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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently picked up a mixed ammo lot and have just under 200 rds of Balle N surplus. Headstamp is CP 48 F 2. As I have learned so far, this stuff has a poor reputation for reliable ignition (or lack thereof). I am familiar with this situation as I have a decent stock of 1960s surplus .303 British with a similar reputation. I have had good luck with it in my Enfield No4 so far, but who knows?

My question is this: Is this surplus Lebel ammo worth anything to someone that might reload for a Lebel or Berthier? Even if for nothing else but the projectiles? I see that new PPU ammo seems to be as high as any other rifle ammo at the moment, is there a chance that it may be worth pulling bullets and using PPU brass?

I have no interest in French firearms, so have no need of it for myself. I was able to go to exactly one local gun show to ask around, but there is not much demand for French weapons or ammo in the Midwest. Now that the gun shows are canceled again, I'm looking for other avenues to move it if possible.

Thanks
 

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This (French) ammo came out of Syria, along with similar Kaputt 7,5x54 ammo of Damascus mfg.
Only solution for US shooters is pull bullets ( 1932 pattern) and load powder ( good) into
BOXER cases ( PPU) ...
Use only in "N" stamped rifles.
Primers are special, double cup Berdan, unobtainable diameter, and corrosive.
Only use for cases, after Hydraulic decapping, is to drill out pocket for #209 Shotshell Primers, and load cast lead bullets.
You can get up to 5 short range reloads this way.

Doc AV
Down under.
 

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Doc Av, there is another option for reusing these 8 Lebel cases, but it is tedious and requires the use of a lathe. The inner cup of the double cup primer is so very close to the diameter of a large rifle primer, that with the careful use of an end cutting tool, a portion of the outer cup and the entire inner cup as well as the central Berdan anvil can be cut out. This allows for the use of a large rifle, Boxer type primer. Did it on a small scale about 25 years ago and it does work. Removing the Boxer primer will require an hydraulic primer removal set up however. Attempting to place a central flash hole, as is typical of Boxer priming, weakens the cup area of the cartridge too much. Discovered as well when working on this approach, that a very large number of these CP 48 cases did not in fact have an anvil in the cup portion of the case. Without that there is no way to ignite the priming compound without working up an extra length firing pin that would be able to indent the primer enough to use the base of the cartridge as the anvil. Did also work on that approach with a lengthened FP in a 1914 Hotchkiss. Problem with that approach was that pretty much all of the primers were perforated with the accompanying gas blow back into the bolt. Not an acceptable situation. There was also the approach using reformed 348 Win. which required a lot of work and case annealing. Then 348 cases dried up. All of the above just a couple of approaches that I tried before any new made cases such as PPU were available. Just food for thought on how far attempting to get usable ammo for old guns can go. And it was all very labor intensive. Far more so than getting a supply of new PPU cases and transfer reloading these old Balle N rounds.
 

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I reload the pull down powder and bullets into new 8mm lebel brass for my Hotchkiss guns. You can get PPU ammo for about .75/rd on sale. I will PM the OP on the ammo . I have close to 5,000 rds of the old lebel ammo so am set otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone for the replies and information. I am going to hang onto the ammo for a bit to see if I can move it locally or at a show, since shipping it will cost as much as the ammo itself.

Ash
 

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Doc Av, there is another option for reusing these 8 Lebel cases, but it is tedious and requires the use of a lathe. The inner cup of the double cup primer is so very close to the diameter of a large rifle primer, that with the careful use of an end cutting tool, a portion of the outer cup and the entire inner cup as well as the central Berdan anvil can be cut out. This allows for the use of a large rifle, Boxer type primer. Did it on a small scale about 25 years ago and it does work. Removing the Boxer primer will require an hydraulic primer removal set up however. Attempting to place a central flash hole, as is typical of Boxer priming, weakens the cup area of the cartridge too much. Discovered as well when working on this approach, that a very large number of these CP 48 cases did not in fact have an anvil in the cup portion of the case. Without that there is no way to ignite the priming compound without working up an extra length firing pin that would be able to indent the primer enough to use the base of the cartridge as the anvil. Did also work on that approach with a lengthened FP in a 1914 Hotchkiss. Problem with that approach was that pretty much all of the primers were perforated with the accompanying gas blow back into the bolt. Not an acceptable situation. There was also the approach using reformed 348 Win. which required a lot of work and case annealing. Then 348 cases dried up. All of the above just a couple of approaches that I tried before any new made cases such as PPU were available. Just food for thought on how far attempting to get usable ammo for old guns can go. And it was all very labor intensive. Far more so than getting a supply of new PPU cases and transfer reloading these old Balle N rounds.
348 W cases now available from Starline...forming 8mmLebel may require some head swaging/ turning to avoid splitting 7/8 ×14 Lebel Dies ( die walls too thin).
Got to check my latest supply of -- brass .348 for dimensions vis-a-vis 8mm Lebel.
Doc AV
 

