- February 22, 2016 at 3:06 pm #24697
Bjorn asked if he could repost here a lengthy informational post I did on CBF about 45-70 trapdoor loads. Obviously I’ve no problem with that. Bjorn went through the entire thread on CBF and condensed it for use here…..many thanks to Bjorn for that. So here it is and I hope many of you will find it useful. These loads also may be used in other 45-70s and may give some details on developing easy shooting, accurate loads for whatever 45-70 rifle you may have. Of course if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask as I, and I’m sure others, will be more than glad to help with useful, tested and proven answers to your questions.
LARRY GIBSON’S TRAP DOOR LOADS
I’ve decided not to try to follow a chronological order of my load developments for TD loads. That would jump back and forth too much. Instead I’ll focus on the load development for the M1884 target style TD since it has the original 3 groove barrel. Most of those loads also shoot very well in the modern dimensioned H&R TD barrels but I’ll follow up with special loads used in them. An additional requirement for my loads was they could be left loaded for a long period of time and could be carried afield in a “prairie” belt for use on my “walk abouts”.
My conversations with Spence were all too few and to short. Let’s remember that Spence set out to replicate the original TD service and practice loads to which he succeeded very nicely. He also provides some smokeless loads and practice loads in his book. However, Spence was using the loading technique developed to replicate the service loads, i.e. FL sizing, sizing the bullets to .459, etc. It is known now that with bores of .460+ that bumping up from obturation was not conducive to the best accuracy. We also know that FL sizing also most often is not. My tact was to apply modern cast bullet loading methods to Spence’s proven methods to see if I could improve upon them accuracy wise with both service and practice loads while maintaining the velocity of the service loads. I was applying this to BP loads, duplex loads and smokeless loads. My intent was not to cover all possible loads but to develop a practical working load for each type.
I started out simply replicating the loads as noted in Spence’s book. Based on his recommendation I decided to forgo the RCBS dies and get the Lee die set from Wolf Traders. This included the FL die, expander die, compression die and a seating die. Spence was out of the larger expander but that was ok because I could easily make my own. Good thing I could because the Lee expander I got was .450! That would have really sized the softer cast bullets down on seating. I made a new one out of a chunk of Mauser 7×57 barrel that was .4585.
The barrel of my M1884 TD was slugged at .461 and there was the usual very short throat. I had a .459 H die and started out with that and the moulds I had; 457124, 457483, C457-500-FN and the Lee 459-405-HB made for Wolf Traders to replicate the M1873 service bullet. Cast of 20-1 the Lyman’s dropped at .459, the 500 gr Lee at .460 and the 405HB at .464. I size all at .459 and lube them with my own lube (following Spence’s recommendation) using 5 parts beeswax to 4 parts virgin olive oil. I also lubed some with SPG for comparison. I still had some Dupont 3F but also picked up a lb of GOEX 3F and a lb of GOEX Cartridge. I prepped the WW cases exactly as per Spence’s instructions including drilling the flash holes. I used Federal Magnum primers. I loaded 22 cases each with 70 gr by weight of each powder using a Lyman 55 thrower. With 4 raps of the knocker the Lyman threw very consistent charges. Charges were thrown directly into the cases as a drop tube was not needed. Later testing proved the use of a drop tube did not improve the SD/ES of the loads or accuracy. I believe the heavy compression of the load is why. The compression depth was varied so each different bullet could be seated on top of the compressed powder and the case crimped in the correct place.
Testing all over several shooting sessions at 100 yards and chronographing showed velocities in the 1190 – 1300 fps range depending on which bullet was used. Accuracy ran 3 – 5″ for the 10 shots after 2 foulers. The target TD has a Pedersoli tang sight and a Lyman front sight. I did not clean or swab the bore at all between test strings. I did use a blow tube though. I found with all 3 PB’d bullets that accuracy held to around 12 – 15 shots and then the groups opened as fouling built up in the barrel. As expected the Dupont 3F fouled quicker with all bullets. The bore did clean easily after each test load and there was no leading. I found no discernable difference between the lubes and have used my lube since for all my BP loads including my muzzle loaders.
Note; My lube is easy to make, last a long time (not had any go bad after several years), works easily in a Lyman 450 lubrasizer and is easy to hand lube bullets with if needed. I have also used it up to 1800 fps without leading and excellent accuracy in other CF rifles and handguns.
Also as expected the GC’d bullets did much better with not only the best accuracy but also holding accuracy the best as the fouling was scraped away much better. However, a GC’d bullet was not what I wanted so I quite testing those and concentrated on the Lee 405 HB bullet. Leaving it as cast and hand lubing it and loading it over the same 70 gr of GOEX Cartridge (it proved to be the better for accuracy) showed an immediate improvement. I switched to 200 yard testing using old 50 yard pistol targets with 8″ bullets. I was able to hold the first 15 or so shots of 20 in the black with that load. But an occasional flyer had me wondering if something else wasn’t quite right. Knowing cases that fit the chamber (NS’d) generally give better accuracy I backed the FL die out to just size the neck area enough for a slip fit of the .4585 expander. Accuracy improved it seemed but an occasional pesky flyer still happened.
I then questioned whether the heavy crimp was necessary for complete ignition as Spence describes. A crimp can be useful in some applications but it also can be detrimental to best accuracy in others. I loaded a test string (22 shots) w/o the crimp. I seated the bullet out to engrave the rifling when the BB was closed. This also called for less compression of the powder charge. All 20 shots for record stayed in the 8″ bullet with the first 10 staying in the 9 and 10 rings. I was quite pleased with that. I talked with Spence about that load and what I had done and he thought it great. Remember now I diverged from his original purpose so I am detracting nothing from his work. If you want to replicate the original loads then follow Spence’s advice to the “T” as I can’t improve on it at all.
