TexasMac's Web Site
By Wayne McLerran
Updated 2/18/19

If you subscribe to the Shooting Sports USA, NRA’s competitive
shooting journal, you should be familiar with a monthly article titled
“WHAT’S IN YOU RANGE BAG”, listing the items well-know competitors
across the shooting sports have on hand to address issues during a
match.  The list may include common items such as aspirin, cleaning
suppliers, hearing protection, replacement parts, a few tools, energy
bars, etc.  Most of the BPCR shooters I know use a range box instead
of a bag.  In an attempt to deal with an array of problems the range
box is filled with all manner of stuff.  The one item that
many forget
to include is a broken shell extractor, aka split case extractor,
separated case extractor or ruptured case extractor.  See my related
article  titled,
Case Stretching & Separating in Black Powder Cartridge
.  You may never need a separated case extractor but when you
do they’re indispensible, possibly allowing you to continue the match.

Separated case extractors have been available since the late 19th
around the time breech-loading brass-cased cartridges were
developed.  Modern extractors are made for many cartridges by
several manufacturers
such as UTG/Leapers, Mauser, Marbles, FN,
Hakim and others.  But none of
the current manufacturers I’m aware
of make ones for common straight-wall BPCR cartridges cases.  An
ECHO brand extractor made to handle .45-70 case head separations
was sold by Buffalo Arms Co. (BACO) and Brownells but is no longer
available since W. J. Riebe the company that produced the extractor
went out of business a few years ago.  Brownells currently sells
extractor, but I don’t know who makes them and none are for
common BPCR cartridges.  The photo below displays the two vintage
extractors made by Springfield Armory
for the Trapdoor (TD) .45-70 rifles which are still available today from
some gun parts suppliers such as Numrich Gun Part Corp. and on eBay.
Most if not all of the modern extractors are designed to handle case-
head or neck separations that do not extend into the bore.  The
extractor is inserted into the breach, fully chambered and extracted
as one would a cartridge, hopefully catching on the mouth or lip of
the case and pulling out the broken section as
the extractor is
extracted.  Modern extractors are typically made for cartridges with
shoulders and assume that if the case separates, it’s usually just
of the rim or head where the thick web section transitions to
the thin case wall.  Due to the case shoulder the broken case cannot
move an appreciable distance down the bore.  Here’s a Brownells’
YouTube video on the subject:

Although straight wall BPCR cases can certainly experience case-head
separations, the case can also separate in the neck region just behind
or at the base of the seated bullet and the separated section pulled
some distance down the bore by the bullet.  Therefore the extractor
must be designed to reach the broken section.  The Springfield TD
extractors were designed to be forced into the breach past the mouth
or lip of the broken section or, if necessary, inserted into the muzzle
end of the barrel, then pushed towards and out of the breach
with a
cleaning rod, hopefully catching the broken section in the process.  By
the way, the Springfield 1882 extractor is a 2-piece design.  The
knurled section unscrews from the longer 3-prong section and
is used to aid in removing the separated case.  The outer design of
the extractor is made to
match the 3-groove bore of a Springfield TD
rifle and as such will not work in modern .45-70 rifle bores.

I keep a Springfield Type 1 .45-70 extractors in my range box.  I was
unable find a .40 caliber extractor so I made a couple out of .38
Special brass (.357 Mag. brass should also work).  Turn the rim
diameter down slightly on a lathe, or belt sander if you don’t have a
lathe, to about 0.002” smaller than the bore diameter, so that the
case can be inserted into the muzzle end of the bore head first.  Push
the modified case down the bore with a cleaning rod until it
the lip of the separated case.  Drive out the extractor and separated
case with the cleaning rod.  No doubt this technique can be used for
other cartridge cases and bore diameters.

Depending on the situation, another technique that may work as well
or better than a separated case extractor is to use a short bronze
bore brush slightly larger than the bore diameter.  First determining
how far down the bore the split
portion of the case is located.  With
the brush screwed into a cleaning rod, push the brush from the

breech down the bore so that it’s position inside the remaining case
and then yank back on the cleaning rod. The bristles should lock into
the inside of the separated case and pull it out.

And after posting this article on several BPCR forums, I received an
excellent recommendation I had not considered.  Just about any
straight wall pistol case with work to extract a separated case in
many chamber diameters if the mouth of the case is deformed a bit
(squashed) to barely fit in the bore and inserted in the muzzle mouth
first.  The wide lip of the squashed case should catch the edge of the
separated case and can be driven out with a cleaning rod.

Enterprising shooters and gunsmiths have used many methods to
remove stubborn separated cases.  One of the most common utilizes
melted Cerrosafe, the same material used for making chamber casts.  
But none lend themselves well to fixing the problem during matches.  
So do yourself and/or your shooting buddies a favor and add a case
extractor or one of the other solutions mentioned to your shooting

Wishing you great shooting,