Info on H&R Little Big Horn 45-70 Trapdoor Carbine


Dr Bob
January 15, 2012, 12:17 AM
I have a Harrington & Richardson replica identified as "Little Big Horn" Commemorative Trapdoor 45-70 Carbine, 22 inch barrel, sporting a serial number LBH 3396. Although potentially used, it is in excellent condition. It came with a beautiful recessed felt lined (perfect fit) wooden case with key locks.
Would appreciate any help to verify and/or provide any information as to a source where I could find, as a minimum, the following information: (any additional info would be greatly appreciated)

- Understand that it may have been manufactured in early 1970's and that about few thousand were produced. Would like to determine when it was actually manufactored?

- Any estimate on its approximate value?

- It was suggested that 55 grain black power charge be used in the carbine rather than the 70 grain normally used in rifle model.

Would appreciate any help.


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January 15, 2012, 01:07 AM
I've found a few for sale today ranging from $500 (a few rust spots, dinged stock) to 'minty' for $850.

I had never heard of this rifle before.

This post shows three variations:

Lots of info and links here:

One suggests Pedersoli bought the tooling for Trapdoor Springfields FROM H&R, and that all Pedersoli parts will interchange.

THIS guy MIGHT be able to date it specifically:

My Gun Digest book suggests you have an HR model 171 or 172. Does it have silverplated accents? or a checkered stock? that would make it a '172'.

January 15, 2012, 07:48 AM
I won't comment on year of production but the 55 grain charge used by the Army is a good one for the carbine.

The Arsenal loaded it three different ways. Initially they used wads in the cartridge to make up the volume and at some point they used a cardboard tube in the case to reduce the volume. Finally they just seated the bullet down on the powder to load it. This also had the benefit of visually differing from the rifle round.

Lee and others offer a 405 grain hollow based bullet mold for the 45-70.

H&R trapdoors can sometimes open on firing. There are a couple of cures for that if it happens to your carbine.

January 15, 2012, 11:12 AM
H&R trapdoors can sometimes open on firing.

This is a known problem with the H&R's. The fixes are either replace the 2 piece latch with an original Springfield 1 piece latch. (They will interchange) or pin the H&R parts together.......

Jim K
January 16, 2012, 10:40 PM
Those repros came out in the 1970's and were fairly good sellers. There were several variations, all in about the same value range today. The exception is the one that the books call the silver plate carbine, that was nicely engraved and plated with real silver. It was set up like the old marksman's rifle with a tang sight, grip adapter and fancy buttplate. Tops on one of those runs close to $2k. The H&R Model numbers were 171 and 172 on the carbines and 173 and 178 on the rifles, the 173 being an "officers model" and the 178 a standard TD rifle.

They were pretty guns. Some had a color case hardened receiver, although the originals never did.


January 17, 2012, 12:23 AM
That's right in line with what I found Jim, but the wooden box was specifically mentioned in the fancier models.

January 17, 2012, 07:50 AM
Jim K, I forgot that H&R cased the reciever. Thanks for the reminder.

January 17, 2012, 02:44 PM

I picked up this one at an estate auction, great looking gun and fun to shoot...

January 25, 2012, 09:34 AM
I shoot an officers model such as pictured above. I cast both a lyman 405 and 350 grain bullet. I am using 14.6 grains unique behind both bullets and it is a trapdoor safe load. My velocities are about 1225 and 1275 with those bullets and its really accurate. Thats is about 100 FPS lower than factory ammo claimed velocity. If I were to shoot 20 or less at a sitting, the mild steel buttplate would be OK, but usually I shoot 50 rounds, so a leather slip-on recoil pad makes it enjoyable. I am shooting this cartridge really cheap and since the cartridge case is fired in the same gun it doesn't get fully resized and will last a long time. I have never had the trapdoor open on mine during firing. I really wanted an original rifle but its a crap shoot finding one with a shootable bore for the price of one of these repros. I paid $550 for mine with no box but in mint condition. Good luck with yours.

January 25, 2012, 01:18 PM
I have never had the trapdoor open on mine during firing

And trust me, you don't want to......:what:

I would suggest you look up what it takes to make sure it never will.

Check with the folks over here:
or here:

January 25, 2012, 01:29 PM
The problem with the breech blocks is they MAY unlock because H&R did not copy the cam lock 100%. It is simply a matter of locating, drilling and pinning (or tapping a screw) the cam in place.

If not done, the cam lock can open when fired but to date, I have not heard of any injuries. It is a bit un-nerving I would imagine but it's not like the breechblock goes arching up and the ampty brass comes flying out. Still, not something I owuld want to experience.

February 8, 2012, 01:34 AM
i just ran some 45-70 through my italian sharps. 12 gr unique 405 slug. it hit low on the target at 50 yds. will try imr 3031 46 gr to see how it goes. will follow your results to see if you do better. my sharps is manufactured by iab. i was told to load for trapdoor because of cup pressures.

February 17, 2012, 08:58 PM
The problem with the H&R is the barrel were undersized. I have had mine since they came out and have shot over 300 rounds thru it (cast bullets) and my rifles door also flew open. So I had the barrel checked and it ran .451 when it should be at least .456 to shoot jacketed bullets that are .458. You need to have your rifles checked, some have blown up. I now size my bullets to .454. Happy shooting guys. I also have replaced the leaver on the trapdoor and have retired my H&R to the mantel.

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