Spence also suggested I get the Rapine 460500 mould which replicates the M82 500 gr service bullet only at a larger diameter. So I got that Rapine mould and it casts up some beautiful bullets! I initially cast them of 20-1 but my research found that after considerable testing in the later ’80s with that bullet Frankford Arsenal settled on a 16-1 alloy for best long range accuracy. So I switched to a 16-1 alloy also. I also at that time got a Lyman 45 Short NS die and a Redding 45-70 taper crimp die. I used some epoxy on the seating stem of the Lee seater to fit the top of the 460500. Extra seating stems from Lee are reasonable so I also made one for the 405 HB. NS fire formed cases and seating the bullet out so 1/3 the front driving band is engraved by the leade obviously increases case capacity which lessened the amount of compression. The lessoned compression is what gives complete ignition in lieu of the heavy crimp in my estimation.
Note on the foulers; with straight BP loads I found as Spence mentions in his book the first 2 shots go high and then the next shots settle in as the barrel is fouled.
Whatever because all of it worked! I have shot numerous 10 shot groups at 200 yards of 2 – 3 moa (4 – 6″ groups) with accuracy holding for 16 – 18 shots including the foulers. Cast of 16-1 alloy the 460500s weighed right at 500 gr. They were dropping right at .4615 so I honed the .459 sizer out to just lube the bullets. The 460500 over the 70 gr of GOEX Cartridge were running at 1150 fps with SDs of 3 – 5 and ES of 10 – 13 fps for 10 shot test strings. With 20 shot test strings at about shot 14 or 15 the SD and ES would almost double and get larger after that. Obviously the buildup of fouling was having an effect. While I liked the accuracy potential I did not care for having to clean the barrel (I didn’t have the Swiss and other cleaner burning BPs available at the time) every 15 or so shot to maintain accuracy and then deal with the first two shots going high when on my “walk abouts” as sometimes out in the high desert of the west I would be “confronted” by numerous “hostiles” (sticks, cow pies, pine cones and mostly rocks at various distances) all posed in war paint and ready to charge. Only the rapidity of fire from the breach loader could fend them off……….please allow me my hallucinations…… . I also really didn’t care for the blow tube which really sucked….pun intended!
My last conversation with Spence I went over this with him. His recommendation was to try his duplex loads. I also mentioned wanting to try his gallery loads with some concave based almost pure lead 45 Colt bullets. He said they might work ok but I’d be much happier with the Rapine 460210 HB’d bullet or the 460250 FP bullet which “fit” the TDs much better. I got both of those moulds and Spence was absolutely correct, they are marvelous! I was so impressed with the 460250 I got another one so with two 2 cavity moulds I can really cast a lot of bullets. That was to be my last conversation with Spence as the cancer rapidly (or so it seemed) overtook him. How I regret not knowing that was the last I’d talk with him……so much left unsaid…….
That pretty much sums up the lead in. I was getting the loading technique down and had the equipment so the next parts will begin to get a lot more detailed on specifics and I’ll include some pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but fail to mention what kind of words…….
Back to the duplex loads to be followed after that by my gallery loads, small game loads and I’ll even discuss my loading of a “forager” shot shell load…….all of which are with smokeless powders. I put the thread on the Single Shot forum to avoid the “holy Black” and smokeless powder is a “passing fad” controversy………hope it stays avoided as this thread is intended for ALL TD loads; BP and smokeless.
I had several reasons for developing duplex 45-70 loads. Maintaining accuracy w/o cleaning between shots or every 10 shots or so was foremost as I didn’t want to carry a lot of cleaning equipment with me on “walk about” shoots where upwards of 50 shots would/could be taken. I also really detested the use of the blow tube between shots. Increasing the “power” of the loads was not a consideration at all. I wanted simply to lessen the fouling while maintaining original ballistics within the psi range safe for TDs and perhaps improving upon accuracy.
The smokeless powder charge against the primer aides in ignition alleviating the need for drilling the flash holes and other makes of cases with thicker walls can also be used. The smokeless charge, if sufficient, also “blows out” of the barrel most of the charcoal residue from the BP. This can be seen easily seen by looking from the breach end down the bore after several regular BP rounds have been fired. This residue (BP fouling) builds up and not only destroys accuracy but also can prevent the chambering of a bullet with a tight bore riding nose. The blow tube softens the residue in the leade allowing the bullet to be seated. However, after sufficient rounds fired w/o swabbing or cleaning and chambering, even with the use of the blow tube, will be difficult. [Note; this is why a true M1873 bullet is not a bore rider and the M1882 bullet’s nose is smaller than the bore in diameter sp both will still chamber even after many rounds have been fired] With an efficient smokeless ignition charge there is little charcoal fouling left in the leade and bore so the use of a blow tube to “keep it soft” is no longer needed.
Additionally with most of the charcoal residue blown out I have found accuracy of a 405 gr bullet that fits the groove diameter and not depending on obturation to fit the bore will not quite but almost as accurate to 800 yards as the M1882 500 gr bullet.
In developing my own duplex loads I followed Spence’s advice and use IMR 4759 (SR4759) as the smokeless powder in my duplex loads. I had picked up a hundred once fired R-P nickeled cases to use as they would, if useable, allow a quick identification of the duplex load vs a smokeless of straight BP load. Those cases would chamber in my TD so they were close to “fire formed”. I cleaned and NS’d them. I used standard WLP primers and did not drill the flash holes. Actually nothing other than cleaning and inspecting was done to the cases. I started off using 5 shot test strings with 4 gr of 4759 against the primer and (using Spence’s bulk formula of 1 gr 4759 = 2.8 gr FFG) reduced the amount of GC (GOEX Cartridge) by 11gr to 59 gr. Care bust be taken that the seated bullet still compresses the total powder charge. I have not found the compression die to be needed with the 500 gr bullet and probably is not needed with the 405 gr bullet But I use it anyway. I compress the powder so the bullet, at a cartridge AOL of 2.55″ for the Lee 405HB, just sets on top of the powder. I use the taper crimp die to just put a slight taper crimp on the case mouth. Additional test loads to, increasing the 4759 1 gr per test while decreasing the GC approximately 2.8 gr per test, 7 gr 4759 and 50 gr GC were loaded.
