​Authentic Paper Cartridges         

The 550-cal Pritchett bullet

I'm very picky with my cast bullets; those with defects (bad skirts, cavity in the nose or other casting void, etc.) get tossed right back into the lead pot. Some may have minor wrinkles, as the smooth-sided Enfield bullet is a tricky one to cast, but you can expect the bullets to be generally pristine. Like all cast bullets, they will vary slightly in exact weight and size. Most average around 540 grains. Plugs are made out of clay.

These bullets were never historically intended to be loaded and fired naked, that is to say, without a paper patch. In the British service, the 550-caliber Enfield bullet was always used with a plug. It is my experience, firing these bullets from primarily Italian-made reproduction rifles, that using the base plug dramatically improves accuracy. Some shooters have told me they have obtained good accuracy with an unpatched, unplugged 550-caliber Pritchett in their P1853 Enfields, but these results should not be considered typical. Check out the page on historical cartridges for patterns and discussions on making your own cartridges, or consider buying ready-made Enfield paper cartridges.

Cast on a NOE 550-536-RF mold.
​​ The colors of the expanding plugs will vary.

Historically, the original bullet adopted for the P1853 Enfield was 568-caliber but following experience in the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and extensive testing and experimentation by the School of Musketry at Hythe, the decision was made to reduce the bullet diameter.  A 550-caliber bullet of 1.09-inch length was adopted in 1859; this is a faithful replication of that bullet, at .550-inch diameter and an overall length of 1.09 inches. To overcome the considerable windage of the new bullet ensure expansion into the barrel rifling, a wooden or clay plug was used. Uncounted millions of these bullets loaded in Enfield cartridges would be run through the Union blockade to supply the Confederate Army, where they were highly appreciated for their quality and accuracy. If you want to fire your P1853 Enfield in the period-correct fashion, this is the bullet to use.

Pritchett bullets with plug

Original bullet and plug on the left; recreated bullet and plug on the right.

Pritchett bullets with clay plugs

550-caliber Enfield Pritchett bullets, 540gr with expanding plugs

This bullet was adopted in 1859 by the British Army for use with the P1853 Enfield rifle-musket, intended for use after being made up into paper cartridges. It is popularly, although incorrectly, known as the Pritchett bullet (the actual Pritchett bullet was slightly different, did not use a plug,  and replaced only couple years after its adoption in 1853, but the name stuck).