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I have always heard that a heavier bullet will normally have a higher POI, at least in handguns. But I haven't experimented with it either.
 

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Discussion Starter #42 (Edited)
I received the book "Trapdoor Springfield" today that I purchased from MO member gunscrewguy. After looking through it--I verified what I suspected--this rifle is probably a Bannerman special. A rifle reconstituted by a company that sold surplus military items back in the early 1900s. This is a rifle made up of surplus parts--a fully functional firearm made up of odds and ends from junked Trapdoors. My 1878 rifle has a 1882 era ramrod and also a late 1870s Trapdoor carbine rear sight--not the one made for the longer rifle model. That is OK by me! I am having fun with this old timer!
 

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No reason to be down in the jaws. Bannerman sold a lot of surplus rifles that were parts guns. They had a good reputation as far as selling functional rifles. In the day you couldn't get away with selling junk like they do now. They had no collector value but even that has changed. A Trapdoor is a collector's item in today's world even a Bannerman. If you have a good solid shooter you are ahead of the game.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Looks like 14 grs of Unique with the 405 gr boolit will be the winner. The 3 shot grouping is the best by far from my old 1878 Trapdoor. This grouping was at 50 yards and I had a heck of a time seeing the ultra-thin front sight blade.
20190715_154622_V2.jpg
 

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No reason to be down in the jaws. Bannerman sold a lot of surplus rifles that were parts guns. They had a good reputation as far as selling functional rifles. In the day you couldn't get away with selling junk like they do now. They had no collector value but even that has changed. A Trapdoor is a collector's item in today's world even a Bannerman. If you have a good solid shooter you are ahead of the game.
Seriously! The proof is in the targets! If you like the rifle that is all that matters.
 

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Discussion Starter #47 (Edited)
I settled on a 15 gr load of Unique early last fall. Using that load with a 405 gr boolit--I could hit a 6 inch hanging metal disc target at 100 meters. This old Trapdoor is one amazing rifle.
 

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Did some more digging--looks like a 405 gr bullet was the original loading but that gave way to a 500 gr bullet. I wonder if the POI/POA offset with the 405 gr bullet at close range was the reason behind the switch?
I always loved my trapdoors. They are a ton of fun to shoot. I noticed that you're rear sight is of the M73 variety. If the sight is marked up to 1200 yards it is the carbine version. The rifle versions were only marked up to 1100 yards. (I know.. only). The M73 Rifle sight is calibrated for the 405 grain 45-70 pill at 1350 fps. If your rifle was indeed manufactured in 1878 and nobody bubba'd with the front sight, the 405 grain projectile is what the gun was tuned for. The carbine sight is calibrated for a 405 grain bullet at 1100 fps.


The 45-70-500 loading was tuned for the Model 1884 Trapdoor Rifle. Unbubba'd 1884 models can be identified by the year stamp on the breach block and will wear a buffington rear sight.

I've read Spencer Wolf's book quite a few times and if you really want to learn the ins and outs of the rifle I highly recommend that you get it. I think the website is 45-70book.com. If memory serves me, Spencer says that the Trapdoor is a reverse "jump" rifle. Reductions in powder weight below the original 70 grains normally results in the rifle printing higher. I'm not sure why this happens, but I've experienced it several times playing with mine.

I've had good luck with Accurate 5744 as it fills the cartridge case well, prevents double charges and isn't position sensitive.

If you really want to turn heads at the range, get yourself some Goex Fg or FFg black powder and stuff that under the 405 grain pill. Flame literally shoots 5 feet out the 32" barrel when you touch one off.

Good luck with the rifle and let me know if you have any questions.
 
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Discussion Starter #49 (Edited)
I always loved my trapdoors. They are a ton of fun to shoot. I noticed that you're rear sight is of the M73 variety. If the sight is marked up to 1200 yards it is the carbine version. The rifle versions were only marked up to 1100 yards. (I know.. only). The M73 Rifle sight is calibrated for the 400 grain 45-70 pill at 1350 fps. If your rifle was indeed manufactured in 1878 and nobody bubba'd with the front sight, the 405 grain projectile is what the gun was tuned for. The carbine sight is calibrated for a 405 grain bullet at 1100 fps.


