shooting trapdoor springfield


chuck faison
August 25, 2009, 08:05 PM
Can we please talk about shooting the trapdoor rifles and carbine.Not the repos but the real thing.I guess the repos would be better steel therfore stronger.However I have shot lots with black and also with smokeless powder. your thoughts on this subject..

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August 25, 2009, 08:07 PM
Can we please talk about shooting the trapdoor rifles and carbine.Not the repos but the real thing.I guess the repos would be better steel therfore stronger.However I have shot lots with black and also with smokeless powder. your thoughts on this subject..
So? Didja buy it after I pointed you towards it? Was it what you were looking for?

August 25, 2009, 08:18 PM
Chuck most modern 45/70 ammo is fine for a good condition Trapdoor. Often it will say so on the box. Just not the Really new really hot stuff.

I have 2 one nice all original and another one with the stock sporterized (I didn't do it). I shoot the cut down stock every once in a while when I get the urge. The fullstocked better quality one hangs out in the safe.

August 25, 2009, 08:18 PM
Mines a remake an H & R but I only shoot BP thru it, I don't feel its so much the steel as the design of the rifle that limits the load.
Fun rifle to shoot though.

August 25, 2009, 08:31 PM
I recently passed on a good deal on an original Springfield trapdoor because I know nothing about the ammo. Is it readily available? What about reloading?

August 25, 2009, 08:56 PM
I bought 8 boxes of Goex 45-70 BP 350 gr bullets from these guys, this will be my reloading brass.

August 25, 2009, 10:09 PM
I load my own,and currenly have 210 loaded cases.However,Ultramax [sold by Sportsmans guide] makes safe, affordable BP equivilant smokeless loads ,for those that don't want to mess with reloading or BP cleaning.

Acorn Mush
August 25, 2009, 10:34 PM
I recently passed on a good deal on an original Springfield trapdoor because I know nothing about the ammo. Is it readily available? What about reloading?

Pohill, find out quick if you can still pick up that Trapdoor! The ammo is readily available and easy to reload. First get the rifle if you can, then we'll give you all the reloading advice you need. Go man, go!

August 26, 2009, 08:34 AM
I saw it in a store way up the Maine coast. It was mint - no rust, nice coloring and lettering. The seller was asking $1500 but he said I could have it for $1000. He said it was made around 1894. I started reading about the Springfields online and it seems that parts were mixed and matched during that time period. I want a shooter and that gun looked perfect. Even my wife said "Buy it." But, I'm more into cap and ball. Still, that was a nice rifle.
Maybe I'll rethink it knowing that the ammo is available.
Thanks for the info.

August 26, 2009, 08:41 AM
Trapdoor springfield in 45-70 is easy to load for and easy to comeby components, (except maybe primers right now) Straight wall cases re teeasie to load. I would not shot anything but leadbullets in trapdoor. INFACT MOST DO quite well with pure lead slugs. Molds are available from 190 grains to 600 grains. They don't have much drop and with full loads of black, still slap the shooter around pretty good. the old IDeal handbook even listed indoor gallery loads for trapdoors,using 457 round balls. A very few trapdoors were chamberd for 45-90 or 20 ga shotgun. The first, were 58 caliber and later were in 50-70 Gov't, also a hoot to shoot. Barnes (COW) writes that the 45-70 is good for any N. American game at close ranges. However, one shot neck kills on Buff were done at 500 yds.

I load 62 grains of 3f, an 1/8 grease cookie and a 457125, 500 grain bullet greased with microcrystalline wax. (((((((Cheese wax, you know the red stuff on Gouda cheese) The bullet can't be seated all the way, but the bullet is pushed into the rifling when the breach is closed.

August 26, 2009, 08:45 AM
I have an 1884 model that was cut who knows when to a carbine length, pretty popular conversion when these were a dime a dozen.

I shoot it with standard ammo, but between the lighter weight and the poor shape of the metal buttplate, it kicks like a mule.

But there's something elemental about it which I get a kick out of (no pun intended).

