M*CARBO Brotherhood

Metal Detecting/Treasure Hunting

I have been metal detecting, treasure hunting, researching and traveling over remaining bits of the Oregon Trail, old Stage Coach and Freight routes, abandon mining roads etc my entire life. I’m guessing there must be a few others out here that do similar stuff.

A couple miles from my house, about a 100 yard section of what used to be the original wagon road into the canyon at Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, still exists up in the rocks and sagebrush. Yesterday I stopped there for a few minutes with a detector and found an interesting old rifle round from the early 1900’s.

This is a (un-fired) 25-20 Single Shot . Remington combined their ammo marketing with UMC in 1912, so the REM-UMC head stamp would date this to 1912 or just shortly later. It has a copper primer (as opposed to brass), which as I understand it, worked better than the brass primers in the old black powder guns because they have such a light hammer strike.
I’m not certain what the deal is with the bullet. It looks like the un-jacketed soft lead tip has either been corroded or melted away…???


25/20 was a necked down 32/20 that was designed by Winchester while found in a lot of single shot cals rifles it was also popular in in the 1892 lever action rifle by Winchester Ive got that model rifle in 32/20. there is heated debate, believe it or not, on why bullets were cut like that,#1 was so the bullet didnt punch the next primer in the tube and ignite because of the soft primer, #2 was to lighten the bullet and give it more punch sorta like a wadcutter. we will probably never know the truth of that. anyway if the shell was made 1912 and later there is a good chance it has smokeless powder in it, as my made in 1912 rifle has " special nickle steel barrel for the new smokeless powder" stamped on it…


@GOBLIN Yeah, there is a bunch of debate and variables about who necked down wnat, the length of single shot vs wrm, the barrel marking and ss rounds, and on & on. I have some info about a lot of that, as soon as I can find it. Here is on thing I found at the moment.

Here is what the UMC Factory Daily Log has to say about
25-20 rounds and primers:

,25-20 Center fire smokeless:
October, 1895. Commenced manufacture of this round, using
6-1/2 primer.
November 1909: Changed to #6 .018" copper primer

.25-20 Marlin:
September 1894. Commenced manufacture. (handwriting not
clear on the first figure of the primer size and appears to be “1-1/2"
primer. later comments led me to believe that the number was actually
February 1912. Changed to #6-.024” primer.
May 1912. Returned to #6-.018” copper primer for smokeless and Lesmok
shells. (This is the entry that leads me to believe the first primer was 6-1/2,
not 1-1/2).

.25-20 Marlin Smokeless
March 1895. Began making these with 6-1/2 primer.
October 1909. Changed to #6-.018" copper primer.

.25-20 High Velocity
May 1903. Commenced making these with 6-1/2 primer.
October 1909. Changed to #6-.019" copper primer.
January 1910. Changed back to 6-1/2 Brass primer.

These were all the entries regarding primers and cartridges
designated .25-20 I could find. The names of the cartridges
are exactly as written in the log. The entries of themselves
are not exact quotations, simply a report of what the Log
said about primers.


yea, lot went back to brass primer only by 1910, again rumored to be cause recoil was popping them in the tube, causing ruptures/chain fire, due to the softness of the primer VS the size of the bullet tip VS primer size. 90% is speculation.
also the safety being the button on the lever lot of riders carried it on a MT chamber 90% of the time, so the first thing if pulled from the rifle boot was to jack a round, and if there was one in place it hit the ground. again conjecture.
all that is known for sure, 25/20 s and 32/20 s were fine varmint and small game rounds, and bigger game if pushed…


That is very interesting about the theories on the bullet shaving and recoil setting off soft primers.

It’s hard to see in the pic, but the bullet is concave, not just shaved flat.
My immediate impression when I first found it was that it was a hollow point, but after cleaning it off a little, it was obvious that it had been altered in some way
. I just took a closer look at it under a magnifying glass. You can see where it has been deliberately trimmed out with a knife, right from the edge of the copper jacket, making it into a hollow point and not just a flat wadcutter.
I believe it was done to alter the bullet performance, into a hollow point, by design. That was my first thought when I dug it out of the sand, before I knew any of this other stuff, and that is still what I think. It just has that look and feel to it.