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Thread: Getting started with 45-70

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Getting started with 45-70

    I am a shooter with years of experience with reloading smokeless cartridges, but recently bought a sharps in 45-70 and would like to get started with black powder. There are so many different theories on accuracy and performance, what is the best way to start?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Who made it? I like to use fireformed cases with no neck tension. Fed large rifle match primers work very well for me but good luck finding any. Try the plane fed 210. You will probably want to anneal your brass also which is very easy to do. You will want a way to punch out primers without putting the case in a sizing die and a compression plug.


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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Pick up a copy of SPGS BP loading manual, its written bt Steve Garb and Mike Venturino. Another good one is Loading and Shooting the Paper Patched Bullet a Beginners Guide by Randolph S Wright. This deals with Paper patched bullets bullets but the loading techniques work very well with Grease Grooved bullets also. Both are full of information and good tips.

    Loading black powder is slightly different than smokeless powders. No airspace between the bullets base and powder charge is good. Bullets are softer and may swell or distort if used to compress powder charge. Cases are thin and may need to be annealed fairly often.

    Brass prep is about the same trim to uniform length, uniform primer pockets if desired. chamfer and deburr.

    I don't size cases Other than the neck area and that done at the end.

    I put fired cases straight from the rifle into dish soap water mix. this removes a lot of the fouling and keeps it soft. I deprime by hand with a simple hand tool and lightly clean primer pockets. when dry I polish in corn cobs treated with Iosso brass polish and nufinish ( a cap full of each) until clean and bright. I them Prime with rem lr primers. Charge case with a charge of 1 1/2 Old Ensford. add one .060 Napa rubber fiber wad. Compress the charge to the depth for OAL. and add 2 .002 typing paper wads. hand seat the bullet onto the wads. I then use a Meacham bushing die to set neck tension around the bullet. Bullet can be spun in the case but dosnt fall out. You can do this by adjusting the full length sizer high as long as the bullet dosnt hit in the die. Ussually a bout .400 high gets pretty close but this varies a little do to wall thickness of the different brass cases. I anneal every 2-3 loadings. New starline brass starline recommends annealing the new brass strating out.

    Finding the right compression for you powder bullet wad makes a big difference in fouling levels and build up. The optimum compression also lowers extreme spreads and Standard deviations. I normally load for 1150fps - 1200 fps with a 550 grn bullet. Do not compress with the bullet but use a die or plug to compress powder. Compressing with these soft bullets can swell or distort them. But the compression can make a big improvement. I use the heavy wad to compress keeping the rough abrasive powder sealed away from the die.

    The heavy wad protects the bullets base from damage firing and the 2 tracing paper wads make sure it dosnt stick to the bullets base. WIpe bases clean and dry also to alieviate this also.

    Starting out you may want to buy bullets or ask for samples in swapping selling to test before buying a mould. See what the rifle likes then buy that mould. Saves a lot of buying moulds.

    A simple compression punch can be made touse with your seating die and done right the die dosnt need to be reset. Make a dummy bullet .010-.015 under bullet dia ( you want it to easily slip in and out of the case mouth). from brass aluminum steel or hard wood. Make this the same profile as close as possible to your bullet. and leave long by .010-.015. This can be done in a drill press with files and sand paper. If working with metal you can form the bullets nose and body then cut off square and smooth. If using hard wood form body ad nose and cut part way thru leaving it on the stem. Finish with a long cure clear thin epoxy and let soak in and cure. sand smooth in the drill press and cut off. The epoxy soaks in and makes a hard durable surface. Now insert and compress a powder charge with the heavy wad and insert bullet measuring OAL, polish file base down to where the set seating die with plug is compressing for the same overall length as a seated bullet. This plug wll compress charges with out damage.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    what will you use the gun for - hunting, target, plinking, or all three?

    supreme accuracy requires component tinkering.

    acceptable accuracy is far easier to achieve with little or no tooling.

    been there, done that for all disciplines - it all depends on yer requirements, and perhaps yer patience and pocket book.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    I plan to do all three; hunting, target, and plinking. The rifle is a c. Sharps 1875. Thanks for all of the info, it really helps

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    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by cam5.56 View Post
    I am a shooter with years of experience with reloading smokeless cartridges, but recently bought a sharps in 45-70 and would like to get started with black powder. There are so many different theories on accuracy and performance, what is the best way to start?
    You will get a million different answers and likely end up confused - heres my two cents

