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Thread: Questions on loading a 45-70

  1. #1

    Questions on loading a 45-70

    I've read loads of info on this site about black powder cartridges, but have yet to actually load any. I've always wanted to, but finding black powder around me is a hassle.

    Anyway I acquired a pound of Goex FFFg powder from a guy at work who's father passed.

    My current load with my 45/70 is the Lee 405 grain hollow base bullet over either 12gn of Trail Boss or 40gn of H4895 if I feel like getting beat up. The gun is a model 1873 trapdoor that I just assume is the weakest of the weak when I make my cartridges.

    The bullets are lubed with the alox/paste wax concoction that is posted on this site.

    So the idea is to fill the case with powder and place a milk carton cutout wad (or two) between the powder and bullet. Then compress the powder with the seating of the bullet.

    So the main questions are:

    1. Is this sane
    2. How much compression
    3. Is it okay to use the hollow base bullets.

    I'm not planning on making this a full time venture, just would like to use what I have to try it out and then probably love it and make it a full time venture. The point being, I don't want to have to buy a bunch of stuff if this is going to be a short time thing.

    I also plan on securing the gun to a lead sled and firing from a distance in case of catastrophe for the first couple cartridges. I did this for my first smokeless loads for it as well just in case since the gun is pretty old. So far there has been absolutely no issues with it at all. The gun functions great.

    So if I'm in above my head here let me know. I'd rather not do it than be dangerous. The knowledge base on this board is incredibly valuable and I'm sure many have once been in my position and have had just enough info to get themselves into trouble. I'm trying to avoid that bit if possible.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    is that gun the real deal or a replica? if loaded correctly, with no air space of sorts inside the brass, blackpowder will be safer than trail boss or any white devil dust. compression can be whatever the gun prefers, which ranges from a scant almost none to quite a bit. hollow based bullets are one type that were originally loaded, at least in trap doors, so i've read. 3f might be pushing it, though, it's best with a coarser powder. since i suspect yer talking about a greaser load, making up some dummies to set the OAL is all that's needed, with regards to the balance of powder charge, seating depth, and compression.
    The only government I trust is the .45-70 ....

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    You wouldn't catch me using either of those smokeless loads in my trapdoor. The BP, however, is what it's made for. Unless you have a compression die, you won't be using much powder compression. Just use enough powder to have maybe .050 - .100 compression, and do that by seating the bullet. Use soft lead and real black powder lube. No card wads under hollow base bullets. And remember your fouling control. If you don't have a blow tube you'll probably want to wipe the bore between shots to maintain accuracy. Not much more to it than that. And with no compression you're looking at about 55 maybe 60 grains of powder so a pretty light load even with 3f powder.
    Oh, and wash your brass afterward.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    You can use lighter charges of H4895, also. According to Hodgdon and their "60% rule", you can go as light as 28.8/H4895/405. No clue as to likely velocities, but probably won't deliver the "beating" that 40.0/H4895/405 seems to deliver. It'll also save you a little on gun-powder. The load you mentioned gives you 175 rounds per pound of propellant. The load I mentioned gives you more like 240 to the pound.

    If you're just dying to try the black powder, go ahead. If you're in search of a milder recoiling round without the hassle of using soap & water on your brass & rifle among other things, try the reduced H4895 loads. Just a thought.
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
    ...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40


    Carpe SCOTCH!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Using BP usually means soft lead cast boolits, I use a compression die, like an expander die from a 44. Using the boolit will deform the boolit and your friends will laugh at you. Drop tube your powder, use a wad, compress, and it should come out right with no air space, may take a bit of mucking around for it all to come out to the right oal. enjoy!

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy Big Mak's Avatar
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    I can't add any more than the fellas did above, but years ago I made a video for my sons when they inherit my BP Bang sticks.

    Back then, I used to use a progressive press, but now that I'm making match loads, I use a single stage press, weigh the charges, I pay much closer attention to detail than back then. I also ONLY use 1.5F or 2F. Compression varies depending on the powder brand. And measure your depth after compressing so that there is no air gap! I let the bullet compress the last .025 when seating just for insurance.

    Here's the video. Good music. This was the early days of reloading, my reloading room now takes up an entire stall in our new garage in Montana. LOL!


  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy Big Mak's Avatar
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    Here are some .45-75 cartridges I made for my Dad's Winchester Centennial 1876.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Big Mak's Avatar
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    And my youngest son shooting the old trap door.


  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Heres how I load my BPCR rounds and work up the loading.

