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Thread: Shooting the might .58 Roberts!

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Shooting the might .58 Roberts!

    Iím a sucker for the odd and unusual, and this one is indeed that. Itís a #1 Remington rolling block, made in the late 1860s. At that time there was a pile of surplus Civil War muskets available dirt cheap. In the post-war economy, Remington was looking for a way to build rifles at the lowest possible cost. So they acquired a bunch of old model 1861 and 1863 Springfield muskets, cut them up and mated all the parts to their large rolling block actions. This included the barrel, stocks and almost all the small parts.





    Many had their barrels sleeved to .50 cal and chambered in either .50 Govt. or .50 CcarbineÖ.but not all. This one retains its original .58 caliber musket bore. Remington cut the breech end off of these barrels, threaded them to the rolling block action and then chambered them for several different .58 caliber metallic cartridges. After a lot of measuring, research and help of the Remington Society folks, weíve determined that this one is chambered in .58 Roberts. The chamber is a little longer than the .58 Carbine round, but shorter than the .58 Berdan.

    Here is an original .58 Roberts cartridge:



    So this is a new adventure in loading. I have some lathe turned cases from RMC that were made from a chamber cast. But they were too thick to hold a bullet anywhere near groove diameter (.594 - .595"). But I was able to ream them out with a $10 .5938" reamer off Ebay. I sized the cases first with a home made sizer, then reamed and fireformed. This allows up to a .596" bullet to be seated.



    For the last 4 months I've been using a .590" diameter, 490gr minie' and 60gr of Olde Eynsford 2F with moderate success. They shoot well enough, but accuarcy has only been 4" - 5" at 50 yards. Here is a loaded .58 Roberts round with a .56-50 Spencer to its left for comparison, an empty case (before reaming) and a minie' to its right.



    Recently I obatained a few sample bullets from a fellow who had a custom adjustable mold made for his .58 Berdan roller. The mold is adjustable for length, throwing both a 400gr and a 560gr bullet. He sent me 10 of each. Their OD is .596", .006" larger than the minies I had been using and a much better fit to the barrel.



    I was able to load the short bullet with 60gr of Olde E 2F. But with the long bullet I could only get in 47gr. With the slow 1-72 twist, I expect the short bullet will shoot better. But I won't know until I get to the range. But I have high hopes!



    I really like the short version of this bullet and I think it will shoot pretty well. I've looked at Accurate Molds web site and they have several designs that look promising. But if this short bullet works well, I may send him one to copy for a mold. I really think the long bullet is too much for this slow twist and powder capacity, but I'll give them a try.

    If any of you boys shoot a big .58, I'd like to hear your experiences. I know there are a number of folks who shoot Snider conversions of similar bore size. Comments and discussion welcome.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I have one just like that but have never done a chamber cast to see just what it is. My Snider keeps me busy in the .58 arena. I have been using the Lyman 575213 minie in the Snider and get around 10-12" groups at 200 yds with it and 60grns FFG.
    Lead Life...Better living through cast boolits.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    ndnchf:
    That is one fine "vintage revival". Nice case work.
    Regards
    Jack

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    That's pretty good accuracy for such an undersized bullet - nice.

    Apparently Remington chambered them for at least 3 different .58 cartridges: the .58 carbine, .58 Roberts and .58 Berdan, all centerfires. I wouldn't be surprised if they did some in .58 rimfire too. Case lengths vary among sources, but here is what I've found:

    .58 carbine case length - 1.21"
    .58 Roberts case length - 1.37"
    58 Berdan, case length 1.68"

    I'm curious what yours is

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks Jack! I really enjoy the early and odd ones.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by ndnchf View Post
    That's pretty good accuracy for such an undersized bullet - nice.

    Apparently Remington chambered them for at least 3 different .58 cartridges: the .58 carbine, .58 Roberts and .58 Berdan, all centerfires. I wouldn't be surprised if they did some in .58 rimfire too. Case lengths vary among sources, but here is what I've found:

    .58 carbine case length - 1.21"
    .58 Roberts case length - 1.37"
    58 Berdan, case length 1.68"

    I'm curious what yours is
    Thanks for the case info. It is more than I have been able to find out in the past. I knew about the .58 rimfire and the .58 Berdan(Centerfire) but that was all.
    I am happy with the Snider accuracy. I have tried boolits from an original Pritchet mold as well and paper patched the Pritchet and Lyman minie up to .590"-.600" but my best accuracy comes from the Lyman at the as cast size. I even made a Redneck reloading die from a piece of 7/8"-14 all thread. One end neck sizes and the opposite end is like an "M" die. Works pretty well as reloading is not in great volume, I only have 20 cases. The paper patching was nice because the larger bullet fit pretty well in unsized case. I do want to get a collar button type mold and try it one of these days.
    I'll check the chamber length and get back to you.
    Lead Life...Better living through cast boolits.
    -William
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Looks like my caliber may be the same as yours. Without a chamber cast, a cursory measurement with calipers says about 1 3/8". My chamber is different than yours though. Mine has no defined shoulder. It seems to have a throat taper from full chamber size right into the rifling. One day I will cast it.
    I have attached a picture of my roller and the Redneck Snider die for your viewing pleasure.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Lead Life...Better living through cast boolits.
    -William
    My Feedback: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...t=stonecrusher

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    How are you holding onto that case in the lathe?

  9. #9
    Boolit Master




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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiterabbit View Post
    How are you holding onto that case in the lathe?
    Looks like he has the rim in a collet chuck of some sort and holding the sides in a steady rest. Not much to get a hold of otherwise that rim looks pretty thin.

    Bob
    GUNFIRE! The sound of Freedom!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Stonecrusher - that die looks like its just the ticket. My sizing die is not near so sophisticated. Its simply a bronze bushing that just happens to be the right diameter to neck size the case to .636".



    The case does not have a shoulder, but when I push the neck sizer down about 1/2". it may appear that it does. But its a straight taper, I think you can see it in the photo of my chamber.

    My chamber is about 1.400", the measurements I gave earlier were case lengths from original samples and these varied a bit from manufacturers. My RMC cases are about 1.335" long.

    Yes, the case is held in a collet. My small Atlas/Craftsman 12x24 lathe collets are about .850" OD at the holding end. The rim is .750". I had some extra collets, so I opened one up to accept the rim. It is a small surface area to hold onto. I usually put a little powdered rosin on the rim to help grip it tightly. I also align the case month with a dead center in the tailstock, then bring the fingers into light contact. This ensures the cases is centered. I ream at very low speed, to a depth a little over .500".



    The cases are stamped 58 MUSKET and RMC. I bought the rifle last year. The previous owner had the cases made from a chamber cast and RMC marked them as they saw fit. It wasn't until after I had it and started doing research, that I realized it was not .58 musket, but .58 Roberts. Ed Hull, perhaps the most knowledgeable guy around on these .58 rolling blocks is the one who helped pin down the cartridge.

    I'll tell you, its a lot of fun to shoot and always draws attention at the range. This one has an excellent bore and I think with the right bullet, it should shoot quite well. So that is my quest

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check