Shooting the 5 shots in each test load and inspecting the bore showed that 7 gr of 4759 did indeed “blow out” most all of the charcoal (black streaks) residue and fouling. The barrel was cleaned between test strings. I also found that accuracy steadily increased as the 4759 was increased. Velocity was lower than the 1340 – 1350 fps I was looking for to duplicate M1873 service ballistics. I then kept the smokeless load at 7 gr and began increasing the GC in 1 gr increments. I found that with 7 gr 4759 under 52 gr GC in the fire formed R_P nickeled cases with the 16-1 Lee 405HB the velocity was right at 1340 – 1350 fps, just where it should be to match original ballistics out of the 32 ½” original TD rifle barrel. I have subsequently pressure tested that load (Oehler M43) and found the psi to be 20,300 psi(M43), well within the psi MAP of 28,000 for the TD. The ten shot psi test had an SD of 10 fps and an ES of 30 fps.
That has been my standard M1873 BP duplex load for use in my H&R Officer’s Model. I have a M1879 “R” Type III (3rd form) rear sight on it and a Beech front sight along with the factory tang sight. With the rear sight set at 100 yards and using the blade of the Beech front sight the POI is just above POA at 100 yards. I generally can hold 10 shots into 2 – 3 moa with the M1879 rear sight (I do better with the tang sight of course). The range regulations have proven quite correct to 1000 yards.
I next wanted a 45-55 carbine load with the 405HB at 1150 fps out of my H&R LBH Carbine. I took the tang off the LBH (why it was put there is beyond me!) and installed a “C” M1879 Type IV (4th form) rear sight with a blade front sight. I dropped the 4759 charge back to 5 gr (thinking it shouldn’t take as much smokeless to blow the BP residue/fouling out of the shorter 22″ carbine barrel proved correct) and loaded 42 gr GC over it. Care must really be used to make sure the bullet does slightly compress the powder. The 405HB had to be seated under 2.55″ OAL for some slight compression just as the original 45-55 w/o a wad in it. I left the 4759 charge at 5 gr and increased the GC until 49 gr gave 1138 fps at 15′ with an SD of 6 and an ES of 18. These were loaded with the 405HB cast of 16-1 and sized .4615 and lubed with my beeswax/olive oil lube. I have since switched to the 457124 Lyman cast of the same alloy. It gives almost identical ballistics and is easily identifiable as the 45-55 load by the different bullet.
These duplex loads have met my every expectation. They are accurate, I do not use a blow tube any longer and I can literally shoot all day w/o losing accuracy from hardened or excessive BP fouling. During a test one time there was 80+ rounds fired from the H&R OM and 100+ from the H&R Carbine in one day w/o cleaning, blowing or anything else. At the end of the test I fired a 5 shot group from each at 100 yards and found they both still were as accurate as if clean. Speaking of cleaning; it is also so much easier w/o all the BP charcoal residue.
Ok, so what about my original TD target rifle? Well, that was super easy; I used the same load as for the M1873 405HB bullet and simply substituted the M1882 500 gr bullet cast of 16-1 form the Rapine 460500 mould. Those bullets drop exactly at 500 gr BTW and were sized at .4615 and also lubed with my beeswax/olive oil lube. This time I used standard R-P cases that were fire formed and NK sized. Primers were again WLRs (Other standard and magnum primers have been tested with little or discernable use with these duplex loads). The .4585 expander was used. Both the charges (4759 and 52 gr GC) were thrown with a Lyman 55 and no drop tube used). The compression die was used. Seating was adjusted so the front 1/3 of the driving band was engraved by the leade when the breach block was shut. The taper crimp die is used to just straighten out the case mouth bell. I fired 2 foulers and then 10 shots for record at 200 yards. The group was 2.9″, the velocity was 1200 fps with an SD of 4 and an ES of 14 fps. What could I say except ….sweet!
Smokeless Powder Loads……
Getting right down to it I suppose you know by now I prefer loads in fire formed cases that are NS’d. I do partial size the case for loads that will be used interchangeably between the two H&R TDs. For use in the M1884 original TD I use dedicated cases that are NS’d. The reason being is that psi of these loads in in the 25,000+ psi range and the fire formed cases will not easily chamber in all 3 rifles after a couple firings.
Cases & primers; with these smokeless powder loads with 390 – 500 gr bullets I most often use WW cases for these loads also. However, I have used R-P, Federal and Starline cases with equal success. I actually have acquired a quantity of Starline cases and these will probably be used for the 500 gr service level duplication loads for the M1884. I use Winchester, CCI and Federal LR standard primers interchangeably and haven’t found much, if any, difference in velocity or psi levels at the low end of TD loads. I just use what’s handy and available (especially these days). I prime the cases mostly with the RCBS bench priming tool but do use the Lee hand priming tool (latest version) for priming only a few cases.
Sizing & loading; The fired cases are cleaned, partial or NS’d for the rifle(s) to be used in), deprimed and I usually inspect the case inside and out while cleaning the primer pocket with the RCBS primer pocket cleaner (you’d be surprised what can find its way into that large case). When partial sizing I use the Lee FL die for the H&R TDs and the RCBS FL die for the M1884 TD. The FL dies are backed out with the cases sized until they just chamber easily. I use the two FL dies as they are adjusted and don’t need to be reset. The partial size setting with the RCBS FL die is also a perfect fit for my Siamese Mauser 45-70. With such it makes loading for multiple rifles easier. When partial sizing I put a bunch of the cases in an old gold mining pan and spray lube lightly with Dillon’s spray lube or my own made from alcohol and lanolin. If NSing I use a tudge of lanolin on every 3rd case applied with my fingers. The cases are delubed in a tumbler with sawdust; takes about 15 – 20 minutes. The cases then have the necks expanded with the .4585 expander and new primers seated for use with TD loads. [In case you’re wondering I do not expand the case mouths but use the Lee case mouth flare die for the jacketed bullet loads in the Siamese Mauser. That gives sufficient neck tension for those.] Cases are then charged with powder thrown from a Lyman 55 after setting the charge with a Redding scale. A visual on powder amount is made and only then is the powder charged case put in a loading block. When all the cases are charged I then insert a dacron filler in the case if needed.
