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  1. #1
    Contributing Member MAC702's Avatar
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    1863 US Springfield rifle

    Just acquired my first muzzleloader, but it was a moral imperative, as I had every US cartridge service rifle example back through the Trapdoor.

    What's the best source for what I need to know on this rifle and the components to shoot it? Looks like I need .54 Minie bullets?

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    A Collector's View - The SMLE Short Magazine Lee Enfield 1903-1989. It is 300 8.5x11 inch pages with 1,000+ photo’s, most in color, and each book is serial-numbered.  Covering the SMLE from 1903 to the end of production in India in 1989 it looks at how each model differs and manufacturer differences from a collecting point of view along with the major accessories that could be attached to the rifle. For the record this is not a moneymaker, I hope just to break even, eventually, at $80/book plus shipping.  In the USA shipping is $5.00 for media mail.  I will accept PayPal, Zelle, MO and good old checks (and cash if you want to stop by for a tour!).  CLICK BANNER to send me a PM for International pricing and shipping. Manufacturer of various vintage rifle scopes for the 1903 such as our M73G4 (reproduction of the Weaver 330C) and Malcolm 8X Gen II (Unertl reproduction). Several of our scopes are used in the CMP Vintage Sniper competition on top of 1903 rifles. Brian Dick ... BDL Ltd. - Specializing in British and Commonwealth weapons Specializing in premium ammunition and reloading components. Your source for the finest in High Power Competition Gear. Here at T-bones Shipwrighting we specialise in vintage service rifle: re-barrelling, bedding, repairs, modifications and accurizing. We also provide importation services for firearms, parts and weapons, for both private or commercial businesses.
     

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    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    The US Springfield Rifiled Musket is .58 caliber. If it's an original I wouldn't shoot a 160 year old rifle speaking for myself. There are tons of reproductions on the market to serve as toys, an original is a piece of history and should be preserved as such.

    On May 6th there was a Civil War Encampment in the town park walking distance from my house. 2 companies of militia mustered out near here in 1862 and it's been celebrated for years. Speaking to many of the reenactors they all have original Civil War collections but only use reproductions outside of their homes.

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    Contributing Member MAC702's Avatar
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    I shoot my 1873 Trapdoor rifle often. Is there something about the extra ten years, or is it the blackpowder that makes it dangerous? I would think the muzzleloading design would be way stronger than the Trapdoor.

    Thank you on the caliber correction. Now I don't remember where I read .54 caliber. Looks like I need .58 caliber stuff. I'll start looking.

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    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    I shoot my trapdoor as well not as often as the rest of the stable but several times a year. To me it's there are way more variables to go wrong with a muzzle loader than a cartridge firearm. Indeed modern black powder and it's substitutes even the percussion caps are more powerful than they were when that rifle was in service. A simple mistake in loading can be catastrophic and that old veteran deserves better.
    As an example I load my 45-70 rounds with Hodgdon 777 FF bp substitute which works excellent. However it's more powerful than black powder and requires reduced loads. I load 60gr in the 45-70 which gives the power and velocity of 70gr BP. You must also ensure that all components especially the stock are in condition for shooting. To have that old warhorses stock splinter at the range would be a crime. Of course it's yours so do what you want. I'm giving you the advice I've given my own family regarding shooting antiques but do with it as you please.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldfoneguy View Post
    A simple mistake in loading can be catastrophic
    I think this is exactly the point - but true of shooting any firearm. Where is that video of the guy's brand new springfield M1Aicon that blew up in his face first time at the range? The firearm has no idea how old it is. Age only increases the chances of wear to a point outside serviceability. Carefully inspect all components are serviceable, and load with caution, starting at minimum safe levels. Shooting it has all the same concerns as any other firearm - make sure there are no cracks in the stock, bulges in the barrel, excessive pitting, active rust or obstructions in the bore, etc. Use proper projectiles - soft cast (20:1 or 30:1).

    Quote Originally Posted by oldfoneguy View Post
    To have that old warhorses stock splinter at the range would be a crime.
    Most certainly, but not necessarily just because of age. These old rifles and muskets were designed with stocks bedded their entire length, and even when brand new they were they brittle as a twig by design - until the whole assembly is properly mounted and clamped together. The full-length-bedded designs persisted all the way through the Krags and into the early 1903's. By the time of 1903 production, Springfield had learned a thing or two experimentally about bedding and how it affects accuracy. Lots to read about early practical understanding of barrel harmonics with the 1903 and the resulting bedding procedures - Hatcher's notebook has the details.
    My point is, when considering shooting an old rifle, be sure to check for any loose fitting from age - from shrinkage of the wood over the years or possibly from fibers soaked with oils (lubricant, not finishing oils) that have deteriorated as a result. The forces from firing a loose gun will exploit the weakness of the design and ruin your stock. You can remedy to an extent (before firing!) with careful shimming to make all tight again as it should be. Other than these issues, or maybe the other oddities of fire or water exposure/damage, the wood doesn't know how old it is either.

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    Legacy Member Torpedo's Avatar
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    I shoot my Springfields.

    I have an example of every standard issue Springfield service arm going back to the model 1816 flintlock and I shoot them all occasionally.
    Not reproductions.
    That said, each one gets a thorough cleaning and detailed inspection prior to firing it, this includes a dye-penetrant inspection of the barrel.
    50 to 55 grains of FFg black powder in these .58 or .69 caliber tubes is a fairly low-pressure load and it would be a mistake to assume that age alone makes them unsafe.
    The guys at Springfield knew a thing or two about manufacturing and good quality steel, in fact, they invented the game!
    You will need some .58 cal. Minie Balls and some musket caps.
    I would recommend a new stainless nipple as well along with some bullet lube.
    These are all available from a variety of sources.
    If you take your time, do some research and use your head an antique musket can be shot and enjoyed safely.
    Mine will easily reach out and hit a man-sized target at 300 yards.

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    Contributing Member MAC702's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedo View Post
    You will need some .58 cal. Minie Balls and some musket caps.
    I would recommend a new stainless nipple as well along with some bullet lube.
    These are all available from a variety of sources.
    I don't do any black power muzzleloading at all, yet. What would be a couple trustworthy sources for these items?

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    Legacy Member Torpedo's Avatar
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    Forum etiquette?

    Is the board OK with me mentioning specific businesses or products?
    Or, do I need to keep things kind of "generic"?
    I certainly don't want to sound like I'm advertising for someone.

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    Legacy Member oldfoneguy's Avatar
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    I think it should be OK. I have some posts discussing specific items being sold by specific sellers. As long as you're not the CEO of said business it should be fine. Other options may differ.

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    Legacy Member Torpedo's Avatar
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    For starters try...

    S & S Firearms, Glendale NY. and The Log Cabin Shop, Lodi OH.
    I can also tell you some specific items and where I get them but I don't have that information in front of me right now, will have to wait a day or two.
    The tough part for all of us is a reliable source for Black Powder, my last GOEX FFg came from the Log Cabin Shop which I am lucky enough to be within driving distance of.

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