, named for the man who invented not only the form of rifling he used, but the smooth-sided and paper-patched bullet named after him.

    It was even better than I'd hoped - light to handle like a good shotgun and a lovely 'pointer', it would have been a wonderful skirmishing rifle, or, over in Europe, and in a more sporting scenario, a prize Battue gun. That 535gr bullet would easily put most boar wheels-up.

    The bore, he said, looked 'alright'. To me, it was as near perfect as it was possible to be, given that it was made in 1858, the year that Pritchett, who was by then the Guildmaster of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, moved his premises out of St James, and into more roomy real estate nearby. It has a hook breach to aid post-shooting clean-up, and the tightest and 'clickiest' lock I've ever encountered. I'll try and find out some more about it, bearing in mind that its history is lost beyond any hope of recovery now.

    I fully intend to add it on to my firearms certificate ASAP, as I have been granted another two .577 and a single .451 rifle. Loads, he suggests, are best between 60 and 70gr of Swiss Fg, and if using a Miniť, with the base cavity filled with a plug made from car-body filler. right now, having paid a small fortune for this lovely rifle, I'm too poor to buy a proper Pritchett mould...

    Hopefully, I'll be getting to shoot it soon - as soon as I've filled in the bases of a couple of dozen Miniť bullets, that is.

    Anybody coming over to Barnwell this coming Sunday can see it for real.
    Hi Tac, the gun sounds nice.

    I am mystified about filling the base cavity. A lad at the gun club used to put sawdust and PVA glue in the base of his minnie bullets. I asked him why and he said they used to out a wooden plug in the base.
    I pointed out that the wooden plug did not fill the cavity, it was there to expand the base of the bullet into the rifling so it gripped it better. He did not grasp what I meant and still fills them with sawdust. If you are going to fill the cavity then you may as well cast a solid base bullet.

    https://i.postimg.cc/7YC5fGQ3/Enfield-bullet.jpg

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacfoley View Post
    Well, we took the plunge this morning and went out - out of the local area that is - for the first time since the first week in June of last year. It was a 75 mile drive to the arms and militaria dealer advertising a very rare Pritchett rifle, named for the man who invented not only the form of rifling he used, but the smooth-sided and paper-patched bullet named after him.

    It was even better than I'd hoped - light to handle like a good shotgun and a lovely 'pointer', it would have been a wonderful skirmishing rifle, or, over in Europe, and in a more sporting scenario, a prize Battue gun. That 535gr bullet would easily put most boar wheels-up.

    The bore, he said, looked 'alright'. To me, it was as near perfect as it was possible to be, given that it was made in 1858, the year that Pritchett, who was by then the Guildmaster of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, moved his premises out of St James, and into more roomy real estate nearby. It has a hook breach to aid post-shooting clean-up, and the tightest and 'clickiest' lock I've ever encountered. I'll try and find out some more about it, bearing in mind that its history is lost beyond any hope of recovery now.

    I fully intend to add it on to my firearms certificate ASAP, as I have been granted another two .577 and a single .451 rifle. Loads, he suggests, are best between 60 and 70gr of Swiss Fg, and if using a Miniť, with the base cavity filled with a plug made from car-body filler. right now, having paid a small fortune for this lovely rifle, I'm too poor to buy a proper Pritchett mould...

    Hopefully, I'll be getting to shoot it soon - as soon as I've filled in the bases of a couple of dozen Miniť bullets, that is.

    Anybody coming over to Barnwell this coming Sunday can see it for real.
    Hi Tac, the gun sounds nice.

    I am mystified about filling the base cavity. A lad at the gun club used to put sawdust and PVA glue in the base of his minnie bullets. I asked him why and he said they used to out a wooden plug in the base.
    I pointed out that the wooden plug did not fill the cavity, it was there to expand the base of the bullet into the rifling so it gripped it better. He did not grasp what I meant and still fills them with sawdust. If you are going to fill the cavity then you may as well cast a solid base bullet.

    https://i.postimg.cc/VvfHKP2w/Enfield-bullet.jpg

    I have a pdf file that I will e-mail to you that might help. Forgive me if you already know this.
    Last edited by enfield2band; 02-04-2021 at 12:42 PM.

  9. #9
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    message sent

  10. #10
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    Sounds nice. Does it have the Enfield style lock? I'm intrigued by the 'Hook breech' not usually seen with these locks.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mel h View Post
    Sounds nice. Does it have the Enfield style lock? I'm intrigued by the 'Hook breech' not usually seen with these locks.
    Mel and Enfieldlock - to whom many thanks for the VERY informative email.

    Yes, it does have a lock in no way different in appearance to the RSAF lock, except that it has a fly, being intended for the use of gentlemen shooters of the Volunteers and their precision shooting at targets, rather than the mass of common infantry oiks, who, in general, shoot at a mass of other infantry oiks.

