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  1. #1
    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    First Time Out With My Trapdoor

    Ok so this is nothing to shout about however there are a boatload of excuses I can attach to it. Front sight is way too low and a wrong middle band doesn't let the Buffington lay down all the way. Over 60 year old eyes and a 130 year old Buffington sight! Ammo I didn't load myself ect ect ect.

    This is my first time using a rifle of this type and I have to admidt it was a lot of fun. My brother was at the next bench with his AR and we had a laugh about the huge technology gap in the century between the 2 different service rifle types. This 8 round group was all I could do during a single range session. My brother did 5 magazines.

    Obviously the big holes are the trapdoor and the orange spot I added to the bottom was my point of aim. There's a lot of potential in this huge boomstick and I will develop it over time. I had a lot of fun and that was the point of this exercise.
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    Last edited by oldfoneguy; 05-06-2022 at 12:21 AM.

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  4. #2
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    No, it looks good. Lots there to work with and the bore was stellar. Once you start loading and get the bugs out it'll be fine.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member steveu's Avatar
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    What size are the bullets/alloy? If you want to get the best accuracy out of that rifle you will have to get some .461-.462" bullets. A chamber cast will tell you what you need.

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    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    The bullets are a 405gr .460 diameter hard cast of unknown alloy with a semi wadcutter profile. I've slugged the barrel and found .464 grooves and .454 lands. I know that there are better bullets but these came with the rifle and there are nearly 400 of them so from an economic standpoint I'll be using these for a while. It also came with some 350gr but I don't think I'll be using those as I have read accuracy falls off as the weight goes down. I didn't load these rounds so I can't vouch for their consistency. I weighed them and only used the middle average ones but none were the exact same weight. I believe they were charged with a Lee dipper and not a scale as that was part of the die set that came with it.

    Once I get the small issues with the rifle completed I'll concentrate on the loads. Even with an undersized bullet I should be able to tighten the grouping some. I'll start hinting now about the bullets I want for my birthday.

  9. #5
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldfoneguy View Post
    It also came with some 350gr
    The word used to be that the 350s were the bullets to hunt with, I did use them with no ill effects for accuracy in "3 Ruger, '86 Winchester but I was shooting at closer rangers. Not even 100 yds...I also used some 405 cast and they worked well on white tails. Again, not black powder and mostly '86 Winchester for white tail.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    I'll never use this huge thing to hunt with Jim. I have my Savage 99 and a Winchester 94 as backup whenever I head out to the woods. There's no doubt 45-70 will stop most anything that moves on this continent but this trapdoors 32-1/2 inch barrel is the size of my hunting rifles. As a range toy ok as a hunting rifle it's real easy to do better.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    I'll give you the highlights of Spencer and Pat Wolf's reasearch...https://www.amazon.com/Loading-cartr.../dp/157579019X

    1) I would highly recommend ordering the book. Pat sells it on amazon marketplace at the link above. She included a very nice personalized note to me...a stranger... on the inside cover when I bought the book with my first trapdoor.

    2) soft cast bullets, 20:1 or 30:1 are key to expanding to engage the rather deep rifling. Hard cast, and especially copper jackets, will ruin your barrel over time. The copper jackets in 50-100 rds accuracy will greatly fall off with the extensive throat erosion they cause.

    3) slug your bore and measure before you select bullet diameter. Original bullets were .458, soft cast.

    4) Original bullet shape, 405gr hollow base or 500gr shoot best...again soft lead. I'm not set up for casting (yet), and don't shoot mine too often, so I buy bullets from buffalo arms, a few hundred a year. https://www.buffaloarms.com/458-405-...-458405hb.html
    They also sell these sized to other diameters. Again, slug your bore. You don't have to go over groove diameter. The trapdoor springfield groove spec 3 grooves @ .458. (of course there was a range of tolerances in manufacturing) The Wolfs' research showed the original hollow base .458 projectiles were the key to accuracy, the hollow base expanding to fully engage the deep grooves. Likewise, the 500gr flat base were heavy enough, and soft enough for the chamber pressure to squish the base into the rifling.

    5) Be careful hand loading. if going black powder, you have to compress the charge first. Keep loads at or under the original muzzle velocities. I use smokeless loads. The big Lee manual has plenty of data for a variety of bullet weights and a long list of powders. Lyman cast manual is a good reference too. The Wolfs' have load data, but their smokeless powder of choice isn't available anymore, hasn't been for several years.

    Lastly, I greatly improved my shooting at 100yds by fitting a front sight blade from SS firearms, doing some math and filing it down to the height/shape I wanted. I keep the original blade in the buttstock.

  13. #8
    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    Wow you read my mind on many points. As previously mentioned I did slug the barrel and found .464 in the grooves and .454 from the lands and yes 3 groove rifling is a pain to measure correctly. 130 years can provide wear but manufacturing tolerances also weren't what they are today.

    I can't speak of how it was used in the past but I would never use a jacketed bullet in this bore. Original loading of 70grs black powder and the 405gr slug devolped 1350fps and the 500gr devolped 1300 with the same charge so right there is what I'm aiming for and I'll be using the chronograph for confirmation. Without knowing it apparently I have many of the smokeless powders recommended for 45-70 loading so I will be doing lots of experimentation. Someday I'll load some black powder rounds for effect and wow factor but that's off in the future after all is said and done with the rifle.

    I've ordered and received the missing ramrod bayonet from S&S and plan another order this week that does include the tall front sight and pin. I also have some parts to order from classic firearms and parts in New Hampshire. Now if only my eyes were 20 years younger I could really see that tiny Buffington rear sight.

    If you check out the thread "srs check on possible trapdoor purchase" in Other US Service Rifles rifles I've included many pictures including the bore I'm working with and yes I did purchase the rifle!
    Last edited by oldfoneguy; 05-07-2022 at 10:31 PM.

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  15. #9
    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    2nd Range Trip 5/13

    So I got back to the range today with the trapdoor only this time the majority of the rounds were mine. I'm kind of a perfectionist when I load anything, charges weighed to the granule, cases uniform length, primer pockets and flash holes uniformed. You can see in the box I have them segregated by headstamp. Had both W-W and R-P cases.

    The bullets were 300gr flat noses that came with the rifle. The Hodgon starting load for this bullet and H4198 powder is 30grs with a wad and CCI 200 primers. Used an extremely light crimp with the Lee factory crimp die. They are claimed to be 1390fps at 14,400 cup. Nice and mild on the shoulder and the rifle. Followed that recipe and got these results.

    Still shooting much higher than expected. First shot was a dead center in the dot above when aiming 6 o'clock on the large dot. Moved down to 6 o'clock on the bottom dot and did what you see here. I need to figure out why i pull this rifle to the right so often. 12 shots total of my ammo, it was a rather abbreviated range trip today. I added reference dots for my point of aim.

    The 5 shots in the black circle were the 405gr rounds that came with the rifle. Those are not very precise. Same hold, same point of aim. It did become obvious to me by using those rounds that the rear sight did drop some with the correct middle band relieved for the Buffington sight. I'll just shoot those rounds with no hope of good grouping just to empty the cases so I can load them myself.
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    Last edited by oldfoneguy; 05-13-2022 at 05:50 PM.

  16. #10
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Different profile of bullet than I ever used but your groups look fine. At least on the right road.
    Regards, Jim

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