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Old December 27, 2019, 10:43 AM   #1
elrotundamundo
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1884 Trapdoor loads

So I got an 1884 Trapdoor Springfield from my son for Christmas. I also have a Henry H010 lever in 45-70. I have 2 relatively mild loads for the Henry that I use exclusively. Both loads use 45.7 grains of 3031 behind a 405 grain bullet. Load A uses Starline brass with a large rifle primer and a 405 grain LBT-LFN bullet. Load B uses Hornady Leverevolution cases with a Cast Performance 405 gr. WLN. I had to use the slightly shorter Hornady brass to get this bullet profile to feed. Bullets are sized .459. Both loads are very accurate.

According to Hogdon's site and Quickload both loads are well within the 28,000 SAAMI specs for Trapdoors. I have fired a box of HSM cowboy loads through my trapdoor and all went well. The gun is in excellent condition with no rust or corrosion. My concern is the Lyman Reloading Handbook #48. It is much more conservative with it's loads.

I would like to use the same loads for both rifles, but am loathe to try my handloads due to the Lyman data. Thoughts?
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Old December 27, 2019, 11:04 AM   #2
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My son has an 1873 original trapdoor, and a H&R reproduction trapdoor that I load for. They are neat rifles, and we get more than a few interested onlookers when we take them to the range.
45.7 gr of 3031 and a 405 lead bullet should be below 20,000 CUP, and safe in an original trapdoor, acc to the Hodgdon website.
Personally I use 40 gr of H4895 with a 405 gr lead bullet, mostly because I have a ton of that powder and that it tends to download fairly well.

Enjoy the new to you rifle
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Old December 27, 2019, 12:19 PM   #3
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There are folks, like Hodgdon, who run the trapdoor actions to 28,000 psi or CUP (same value in this cartridge at this pressure level). Others are more conservative, not wanting to let them get above about 20,000 psi/CUP on the theory the loads they recommend may be used in some original guns that may be of questionable strength at this point in time. Lyman is in that latter camp.

Either way, your 3031 load is below that lower value, so I wouldn't hesitate to use it.
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Old December 27, 2019, 12:22 PM   #4
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Thank you both for the replies. Hopefully I can get out soon and try my loads and see how the gun shoots.
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Old December 28, 2019, 05:32 PM   #5
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Watching this thread...I just purchased a H010 Henry 45-70 and have not shot or loaded for it yet...Got dies set up today.....I will be trying some 300 gran,400 gr and 405 gr leads...I have H335 and H4895 powders.
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Old December 28, 2019, 07:23 PM   #6
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Cervri,
I would guess that the three most common and most useful powders for the 45-70 and mild to mid range loads would be H4895, AA5744, and IMR 3031.

All three are good for reduced charges to avoid beating up your shoulder, and can still be loaded up to stouter loads, depending on the bullet weight you are using.
The 45-70 is pretty each to load for, and with cast bullets you can sometimes get excellent accuracy. I have great results with Meister brand lead bullets.
Enjoy the new Henry!
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Old December 29, 2019, 10:52 PM   #7
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TO be clear, the rifle you got is an original? The 1884 variant of the 1873 Trapdoor Springfield, made in the 1880s, right??

1880s steel is not the same as the gun steel we use today. But even if your gun is a modern steel reproduction of the Trapdoor, the load that is "moderate" in your Henry is WAAAY too much for a Trapdoor!

Quote:
I have 2 relatively mild loads for the Henry that I use exclusively. Both loads use 45.7 grains of 3031 behind a 405 grain bullet.
The old (1970) Lyman manual lists 38.5gr 3031 with the 405gr bullet as the factory duplication load. It lists 39gr as the max for the Trapdoor Springfield.

39gr. Max listed load for the 405 bullet in the Trapdoor.

The same manual lists 48gr as the max 405gr bullet load in the 1886 Winchester. Your load of 45.7g 3031 is TOO HOT for the Trapdoor. And while I don't think it will blow up immediately, if you shoot that load, I wouldn't expect it to last very long before something seriously broke.

Seriously, DO NOT shoot your Henry load in an old Trapdoor (or a new one for that matter).
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Old December 30, 2019, 07:44 AM   #8
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Yes, it is an original

My rifle is an original. Hodgdon lists 45.5 grains as a starting load for Trapdoors with the 405 grain lead. Lyman 48 says 38.5 (16,000 CUP) as maximum for 1873 Springfield. Mine's a 1884 but I have no idea if that makes any difference. Quickload says Lyman's max load would be 14122 psi. SAAMI says 28,000 is maximum safe average.

Clearly there are well considered yet divergent opinions, not only on this forum, but among engineers in the professional community.