    The original Pritchett bullet came in two diameters - .550 and .575. As the bullets were smooth-sided, unlike the Miniť that has cannelures, it was paper-patched to suit the bore, and loaded via a purpose-made cartridge of great complexity. To aid its expansion into the bore, Pritchett and pal Metford -hence the name Metford-Pritchett that you will oftbetimes encounter when reading about this style of bullet] it has a slightly dished bas - nothing like the conical cavity of the Miniť, but enough to upset the bullet into the shallow rifling that was the trademark of both Metford, and Pritchett, who designed his own three-groove rifling.

    The British Army of the day adopted both the Pritchett bullet AND the Miniť bullet, and both were taken to the Crimea, where they cause utter carnage among the musket-shooting Russians, especially at the Battle of Inkerman, where the 54th Highland regiment held off 15000 Russians, causing the slaughter that was noted as looking like the 'passage of the Avenging angel' [of death]. Over 5000 Russians died, and many more again were wounded, perhaps as many as 7000 - the bullet would often pass through two or three at a time, and that has just GOT to sting. It's also the title of Brett Gibbon's excellent book, BTW.

    The Miniť bullet, which is about 1/5th to do with Captain C-E Miniť, had a long pre-adoption history both in France and at the School of Musketry at Hythe with a variety of material being used for plugging the conical cavity in the base. It's hard to believe now, but the actual WEIGHT of the Miniť bullet was 535gr, and to make it solid in the base would have made it heavier. That cost more... Anyhow, both the hollow base bullets initially were tried with iron cups - which had a habit of flying out as the bullet left the muzzle - and in any direction. Brett makes HIS cups out of brass, BTW. Being poor, I'll be using Isopon in a correctly fitting Miniť bullet - sadly, not a single one of my four Miniť moulds throws a large enough bullet - the muzzle bore measures .575"...

    So wooden plugs were tried, as were fired-clay and there was little difference between the two. To get more detail you'd have to read Brett Gibbon's other book - 'The English cartridge', which uses well over a hundred pages in explanation.

    However, your pal and his sawdust concoction might as well fill the base with Marmite, or the jam of his choice - neither will work any better that his present notion, which is, quite frankly, a waste of good sawdust.

    As far history goes, any smooth-sided bullet of the genre tends to be called a Pritchett bullet, particularly by the Americans who used it and the Miniť in their imported Enfield rifles - both sides, in fact. The Americans loved them both in equal measure, and were quick to take up the manufacturing of their own 'English cartridges'. In the North, they were made by machines, as were the 'pressed' - not cast - bullets of astounding similarity, one with another. In the south they were made by wimmin, girls and boys, and cast.

    The end-results of that culminated at Appomatox Court House.
    Last edited by tacfoley; 03-04-2021 at 03:35 PM.

  12. #12
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    Now to the hook or hooked breech/breach. This image shows it better than I can explain with my rather inadequate grasp of English -

    https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categ...1/PLUG-FH-18-3

    Basically, it is a means of quickly removing the barrel from the rest of the gun to enable thorough cleaning to be undertaken without endangering the lock or the woodwork. Often encountered on what the Americans call the 'plains rifle' - a usually heavy-barrelled and somewhat shorter than the usual long rifle that was handier to carry around on a horse - famed makers include the Hawken Bros of St Louis, but there were many others. The barrel is held in the stock by means of tenons and pins, either or both mixed. Simply drive them out, and carefully lift the barrel out of engagement.

    Put it back in reverse, remembering to put the tenon pins or pins back the same way round - they are tapered to fit one way only.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the quick reply, the reason I asked about the hook breech is that I have a Volunteer two band .455 Snider Enfield ( the jury's out on the question of whether it was converted, or made as a breech loader ) It has quite a few irregularities, including a hook breech, so I'm always interested when I hear of another example.

    UPDATE.

    After reading a couple of replies I re read this post and realise that I made a bit of a typo Where I typed .455 it should have been .577 I'll put it down to an age thing.
    Last edited by mel h; 03-04-2021 at 08:15 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mel h View Post
    Sounds nice. Does it have the Enfield style lock? I'm intrigued by the 'Hook breech' not usually seen with these locks.
    The .41 A.Maloch rifle, made in Stirling, Scotland that we have discussed previously, has a hook breech.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mel h View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply, the reason I asked about the hook breech is that I have a Volunteer two band .455 Snider Enfield ( the jury's out on the question of whether it was converted, or made as a breech loader ) It has quite a few irregularities, including a hook breech, so I'm always interested when I hear of another example.
    As you know, the service Snider was only found in .577 Snider, and used either a conversion from the P53 Enfield service rifle, or, later on, were made as a Snider from the get-go.

    I've never heard of a small-bore Snider, and certainly not a Snider with a hooked breech. No Enfields ever had a hooked breech.

    So basically, you are saying that you have an Enfield converted to a small-bore Snider? Remember that using the word 'Enfield' you are saying that it was converted from an Enfield, and the only Enfields were .577cal.

    Puzzling, to say the least.

    So what cartridge does it shoot?

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