    1) I file a little notch in the case before my first loading - notch goes up top of chamber to orient the case next time sos you can use reloads without resizing
    2) I weigh charges (65 grains at present) pour through a drop tube - use a compression die
    3) LEE 459-500-3R is a good blackpowder boolit - carries nice quantity of lube - I weigh boolits and load them in batches of same weight
    4) if the empty case will chamber - I do not resize it - dont even neck size it !!
    5) empty case + primer + powder evenly compressed + grease lubed boolit lightly crimped + cock hammer + pull trigger ......I have not been able to gain anything from wads - others consider me an idiot for not using them
    6) blow tube between shots - this is an art - time it - consider the humidity on the day - too much you will start to drop shots low - not enough you foul out before you finish a string
    Start simple and see how it goes - being consistent in what you do is way more important than being fancy

    Stuff to think about later
    I bought LEE universal decapper die and use it for all my blackpowder cases (you can make a pin from a six inch nail that will do the job - decapping without sizing and before cleaning cases)
    I made a size die to just kiss the base of the case where it swells at the solid head - that one is reamed neat at .500 (half inch) - just reduces the case down a tiny bit so its not overtight in the chamber maybe reduces by two thousands" or less
    I also made another die to use on the case necks if they end up too tight - sometimes you bulge one a little with the crimp - both these dies are just reducing a tiny bit - nothing like what a factory resize die would do.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master wills's Avatar
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    Don't size the cases. The first time you fire them they will be covered with soot, and fire formed. After you get them cleaned up, they will be a perfect fit and should not need sizing. Many silhouette shooters do not even crimp. Just be sure your boolit sits firmly on the wad, so there is no air space in the case when you shoot.

    Everything you know about reloading smokeless does not apply. Here is a decapper. Use it at the range at the end of your relay. Put the decapped brass in a jug of water with detergent.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Decapper 3-16-07 224.jpg 
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    Last edited by wills; 03-09-2018 at 11:10 PM.
    Have mercy.
    A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw.
    A haw, haw, haw

  8. #8
    Boolit Master wills's Avatar
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    This can be simplified some. One way to get your powder charge, is simply scoop up a case full of Black Powder. Scrape the powder off level with the mouth of the cartridge case. Weigh this charge, and adjust your powder scale to drop this amount of powder.

    Slowly drop this powder charge into the case, through a drop tube, 24” or so long. Put a veggie. Polly or cardboard wad, as you prefer on top of the charge. Compress the powder enough so you can seat the boolit to the overall length you want. If you are shooting a single shot you may want forgo crimping.
    Have mercy.
    A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw.
    A haw, haw, haw

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by wills View Post
    This can be simplified some. One way to get your powder charge, is simply scoop up a case full of Black Powder. Scrape the powder off level with the mouth of the cartridge case. Weigh this charge, and adjust your powder scale to drop this amount of powder.

    Slowly drop this powder charge into the case, through a drop tube, 24” or so long. Put a veggie. Polly or cardboard wad, as you prefer on top of the charge. Compress the powder enough so you can seat the boolit to the overall length you want. If you are shooting a single shot you may want forgo crimping.

    Wills ... whats the wad do?.... everybody seems to do it ....I tried it .... milk carton wads ... cardboard wads ....made no difference to results on the target . protect the boolit base ? ?? I've dug fired rounds out of the mound .. dont seem to be damage at the base .. they not burnt away or melted away or otherwise distorted ..
    A wad would maybe work as a scraper of sorts and that could help with fouling ?? is that it ??? ....but a boolit with sufficient lube on board we have fouling under control anyways ....I am odd man out on this and I really would like the science behind it .....
    cheers Indian joe

  10. #10
    Boolit Master wills's Avatar
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    Supposed to protect the boolit base. Part of the cause of leading is blow by of melted alloy from the base. If you dont have accuracy or leading problems without a wad, that's a great thing. I've never known anyone who did not use them.
    Have mercy.
    A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw.
    A haw, haw, haw

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    C sharps!!!! Awesome!!! You know whos barrel they used? Mine has a green mountain 16 twist 45/70 barrel and its a real shooter. For greasers I shoot a brooks creedmoore 540 grains. 67 grains of goex oldE 1.5. I dont size the cases at all. I found in my particular rifle with that bullet neck tension of any kind was detrimental for accuracy. My paper patch load is a 536 grain elliptical bullet patched to .450 and 82 grains of Swiss 1.5. The bullet is 1.51 long and has been doing very well for me on the silhouette range. Now that load does like a little neck tension but just enough so I can handle the cartridge without the bullet falling out. As someone who has tried blow tubing and wiping I would strongly suggest a solid wiping routine for your match shooting should you go that route.


