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Old August 6th, 2020, 01:59 PM #1
damosan damosan is offline
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Reloading for original trapdoor rifle.

I have an old trapdoor rifle that I would like to reload for. I have a press and assorted bits for that. I shoot from 50-300 yards at a range.

The videos I've watched on this topic cover the gamut - on the one end you simply fill the case with black powder and crunch it down with the bullet. On the other you have reproductions of the original load using drop tubes, compression dies, wadding, paper wrapped bullets....

The primary concern in either case is to make sure there are no air pockets in the case - cuz that leads to things blowing up (damaging the gun, yourself, or others...).

Is it really as simple as 1) Pour powder to rim, and 2) Use bullet to crunch the powder down?

Thank you.
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Old August 6th, 2020, 05:24 PM #2
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That sentence would technically be true , but greatly oversimplified .

Yes , the way simplified way will go Bang , and unless you do something very weird that I can not presently think of , would be safe .

Exactly duplicating period loads , or optimizing accuracy can involve a myriad of subtleties .
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Old August 6th, 2020, 06:24 PM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damosan View Post
I have an old trapdoor rifle that I would like to reload for. I have a press and assorted bits for that. I shoot from 50-300 yards at a range.

The videos I've watched on this topic cover the gamut - on the one end you simply fill the case with black powder and crunch it down with the bullet. On the other you have reproductions of the original load using drop tubes, compression dies, wadding, paper wrapped bullets....

The primary concern in either case is to make sure there are no air pockets in the case - cuz that leads to things blowing up (damaging the gun, yourself, or others...).

Is it really as simple as 1) Pour powder to rim, and 2) Use bullet to crunch the powder down?

Thank you.
damosan,

We Hooligans load a LOT of BP rounds for our guns. Building safe, accurate BP rounds with performance predictability is not as simple as filling the case with powder and seating a projectile on top.

I can speak for 4570inMD, CombatAK and myself in saying we'll be happy to share our input and experience with you. You are welcome to join us at a Hooligan Shoot so we can meet you and discuss. Or, you can send us a PM.

Of course we're very curious about what trapdoor you have that you're looking to build rounds for?



BTW: Loading ammo and shooting BPCR's is VERY addictive...

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Old August 6th, 2020, 06:57 PM #4
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It can be fairly simple for starting...then as complicated as you want it to be. Supposedly some BP Cartridge Rifle shooting pros mark their cases so that they are always inserted into the chamber the same side up, load the bullets in the order that they are cast into the same shells each time, and shoot them in exactly the same order.

I don't do that

I use a drop tube (a two foot piece of 3/8 copper pipe with a 3/8 to 1/2 reducer stuck on the bottom to guide the shell and a funnel on top. The whole contraption is essentially just strapped to the side of my bench). Drop tubing somehow magically gets the granules to snuggle in to each other tighter. The net effect is that it somewhat compresses the charge, and I'd like to think it is more gentle than crushing it with the bullet. You essentially drop tube the charge into a muzzleloader. It absolutely makes a difference in how the charge fills the case. Fill a case all the way to the top with powder, and pour it down the tube into another empty case. Suddenly you've got maybe 3/8 or so of space between the top of the charge and the mouth of the case.

You'll want to use a thin wad of some sort between the powder and bullet. I made a tool to cut the right sized little discs out of non-corrugated cardboard (like note pad backing), but it was a real pain. I wimped out and bought precut wads. I don't remember from where (online...maybe Buffalo Arms?). I think they were "Walter's Wads" (vegetable fiber) for somewhere around $20 per 1000. I do not at all regret that decision and will do it again when I need to.

Figuring out the right charge (without getting too picky) takes a little bit of measuring. You absolutely want to fill the case (i.e. no gaps between charge and bullet...you should never hear powder move if you shake a BP cartridge), with "a little" compression. I measured the length of the bullet (I like 405 grain hollow base for "gentle" loads) that would go inside the cartridge to get proper OAL, plus the thickness of the wad. I used the depth gauge of my caliper to "reach down" into the case mouth to see exactly where the end of the bullet/wad combo would be, then tried drop tubing different charges until it filled to that level. Just to be on the safe side, I added a pinch more so that the bullet would add just a tiny amount of extra compression when seated. I think it worked out to be 65 grains (measured by volume) for me. You can tweak the amount of compression and even to some degree, OAL (since you aren't loading a magazine, the bullet can hang out a bit further than spec, as long as it still fits into your rifle without jamming into the rifling)...as long as you maintain the no air gap rule.

