BP Load in a 45-70


November 8, 2006, 08:47 PM
Questions for the group on reloading .

I have a Remington rolling block M-1867 manufactored under patent in 1884 in Denmark. I have data for smokeless, but I want to reload with pyrodex or triple seven for 405 grain cast bullets. The issue is, there is no way 60 grains of FFg wiill fit in the cartridge. Max is maybe 52 grains compressed. Should i not worry about the weight and go by case volume?

Also, who all out there uses a paper patch between the bullet and the powder?


If you enjoyed reading about "BP Load in a 45-70" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Jim Watson
November 8, 2006, 11:26 PM
With the fake powders, fill it up to the base of the bullet plus a small fraction of an inch for 1/16" or so of compression. Hodgdon recommends against heavy compression of these witches' brews but there should be no empty space. Don't worry about the weight. They are not as dense as real powder and brass is thicker than it used to be. Use a thin cardboard wad between bullet and powder. The cheap approach is to use a deburring tool to sharpen a case mouth and use it to punch wads out of cardboard milk cartons.

777 does not require any special bullet lube, Pyrodex is best shot with BP lube like SPG.

Clean IMMEDIATELY and THOROUGHLY after shooting, Pyrodex is MORE corrosive than black and 777 is not well known yet.

November 8, 2006, 11:56 PM
I reload black powder rounds for my .45-70 Ruger #1S and Sharps 1874 Business Rifle.

One thing to keep in mind is that the cartridge brass from 1873 to just before WWII was constructed differently, being configured as "Balloon Head" brass. It means a thinner construction near the case head, but also gives more case capacity than the currently available drawn cup brass. So new brass like Remington, Winchester, Federal, PMC, or Starline may well indeed fill up at 60-65 grains of FFg powder.

I happened into an estate sale and bought several hundred pieces of new Remington-UMC balloon head brass a couple years ago. While still new and unused, it is considerably thinner in construction and obviously weaker than modern brass. I still use it for my Sharps, because I load it with real black powder and keep pressures in the Trapdoor Springfield range. I baby it, ultrasonically clean it after firing, and generally pamper it while watching for signs of case fatigue. My payback is that I can throw a full 70gr charge of Goex FFg or Cartridge and seat a bullet to cover the lube grooves.

Now, something all should realize about black powder cartridge loads, (even with the substitutes like Pyrodex) is that they require compression of the powder charge, to the extent that there is absolutely NO air space between the powder and bullet. To do otherwise risks ringing the chamber or worse upon firing.

One essential tool in making a dense black powder column in the cartridge is to use a drop tube. The drop tube allows the individual powder kernels to settle more densely in the cartridge, and the difference in case capacity between drop tubed loads and loads that were just dumped into the case is quite readily visible. The drop tube also serves as a partial compression aid. As for how much compression, that's an art and subject of many a debate among black powder cartridge shooters. My own 500-535gr loads endure a compression of between 1/4" to 1/2", depending on bullet design and wad composition. To prevent bullet deformation on seating, I also use a powder compression die. With all these tricks, I get that full 70gr of FFg in each case behind the bullet.

Over-powder wads are something of an interesting variable. Depending on who you ask, they either protect the base of the soft lead bullet from the harsh explosion of black powder, keep bullet lube from migrating into the powder column, clean the fouling out of the bore after the bullet passes through, or provide an extra bit of lube if made of soaked felt or other porous materials. I said soft lead because most black powder cartridge shooters shy away from the harder cast lead materials like Lyman #2 alloy, and instead get their bullets cast in the softer 1-20 or 1-30 alloy. For my heavier bullets, I simply use cardstock wads, just like the stuff used for legal tablet backing, punched into a 0.460" disk. For my 405gr-450gr loads, I use the OxYoke WonderWads, which are vegetable fiber and saturated with a lube that I can only describe as lanolin-like.