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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by ian45662 View Post
    .... My paper patch load is a 536 grain elliptical bullet patched to .450 and 82 grains of Swiss 1.5. The bullet is 1.51 long and has been doing very well for me on the silhouette range. Now that load does like a little neck tension but just enough so I can handle the cartridge without the bullet falling out. As someone who has tried blow tubing and wiping I would strongly suggest a solid wiping routine for your match shooting should you go that route.
    wow, a mirror image of my .45-70 ppb load, components and all Name:  thumbsup.gif
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I got the bullet design from Brent Danielson. I like it!


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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    i got mine from brent, too! BACO moulds are good ones!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master MOA's Avatar
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    cam5.56

    Here is what the book covers look like from Wright and Matthews. At least that is what they looked like when I got mine a few years ago.






  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by wills View Post
    Supposed to protect the boolit base. Part of the cause of leading is blow by of melted alloy from the base. If you dont have accuracy or leading problems without a wad, that's a great thing. I've never known anyone who did not use them.
    Thanks Wills
    I fought a long battle with leading in this rifle - got it second hand and there were a couple tiny rust marks near the muzzle from long term storage - I freebored it to get rid of the worst - later bit the bullet and lopped two inches off it and re set the front sight - still was having problems - most of the boolit designs around at that time were cut for smokeless - I must have went through half a dozen molds - bore riders - postel designs - molds for a classic blackpowder rifle with tiny little lube grooves ahhhhhhg! Lube cookie under the boolit helped but the lube disc and two wads took a heap of powder space - was at a shoot in the hills and a feller was there selling gear - had a LEE 459-500- 3R mold - not long after they started listing it - soon as I saw that I grabbed it - finally someone has woke up what this boolit should look like - good big lube grooves and a pointy nose - I had been shooting a 500grain bore rider with a flat nose and hardly any lube aboard - scrubbing my barrel between shots - that LEE boolit took a full hundred yards off my sight setting - I read about the blow tube about the same time - first time I put all this together I got a first at 500yards at our local club's annual shoot - not a score that would rate high with you fellers but I was pleased and no cleaning between shots! So then I start to read all this guru stuff from the US saying that LEE boolit is uesless - wont shoot over 500yards - a whole bunch of negative feedback - whats with that was my question ?? I figured out later that they had a quality control issue on that mold and its likely a bunch of them went out undersized and under weight - I liked the design so much I bought two of those dodgy molds - wrote to LEE about it - they offered replacements no cost - but postage back woulda wiped out most of the benefit - I elected to keep them and salvage the handles out - after they got it fixed I got another two holer and using that now - so - a long road for me but when I finally got the lube problem sorted out - no more leading - I use a blow tube and I do think that is an art - something that looks absurdly simple but isnt

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    this is the current cover of randy wright's PPB cartridge book ....



    i found it to be the best treatise on building good ppb cartridges for hunting (with grease cookie) or target (single wad). very easy to understand the ppb cartridge build process. being a superb artist, his excellent drawings really enhance the text. he covers both .45-70 and .40-65, though the loading principles can be used for any straight walled brass at the least. i also had paul mathew's 'the paper jacket' book and it's a good one - but for me, randy's is much better thought out and easier for anyone to both follow and understand. between brent's tutelage and randy's book, i'm hooked on ppb cartridges and see no reason to go back to greasers. ymmv.

    `

  18. #18
    Does Wright’s book cover smokeless too? Or just BP?

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael J. Spangler View Post
    Does Wright’s book cover smokeless too? Or just BP?
    strictly black powder, which will be easier than attempting to load with smokeless due to both case capacity and neck tension issues. with bp, the open mouthed and fire formed case is loaded full up, with a pushed-in ppb and zero to very slight added neck tension as the ppb sits on the powder/wad column. not so with smokeless because there will be less powder used, there will be an air space, and therefore the brass will be sized, expanded, and the ppb will require a tight taper or roll crimp. black powder ppb loads are just a whole bunch easier, with less working of the brass in dies, and less tooling required. dealing with bp fouling during shooting and for after-shoot cleanup is really no big deal at all with a s/s gun, if any of that is a concern.

  20. #20
    Thank you sir.

    I’m aware of the differences with smokeless vs BP. I have Mathews book and have done a handful of smokeless loads. I was just wondering if I could gain anything from reading Wright’s book.

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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