The bullet is set on the flared case mouth and the bullet is seated to depth using the Lee seating die. My press is a Pacific O frame BTW or sometimes I use my COAX press. I have separate Lee seating stems for a couple bullets (460500 & 459-405HB) with the stem filled with Steel-Bed to fit the specific bullet nose contour. With most of the other bullets the Lee factory seating stem as is works fine. Nice thing about the Lee seater is the seating stem is readily changed. I use the Lee seating die with the seating stem removed to roll crimp or I use the Redding taper crimp die. Most often the taper crimp die is used to just straighten out the case mouth flare. Since the TD has a bit of leverage when closing the breach block I seat the bullets so the front of the driving band is engraved by the leade. An exact OAL other than that makes no detectable difference in accuracy. I load all of my TD cartridges so they can be carried in a prairie belt. Thus all the lube grooves and lube are inside the case mouths.
Alloys; I most often cast the Rapine 460500s of 16-1 alloy because they mostly get shot with BP or duplex loads and that alloy is perfect for them. That alloy is also excellent with smokeless loads. With the Lee 459-405HBs I cast them of 20-1 for straight BP loads. I cast them mostly out of range lead + 2% tin with a lot of lead added to soften it down for the duplex and smokeless loads. Since range lead varies greatly in composition it’s hard to give exact combinations except to say I like an AC’d 459-405HB for smokeless loads to cast well and have a BHN in the 11 – 13 range. With any batch of range lead I adjust the amounts of tin and lead added until that it achieved and it has worked well for a number of years and several different batches of range lead. Many times I also cast Lyman’s 458124 of the same alloy and use the same loads. The two GC’d (sacrilegious?) LeeC457-500-FN and the Lyman 458483 are cast from 16-1 (Lee bullet) and 20-1 (Lyman bullet) Both of those are quite accurate and can be driven to top end TD psi’s and velocities with excellent accuracy for hunting.
Powders; over the years I have used numerous smokeless powders of the appropriate burning rate for the TD [5744, 4198, 2400, 4227, 4759, RL7, 3031, 4895 and Varget]. All worked fine, all were “accurate” but some worked better than others for TD use. All of them required a dacron filler for best ignition and efficient burn. The dacron filler also greatly increased accuracy with little increase in psi at a given velocity. I did try other fillers such as COW and psi testing showed a great increase in psi, no increase in accuracy and problems associated with moisture absorption. Dacron has proven stable and reliable over the years; it’s what I use and what I recommend.
Accuracy; when I mention a “moa” level of accuracy that is at 200 yards with 10 shot groups. That is my standard of accuracy testing for both the M1884 target rifle and the H&R OM using the tang sights. I will note 100 yard accuracy with the H&R OM and LBH carbine which is done at 100 yards with the M1879 rear sights and 10 shot groups.
I’ve done lots of load development over the years and there’s not enough space here to cover it all. I’ll list the current loads I use and include a few notes on them. We can discuss specific loads and how I got there with them if you have questions concerning them.
Rapine 460500 gr service level load;
With this bullet or with the 457125 I was looking for a smokeless load that was low on psi yet pushing the M82 bullet at 1270 – 1315 fps to match the external ballistics of the M88 BP load for use in M1884 rifles with the Buffington sight. The Arsenal velocity was supposed to be 1315 fps muzzle velocity but Spence Wolf chronographed some M88 ammunition at 1255 & 1260 fps. Back in the mid ’70s I chronographed 3 shots of M88 at 1264 fps at 15′ from the muzzle of a M1884 TD with a M11 Oehler chronograph. The 460500 at 500 gr over 70 gr of GOEX Cartridge was running right at 1200 fps.
I currently use two smokeless powders to achieve accurate loads with either bullet. The 457125 is cast of 20-1 and drops at .459 – .460 from the mould I was using. It does need to “bump up” to obdurate. I lube them as cast. The Rapine 460500 at .4615 is the more accurate in my target TD and is the bullet I now use. It is cast of 16-1 and does not need to “bump up” to obdurate and fit the groove diameter. I use 4895 and AA5744, both with a 1+ gr dacron filler. Both bullets are lubed with my BP lube and no leading occurs. There is still some unburned powder with both but it easily is blown out of the action if too much accumulates. With 4895 I use between 34 and 36 gr depending on the flavor of 4895 and the lot. I just work up the load so the velocity falls within the desired 1270 – 1315 fps. Accuracy is always around 2 moa. Both bullets seated so the driving band is engraved 1/3 to ½ when the breach block is closed. My current load of 34 gr milsurp 4895 with the dacron filler runs at 23,200 psi(M43), obviously well under the 28,000 psi SAAMI MAP.
M1898 load with the Rapine 460500;
The original M1898 smokeless load was 40 gr of 3031 under the arsenal M82 bullet cast of 16-1 alloy. I basically duplicate that with the Rapine bullet over 38 – 40 gr (no filler) depending on lot of powder. Velocity is 1400 – 14-30 fps from my target TD and accuracy runs 2 – 3 moa. It is not as accurate as the service load with 4895 or with AA5744. This may be because there is no dacron filler. I do not use this load unless I come across 3031 as I don’t like using that powder as the kernels are too long to measure accurately and I don’t want to weigh charges. One of these days I will drop back to 36 gr, use a dacron filler and work back up but haven’t gotten around to it. I prefer 4895 to duplicate the M1898 service load. I am using 37 gr of my current lot of milsurp 4895 (has a burning rate close to 4064 or Varget) with a 1 gr dacron filler for 1446 fps and consistent 2 moa accuracy. This makes for an excellent hunting load “as is” but I prefer the C457-500-fn for that.
500 gr bullet hunting load for my TD;
I use the Lee C457-500-FN bullet for hunting. It being GC I can cast it of softer alloy for excellent expansion and yet it can driven as fast. Years ago Lyman sent me loading data with C.U.P. pressures for TD level loads for their 500 gr “Schmitzer” bullet. It listed 45 gr 4895 (IMR) at 1459 fps (30″ barrel) at 17,400 C.U.P. I use 40 gr of my current milsurp 4895 with a 1 gr dacron filler for 1505 fps at 26,500 psi(M43). Cast softer of 20-1 expansion is excellent and penetration is all one could ask for in larger game. I once shot a spike elk with a broken leg with it from about 50 yards away in the throat and the bullet exited beside the anus. Yes it does let you know you are pulling a trigger in a M1884 TD with prone or bench being not to comfortable for extended shooting sessions. However when hunting and shooting from sitting, kneeling or standing positions the recoil is hardly noticeable.
