1873 Calvary Carbine Ammo Question

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by carbine85, Dec 5, 2019.

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  1. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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    I picked up a nice Springfield Trapdoor Carbine. Can you guys recommend some good safe ammo for it?
    I know modern ammo is a no-no.
     
  2. Bang!

    Bang! Member

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    I’ll just hang around here and wait for you to post a picture of that carbine.
     
  3. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    "Cavalry," not "Calvary." Jesus marched to Calvary, George Armstrong Custer was a cavalry officer. Very slight difference.... maybe similar thing with hair, but very different missions otherwise ....:confused: .... :evil:

    (I am only a part-time grammar nazi.)
     
  4. DocRock

    DocRock member

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    If it's in sound condition, and de rigeur, must suggest assessment by a competent gunsmith, then there is ammunition specifically for "trapdoor" rifles. Black Hills "Cowboy Action" ammo - 405 Grs at 1250 fps - and similarly loaded ammo - is deemed Trapdoor safe. IMO, I would shoot black powder - @ 63 grs 1.5F and @ 400 grs pure lead. Buffalo Arms has loaded Black Powder ammo for sale. Enjoy!
     
  5. caribou

    caribou Member

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    ".45-70" would dictate 70 grns Black powder with a 405 grn .45 bullet. for an original loading.

    Originally move a cast lead bullet about 1330fps.

    The loads noted above by Blackhills are dandys :D
     
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  6. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    While that is true the recoil from the standard 45/70 rifle load was found to be tough on the troopers in the light weight carbine.
    A load of 55 grains of BP with a cardboard disc to fill the space and the 405gr bullet was adopted as the carbine load.
     
  7. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    While the Black Hills ammo is rated as safe, shooting it in a carbine will be a little less pleasant than shooting it in the two-band rifle. The original Trapdoor rifles (two band muskets) shot a .45 cal 405-grain bullet backed by 70 grains of black powder. Today, most non-specialized commercial stuff is loaded with the appropriate charge of smokeless powder to be safe and not exceed the ballistics of that original load. You don't ever want to shoot stuff like the Leverevolution rounds in a trapdoor--whether original or modern. I would also avoid jacketed stuff in the old originals.

    However, there is another minor issue that has to do with shooting the same round in a carbine. The rifles have 32.5-inch long barrels mounted in full-length stocks and they weigh around 8 and a half pounds. Mine with a leather sling on it tops out at 9 lbs. 6 oz.

    The carbine, on the other hand, only has a 22-inch barrel with a half stock, so it weighs in at 1.5 to 2 lbs less with no sling. My H & R carbine weighs in at 6 lbs. 14 oz. I couldn't find the correct weight for an original, but I can't imagine it would be that much different than the repro I have. Obviously. the full load rounds are going to transmit a bit more recoil in the short-barreled lighter carbines.

    Due to this issue, back in the day, the government issued a different cartridge for the carbines. They had the powder load reduced from 70 gr to 55 gr. That's a 27% reduction in load. I don't think there is any commercial ammo that approximates the old government carbine load, so unless you reload, you are just going to have to live with it. Most of this only comes into play when one is shooting from the bench. It's not generally an issue when shooting off-hand standing up where the whole body can absorb the recoil.

    Cheers.

    P.S.
    I was composing this and had to leave the computer for a while. I see that Shanghai already mentioned the carbine load prior to me posting my long-winded answer
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  8. OFT

    OFT Member

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    forward observer is correct. The military used 70 grains of black powder for rifles and 55 grains was the standard load for carbines. You can shoot the 70 grain loads in your carbine but it will be a little uncomfortable.
     
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  9. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    First shalt thou loadeth with 70 grains of holy black. No more, no less.
    70 grains shalt be the load thou shalt use, and the grains of the load shall be 70.
    80 grains shalt thou not loadeth, nor either loadeth thou 60, excepting that thou then proceed to 70.
    90 grains is right out.
    Once the grains be 70, being 70 grains, be reached, then lodeth thou thy bullet towards thy holy black........
     
  10. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Not for the cavalry carbine.
     
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  11. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    I agree, that this thread needs a picture, so here is a shot of my 1873 rifle made in 1879 just above my 1873 H&R reproduction carbine, so one can visualize the relative size difference. At the bottom is my new H&R repro 1875 Officer's model rifle which I snagged in an on-line live auction the weekend before Thanksgiving. It just arrived at my FFL yesterday. It was listed as new in box and it arrived in perfect unfired 100% condition as listed. This was manufactured in the early 1970s and although the box was quite yellowed it was still in good shape. It included the original manual (a single folded page) and an oval brass plaque that had two brass screws for mounting on the stock. Thankfully, the previous owner (s) had the good sense to never booger up the stock by mounting it.

    While I aim to eventually acquire an original carbine, unless I win the lotto, I'm not in the income bracket to ever own an original Officers model. There were only 473 ever produced between 1875 and 1885 out some 573,000 trapdoors produced by the Springfield Armory in total. Poor condition models start in the $7k range and can go as high as $20k plus if the condition warrants it.

    1D71gJy.jpg

    Although the H&R models are decent reproductions, they did go cheap on some things to keep costs down. None of the engravings are actual hand done stuff but simply cast in place since all the engraved parts are investment cast anyway.