As for me, I will reduce the load for the Springfield to 40 grains of 3031 as it can give me nearly equal velocity and trajectory as my Henry with less powder and pressure (15,605) due to the long barrel (per Quickload) and less wear and tear.
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Old December 30, 2019, 09:24 AM   #9
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Why not do a bit of fun research and use black powder as the rifle was designed for? You could have a lot of historical fun with 68 grns. of 2fg, and a 405 grain cast bullet. A bit of compression on the powder charge will no doubt be in order, but that’s no big deal to do with a compression plug. No worries about any kind of pressure problems/questions, either.
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Old December 30, 2019, 09:32 AM   #10
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Black powder

I guess I just find the cleanup a chore, and when I clean my TC Renegade after use (I always use black powder in it) , I always worry I didn't get it all out.
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Old December 30, 2019, 10:02 AM   #11
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I have a 45/70 Sharps in which I only use black powder (and cast bullets, of course). I've found that the clean-up on the rifle itself is no harder than cleaning any smokeless powder firearm I own. It's the fired cases that need the time consuming attention after the firing. Yeah, that takes some time, but personally I enjoy the whole experience with the B.P.C.R. Cleaning a muzzleloader, to me anyway, takes more time for cleaning than my Sharps does.

Looks like you're located in N. Idaho. Do you know of Buffalo Arms in Ponderay? Good folks to visit with for ANYTHING in B.P.C.R. They're happy to visit with you on the phone for any questions you might have, too.

www.buffaloarms.com
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Old December 30, 2019, 01:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
SAAMI says 28,000 is maximum safe average.
SAAMI is wrong. I would not load that high in even a "modern steel" Trapdoor.
Lyman is much closer to what the old guns will handle.

My .40-65 has never been sullied by smokeless, and my .38-55 has not fired any nitro since I moved it from CAS to BPCR. Cleanup is not hard. I think it is easier to clean a black powder breechloader than a muzzleloader - just ask the Irish Creedmoor team, if you can find any left from 1876.
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Old December 30, 2019, 01:44 PM   #13
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"...and Quickload..." Quickload doesn't count. It's a computer program not a reloading manual. It is basically a huge guess vs a proper manual.
Hodgdon's site does count. Even if it's not all right in the head. It will say use a magnum primer with a magnum named cartridge using a specific powder but not with a non-magnum cartridge and the same powder.
"...39gr. Max listed load for the 405..." Currently 48.5 of 3031 for a cast 405 in a TD load on Hodgdon's site. They used a 24" barrel with a 1 in 20 twist.
"...would like to use the same loads for both rifles..." It's highly unlikely both rifles will shoot the same load the same way. You really need to work up a load for each rifle.
However, your 3031 load is a bit under Max for a cast 405. Recoil will be heavy in a TD Carbine, but should be OK out of a rifle.
The Lyman Reloading Handbook #48 should have TD loads that'll be fine. One needs to remember all the companies are subject to liability law suits.
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Old December 30, 2019, 01:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elrotundamundo
According to Hogdon's site and Quickload both loads are well within the 28,000 SAAMI specs for Trapdoors.
Quote:
Originally Posted by elrotundamundo
SAAMI says 28,000 is maximum safe average.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson
SAAMI is wrong
None of the above is correct. SAAMI doesn't have a load standard for trapdoor Springfield's, specifically. They have a commercial ammunition maker's standard which is intended to result in ammunition that will work in all modern actions in good condition that are chambered for the round. They make no representation SAAMI standards will produce ammunition that is safe in antique firearms. So, to the extent you use their data in antiques, you are taking your own chances. A modern manufactured trapdoor with 45-70 stamped on the barrel should be able to withstand a SAAMI 45-70 proof load. Call the maker to double-check.
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Old December 30, 2019, 02:27 PM   #15
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I should have said it was wrong to consider the SAAMI value safe for Trapdoors, especially real Springfields. A dealer here displayed a Trapdoor carbine with cracked hinge from overloading.
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Old December 30, 2019, 04:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Mine's a 1884 but I have no idea if that makes any difference.
The primary difference between the 1873 and 1884 models is the rear sight. The base action with all its good and bad features is the same for both.

Personally, I don't trust a website that tells me to start 30% above the load I've been safely using for 40+ years. No matter who's name is on the website. Lyman has been listing loads for the .45-70 since before 1900, and I kind of trust them.

Consider this, IF the website is "right" what's the worst that can happen with the lower Lyman data? Underpowered ammo?? Still safe, and trust me 38.5gr 3031 and a 405gr slug does WORK.

But, what if the website is wrong? (or right for their TEST GUN but wrong for YOUR GUN?) Worst case, rifle becomes a grenade. Next worst case, rifle fails (cracks/breaks) and becomes a wall hanger without actually blowing up.

You've got a 130 year old rifle, that has survived till now, don't be the one to kill it because some website (or computer program) said the load was ok.

DO YOUR OWN TESTING, CAREFULLY! Get data from multiple sources. Start LOW.

