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Old February 15, 2013, 08:02 PM   #1
USMC EOD
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Springfield 1873

I have a Springfield Model 1873 (a late 19th Century Assault Rifle) in .45-70. It is in beautiful condition, and the rifling is very good. I would love to take it out to the range to see how she does, but I want to be very careful not to damage it. I know that jackted bullets are a no-no, so I will be hand-loading lead bullets. My question is: Do I have to be careful with the hardness of the lead bullets that I load in it? If this is the case, does anyone know a source of soft lead 500 grain bullets I could buy?

Does anyone have any advice or recomendations about shooting this relic?

For the record, I am well aware that most loading manuals have data for the Trapdoor rifles that is separate from the newer lever guns and single shot rifles.

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Old February 15, 2013, 09:10 PM   #2
DnPRK
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New production 45-70 black powder ammo with 405 grain bullet

Another website with black powder ammo

You can try "cowboy" 45-70 ammo, but it uses hot burning smokeless powder and typically doesn't have the accuracy of black powder.

I hand load for mine. A 535 grain Postell bullet and fiber wad over two dropped charges of 35 gr FFg, with compression after each drop. Buffaloarms.com sells all the stuff you need to reload black powder cartridges.
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Old February 15, 2013, 10:30 PM   #3
jrothWA
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Recall reading of group called hte "46-70's",

where you have to be over 45 to shoot (aka retired).

One thing I recall that they "slugged" their barrels and found that all were oversized and the group cut new molds to fit the bores and increased the accuracy.

Try the commercial loads to enjoy your rifle.

Also try locating an old copy of the"Dixie Gun works, Inc. catalog, to find a listing of known SN ranges of rifle assigned to the 7th Cavalry and possibly used at the Little Big Horn.

You might have something!
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Old February 16, 2013, 03:08 PM   #4
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Were many rifles recovered from the Little Bighorn?
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Old February 16, 2013, 03:20 PM   #5
PawPaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMC EOD
Do I have to be careful with the hardness of the lead bullets
I shoot dead-soft lead in my BP cartridge rifles because you're not going to push that bullet fast enough to need hard lead. What's most important is that the bullet fit the bore. In '03, Junior wrote an article about BP loading the .45-70 and detailed his thoughts and successes. It's really not hard to load BP cartridges, but it is different than loading smokeless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gk1
Were many rifles recovered from the Little Bighorn?
I'm sure someone recovered them. The question would be if they were recovered by Terry's cavalry, or by the Lakota?
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Old February 16, 2013, 04:30 PM   #6
Hunter Customs
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Nice rifle.

I have one that's complete with bayonet.
It hangs on the wall mostly, however I did shoot a gallon jug of water with it to impress my oldest grandson when he was about six years old.

I have some ammo loaded by PMC that they advertised as cowboy loads.
The loads have a 405 grain flat nose cast lead bullet that's moving at an advertised 1250 fps, however I believe they used smokeless powder in these loads.

I told my oldest grandson I would take it out some future deer season and harvest a deer with it.

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Old February 17, 2013, 06:31 AM   #7
radom
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Thats a nice one so I would never shoot BP in it. A nice light load with a 405 slug and 2400 and lots of paper so the slug fits the bore.
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:13 AM   #8
darkgael
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Irony

Quote:
Thats a nice one so I would never shoot BP in it
Now there is an irony. You have a gun that was designed to shoot BP loaded cartridges....and, indeed, has shot BP cartridges and is, 140 years later, still in great shape.......and is now so nice that you would never shoot BP in it. Go figure.
What is the problem with BP?
I submit to you that there is a greater chance of damaging that old gun by loading smokeless than by loading what it was designed to shoot.
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Old February 17, 2013, 04:14 PM   #9
Hawg
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Quote:
Were many rifles recovered from the Little Bighorn?
The Indians recovered all of them. There were no 45-70 rifles at Little Bighorn. The cavalry used carbines.
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Old February 17, 2013, 06:46 PM   #10
SIGSHR
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Yes, blackpowder and lead bullets only in a Trapdoor, that 140 year old steel is not up to the higher pressure and burning temperatures of smokeless powder, and cleaning up after a BP shooting session is not that difficult.
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Old February 18, 2013, 12:36 AM   #11
USMC EOD
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I very much appreciate all the input. I'll post again after I shoot, and let everyone know how it goes.
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Old February 18, 2013, 03:30 PM   #12
Pharm
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I use modern "cowboy" commercial loads with lead bullets in mine. They won't hurt the rifle and I don't have the cleaning issues like I would with black powder.
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Old February 19, 2013, 10:27 PM   #13
radom
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Me I trust my light smokless loads that stress the gun less than the BP slam spike and dont much care for the clean up. I am sure it will deal with BP just fine though.
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Old February 20, 2013, 12:40 PM   #14
jrothWA
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I read the OP's post..

as he has a 1873 Trapdoor, and as such according to an old Dixie catalog, fot the year 1873 only four rifles were made and 1,942 carbines.

What is really needed is the date from the breechblock(under the hinge) to properly date it.
The ranges considered are: 1,100 to 3.197, 12,200 to 22,000, &
31,000 to 43,600.
The years involved are: 1873, 1874, & 1875

Both sides recovered dropped arms and there were some returned for arsenal rebuild.
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Old February 21, 2013, 05:16 PM   #15
Mk VII
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Read the late Spence Wolfe's Reloading Cartridges for the Original 45-70 Springfield Rifle & Carbine. Then read it again, it'll take several reads to absorb the knowledge.
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