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Thread: SUCCESS sleeve/fireforming 45-70 to 43 Dutch Beaumont-45-70 dies,no trimming

  1. #1

    SUCCESS sleeve/fireforming 45-70 to 43 Dutch Beaumont-45-70 dies,no trimming

    I've had a Dutch Beaumont collection for quite a few years. I only have 5 rounds of 43 Beaumont ammo, reformed from 50-90 brass- and only fired 4 rounds of it in the past. Also fired 50 rounds of 45 Colt pistol ammo through the Beaumont rifle using a cartridge insert a bugle restorer made and gave to me. This required putting a 45 Colt round in the adapter, chambering it, firing it, then ejecting brass w/adapter as one piece. Then punching the empty brass out on the bench with a drift/hammer. Then reloading, and doing it all over again. Laborious to say the least...

    I recently stumbled across an old net thread where 2 guys claimed they used a brass sleeve collar against the rim at base, to fireform 45-70 to .43 Beaumont. They claimed to use 3/8" and 1/2" sleeves, 1/2" i.d., with .014" wall. This has been put in print before in previous Cartridge Conversion manuals of the 1960's and 70's by 2 different authors.

    So I made a trip to my local gun shop, picked up 20 used 45-70 brass for $5, and 45-70 used dies for $25. Also a new can of Trail Boss powder for $19. Loaded up the ammo using 265 grain cast lead pistol bullets, and 16 grains of Trail Boss.

    The following tests were all done with a Beaumont rifle strapped to a bench at my range, using a long 30 foot length of rope with a string on the trigger end to fire the gun.

    I decided to do a number of different methods to try to fireform the cases. Being they recommended cutting the brass to 3/8" sections, I came up with another easier idea. I bought 1/2" i.d. brass compression fitting ferrules for 36 cents each, and turned the o.d. of each ferrule down so it just fit the chamber of the gun. The ferrules slipped right on the loaded 45-70 shells snugly by hand. I installed these on (3) loaded cases, and fired them. 2 of the cases split just ahead of the sleeve, it was old W-W brittle brass, I did not anneal it. But one case of R-P brass fireformed perfectly. This was newer brass and better metallurgy. ah-HA...

    Looking at where the W-W brass split, I decided next to buy two 12" sections of 1/2" i.d. brass tube from Grainger, for $5 each- and cut longer sections to completely cover and reinforce the entire sidewall on 2 loaded shells for the next test. The brass tubing has a .532" o.d. The Beaumont fireformed brass I had, was 1-3/8" sidewall length from rim to where it begins to neck in. So I cut 2 pieces that were 1-3/8" long, and simply slipped those onto two of the loaded 45-70 cases.

    I then built up the middle of the case slightly with a strip of masking tape, so it was equal to other fireformed cases I already had. The sleeves had a .532" o.d. but the fireformed cases had a .577" o.d. in the center. So I built it up with tape there to hold the shell perfectly centered while fire forming in the chamber.

    This experiment paid off, as the 2 cases with the long 1-3/8" sleeves fireformed PERFECTLY. I am now able to fireform 45-70 to 43 Beaumont with the simple addition of a low cost brass sleeve, that slips on by hand. This cuts the cost of loaded ammunition for the Beaumont about half or less.

    I tried a few more experiments- having 6 old rounds of .43 Spanish laying around, I pulled the bullets, dumped the powder, and reloaded it with 16 grains Trail Boss, the bullets were around 300 grain. These shells I built up with only tape, on the base and middle, to fit the chamber. The primers were dinged from previous firing attempts, defective, and were Berdan. I punched them out from the inside, redrilled the pockets for #209 shotgun primers, and used sealer on the primer pockets. Drove the primers home using a piece of copper pipe that fit the Spanish shells perfectly, and came down over the shell and engaged the rims. Resting them on the wooden workbench, I tapped the primers home- then reloaded the shells. All 6 of these shells ignited and fired, and didn't leak from the primer pockets. But all 6 did split the cases. Old brittle brass, even though I had annealed these before loading them up. They had originally been loaded with black powder.