ALL reloading data is GUIDELINES. They don't have your gun to test, YOU DO. While things are usually generally about the same (which is why the guidelines are useful) drastic variances from the usual ARE possible. SO we ALWAYS start low, just in case your gun is at one end of the bell curve instead of in the middle.

There are recognized experts who say the old guns should only be shot with lead bullets and black powder. "Safe" pressure smokeless powder loads won't blow them up, but they stress the gun in ways different from black powder, and that's not a good thing.

Your gun, your call.

Good Luck!
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Old December 30, 2019, 04:07 PM   #17
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I have my grandfathers all original 1873 Trapdoor built in 1882. The only smokeless load I ever shoot in it is 27 grains of H4198 under a 405 Lee HB bullet. It is a soft shooting and accurate load. But 60 grains of Goex FF is used 99% of the time.
Hodgdons shows 14200 cup with that H4198 load and I don’t want to go any higher than that.
Cleaning up after using Goex is really easy and is much more fun to use. Case handling after is bit different but not that big of deal.
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Old December 30, 2019, 05:30 PM   #18
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I have located this Pedersoli document. It confirms their modern-made trapdoors have been proofed at 30% above the modern commercial 45-70 ammunition load limit of 28,000 psi (29,000 psi and change by the CIP method). It also states that for original trapdoors in good condition based on black powder loads, 18,000 psi is a reasonable upper limit.

This other article shows F granulated load of BP (usually recommended for 45-70) behind a 500-grain bullet not exceeding 19,500 psi. It shows higher pressures with finer grains, as you might expect, but they were not fired in a trapdoor.

So it looks like there is broad agreement to stay south of 20,000 psi with the antique trapdoors.
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Old December 30, 2019, 06:08 PM   #19
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I no longer have the book, but recall that when Accurate Arms showed BPCR calibers, they first shot them with black powder in their pressure test rig. Most ran right around 20000 with a case full of black.

Then you get into the oft stated claim that old guns are not "rated" for smokeless and that even same peak pressure loads are harder on the guns with nitro.
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Old December 30, 2019, 07:00 PM   #20
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Hmmmm

Looks like black powder is the only option that everyone agrees is really safe. Think I'll try 60 grains by volume of Goex FFg behind some 405gr bullets. Montana Bullet Works has a 405 Lyman 457193 with SPG lube that might do the trick.

I am having cataract surgery next month and after they clear me to shoot, I'll give it a try.
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Old December 30, 2019, 08:03 PM   #21
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Not sure if you are aware but original Trapdoors are .461 to .463. I would be getting them to size to .460.
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Old December 31, 2019, 05:21 AM   #22
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bore slugged .460

I was aware that bore sizes varied, so I slugged the bore. It was harder to measure than some slugs I've done on other guns, because of the odd number of lands and grooves (3 and 3), but by catching the edges I was able to do it. I got .460 with both my micrometer and my caliper, so feel comfortable with the measurement.

I live about 45 minutes from Buffalo Arms in Sandpoint/Ponderay, so I may run up there today and see what bullets they stock with black powder lube, and maybe get a drop tube. I've got quite a few Remington cases I can use for black powder and save my Starline for smokeless.
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Old December 31, 2019, 07:40 AM   #23
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If you load black powder, remember no airspace, at least slight compression. Otherwise you risk "ringing" your barrel. You might try Alliant Black MZ substitute, a little less messy and smelly than holy black. But I agree with the others that cleaning black powder firearms is not that difficult. Hot water does wonders. Enjoy your time in the 19th century.
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Old December 31, 2019, 02:01 PM   #24
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Thanks to all and a new question

Firstly, thank you all for the good help.

Secondly, I dug out my Depstech endoscope that I got a while back and ran it down the bore of my Trapdoor. The bore looks very good except for the first maybe four inches after the chamber. It is eroded and has sort of an alligator skin look to it. I took a couple of snapshots with the scope. I would imagine that this will affect accuracy, but I am hoping I can get it shooting good enough for a 100 yard deer gun.

1-What might have caused this?

2-I was thinking of casting plain base 405 bullets with the Lee 459-405 HB with either pure lead or a 1/20 lead tin alloy. Would this be the best choice given the bore condition or should I maybe use a gas check bullet.
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Old December 31, 2019, 03:13 PM   #25
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Looks like lead to me. It took me several weeks, a dozen 50 caliber brushes and I swear a 2000 strokes plus hoppes, Ballistol, carburetor cleaner and choreboy wrapped on a brush to get the lead out of my Trapdoor.
The bore looked worn in mine and as I progressed the crap turned from black to rust coloured back to black and then started coming cleaner. I swear the groves doubled in size after I was done and the barrel looks almost new now. Half way through this cleaning process I got discouraged as I thought the barrel was badly pitted but it was just all the lead and crap that was still in it.
I suggest you get the book by Pat Wolf on the trapdoor. It’s available in digital as well. It goes through so much and helped me tremendously.
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