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Ideal No.1 Bullet Lubricator and Sizer

    I actually have one of these set up on my bench right now. I like to use original tools. I have other, more modern bullet lubricators that can squeeze a lead bullet way down. If you have a really good, correct bullet mold, you do not need to do that. I have spent a lot of time and money buying molds in nice condition. Not everyone has that choice. You may have to use a more powerful lubricator.

    If you size a bullet down too much, it becomes deformed and torn. For accuracy, size bullets down as little as possible. Harry pope made a mold that cast a great bullet. They were not sized.

    The Ideal bullet lubricator does a bang up job of putting bullet lube into the grooves of a bullet. A few tries with the pressure and you will get the hang of it. You can lubricate a lot of bullets fast.

    Sizing a bullet is a different matter. I use my old lubricator to "round up" bullets and knock off the high spots, if any. The leverage for pressing in an oversize bullet is just not there. I think of putting a .457 bullet into a .457 die as normal. Most molds cast just a little out of round. So, I round them up!

    Ed Curtis sent these two original images. The first type Ideal Lubricator with the faucet style handle and the later type with lever style handle. 

Ideal Bullet Lubricator

    The wording on these two ads is pretty much the same. Paragraphs are switched around. I put both of these in because of those different top handles. A collector wants to know about variations to look for.

    If you look at the long handle, you will see the patent date for the tool. This is interesting because the patent date is actually hidden on the back of the handle on the actual tools. Below, I will show the patent. There were a lot of changes in the patented design, before this Lubricator went into production.

Ideal Bullet Lubricator

    Look at "Reloading Tools of the Black Powder Era" volume 2, page 217. You will see a nice photo of the actual manufactured W. C. Stewart tool from the Quigley Collection. This tool looks very much like the patent drawings. There may be a few earlier variations floating around out there, so be on the lookout for early patent models!

    I had a little trouble finding the patent drawings, because they had the wrong date, for the patent. They also had J. H. rather than W. C. Stewart. Even in the "Shooting and Fishing" ad. Checking the Ideal ads and the back of the long handle of the Lubricator cleared that up. I found it!

    The Massachusetts Arms Company ( Maynard) had made bullet lubricators earlier. They liked grooved lubricated bullets. I have seen their lubricators with a plunger and later a screw to push the grease in. I don't think they ever patented the idea.

    Harry pope made his Lubricator with a bench clamp and removable die sometime in the 1890's. I am not sure exactly when he first made them. Many other gun makers used basically the same idea during the "Schuetzen Era."


    You can see all the basics of the Ideal Bullet Lubricator in these patent drawings. The removable die is there. Levers and links look similar. It clamps to a table. Ideal took the idea much further. They rearranged everything and added a screw activated piston, in a cylinder, to pump the lube. The cylinder and piston allowed a much greater volume of lubricant. They improved the Lubricator a lot before production started.


    This is a great image of the classic Ideal Bullet Lubricator. You can still see the packing grease here. No matter how well an item is packed, there will be a few bumps and scratches. Check out the patent date on the long lever. When assembled, this is hidden on the back side of the lever. This date is what I used to find the patent papers above.

    This a later bullet lubricator, with the flat diamond knurling on the screw heads. The yellow label was also used on later tools.

    This is the same lubricator I use all the time. You can get different sizes of dies easily.


    All reloading tools were shipped out in a protective box. Sadly, the boxes and wrapping were nearly always thrown away immediately. It is always a happy thing to see original packaging. These wrappings are still being thrown away today.

    As you can see, this does not display well. The sticky grease all over the tools is a pain. 

    I would keep it this way and display a nice one that lost it's packaging. This could go beside the assembled tool. But, that is just me. I like to see what they looked like.


    Look close. Now you know what Grandpa saw when he brought his new Ideal Bullet Lubricator home from the hardware store or local gun shop. When was that? Actually, I do not know. Maybe 1935 or 1945?

    This is re-loading history. I wonder if this one will lose it's packaging and get washed off? At least we have these pictures as a record. In 100 years, I'll bet a Reloading Tool Collector would pay a pretty penny for this one. If it does not get screwed up!

Late Production Lubricator and Sizer

     Over time there were changes in reloading tool production. A weak part might be revealed. New production methods could increase profits. 

    This Lubricator and sizer was probably made just before the end of production. Somewhere I heard of some of these being painted orange, but I have never seen one. 


    The label on this box is the same as the previous Lubricator. There are some differences in the two tools. The nickel plating is gone. I'm not sure what this new black finish is. There is a bend in the vertical rod that attaches the die to the handle. The flat clamp screw handle is gone. Now there is a T shaped, turned handle. You will see this T handle on No. 5 powder measures too.


    These were popular, with a production run from 1892, until sometime after World 2. Variations are minor but interesting. This was a really good tool.

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