    Start with clean bass If you have brass fire formed even better
    Deprime by hand with punch or hand tool
    Reprime
    add power charge, will get into this more in depth below.
    insert wads over powder and typing paper wad
    compress in die or use a seater and a under sized bullet or dummy bullet, some expander dies will work also.
    Insert bullet by hand down onto wads
    Now use the sizer die with stem removed to size around bullet just enough to hold bullet. Usually about .400 thousandths above full length is close. You want to be able to spin bullet but not have it fall out.
    No real crimp is needed in the single shots

    Now for the powder charge.
    I start at no air space no compression with bullet seated to depth. and test
    I then work up in 2 grain increments adding powder and compression to one step past best load then test at half way point above and below it, just to make sure
    I normally shoot for 1100-1200 fps with a 500 grn bullet.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom22 View Post
    I've read loads of info on this site about black powder cartridges, but have yet to actually load any. I've always wanted to, but finding black powder around me is a hassle.

    Anyway I acquired a pound of Goex FFFg powder from a guy at work who's father passed.

    My current load with my 45/70 is the Lee 405 grain hollow base bullet over either 12gn of Trail Boss or 40gn of H4895 if I feel like getting beat up. The gun is a model 1873 trapdoor that I just assume is the weakest of the weak when I make my cartridges.

    The bullets are lubed with the alox/paste wax concoction that is posted on this site.

    So the idea is to fill the case with powder and place a milk carton cutout wad (or two) between the powder and bullet. Then compress the powder with the seating of the bullet.

    So the main questions are:

    1. Is this sane
    2. How much compression
    3. Is it okay to use the hollow base bullets.

    I'm not planning on making this a full time venture, just would like to use what I have to try it out and then probably love it and make it a full time venture. The point being, I don't want to have to buy a bunch of stuff if this is going to be a short time thing.

    I also plan on securing the gun to a lead sled and firing from a distance in case of catastrophe for the first couple cartridges. I did this for my first smokeless loads for it as well just in case since the gun is pretty old. So far there has been absolutely no issues with it at all. The gun functions great.

    So if I'm in above my head here let me know. I'd rather not do it than be dangerous. The knowledge base on this board is incredibly valuable and I'm sure many have once been in my position and have had just enough info to get themselves into trouble. I'm trying to avoid that bit if possible.

    Thanks in advance!
    need to drop the alox lube
    use 50%beeswax and 50% take yr pick - olive oil, tallow, neatsfoot oil, ----so long as its some kinda natural and the lube ends up workable consistency - dont put engine oil or transmission fluid in there - a quick search here will divulge at least a hundred different blackpowder lubes every one of which (according to the poster) is the ultimate best and superior to any other.....

    you can use a blackpowder lube for your smokeless loads but not smokeless lube for blackpowder so ya only gotta change this once

  11. #11
    To answer some of the points in the posts:

    The gun is the real deal and not a repllica.

    The bullets are cast from the range lead recovered by "The Captain" so it is fairly soft. However, everything I've cast has already been lubed with the alox/paste wax recipe. I could always cast more and lube properly. I have muffin tin ingots made from x-ray room lead which should be about as soft as it gets.

    I get the no air gap part, but just want to clarify a couple things:

    Wads or no wads? And is it ok just to have the minor .050-.100" bullet seating compression. Also with the hollow base, wont the powder just go into the base rather than give it much compression, and is that ok?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Big Mak View Post
    And my youngest son shooting the old trap door.

    Those are nice videos. I figure I have to feed the gun what it was intended at least once. I know it's a pain to have to clean the bore after every shot or two, but that's really all part of the fun. After reading a lot on this site it seems that the 2f is preferred, but 3f is what I have and it seems many have had success with it. I'm not looking to set any accuracy or performance records. I just want the bang and the cloud and to keep all my body parts so I can say I've done it and expand my reloading horizons.

    I feel like I did when I first started reloading. Don't have a clue. Read until you're blue. Then after many successful reloads I built the confidence to experiment a bit and now the hobby has a hold of me. If anything I err on the side of safety over performance with my loads (which is the right thing I'm sure) so I'm nervous about trying the black powder since it's a different animal completely.

    This site is a huge help. I didn't know about it at all when I first got into reloading over 10 years ago. It would have helped me a lot with some rookie mistakes.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Ozark mike's Avatar
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    My 2 cents is if ya got yore lube correct and enuf grease you wont have to swab the bore a grease cookie may help but probably not needed especially with a good bullet design. fffg goex is probably closer to real rifle powder of ye ole days jus like ffffg resembles true pistols powder from days gone by. look up hazard cartridge company for reference Last but not least you cannot get enuf black in that case to hurt that gun you are more likely to damage it with quick burning smokeless from double charges and unexplained phenomena. Out of all the powders i have used it has given the best accuracy with lowest spread in my guns
    Those who would trade freedom for safety deserves neither and will lose both

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom22 View Post
    To answer some of the points in the posts:

    The gun is the real deal and not a repllica.

