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Advise for a new .45-70 shooter


Robin Trains SASS 80595
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Howdy pards,

I am interested in shooting steel & paper with this venerable cartridge, but am a newbie. My guns will be a Sharps (32") and officer model Trapdoor (26").

My question rests in what gain boolits I should be focusing on? I see some lead FNRP in the 405g offering, while lots of jacketed rounds lie between 300g-375g.

Any advise for SASS Long Range Side Matches and general plinking? (I am not a hunter)

Many thanks and I tip my hat to ya!
~Robin Trains

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Go join the ASSRA forum and the Cast Boolits forum.  Wealth of information on there.  You will find that different bullets will be used in the trapdoor than in the sharps.  There is also a book all about loading for the trapdoor springfield.  They were originally loaded with 405 grain hollow base bullets and they perform very well.  To get the most out of both rifles you are probably going to want to start casting bullets also.  You didn't mention if you were going to shoot black powder or smokeless.    I just got into this myself last year and am at the very beginning of the learning also.  I am loading  black powder loads and competing in black powder cartridge competitions locally.   Lots of good info on the forums I mentioned.  Good luck and have fun! 

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Thanks fellas,

I have not cast my own before - but can learn! At this stage I was going for off the shelf smokeless - just to get some experience under my belt. Happy to try BP - availability pending.

 

My one rifle is a Pedersoli 'Q' sharps, while the trapdoor I am admiring is the 26" Officer model, also Italian.

 

 

 

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Find a copy of "Loading Cartridges for the .45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine"  by J.S. and Pat Wolf.  Best information on the .45-70 I've ever seen.

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Be aware some Sharps makers only proof their guns for black powder which makes shopping for commercial rounds difficult and costly. I started casting my own and have a fleet of molds. I shot in the Bordertown long range match today. Last year I hit three out of ten in the single shot category. Today, using advice from OLG and others I had four hits out of five. They changed the round count to speed up the match. If I had better shooting glasses I may have had five out of five. When I did “Take No Prisoners “ I had one long range shot free hand. It was a hit. But those all were with the Lyman 535 grain Postell I cast and black powder I loaded. 

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I'm shootin black in my Shiloh 45 70.  I'm loading mostly Old E ffg 65 gr and the Lyman 535 gr bullet. Haven't had any time to shoot it since early last spring but hope to get a lot more done with it this fall and winter and get it dialed in finally.  Been following the posts as of late and gaining some helpful info from all.  Shot it in the long range at the Montana state match and didnt do real well, although the wind was a real challenge.   Hoping to do better next year.

Edited by Dead Eye Jake
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I shoot a Pedersoli Boss with smokeless out to 600m and a Pedersoli 1886, also smokeless, out to 300m.

 

If you have a Quigley Pedersoli I think that is 34" of barrel (as is mine).

 

I use a 520gr 20:1 projectile in the Sharps and push that out at around 1100 FPS (I am using Aussie powders so probably not much point in giving you loads). With a Lee Shaver LR Soule sight it shoots pretty easily out to 600m.

 

I use a 405 hard caste and coated proj in the 1886. I am pushing that at about 1400 FPS with a Lee Shaver sight again.

 

One thing I would suggest is if you want to shoot out to the 5/600 mark get a better sight than the one that comes with the Pedersoli. MVA, Lee Shaver, Kelley are all options.

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10 hours ago, Robin Trains SASS 80595 said:

Thanks fellas,

I have not cast my own before - but can learn! At this stage I was going for off the shelf smokeless - just to get some experience under my belt. Happy to try BP - availability pending.

 

My one rifle is a Pedersoli 'Q' sharps, while the trapdoor I am admiring is the 26" Officer model, also Italian.

 

 

 

In the Sharps, look at a Postell or Creedmoor style bullet for the best long range accuracy. 

Experiment with 20/1 and 30/1 alloy.

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Before shooting factory rounds in your trap door, make sure the rounds are safe to use in it. Most factory 45-70 rounds are made for hunting and will not be enjoyable to shoot out of your trap door. Your sharps is heavy enough that it will soak up the recoil.

 

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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Check out the South Carolina Old West Shootists (SCOWS) NCOWS Club. They shoot at the Mid-Carolina Rifle Club, located at 3435 Fish Hatchery Rd., Gaston, SC 29053.

 

You are likely to find a few long range shooters there. 