You need to use the proper lube (not Alox). People rave about SPG (surely available from wherever you can find Walter's Wads). Personally, I use a 50-50 mix of beeswax and olive oil because that's what the guy who sold me my first BP .45-70 said it liked. An important characteristic of BP lube that modern lubes don't provide is keeping the powder fouling soft.

I also use magnum primers.

After you shoot BP cartridges, you should put them in water. I forgot why I guess it prevents some sort of corrosion...I just know it's a thing you're supposed to do When I remember everything, I bring my hand press with a decapping die to pop out the primers before I drop the empties in a tupperware full of water. When I don't remember everything....45-70 shells drop neatly into a half full water bottle and are easily removed when I get home by cutting it in half

The great thing about loading BP cartridges is that you never have to worry about a double charge
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Old August 6th, 2020, 07:19 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art3 View Post
After you shoot BP cartridges, you should put them in water. I forgot why I guess it prevents some sort of corrosion...I just know it's a thing you're supposed to do When I remember everything, I bring my hand press with a decapping die to pop out the primers before I drop the empties in a tupperware full of water.

The great thing about loading BP cartridges is that you never have to worry about a double charge
Art3's remarks above are accurate.

I'll add that the reason you want to decap the cases and put them in a container of soapy water (dish soap - Dawn works best) is to neutralize the corrosive action of BP residue. Just like immediately cleaning the gun after firing BP, cleaning the spent cases for reuse is important. My used cases get resized and go into a tumbler as part of my cleaning regimen after a range trip.

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Old August 6th, 2020, 09:22 PM #6
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You technically can use the bullet to compress the powder, but it's not a great idea. It will most likely deform the bullet base. If all you want to finish plink, then you can get away with the most basic approach. Find out how deep the case your bullet needs to go for it to chamber, fill the case to that point, insert the lubed bullet, and go shoot. You dont have to have a crimp in a single shot, though many people do. You don't need a magnum primer, but it's not uncommon.

Now, if you want wring out lots of accuracy, you'll need to go into a more sophisticated process. The guys above have given you a lot of great info. Check out the Cast Boolits forum, the Shiloh Sharps forum, and BPCR.net as great forums for very more info, too.

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Old August 7th, 2020, 09:07 AM #7
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Of course we're very curious about what trapdoor you have that you're looking to build rounds for?
It's a rifle - probably from the PA NG (as that's the bayonet I got with it). Serial is 321xxx which puts date of production from late 1885 - 1886 (based on the net).

It has a dated 1885 acceptance stamp in the stock.
A stamped "C" on the receiver.
A fancy circle-P stamped on the wrist.
Barrel proofs are V, P, an eagle head thing, and P.

The rifle is very accurate and throws some pretty good groups. It's got the battle computer irons on it of course.
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Old August 7th, 2020, 09:11 AM #8
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Thanks all.
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Old August 7th, 2020, 05:17 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damosan View Post
It's a rifle - probably from the PA NG (as that's the bayonet I got with it). Serial is 321xxx which puts date of production from late 1885 - 1886 (based on the net).

It has a dated 1885 acceptance stamp in the stock.
A stamped "C" on the receiver.
A fancy circle-P stamped on the wrist.
Barrel proofs are V, P, an eagle head thing, and P.

The rifle is very accurate and throws some pretty good groups. It's got the battle computer irons on it of course.
Pics would be great. We love to see pics!

My suggestion is to experiment with different bullets and powder charges to find what works best in your rifle. 405 grain lead bullets were standard issue when the rifle was built.

I've found my 1892 Trapdoor shoots best with .459/405 hollow base bullets without a wad. Lee makes an inexpensive mold that casts good projectiles. Track of the Wolf sells Lee .459 sizing dies (which is a custom diameter). I lube my bullets with a mixture of beeswax and Crisco. The powder charge is dropped through a 24" drop tube and compressed to a level slightly above where the base of the bullet will sit on top. With other style bullets I often use vegetable fiber wads. It depends on the bullet.

Expand the case mouths prior to dropping the powder and seating the bullet. Since these are single shot rifles only a slight crimp is needed - basically just to take the flare off the case mouth and keep the bullet from falling out.

That's what works for me. YMMV. Good luck and let us know how your progress goes.

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