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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Spencer Shooting Society (Moderator: Two Flints)  |  Topic: How to load the 56-56 spencer? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: How to load the 56-56 spencer?  (Read 389 times)
FinnO
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« on: October 28, 2017, 02:41:37 pm »


Gentlemen

I am having trouble getting accuracy when shooting my 56-56. I am currently using the buffalo arms ".539 375 Grain 1-Cavity RNFP Heeled Bullet Mold for 56-56 Spencer".

Should I use coarse grain like Swizz 1 1/2 fg or a fine 3fg? Should I fill the cases? Or would a lighter load, with a filler work better? Should i compress the powder? Any suggestion is appreciated.

Greetings from Norway.
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Trailrider
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2017, 05:45:04 pm »

Before attempting to give you the benefit (or not) of my own experience with a .56-56 Spencer, I need to ask a few questions.

First. what kind of accuracy are you getting?  At what range are you shooting?  What alloy are you using to cast your bullets? What is the hardness? What kind of bullet lube are you using? Do your heel bullets have lube groove ahead of the heel, or is the bullet coated with lube?  Have you "slugged" the barrel to determine groove diameter? I think you will find M1860 Spencer carbines (if that is what your gun is), have tapered barrels.  Mine measured .545" just ahead of the chamber and .535" at the muzzle!  How are your crimping the cartridge mouth into the bullets, if at all?

I got my best results (3-3/8" seven-round groups at 50 yds) using IMR4227 smokeless powder with almost a full case, 18.6 gr, with a 411 gr. bullet cast from Lyman #2 equivalent alloy (9 lbs wheelweights + 1 lb 50/50 lead-tin bar solder).  Although I tried a number of other bullets, from Rapine Bullet Moulds (now out of business...Ray retired years ago), my best results were from a hollowbased Lyman #433476AX mould, sized .535-.538" dia.  This is an inside lubed bullet. My brass consisted of Dixie Gun Works .50-70 cases, that were cut down to 1.000" +- .002", resized in a standard .50-70 die, and then inside neck reamed to .525" using a custom reamer, slightly longer than the length of the seated portion of the bullet.  I also annealed the brass approximately half its length at the neck.  This produced a case wall thickness of 0.0125-0.0135" at the mouth. Crinping was done using a .56-56 crimping die from C&H. 

Interestingly, the .56-56 is proportionately like .45 LC.  Water capacity of the cases is about 22.5 gr of water.  Relative Sectional Density of the bullets ran around .196-.205, depending on bullet weight. (RSD = bullet wt (grains) x .0000499) for a .535" groove)
of the BP substitutes were I shooting this 157 year old gun today. I did use Pyrodex "P", with some loads, but accuracy was fair to poor.

Let me note that the Spencer carbine was NOT noted for its accuracy, partly because of the ammo variations from various manufacturers, and partly due to the slow twist (1 turn in 52").

Not sure if this will be of help, but perhaps it will give you some clues.
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FinnO
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2017, 05:17:56 am »

Thank you Trailrider  Smiley

I can get a decent group with 3-5 shoots, but then suddenly a round goes 10 inces up and to the right. Then 2-3 shots that sort of make a decent group, and then one suddenly goes low.

I am using an alloy of arnound 8-9 brinell and since its a heeld bullet I am not crimping anything. I use a homemade soft lube made from beeswax, olive oil and lard/coconut fat.

Your are correct that it is an original Spencer carbine with the 6 goove barrel. And when reading that you got the best result with IMR4227 I think I will try Swizz no 2 (FFFg) and not Swizz no 4 (1-1/2 Fg).

I have used Swizz no 4 with great success in Sharps 50-70, Rolling block, Martini-Henry, Snider and Trapdoor, but perhaps the Spencer would like FFFg better.

Thank you for taking your time writing a reply. Now I have a better understandig of the "troublesome" but ohh so fun Spencer Smiley

Ohh almost forgot. My normal shooting distance is 50 meters (54 yards).

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Trailrider
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 11:20:21 am »

Glad to be of assistance.  The Spencer was not know for its accuracy, but, if you will, was a Civil War and Indian Wars "assault rifle", in that, compared with the standard muzzleloading and, later, single-shot infantry weapon, its rate of fire was significantly higher, but was effective at shorter ranges. The same could be applied to the M1860 Henry Repeating Rifle, which fired a less powerful round (.44 Henry Flat Rimfire), but had a higher magazine capacity.

According to some accounts I've read, the Spencer had a reputation for the bullet drifting to the right rather significantly at longer ranges.  The difference between 50 yds and 50 meters is not significant, however.  Since you are not crimping, I recommend getting a good interference fit between the heel and the cartridge case, in order to promote good bullet "pull" (the force required to move the bullet from the case. This will insure the powder gets a good start...though with black powder it isn't quite as critical as with smokeless.  As to getting good groups, followed by flyers and then good groups, I can't quite explain that, unless it has to do with inconsistent ignition. Magnum primers should help with that.
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Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

Your obedient servant,
Trailrider,
Bvt. Lt. Col. Commanding,
Southern District
Dept. of the Platte, GAF
Drydock
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 05:21:50 pm »

I can only add that with all my Heel Bullet BP rounds, they all perform better with finer powder and hotter primers.
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FinnO
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« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2017, 05:03:25 am »

I can only add that with all my Heel Bullet BP rounds, they all perform better with finer powder and hotter primers.

Thank you Drydock Smiley
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matt45
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2017, 10:43:54 am »

If you are just using B.P. something that may help is to bore out the flash-hole on the cases to 0.096.  That and W-W magnum primers have helped me w/ both the 45-70 and the 45 L.C.  My Spencer is a repro, so I have now experience w/ the 56-56.
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