    Next experiment was, taking 2 rounds of old 8mm Lebel ammo, and building that case up with tape to fit the chamber. The rim size is nearly spot on. Pulled the bullets, dumped the powder, and reloaded with Trail Boss. Put the original bullets back in place. My intent was fireform the cases in the Beaumont, let the bullets rattle down the bore, and see if it would yield a useable fireformed case. Unfortunately the Berdan primers in the Lebel were no good, so these 2 cases failed to ignite.

    Next experiment, purchased a 1-3/8" long, 1/2" i.d. COPPER straight pipe adapter for 69 cents from the hardware store. Pressed that on a loaded 45-70. Had to turn down the o.d. of the copper sleeve a bit to make it fit the chamber, but it fit snug on the shell just like the brass tubes did. This case failed to fire because it had a smaller rim and sunk into the chamber further, escaping the full hit of the firing pin. Upon ejecting the copper sleeve stayed in the chamber. I had to extract the copper sleeve manually with a small dremel sanding drum expanded inside the sleeve, to pull it out. Maybe it's a good thing that one didn't go off, cuz that copper sleeve may have jammed permanently in the chamber.

    When it was all done, tests proved that a factory 45-70 case CAN be fireformed to 43 Beaumont, using the LONG 1-3/8" brass sleeve. The resulting brass is nearly perfect.
    The short 3/8" compression ferrule will also work, but only if the brass is high quality, and annealed to the proper metallurgy, in this case R-P brass.

    The caveat is this- the 45-70 has a smaller rim, and the extractor recess in the side of the bolt head must be carefully and ever so slightly deepened with a small dremel disc, so the extractor travels further inwards towards centerline of the bolt- this way it grabs the smaller 45-70 rim, and pushes the other side of the case against the ejector block, to hold it while extracting/ejecting the spent case.

    Another more subtle trick, is do not push the brass sleeve all the way down against the rim. Push it down just far enough to leave a small groove all around for the extractor to grab in to. There's already a small groove in the 45-70 case, don't cover it up.

    Cost analysis- buying one length of 12" tubing costs $5, and will yield enough tubing to sleeve (9) shells. This adds $10 to a box of 45-70 Cowboy Action low pressure, low velocity ammo- one should be all in, ammo w/sleeves, for around $40 a box of 20. That's about half the cost of 43 Beaumont ammo built on 50-90 cases. The cost of Beaumont dies for $200/set, empty brass for $40/box, and loaded ammo for $85/box, is highway robbery IMHO. There simply has to be a better way. Pictures to follow.

  2. #2
    here are the shells I took to the range. all were loaded with Trail Boss except as noted.

    6 rounds 43 Spanish, converted to #209 shotgun primer, case body built up with tape. (spacers would not fit over cases). All 6 fired but split the cases. This brass was old and just too brittle to fireform, even though I annealed it.

    2 rounds 8mm Lebel, built up with tape, which I later loaded with Trail Boss and the original bullets-these 2 failed to fire due to defective Berdan primers. One was annealed (the one w/black marker on it), one not- but I never got to find out if they would fireform.

    3 rounds of 45-70 I reloaded using 45-70 dies and brass, 16 grains of Trail Boss, 265 grain pistol bullets. The 2 rounds with the brass sleeves fireformed perfectly. The copper sleeved round failed to fire, and the sleeve had to be extracted from the chamber.

    2 rounds of 43 Egyptian shotshell loads with factory crimping. I didn't mention these in the first post. I would have used the cases to yield fireformed 43 Beaumont, but these also failed to fire due to old defective primers.

    1 round of 45-70 that got deformed when reloading. The 1/2" sleeves would not slide over it, so I just fired it with tape to hold in centered. This shell also split.
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  3. #3
    here's the payoff for all this experimentation.
    2 perfectly fireformed cases using the 1-3/8" brass sleeves. the sleeves now stay in place for the life of the case, effectively becoming part of the case after being fireformed. the case then has double wall thickness in this area.
    this is a LOT easier and cheaper than starting with 50-90 Starline brass and reforming, trimming, fireforming, etc.