M1873 405 gr “service” duplication smokeless loads;
I use the Lee 459-405-HB bullet cast of 20-1 or 16-1 to duplicate these loads for the M1884 target TD and the H&R OM. My Lee mould drops the Hb bullets at .454 – .455 so for the M1884 I most often shoot them “as cast”. I lube them with my BP lube using a TC hand luber made for lubing .45 cal bullets with Original 1000 Bore Butter. I use and empty tube and fill it with my own BP lube. For use in the H&R OM I size the bullets in the 450 with .4615 H die and lube with my BP lube. At 200 yards the “as cast” bullets will give a bit better accuracy in the Target TD but in the H&R OM it doesn’t seem to matter if the bullets are sized or shot “as cast”. The most accurate load (1.5 moa with both rifles) is 25 -26 gr AA5744 (depending on lot) with a 3/4 gr dacron filler for right at 1300 fps out of the H&R OM. That load will give about 1325 – 1350 fps in the longer barreled target TD. The psi(M43) is 22,500 – 25,000 for that load. I substitute the Lyman 457124 cast of the same 16-1 alloy, sized at .459 (“as cast”) in that load for use in the H&R OM as it has a .458 – .459 groove barrel and accuracy is the same, excellent. However that bullet at that low psi apparently does not obdurate well in the target TD’s .461 groove barrel and accuracy is poor.
SR4759 is also a fine powder to use with this weight cast bullets. I’ve found 22.5 – 23.5 gr with a 3/4 gr dacron filler to shoot almost as good, if not as good, as the 5744 load. However, 5744 is easier to come by in my neck of the woods as 4759 was discontinued for a while. I could easily live with either powder. I have not yet pressure tested the 4759 load.
Note: 28 – 29 gr AA5744 w/o the dacron filler will push a 400 – 405 gr cast at 1350 fps with 28 – 29,000 psi(M43). It is thus a “max” load for a TD.
Other 385 – 420 gr cast bullet smokeless loads;
Gathering data from records to publish soon hopefully…….
Part V; “foraging”, small game, plinking and indoor practice loads
Having an indoor range capable of handling cartridges of 2000 fps readily available to me for several years was a boon to my reduced load development for about every cartridge I cast and reloaded for. This of course included the 45-70 and I refined a couple previous loads and developed some others.
I’ll not cover any BP loads here as Spence covered them very well in his book and I never really attempted any other loads as my main interest with these type of loads was with smokeless powders for use in all 3 of my TDs and my Siamese Mauser. Thus I’ll refer anyone to Spence’s book for BP loads and will, here, concentrate on those smokeless powder loads that worked well for me in all 4 rifles.
The alloy used for cast bullets or the RB should be soft. However they may be of about any binary or ternary alloy as long as it is soft and the antimony content is not too high. I many times used range lead but it has a high % of antimony most often so its castability was improved by adding 2% tin and then was “softened” with about 50- 70% lead added. That made it cast very well and yet it held up to the 1050 fps of the fastest such loads. The binary 40-1 and 30-1 alloys also work very well. Of course 20-1, 16-1, WWs +2% tin, #2 and even linotype will work well for these loads if the bullet diameter is at least of groove diameter. If these harder alloyed bullets are smaller than groove diameter you can expect some leading.
I always prefer a soft lube with these bullets. Javelina always worked very well as did LLA (following the directions) and any other NRA 50/50 formula lube. BAC also works very well. Most of the time I just use my BP lube (5 parts beeswax/4 parts virgin olive oil) as it’s in the 450 lubrasizer with the .4615 H die.
Powder; I ran the gamut of powders in the Unique – 4759 range and found all them unsatisfactory, The reason being all of them required higher psi to burn efficiently in the larger 45-70 case. By the time any of those powders were efficiently burning the velocity was not only way more than I wanted but accuracy also suffered. I finally re-researched such reduced and “cat sneeze” loads and decided that a faster powder was needed, even in the larger 45-70 case with light weight bullets. I’d been using Bullseye for years with other reduced loads so I decided to give it a try. I also tried other powders in the same burning rate but kept coming back to Bullseye for consistent performance with such loads in the 45-70 also.
I find any case works quite well but with small amounts of smokeless powder in the large 45-70 case I use the WW cases with the flash holes drilled as per Spence’s recommendation. The larger flash hole allows the flash to get into the case quicker and should be a larger “flash”. That’s what I think anyway and it works for me as most all such loads with Bullseye powder exhibit little or no “powder positioning” variance. It has been my practice and recommendation for several years that if one is wanting such reduced level loads with lighter weight bullets to reach for my “go to” powder; Bullseye.
I most often prefer to use a well fire formed case that is neck sized and expanded with the .4585 expander. There is an exception and I will cover it later. When cases offer too much resistance on closing the breech block I partial size them by backing out the Lee FL die so they are just a slip fit back into the chamber. Since beginning NSing and the partial sizing when needed I have not lost a case to splitting.
Speaking of Bullseye in the larger cases; many have great concern over the possibility of a “double charge” of powder in a case. I have found that the loads I use with the lighter weight bullets are almost always less than half of the “max” load anyway. Thus it would take a triple charge of powder for the psi to become excessive. I have also developed a loading habit with such reduced loads in addition to the most often recommended “visual check”. That habit is with the use of the loading block. I do not put a case in the loading block unless it has been charged with powder PERIOD!!!! I use small boxes or plastic “bins” to hold the cases while cleaning, inspecting, sizing and priming them. Never, ever do I put the case in a loading block until the one powder charge is put in (usually with the Lyman 55 but occasionally with dippers) and I do the visual after charging and before putting the case in the loading block. When loading reduced loads on the Dillon 550B I take the case out of the shell plate at station 3 and visually inspect for the powder level. Yes, that slows me down a bit but better safe than sorry.
