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Made some comment to a friend of mine recently about determining if an old cartridge were loaded with black or smokeless powder. I told him the protocol of the time called for revolver cartridges loaded with black powder to have copper primer cups. Smokeless powder loadings were identified by nickeled primers, and semi-smokeless powder to have brass primer cups.


Rifle cartridges were loaded with blackpowder for awhile after the advent of smokeless powder, though new smokeless powder cartridges were introduced. And auto pistol cartridges always demanded smokeless powder. But revolvers were a case unto themselves. It was easy enough to load a revolver with smokeless powder and keep pressures at a safe level. But they did develope higher pressures, and this pressure increase played havoc with the tolerance permitted for blackpowder.
The cartridge slammed back against the breech face and tied up the cylinder rotation.

The result was the introduction of LesSmoke and similar powders. Powder that produced less smoke and flash, and less pressure. Semi-smokeless cartridges continued to be loaded up until the outbreak of WW I.

Bob Wright
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