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Bridgeport Gun Implement Co.
B.G.I. Capping Tools


     I had several of these through the years for shotgun shells but always sold them. I wanted a rifle tool. Finally I found this one. The markings were not clearly stamped but it was a nice tool, so I got it!

     The guy that stamped this tool was hitting it sideways, but enough is there to see how it was marked. The top handle is marked:


B.G.I. Co.


    The bottom handle is Marked:


45-70. G.

    On Winchester tools the 45-70 G. would indicate a tool for the 45 Government cartridge using the 405 grain grooved bullet. This tool does not do anything with the bullet. It appears they just meant 45-70 Government.

    The 1185 mark is a number used in the B.G.I. catalog. This way you could be sure you were ordering the tool you wanted. Ed Curtis sent some B.G.I. catalog Pages. These are from a 1882 catalog

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    The page above is a little deceptive. Both "Recappers" seem to be for Shotgun cases. You will find both of these plain capping tools in rifle and pistol calibers.

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     The 1180 "Recapper at the top was probably an economy tool. These are not listed in the price list I show below. You will often see these with this brass insert. The insert reduces the hole size for Pistol and Rifle Cartridges. You can still see black paint on this one. B.G.I. probably saved money doing this. Change a Shotgun Tool, to a Rifle or Pistol cartridge with just a cheap insert. These show up most in boxed Pistol Tool sets. 

    You can see a picture of the 1182 Rifle or Pistol toll in "Reloading Tools of the Black Powder Era" in Volume 2, page 201. It is rough finished and is marked B.G.I Co. No caliber is mentioned.

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     The upper image is the same tool I illustrated at the top of this page. The 1185. This tool removes the Berdan Primer and presses a new one in. These are used a lot in Europe, but only seldom here and now. These were the first practical primer here in America. They were very popular with all Riflemen. In the engraving of the "Berdan Primer Extractor and Reprimer" you can see that the little hook has pierced the primer and has pulled it out. So, how does it Work?

    1. You open the two levers on top as far as they will go.

    2. Place the Berdan Primed Cartridge into its slot.

    3. Close the Large Top Handle on to the base of the cartridge case. ( Make sure the small handle is still all the way UP!)

    4. Hold the large handles together firmly, then lower the small handle to pierce the primer.

    5. When the primer has been pierced, raise the two top handles Together! That pops out the primer.


     Note! This tool WILL NOT work on regular American primers! The American Primer is Smaller and Longer! You will break the tool! Chamberlain says these tools do not work well. I suspect his was damaged. My 45-70 tool works great! It is in fine, original condition. But, only on Berdan primers! Here are the Berdan Primers in the images below.


    Check out the image above left. This is a 50-70 cartridge I picked up out in the desert. It is probably a U.M.C. cartridge case. I put it in CLR cleaner and shined it up with steel wool. When I poked the primer with an awl, it crumbled. It may have been copper like material. The brass seems great. Notice the three flash holes in the primer pocket. The Bump in the center of the primer pocket is the Anvil

    Above right is a primer tin from U.M.C. This is a later tin with the painted top. Early tins had a glued on paper label. These Berdan primers are basically a Wide, Flat percussion cap. (.250 diameter vs. .210 diameter for modern American primers.) There is no Anvil in these primers.

    On early primer tins these were sometimes called "Percussion Caps for Centerfire Fire Cartridges." In the end, these were called primers. Probably to avoid confusion.

    These primers were very popular with Long Range Target Shooters. They were also offered in Shotgun Cartridges. ( Check out my Remington Capping Tool Page.)

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    This page shows two other B.G.I. Re and Decapping tools. Top left is the De-capping tool for American Primers. (There Are No Boxer Primers! Read My Page; Boxer Primers, No Such Thing!) American Primers have a Central Flash Hole. This little tool is Just for the American Primer.

    The tool bottom left is a simple, little, odd shaped tool. The idea is to hook it over the rim on a cartridge case. Then pull down on the lever and press the primer in. These are usually in Boxed sets of tools for small caliber Pistol and Rifle cartridges. I naver tried one of these. It does not look like a very good idea.

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    This price list Ed sent is really full of information. I had not seen this list before. At the Top of the List is the 1185 "Berdan Primer Extractor and Reprimer." Browse through all these items and you will see Decapping and Recapping tools listed with other tools. 

    You will see this list of tools in other places as I add Pages on B.G.I. Bullet Molds and B.G.I. tools. This List answers a lot of Questions I had about many tools they made. 


     This is the opposite side of the 1185, 45-70 GOVT. tool I illustrate at the top of this page. I was puzzled when I first handled this tool. The Red paint had flaked away, exposing the metal. That is not unusual. Moisture can get under the paint in a wet climate. Rust forms and pops the paint off. That is why storage in a dry place is so important.

     The polished areas were a little dirty but there was no rust. After I handled the tool for a minute, I realized the polished surfaces had a clear coating of varnish. The clear varnish did better than the red paint at resisting moisture. Two other nice 1185 tools I bought also had this varnish finish on the polished areas. B.G.I. was doing their best to make a fine tool.


     This image shows a 45 caliber cartridge case in place between the two large handles. The small handle is just starting down and the chisel is just about to touch the Primer. At this point, the chisel would be hitting and cutting the brass of an American Primer, because they are smaller.

     Small calibers only used Berdan primers for a little while at the beginning of cartridge production. I have seen 38-50 Ballard, 44-40 W.C.F. and a few other really early, small cartridges, that were Berdan Primed. After a little while, only American Primers with a central flash hole were used in these small cartridges. The Berdan Primer continued to be used for years in Bigger Cartridges. Mainly 40 caliber and above. 

    If you think about it, this Berdan de-capping tool will actually pull Berdan Primers out of a lot more than just the 45-70. Any Cartridge with the same Head and Base size will work. The cartridge in the photo was a 45-90 that happened to be sitting on my bench.

     So, this tool will work on;

     45-70 (45 2.1 inch), 45-90 (2.4 inch), 45 2.6 inch, 45 2 7/8 inch

     40-50 Bottleneck, 40-70 Bottleneck, 40-90 bottleneck. (All necked down from 45 straight cases)

     Any Berdan Primed Case, using the U.M.C. No. 1 size primer, with this Base and Rim diameter.


     This image shows an un altered chisel sticking out as it would after it has pierced a primer. It has a hook shape to pierce and lift the spent primer.

     The round area it travels through, just above the rim recess, is there to press a new primer In. (With the small handle lifted all the way Up) You can place a new primer on the case. Then slide the case into it's slot. Then close the Large handles ONLY, and press in a new Berdan Primer.

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