Author Topic: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?  (Read 170 times)

Offline Niederlander

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Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« on: November 12, 2022, 10:31:38 AM »
Gentlemen,  For any of you who shoot original trapdoors with smokeless powder, what bullet diameter do you use?  I know they have what are today oversize bores.  When I had one, .457 bullets were a joke.  Will .459 do it, or do they need to go even bigger?
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Offline Snake Oil

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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2022, 12:42:44 PM »
I know in mine that when I cast 457 and pan lube things are bad (keyhole and such), but when I powder coat them (the main body comes up to .459) they shoot pretty well in my 1884 have not tried them in my 1873 yet... but I also used black powder (pyrodex) ... I've not had enough time to truly "develop" the load, these are initial investigation results.  Not sure if this is helpful at all in retrospect, but trying to be helpful  ;D
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Offline Drydock

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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2022, 01:01:30 PM »
.459s have shot well in mine.
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Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2022, 01:21:48 PM »
I have achieved fairly decent success with .457 bullets for 405gr GAF-legal loads for the Martini-Henry … which actually should have a bullet in the .468 to .470 diameter range … by casting them very soft (even pure lead) to ensure maximum diameter bump-up for effective rifling engagement, and using them “as cast” rather than sizing them down.  Pretty much any time I have shot a Martini-Henry in main match skirmishes at Muster, that is what I was using.  Not so effective for long-range accuracy, of course, but I load the proper larger diameter bullets of the full standard 480gr weight for that.)

For shorter-range use, at least, maybe give the soft-cast, not-sized route a try …

As another possible alternative, the original, lsmaller than bore diameter, Martini-Henry bullet was paper patched, up to the necessary diameter, and Know of a number of present-day M-H shooters who paper-patch their bullets (even ones with annular grease grooves) for very effective accuracy.  (I’v personally never been a fan of fussing with that, but it is another possibility to consider …
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
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Offline Snake Oil

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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2022, 01:56:47 PM »
Oooooo... paper-patching sounds fun to try!
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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #5 on: Today at 01:33:41 PM »

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline LongWalker

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Re: Trapdoor Springfields Bullet Size?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2022, 04:16:59 PM »
I tend to not shoot much smokeless in original trapdoors, but all of my shooters over the years have experienced at least some smokeless.  Tolerable accuracy--the basic 4-5 MOA that most trapdoors in good condition will do with the equivalent of BP issue ammo--can usually be reached with bullets sized to .459.  Remember though, when you work up a load with a .457" bullet and decide to increase the diameter, it is a good idea to drop back to starting loads and work up your load to match the desired velocity.

The next step up in accuracy from here is to select a bullet with a nose that fits the bore.  Take one of your bullets and press the nose into the muzzle.  If it drops in, it is too small.  If the nose of the bullet slides in easily, it is still too small.  You want a bullet that you can force in by hand, and when removed shows 3 lightly engraved markings from the lands. 

The third step up is to size the bullets to the largest diameter that will chamber.  Make up dummy rounds with bullets sized .459", .460", .461", and larger if you can.  Chamber the dummy rounds til you find the one that won't chamber, then go to the next smaller diameter. 

I'm still testing loads in my current rifle (Model 1873 with 1879 sights).  I've only got about 400 rounds of smokeless through it, all smokeless equivalents of the M1882 Rifle loads (500gr bullet at ~1,300 fps).  When testing I prefer to shoot 10-shot groups at 300 yards.  My averages so far:

.459" bullets: just under 14" (eight 10-shot groups)
.459" bullets, nose fit to bore:  11" (ten 10-shot groups)
.461" bullets, nose fit to bore: 10" (ten 10-shot groups)

I haven't tested the rifle with duplicates of the M1898 Rifle loads (original smokeless loads, 500 gr bullet at ~1400 fps).  If I were going to shoot smokeless loads in the long range match, this is the load I'd use.  My aged and decrepit carcass much prefers BP carbine loads!
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