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Thread: The Gas Check - 100 years old in 2006

  1. #1
    Boolit Master w30wcf's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Erie, PA

    The Gas Check - 100 years old in 2006

    Ideal Handbook No. 17, published in 1906, shows a new cast bullet innovation ....the "gas check cup" along 2 new molds designed to use them that are still with us today.... #308284(now Lyman's 311284) for the .30-40 Krag and the#308291 (now Lyman's 311291) for the .30-30. Three other molds were also introduced...321247 for the .32 W.S.; 321295 for the .32-40 & 375296 for the .38-55, but they have since been obsoleted.

    But what event lead up to the research and development of this new cast bullet device? A hint of that was noted in Ideal's 1904 manual. Dr. Walter G. Hudson, who was a World Champion Rifle shooter and held many records in his day, had been working on the problem of trying to achieve 1,500 f.p.s. in the .30 U.S. Army (.30-40) with 200+ grain bullets which was felt would give accurate shooting at 600 yards.

    Dr./Cpt. Walter Guy Hudson was perhaps the leading Krag shooter in the history of the competition Krag. He was a firing member of the 1902 Palma team, came in second in the Wimbeldon Cup a couple of times, and generally regarded as a champion class rifle competitor, not only with the Schuetzen rifle, but with the military rifle.

    Beginning in 1901, there was a desperate need for military practice ammunition that was accurate to the mid ranges (600 yards) and Hudson applied himself to the task of perfecting a lead bullet load that would perform out to this range.

    The problem he encountered in trying to achieve that goal was fusion, or gas cutting as we know it today. He tried experimenting with antimonial alloys for stronger bullets but fusion persisted. He worked with J.H. Barlow of Ideal on bullet design and diameters, even to the point of using a front "gas check" band (front driving band) diameter of .325"(!) but to no avail.

    Eventually, Dr. Hudson and Mr. Barlow of Ideal Manufacturing Co. hit upon the idea that a copper alloy spacer to insulate the bullet from the hot powder gases might work. They tried copper discs under plain based bullets, and found that they successfully prevented fusion. Higher velocities were then achieved with no leading. . Further development lead to the cup profile and the first gas checked bullet... Ideal's #308284.

    Since the gas checked #308284 worked very well, Mr. Barlow set to work to develop additional gas checked bullets very quickly. #308291 for the .30-30 was next. Samples of cartridges loaded to factory velocities with the new bullet designs were sent to the Marlin Firearms Co. and Savage Arms Company for their evaluation.

    Marlin responded ‚€œWe have the pleasure of reporting to you that these appear to be in every way equal to factory loaded ammunition with metal jacketed bullets.‚€œ Savage wrote back that they tested them in the .30-30 and .303 Savage and they compared favorably in accuracy with their jacketed bullets.

    A few years later, in 1909, the Ideal Handbook No. 19 illustrated a total of 15 different gas checked bullets in calibers ranging from the .25-20 up to .38-55.

    It is known that these first gas checks were designed to fall from the base of the bullet shortly after leaving the muzzle. Some 60 or so years later, Hornady Manufacturing came along with a new crimp on engineered gas check designed to stay with the bullet in flight. And the rest shall we say‚€¶.is history.

    Last edited by w30wcf; 10-07-2013 at 08:31 AM.
    aka w44wcf
    aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
    aka John Kort
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    .22 W.C.F., .30 W.C.F., .44 W.C.F. Cartridge Historian

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Thanks for the history lesson!

  3. #3
    Boolit Master on Heavens Range
    felix's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    fort smith ar
    Yeah, John, thanks! This history is actually fun to know. ... felix

  4. #4
    Cast Boolits Founder/B.O.B.

    45nut's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Thats a cool factoid ! I really enjoy history and knowing plain facts that are easy to remember and let me appear "smarter" than my peers when discussing firearms. <grin>
    Thanks !
    Boolits= as God laid it into the soil,,grand old Galena,the Silver Stream graciously hand poured into molds for our consumption.

    Bullets= Machine made utilizing Full Length Gas Checks as to provide projectiles for the masses.



  5. #5
    Super Moderator

    Buckshot's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    So. California
    ...............I cannot credit the source or even be sure of the names, but the details I'd read someplace was that Hudson or Mann had learned of British shooters who had been experimenting with metallic discs on the bases of cast lead bullets.

    Card or vegetable fiber wads had been common on BP cartridge guns for some time. This was a carryover from the World class British long range muzzle loading shooters doing business commonly to 1000 yds. Some form of bullet base protection had been found valuable for the (then) high pressures generated in the 45 caliber match rifles firing the elongated heavy 500 to 560gr slugs common to the sport.

    Father Grand Caster watches over you my brother. Go now and pour yourself a hot one. May the Sacred Silver Stream be with you always

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Marathon, FL
    I remember Dr. Hudson and Mr Barlow coming out to the Walnut Hill range and experimenting with these gas check things. H.M. Pope showed up and explained that they would never catch on. I was only about 14 at he time.
    joe b.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    US, Wash, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by joeb33050
    H.M. Pope showed up and explained that they would never catch on. joe b.


    That is funny considering that statement comes from a man obsessed with minimum bullet deformation.


    Nice informative post.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    That was a very interesting bit of history witch, I really love. Thanks for sharing that, personally, I really appreciate it.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Harveys Lake, Pa


    I'm new to Cast Boolits and have been reading all the comments posted by others. I'm finding out a lot of good stuff. I have enjoyed this info. on gas checks very much.

  10. #10
    Banned 45 2.1's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Little Egypt, Part of the political fifedom of Chicago
    There is some evidence that the gas check was in England before America and the idea was borrowed by Barlow.

  11. #11
    Generous Donator
    buck1's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    And they went up .50 cents a year! LOL Thanks for the post!

    "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Lebanon, NY
    joeb33050, 14 in 1906 will make you 118 years old. You seem to be doing very well for 118.

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Arlington, TX
    I found two boxes of gas checks made by the company Sierra Manufacturing Co. in green boxes. Anyone know how old these might be? They are for 8mm and 30 caliber.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Hello, everyone...To borrow from the late Mr. Paul Harvey...The rest of the story. What John Barlow didn't admit..for obvious reasons..was the British had been using copper cups on the bases of their .303..and probably other caliber bullets a few years before this.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Omaha, Ne.
    Regardless of the history or who gets the credit, am thankful that somebody came up with gas checks, and then improved them with crimp on factors, and then came alum, and Pat Marlin, etc.etc.etc. Happy birthday to whoever did the deed in the beginning!
    "Common Sense Is An Uncommon Virtue" Ben Franklin

    "Ve got too soon old and too late smart" Pa.Dutch Saying

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Houston Missouri

    This is what an old box for IDEAL Gas Checks looked like. The box is cardboard. The Label is basically a Stamp. Note that the Caliber is added by hand with an ink pen.
    The Lyman Gun Sight Corp would date this box to after 1925 when Lyman bought IDEAL.
    The IDEAL Gas Checks from this box were more of a Goldish color, and had nice high sidewalls.
    The price on the box is $3.86

    I also have some newer LYMAN gas checks. They are Copper Color, and have very shallow side walls. They are way too shallow to put a smile on your face. I am not sure when I bought these, but one is marked $11.95 and the other $16.00.
    I am sure no one was impressed when Lyman changed the design.

    Bob R

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

    condorjohn's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Western Oregon
    Here's a box I just sold on S&S...Attachment 157512

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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