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Old December 17, 2016, 01:28 AM   #1
TruthTellers
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Best Beginner Black Powder Cartridge Rifle?

Alright, so let me set the stage for clarification of what I'm asking. If someone wants to get into shooting antique rifles chambered for black powder only cartridges which would almost require them to handload their own ammunition, which would you recommend?

I am interested in antique black powder cartridge rifles and there are a few that have peaked my interest. The Martini-Henry appears to be the most refined of them all with it's lever ejection and breech closing. Unfortunately, I've seen videos of the process of making the ammunition and it is... unpleasant to say the least.

Then there's the Snider-Enfield rifle that spits out a monstrous .577 caliber bullet. I've seen Duelist1954's video on reloading the .577 and he used .600" round balls in a 24 gauge plastic hull to good effect. The Snider appeals to me most as I could probably also load those 24 gauge shells with birdshot and use at short range.

There are others out there, I'm sure, but none that I'm as familiar with as the two I mentioned above. Thus, are there other, better, black powder cartridge rifles that would be more conducive for an amateur to start with?

EDIT: I'm strictly talking about rifles that can only shoot black powder, not smokeless. I'm not talking about replica rifles here as they are mostly built to handle shooting smokeless. BLACK POWDER ONLY.

Last edited by TruthTellers; December 18, 2016 at 06:40 PM.
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Old December 17, 2016, 01:44 PM   #2
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I have the Snider and several trapdoors. The Snider is fun to shoot with .590 pure lead balls from a Lee mold in 24 ga shotgun plastic hulls trimmed to 1.9". Easy to load and easy to shoot. No dies required. The rifle is one of the cleaned and complete Nepalese versions from IMA.

I have 50-70 gov and 45-70 gov trapdoors and both are easy to load and easy to shoot. I load a bunch of the 45-70 and the bass is still in good shape and going strong. Lee molds and Lyman dies. I only shoot black powder in my trapdoors.

TK
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Old December 17, 2016, 10:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
The Martini-Henry appears to be the most refined of them all with it's lever ejection and breech closing. Unfortunately, I've seen videos of the process of making the ammunition and it is... unpleasant to say the least.
Don't assume reloading this ancient ammunition isn't enjoyable for everyone. Some people like that kind of misery.

Really if I had to choose I'd go with a Pedersoli made Rolling Block or Sharps in .45-70. Easy to reload for, very accurate, and very beautiful. You also don't have to worry about damaging a collectable antique.
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Old December 18, 2016, 10:44 AM   #4
reinert
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Pick a Sharps model from Shiloh, C. Sharps, or from the Italian mfg. models, or a roller (shop them, too). The caliber is 45/70; easy to make shoot, and there's more info on loading the 2.1" than any other B.P.C.R. caliber (IMO). The U.S. Army back in the "day" had that cartridge efficiently figured out with the gunpowder of those times referred to these days as, "The Holy Black." Personally, I'm particular to the Sharps rifles made by the Shiloh Sharps folks in Big Timber, MT. Their guns are first rate, through and through, and 100% made in the U.S.A.

When I got started down the B.P.C.R. trail, I used Paul Matthews' books, "Shooting the Black Powder Cartridge Rifle," and "Loading the Black Powder Rifle Cartridge." They're still great handbooks, and if you don't have them, you should. That would be a good start for your B.P.C.R. research library (IMO).
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Old December 18, 2016, 11:33 AM   #5
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38-55
high powder capacity it isn't. Accurate it is.
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Last edited by Sure Shot Mc Gee; December 18, 2016 at 06:29 PM.
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Old December 18, 2016, 01:51 PM   #6
TruthTellers
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Keep in mind the purpose of this thread is not "what's the best black powder cartridge rifle" but which black powder cartridge rifle(s) are the best for an amateur to start with in shooting and reloading?
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Old December 18, 2016, 05:41 PM   #7
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depends on what kind of reloading,,,,smokeless or black powder

i have had a roller,,didnt do it for me

74 sharps yes i like them very much,,,i have a pedersoli i use a hunting gun,,a shiloh for sillys,,not saying the pedersoli wouldnt do that to

had a 1875 c sharps,,nice gun,,lot of dust collector stuff was collected with it too

and some high walls,,,

you might want to look at the high wall brownings,,the BPCG is a really nice gun,,,i also have a browning traditional hunter,,,they both shoot great and easy to load for,,,the TH is for me the best fitting gun i have ever taken out of a box

most all of my guns are 45-70,,,sprinkled with 45-90,,i like the heavier bullets

there is nothing wrong with the 38-55,,,most single shot guys are using 370+gr. bullets,,,they are very accurate,,,400yrds is a cake walk for that round,,,after that you will not like the wind very much

yes loading black powder is a little more complicated than smokeless,,,there is a learning curve

the browning guns (now winchester 1885 high walls) will handle either smokeless or black

but some of the others do also,,,just my opinion,,,but i think the high wall is the strongest action among these style black powder guns,,,ruger no1 not counted here

i would suggest you go to a BPCG shoot or someplace where you can handle different styles

the one you want is the one that talks to you,,,,you will know

my.02
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Old December 18, 2016, 06:43 PM   #8
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^ Not talking about smokeless. Black Powder, rifles that can only shoot black powder that use cartridges. Not muzzleloaders, not breechloading paper hulled or paper cartridges... rifles that use brass cartridges that have a primer in the cartridge, that are loaded with black powder and can only shoot BLACK POWDER that go into a chamber and goes boom when a firing pin hits the primer in the cartridge thus igniting the Black Powder.
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Old December 18, 2016, 07:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
^ Not talking about smokeless. Black Powder, rifles that can only shoot black powder that use cartridges. Not muzzleloaders, not breechloading paper hulled or paper cartridges... rifles that use brass cartridges that have a primer in the cartridge, that are loaded with black powder and can only shoot BLACK POWDER that go into a chamber and goes boom when a firing pin hits the primer in the cartridge thus igniting the Black Powder.
edited...nevermind
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Old December 18, 2016, 07:48 PM   #10
ocharry
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Yes all of the rifles I mentioned Will do exactly that.....black powder in a brass case with a primer and go boom....with lots of smoke

And they can do more...if you are careful....

