ISO Single-Shot Blackpowder Rifle

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Durango_Dave, Apr 21, 2022.

  1. Durango_Dave

    Durango_Dave Member

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    I'd like to buy a large bore (maybe 45-70) single-shot blackpowder rifle and I'd like some input or advice.
    I'm thinking maybe one of the following:
    1. Sharps Rifle
    2. Springfield Trapdoor
    3. Remington Rolling Block

    Not that I wouldn't consider other options (such as Winchester High Wall).
    Who has experience with these guns? Which is the most fun to shoot?
    I'd mainly use it for target practice and seeing how far it can shoot accurately.

    I only plan on shooting hand loaded black powder cartridges so I'm okay with an antique.
    If I get an antique will it be hard to find something with a good barrel and accuracy?
     
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  2. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I personally have 2 45/70 rifles, a trapdoor and a rolling block. Each has it's quirks, the trapdoor likes a 250 gr pistol bullet, the roller likes anything above 350 gr bullets. I like both rifles just because it's a blast to go to the range and lob bowling balls at something far away. Find what pleases your eye and go for it! It gets addictive real fast.
     
  3. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    Get on the waiting list of a SHILOH SHARPS.

    https://shilohrifle.com/

    Everything else is a substitute.
     
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  4. Retreever

    Retreever Member

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    I have all (3) - 1874 Remington Rolling Block (Pedersoli) , 1874 Sharps (Arm Sport) and an original 1884 Springfield Trapdoor, I also have 1884 Winchester Hi-Wall (Uberti). All are chambered in 45-70. Right now the Springfield and the Remington are my (2) favorites, likely because they are the ones I have shot the most. I reload my own cartridges - Winchester or Starline brass, Winchester LR Primers, Goex FFg Blackpowder. I also cast my own bullets primarily 2 variants - 405g RNFP Hollow Base and 500g RNFP Flat Base although I did recently purchase a 535g mould.

    The guy I bought the Springfield from said it was reliably accurate out to 600 yards, all of the other ones should be able to reach a 1000 yards.

    Regards, Retreever
     
  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    You could probably round up a serviceable Trapdoor, and learn the ins and outs of 19th century barrel design.
    Any other original would be very expensive and not likely in .45-70. A gunsmith here somehow came by a real deal Remington Creedmoor, we concluded it was a .44-90. There were as many commercial cartridges then as now and many if not most Remingtons were on foreign military contracts in 11mm whatthehellever.

    Shiloh Sharps are very good, as are C. Sharps.
    C. Sharps also makes a reproduction of the 1875 "box lock" Sharps which for some reason they can sell at a lower price than the better known 1874. They also make an 1885 Winchester Single Shot "Highwall" but at higher cost.

    I think Pedersoli makes the best of the Italian imports, read the fine print at an importer's site to see where they get theirs.

    Me? I have a Winchester Single Shot, rebored from .32-40 to .38-55 somewhere back down the line, and a Browning/Miroku/Badger BPCR "Highwall" .40-65 that is a fine shooter but not a faithful reproduction of a real Winchester.

    Any can be "fun" to shoot and challenging to load for. 500 meter - 600 yard BP ammo was some of the most demanding hand loading I have done.
     
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  6. Durango_Dave

    Durango_Dave Member

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    How long is the waiting list now for a new Shiloh Sharps?
     
  7. Durango_Dave

    Durango_Dave Member

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    I may do that. I guess a concern I have about buying an antique Trapdoor is, will it be accurate? It sounds like there are a lot of people have had good luck buying old Trapdoors.
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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  9. SlowFuse

    SlowFuse Member

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    I just spoke with a friend a couple of days ago that ordered a Shiloh Sharps 1863, the wait is right at two years for that specific model.
     
  10. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    Please explain to me how my ORIGINAL 1869 Rolling Block is a "substitute"??

    While the Shiloh Sharps is a modern manufacturer Johnny come lately.
     
  11. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    Same question here, I built my roller from one of the Egyptian contract guns. Mesquite stock, tang sight, Green Mountain barrel.
     
  12. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    My roller is a 50/70 with Soule sights. Honestly, Shiloh makes a great gun, but an original can be had for less money and if the rifling is questionable, even having it relined still is likely to be far less expensive than a Shiloh.
     
  13. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    I meant new makes. Calm down please okay thank u bye.
     
  14. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    Back to the OP.

    1) Sharps- you'll probably have to get a repop. Originals are collector items. Of the repops, Shiloh is top drawer followed closely by C Sharps. Pedersoli is decent and known to have a good barrel. Past that, I'd avoid IAB Sharps cartridge guns.
    2) Trapdoor- there are shooter condition originals out there for the same money as a repop. A trapdoor action is weak so don't even think of hotloading it.
    3) Rolling block- originals are often available from far less money than a repop. This grade of original is a prime candidate for a rebarrel or reline. Add some quality sights and you're still in for less money than a new repop from Pedersoli.

    One you didn't list is a High Wall. Uberti makes a good one.

    As for caliber, if you're planning on playing with black powder, I'd say stick with an easy one like 45/70 or 50/70. Both are known to be about the easiest to get dialed in. Also, use only lead bullets, especially in the originals.
     
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  15. Shortgrub

    Shortgrub Member

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    In my dealings with trapdoors, I have found out that most of the original trapdoors shoot way high under 200 yds.
     