    An original first issue Officers model would have included a standard rear barrel mounted sight in addition to the tang aperture sight plus a single set trigger. H&R only replicated the aperture sight, but it has no graduation marks nor fine adjustment via an elevation screw. Typically the front sight would have been a Beach style combo flip-up globe and blade sight.

    Pictured is an original model 1873 sight I ordered plus a reproduction Beach globe style sight made by Pedersoli. The taps and matching drill bit to mount the sight arrived today, but the screws from Brownells won't be in until next Tuesday. I'll have to live without the single set trigger I guess.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  12. Merle1

    Merle1 Member

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    HMMM, as I recall, the rifles were 45-70-500.
    the carbines were 45-55-405.
     
  13. czhen

    czhen Member

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    Tommygun
    You are right about the miss spelling. However, Custer went straight to his Calvary on the field.

    czhen
    FL
     
  14. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I owned one of these way back when. Another rifle that I never should have sold. Mine came with a color case hardened steel pistol grip adapter and had only the tang sight. These must command a pretty penny today.
     
  15. czhen

    czhen Member

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    forward observer
    Beautiful rifles btw.

    czhen
    FL
     
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  16. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    There are a number of You Tube videos about how to load black powder .45-70 cartridges. Whole books have been written about it, such is the popularity.
     
  17. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Actually, they're not too bad right now. There are at least 5 for sale right now on Gunbroker and it's been that way for over a month ot two. There are a couple that are overpriced in the $1000 to $1200 range that have been rolling over unsold for weeks. However, there are at least two others that the sellers are claiming to be new or like new in the box that started for a penny auction with no reserve. Most of the of ones like that rarely go much above $700 to $800. As long as they keep showing up, the prices will stay down, but then it can go the other way and they will suddenly dry up to only the top end of the price spectrum. Pedersoli is the only company reproducing trapdoors at the present but their prices are always high. For the standard rifle and carbine, one can buy a decent original cheaper than the Pedersoli repops. Pedersoli also makes an officer's model, but it's almost two grand and has no engraving at all.

    I won the latest model for a bid of $600 plus 15% buyer's premium, so I got out for $690 plus shipping and as I said mine is as mint as one could get. Of course, with the additional sights and the tools and parts from Brownells to mount them, I'll be out a bit more.

    Oddly, I also owned one of the H&R officers models back in the late 70s or early 80s, but due to the lack of a good sighting system, I traded it off for some cash and the carbine shown in the picture, which I've owned over 30 years now. I think I got enough cash at the time to pay for what I had in the Officers model, so the carbine was basically my profit on the trade.

    Cheers
     
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  18. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Yes and No, at least not initially. The 500-grain bullet for the rifle was not introduced until 1882 at the same time the Government arsenals went from the internal Benet primer system to the external boxer primer style. With the Benet internal primer system, the cases had the appearance of a rimfire cartridge. They also did not switch from a copper alloy to brass for the cases until 1888. This info is from my copy of "The .45-70 Springfield" by Joe Poyer and Craig Riesch.

    Also unlike all the commercial ammo today, the cartridges produced by the Frankfort arsenal would have all had round noses. The flat point bullets so common today weren't needed until Marlin and then Winchester came up with tube-fed lever guns that could handle the 45-70.

    Cheers
     
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Right. What you get now is more like .45-70 Winchester than .45-70 Government. And don't forget .45 2 1/10" Sharps, commonly loaded as a .45-75.

    Trapdoors usually have large groove diameters and depended on black powder bumping up a soft bullet. I knew a guy who got good results with hardcast bullets and smokeless powder, but I think he was in the minority, maybe with a low end bore.
     
  20. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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    I'll get a picture up soon. I just picked it from the Auction House yesterday afternoon.
     
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  21. carbine85

    carbine85 Member

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    Cabela's has some HSM Cowboy Action 45-70 on hand that I can pick up. I'm thinking this is good to go isn't it?
     
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  22. 25-20 WCF

    25-20 WCF Member

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    No, thou shall not...not today anyway. 70 grains of black will not fit in modern cases due to the thick brass solid head case. Original cases were thin copper with folded rims - they gave poor extraction performance and failed Custer’s troopers at the Little Big Horn. The suggested load of 63 grains (post #4 above) is about all that will fit in modern brass.


    .
     
  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    You can get in 67-68 grains with a drop tube and compression die.

    I load only 56 gr in a .40-65 but know a guy who squishes in 63.
     
  24. DocRock

    DocRock member

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    Quite right. Having said that, it also depends on compression. I have a long range target load with a 535 grs Postel bullet in a Remington Rolling block heavy target barrel that functions best with heavy compression, and that gets 73 grs 1.5 F Old Eynsford and the bullet seated pretty long.

    Nevertheless, sub 70 grains is almost always the ideal, certainly with lighter bullets. I have never had good accuracy with another bullet with the excessive compression that this Postel seems to like.
     
  25. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    For my Pedersoli Sharps I load 60 grains and use a compression die. I'll then load either the 405gr FB or the 500gr(+) RN soft lead bullets.
    The Uberti carbine gets the 55 grain "carbine" loads with the 405 HB soft lead bullets.
     
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