    I probably could have gotten away without the tape, but wanted the case perfectly centered so it would fireform good. it paid off. I removed the tape, and where the tape was, is slightly smaller o.d. it will fully fireform next time with no tape, to full chamber dimensions. one of these is W-W brass, the same brand that split when using the small 3/8" length ferrules. a long sleeve is necessary for the sleeve method to work effectively, unless the metallurgy and annealing is perfect.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 10:43 PM.

  4. #4
    tape removed from the 2 fireformed cases in previous post. one is a W-W, the other is a FC (Federal Cartridge). The long sleeve method works on the old brittle W-W brass.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 08:38 PM.

  5. #5
    the 43 Spanish rounds, after converting to #209 primer, and firing. too bad these split. modern Spanish brass w/good metallurgy would have probably worked, because it's softer and factory annealed.

    FWIW I converted these by hand, with a hand drill, and one drill bit from my drill index that most closely matched the primer size, but slightly smaller, so it was a press fit. Some guys tend to over-think this stuff. You don't need a drill press, lathe, threaded inserts, and million dollar machine shop to convert primer sizes. Just drill a hole in it slightly smaller than the #209 primer, find a safe method to press the primer in, and use some sealer on the primer pocket. these are not high pressure loads. look at a shotgun shell primer pocket. it's low tech. I held the shell with a rubber glove on my left hand, and drilled it out holding the drill in my right hand, horizontally, while sitting at my dining room table. it takes about 10-20 seconds to drill each primer pocket out, and about 10 seconds to drive the new primer home. I could have also drilled a second chamfer around the primer hole, to seat the primer skirt- but was pretty sure this brass was toast anyway due to age. (1880's production blackpowder rounds) That hunch proved correct.

    splits like these are not a problem with a tied down Beaumont, being fired from a distance safely with a long rope/string. the Beaumont has an excellent gas venting system, if you look at it, there are 2 vertical gas ports drilled into the rear of the chamber in the rim area, at diagonal angles to relieve gas pressure from split cases or head separations. the rifle simply shrugs it off with a vertical puff of smoke.

    NOTE: new modern 43 Spanish brass, full length resized using 45-70 dies, then sleeved per the 2 successful fireformed shells in previous post, would work.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 08:53 PM.

  6. #6
    the short ferrule sleeve method. this is an R-P 45-70 case, with a common 1/2" compression fitting ferrule slid down over the base, then fireformed in a Dutch Beaumont rifle.
    I forgot to get a pic of the empty fireformed case after firing- in this pic I had already reloaded it again.
    the R-P brass being better metallurgy, fireformed the case successfully, the brass is more workable- but not as smoothly as the long sleeves did.
    2 other cases (not R-P made) split using this method, due to being brittle cases with inferior metallurgy.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 08:35 PM.

  7. #7
    a successfully fireformed short sleeve ferrule case, reloaded again- next to a short sleeve case that split while fireforming. The R-P case fireformed nicely, due to its superior metallurgy and more modern material. The W-W brand case is older, brittle, and split.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 08:37 PM.

  8. #8
    when in doubt, test it out. about 10 years ago, the scuttlebutt on the net was that Bannerman-modified Mosin Nagant 30-06 rifles were dangerous. lots of armchair riflemen screaming to run and beware. I bought 2 of them for $150 each (Remington made), tied one to the bench, and ran a box of 20 rounds, full power WWII milsurp FMJ factory loads through it, using the string trigger. Had the camera on a tripod taking video of loading, firing, extraction- and holding brass to the camera. then still pics of brass. not a single split case. no gas blowback. later I measured the brass, there was a moderate swell at the case head base sidewall. it was around .005" to .008" if memory serves. what I learned was, new factory loaded ammo is no problem in a Bannerman Mosin 30-06. but I wouldn't reload for one. repeated swelling/working of the brass in that area may eventually cause a split.

    my point being, don't believe the armchair rifleman i.e. anal gun collectors. they clean/dust/display more guns like furniture, and pass on old wives tales they've read or heard. they don't actually shoot all their guns, take measurements, and compare results ? a scientific comparison on the range bench with the trigger string, is the final arbiter.

