Purchased my first Springfield Trapdoor
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    Purchased my first Springfield Trapdoor

    Picked up an original 1873 Springfield Trapdoor yesterday at the LGS. This rifle has been reblued and refinished so its not collection grade but just a shooter. The rifle is in excellent shape--the receiver/barrel/lockwork/barrel bands are solid. It has the earlier buckhorn rear sight and the non-bayonet style cleaning rod. I couldn't find the serial number behind the breech block and no visible proof marks on the stock. Possibly the serial number had been removed during the rebluing process or this could be a Bannerman rifle---a surplus rifle that was made up of scavenged parts in the early 1900s. The LGS owner thought that this rifle was probably produced sometime between 1878 - 1885. I have some Trapdoor loads that I shoot through an 1895G and a Henry single shot 45-70. I will try these out first to see what the rifle can do once I can get out to the range. I post some pics of the rifle tonight once I get home from work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ret_Eng View Post
    Picked up an original 1873 Springfield Trapdoor yesterday at the LGS. I have some Trapdoor loads that I shoot through an 1895G and a Henry single shot 45-70. I will try these out first to see what the rifle can do once I can get out to the range. I post some pics of the rifle tonight once I get home from work.
    I hope they are not smokeless loads or jacketed bullets! Neither of these should EVER be shot out of an original!! I can not stress this enough. The actions and metals won't hold up and you could seriously be injured. These old single shots should only be loaded with black powder or pyrodex substitute. While the modern reproductions can handle light loaded smokeless rounds that should never be crossed over to the originals. I say this as fact not some sort of fear monger. I grew up loading and shooting these rifles from the original 66 and 68 50-70's, and 45-70 through the 88 rod bayonet models.
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    I shoot 405 gr cast and a 15 gr loading of Unique which comes out ~1200 FPS from my 1895G. Are you saying that the pressure from Unique is too much for this old Trapdoor? I was planning on shooting very low end Trapdoor smokeless loads as per my Lyman hard cast manual.
    Last edited by Ret_Eng; 06-28-2019 at 10:54 AM.
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    I have shot 100s of rounds of smokeless loads in original Trapdoors and Rolling Blocks. I do prefer cast bullets only because they are generally more accurate and much cheaper to play with. Factory ammo 45/70 has been intentionally loaded light for the vintage guns that it would likely be used in. I have use Unique but settled on 2400 years ago for cast bullets in originals. All loads in 1200-1300 fps range.

    With light charge of smokeless in the 45/70 case the position of the powder when fired can cause lousy groups. I use Dacron pillow stuffing. A tuff over power to keep it uniform. I just do it by eye others that are serious weigh it out. These fillers can cause pressure changes so they should be considered when working up your load. I also pour my 45/70 bullets a little on the soft side at velocity I shoot originals hard bullets are not necessary. Keep in mind these smokeless/ cast bullet loads duplicate old BP loads. They will be just as deadly on game .
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    One thing to check is the headspace. I bought an original (manufactured in 1882) years ago, and at the time, it seemed tight. Before I got around to shooting it, I obtained a "no-go" headspace guage, and it swallowed it easily. Using differnet thicknesses of shimstock, I found that it was another .0010 out. Needless to say, I haven't shot it at all, even though the rest of the rifle is in really great condition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by North Idaho Shooter View Post
    One thing to check is the headspace. I bought an original (manufactured in 1882) years ago, and at the time, it seemed tight. Before I got around to shooting it, I obtained a "no-go" headspace guage, and it swallowed it easily. Using differnet thicknesses of shimstock, I found that it was another .0010 out. Needless to say, I haven't shot it at all, even though the rest of the rifle is in really great condition.
    The LGS gunsmith checked this rifle very carefully before it was put up for sale. He stated it was good to go but I will ask him about the rifle's headspace and also about the weak ejector. The rifle will eject both empties and fully loaded cases back into the chamber. The empties won't fly away from the rifle as is normal. I want to find out if that will be an ejection issue for the just fired cases still in the chamber. Other than that---the rifle is solid.
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    Will do this evening!
    Rotary Mag Savage 99 lover
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    I always check head space first thing. I've had Trapdoors that weren't worth fooling with as shooters that I didn't bother to check because I wouldn't shoot them with BP or Smokeless. I've not run into a original in good shape with head space problems. If they had developed a little excessive head space it's most likely countered by thicker rims on solid head brass. The old ballon head brass had thinner rims. I bought a nice Trapdoor off a guy that said headspace was bad and he didn't want to pay a smith to correct it. It wasn't head space it was under loads of Unique with 405gr cast bullet. Case wasn't sealing to chamber and primers would fall out when case was extracted. Most of the Trapdoors I had were DCM purchases and were in very good shape. I bought two off the same guy and he said his dad got them from DCM in late 40s. My gunsmith did quite a few sporterized jobs on Trapdoors and rebarreled a few. I think it was the rage in early 60s because of gun magazine articles. It died out pretty quick and they showed up in used racks often and cheap.
    When interest was revived on them guys wanted them in original condition. Now we have come to the point guys are buying the cut down ones and looking for parts to put them back to original. The same deal that is occurring with Krags ans 03s. When they were plentiful and cheap many were cut down to hunt with.
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    I bought an 1884 Trapdoor about 6 months ago but have not yet had time to play with it. They are cool pieces of history.
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