    The bullets are cast from the range lead recovered by "The Captain" so it is fairly soft. However, everything I've cast has already been lubed with the alox/paste wax recipe. I could always cast more and lube properly. I have muffin tin ingots made from x-ray room lead which should be about as soft as it gets.

    I get the no air gap part, but just want to clarify a couple things:

    Wads or no wads? And is it ok just to have the minor .050-.100" bullet seating compression. Also with the hollow base, wont the powder just go into the base rather than give it much compression, and is that ok?
    i would ***NEVER*** fire off smokeless in that gun - that's major unsafe!!!

    i have an original remington rolling block in .45-70 and it gets black powder cartridges only. to use smokeless would border on suicide.

    no wads are needed for hollow base bullets.

    you will want to use BLACK POWDER lube, lots of formulas out there, or just buy SPG or any good commercial BP lube.

    patch wipe between shots (1 wet, 1 dry) and/or blow tube (7/16" neoprene tube from the hardware store).

    initially, do not at all be concerned about any compression, no air space tween bullet and powder charge, just build a dummy cartridge to figure out a proper OAL - enuf powder to seat the bullet on top of the powder, with no air space, a small amount of initial compression (.030" to .1" or so), let the bullet set the *slight* amount of compression so initially no need for a press mounted compression plug/die, and a slight taper crimp to hold the bullet in place for handling.

    good luck. be safe.
    The only government I trust is the .45-70 ....

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master


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    phantom22

    You're smokeless loads are safe to shoot in your TD if it's in good condition. Both loads mentioned generate TD level BP pressures and are below the SAAMI MAP [28,000 psi] for TD 45/70 loads. My regular smokeless TD load is 36 gr IMR4895 with a dacron filler under the Lee 405HB bullet. It runs at 22,400 psi as measured via my Oehler M43 PBL. Pressure testing 70 gr of Goex fffg and Superfine fffg under the lee 405 HB give 22 - 24000 psi +/-.

    You might check out my posts in this thread for BP loading for you TD, especially with Goex fffg; http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-and-Equipment
    Larry Gibson

    ďDeficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.Ē
    ― Nikola Tesla

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    In your trapdoor, once you get it working right, you won't need to clean between shots. A friend shoots one in competition and he basically duplicates the original loads. He doesn't blow tube or clean between shots. I think he might run a couple of patches through the bore between relays.

    Chris.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozark mike View Post
    My 2 cents is if ya got yore lube correct and enuf grease you wont have to swab the bore a grease cookie may help but probably not needed especially with a good bullet design. fffg goex is probably closer to real rifle powder of ye ole days jus like ffffg resembles true pistols powder from days gone by. look up hazard cartridge company for reference Last but not least you cannot get enuf black in that case to hurt that gun you are more likely to damage it with quick burning smokeless from double charges and unexplained phenomena. Out of all the powders i have used it has given the best accuracy with lowest spread in my guns
    What Mike sez here
    That LEE 405 HB is about as good as it gets for a blackpowder boolit, it hauls plenty of lube, you should be able to shoot a decent string without cleaning .

    If you wanna xperiment further with it you can take the tit off the base plug so it makes a flat base boolit and shoot it with a wad underneath - (LEE will sell you the spare part for peanuts - or used to)

    The 45/70 is about the easiest round of all to make blackpowder loads work in and you have picked an ideal boolit - gonna have some fun!!!!!

  18. #18
    I use a 405 Lyman plain base in my bp loads 1 card wad and the bullets are lined with a beeswax crisco and olive oil mix I got off here. I donít have anything finer than 2f but with 1.5 and 2 Iím loading somewhere between 50-60 grains with light compression of the powder. havenít done much testing with the load or the rifle but Iíve shot it enough to know my shoulder likes it more than my smokeless loads. Best of luck sounds like your on the right track with the bp, just make sure the case will be full when you have the bullet seated.


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  19. #19
    Thanks for all of the input. I'm going to look into lubing with a beeswax/oil combination and grease them up nicely. It's not to bad to have a reason to fire up the melting pot again.

    I'll probably end up swabbing after every shot at first until I get an idea of how much fouling I get. I'll report back once I finally get it done. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  20. #20
    One more question and I'm sure it's a black powder newbie question. Can you powder coat bullets for black powder cartridges or does the black powder react negatively with it?

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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