The 45-70-500 loading was tuned for the Model 1884 Trapdoor Rifle. Unbubba'd 1884 models can be identified by the year stamp on the breach block and will wear a buffington rear sight.

I've read Spencer Wolf's book quite a few times and if you really want to learn the ins and outs of the rifle I highly recommend that you get it. I think the website is 45-70book.com. If memory serves me, Spencer says that the Trapdoor is a reverse "jump" rifle. Reductions in powder weight below the original 70 grains normally results in the rifle printing higher. I'm not sure why this happens, but I've experienced it several times playing with mine.

I've had good luck with Accurate 5744 as it fills the cartridge case well, prevents double charges and isn't position sensitive.

If you really want to turn heads at the range, get yourself some Goex Fg or FFg black powder and stuff that under the 405 grain pill. Flame literally shoots 5 feet out the 32" barrel when you touch one off.

Good luck with the rifle and let me know if you have any questions.
My rifle does indeed have the carbine rear sight with the C stamped onto it and the further range numbers milled off. It also has the later model ramrod so I think my Trapdoor could be a Bannerman parts rifle originally sold in the early 1900s. Or--it could be a Bubba job done in someones backyard over the years. It does shoot pretty decent---so I don't have any qualms that it isn't all original.
 

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I'm not sure if you got a Bannerman rifle. The mix match of parts can be indicative of either a Bannerman Rifle or someone's bubba job. If the barrel is not a 3 groove barrel, can can be a sign of a Bannerman job. Some of their rifles sported 5 groove barrels.

The carbine rear sight with the range graduations ground off... that's got me. Normally you don't see that unless the front sight has been modified to be dead on at a desired range. Assuming that you're throwing them down range at 1350 FPS and 10 inches high at 50 yards... zero is somewhere around 220 yards. That's a weird place for bubba to set a zero.

I'm glad it groups well for you. If you're interested in getting the correct replacement for the rear sight, you can find them at Trapdoorcollector.com under the classified section. Personally, I'd throw an M79 rifle sight on there to eliminate a good portion of your Kentucky windage issues. You'll still be shooting high at 50 yards, but no where near 10 inches. If you do decide to replace the rear sight, measure your front sight height from the top of the lug. You might need a replacement front sight blade as well. I'll look up what the OEM height is once I get to my reference material if you're interested.

Here's a picture of my trapdoor collection sans the Bannerman Carbine. M1888 Ramrod bayonet on top (1891 Manufacture), M1873 Middle (1879 Manufacture) and M1868 bottom (1869 Manufacture).
 

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Ok seriously jealous! Have wanted one since I was a kid and never have seen one in person! Someday I'll get my unicorn!
Congrats too on a beautiful weapon and have fun with it!
 
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Discussion Starter #52
I'm not sure if you got a Bannerman rifle. The mix match of parts can be indicative of either a Bannerman Rifle or someone's bubba job. If the barrel is not a 3 groove barrel, can can be a sign of a Bannerman job. Some of their rifles sported 5 groove barrels.

The carbine rear sight with the range graduations ground off... that's got me. Normally you don't see that unless the front sight has been modified to be dead on at a desired range. Assuming that you're throwing them down range at 1350 FPS and 10 inches high at 50 yards... zero is somewhere around 220 yards. That's a weird place for bubba to set a zero.
When looking at the many pics from the Springfield Armory Trapdoor book, my rear sight is a standard carbine rear sight with the farther yard distance graduations ground off. Supposedly with the shorter barrel and slightly different loading, the Army Ordnance folks didn't think the carbine was capable of reaching out where the rifle model was "engineered to do". Someone put the wrong rear sight on my Trapdoor since its the longer rifle model. There are no Army Supply or Ordnance markings on my wood stock either which probably indicates that it is some type of after market replacement. Coupled with the wrong model ramrod---who knows what others parts were mixed and matched on the rifle. It could definitely be a Bannerman surplus patchwork quilt rifle or maybe one that some local put together out of spare parts. What really matters is that it shoots pretty decently for something possibly 150 years old.
 

