Marlin Firearms Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Handwriting Nature Road surface Wood Asphalt

Handwriting Font Wood Wall Writing

Snow Plant Wood Tree Biome

Took my Springfield Trapdoor (mfg. 1891) to the range today, and couldn't be more pleased with the results. The rifle is in great shape, with a good clean bore, but until recently I have never got it to shoot worth a hoot. I tried all sorts of factory Cowboy loads, keyholing with everything at 25 yards. I bought a set of dies for .45-70 to reload, got the Lee 405 gr. HB and 500 gr. bullet molds, got "The Book" everyone recommends, and tried every powder (real black, substitutes and smokeless), and wad combination imaginable. Best it ever shot was about an 8" "group" at 100 yards, using the Lee 405 HB and 65 grains of Goex Fffg. I wished I had never seen this rifle, hated it, but I like history and relics, so I couldn't part with it. Of course, I slugged the bore, and like a lot of Trapdoors, it was way oversize at .4625. A while back I picked up a box Winchester. 45-70 ammo loaded with a 300 JHP. I never considered it before, because I bought into the popular notion that I would ruin my barrel with jacketed ammo, and didn't figure a .458 bullet would shoot at all in my oversize bore. I took it to the range with low expectations, and proceeded to shoot a 3 shot cloverleaf at 50 yards, albeit 18" high with original sights all the way down. Was pretty excited about that, so increased the distance to 200 yards to see if there was any bullet tumble or loss of accuracy. The rifle shot a 6 shot, 5" group at 200 yards (as good as I can do with 6 decade old eyes), still very high above point of aim. Well, now I'm stoked! So I sent off for a much taller replacement sight blade, and upon receiving and installing it, headed for the range today to sight it in by filing down to get point of aim and impact where I wanted it. I brought Winchester. 45-70 300 grain JHP, and Federal Powershock 300 SP. The pictures I attached are self-explanatory. 2" groups or so at 100 yards, just about 4" high, which is where I like it. I can't shoot better with open sights. The first two groups with Federal were slightly left, a tiny adjustment on the Buffington rear sight brought them dead center. Amazingly, the two types of ammo shot to the exact same point of impact, really happy about that! The Federal 300 SP avg. 1960 fps, which is 112 fps more than advertised, the Winchester did 1862 fps, both boxes stating velocity was 1850 fps.

Before anyone gets all excited about these loads being "Too hot for a Trapdoor!", I did contact both Federal and Winchester to verify that they are safe for Trapdoor use, and they affirmed they indeed were. The guy at the gunshop said I was "gonna blow myself up", they should have a little more knowledge about the products they sell. As far as ruining my barrel with jacketed ammo, I will not be shooting more than a box or two a year, so not worried about that at all. Even if jacketed ammo will eventually ruin my barrel, which I have my doubts about, it will not be in my lifetime. I now have a good, usable rifle, whereas before by following the conventional wisdom, it was just collecting dust on the gun rack. It's going deer hunting next year!
Brown Wood Fluid Tints and shades Rectangle

Bumper Automotive exterior Line Automotive tire Gas

Handwriting Font Wall Writing Tints and shades

Tire Automotive tire Hood Tread Wood
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Best of luck. me! noooooooooo way would I run 300 grainers at 1960! from a trapdoor. I dont care what they say.
I always thought that too, had no intention or desire to "Magnumize" it. The modern jacketed ammo was out of sheer desperation before I was going to get rid of the rifle. Even after Winchester and Federal told me it was safe to use their ammo, well under SAAMI specs (they didn't say how much), I was still leary. But then I looked at several loading manuals, and they all had "Trapdoor Level" loads with a 300 jacketed bullets at over 2000 fps. Only then I decided to give the factory loads a whirl, shot the first few with a string from behind a barricade. Sure glad I did! The Federal load is only advertised at 1850fps, guess the long barrel gives it extra ooomph.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Congratulations on finding something that will work. I see no problem shooting factory loads in a trap door especially one in good shape. As long as lock up and everything is tight then go for it. One thing I would try before I called it quits on the cast loads. I have the Lee 405 gr hb bullet. I have shot a ton of them through my Pedersoli Sharps. My mold drops them at .460. My friend was having trouble with a 45-70 with an oversized bore just as your is. Look up how to beagle a bullet mold. Basically take some heat tape and line the bullet mold in strips where it meets. Made my mold throw a bullet at .464. We didn't size it and tumble lubed. Loaded them with 12gr universal. His rifle went from shooting shotgun groups at 100 to 2 1/2 at 100. Something to consider in the quest for accuracy out of a fine old rifle. It is a very fine looking gun by the way.