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If you are not shooting past 500 yards, the 405 grain cast RNFP bullets are adequate. Past that, the 500+ grain "streamlined" bullets are far superior. I personally use a 525 grain "Money" bullet that I cast from a Buffalo Arms Company (BACO) mould. For smokeless powder, Accurate 5744 is the usual go-to, but it has become hard to find. IMR 3031 works quite well with the lighter bullets from my Pedersoli Sharps, but I haven't tried it with the heavy slugs yet.

 

I have no use for jacketed bullets in the old Government cartridge, but I can say I have seen great groups from the Hornady 350 gr. RN from a 458 WinMag. 

 

And as already suggested, BACO is an awesome source for 45-70 goodies, including sights, blow tubes (recommended if you want to use BP), moulds, bullets, vintage-style scopes & bases, etc.

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8 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Check out the South Carolina Old West Shootists (SCOWS) NCOWS Club. They shoot at the Mid-Carolina Rifle Club, located at 3435 Fish Hatchery Rd., Gaston, SC 29053.

 

You are likely to find a few long range shooters there. 

I'll go meet those folks this coming Saturday!

How refreshing to hear about something that did not just happen, heh!

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2 hours ago, The Rainmaker, SASS #11631 said:

Scarlett Darlin may be a good contact as well. She's a long range boomer too and nearby for you.

I was just speaking with her about lead and look forward to meeting her!

https://bulletsbyscarlett.com/shop

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On 10/29/2022 at 4:47 PM, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Is that Trap-Door proofed for smokeless?

They are very weak actions. 

Unless your Trapdoor is a modern-made reproduction, it is not proofed for smokeless.  However, with modern brass cases, and either factory smokeless ammo, and IF have it checked for headspace with a Field gage, and better still a  NO-GO gage, it MAY be safe to shoot with low-pressure loads. For certain, follow the loads shown in the Lyman #44 manual or later.  No, the Trapdoor is not considered a strong action, but when the Army was experimenting with the .30-40 Krag (aka .30 Gov't), they used Trapdoors. 

 

One thing to watch for on the MODERN Trapdoors is that the thumbpiece is not slipping on the projection from the locking lug. I never had one, but understand that could be a problem, whereas the originals had the projection square in form and fit the thumbpiece's square hole.

 

[Not responsible for the use of the above information in guns other than my own, and maybe not them either!  Usual disclaimer.]

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I am shooting an original trapdoor carbine. I have been casting 405 gr hollow base bullets. My first batch that I loaded was 60 gr of 2f. It was dead on at 100 yards. But the load thumped the heck out of my shoulder after shooting 15 rounds. That was what the original load was from what I had researched it was 70gr for the rifle but they switched to a 500gr bullet. I had gotten my info from a book the 45-70 springfield by joe poyer and craig riesch. It was more for collectors but had tons of info on all models of the original. I have seen smokeless ammo at sportsmans wearhouse marked as cowboy loads. Was at the NJ state shoot and they had a long range setup the Quigley  which was 300 yards at a bucket...much to my amazement I hit it. 

Good luck and have fun!

 

Sgt Hochbauer

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On 10/27/2022 at 1:01 PM, Sedalia Dave said:

Check out the South Carolina Old West Shootists (SCOWS) NCOWS Club. They shoot at the Mid-Carolina Rifle Club, located at 3435 Fish Hatchery Rd., Gaston, SC 29053.

 

You are likely to find a few long range shooters there. 

And the Palmetto Posse and Savannah River Rangers shoot there, too! 1st Saturday and 3rd Sunday. I have an 1885 Browning High Wall.  I have a load - smokeless that several trap door shooters use. Let me know if I can be of help. I have bullets from 300gr up to 500gr. The best seller is 405gr RNFP. 

 

Long range is a blast. 
 

Hugs!

Scarlett

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On 10/26/2022 at 8:02 PM, Sarge said:

Find a copy of "Loading Cartridges for the .45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine"  by J.S. and Pat Wolf.  Best information on the .45-70 I've ever seen.

This book can be ordered off of amazon. Awesome book on the trapdoor, in .45-70 Government. 

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14 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

And the Palmetto Posse and Savannah River Rangers shoot there, too! 1st Saturday and 3rd Sunday. I have an 1885 Browning High Wall.  I have a load - smokeless that several trap door shooters use. Let me know if I can be of help. I have bullets from 300gr up to 500gr. The best seller is 405gr RNFP. 