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What really matters is that it shoots pretty decently for something possibly 150 years old.
I'm happy for you that you are enjoying the old warhorse. I've loved shooting mine for the past 16 years. They are capable of surprisng accuracy for a rifle so old.

You're correct that the carbine load was reduced from the standard 45-70-405 to a more mild 45-55-405. I also believe that they went from a standard musket powder to a power that more closely resembled our current FFFg grainulation. Out of the Carbine's 22 inch barrel, it produced a muzzle velocity of 1100 fps. The reason the sights on the carbine went out farther than the standard rifle sights was the difference in sight radius. You could simply fit more numbers on the ladder of the carbine.

Another cool fact is that the 45-55-405 government cartridge can be subsituted for the 45-70-405 cartridge in the full length rifle version and still maintain coordination with the rear ladder sight ranges up to approximately 300 yards. It's a good way to keep plinking without buring a full charge of powder... so at least your supplies will last.

I like to load my range rounds for my 1873 model rifle with 55 grains of FFFg Goex black powder. I then put a piece of wax paper over the powder column and press it down with the end of a wooden dowel. Next comes a lube cookie of my home made blackpowder lube. Next an vegetable fiber card wad. Then i push everything down with the same wooden dowel. I top it all off with a Lee 405HB bullet again lubed with my home made lube. I seat the bullet so it slightly compresses the whole column and finish it off with a slight crimp from a Lee crimping die. I find that this load will allow me to shoot all day, and not have to worry about powder fouling.

I've also found that you can greatly extend the life of your brass by simply using a universal decapper instead of running it through a full length sizer die. I find that you don't have to bell the case mouth before seating the bullet and you avoid unintentionally reducing the size of the bullet base as well. I've had no trouble with chambering, and my accuracy improved.

Enjoy the experience and turning heads at the range when you show those AR shooters what a man's battle rifle is.
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I have an '86 sporter built on the style of an officer's model that appears in Jack Bein's book on the 45/70.
Bought at the Denver antique gun show decades ago, this rifle is really well done, and was unfired(we think) when I got it.
Didn't come cheap, but worth every penny.
I have shot everything in it from BP to Pyrodex, to Unique, 2400, even a load that I got from a 1949 Lyman reloading book for 3031! Always under cast bullets, as the bore is perfect and I want it to stay that way.
I don't recommend the 3031, it flattens the primers enough that I'm a bit suspect of it.
Old queen shoots great, would shoot better if I could lighten the stock trigger up some. I've been thinking of trying to install a set of set triggers from some kind of muzzle loader.
Trapdoors are still out there for reasonable money, especially the cut up ones, and they are more fun than puppies and monkeys!
 

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At the risk of starting a firefight here, i want to say that I have shot, a lot, a load similar to Washington1331's load.
You will never go wrong with that load, fun to shoot and safe and accurate.
But, and here goes, I have shot both smokeless and duplex loads in both my trapdoor and in my Remington #1 business rolling block.
I won't share loads here, because each one of the old warriors is a law unto itself and any load put into a trapdoor or other BP rifle should be worked up very carefully from low pressure.

I know that some of you are sharpening your pichforks and lighting your torches over my comment about duplex loads, but I want you to do your due diligence, find the old articles and study the subject.
I got my information from a very early reloading article(that I sadly no longer have). When I approached my uncle whose ballistic opinions I held very dearly, his comment was "one of the ideas during the early development of Unique powder was to create duplex loads to help with BP powder fouling."
So, I studied, hard, and after several hundred different loads came up with a duplex load that cuts powder fouling nearly in half.
Also, I have worked up a load with 3031 that works in my BP rifles. It is very light, and I use a piece of common paper towel to keep the light charge back against the primer so I don't have detonation. It is light enough to show no pressure signs on the primers and brass extracts without problems. Imagine cleaning your BP rifle with the same skills you have for your other rifles.

Like I said, I won't share these loads. I implore you to study, and carefully work up loads for your individual rifle. Especially when it comes to trapdoors! I consider the trapdoor to be weak enough to be an issue with any kind of ammo!
Actually, the most fun I have had with these two charcoal burners is working up loads for them!
What I am saying here is that it is all about pressure levels and not about what kind of powder is used.
 

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