August 26, 2009, 09:24 AM
Mine is a 73 pre-Custer. I shoot 400 grain loaded to bp specs. It was also cut to carbine :barf: Which is why I only paid $98 for it. When shooting at 150yds after squeezing trigger if you remove earplug fastenough you can hear the bullet whizzing thru the air.

August 26, 2009, 03:54 PM
My 1884 was also cut to carbine,but closer to ''officer's model specs,about 2'' more barrel than my H&R Cavalry Model. I shoot it with my buddy who shoots an original 1863 Sharps converted to .45-70 sometime in the late 1870's .

Jefferson Herb
August 27, 2009, 04:01 AM
BHP ,you did'nt think I would leave this one alone did you?
I have an 1890 dated 1884,with the stock shortened,and use 65 gr 3f .060 over powder wad and tc1000 lube.As BHP knows our weather is normally mild to cold and wet. [I want to check out your sharps too] Most of the origional guns get cast bullets because of soft steel,and black powder [because it's proper].I also have a 577-450 short lever,again w/shortened stock [I always find the 2nd class guns],but is easier on the pocket book if you just want a shooter.
POHILL! If that 1894 dated 84 is there and as perfect as you say,[most late guns have good bores]You buy it , or you will be missing a fine rifle.It will take some doing to load for it,but that's what this site is all about. Lots of info . Handloader had an article about Varget,you know the stuff you can't find ,listing some really good velocity [1800 in 32 in]with a full case of the stuff.
Also the us calvery had Guard loads,of three .457 round ball which in practice,stayed in torso sized patern at 50 yds.

August 27, 2009, 05:20 AM
Yo jefferson, 577-450, I have three Martini's Two longies and a Gahendra. The Gahendra is a good shooting gun, with 459 bullets breech seated. I don't have the 472 mold to shoot the larger bore enfield made guns. Because of the choked bores Enfield Martini=henrys almost always require pure lead bullets for best results.

August 27, 2009, 07:15 AM
I saw the rifle, then came home to research it. This site provided alot of info but I needed the serial number which, of course, I forgot to write down.
The rifle is about two hours away from me, in Boothbay, ME and I plan to go back soon.

August 27, 2009, 08:53 AM
I have managed to bag antelope, mule deer, elk, and all kinds of varmints with this one and black powder hand loads.
I would have to say it's my most favoritest rifle.

rocky branch
August 27, 2009, 11:17 AM
Metal jackets are very hard on those old barrels.
Recommend soft lead loads.

August 27, 2009, 12:05 PM
Iggy, that is a beautiful rifle tell us about it...

August 27, 2009, 03:54 PM
Wow Iggy. Tell us more please.

Trapdoors are just sooo cool.

August 27, 2009, 05:36 PM
Thanks guys.
Mine is the poor man's copy of the Markman's trophy rifle

It started as a 1879 vintage rifle. I found an unfired surplus rifle barrel with a spot of rust on the last inch near the muzzle exterior. The barrel reputedly came from Bannerman's, and cost $2.00 many years back. The bore was immaculate and it cost me $25.00. Cut off the rusty part, dove tailed a hooded front sight on it.
I still have the original barrel and stock around somewhere.

Got a Rinehart Fajen semi-inletted stock for Trapdoors. Receiver is pillar mounted and glass bedded, and the barrel is free floating.

Neidner Butt plate and grip cap.

I use 405, 500 grain soft lead cast bullets and the same duplex load for both weight bullets.
One just kicks harder than the other one.

They are very effective hunting rounds when properly applied. I've never had to shoot twice.

August 27, 2009, 06:20 PM
Damn Iggy, that's a seriously sexy looking trapdoor. Just a gorgeous firearm in it's elegant simplicity. What was the final barrel length, and where did you locate the replacement barrel? I am all about duplicating one of these as a winter project and Christmas gift to myself!

August 27, 2009, 07:32 PM

The barrel on my rifle is 26" long

I got the original rifle when I was a kid from an old time gunsmith. He had a stash of trapdoors he had bought from Bannerman's before they went defunct.

