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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently acquired (read that as given) a US Springfield M1878 rifle. I can't stand having toys that can't be played with. I'm looking for info on low pressure loads that I can fabricate for it (I've been loading since the mid '70's so it's not foreign to me) and shoot safely. I know ideally it should be loaded with charcoal (not literally) but I'd like to find some acceptable smokeless loads for it. Any one here that can steer me to a few sites, or care to share your recipes with me?
Just for the record, I'm not foreign to black powder either. That's all my dad ever had and I've been burning charcoal competitively for the last 35 years in the CWSA (the left-coast equivalent to the NSSA). This just happens to be my first bp cartridge gun and don't want to break my new toy.
Thanks
Jon
 

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I'd try Al Fraskas US trap door info center. I know they have black powder load info but I'm thinking I saw smokeless there as well. While I don't recommend it I used to use 10 unique behind a 425 grain slug. Very mild load and shot to the sites at 50 yds. It was the 1879 rear site. Been a few years since I could use sites like That though. Good luck, Jaeger.
 

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I'm not sure what you mean by an 1878 Springfield, unless you mean one manufactured in 1878. Regardless, there are many good, safe, smokeless loads that can be used in any of the weak-action rifles and carbines including the trapdoors. One that I have used for years is 40 grains of IMR 3031 and a 350 grain Hornady RN jacketed bullet.

Most all of the commercial loads by the major manufacturers are safe in the trapdoors. They have been using smokeless since the turn of the 20th century.

Ray
 

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1873 Trapdoor Springfield Rifles are routinely misnamed as 1878 models, due to difficult to read stamp. There was no 1878 model.

http://trapdoorcollector.com/FAQ.html

I have heard of the 10 grain unique load, but have not tried it. Lyman's "Cast Bullet Handbook" has Unique loads, but not on the Trapdoor Springfield page. All Unique loads utilize Dacron. You should definitely buy this handbook, or another quality reference manual, before you start to reload this old, awesome rifle.
 

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Never use pistol powder in a trapdoor! The correct BP substitute is SR4759. The suggested load of 24 grains and a 405-500 grain bullet will do very well. Most trapdoors have oversized bores so be sure you have the correct diameter bullet molds.
 

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Stay away from jacketed bullets. The barrels on these old timers are fairly soft by modern standards.

Oneshooter
That's an Internet myth that just keeps on going. Bullet friction does not wear out a barrel. It's the hot gasses. You'd have to shoot an awful lot of jacketed bullets in a trapdoor to see any difference from lead bullets. Your shoulder will give out long before the barrel.

JMHO

Ray
 

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Those barrels were made from "Decarbonized iron" very, very soft iron NOT STEEL. I have seen a Winchester so worn from jacketed bullets that there was no lands left, all the bullets tumbled. This was an 1886 model, made of much better steel. It was a 45-90.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm not sure what you mean by an 1878 Springfield, unless you mean one manufactured in 1878. Regardless, there are many good, safe, smokeless loads that can be used in any of the weak-action rifles and carbines including the trapdoors. One that I have used for years is 40 grains of IMR 3031 and a 350 grain Hornady RN jacketed bullet.
Ray
Ray,
You are correct, Sir. It is a model 1873. My bad. I read last night that there is no such animal as an M1878. I looked at the date stamp under magnification and it is the serifs on the "3" that make it look like an "8".
Thanks to all for the info. I'm new to the trap door world and obviously have a ton to learn.
Thank you again, gentlemen.
Jon
 

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I shoot Pyrodex RS with 405 grain lead bullets from a Lyman mold (.459) that shoot very well in mine. I have put several hundreds rounds through it with no problems. I just pour hot water down the barrel when I get home and clean as normal.

TK
 

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I will chime in with Trail boss. High volume low pressure powder designed for this kind of shooting. Fills the big case up well and you do not have to worry about powder shifting. You can Google and read about. Interesting powder and very versatile.
 

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Never use pistol powder in a trapdoor! The correct BP substitute is SR4759. The suggested load of 24 grains and a 405-500 grain bullet will do very well. Most trapdoors have oversized bores so be sure you have the correct diameter bullet molds.
This is good info. I personally use 22.5 grains of SR4759 , with either the 405 grain or 500 grain lead bullet. With a Buffington sight you have lots of options and adjustability. A very light dacron wad over the powder helps consistency.
Be sure that your rifle is in good shape before firing it with anything. Lots of these rifles were "played with" over the years or made up of parts.
 

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Hot water helps it to dry quicker and I have never had a problem with rust. I'm not talking boiling water, just hot water from the tap.
 

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Hot water helps it to dry quicker and I have never had a problem with rust. I'm not talking boiling water, just hot water from the tap.
I've been a musket shooter for over 30 years and always cleaned this way. Hot water with dish detergent. Evaporates quickly and then oil as normal. BTW, I shoot light loads with IMR 3031 in my Trapdoors.
 

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Just curious: why is no one shooting with blackpowder as these Springfields were originally shot with? Here in Holland practically no one reloads .45-70 with nitro or BP substitutes ...:(
I can't speak for others, but though black powder may be authentic in the Trapdoor, I find it a pain to clean up. Also, the cases need to be treated quickly and carefully after firing or they get ruined. I find my military cartridge rifles made for black powder need to be cleaned of fouling every five shots or so, or they lose a little accuracy, and may kick a bit more.
That means I need to take more stuff to the range than I would for rifles using smokeless powder. That said, I fire black powder in my Martini Henry rifles because, despite the above problems, they seem to be more accurate with black powder.
I don't know about the availability of SR4759 in The Netherlands, but you might like it if you can get some.
 

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While clean up is an issue, Black powder is not clean burning and we compound the issue by loading light as not to stress a 140 year old rifle. Load light and they shoot even dirtier. I have done both in my pistols, Trapdoors and Henry. I just don't see any advantage to shooting Black powder over smokeless.


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The only real problem with shooting BP in a Trapdoor is that sooner or later all that cleaning will ruin the muzzle, as it cannot be cleaned from the breech. I ruined mine for shooting it with BP for ten or more years. Of course the Martini Henry has the same problem.
 
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