Just pointing out that most modern styles of these guns will do smokeless if you desire

I didnt get you were looking for antique rifles...maybe you are....maybe not

Sorry to offend anyone...just trying to pass on 20yrs on the firing line with black powder and some great times with great shooters and friends

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Old December 18, 2016, 08:01 PM   #11
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The BEGINNER will be better off to start with a reproduction. Loading good BP ammo is enough of a challenge when barrels and chambers are standard sizes and you can buy, say, .45-70 brass and bullets (mould?) off the shelf.

Shooting the antique involves PAYING for an antique in good shooting condition, finding or making brass for an obsolete caliber, casting the right bullets for said obsolete caliber, taking note of wide tolerances in the old stuff, and making it all work together.

I have seen people working with .577-450, .43 Spanish, .450 BPE, .500 BPE, .45-90, and original .45-70. And work is the operative term, it is a good deal of extra work to get them to shoot right. Even my 1911 Winchester Single Shot .38-55 was more trouble than my modern Browning "Highwall" .40-65.
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Old December 18, 2016, 10:47 PM   #12
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well until he said he wants the primer in the case.
I was thinking either the 1857 Smith or the 1859 / 1863 sharps.
the Smith being technically 50 cal and a break action

and the Sharps typically 45 or 54 cal

Both use a special brass cartridge, never needs resized or trimmed
pour the powder in the case, press the bullet in by hand, pliers or small mallet.
insert in the chamber. place a cap on the nipple. aim and fire.

Ok so it takes an extra 2 to 3 seconds to load.

If every thing else is done, then no longer than working the action of a different cartridge gun. like working the lever of the bolt or the trapdoor.

But both are easy and very simple for a beginner. No accidental over loads
no extra reloading equipment to buy

Most of the cartridges hold 50 to 60 grains 2f BP. enough for any North American game animal.
I've had mine 5 years now done a good job on Pronghorns and muley deer
I don't need an elk although I enjoy the eating. Just way too much meat for one person.
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Old December 19, 2016, 09:55 AM   #13
reinert
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So, what IS your background with ANTIQUE cartridge arms? Have you already done some shooting and reloading for that type of firearm at all? The only reason I ask, is that it seems a rather tall order for a true beginner (IMO). If you want to do much shooting with an original, old era style rifle, and if cost and time consumption for all things considered (gun, and all the reloading components you'll surely need to make it fully operational) isn't a factor for you, I believe that would be a really cool project (IMO). Go for it.

If you haven't done any B.P.C.R. shooting or reloading, I think most of the comments here were suggestions for the least amount of frustration for a beginner (amateur as you said) if that's what was meant by your quote,

"...which would almost require them to handload their own ammunition..."

I have a good shooting buddy who owns an original 1866 Trapdoor Springfield in very nice shape. I don't remember the bullet he was using, but he casts his own, and reloads that 50/70 with B.P., of course. And, without much more than a very straightforward loading procedure, he produces ammo that's quite accurate in the gun. A very satisfying thing for him. I do believe one could buy ammo for that one without too much hunting around if one didn't reload.

I did watch a y.t. video on the .577 Snider Enfield you mentioned, which was on manufacturing ammo for it. That looked like quite the process there. Maybe the 50/70 might be a good place for a beginner to start with, and a proper antique firearm to use it in as a suggestion. Components for reloading the 50/70 are fairly available enough these days.

A good place to hunt reloading components, along with very helpful and knowledgeable folks for any B.P. firearm, could start you here:

www.buffaloarms.com
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Old December 19, 2016, 03:54 PM   #14
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If was me I'd do like was said and get a reproduction 74 Sharp's. Yes it will shoot smokeless but that doesn't mean you have to shoot smokeless. If you just want to make it harder on yourself get one chambered in 45-110 or 45-120.
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Old December 19, 2016, 06:13 PM   #15
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I'm still fairly new to reloading, especially for antiques, but I've found the .45-70 to be pretty forgiving. Easy enough to load for, and a lot of fun out of a Trapdoor rifle. I lucked out and standard .459 bullets shoot pretty well in my rifle.

I've also had fairly good luck with the Snider. I've been loading .58 caliber round balls into trimmed down 24 gauge shotshells, a la Duelist1954, with my BP lube (50/50 beeswax & mink tallow) to hold the ball in place. Haven't done enough testing to get a good idea of the accuracy, but so far it's been okay.
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Old December 19, 2016, 08:38 PM   #16
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If I were considering a black powder cartridge rifle for my first experiences with one, I would look at something with a history of quality that would last me for many years. I have a couple of Shiloh Sharps rifles, as well as a trapdoor and they are all okay shooters, but I think I would opt for a C. Sharps rifle now. If you want a common caliber they can offer 45/70 or many others. I personally would opt for a 40/65 this time around. Good quality products and nice people to deal with. If you happen to drive by Big Timber Mt., stop in. They have a nice showroom of their products and appreciate your business.
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Old December 22, 2016, 11:50 PM   #17
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another 45 70 shooter, mine is a pedersoli.
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