Sent from my moto g power (2021) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,431 Posts
The 1888 trapdoor sight, was designed to hit "body mass" up to 260 yards atlowest adjustment.. as I recollect. The elevated sight compromised for barrel twist up to 2000 yards. Amazing for a weapon and sighting in black powder 130 years ago. Lob um in Brandon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
Wow, awesome post, great pics and fine shooting. Also nice job on sleuthing out an accurate load.
I have what is a family heirloom 1873 Springfield trapdoor. It is in good condition, but not great. I have only recently, as of last summer, shot it. It had not been shot in probably 50 years. My accuracy was not even close to yours. Me, my 31 year old son and a shooting buddy shot an 8 inch steel gong at about 50 yds. Really just 6 rounds downrange to test out a new hammer screw. We will give it a better test when I have better access to reloading components. We shot some ancient 45-70 ammo that my dad, heck maybe my granddad, bought before I was born.
Making me yearn for some warmer weather.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,568 Posts
Great looking rifle. Good shootin'. Congrats!

And darn good eyes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
504 Posts
Steel does not get stronger with age, especially when it was case hardened 120 years ago and proofed for black powder level pressures. I might add that the barrel steel will wear fast with the loads that you are using as its metallurgy was never meant to handle jacketed bullets and smokeless powder.

If you don't reload, I'd suggest using the Cowboy Action type loads in your valuable Model 1888 Trapdoor. They will closely duplicate the original infantry loads that the rifle was designed for and the cast lead bullets will be much kinder to the soft pre-smokeless steel of your barrel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
^^^^ What Scharfschuetze ^^^^ said!

...I tried all sorts of factory Cowboy loads, keyholing with everything at 25 yards. I bought a set of dies for .45-70 to reload, got the Lee 405 gr. HB and 500 gr. bullet molds, got "The Book" everyone recommends, and tried every powder (real black, substitutes and smokeless), and wad combination imaginable. Best it ever shot was about an 8" "group" at 100 yards, using the Lee 405 HB and 65 grains of Goex Fffg...

...as far as ruining my barrel with jacketed ammo, I will not be shooting more than a box or two a year, so not worried about that at all. Even if jacketed ammo will eventually ruin my barrel, which I have my doubts about, it will not be in my lifetime...

I would have been happy running 405 gr. bullets at 1200 fps, not a magnum guy. Tried everything to get the rifle to shoot, it just wouldn't. 1800-1900 fps DOES sound hot with a 300 grain bullet, until I looked at several loading manuals, all of which have "Trapdoor Level Loads" in excess of 2000 fps. Hornady, a conservative source of data, currently has "Trapdoor Loads" above 2100 fps, with 300 grain jacketed bullets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,546 Posts
I have shot everything from original BP military loads to modern white box Winchester loads in my sporter.
All shot well, with none of them showing signs of pressure. The best load, however, is 30gr. of 3031 under a .458 cast 300 gr. flat nose I
got from a friend.
The only problem with my rifle is the horrendous trigger! Takes a floor jack to fire a round! LOL

Brown Picture frame Window Wood Interior design
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,801 Posts
Rest assured you will accelerate wear in your trapdoor shooting jacketed bullets. The throats on these guns is large, as well as the groove, and those hot gasses are escaping past that jacketed bullet with every shot. With every shot those hot gasses will etch the lands. Like the rest in here, I also don't feel like most factory ammo listed as safe is safe in a trapdoor. Those 300gr JSP's pushing almost 2000FPS and likely 35,000-40,000 PSI chamber pressure won't blow your trapdoor up, but the fit of the breech block/trapdoor to the receiver is going to get loose quickly. These rifles aren't designed to operate at those chamber pressures.

