View Full Version : Shooting trapdoor Springfields.

September 14, 2008, 01:08 PM
There's a lot of discussion as to using "cowboy load" .45-70 smokeless ammunition in these old rifles, using unjacketed bullets to be kind to the bores.

How many out there do that, and how many stick with black powder? If you're a black powder shooter, how hard is it to roll your own? Do they need to be paper patched?

September 14, 2008, 02:03 PM
I have a Trapdoor carbine. I load BP cartridges exclusively, using the carbine load of 55 grains FFg and a FB 405 grain bullet. Occasionally, I will load PP bullets but mostly not.
Using BP is only slightly more involved than using smokeless loads. There can be no air space in the case with BP. With full case loads, like 70 grains, this is not an issue. With 55 grains, it is but not much of one. Use a filler. I use either Kapok or a product called Pufflon. Others use cereal fillers like Cream of Wheat (CoW). They all work.
In addition, I use (as do many other BPCR shooters) a "grease" cookie directly underneath the bullet; it is two of Walter's Wads (or discs cut from a milk carton) with about 1/8" of beeswax sandwiched between them.
So, there are two small extra steps for me as opposed to using smokeless.
The carbine load shoots very nicely for me at 75 and 100 yards, the only distances I have ever shot it at. Four inches/iron sights/off my elbows.

September 15, 2008, 08:27 PM
I'm shooting 34.0 grs IMR 3031 under a 405 gr lead. Velocity is 1150'ps and is real pleasant to shoot. I haven't tried black powder as clean up on a trapdoor to me is a pain to do correctly.

September 15, 2008, 09:13 PM
I just buy them and was told that as long as the box has Govt. printed on it you're good to go. I can get them in 405 and 500 gr. I don't know what they use for powder but it's smokeless and I've shot enough blackpowder to know the difference.

Shooting at 1K yds is a real experience, you really have to wait for the hit. It seems to take forever to get there. I actually thought that I'd missed the entire rockface when I realized that I just hadn't waited long enough.

The thing does kick like a mule especially if you're wearing a T-shirt like we do most of the time. A 20 rd. box pretty much spells the end of the day with that rifle.

January 21, 2009, 12:35 PM
I have a 45-70 trapdoor that I reload for. Its an 1889? with the ramrod bayonet that looks like a philips screwdriver. I pour my own bullets they are 385 grain round nose made from wheel weights. The bullet is designed to be used with a gas check. I coat the bullets with Lee lubricant. I use IMR 3031 at 34 grains. Pressure is safe and it is a tack driver at 100 yards. I tried using pyrodex cartridge and was not happy with it. I had 4 squib loads out of 20. Same primers as with the IMR 3031 which had no squibs. It was real fun ramming the stuck bullet out of the barrel too. The clean up is a lot more work too.

Good shooting

January 24, 2009, 07:45 AM
I love my Traps, owning several 45-70s, and one 50-70. I only use smokeless, preferring of late IMR's Trail Boss. You can find reload info for the 45-70, and other calibers at their web site ---


IMO, as long as you reload, keeping the fps below 1100fps you'll be just fine; as long as your TD is in good condition. It's amazing how accurate these rifles can be.

Have fun!

January 24, 2009, 10:08 AM
Hi, I am a new member not at all knowing my way on these searchs. I read a couple of knowledgeable messages agout the Flobert rifles but didn't know how to get in the discussion? I do have trapdoor and am a collector. Jim

January 24, 2009, 03:12 PM
I used Winchester 300 gr. HP's in my 1884 made in 1889 and it shot well with them but 65 grs. of bp and a 450 gr. LRN did better. I wouldn't use smokeless loads in earlier guns tho.

January 27, 2009, 11:00 PM
When I was in high school I loaded .45-70 cartridges for an 1884 Springfield rifle that my dad left me. I don't remember the type or weight of smokeless powder that I used but I do remember something an old-time shooter told me during a trip to the range. "Don't ever use jacketed bullets in an original Springfield Trapdoor." Apparently a jacketed bullet would strip the rifling from the bore and leave it lying at your feet...like a bunch of spaghetti... :D

Milspec :)

January 30, 2009, 08:09 PM
I shoot 67 grns of Swiss F&1/2 behind a pure lead 540grain round nose.
This gives great shots at 1000 yrds. No problem hitting a life sized steel buffalo target if the wind is't blowing. I let a Nebraska state Trooper shoot it a few weeks ago and he grinned like a 4 year old ariving at Disney World. I do better with my modern copy of a Sharps but this is a vintage military 1884 Springfield with overbore and only 3 lands and grooves, the sights are made for volly fire not sniper duty, and the trigger was made for men with stones. This is not a benchrest queen. It is a real gun that came from an army tha lived outside. The forarm and grip is bloodstaind from whatever critter had the bayonett stuck in it. When we shoot this gun we salut those who trusted their lives to them, and have fun dooing it.