Rocket Ball Ammo! (Totally Not Kidding)

   09.03.20

Rocket Ball Ammo! (Totally Not Kidding)

(Image: Screenshot from video)

Way back in 1848 a guy by the name of Walter Hunt dreamed up a new way to load a firearm: a self-contained cartridge rather than the loose bullet, powder, and percussion cap (or the “paper cartridge”) commonly used at the time. He called it the Rocket Ball, and when Smith and Wesson formed the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855, they designed their guns around Hunt’s ammo, which by then had been somewhat improved.

Ian gets to look at — and show us — some of this ammunition, in the “No. 2” size, which was about .41 caliber.

Because it lacks a separate case for the powder. The powder charge and ignition system are contained inside the bullet itself. They were rather anemic due to the really low amount of powder that would fit in there.

If you know anything about black powder you’ll know just how wimpy 6.5 grains would be with a 100-grain .41-caliber bullet, and if you don’t, just realize that the 44-40 cartridge that came along later used 40 grains of black powder to propel a 200-grain bullet.

Lack of oomph aside, this old Rocket Ball stuff is really nifty because it was a precursor to the modern metallic cartridge.

The metal box originally contained 200 rounds of ammo, but I count 90 or so in the one we see in the video. I would assume there’s a divider lying above a bottom layer of 100. (Yep.)

The original cost for this box of ammo was about $2.40, and this box is expected to sell for about $20,000 when it comes up for auction on September 11, 2020.

Ammo just keeps getting harder and harder to find.

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