 

Long range is a blast. 
 

Hugs!

Scarlett

Howdy Scarlett,

We spoke on the phone a few days ago. Looking forward to meeting you. Two great groups for sure!

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After some research, here is info for folks - such as myself.

Black powder loading on Pedersoli Sharps & Rolling block rifles :
https://www.davide-pedersoli.com/storage/app/uploads/public/628/3a4/389/6283a43892f98831799297.pdf

From a 2020 posting on the NorthwestFirearms Forum (copied with respect) :

"
This is the letter from Davide Pedersoli Spa. with regard to shooting their version of the Trapdoor Springfield rifle. I hope that it is of some use to somebody here.

My .45-70 Govt rifle is made by Uberti, and since the .45-70 is not used for hunting here in UK, I shoot paper. The bold italics are not mine, but are obviously in response to a similar question to that put by the OP -"

PEDERSOLI PROOF TESTING STATEMENT

Dear Mr vxvxvxvxvxvxv,

All Pedersoli rifles are proof tested at the (Italian government) National Firing Proof House with smokeless powder cartridges with a pressure exceeding that of the ‘commercial’ factory made ammunition by 30 %.

For the .45-70 caliber we normally recommend the use of commercially made ammunition because of it being easily available on the world market. We show here some warnings about C.I.P. rules:

C.I.P WARNING

Our guns are proof tested according to the rules imposed by C.I.P. (International Proof Commission). Proof test pressure is 30% stronger than the maximum pressure of a commercial cartridge (Pmax.) Pmax pressures are measured in BAR units.

The below mentioned data are compared to the Crusher (CUP) and PSI method.

The equivalent maximum pressure value of the commercial cartridges measured according to the English/American P.S.I. and C.U.P. system is obtained by multiplying the BAR value x 14.5037.

The list below represents the maximum pressure to be developed by a commercial cartridge to be used with our guns, in the various calibers shown .In no case should the cartridges exceed such pressure values.

Smokeless Powder Cartridges
 

Calibers BAR CUP – PSI
30-30 Win. 2800 40611
30-40 Krag 2850 41335
38-55 Win. 2150 31182
357 Mag. 3200 46411
45 Colt 1100 15945
45-70 Govt. 2000 29007(*)
8x57 JRS 2900 42060
9,3x74R 3000 43511


Black Powder Cartridges
 

Caliber BAR CUP – PSI
38-55 B.P. 2000 29007
40-65 B.P. 1723 25000
45-70 B.P. 1723 25000
45-90 B.P. 1723 25000
45-100,110 B.P. 1723 25000
45-120 B.P. 1723 25000
45-70 Light B.P. 1241 18000 (**)
50-70, 50-90 Light B.P. 1241 18000 (**)
50-70, 50-90 B.P. 1723 25000 (*)


These calibers with B.P. indicate the use of commercial cartridges cases reloaded with BLACK POWDER only.

(*) This pressure is allowable for modern made Pedersoli rifles in 38-55, 40-65, 45-70, -90, -100, -110, -120, 50-70, and 50-90. It may not be safe with other brands of replica arms and those mfrs. must be consulted for their data.

(**) This pressure is generally considered to be near the safe limit for original antique Trapdoor model rifles which have been examined by a qualified gunsmith and found to be in good condition. Modern made Pedersoli Trapdoor 45-70 rifles are safe to the higher 29007 PSI/CUP pressure. Other brands of modern made Trapdoor rifles may not be safe at this high pressure and the mfr. must be consulted for their data.

The modern replica Sharps, Rolling Block and Trapdoor models we produce are stronger than their original versions due in part to improved steels as well as minor changes made to strengthen original design weakness and add some discrete safety features. Although it is unpleasant to shoot maximum pressure loadings, we do permit the use of ammunition which does not exceed 29007 psi or CUP in these BP Ctg Rifles, regardless of their caliber. This allowable maximum pressure may be obtained using either black powder or smokeless powder loadings.

When using smokeless powder it is the responsibility of the reloader to use only the correct type of powder as well as the correct weight of powder in conjunction with the type and weight of bullet being reloaded.

Use ONLY the printed reloading charges listed by the powder manufacturer and which show the chamber pressure for each such reloading combination.

