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Thread: .50-70 Trapdoor reloading ?

  1. #1

    .50-70 Trapdoor reloading ?

    I'm new to the Forum, but I think this is the place I need to be to get the answers I need, to reload for the Springfield Trapdoor I just bought from my next door neighbor. I think it has been reworked by someone in the past as its dimensions are different from any Ive seen in my reference books. There are no markings on the breach, no cartouche marks on the stock. It has two barrel bands. The forward one clamps in place. It has sling swivels. There is 14 1/2 between barrel bands. Trigger pull 13, stock length 39 barrel length from breach 26 1//2, total length 47, muzzle diameter .799, lock plate marked 1863 with a faint eagle visible, US model 1864/1864 rear sight, the muzzle is 1 past the fore end cap. I removed the barrel from the stock and discovered B1 on the barrel and breach. All metal is a deep black and the bore looks new, with three groove rifling that slugged .512. Now my questions: Any ideas as to what I have? Is the rifle possibly assembled from loose parts. It looks to me to resemble a Model 1866 Short Rifle but measurements do not match. Any books youd recommend on reloading the beast. To reload for it, should I go with a .512 or .515 bullet? Is it advisable to get a .512 sizing die and open it with a brake cylinder hone for a .515? What reloading die set has an expander plug for .515 bullets. Seems to me I read some where a company makes a .50-90 set that expands to .515, but I can not find the information now. I am also looking for a good source of 1-30 and 1-40 lead. Any comments on bullet moulds the 450 and 500 gr. ones would be most helpful. I'd like a good Military style bullet and one with a large flat point around 500gr. for hunting.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master and Generous Donator
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    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    On the identification of your rifle, do you have the North Cape book "The .58 and .50 Caliber Rifles and Carbines of the Springfield Armory, 1865-1872" by Richard A. Hosmer? (From the identification points you cite, it sounds like you do, but - if not - you need a copy.) For your other needs, I suggest contacting Buffalo Arms; they will have most of what you need, plus good advice. I sure wish I could "fall into" a decent .50-70 Trapdoor!


  3. #3
    I do have that book. It is where I got the idea it some what resembles a 1866 short rifle. It sure balances and shoulders comfortably, more so than any of my other weapons be they BPCR, muzzle loader, Lever gun, or air gun. My Ruger scout .308 is a close second. My neighbor and I have been neighbors for over 20 years. He is in his eighties and has had health issues over the past year. I've assisted him at home and getting to medical appointments, getting EMS a few times, getting in the mail and feeding his cat when hospitalized and bringing him back home when released. One day he blurted out he wanted to do or get me something for all the help I had been. I told him it was no necessary. He asked me what I could use. I said I remembered the Trapdoor he had shown me a long time ago. I asked him to think on selling it to me at a price I could afford. That I did not want to rip him off just consider selling it to me. When my tax refund came I approached him and we hammered out the price. He knows I cast and reload B/P for my Italian Trapdoor carbine, Sharps carbine, H&R Officers Trapdoor, Browning BPCR, and Winchester 1886 all in .45-70 as well as build flint lock muzzle loaders. So he felt it was going to have proper care and appreciation. I sure wish there was a reference book the likes of Mr. Wolf's for the .50-70.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator

    Buckshot's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    So. California
    ...............Sure Shot Rick, first of all, welcome to the board! I can't help with ID on the ole beast, other then to say they've been around for sometime, and surplused several times to various and sundry organizations besides NRA members and the public. For years a friend of mine had a 1878 TD he thought was a cadet. It turned out to be a mere cutdown (although well done) that was between the cadet and a carbine in length.

    ".............with three groove rifling that slugged .512. To reload for it, should I go with a .512 or .515 bullet?"

    I would do a cerrosafe cast of the chamberneck area first. Find out if it will accept a round loaded with a .515" slug. If so that's what I'd load, or fatter if it'll take a fatter one.

    " Is it advisable to get a .512 sizing die and open it with a brake cylinder hone for a .515?"

    I wouldn't use a flex hone to open the die. Use a split dowel with wet or dry paper in a drill motor. That's a lot to open, too. You may just find it better all around to pan lube and load 'as cast' if the dimensions work out.

    "What reloading die set has an expander plug for .515 bullets. Seems to me I read some where a company makes a .50-90 set that expands to .515, but I can not find the information now."

    I don't know who offers one, but making a casemouth expander for a Lyman die body is no big deal.

    I have a friend with a very nice NYNG Rem RB in 50-70. He's not a tall person and full loads in it really rocks him back, even with that long heavy rifle He normally uses a 55gr charge with the Lee 450gr slug to keep the abuse down.

    Lead at either extreme of the scale, pure at one end and linotype at the other is harder to come by then your run of the mill scrap, in which I include WW's. Midway sells various alloys including pure, plus lead-tin mixes but it's not cheap. Also shipping is a killer.

    Best way to aquire lead (and get all you can, regardless of mix) is to first of all network with your shooting buddies. Makes for more ears out there. Contact (in person is best) the larger plumbing companies around and let them know you'd like to buy any old lead pipe they come across. Also, make it as easy as possible for them to connect with you when they do run acrosst any.

    Check your yellow pages for metals dealers. Also under metals it may show what they carry or may even show specific lead founders. Here in So. California there's about 8 of'em. Plus others who list lead, but I haven't bothered to call any so I don't know what hoops you'd have to jump through like quantity etc.

    If you have an 'in' with any phone company guys you might be able to scroung cable sheathing. Lots of phone companies are tearing out lead sheathed wire cables and going to plastic pipe fiber optic's. Put up a note on your range's bulletin board and at local gunshops.

    Just read your reply to Floodgate and wanted to say it's nice to have neighbors like you, and it's great your helping the old guy like that. We'll all be there (or worse) eventually).

    Father Grand Caster watches over you my brother. Go now and pour yourself a hot one. May the Sacred Silver Stream be with you always

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master and Generous Donator
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    Mar 2005

    A heart-warming story indeed, and you handled it just right. For .50-70 shooting information, check out Croft Barker's "The .50-70 Shooter's Handbook"; if you don't already have it, it is available from Buffalo Arms, or from Cistern Publishing Co., 14010 State Highway 95 North, Flatonia, TX 7894; (361) 865-0030; <katbar@sprintmail.com>; $24.50 + $2.50 s+h, last time I looked. Lotsa good info.


  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    NE Ohio

    50-70 Info

    What the other guys have written is correct, plus the 50-70 is a hoot to shoot.

    I have two and they are the easiest firearms I load for.

    As to the ID of the rifle. Bannerman reworked a bunch of them when he got them from the Gov't. You might have one of those. The B1 leads me that way.

    I've got a Bannerman but won't be able to get to it for another 4-5 weeks as I am just home from getting a new shoulder and am told to "...park it with my feet up..."

    When I can, I will pull mine apart and look at the markings.

    In the meantime check out the following.




    You might find your info there.

    I use the Lee mold, black powder and sticky lube and it is a blast.

    Keep us posted as to your results.

    Good luck.
    Knowledge I take to my grave is wasted.

    I prefer to use cartridges born before I was.

    Success doesn't make me happy, being happy is what allows me to be successful.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check