.45-70 loads for 1884 Trapdoor


July 16, 2010, 04:44 PM
My family has owned an 1884 Cadet model for a very long time. My dad at one point loaded with a lee handloading outfit and black powder. I was always under the assumption that black powder was the only avenue of approuch for loading such a weapon until I watched a firearms show that mentioned the use to smokeless, low pressure, loads for this rifle. I'm considering loading for this nice old rifle and would like to avoid black powder. The bore is excellent as well as overall condition. Any hints on safe smokeless loads for such a rifle? I own about 40 pieces of starline brass and have every primer/powder imaginable.

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July 16, 2010, 04:57 PM
With rifles of that age and history I would always start with the caveat of: have it professionally checked for function and fitness.

With that done, I've attached a load data sheet from Accurate Powder of what they consider Trapdoor appropriate loads. Cross confirm with other data or contact Accurate with any questions, of course.

Post a picture of the Cadet if you can, would love to see it.

Good Luck!

July 16, 2010, 04:59 PM
Three suggestions.
1. Lead bullets, always.
2. Trail Boss powder.
3. Starting loads only.

You can't hardly get in trouble, or kicked too hard that way.


July 16, 2010, 05:07 PM
I mean this conversationally, not belligerantly, RC...but I've attached my own print of Hodgdon's 45-70/cast bullet loads from their online data center for Trailboss.

The 405g cast LFP top end of the load range peaks at 25,600 CUP. Not sure if I would want to take an original to those pressures. Fill me in if if I'm talking through my hat.

[Edit]Hah! I guess your edit addition of point #3 answers that question

July 16, 2010, 05:10 PM
I was thinking #3 in my post covered those max load peak pressures.

Anyway, a trapdoor carbine will not be a pleasent shooting experiance with max loads of any powder. I don't recommend you do it.


July 16, 2010, 05:22 PM
This bullet:

I have trailboss, what primers? Do I need some sort of filler? I can pick up a box of said bullets tomorrow if they were appropiate.

July 16, 2010, 05:35 PM
Yeah, it does. Good thing you edited that in before my questioning post landed. Quick fingers, bud.

I'll disagree with you on a 18k psi load in an 8 lb. rifle in this cartridge being too much recoil, even with that nasty sliver of a butt stock, but recoil is subjective so the OP can start low and work up anyways.

July 16, 2010, 06:21 PM
Ive just found a load on the WWW that used the bullet that I was looking at:
405 gr Lead FN
24.4 grs. of AAC 5744
CCI 200

I'm sure this load came from that accurate data. I'm just throwing it out there to see if anyone screams no.

July 16, 2010, 07:02 PM
Some pictures, I'm having problems resizing images. I believe the sight is a buckhorn model that would be correct for an earlier model, this came with it instead of a Buffington model.

July 16, 2010, 07:09 PM
I think that is exactly what XMP-5744 is made for. Thanks for the pictures, it looks like it'll be a hoot and a half.

July 17, 2010, 12:26 PM
Do I need some sort of filler?
No fillers are needed with Trailboss. Not sure about 5744 in a .45-70 case with light load density. It's bulky, but not as bulky as TB.

Nice old Trapdoor. I'd take off that leather sling and set it aside so as to preseve it's historical value. Use it for display only. It looks like it might be prone to breakage due to age and leather rot. Many suppliers still make perfect copies of those old military slings for around $30.

Jim Watson
July 17, 2010, 12:48 PM
I won't give numbers I have not tried myself, but 5744 worked pretty well in my .38-55 back when I put them newfangled nitro powders in my Highwall. But it has not been sullied with that nasty stuff for at least 10 years. Black is best.

Be careful with Trail Boss. It is bulky enough to prevent double charging but it is very fast burning, between Green Dot and International Clays on one chart, substantially faster than 231 or Unique. The pressure rise could shock a weak action.

Ken Waters liked 3031 for .45-70.

July 17, 2010, 07:21 PM
5744 needs no filler. What we're talking about here is what it's made for. IMR 3031 is good stuff as mentioned and Hodgdon has Trapdoor data online from the horses mouth. I still maintain that if you can procure it, 5744 is the right fit here.

July 17, 2010, 11:57 PM
5744 with a 405gr lead bullet is what I shoot in my model 1873. Not too hard on the shoulder. Enough power to lung punch a whitetail.

July 18, 2010, 01:58 AM
I usually use IMR4198 in my 45-70 ammo. It works very well for me when shot from a Trapdoor...

July 18, 2010, 02:08 AM
Looks like a 1879 sight. MY 84/73/79 has one just like it. Ive been using 777 black substitute, IMR 4198, and i tried some 2400 powder loads that seemed to work good once.

July 18, 2010, 12:48 PM
Thanks for the info gentleman. I'm going try some trailboss, h4198 and 5477 tommorrow. Dies were easier to procure than I expected and .45 caliber cast bullets were an easy find as well. I removed the sling and stored it in my collection.

fireman 9731
July 18, 2010, 02:49 PM
13grs of a Trailboss under a 350gr cast bullet is one of my favorite extra light plinking loads. Its just plain fun!

August 2, 2010, 04:54 PM
This trapdoor shooting is really fun + I'm now hooked on casting bullets. These 5744 loads have been pleasant shooting so far, except, there is unburnt powder left in the barrel. I haven't used any fillers but was told that a cotton ball placed above the load could help the charge ignite more evenly.

August 2, 2010, 04:57 PM
DO NOT use cotton balls.

What you need is Dacron pillow stuffing from the fabric shop.
A buck two ninety-eights worth is a lifetime supply!

Unlike cotton balls, Dacron will completely burn up with the powder charge and leave no bore obstruction or smoldering bits of cotton in the dry grass.


Maj Dad
August 2, 2010, 09:52 PM
Nice Sling: get some Pecard's Antique Leather Dressing. Major museums like Smithsonian use it; it transformed some old holsters & WW2 leather I have ( http://pecard.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=Pecard&Category_Code=antique ).

Rear Sight: matches the one on my 1879 rifle mfg Jul 1883.

IMR 3031 - I have used a lot of pistol powders in the past (Unique, 2400, others forgotten) but I am really uneasy filling that big case with a little tad of fast burning powder. Dacron is fine and helps alleviate some of the problems, but 3031 has worked great with 405 lead bullets. I did pick the load up from one of Ken's Pet Loads long ago (maybe not so long; a few years back? :rolleyes: )

August 3, 2010, 12:44 PM
How about you look at the load data, see it doesn't call for a filler, and realize a few powder zombies never hurt nobody instead of futzing around stuffing extra crud in the case.

August 6, 2010, 03:56 PM
I looked up dacron and found that it was polyester. i cant find dacron in particular but can find generic polyester(100%) at wal-mart, does this sound like the stuff?

August 6, 2010, 03:58 PM


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