Schuetzen Bullet Lubricators
As Long Range shooting with Paper Patch Bullets faded away, Off Hand Shooting at 200 yards became popular. Schuetzen clubs popped up all over the country. This was an important National Sport. Real Men, standing up and shooting without a rest at 200 yards! Some matches paid as much as $20,000.00 in gold, if you were good enough to win!
At this point in time, the Grooved, Lubricated Bullet was believed to be the Very Best bullet for accuracy. H.M. Pope, George C. Schoyen and many others, adopted the tapered, grooved, lubricated bullet. These bullets were lubricated at the shooting bench, while the match was going on. The tapered bullet required a new and accurate way to get lubricant into those grooves in the bullet. These little hand pumps were the answer.
Here are a few nice lubricators. If you have some stashed away, please sent pictures. I would like to illustrate different tools, by different makers, in nice shape. I will credit you if you would like. Show us what you have in your sock drawer! There are many variations and makers. Ads for these tools are very scarce and very welcome here too.
An Unusual and Possibly Early Schuetzen Bullet Lubricator
This little bullet lubricator popped up up E-bay a few days ago. I immediately called Ed Curtis because he has always been interested in unusual Schuetzen stuff. He has several cool Lubricators I have never seen before and I knew he would be interested. He got it. A close examination showed no markings at all. The steel die was 25 caliber. That could have been changed at any time, so it does not indicate when this tool might have been made.
I look at these with a collectors eye. I see rust and pitting on the steel. There is heavy corrosion on the brass. The clamp screw is old and primitive. More than anything else, this is a much different configuration than we normally see in these bullet lubricators. All the later Lubricators had the hole to lubricate the bullet at right angles and in line, with the chamber that holds the lubricant. Check out the Pope lubricators pictured below.
The simple bullet lubricating pumps made by Maynard, ( Massachusetts Arms) were used at home to load cartridges. Put the cartridges in your pocket and go hunting or target shooting with pre-loaded cartridges. This lubricator has a clamp. It can be used at the rifle range to lubricate one bullet at a time. This sure looks like a Schuetzen Style bullet lubricator.
This tool looks old too. It does not seem to be a modern product. I do know it showed up in Pennsylvania, near the New York State line. This was a hot-bed of rifle shooting from the very beginning of this Country.
This has to be classified as another of those "Unknown Tools". Harry Pope always said he was influenced by George Schalk of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Harry said he patterned his "Gain Twist" rifling after Schalk's and may have known him personally. Schalk made muzzle-loading caplock Schuetzen Rifles through most of his career. I did have a single shot Ballard rifle he made with a false muzzle. He may have come up with the Muzzle-loading cartridge rifle idea that set Pope on his way.
It is fun to speculate! Did Schalk make this bullet lubricator for one of his last rifles? Did Pope see it and Improve it? Many other rifle makers also worked in Pennsylvania.
It was common for small town Gunsmiths to make brass castings like this. With a forge for heat and some sand, scrap brass could be poured to make any brass item like this. I constantly gripe about the lack of markings on these tools. Ed Curtis always reminds me these were Just Tools. They were not highly finished like the rifles. At the time, everyone Knew who made them. Then those guys died and the knowledge was lost.
This is a neat little bullet lubricator. It required making a wood pattern to press into a sand mold. I find it hard to believe there was only one. There is a possibility that more exist out there, but the survival rate is very low. I sure wish the bum who made it had stamped his name on it!
H. M. Pope Bullet Lubricator
There are more Pope Bullet Lubricators around than any other Schuetzen Bullet Lubricator. For the Collector, there are a lot of interesting variations. This particular Lubricator has nice clear Hartford markings. This will give you a good idea of what these earlier tools look like. You can be sure which one this is, because it is marked. We are not always so fortunate.
The Stevens Pope Catalog of 1902 shows this tool. The pictures are poor and the description is broken up. Ed Curtis thinks Stevens used an earlier, Hartford Catalog, for the Stevens Pope images. If you have a nice clear ad I can post here, please send it along.
These tools were made to use at the Rifle Range. Each lubricator held a Die that fit a particular bullet. The Bullet Molds were cut with a rotary cutter called a "Cherry". If you had that "Cherry", you could also use it to ream the inside of the Lubricator Die. Machine the die all over, then use the Cherry like a finishing chamber reamer. Most of us can't do that. If you do not have the correct die you have to make one.
These tools were meant to be held in the hand, or clamped to a bench at the range. Either way works fine.
Push a new bullet into the Die, turn the crank to pump the lube. Back off the pressure. Push the bullet out and check for perfection.
H. M. Pope Bullet Lubricator Dies
Here are a couple images of those pesky Bullet Lubricator Dies. The brass die may be home made or it could have been made by Harry Pope in Jersey City. The calibers range from 25 caliber to 35. This will give you a good idea what they look like. If you see a bag of these for sale, they often come in handy. They are not easy to make.
Bullet Mold Cherries
When wandering around a Gun Show, I always look for cool stuff. Junk boxes are always interesting. These are not junk, but no one was interested in them, except me.
I have no idea who made these. They came out of the Mid-West where Schuetzen Shooting was popular. If you look close, you will see that they were hand filed. Look at page 31 of Lymans "Handbook of Cast Bullets". You will see a Cherry, in a vise, being hand filed. They describe the process of making their molds and it is very interesting.
The process for making a Cherry is simple. Find a piece of steel that can be hardened. Turn it in a lathe to a slightly larger size and shape than you need. Mill flutes in it. Mill rough cutting edges. Hand file to shape. Harden and stone to a fine edge.
It sounds fairly easy, but you do need to know something about cutter geometry. The cutter can't rub anywhere. It has to cut. These have 7 flutes. The theory is simple. An odd number of flutes will not be as likely to chatter when cutting. An even number of flutes has cutting edges opposite each other. These chatter or vibrate. It is true. Try it. My point is simple. These are very sophisticated cherries.
These are Tapered cherries. The front driving bands are smaller than the base.
The top cutter measures .323 at the base. Each band gets smaller. The front driving band is .317.
The lower cutter has a base diameter of .319. It tapers down to .314.
All the gunmakers like Pope and Schoyen used cherries like these to cut bullet mold cavities. You can also use them to finish ream the Bullet Lubricator Dies to the proper tapered steps inside. This is a handy bonus.
Schoyen & Petersen Bullet Lubricator
Denver was a Mecca for Gunsmiths and Target Shooters. After collecting single shots for a while, I realized there are two types of Antique Guns From Denver, The Colorado Territory and State. Worn out hunting guns and Fine Collectors Rifles. Along with the regular working guy, there were many wealthy businessmen. The rich guys bought fancy Guns and did not wear them out.
Morgan L. Rood, Carlos Gove, John P. Lower, Frank and George Freund and even the Hawken family spent a little time there. All of these fellows catered to a Huge market for firearms.
One of my favorite Denver Gunsmiths was George C. Schoyen. He catered to Target Shooters that wanted the best. If you get to see one of his highest grade rifles, complete and mint, you will remember his work.
This particular Bullet Lubricator is either his work, or that of his partner and successor Axel Petersen. It works the same as the H. M. Pope Bullet Lubricator. It does not have the Clamp mechanism. This is the most identifiable feature of this tool.
The little plunger that pushes out the bullet has a brass washer riveted to it. That is another small difference.
The dies are much the same as the Pope lubricator. I have never tried to switch them out, but they might work in either tool.