We recommend the Accurate Arms reloading book #2 (phone 800 416 3006 ) as meeting all our requirements for bullet types, pressure readings and powder charge selections.

Other powder and bullet manufacturers books are equally recommended if they list all the required data.

The Pedersoli company assumes no responsibility for injury or damage caused by firing ammunition loaded wrongly or to excessive pressures.

We are aware that there is smokeless powder 45-70 cal. commercial ammunition being sold which advertises pressures of 40,000 psi and we advise against use of this type ammunition. The large capacity thin-wall brass cases are not designed to handle such excessive pressures and will have a very short reloadable life and may burst when fired at such high psi. For "ALL" large case black powder calibers, the best accuracy is obtained by the use of carefully developed loads using blackpowder and cast lead bullets in a bullet length suitable for the barrel twist of your rifle.

For Davide Pedersoli & Co.

Dick Trenk
Competition Events Coordinator

rev 9-04"

 

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14 hours ago, Sgt. Hochbauer, SASS #64409 said:

I am shooting an original trapdoor carbine. I have been casting 405 gr hollow base bullets. My first batch that I loaded was 60 gr of 2f. It was dead on at 100 yards. But the load thumped the heck out of my shoulder after shooting 15 rounds. That was what the original load was from what I had researched it was 70gr for the rifle but they switched to a 500gr bullet. I had gotten my info from a book the 45-70 springfield by joe poyer and craig riesch. It was more for collectors but had tons of info on all models of the original. I have seen smokeless ammo at sportsmans wearhouse marked as cowboy loads. Was at the NJ state shoot and they had a long range setup the Quigley  which was 300 yards at a bucket...much to my amazement I hit it. 

Good luck and have fun!

 

Sgt Hochbauer

Keep in mind that the original carbine load was 55 gr. behind a 405 gr. bullet.  This was because of exactly what you experienced with the 60 gr. 2f load, which, as you stated, is equivalent to the original 70 gr. 405 gr. rifle load. The troopers complained about the recoil, although I doubt they fired 15 rds in practice. (At one point, around 1875, they were allocated 3 rounds per man per month for practice!)  There were a few instances where cavalry company commanders requested the rifle loads for their carbine-equipped troopers for "longer range" capability. Not sure how that worked out! The difference between your 60 gr load and the original is due to the smaller powder capacity of modern solid-head brass vs. the folded-head, inside primed centralfire copper cases.  The 55 gr. loads used the same length cases as the rifle, but had overpowder filler wads to take up the space between the powder and the bullet.  You might consider doing the same, dropping the charge down some. (Not sure how much that would be, but figure about 79% or 47 gr. in your instance.  Obviously, you'd need filler wads over the powder.

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Any loading manual will have trapdoor safe data.  If shooting 500 grain or heavier bullets, your shoulder will really appreciate not exceeding trapdoor velocities.  I have an original 1888 trapdoor and with 500 grainers going with a few fps of the original 500 grain service loads it is not fun to shoot especially prone.

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Note that even "Trapdoor safe" smokeless loads might kick like a mule.

When I got my first .45-70, it was an 1884 rifle.  I loaded it up with...  I don't remember what, with a .405 Grain bullet.  It shot fine.

When I tried that same load in my 1873 carbine and my 1886 Winchester with a 20" barrel, it was very painful to shoot.

I looked it up found a "Trapdoor safe" load with Trailboss.   It was higher pressure than the other load, but lower velocity, and still well below the max pressure for use in a Trapdoor.   The load I developed shot very nicely in all three of my rifles.

And then there is something known as .45-85-285.  This is a cartridge developed by Colt for use in their Lightning rifles.  It uses a case with identical dimensions to the .45-70.   However, the 405 grain bullet creates and overall cartridge length that is JUST too long to fit through the loading gate.

Found some 300 grain bullets, a load listed as Trapdoor safe with Trailboss, loaded it said load up and ran them through the Lightning with no problems.

You may have noticed that I have not listed the amount of powder used.   That's because Trailboss is at the moment, unavailable, so there is no point in listing the load.   :(

However, my point is that looks at different bullet weights and powders, stick to the Trapdoor safe loads, and you will find a loading that is pleasant to shoot.   My above alluded to Trailboss loads were quite capable of hitting the gong at up to 200 yards with no problems.   Never tried longer distances.

 

Good luck!

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