As for bullet lube, remember you're working with black powder, not smokeless. Smokeless loads like harder, petroleum-based lubes. Black powder loads like more organic stuff, so think along the lines of mixing lard, Crisco, lanolin, bear fat, olive oil, beeswax, or other nifty ingredients in various combinations and ratios. If that sounds like a pain in the butt, then go with SPG, a commercial black powder lube. Myself, I'm using beeswax and lard these days, but I have an old Lyman #45 lube sizer. The black powder bullet lubes serve two very important purposes - to keep that big bullet lubed all the way to the muzzle, and to keep the residual black powder fouling as soft as possible. Hard, crusty powder fouling raises hell with accuracy and cartridge chambering. If your bullet runs out of lube before it reaches the muzzle, you get leading in the last few inches of the bore. Think about that when you see those Sharps and Rolling Block Creedmoor rifles with barrels from 28" to 34". Rule of thumb, if you can see a nice lube star on the muzzle crown after firing a couple rounds, you probably have enough on the bullet. If not, another trick is to load a grease "cookie" between the over powder wad and bullet base, or between the over powder wad and another wad under the bullet's base. The intent is to provide additional lube, without the lube or wad sticking to the base of the bullet for the flight downrange.

As for primers, some folks have wonderful results using Large Rifle Magnum primers, for an extra-hot spark to light off the black powder charge. Others have discovered an edge in using Large Pistol primers, supposedly for a more uniform flame front that doesn't upset the bullet until more of the black powder charge has ignited, or something to that effect. I just use Winchester Large Rifle primers, because they're what I have a lot of and they have a bronze color which looks factory when seated in my vintage Rem-UMC brass. You'll have to experiment with whichever gives you best results.

Some folks swear by nickel-plated brass, because it cleans up exceptionally well after firing. Black powder residue is corrosive at best, so you want to take good care of your brass after firing it. Many black powder cartridge shooters even have a gallon milk jug of soapy water near the shooting bench, along with a handheld reloading press, so they can decap the fired cases and immediately dunk them in the soapy water to neutralize the corrosive salts and begin the cleaning process. Nickel-plated brass does indeed clean up well, especially if the plating is uniform inside too, but there are drawbacks, including less case capacity and the fact that the nickel plating will crack and flake off the base brass after X number of reloadings. My own Rem-UMC brass gets decapped at the range, then dunked into an ultrasonic cleaning tank and buzzed mercilessly for between 30 minutes to an hour in a soapy solution of Dawn, Simple Green, or Micron. They come out looking gorgeous, and that's even before they are dried out and run through the corncob tumbler.

If you do your homework, and work up a load that your rifle likes, you may not be so excited about smokeless loads ever again. Groups like this become quite common:


Hope this helps! By all means, if you have questions, keep coming back here to THR and ask folks in this forum. There's a wealth of knowledge to be tapped, and it keeps one from having to re-invent the wheel time and time again. ;)

November 9, 2006, 08:09 AM
Thanks for the info fellas. Jim, that's exactly what I did to cut my patch. My Bullets are Meister with the blue stuff in the lube grooves.

Gewehr98, I think that's more information then I wanted! Thank you. The brass I'm using is pretty modern, so that expalins why I'm not getting the 60 grains of Pyrodex. I don't have a drop tube (yet). For right now, I'll vibrate the case to get the powder to settle a bit.

I didn't know you could use large pistol primers. That's something to experiment with later.

With all that lube floating around, how long will the bullets stay 'shootable'? The reason I ask is I bought 200 bullets 500g LRN at a gun show labled "black powder ?". I took one apart, and sure enough it was bp, but it was solidified, and wouldn't come out of the case. Wouldn't shoot either. Something wrecked the primers. The lube maybe?

Anyway, Thanks again for all the good information.


November 9, 2006, 11:06 AM
I too have just begun to look into loading some 45/70 rounds with black powder.

In addition to the excellent advice and experience offered by Gewehr98 there is a tutorial for us blackpowder reloading newbies at

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=232658 Scroll down to another pointer to a fellow that is pretty good at black powder reloading and offers a free pdf that you can copy and read or just read on line.

