Proper large bore rifle shooting (1873 Trapdoor)


May 6, 2012, 02:24 PM
I am not an experienced rifle shooter but am really enjoying my original 1873 trapdoor 45-70. I have only put about 50 rounds down range but have already noticed that I am clearly shooting high and right. Shooting high doesn't bother me as the gun is designed/sighted at 260yrds, but I think I am doing something wrong causing most shot to go right about 4" at 100 yrds.

I am still working on load accuracy so grouping has been my main focus but thought I would throw out the question, what is the proper shooting position/hold for a large bore rifle? I think the recoil is thowing my shot right and possibly high, 32" is a long what for a bullet to travel to get clear of my movements.

I am shooting a 500 gr bullet on top of 65gr Goex FFg, about 1150fps w/ very consistant velocity. My next load will be 68gr FFg with my OAL increased by 0.03" to touch the lands. My first lot of ammo was 0.01 off the land and the last lot was 0.03, 0.01 off the lands produced better groups, so I thought I would try with no gap.


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May 6, 2012, 02:27 PM
Have you tried adjusting the sights?

May 6, 2012, 02:32 PM
Being new to shooting long guns I didn't want to adjust the sights until I know it is the gun and not me. I don't know how easy it is to adjust the sights on this particular gun, pretty much fixed unless I use the extended yardage sights. Guess I could try that at 100 yards and see where the place, these are left/right adjustable.

May 6, 2012, 02:45 PM
Different loads will have different points of impact. Good experiment would be to shoot a group with three or four different bullet weights and a few different charges for each and see where they group. Even with my Henry .22, the difference between CCI Stingers and bulk Remington ammo at 50 yds is 3" vertical and 2" horizontal. Find the load that groups the tightest and adjust your sights to it.

If you can shoot tight groups standing on your head balancing a flower pot on your feet, you are shooting it right.

If go to a long range black powder silhouette shoot, you are sure to see many different shooting styles.

May 6, 2012, 05:20 PM
what is the proper shooting position/hold for a large bore rifle?

Since you asked, this is one way to hold it:

May 6, 2012, 06:25 PM
Stormin, depending on the model Trapdoor you have, adjusting your rear sight may be your fix. The Model 1884's have a really cool rear sight that allows for both windage and elevation adjustments, and adjusting it to play with the POI at different ranges is (for me) part of the fun of shooting a Trapdoor. My '84 carbine naturally shoots about 3-4 inches to the left at 100 yards, regardless of the load or bullet weight I use. For normal shooting I keep the rear sight windage adjusted to compensate for that, and it works just fine - until my shoulder tells me "Enough!".

Thanks Articap for posting those pictures, I'm gonna try that hold next time out with my trapdoor.

May 6, 2012, 06:32 PM
Sorry Stormin, I just re-read your post, you said you have an 1873. I don't know about the rear sight on that one. My bad!!

May 6, 2012, 06:37 PM
gun/sight was orig made for a 405 gr slug.try to find the 2 original military loads for the 45/70
and start there.

May 7, 2012, 09:18 AM
As I understand it the original load was 405gr bullet on top 70gr Black Powder, later the carbine load was reduced to 55gr with the same bullet but the rifle load switch to a 500gr bullet on top of 70gr Black Powder. I did try some 405gr bullets and POI was very close to that of the 500gr bullet. I haven't tried the 405gr hollow base bullet yet but hope to sometime soon.

Thank you for the shooting from rest position pictures, that is what I was looking for. I understand that once I start hitting what I am aiming at shooting position doesn't matter much, but having a good starting point and working into what works for me was my objective.

My sites are adjustable once I flip up the rear site, not sure what that is called, if my next batch of bullets still impact high and right I will adjust the sites.

Thank you all for the advice.

Driftwood Johnson
May 7, 2012, 10:26 AM

Does your rear sight look like this?

My Trapdoor was made in 1883 and carries what is known as the Model 1879 Buckhorn rear sight. Like yours, it cannot be adjusted for windage until the leaf has been raised enough to clear the pin just in front of the Buckhorn. My club's range is only 100 yards, not far enough to raise the leaf that far. I just use Kentucky Windage.

Here is a book that will tell you absolutely everything there is to know about your Trapdoor.

And this book will tell you absolutely everything there is to know about loading 45-70 for the Trapdoor.

My own load for 45-70 is about 68.5 grains of Schuetzen FFg trickled through a drop tube, compressed with a compression die, sorry I don't remember how much compression, followed by a .030 card wad and a .458 Montana Precision 405 grain bullet lubed with SPG. You can buy these from Midway. They also make a hollow based version if your rifling is worn.

P.S Don't forget different brands of Black Powder weigh different amounts. 68.5 grains of Schuetzen FFg will not compress the same amount as 68.5 grains of Goex FFg.

May 7, 2012, 12:08 PM
Driftwood, thanks my site is exactly like yours, my rifle was made in 1884. I am using Penn Bullets, .459 with SPG lube. My guns bore is like new but I would still like to try the hollow base design.

Have you changed/varied your OAL and did it effect your POI or group size?

May 7, 2012, 09:58 PM
You've got the 1879 Rifle sight. R is for rifle and B at 262 yds is battle sight setting.

Old timers told me if you shoot 45-70-500's and hold the rifle set at the battle sight setting on a feller's belt buckle under 200 yards you'll hit him in the chest. If you hold on his head at 300 yards, you hit him in the guts.

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