ARMOUR BRASS CARTRIDGES
Brass cartridge cases in general do not excite me unless perchance they have a rare headstamp. In a collection one looks much the same as another, the most common being Grouse Ejector and Perfect which virtually every gunmaker in the latter part of the nineteenth century loaded. Often the top wads were simply marked with the shot-size so individual loaders remained anonymous.
Consequently, earlier this year when I was contacted about a number of such cartridges I was not all that disappointed when their owner decided to keep them. I probably saved myself considerable mileage to acquire some very ordinary examples of this type of shotshell. At least that was how I reconciled myself!
Then much to my surprise something really unique in the field of collecting cropped up, thanks to my good friend and regular reader of this column, Michael Baines. If you thought brass cases had ceased manufacture a century or so ago, then think again. Not just the tubes but a piece of equipment with which to load them. The mind boggles in this age of plastic cases and crimp closures.
Anyway, in order to understand these cartridges and the manner in which they are loaded we need to take an in-depth look at this strange piece of equipment.
THE ARMOUR BRASS SYSTEM
This is really nothing more than a somewhat strange block of expanded polystyrene coated with some kind of red flock material. The outer plastic wrapper is printed "Armour Brass Cartridges".
Inside are five thick brass 12-bore cases which will never have to be re-sized due to their robustness. Also included are a number of green plastic shot-cups, cylinders, again of expanded polystyrene, and a quantity of over-shot wads in three different colours, green, orange and pale blue. Possibly these could be used to designate the different shot-sizes which were loaded.
Along with this package my correspondent had received four extra brass cases, a quantity of loose wads and some AAA shot. Included was a sheet of instructions printed in both English and Afrikaans. It is believed that this equipment had originated from somebody who had been living in Africa so we can assume that it was intended for sportsmen in that country.
This is an easy way to re-load and a minimum of tools are required, basically a de-capper and shot dispenser of the correct size. The lower wad needs to be placed with the hollow side against the powder and should be pierced in the centre for easier loading.
This is followed by the styrofoam spacer cut to lengths which suit individual loading requirements and then the shot cage. Finally the upper wad is inserted with the hollow side facing outwards.
Apparently loading tables were available and the user is referred to "Magnum '79 (A MAN Publ.). This would appear to date the loader as having been produced in 1979.
I can find no reference to this loader in my own research material. The internet gives an address for Armour Brass Cartridges at Boshoffstraat 32, Bethlehem 6270 but states that there is neither a website nor an e-mail address.
THE PUCKA CASE
The non-crimp thick cases are manufactured from metallurgically proven armoured alloy. The Armour Brass seal is precision made to exacting tolerances and ensures regular ballistic levels and consistent shot patterns. The interior case diameter matches the bore diameter of the gun.
It reduces a build up of heat in the barrels and gives perfect primer seating. Apparently these cases can be fired in guns which have not been proved for nitro so are also suitable for black powder loads.
They also serve as snap-caps to take the strain off your striker springs when your gun is in storage.
The efficient combustion expansion pressure retention principle ensures regular time/pressure curves and therefore there is no loss of velocity due to weak crimps which sometimes happens when standard cases are reloaded several times.
The Toroidal combusion chamber is similar to that used in diesel engines and gives maximum smooth combustion.
The multiple grooves ensure ultimate gas and water sealing and are impregnated with a highly efficient lubricant.
The shock absorbing polystyrene filler wad reduces recoil and the shot-cage gives the ultimate in consistent patterns.
The fact that there was an instruction sheet printed in Afrikaans indicates to me that this loader was produced for the South African market. Simple to use, cartridges could be loaded in a safari camp, maybe buckshot for following up a wounded leopard in dense cover or smaller shot for guineafowl or small game for meat.
Nevertheless, I would have thought that professional hunters and their clients would have come well equipped with this type of ammunition rather than resorting to cartridge loading round the camp fire after a hard day's hunting.
Nevertheless the Armour is an intriguing item of equipment. If any of my readers have further information on it I would be pleased to hear from them via "The Countryman's Weekly".
- The Armour Brass Cartridge loader comprises an expanded polystyrene box coated with a red flock material.
- The brass 12-bore cases are extra thick and never need re-sizing.
- The over-shot wads come in different colours perhaps to designate different shot-sizes.
- Only basic tools are required, namely one for removing a spent primer and inserting a new one and for dispensing shot.
- The cartridges can also be loaded with black powder if a gun is not proofed for nitro.
- The instructions come printed in both English and Afrikaans which indicates that this piece of equipment was produced for the South African market.
- The cases can also substitute as snap-caps when a gun is stored.
- The combustion chamber is similar to that used in diesel engines.
- The polystyrene wad reduces recoil.
- The inside of the case matches the bore diameter of the gun.