Turns out there is a bit more to it than smokeless reloading but the results can be gratifying.

One thing pointed out in the tutorial is the use of a blow tube to keep moisuture in the barrel so that you can clean it with better results between shots. The finer powders will leave a hard scale quickly in the absence of moisture.

I have also heard of black powder solidifying with time in a case where you have very old ammo. It is usually still quite viable even if the primer has failed so handling it safely is something to consider.

November 9, 2006, 11:29 AM
When i first started loading black powder for my 45/70 H&R buffalo classic I started out useing the cheap smokeless lubed bullets and subs that didn`t need the black powder lube ..such as 777 and APP powders ...not much success ..never was quite happy with the 4 inch groups at 50 yards . After much reading on the subject ..i ordered a lee bullet mold for the 45/70 more like the original bullet made for black powder it`s a .459 dia hollow base 405 gr bullet ..and with my lube mix ... this bullet flys straight with Pyrodex or real black powder . now my groups are much smaller like 2 inches at 50 yards and 3 inches at 100 yards . Plan on testing this bullet on white tails this year . Casted the bullets from melted shot gun pellets ...not too hard not too soft ..i think just right .

bigger jon
November 9, 2006, 12:55 PM
My nighbor has one too his was made in 1884 but his is a 11mm something? It`s just a little shorter and fatter than the 45/70 however it will shoot the 45/70. We reloaded fire formed cases sized just enoughf so the bullet will seat and crimp, Beacuse of the fact that the 45/70 case was smaller than what the gun was desined for we kept them lite, I found some loading data using Unique with the 405lead they shot great so we stuck with`em, The Pryodex loads we made were more work than it was worth they shot ok but the Unique loads were far better shooting.

November 9, 2006, 02:28 PM
I'm a moderator there, and while it still needs more pictures and text, there's a primer on black powder cartridge reloading, specifically the .45-70, here:


The Danish Rolling Blocks traditionally ran as a 11.7x51R, but I've seen folks run .45-70 Gov't ammo with varying degrees of success in them.

highlander 5
November 9, 2006, 02:33 PM
I had the same problem with 777 run out of case before running out of powder. First off 777 is more "energtic" than BP by 15%
Let's say a load calls for 70 gr BP with 777 reduce load by 15%
so your talking 60gr of 777 by volume. If you weigh your charge
on a scale here's what you do,take your powder measure and set for 60 gr fill the measure then pour it in the pan on your scale and that will give you the WEIGHED charge.
I've tried this and you'll get all the powder in the case and it will compress nicely

November 11, 2006, 11:07 PM
With all that lube floating around, how long will the bullets stay 'shootable'? The reason I ask is I bought 200 bullets 500g LRN at a gun show labled "black powder ?". I took one apart, and sure enough it was bp, but it was solidified, and wouldn't come out of the case. Wouldn't shoot either. Something wrecked the primers. The lube maybe?

I bought a bunch of loaded .45-70 rounds that dated to the early 1900's, with balloon-head brass, Rem-UMC headstamps, and believe it or not, the darned things fired just fine through my Ruger #1S. One or two failed to go bang, so I waited about 30 seconds, extracted them, then used a kinetic bullet puller to disassemble them. The powder column had compacted into one huge kernel of black powder, even a dental pick wouldn't dislodge it. Being an inquisitive idiot, I took the round, placed it on the sidewalk in front of the house, stuffed kleenex into the bullet cavity, lit it off, and headed for the front porch. KA-BOOM, like a howitzer kind of KA-BOOM! I'm watching the front window of the house flex inwards just a smidgen, and my wife comes running outside, thinking I'd finally managed to vaporize myself.

4V50Gary reminded me that what I had in that brass cartridge was a single homogenous grain of cannon powder.

The brass actually looked pretty good, so after I changed my underwear, I deprimed it, ultrasonically cleaned it, tumbled it, and it's now part of my balloon-head Rem-UMC collection I use for pure BP cartridge loads. :D

If you enjoyed reading about "BP Load in a 45-70" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!