Springfield Carnine 45-70 question


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Coyote Hunter
August 10, 2008, 05:23 PM
I study a lot about the old western revolvers, but have just started reading into the old rifles. I have a question about something Ive come across. I've been wanting a 45-70 Springfield carbine copy for some time. I see them listed in 45-70 which I know the old army rifle was. But now I've been reading they reduced the load for the original calvary carbine down to 55 grains and didn't use 70 grains. So, was there a 45-55 round for them, did they use a filler but the same cartridge, or what did they do? Was Custer's guys using 45-55 rounds or 45-70 rounds? I know they were using copper shells that were troublesome.

CH

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Acorn Mush
August 10, 2008, 07:04 PM
The .45-70 round intended for use in carbines was downloaded to 55 grains of black powder and utilized a 350-grain bullet, not the 500-grain bullet used in the infantry rifle. Firing the infantry round in the carbine produced excessive recoil, and the reduced powder charge and bullet weight mitigated that effect. There may be other reasons as well, but I am not aware of them.

The above info is from a ranger at Little Big Horn battlefield, which I visited back in '73. Hope it answers your question. I don't know if there was an official .45-55-350 designation for the load. I hope others who are much more informed than I will offer us all the benefit of their knowledge.

By the way, a very dear friend of mine (now since passed on) told me years ago that the absolute nastiest thumping recoil he ever experienced was from an old original trapdoor Springfield he fired when he was a young man. He and his brothers were shooting ground squirrels with .22s in their back yard (he lived on a farm) when he spotted a critter about 75 yards away. He said he wanted to see how the Springfield would perform on a squirrel so he loaded it with a .45-70-500 black powder infantry round, took a nice, solid sitting position in the doorway with his shoulder up against the doorframe (you know where this is going...) and veeerrry carefully touched off the shot. That ol' rifle let him know right quick that he shouldn't have braced his shoulder against an immoveable object. He said it felt like his shoulder was broken... in several pieces. When he regained his composure some time later he found his shoulder intact but it hurt like Hell. I asked him how the squirrel came out on the deal but he didn't know. He said when that rifle went off, all he saw were stars for a while and he didn't much care one way or the other about the squirrel.

Tommygunn
August 10, 2008, 07:05 PM
Custer's 7th Cavalry used Springfield trapdoor carbines and were issued .45-55 ammo. It was a copper cartridge that dented easily and developed a patina or light corrosion, and as the name suggested was loaded with 55 grains of BP. The remaining volume would have been filled with either cork or cardboard discs so there would be no empty space.
In practice, these cases jammed in the rifles as they got hot, and dirty. It is a matter of historical record that 7th cavalry soldiers used knives to pry out stuc cases when the extractor would rip off the case heads.
.45-55 and .45-70 both used the same case. The 55 grain cartridge was developed because the cavalry considered the "stout" recoil of the .45-70 a bit much. Having fired .45-70 blackpowder in trapdoor carbine myself, I didn't find it particularly "stout," but ... well, maybe I am a tad more "stout" myself than an 19th century cavalryman was ......

Er, yeah, um, I also didn't brace my back against a doorframe while I was shooting that .45-70,
Acorn Mush ..... ;-)

Coyote Hunter
August 11, 2008, 01:06 PM
Thanks for responding, just one more question, did they use a filler to lessen the charge to 55 grains, wad or a longer based bullet?

Thanks

HB
August 11, 2008, 03:52 PM
Interesting thread and something I've thought about too.... So what kind of velocity would they get out of the carbine. 55 grains of BP isn't very much but a 300 grain bullet is :uhoh:


HB

Tommygunn
August 11, 2008, 05:57 PM
Thanks for responding, just one more question, did they use a filler to lessen the charge to 55 grains, wad or a longer based bullet?

Thanks


The remaining volume would have been filled with either cork or cardboard discs so there would be no empty space.

* * * *

Iggy
August 11, 2008, 09:43 PM
Cavalry troopers were limited in size to under 5'9" IIRC and max weight of around 150 lbs. This was done to keep the combined load of man, saddle, firearms, feed, and ammo, upon the cavalry mount to less than 180 pounds.
A Trooper with a sore backed horse was useless to the Army, so the horse's welfare came before the man's..

The McClellan saddle came in several sizes and was fitted to the horse. The trooper just made the best of it with what fit his horse best.

The original load for the 1873 Trapdoor was 45-70-405. The small troopers who were provided with 12 rounds annually for target practice found the carbines kicked too hard for comfort.

Thus they were issued a reduced load of 45-55-405. The heavier 45-70-500 didn't come into existence until the 1880's and was limited to the Infantry "Long Tom" rifles.

I have a sporterized 1879 infantry rifle in which I have used the carbine and infantry loads and find them pleasant to shoot. I also use a paper patched 530 grain bullet over a duplex load for long range shooting.

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p246/Iggy25/Trapdoor-1.jpg?t=1218504579

Black powder doesn't have the sharp smack of recoil like modern smokeless powder rounds do. It is more of a solid push on the shoulder.. Admittedly with the 530 grain round in a lightened rifle, the push is substantial. The rifle weight and a shotgun butt on the stock helps in absorbing the recoil.

I have taken antelope, mule deer, elk, and many varmints with this rifle.

The Trapdoor is a classic and if you ever have a chance to fire one, DON'T unless you want to become an addict.:)

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