Bullets; for reduced loads here for my purposes I am referring to bullets under 300 gr in weight. At 300 gr in weight a slower burning powder such as Unique becomes a bit more beneficial than Bullseye and will give better ballistics at upwards of 1400+ fps. Such loads above 1050 fps are outside the realm of my idea for such small game, plinking and light target shooting. Such heavier loads fall into the lighter weight target shooting and medium game capacity. I will note that one load I do use with the Rapine 460250 bullet loaded over Bullseye does overlap slightly into this arena. I do have a couple reduced loads using 390 – 405 gr bullets in the 900 – 1100 fps range but seldom even consider throwing that much lead when the lighter bullets do as well if not better.
Many years ago I worked with RBs (Hornady’s .457s to be exact and some cast with a Lyman RB mould). While I found them satisfactory for short range work to 25 yards they many times left a lot to be desired past 25 yards. I generally TL’d them in LLA and seated them over 2 – 5 gr Bullseye. I tried them seated at the case mouth and seated down on the powder. While seating them deep on top of the powder improved the internal ballistics greatly it really never did much for accuracy improvement. I always felt that the .457 RBs in the .458 H&Rs and the .461 M1884 barrel was probably the culprit. As I shoot RBs with very good accuracy to 50 yards in other cartridges with RBs that are at or slightly over groove diameter the undersized RBs in the TDs just didn’t impress me and I moved on.
I know some of you use the “collar button” bullets and many years back I did try them but only on the 50 ft indoor range. Have to say they worked very well there over Bullseye but I don’t have any record of the exact load. I do recall it was between 3 and 5 gr of Bullseye though. I will defer to others for better knowledge on those bullets. Only reason I didn’t pursue the CBs was because the ones I had were commercial (40-1 alloy from the old Liberty Cast Bullet Co from the Portland, OR area) and I had the Rapine 460210HB mould on order.
Ah, the Rapine 260210HB cast bullet…..now there is an excellent bullet for what we are talking about! It has a very short RNFP with a full diameter shoulder up front. It has a very long thin skirt with a deep conical HB. The length of the bullet gives it excellent stability in the slower TD barrel twist and the thin skirt ensures expansion and obturation with the lightest of loads. It is easily possible to over load it and blow the skirt, ruining accuracy, on muzzle exit. I worked it from 5 gr of Bullseye up through 9 gr with and without a dacron wad (back before I knew better). I quickly found that the dacron wad was not needed at all and that 6 gr of Bullseye gave it 910 fps out of the 29 ½” barreled TD. The bullets were seated with the Lee seater with the seating plug turned over so the flat part pushed on the FN of the 460210 during seating. Again I seated them so the leade engraved about 1/3 the front driving band when chambered. The taper crimp die was used to just straighten out the case mouth. Ten shot accuracy ran under 2″ at 50 yards all day long. I most often used the bullets sized .4615 and lubed with my BP lube as that was best suited for both the larger groove M1884 barrel and the H&Rs with .458 barrels. An alloy with minimal antimony that is balance with tin or no antimony and is soft is better for even obturation of the skirt.
Exception mentioned; when traveling I many times take a Lee press (Lyman tong tool works as well as does the Lee decapping rod), a Lee hand priming tool, LR primers, some Bullseye and a dipper that throws 6 gr Bullseye along with extra bullets. “As cast” of the 460210 Rapine bullet is .463 – .464 with range lead alloy as described above. When TL’d with LLA they many times are easily thumb seated in the case and held there by slight neck tension. All I do is deprime, reprime, charge with one dipper of Bullseye, thumb seat the 460210 and they are ready to shoot. That is handy when sitting in camp plinking.
The slightly RNFP and full caliber shoulder of the Rapine 460210 bullet when cast soft like that and pushed along at 900 or so fps makes for a deadly small game load. Not a lot of meat damage (let’s face it a .460 caliber hole going through a squirrel, rabbit or grouse is going to damage some meat!) and excellent terminal effects. I shot a hapless coyote at about 35 – 40 paces who wondered by me once. The 460210 went through both front shoulders and lodged under the hide on the off side. The bullet had completely expanded donut rolling back on itself. ‘Yote jumped about 3′ in the air and made it 10 – 15’ in 6th gear overdrive before nose rolling to a dead stop (pun intended). But alas Rapine is out of business……the 460210 and other Rapine moulds no longer available unless someone takes on “honcho” duties and gets one custom made…….is my choice for indoor target/plinking and small game foraging out to 75 – 100 yards.
I tried a lot of pistol bullets (45 Colt & Webley 250 – 280 gr HB) in the 230 – 300 gr range. These were HB’d and PP’d. The HB’d always were grossly undersized for the M1884 barrel and didn’t shoot all that well and PPing for a plinking bullet grew tiresome real fast……..thus I got a Rapine 460250 RNFP mould. I was immediately happy with it and ordered another mould cut the same time as the first mould was. Both moulds throw identical bullets of 270 gr out of the range lead alloy. They drop at .461 and with both two cavity moulds going I can cast a lot of them quickly. I’ve got 300 WW cases I load them in and load them on the Dillon 550B. I worked the load from 6 gr upwards of 9,5 gr and settled on 8 gr of Bullseye with no wad or filler. I seat theses so the case mouth just covers the top lube groove and the taper crimp die again just straightens out the case mouth flare. This load gives 1050 fps +/- out of both H&Rs and 1140 fps out of the longer barreled M1884 TD. Accuracy out of all three TDs runs 1 ½ – 2 moa all day long. Again they are usually lubed with my BP lube but LLA works very well also.
I have shot the 460250 to 500 yards with outstanding accuracy. It is amazing how well that bullet holds up at longer range I could tell you a story about shooting alongside “Frank” (SF operative well represented in “Blackhawk Down”) with his tricked out SOTIC M24 at and SF training session in NE Oregon. I was shooting the H&R LBH Carbine with this load at a steel plate around 8×12″ welded on a steel fence post out at 385 yards. Took me 1 sighter to get on and after the 1st shot Frank say; “bet you can’t do that again”. Well, 3 or 4 hits later Frank is shaking his head and I hit it 9 times straight before he said; “let me try”! And with that the M24 worth thousands of $s went neglected……….