Homesteaders liked the Trapdoors because they were cheap and so was surplus ammo. I think I paid $20.00 for mine.
I have seen a Bannermans catalog that listed Trapdoors for $7.50 and ammo was like 50 rounds for a quarter. They went belly up long before I knew about them.

This old guy like dinking with TD's and he had some spare barrels too.

I had run across articles and pictures of the Officer's and Markman's rifles and I just made my own cheap version.

I bought my barrel from his widow when she cleaned out his shop and closets.

I don't think Rienhart-Fajen is still in business. I stopped in their shop and got my stock blank in person. I think there are a couple of other stock makers in Warsaw MO where R-J use to be.

Bishops and Macon, I think. Maybe one of them bought out the stock patterns from R-J.

That would be a place to start.

Mine has a cheek piece like a muzzle loader on the butt and I had to fill the ramrod hole with black plastic.

Another way to go is to copy the Meacham conversions.. They would take an old Trapdoor and put a Sharp's barrel in it. I saw one of those at the Wyoming State Museum. The octagonal barre is kinda neat. A guy could get a barrel from Dixie or somewhere and stick that on a Trapdoor for something unique.

Might shoot a bit better than a Springfield barrel but mine ain't no slouch.

August 27, 2009, 07:49 PM
Saving this for my reference materials Iggy. Thank you very much!

August 27, 2009, 08:02 PM
If you want to break your heart, take a look at the copy of Bannerman's catalog at this link.

Trapdoor Carbines 20 in a case. 200 in a lot. $6.00 each

Civil war Springfields Cost US Army 16.00 apiece. price $2.35 each.

You could equip an entire army or navy from Bannermans.

Or if you got bucks.

August 27, 2009, 08:09 PM
Now just a single Trapdoor in good condition runs what a case ran back then. Would have made one hugely profitable investment back in the day.

Jeez, makes me wonder what I should be buying today for tomorrow's collectors and enthusiasts. :D

August 27, 2009, 09:33 PM
Sorry to hijack the thread. I'll shut up now!!:o

August 27, 2009, 10:00 PM
well,obviously,we need a time machine.

August 27, 2009, 10:04 PM
Jefferson,I've seen some of your guns.Seriously cool stuff you've got there!

August 27, 2009, 10:07 PM
BHPFan, it was the photograph of your Trapdoor I scanned for your photobucket page that got me interested in these things in the first place. It's been itching at me in a very big way since then, thank you very much!

So yes, I am in serious need of some time travel. :D

August 27, 2009, 10:10 PM
"...Is it readily available? What about reloading?..." Yes and yes. The .45-70 refuses to die. Lots of ammo available, most of which is loaded to BP specs because of all the Trap Door and other vintage rifles out there.
Nearly every reloading manual gives loads specifically developed for vintage rifles. Usually designated 'Trap Door' loads.
Don't use lever action or modern rifle data. Don't just load 70 grains of BP for a carbine either. The carbine load was 55 grains. Yes, I did, long ago. It hurts.

August 27, 2009, 10:18 PM
As far as I'm concerned, that Collectors Firearms TD is nothing but another cut down trap door. $2650? 'Gimi a break!

August 27, 2009, 10:44 PM
Don't just load 70 grains of BP for a carbine either. The carbine load was 55 grains. Yes, I did, long ago. It hurts.

That's what them 5'8" 120# cavalry troopers said too.

They were upon average, issued 12 rounds for target practice per year and bitched about having to shoot them.

No wonder it cost a million bucks per Indian killed in the Indian wars.:(

August 27, 2009, 11:08 PM
Well I've got my own cut down TD, don't need theirs.

Bannerman had bought an island and built a model of a Scottish castle in the Hudson River in NY to store his stuff after for no apparant reason he was asked to remove all his high explosive shells, etc. from Manhattan.:rolleyes:

Went to the island on my boat but couldn'd find any TDs laying around in the ruins. Plenty of poison ivy, but no rifles.