    FWIW, there are a few very well respected publications stating the sleeves needed for the above cartridge conversions, need only be 3/8" to 1/2" in length, "just long enough to center the cartridge in the chamber". I found that not to be true. a perfectly centered cartridge, with a short sleeve, and brittle metallurgy, will split when fireformed. the sidewall has no support and can't give that far without breaking. the only insurance is a lengthy sleeve covering and supporting the entire sidewall of the case, so it can't split. then annealing/metallurgy is not as critical- because you don't know the hardness of the brass you are using, unless you do a hardness test yourself- requiring a hardness testing rig. better off using the long sleeve and having a successfully fireformed case, rather than losing half the cases to splitting due to a short sleeve and brittle cases.
    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-27-2017 at 08:29 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

    skeettx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amarillo, Texas
    On my two Beaumonts, I use 348 brass that I have hoarded over the years
    NRA Benefactor 2004 USAF RET 1971-95

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by skeettx View Post
    On my two Beaumonts, I use 348 brass that I have hoarded over the years
    that thought had passed my mind...and it will work too...easier in regards to the base just above the rim is wider on the 348. did you buy 43 Beaumont dies, or resize the mouth with some other dies ? stages, or all in one shot ?
    I have a ton of 348 brass...just can't bring myself to resize it for a $100 Beaumont rifle.
    it's for my Winchester Model 71. Had the brass in my hand thinking about it...then decided against it. I like most any kind of gun, cheap and expensive, and all in between. Truth be told cheap guns are usually way more fun to tinker with and shoot- there's no risk ! but taking brass from my M71 to use in a Beaumont, would sorta be like taking spark plugs and wires off my '70 GTO, to put on a Yugo or VW bug.
    I wanted to resize/fireform a case that was already 45 caliber and used the same bullet.
    IMHO that's half the battle.
    the 45-70 starts off longer than the 43 Beaumont, then shortens itself upon firing to exactly the right length with no trimming- and no case mouth resizing with dies.
    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-28-2017 at 06:08 AM.

  11. #11
    correction- the 43 Egyptian shot rounds, are not Berdan primed
    they are Remington-UMC boxer primed. I should have known that from the headstamp.
    cut the crimps off them with pipe cutter, pulled shot and powder.
    they had square shaped shot- pretty sure it was called a riot cartridge or crowd control shell
    leave it to the Egyptians to think up something like this- imagine getting shot with this ? brutal !! I wonder what they would use if they really wanted to hurt somebody, rather than just "control" them ?
    both loaded with blackpowder large flake
    gained 2 more useable 43 Beaumont cases, primers knocked out easy with an icepick
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-28-2017 at 10:06 AM.

  12. #12
    dug through my old cartridges, found 3 more 11mm-something shells with wide rims, tried to sell these back when for $2 each and no takers, late 1800's vintage BP factory loads. would not chamber in Beaumont rifle, OAL was slightly too long. bullets were hitting rifling, and were really crimped in tight, could not remove them. ok time to get mad dog mean, cartridge case debauchery beyond the pale-

    carefully cut off the cartridges to 45-70 case length, with pipe cutter & hacksaw.

    this left a small piece of lead in each cartridge. now they chamber, extract, eject like a mutha- correct case length for starters. I'm expecting them to shorten up when the case fully expands like the others. 45-70 case length seems like the sweet spot to start for this, it worked before...

    we'll see what happens if primers are good and they touch off. will leave these for last, and check bore after each shot- maybe add 50 more feet to that trigger string... (laughter...) just kidding- they should be ok, blackpowder loads.

    50-90 based Beaumont cartridge for comparison in pics
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Southern Arizona
    Very nice writeup, Capt. Crossman. Many of George Nonte's case modifying techniques are generally considered a little too recherché in this era of litigatory lunacy, but as you demonstrate, they do work.

    And, of course, risks are to be (intelligently) managed, rather than run away from, shrieking.

    Well done!

    So, how does it shoot?

