.45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

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lthardman
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.45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#1 Post by lthardman » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:59 pm

This has probably been discussed, but I searched and could not find it. So if this is a repeat I apologize.

I have a couple old Springfield Trapdoors (1873 and 1884) and a Winchester Hotchkiss (Model 1883) all chambered for .45-70. When they were made these rifles were obviously meant to use black powder cartridges. And so far, that is all I have used in them. While I reload smokeless cartridges, I have not ventured into reloading black powder. (I save my black powder for use in something a little bigger.)

My question: I have been told that modern smokeless ammunition marked .45-70 GOVERNMENT is safe to use in these old original military rifles. I'm told the GOVERNMENT designation means it has been loaded with the older Trapdoor design in mind. I have have always been reluctant to take that advice and continue to use black powder cartridges. It always seemed to me to be the safe choice. But as my stash of black powder cartridges is dwindling, and replacenpment prices are high, I thought I would try to get some opinions from some of the experts here. Would you use modern smokeless .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked ammunition in an original Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor or an original Winchester Hotchkiss Model 1883 bolt action rifle? Thanks in advance for your advice.
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JerryB
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#2 Post by JerryB » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:52 pm

Several years ago I had my sons 45-70 single shot while he was on deployment to Bosnia. It was the old H&R Shikari. A board member from Canada that collects old Winchesters had a Springfield 1874 trap door that he loaded for plus some high dollar 1886 45-70 rifle. He for them sent me the load data for his load. He used 5477 powder and 405 grain cast bullets with 24 grains of powder. This load runs about 1230 fps which is about the same as the original Gov. load. It is a very accurate load in my gun and not unpleasant to use. I hunted with that rifle and load but did not get a shot while I had it. Kirk has killed several big whitetails with it. Sixgun gave me a load of 11 grains of Unique with the same bullet for 1ooo,fps. it shot good too.
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M. M. Wright
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#3 Post by M. M. Wright » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:09 am

Not I. But then I enjoy loading ffg into my cases. I don't think the 45-70 Government head stamp guarantees a safe load for the trap door. I have 5 rifles currently which will fire the 45-70 and the simplest to load for is the rolling block. I just reprime the cases, drop tube almost a case full of ffg, seat a cardboard wad and hand seat a 300 grain bullet. It loves them and shoots great groups. You could easily do that for your trap door.
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Ray Newman
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#4 Post by Ray Newman » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:30 am

Commercial smokeless .45-70 ammunition made by Winchester, Federal, and Remington are loaded to Trapdoor/Black Powder pressures. I do not know of anyone who shoots the so-called "cowboy" .45-70 ammunition, so I have no idea if it is loaded to Trapdoor or Marlin and Winchester lever action rifle pressure limits.

The only problems are:

1-The Trapdoor barrels were made from a softer steel and continued/prolonged use of jacketed bullets will wear the barrel. I saw this happen to a Fellow Shooter's M1873 Infantry rifle.

2- Trapdoors barrels are known to have oversize bores, so jacketed bullets may not give as good accuracy as a soft lead bullet.
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hightime
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#5 Post by hightime » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:22 am

Great question!
No I don’t think the government stamp means a light enough load for trapdoor, although I am not aware of any factory loads on the market that are not made for trapdoor. Since I load for several 45-70 rifles, I need to mark very clearly the brass. A little v cut in the rim for light loads. The gov. stamp is not safe in my world.

.45colt
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#6 Post by .45colt » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:12 am

The Federal 300 grain jacked shoot 1850 fps in My Marlin with it's 22" barrel. I wouldn't be comfortable to shoot them in a gun made before 1900. The Lyman 49th edition has 10 loads in the section for the 1873 Springfield. Good Luck.

lthardman
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#7 Post by lthardman » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:41 pm

Thanks for the advice folks. I will take it all into consideration. I may just end up reloading my own BP cartridges though. Ray Newman's reply is very encouraging, but....
One measure of maturity is the realization that if you had to do it all over again, you'd probably make a lot of the the same mistakes again. They were fun, after all.

lthardman
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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#8 Post by lthardman » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:43 pm

Thanks for the advice folks. I will take it all into consideration. I may just end up reloading my own BP cartridges though. Ray Newman's reply is very encouraging, but I also agree with his cautions about jacketed bullets.
One measure of maturity is the realization that if you had to do it all over again, you'd probably make a lot of the the same mistakes again. They were fun, after all.

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Re: .45-70 GOVERNMENT marked Cartridges

#9 Post by Ysabel Kid » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:43 pm

Gary, the way I found this forum eons ago was researching loads for my .45-120 Sharps. I stumbled on Kirk D's recipe. He is a big fan of 5744, and I have become one too. I have loaded for the .45-70 with 5744, and it is pleasant to shoot, affordable, and comes real close to duplicating the pressure curve of black powder charges. That said, loading BP is not that much of a hassle. I made a drop tube stand several years back (an easy chore for you knowing your woodworking skills! :D ). Something to consider. The biggest factor to me is trying to keep the pressure curve close to the original. Speed doesn't translate neatly into the pressure curve; in other words, two rounds can end up with identical speeds and be vastly different pressures (or the way pressure builds).

I know for me, I wouldn't trust any "modern" (smokeless) round unless I loaded it - not in those trapdoors!
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