Probably be a heck of a place to run around with a metal detector though.

August 28, 2009, 12:39 AM
Thanks,Ginormous,glad I could infect you! Wait,that sounded all wrong...
Speedo,I thought that island blew up?!

Jefferson Herb
August 28, 2009, 01:56 AM
BHP, I know where there 1873......w/oct ......40-65!!!!!
It was this lady's Grandfathers,and it has a good bore.If I can just get my hands om it....... I'll show it to you.
I found a place in mid west that deals in origional td's,He said these were rare and valuable.

August 28, 2009, 02:28 AM
BHP Fan, that infection started me on a venture to acquire one of these original works of art, with the intent have a shooter in my hands by Christmas. Iggy's pictures just made it that much worse. More cowbell is required at this stage of the game . . .

August 28, 2009, 02:33 AM
have you gone online to Trapdoors Galore,Ginormous? Jefferson,you dog! You get all the cool toys!

August 28, 2009, 02:42 AM
I have seen that site BHP Fan, and gotten some other great links and advice via PM as well! I really need to start cataloging the information I'm getting to keep everything sorted. It's a bit overwhelming atm . . . in a good way, of course!

August 28, 2009, 07:56 AM
Jefferson Herb,
That may be a Schuyler, Hartley and Graham conversion. There is one in the Wyoming State Museum and it is what got me started on my project.

I couldn't afford an octagonal bbl so I settled for my surplus TD bbl.

SH&G put Sharp's rifle bbls on TDs. The octagonal bbl really adds a bit of class to the old TD.

Meacham did some conversions of TDs too, but they were pretty much just cut down jobs.

Conversions are an interesting facet of the old time guns.

BHP, There was so much old artillery Ammo just laying around on the ground, that the place was a bomb waiting to go off. I believe it was closed to the public for many years while it was cleaned up.
Bannerman's catalog was truly astounding. Almost any military surplus weapon no matter how large was available, from Zulu spears and shields to machine guns. Bannermans denied it, but there was supposedly a South American country that bought a navy crusier from them. What an amazing experience it would have been to walk around that place back in the 40's

August 28, 2009, 08:19 AM
Carlos Gove worked over TDs into Gemmer styled Hawkins rifles. He used the original round barrels.

When the TDs were cheap, before Turner Kirkland started hoarding them, they were often used for conversion guns. I have seen them chambered for the 22 LR up to the 50-70.

August 28, 2009, 09:02 AM
Does Kirkland still have the stash he had? I told Ginormus that might be a place to start looking for one to do his thing with.

I use to have a catalog of TDs from Kirkland but that was back when Custer was a pup.:(
I was always looking for one of the military 12 Gauge TDs At one time I think there were two issued to each company so they could scrounge up fresh meat while in the field.

August 28, 2009, 11:37 AM
Bannermans Is. didn't blow up, it was abandoned, then caught fire. NYS later bought the property, but as yet has done practically nothing with it.

A small interest group has cleaned it up somewhat, and give tours, the only way you can (legally) be on the island at this point. You can't roam around, fear of falling objects, munitions, etc.

Here is a photo of the castle as it stands today. No roof, and the island itself is overgrown.

August 28, 2009, 02:13 PM
Freaky image. Straight out of Lord of War ( with Nicholas Cage, huh?

August 28, 2009, 02:48 PM

I saw a modern custom job "Gemmerized" Trapdoor at a gun show last week end.

It was really a spiffy looking outfit. Old gun, re blued, new shiny custom stock with silver inlays. Walk in wanted to sell it. He wanted $1500.00

Vendor offered $800.00, Don't know what they settled on. 10 minutes later the vendor had it for sale for $1800.00:what:

August 28, 2009, 09:20 PM
I looked at a Springfield TD at Cabelas in Scarborough, ME today that didn't look bad at all (I wish I knew more about them). They had it marked down to $490.

August 28, 2009, 09:50 PM
Original or replica?

Rifle or Carbine.

