Beaumont Reloading


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Ever since I've decided to reload for the old Beaumont M1871/88 rifle, I was completely lost in my searches for proper reloading information, tools, and components. There is not much information exists on the Internet for the Dutch Beaumont rifle and most of it is confusing and often contradicting. Not having an original cartridge in hands, it turned out rather difficult to figure out what is really needed. Therefore, the first step was to compile relevant information from all the sources I could find, analyze it, and try to make sense out of it.


So here it goes...

Beaumont rifles have been accepted into service starting with the single-shot Model 1871 which underwent several modifications finally resulting in a magazine-fed repeater Model 1871/88. I will not go into rifle modification details here, since this is not a point of my search and is covered elsewhere. However, one modification should be mentioned since it is related:

  • In 1878 a new cartridge was developed for the Beaumont rifle and accepted into service in 1879 as the one providing better ballistic characteristics. Although being almost identical to the original cartridge it had some dimensional differences significant enough to yet provide another reason to the rifle modification.

Interesting to note that while the new cartridge was suitable for firing in original M1871 rifle and its variants - colonial M1873 and marine M1873 (although accuracy may have been affected), the old cartridge was not suitable for the rifles designed or converted for the new cartridge. It is also being mentioned that, while the most of the older rifles were converted for the new cartridge, rifles supplied to the colonial troops were left as is.

The majority of the confusion comes from the naming convention for the cartridge and its dimensions. Dutch officials did not try to make it easy when they reused cartridge nomenclature over and over again in no particular order. On top of that - everyone else had tried to attribute to this mess. That is why I have avoided stating a name for the cartridge so far and referred to it as “old” and “new” but it's time to sort it out.


"OLD"

"NEW"

Cartridge

Used in

Cartridge

Used in

Scherpe patroon No. 8

Beaumont Infantry Rifle M71

Beaumont Colonial Rifle M73

Beaumont Marine Rifle M73

Remington Carbine M70/73, M70/87

Scherpe patroon No. 2

Beaumont Infantry Rifle M71, M71/79


Scherpe patroon No. 1

Beaumont Infantry Rifle M71, M71/79, M71/88

Scherpe patroon No. 11

Remington Carbine M70/73, M70/87

Scherpe patroon No. 3

Beaumont Infantry Rifle M71, M71/79, M71/88

Scherpe patroon No. 9

Beaumont Infantry Rifle M71, M71/79, M71/88

Remington Carbine M70/90, M91

Gardner Machine Gun M90

Other names used

11.4 x 51R

11.3x52R

11x51R

11x52R

11x52R

43 Dutch

M71

M71/78

11 mm Beaumont

11x52R Netherlands

11x50R


Dimensional differences

Bullet diameter: .464

Bullet diameter: .458

Case length: 1.97

Case length: 2.04


Now, having organized the data in a table above - I have got a general idea about the cartridge needed for my M71/88 Beaumont-Vitali. However, I was still concerned after discovering that a .457 bullet will not fit the muzzle end of the barrel by a long shot. Slugging the barrel revealed that while groove diameter at the throat was .460, at the muzzle end it measured only .454.

I have found very little useful information concerning the bullet itself, aside from the fact that "New" cartridge used a hollow base, 340 - 345 grains, soft lead bullet, and that it was also longer than the "Old" bullet. Perhaps some day I will find the original cartridge and will try to replicate the bullet, but for now I will use a suitable replacement.

There is a number of molds available from different manufacturers that will drop a .457 - .459 bullet in 300 - 400 grains range, although hollow based ones are not as available and I might have to order a custom mold at some point.

So far I have found two molds by Lee Inc. that are reasonably priced and close to what I am looking for:

    • LEE90373 457-340-F (.457 diameter, 340 grains, Flat Base)

    • LEE90268 459-405-HB (.459 diameter, 405 grains, Hollow Base)

Lee also offers bullet sizing and lube kits for corresponding bullet sizes.

Since the bullet issue is more or less solved - it is time to plan for brass.

At the time of my search there was no newly manufactured brass available for this caliber and even now when it is becoming available - it is way out of my price range. The answer to this is to manufacture my own cases.

I need to find a case that will be first - dimensionally close, and second - affordable.

After extensive search and comparison of the different cases, and also taking into account recommendations from other sources - two possible candidates were selected as basis for case reforming: 8mm Lebel and 50-90 Sharps.


Cartridge

Rim

Base

Neck

Shoulder

Length

Beaumont M/71

0.666

0.581

0.486

0.530

1.97

Beaumont M/71/78

0.665

0.576

0.484

0.528

2.04

50-90 Sharps

0.663

0.585

0.528

0.528

2.50

8 mm Lebel

0.630

0.543

0.349

0.457

1.99


My first attempt was to make Beaumont cases from Lebel brass since I had some Lebel brass in stock and if my plan would work out - I would not have to spend money on Beaumont dies but rather use cheaper and readily available 45-70 or 45LC dies for neck sizing. So I went on by annealing Lebel cases first, then fire-forming them using 14 grains of "Unique" powder and "Cream of Wheat" as a filler sealed with bee wax. I had to do it several times to expand the case and experienced occasional case splits, misaligned (bulged in one direction), or otherwise unusable cases. I was later able to avoid misalignment of the case by wrapping several layers of Teflon tape around it's base, but in return I was covered in Teflon shreds blown by escaping gases from head to toe. Have to mention that the brass I have used was military brass from 1920's modified to accept boxer primers. The results were pitiful, cases came out of a rather low quality, ugly, stretched and bulged. Age and fire-forming stress did not improve brass quality either. Also, the rim is too small and I had to pull cases by hand or knock them out of the chamber with a cleaning rod.

Needless to say that I have discarded this idea very quickly and faced the fact that I need to fork some substantial (at least for me) money for a set of Beaumont dies to form the cases from 50-90 Sharps brass. Luckily, I was able to find CH4D dies at half the cost of RCBS dies. While these dies will not win a beauty pageant, they seem to be reasonably strong and made with precision sufficient for this task. I have also located a source of 50-90 Sharps brass manufactured by Starline and went on case forming project.

  1. The first task is to shorten the cases:

I cut it to approximately 2.04" and have used both - hacksaw and dremel with a cutoff disc for this operation, and they both worked just fine and my only suggestion is to keep in mind that dremel may produce a wider cut so be careful not to cut it too short.


  1. Then trim and deburr the cases:

Since the case will stretch while forming - trim it to 2.025"


  1. Lube the case:

Just as usual - don't put too much lube, and don't put too little, just enough and spread it evenly.


  1. And now to forming the case:

These 50-90 Sharps cases are rather soft and collapse easily and I have waisted two cases before getting it right, therefore go very slowly in multiple steps, removing excess lube as needed, and cleaning sizing die between cases. Decapping pin is not really needed here and can be removed to ease die cleaning.

 
 
 

  1. Trim and deburr the case again:

At this point trim the case to 2.039".

 

  1. And here you go:


TO BE CONTINUED...