I have played with the Lyman 457191 (290 gr) and the RCBS 45-300-FN (PB’d one) with 7.5 – 8.5 gr of Bullseye and they do as well in the H&Rs with .458 barrels. However, they don’t do as well “as cast” at .458 – .459 as the .461 Rapine in the larger M1884’s .461 barrel obviously because they are smaller than groove diameter. I also don’t get finicky about the alloy used with the 460250s as long as the antimony content is not too high. Too high an antimony content, especially with a real low tin % can easily result in an antimony wash in the longer barrel. This generally cleans out easily but if leading is also occurring it can be problematic. Also if you are depending on any “bumping up” obturation to seal the bore a lesser amount of antimony balanced with tin in a soft alloy is better. A 30-1 or 40-1 lead – tin alloy is even better.
One last load to mention here is my “foraging” shotshell load. Again I start with a well fire formed case with any make working fine. Prime with a standard LR primer, charge with 10 gr Unique, push a ½ gr dacron wad down over the powder (I use the eraser end of a pencil) and push/seat a Federal 410SC shot cup firmly on top of the wad of dacron. I use the same pencil to push/seat the shot cup. Fill the shot cup with shot (I prefer 8 ½ or 9 but # 7 works also, just remember the larger the diameter of shot the less dense the pattern will be). Set a .45 cal GC or a hard .010 or thicker .460+ diameter card disk upside down on top of the shot level with the case mouth. I use a 45 ACP 230 RN j bullet set on top of the over shot wad to hold in place just below the case neck while crimping the case mouth to hold it all sans the 45 cal bullet of course. A seating die that will roll crimp is needed. Adjust the seating dept so that when a good roll crimp is applied to the case mouth while the 45 ACP bullet is holding the GC or wad under the crimp. Crimp the case mouth sufficiently to hold the GC/wad in. This load runs right at 1160 fps out of my H&R Carbine. Out of the rifled barrels the shot pattern will “donut” as the range increases. I’ve found this load capable of taking quail, grouse and rabbits effectively out to about 20 yards. It can get “iffy” past that depending on the size of the game. If “foraging” the object is food so “sporting” takes a second seat. Thus I don’t have any qualms with ground sluicing the quail or grouse. Just mentioning the loads and use, not discussing the legality.
Anyways, those are my most often used loads. I’ve probably rambled on enough so let’s get on with specific questions and additions any of you have. I can take measurements and post pictures if you want (?) along with more details to answer specifics.
- February 22, 2016 at 3:38 pm #24700
Very, nice writeup with some really good information. On your duplex loads, is SR 4759 the only powder that you duplex with? I’d love to load some but I’m holding on to my last 2 pounds for a finicky Rossi 308 win. and would rather work up a load with a powder that will still be around for a while.
- February 22, 2016 at 5:04 pm #24705bjornbModerator
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THIS, ladies and gents, is a treasure trove for those who would like to get into 45-70 shooting without spending endless days at the range with hit-and-miss loading combos. I have shot the majority of Larry’s loads, and without fail they perform as advertised. I even had Tom at Accurate Molds duplicate the Rapine 460-250 design, and bought a 4-cavity that drops bullets like rain and shoots even better.
As for the scarcity of SR4759 (I’m lucky to have about 10 pounds stashed), I have used IMR4227 with decent success, and Goodsteel recently tried duplexing with IMR4198 and it did very well in his Browning 1886.
Even though I have a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun, the above described loads were all shot in my two Handi-rifles, a Buffalo Classic and a regular short barrel version. I’m scheming to acquire a Trapdoor Carbine right now, and if successful I’ll be right out there shooting Larry’s loads.
- February 22, 2016 at 5:18 pm #24708
That’s good to know, I’ve always looked at the duplex loads in the Lyman # 46 and 3rd edition cast bullet handbook, but they only listed SR 4759. It’s nice knowing that someone else has tried other powders.
- February 22, 2016 at 8:21 pm #24716
One of these days I’m going to get some duplex load development done with H4227. I’ll be developing it measuring the psi also. So many irons in the fire…….
- February 23, 2016 at 12:07 am #24726GoodsteelKeymaster
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I just tested some loads yesterday. 5 grains of IMR4198/52 grains of FFFG, with a 500 grain bullet, lubed with olive-bee, were very pleasant to shoot, insanely accurate for 5 shots, but did NOT clean up the barrel totally. It was interesting that the first half of the barrel was clear, but the last 10″ was fowled. Consequently, accuracy fell off quickly.
I’m going back out and next time I’m upping the kicker.
- February 23, 2016 at 2:42 am #24735
Yup, need to increase the 4198 1 gr at a time until that last 10″ clears out.
- February 23, 2016 at 7:05 am #24760
How do you go about figuring the ratio of 4198 to black powder? Is there a set rule or trial and error?
- February 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm #24794doc1876Participant
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there is a rule in duplex loads. No more than 10% of smokeless, meaning if your smokeless was a 50g load, then you would use 5g of that smokeless as the kicker.
I am having good luck with the IMR 4198, (5g 4198, and 67g 3fg black)
I thought I used 5g of 3031 and 60g 3fg black, however, I am not finding that load.
NOTE: It has been said to NEVER compress a duplex load……….I have not done this, so I don’t know what will happen.
- February 23, 2016 at 10:38 pm #24805
How much smokeless to BP is used depends on the action of the rifle and what the use of the duplex is for. Some use it to increase the power level of the BP loads. That’s fine if the actions are strong enough. However for TD pressure level loads the 10% rule is a good one. There are several other things most of us use a duplex for, primarily to keep the BP fouling from the charcoal residue blown out of the barrel. That negates the need for a blow tube and also promulgates lots of shooting w/o the need for cleaning while maintaining excellent accuracy.
