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    Senior Member bombdoc's Avatar
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    Making Dreyse M55 Ammunition

    As you may have noticed from the Restoration threads, I have just restocked a Dreyse M62, and need to manufacture ammunition for it...

    There are a number of options..

    1. The original M41 round used a spherical bullet sat on top of a paper wad which held the primer.
    2. The M47 round used an acorn shaped bullet, again .62.
    3. The M55 round used a smaller egg shaped bullet

    Both the M41 and M47 projectiles were bore size and engraved on the rifling. The M55 was a true sabot round and the bullet did not touch the barrel, all the obturation and rotation being provided by the sabot.

    It is possible to replicate the M41 round using a 20 bore ball and fibre shotgun wad instead of the sabot, gluing a top hat percussion cap to the base for ignition..

    I decided however to buy an M55 bullet mould from Hensel in Germanyicon and try to replicate the M55! I also need to reference here the excellent book by Leonard and Guy A-R-West whose meticulous research enabled me to develop the following..

    Hensel GmbH Waldfischbach-Burgalben

    The Dreyse, an illustrated history researched, written drawn by Guy Leonard A-R-WEST FHBSA available from Woodfield Publishing Ltd



    The key element of the Dreyse Cartridge is the Sabot, or "Spiegel" in German. This is made from a strip of thick paper wound into a cylinder and pressed into a die.. The paper is wedge shaped and creates the cup for the bullet to sit in..



    The small spindle is held in a hand drill and is used to wrap the strip into a coil, the brass disk is used to pull the formed coil off the split spindle. I use a wipe of stick adhesive down the paper to hold it as it rolls.

    The coil is now put into the hex forming die and pressed between the two punches in a reloading press. The top punch forms the cavity for the base of the bullet, and the bottom punch forms the cavity for the primer.



    The formed sabot needs to be slit in four places to allow the bullet to separate in flight. This is done by putting the sabot into a die mould and cutting the slots with a fine saw.



    The only element of the ammunition that is not practical to reproduce is the primer. Originally this was filled directly into the sabot in liquid form and allowed to set. I do not fancy brewing up batches of mercury fulminate, so we need another solution. Leonard & Guy propose a solution using conventional top hat musket caps, but cutting them off to 2mm forming what looks like a thin Berdan cap (apparently real Berdan caps are too thick and damage the needle!). Plastic toy caps can also be used, however most of them contain chlorates and will rust your barrel!

    I went down the L & G route and made a jig to trim top hat caps in my lathe.. I do however wear a face shield and wear TIG gloves when I make them.. so far so good!



    The final element is the paper cartridge tube which I make from a simple paper tube with a cup base glued in. The cup is simply made by pressing a paper disk into a die with the mandrel.



    Finally the cartridge is assembled by dumping 75gn of FFF powder into the paper case using a drop tube. The primer is pressed into the base of the sabot facing back towards the breech and then inserted into the tube over the powder. The bullet is dropped in to its cavity and the top of the tube pinched closed and tied with thread. The head of the complete cartridge is then dipped in molten lube. I use 50:50 beeswax and olive oil...



    I hope this is of interest?

    I can strongly recommend Leonard & Guy's book on the Dreyse, which gives all the relevant dimensions, although they (..or their CAD system) have chosen to give these in mm. I would just check and use the closest nominal imperial measurement!
    Last edited by bombdoc; 05-15-2020 at 05:48 PM.

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