I would start over with a 500gr government style bullet, and start somewhere around 57gr of 2F and work your way up from there with no more than .002 neck tension. There is no reason a trapdoor with a nice bore won't shoot well with what it was designed to be shot with. Mine will shoot 1-1.5MOA at 200 yards all day long.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
897 Posts
I have two 1884's a rifle and a carbine!! In the rifle I shoot a 405 grain cast over 40 grains of 3031 at about 1300 FPS, and shoots hole touching groups at 50 yards and the 200 yard gong is dead meat. The carbine also shoots those loads very accurately but are a little tough on the shoulder, so I switched to 300 grain cast over 16 grains of Traill Boss, accurate and pleasant to shoot, at 1600 FPS. I had to put taller sights on both. The one you put on your rifle looks about what mine looks like, I made it from a piece of scrap. The old front sight from the rifle worked great on the carbine!!
Trapdoors are a hoot and always great conversation starters at the range, and I'll let anybody shoot them, 'cause when else they get a chance to shoot a 135 year old rifle.

The range officer walked by while I was shooting the rifle and sarcastically asked where the selector switch was?? I replied, It's full auto only, just hold the trigger back until it's empty!!:cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
504 Posts
Something else you might consider with the cast bullets--paper patching them to increase the diameter. Never done any of it myself, but it seems like that might work.
Many Trapdoor barrels will slug out at .460" or more. It is a pain to actually measure a slug from a TD barrel due to its three-groove rifling. I generally cast soft bullets (1 to 20 or there abouts) and size to .460" and that gives me the best accuracy at 1,100 fps carbine velocity or 1,300 infantry velocity. Lee makes a mould that closely duplicates the original Frankford Arsenal bullet.

I don't paper patch, but as well as the advantage that North Idaho Shooter mentions, they also have the reputation of smoothing up a rough bore.

Here are some of my Trapdoors. All are shooters and all will hold well past 1,000 yards with the afore mentioned cast bullet at 1,300 fps.

The bottom two, an 1870 TD and an 1870 Navy Rolling Block are in 50/70 and thus not really part of the discussion. They get a 425 grain cast bullet at 1,200 FPS using BP only.
Rectangle Wood Plank Wood stain Hardwood
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
860 Posts
suggest using the Cowboy Action type loads
Which will -- and did -- kill anything & everything on this continent. o_O

That said, 350gr @1,900 isn't all that high a stress level.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
Several years ago I had an 1881 Marlin that wouldn’t shoot anything but jacketed bullets well. It too had an oversized bore. Since I was wanting a gun for long range side matches in CAS, and only lead bullets allowed, I sold it to a collector that said he had no intention of shooting the gun.

I guess I don’t understand why an oversized bore shoots jacketed better, but my lever gun did, just as your trapdoor. Glad it’s working out for you.

Dan
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,592 Posts
Several years ago I had an 1881 Marlin that wouldn’t shoot anything but jacketed bullets well. It too had an oversized bore. Since I was wanting a gun for long range side matches in CAS, and only lead bullets allowed, I sold it to a collector that said he had no intention of shooting the gun.

I guess I don’t understand why an oversized bore shoots jacketed better, but my lever gun did, just as your trapdoor. Glad it’s working out for you.

Dan
Every gun is different. My 3 Trapdoors all slugged at .459 to .460. None will shoot a jacketed bullet very well at all. 50 yards and they keyhole all over a 4x8 sheet of plywood. With the correct sized lead slugs they all shoot excellent. I sold one of them to a buddy last year and he's using .461 slugs and couldn't be happier.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top