  14. #14
    haven't given up on the 8mm Lebel cases yet either.
    removed Berdan primer, going to drill it straight through and convert to #209 shotgun primer, drill the skirt seat recess chamfer as well, load 'er up with Trail Boss and original 8mm bullet, see if it fire forms in the Beaumont. this case was annealed in a pan of water with a propane torch, then knocked over to quench it.

    we'll see if it yields a useable Beaumont fire formed case- soon....stay tuned
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bent Ramrod View Post
    Very nice writeup, Capt. Crossman. Many of George Nonte's case modifying techniques are generally considered a little too recherché in this era of litigatory lunacy, but as you demonstrate, they do work.

    And, of course, risks are to be (intelligently) managed, rather than run away from, shrieking.

    Well done!

    So, how does it shoot?

    well thank you sir...there is a method to the madness. there's literally truckloads of these Beaumonts around. they are affordable, fun to shoot, but ammo/dies/brass it nutsy kookoo priced. for the price of Beaumont dies and Starline brass, you can practically have a gunsmith plug and rechamber it to 45-70 and be done. $250 for brass/dies for a $100 gun sort of takes the fun out of it. there's got to be a better way.

    and at least, it's cleaning out my top dresser drawer of all those cartridges and brass, rolling around in there under my socks....they'll either yield useable Beaumont brass, or be destroyed in the process...

    it shot fine, when I shouldered it. This fireforming process has been string fired so far, but the next lot of long sleeved cases I will shoulder fire. I had 5 rounds of bona fide 50-90 Starline loaded with Beaumont dies, that a previous guy gave me- the rifle is accurate.
    and fired 50+ rounds of 45 Colt through it with cartridge converter insert. that shot really good too, the rifling in these is usually always excellent for their age. they were not heavily used by the Dutch, ever.

    here are pics of the 45 Colt cartridge converter, the entire thing ejects every time a round is fired, the empty must then be driven out with a small hammer and reloaded, then rechambered again.
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    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-28-2017 at 12:41 PM.

  16. #16
    you mentioned how attitudes have changed about stuff like this, so true.
    back in the 1960-70's when I was a kid, my Dad and uncles, never bought a factory shell...and hadn't done so for like 30 years.
    they grew up in the depression and reloaded everything.
    my Dad told me this story, when he was 14, he and his friend decided to go deer hunting. they borrowed a 40 year old model 94 Winchester, in 32 Special from a guy who was so old, he couldn't hunt anymore. then they went halves on a box of ammo, each kid got 10 rounds. I guess $5 was a lot for ammo inthose days, or whatever it was...
    my Dad would hunt one day, his friend the next, using the same gun and their share of ammo.
    a family member told my Dad this- now remember, if one of you get a deer, you have to give some of the meat to the old guy who lent you the Winchester, too...
    how things have changed....(chuckle...)

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    That's a lot of work! I buy 43 Beaumont cases made from reformed CBC 24 ga boxer shotgun brass, 25 in a box for less than $50. Cases work great, all I have to do is just neck size after shooting with a 45 colt die. Cases are holding up after several cycles. No pressure problems with blackpowder loads. Rifle is very accurate. Cases use large pistol primers, and I shoot a RNFB 458 bullet lubed with SPG over a card wad, with a foam backer rod filler over the powder.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master Artful's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Valley of the SUNs, AZ
    Well done CaptainCrossman! And what a feeling of accomplishment you must have now.
    je suis charlie

    It is better to live one day as a LION than a dozen days as a Sheep.

    Thomas Jefferson Quotations:
    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

    skeettx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amarillo, Texas
    I expand to accept a .358 bullet and then fireform with black powder
    Then wash and rinse and clean
    and then load for regular using an assortment of dies
    Beaumont's are more than $100 these days
    NRA Benefactor 2004 USAF RET 1971-95

  20. #20
    last price I checked was $80 for loaded ammo, was it Buffalo Arms ??

    Gad's custom cartridges has Egyptian which will fireform and is almost the same cartridge, don't know what brass he's using. $60/box black powder
    Last edited by CaptainCrossman; 05-28-2017 at 04:31 PM.

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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