Original, unless it's a dog, that pretty good price.

Original Carbine, that's a hell of a price.

August 28, 2009, 11:00 PM
It was an original rifle. It was on the selling floor on a rack with other originals. I didn't see the bayonet/cleaning rod. The hammer was tied with a plastic tie so I couldn't open the trap door. The wood looked good, the metal had some light speckling on it. "Springfield" was still visible with some inspector's marks in a few places. I didn't see a cartouche (the light in the store wasn't great), but it had some numbers on the stock (three numbers). I didn't look down the barrel. It was marked down from $590 to $490 (or right around there). It was not close to the condition of the other one I saw in Maine for $1000 a few weeks ago, but it didn't look bad at all. I wish I had written down the serial number.
It looked like a shooter.

August 29, 2009, 10:38 AM
Only one version of the TD's had a ramrod bayonet. Ask if they will take the tie off and let you look at the barrel and receiver.
They may have the ramrod set back somewhere.

If the barrel is good and the breech block and latch don't wobble and the hammer "clicks" are crisp, you might not have too bad a deal.
The numbers on the stock may be an old rack number.

The TDs are a fun gun and the old 45-70 Gummint cartridge ain't no slouch even today.

Do a Google search on Trap door rifles and you should come up with some pretty good information

August 29, 2009, 12:36 PM
I have a Pedersoli 1873 Trapdoor Infantry rifle.
Superb shooter but I don't load it any heavier than I would an original.
Slugging the bore for diameter and having a bullet mold cut to your rifles bore dimensions will produce excellent results in a good non pitted original barrel.

I may yet cut my Pedersoli and Sporterize it in the Gemmer fashion.
I have a walnut Hawkin full stock and some other parts and may turn up a Green Mountain octagon barrel for the gun.
I have considered chambering to .45/60 Winchester to match my repro 1876 carbine.

Too many other projects on the list right now unfortunately.

August 29, 2009, 01:23 PM

A Gemmer TD is a cool looking outfit. The one at the gun show was too steep for this old Geezer, but it was a pretty thing.

Where are you finding brass for your 45-60 Winchester. I have a friend that has the Centennial Carbine(?) He has had a devil of a time finding ammo or brass.

August 30, 2009, 07:22 AM
I was always looking for one of the military 12 Gauge TDs At one time I think there were two issued to each company so they could scrounge up fresh meat while in the field.

I believe the TD was converted to a forager shotgun in 20 guage. I don't recall anymention of them in 12 guage. They were marked 1881 on the breechblock, not many were made, about 1000.

August 30, 2009, 07:24 AM
I have a walnut Hawkin full stock and some other parts and may turn up a Green Mountain octagon barrel for the gun.

Most of the Gemmer, and other conversions used the original round Springfield barrel. Unless you want the octagon barrel for the appearance, an original barrel in good condition is accurate enough to win matches.

August 30, 2009, 08:09 AM
I believe the TD was converted to a forager shotgun in 20 guage.

Yup, you're right. Geezerhood ain't easy!!:(

I find the Springfield barrel to be more accurate than I am.

August 30, 2009, 10:12 AM

The Springfield barrel is more accyrate than most shooters! Especially if you take the time to build a load the rifle likes. They were built to standards that have long since disappeared and put through extensive tests to insure they were the best available at the time.

I have used several trapdoor actions to build rifles and they always amaze me with the accuracy they give.

August 30, 2009, 10:43 AM
Try Glenn Zanders for Ten-X loaded ammunition.
Have your dealer order it, they don't deal with the public. (snobs :))

I make cartridge cases from Federal 45/70 cases which is sometimes a better option as Ten-X cases are dimensioned to .45/60 specs and require special shell holders for priming and sizing.
I use #23 Lee shellholders, not cataloged but special order.

If you look hard enough, there are bunches of Snider rifles converted to 16 guage shotguns and Martini Henry rifles were converted, some for a special 12 guage shell and some for the standard 2 1/2" 12 guage shells of the day.

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