Author Topic: BP long guns  (Read 11683 times)

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Offline Battis

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BP long guns
« on: February 24, 2013, 02:55:09 PM »
I've been gathering a few BP rifles in the past year or so.  So far I have...
Springfield 1868 Trapdoor 50-70
Gallagher .54 (Erma repro)
double barrel SXS percussion 10 ga
Belgian .50 muzzle loader (relined)
Hawkins .50 (kit gun)
I recently looked at a 45-70 trapdoor that had been cut down to a carbine.  Anyone shoot one of these shorter guns?  It looks like a good shooter.
I'm also looking at a Swiss Vetterli .41 (black powder round) that's now a rimfire but I'll convert it to center fire.  Any experience with these?
The beauty of these guns is the low prices.  Finding brass for the 50-70 is tough, and the Gallagher brass is pricey, but they're alot of fun.

Offline Tom-ADC

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 03:35:15 PM »
I usually recommend Starline for brass, but wow that 50-70 stuff is pricey!
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Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 03:55:55 PM »
I bought 25 50-70 cases when I got the gun, but then the supply dried up.  Starline won't be making any 50-70 until the spring and no one has it.  But I got lucky at a gunshow in NH last month and found a seller with all kinds of brass.  I bought 50 of the 50-70 (about $1.25 each).  75 cases should last me a long time.  I've learned that if you heat treat them (anneal) every 5 or 6 shots, they'll last a long time.
I bought 10 Gallagher brass cases for $2.50 each.  The beauty of the Gallagher rounds is that you don't need dies or a press- you can load them at the range.  Pour the powder in, hand-press a bullet in, and you're off.  Ignition is by a musket cap on a nipple.  I use .535 roundballs in the cases - I don't have a Gallagher bullet mold yet.
The Swiss Vetterli is an interesting black powder rifle (alot of shooters today use smokeless but I like BP).  It has a 13 round tubular magazine.  But they haven't made the 11mm rimfire ammo since the 1930s so you gotta convert it to centerfire and make your own .41 rounds from 348 Winchester brass.  I might be over my head with that rifle (but it's cheap to buy).
The 45-70 carbine looks pretty good, but I wonder what the kick would be like in the smaller rifle.. 
http://www.ktpguns.com/firearm.php?gid=163939&manufacturer=any&caliber=45-70+GOVT&action=any&model=any&sort=Manufacturer&sortdir=asc&searchdata=&SeeAll=

Offline Hawg

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 04:46:38 PM »
I had an original trapdoor carbine. Kick is a little more than a 30-30 but not bad at all.
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Offline Len

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 09:35:27 AM »
I just got me an original Smith carbine, .50. Trying to get acquainted to it. Had it dismantled today for a total overhaul and managed to put it all together. Have turned out a mould for .520 Miniés and got a good result casting. Next job is turning out some brass and plastic cartridges. For the plastic I will use Deldrin (trademark for a black nylon kind used for gear wheels and such). Will report back as soon as I get down to shooting it.

Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 11:52:12 AM »
Did you make the mold?

Offline Len

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2013, 12:57:26 PM »
Did you make the mold?

I'm afraid so. I'm a DIY-maniac. No cure for it. By the way, didn't you have a spring problem?

Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2013, 01:31:53 PM »
Yeah, I need a spring for a Bacon .31 but, like alot of things, it's on hold.
Here's a mold question - the Gallagher shoots .54 bullets.  I use .535 roundballs in the case and that works fine.  But I want to make a mold for the .54 bullet (I can buy one for $110 plus shipping for a single cavity).
So, the Gallagher bullet goes from .515 at the base (inside the case for 1/4" or so) up to .540.  I was thinking of buying a .54 bullet mold and reducing the base by using a spacer of some kind.  Would that work?

Nice job on that mold.

Offline Len

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 01:58:00 PM »
Yeah, I need a spring for a Bacon .31 but, like alot of things, it's on hold.
Here's a mold question - the Gallagher shoots .54 bullets.  I use .535 roundballs in the case and that works fine.  But I want to make a mold for the .54 bullet (I can buy one for $110 plus shipping for a single cavity).
So, the Gallagher bullet goes from .515 at the base (inside the case for 1/4" or so) up to .540.  I was thinking of buying a .54 bullet mold and reducing the base by using a spacer of some kind.  Would that work?

Nice job on that mold.

If I get you right the bullet should be wider in the front end? In that case, I think it better to buy a mold for the back end diameter and widen the front with a Dremel tool. It's always easier to widen than to reduce. Remember that you'll need a shrinking allowance for the lead at 1.5%, so the mold base dia should be .523 and the front mold dia .548. And if there are some uneven measures to the dia the barrel will take care of that as long as you use pure lead.

Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2013, 02:20:16 PM »
The Gallagher cases and the 50-70 cases are exactly the same inside diameter.  A 50-70 .515 bullet fits perfectly into the Gallagher case, but it's not wide enough (.540) for the barrel.  I tried bumping up the body of the .515 to .540 by heating the tip of the .515 and forcing it into the .535 roundball mold, but...no luck.
I bought a foot long length of brass tube that is exactly the same size diameter as the 50-70 case, inside and out.  I was thinking of cutting a 1/4" collar or spacer and putting it in a .54 mold to reduce the neck of the cast bullet. 
I agree that expanding the body of the bullet in a .515 mold makes sense but I don't have skills, knowledge, tools, etc.

Offline Len

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 02:34:33 PM »
Hi  Battis,
I think that a Dremel is a prerequisite for a BP guy. Get one and start learning by trial and error, you'll get the knack in no time at all.
As for a mold, I'll send you a personal message.

Offline mazo kid

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2013, 02:42:40 PM »
......I'm also looking at a Swiss Vetterli .41 (black powder round) that's now a rimfire but I'll convert it to center fire.  Any experience with these?
The beauty of these guns is the low prices.  Finding brass for the 50-70 is tough, and the Gallagher brass is pricey, but they're alot of fun.

I have made 41 Swiss from 348 win. by shortening the brass and forming in a 44 mag die that I modified by grinding a bigger radius in to neck it down. Also have some 8mm Lebel brass that I have blown out and then shortened. Look at www.swissrifles.com for lots of ideas in the Vetterli forum. I also make 50-70 brass from the 348 Win. brass; the rim can be a bit small in some rifles for the extractor to grab, though I haven't had a problem.

Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2013, 03:04:14 PM »
I just picked up the Vetterli today and also bought a bag of 348 Winchester brass.  Track of the Wolf sells .41 Swiss dies. 
The Swiss rifles forum is really good - I just disassembled the bolt with info from that forum.
Did you do the conversion to CF yourself?
What size bullets do you use? (I gotta slug the bore).
I think I might use black powder instead of smokeless.
Big gun.

Offline mazo kid

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2013, 07:58:49 PM »
Yes, I did the CF conversion, not very difficult. What I intend to do is make the actual pin part of the long firing pin so it will automatically retract on opening the bolt. I use a Lee 429- 310 mold, also have the group buy mold but haven't cast with it yet.

Offline Battis

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Re: BP long guns
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2013, 09:43:57 PM »
I'll check out that mold.  What about powder - do you use BP or smokeless?  It seems that these rifles came along during the black powder to smokeless powder period.