The cartridge case is the very heart of reloading. It is the one completely reusable component that makes the practice of "reloading'' feasible. The concept of metal-cased, or "fixed'' ammunition is actually a relatively recent development. First produced in viable forms in the early 1850s, today's modern cartridge has its roots in the .22 Short Rimfire. The idea of a "cartridge'' however, is by no means new. The use of pre-measured charges of gun powder and bullet rolled into paper cartridges is believed to date back to the early 1600s, when King Gustavus Aldophus of Sweden ordered his soldiers to carry their ammunition in this manner. In fact, the word ''cartridge,'' is derived from the Latin word for paper, charta. The goal of carrying "fixed'' ammunition was to provide more consistent charges than might otherwise be obtained by dumping the powder from a horn or flask, to reduce the spillage associated with using a powder measure in the field, and most importantly to expedite the sol- dier's rate of fire. In use, the cartridge was torn open, and the powder contained in it was dumped down the barrel. The ball/bullet was then rammed down on top of the powder, with the cartridge paper sometimes being used as wadding between powder and bullet. In the two-hundred plus years that this system of loading was widely used, various materials were used in lieu of paper, including linen and silk. Over the years these paper cartridges progressed to combustible cartridges, which were widely used in the American Civil War. Made from nitrated paper or linen, the combustible cartridges were loaded (from either the muzzle or breech, depending on the gun's design) into the firearm whole, and completely consumed upon firing. Combustible cartridges were made for a wide variety of weapons at this time, particularly revolvers. The best known are probably the linen cartridges used in the Sharps rifles and carbines. Combustible cartridges solved many of the problems associated with carrying loose powder, but they were still fragile, and had to be handled with care. They were susceptible to moisture, and could be easily damaged during the loading process. The combustible cartridge was a major step forward, but was clearly not the final answer. As various types of case materials were tried, metallic cartridges came into being. Some of the original metallic cases were formed from extremely thin materials, such as foil. Although the foil solved many of the problems associated with moisture, they were still fairly fragile. As the mechanisms for repeating firearms developed, stronger cases that were able to withstand cycling and loading through the action evolved. There were a number of fascinating case designs developed during the years between 1840 and 1865, with varying degrees of success. Systems developed during this period included the Pinfire, Teat Fire, Morse, Inside Pinfire and a host of others. Most were fragile, complicated and not readily adaptable to the advances in firearms design that were also taking place. There was even some experimentation with the caseless concept, such as the careless "Volcanic'' cartridge. The Volcanic used what amounted to a Minie ball that had its hollow base filled with powder, and sealed with a self-contained primer. The most significant development during this period, however, was the misfire cartridge. Utilizing a self-contained priming system, misfires became tremendously popular in a wide variety of calibers. Ranging from the Flobert BB cap (essentially a lead BB seated in a percussion cap), to large military cartridges like the .44 Henry Flat and the .56-56 Spencer, misfire cartridges served a wide variety of roles. Although the misfire system was a quantum leap forward, it still had some drawbacks. The manufacture of misfire cases, even in the larger calibers, was relatively inexpensive. However, once fired, they could not be conveniently reloaded. In order to ensure reliable ignition, the case rim must be thin enough to allow the priming compound to be crushed by the hammer's blow. This in turn limits the pressures that can be used with this type of ignition system. While this posed no problem when black powder was the primary small arms propellant, this weakness doomed the misfire system for more powerful applications when smokeless propellants came on the scene. The use of misfires today is essentially limited to the familiar .22 caliber misfire family of cartridges, which operate at relatively low chamber pressures. As propellants, bullet design, and firearms have evolved, cartridge design has evolved right along with them. Today, there are three (3) general shapes of cartridges, which may be further defined by head type. The three basic case shapes are: bottle-necked designs such as the .30-06 and the 7mm Remington Magnum, straight-walled cases such as the .38 Special and the .45-70 Government, and the least common, the tapered cases such as the 9mm Luger and the .30 Carbine. Individual cartridges may then be further described by their case head design, which will fall into one of the following categories; rimmed, semi-rimmed, rimless, belted, and rebated. Each design was produced for I specific reason, which may or may not still be applicable today.