  16. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    That is true, and easily solved by fitting a taller front sight blade - the easiest and fastest replacement blades are those made for the 1903 and 1903A3 rifles, though they usually require filing a bit off the bottom of the blade so that the hole in the blade will line-up with the pin which retains the blade. The taller blade can then be filed down as necessary to give the desired point of impact at shorter ranges. An additional fact of the original trapdoors (both .45 and .50) is that most of the barrels have groove diameters considerably larger than the nominal standards (.460" and .515", respectively) and thus larger than the readily available commercial bullets or molds, and will not shoot at all well with smokeless loads. Soft cast bullets and blackpowder will permit the cast bullet to 'bump-up' in firing, to fill the grooves and permit reasonably good accuracy.

    PRD1 - mhb - MIke
     
  17. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    They were designed that way as the trooper/soldier was trained to aim center mass. Way high with a center mass point of aim is still a very bad day for the guy downrange.
     
  18. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    If by readily available you mean cheapo Lee, then yes. Spend a bit more and get what you want and a better quality mold.
     
  19. Durango_Dave

    Durango_Dave Member

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    Good to know. Thanks.
    But then again whenever buying an antique gun that you intend to shoot, it's always good to slug the barrel.
     
  20. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    It is always a good idea to determine the actual groove diameter of a rifle you want to shoot with cast bullets, but it is difficult to get an accurate measurement for the Trapdoor barrels, which are 3-grooved. I am lucky enough to have 3-legged internal micrometers, which are ideal for the job. The problem with molds is not their cost, but the range of diameters available in non-custom types. The average groove diameter of the .45-70 trapdoors is ca. .462', and no standard .45 mold I've ever had casts a bullet that large - then, too, it is good practice to have a cast bullet at least .001" larger than the barrel groove diameter, at least for smokeless loads, and the typical Trapdoor chamber will not accept cartridges loaded with bullets much larger than .462, if that.

    mhb - MIke
     
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  21. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    I deal with this all the time since Civil War arms (which I shoot in competition) are nearly always 3 groove. We use plug gauges to get the correct bore size since the groove depth is almost always .003-5. Next, forget anything in quality molds being "standard size". A good mold outfit will make what you want if you know the actual bore size. Moving on to my roller, it was 4 groove so common measuring techniques apply. My rifling was .015 deep, a 1:42 twist, and heavily eroded in the throat. A wave of Bobby Hoyts magic lathe cured that and now my 50/70 takes a .512 bullet and can still chamber.

    Point is, there's no such thing as "standard" when dealing with original black powder guns. SAAMI didn't exist and manufacturers did what they felt best and wanted the purchaser to use only their ammo
     
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  22. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

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    Bore diameter is a significant measurement for muzzle-loading arms, such as the majority of CW-used types, since the bullet must be of a size which can be loaded from the muzzle without excessive force, particularly when fouled. It is true that many of them are 3-grooved, but the most common rifle-muskets (Springfield and Enfield) have progressive-depth rifling, intended to be .015" at the breech and reducing to .005" at the muzzle. It is true that many specimens are considerably different from the standard, though bore diameters are less variable than groove diameters are. The reason that bore diameters are more consistent, at least in those arms produced by the larger, established armories and contractors, is that the final diameter is established by reaming, and properly made, maintained and operated reamers do not cut much, if any, oversize. Groove depths, however, are variable because they are cut with rifling machines which can produce grooves of any desired depth, and the operators apparently either did not have suitable 'GO' and 'NO GO' gauges, or did not use them. I am certain that arms makers of the CW era and later could, indeed, hold tolerances to a thousandth of an inch, if proper quality control measures were observed. As to later military arms, specifically those of Springfield Armory production, bore and groove dimensions were specified and standardized to .001" limits, and these could have been maintained (I have examined and measured SA bore and plug gauges for Trapdoor barrels and found them accurate as marked to .0001"), again, had proper QC measures been in place. On the other hand, I have measured literally hundreds of Trapdoor barrels, both .50 and .45 caliber, and found them to vary widely from the specified dimensions for groove diameters (.515" and .460", respectively), and can only believe that lack of quality control could account for the variation. Bore diameters, on the other hand, were very consistent with the standard, for the reason given above. In fact, a friend and I have just had an article published in 'Blackpowder Cartridge News' on the subject of variations in Trapdoor barrels.
    While muzzleloading arms using blackpowder are limited to use of bullets which can be easily loaded, and depend on the expansion of the bullet to fill the grooves for accuracy, breechloaders can and do benefit from use of bullets of full groove diameter, and, while blackpowder can cause a somewhat smaller bullet to 'slug-up' to fill the grooves, I have never found this to be possible with any smokeless propellent, and no reason to think that bullets of less than full groove diameter shoot any better, if as well, with either class of propellent.

    PRD1 - mhb - MIke - barrel maker, retired
     
  23. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    They told me 18-24 months.
     
  24. KansasTrapper77

    KansasTrapper77 Member

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    I snagged a Taylor import Uberti made 1895 Highwall in 45-70 last year that I have yet to get to shoot with black powder due to the shortage of black powder.

    With smokless powder it has performed well out to 800 yards with my Lee Shaver Economy sights.

    But sitting right next to this Highwall was a Remington Rolling block for a good price and to my understanding the rolling blocks are pretty easy to work on and clean but a little stronger than the trapdoors. I’d keep my eyes open for a nice rolling block.

    And of course everyone wants a Shiloh Sharps but man they’re pricey. And my [email protected]$$ would probably break the firing pin.
     
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  25. Durango_Dave

    Durango_Dave Member

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    Thanks for your input everyone. I just purchased an 1873 Springfield Trapdoor rifle made in 1886
     
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