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I went to my first gun show in awhile and this there was some 1948 French surplus Lebel in boxes marked as English made ammo. I opened the box and it was boxed 1948 Lebel pulled from machine gun strips...sad this is what they are up to these days.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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In the current state of things I am not surprised. Of course, it is possible that the seller truly had no idea what the cartridges were, but I am being generous in saying that. Everything is for sale and at rather elevated prices. Ammunition of any kind, even crap ammo such as all the 8mm Lebel on Hotchkiss strips is for sale and being eagerly purchased. yes, it is sad.
 

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I have a quantity of this ammo as well. Are the bullets only good for N marked chambers? My 1886 is N marked but I am looking at getting a berthier and it seems those are harder to find converted. Would like to be able to use these to shoot in both.
 

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In 1932 Modèle 1932N (Nouveau) was adopted for use, this new cartridge was designed for long range shooting in Heavy Machine Guns, such as the Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss Modèle 1914 and is much more powerful than the regular rifle ammo at the time Cartouche Modèle 1886 à Balle D (am). This cartridge has a much heavier bullet being pushed by a bigger powder charge resulting in a higher chamber pressure and firing this cartridge in a non-N modified weapon will most likely lead to catastrophic failure with injuries for both the shooter and any bystanders.
This cartridge may chamber alright in a non-N modified weapon, which does not have a capital “ N” stamped on the top of the barrel and receiver at 12 O'clock position, and as stated it will generate much higher pressures than expected as the chambers neck (collet) is not sized up to allow the neck of the this cartridge to expand sufficiently to release the bullet as designed. A common misconception is the maximum diameter of the Modèle 1932N bullet which is exactly the same as the Cartouche Modèle 1886 à Balle D (am) bullet: 8,32mm (.3275 inch). The biggest difference between the solid brass lathe turned "D" bullet and the lead-core “N” bullet beside the weight is the location of their maximum diameter: For the “D” bullet, it on the fore part of the bullet, before the crimping groove and outside of the case neck. In the case of the “N” bullet, it is on the aft part of the bullet, after the crimping groove and inside the case neck. Due to the above, the enlarged neck of the Modèle 1932N cartridge had to have a maximum acceptable diameter of 9,02mm instead of 8,80mm for the previous Cartouche Modèle 1886 cartridges. The origin of the chamber re-throating was carried out on the various weapons in service that were still in French inventory as of 1934 with most being done during the period 1935 to 1939. One other interesting fact is the "N" label is a misinterpretation as there is no such item as a "N" cartridge in any of the French texts and if you wish to use the correct name for this cartridge, you would have to call it Cartouche Modèle 1932N.
 

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As data for those that have old ammo, I do buy this stuff for making new lebel for my 1914 hotchkiss - It needs "volume" ammo - I have probably 5,000 rds on hand for tear down. A while back ( years) Grafs had a sale on the unprimed new brass, and I bought a big pile. If guys want to sell old ammo I buy it. you can PM me.
 

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So is it the case neck area that is changed on the actual cartridge or the throat area of the barrel to accept the profile of the heavier bullet? Any reason I can’t load a surplus N bullet into new Privi brass and if so can I then only use it in a N modified rifle? Just trying to wrap my head around what the actual changes done to the rifle were. Thanks for the great info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The barrel throat/chamber area had to be enlarged approx. 0.22 mm in diameter. This allows the cartridge case neck to expand enough to release the bullet from the case upon firing. A non-modified chamber will cause the later (Cartouche Modele 1932N) bullet to become essentially "choked" and thus the pressure spike will be extreme.
 
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