For every 1 gr of 4759, 4227 or 4198 you use you subtract 1.75 to 2.8 gr depending on burning rate of the smokeless powder (faster burning rate is less %) and whether 3f or 2f BP is used. Best to use Spence’s original 2.8 gr smokeless to begin with and adjust as I mentioned doing in the posted article. I’d use 2.8 with the 3 powders listed) in BP from the charge if I was using 3f BP. For example; If wanting a full service level 45-70 load with either the 405 or 500 gr bullets using start with 5 gr 4227 and then subtract 12.5 gr from the 70 gr BP charge of 70 gr. That would give a 5/57.5 gr charge. Test fire 5 rounds w/o swabbing between shots and then look down the bore from the breech end. If you’ve a shorter barrel of carbine length you will probably see just normal lube fouling all the way down the barrel and you’d have a workable load right there. With longer barrels you will see toward the end of the barrel some long black streaks of charcoal residue as goodsteel did. Clean the barrel. Increase the smokeless charge 1 gr and reduce the BP another 2.5 gr and test again. Keep doing that until the long black streaks of charcoal residue are not seen in the barrel. The trick is to use just enough smokeless and reduction of BP so all the charcoal residue is just blown out the barrel.
With the 405HB (Lee) bullets using 4759 and GOEX Cartridge powder (reported to be between 2f and 3f in burning rate) my load duplicating the M1873 loads at ended up being 7/52 4759/GC. Worked out the same for the 500 gr Rapine bullet also. That load gives 1350 fps with the M1873 405HB load and 1250 with the Rapine 500 gr bullet out of my Target TD with 29″ barrel. You must adjust both the smokeless amount and BP amounts of powder depending on which powders are used and the length of your rifles barrels. Again, the key is to use just enough smokeless to blow all the charcoal residue out. This load with the 405HB bullet produced just 20,500 psi(M43). SAAMI MAP for TD level psi’s is 28,000 psi (transducer)
As to compression I’ve always disagreed with “NEVER compress a duplex load“. That might be ok if you’re loading at the bench but all loose powders in any case will settle, shift or migrate if not compressed when carried in a belt, magazine, load box in a vehicle or from recoil if used from a magazine. With duplex loads that is not good. Thus I recommend at the very least a slight amount of compression of 1/16″ minimum. I prefer 1/8”, especially with the HB bullet. Thus it is essential that the combination used with whatever bullet used has sufficient seating depth to slightly compress the duplex charge.
- February 23, 2016 at 11:56 pm #24813
Thanks, I think I understand enough to try it now. The rifle I use is a rolling block so it’s somewhat stronger than a trapdoor, I’ve always been interested in duplexing, I’ve just never really had a chance to discuss it with someone.
- February 24, 2016 at 3:53 am #24838GoodsteelKeymaster
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A lot has been published using the now obsolete 4759 powder as a kicker. I want to try to establish some guidelines in my rifle using the commonly available powders on both sides of it. Namely 4198 (slower) and 4227 (faster).
Larry, is the 1/1.75-2.8gr ratio purely to maintain the same compression on the BP, or are you trying to maintain the pressure, or something I am not considering? I think my 1886 can take just about anything a duplex BP load can dish out and I don’t care if the pressure rises above what is considered safe for TD rifles.
I ask your opinion on this, because all I am aiming for is to maintain about the same compression on the powder column that I had with my first attempt. Is there something else I should be considering?
- February 24, 2016 at 5:02 am #24851
The ratio is to maintain the psi level safe for TDs. However as I said if you’re using a stronger action the amount of smokeless powder can be increased to increase power and compression.
- April 24, 2016 at 11:07 pm #27284AnonymousInactive
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I have both IMR4895 & H4895 as well as IMR4064 on hand. Would these be suitable for TD Carbine load with a flat base 405 gr. pb projectile?
- April 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm #27297
4895 will work fine. Was gone yesterday and am busy this morning. I will post detailed info later today.
- April 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm #27343
Okay, got my load development data. Start at 27 gr 4895 and work up to 33 gr. How much required to.l replicate the 1100 fps of the 45-55-70 carbine load will depend on the make of the powder (I’ve found H4895 is a bit faster than IMR and burns just a tudge cleaner at these low end psi’s), the bullet used, the alloy used, the fit of the bullet to the throat and the primer used (I prefer WLR or CCI 250s). Also you’ll want to use a 1 1/2 gr Dacron filler +/-. A good medium to heavy roll crimp will also help. If the bullets are good, the alloy correct and a good soft lube is used then accuracy should be very good. I get right at 2 moa at 100 yards with my H&R M1873 LBH Carbine (top one in photo). The only problem with using 4895 with such a load is unburned powder can/will accumulate in the action. I simply blow it out every few rounds and keep on shooting.
- April 30, 2016 at 11:43 pm #27467badbob454Participant
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Larry if you ever write a book on cast bullets and shooting/reloading i want to buy the first copy , you sir have a gift when it comes to writing.
- May 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm #27480chutesnreloadsParticipant
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He doesn’t need to write a book.Just compile all his posts over the years and take them to a publisher.mmmmmmm maybe two or three books there…..at least
Really good stuff Larry
- May 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm #27483Rattlesnake CharlieParticipant
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In reading this thread, I see there apparently is a significant difference when using “fast” powders vs “slow” powders. I tend to use a lot of shotgun powders (I love Red Dot), and wish to understand how adjustments must be made due to the different characteristics of the “fast” and “slow” powders when used as “kickers” for black powder loads. I was planning on starting my move into using black powder in my .45-70’s using 3 gr of Red Dot and a case full of black powder that requires about 1/8″ of compression.
Larry, has your experience shown that slower burning powder produce better accuracy than the faster burning powders?
- May 5, 2016 at 10:31 pm #27606
Yes, if you want to avoid using a blow tube and cleaning/wiping between shots to maintain accuracy, especially if more than 5 or 10 shots will be fired without the blowtube and cleaning/wiping regimen.
My use of the duplex with smokeless powder is not to increase ignition and hopefully cleaner burning of the BP. My experience is the use of the faster powders such as RD do not really do either well. The slower fast burning powders I use also are not used to increase the velocity or power of the load.
I simply use the slower fast burning powders to blow the BP residue (mostly charcoal residue) out of the barrel. That in and of itself negates the need for a blow tube or cleaning/wiping regimen which leads to very good and consistent accuracy. I have fired 100+ 45-55-70 such duplex loads with accuracy just as excellent with the last 10 shots as with the first 10 shots.
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