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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First Attempt at 45-70 BP Cartridges on my own equipment. Rick coached me through 30 rounds last week on his equipment.

I have powder coated and greased bullets that Rick gave me from a Lee 457-340-f mold that weigh out at 350gr. I'm using GOEX 2F powder. Cases are from 3 different manufacturers of unknown lots. Primers are Federal LR. Over cards are .025", .460"dia.

During the session at Rick's, we used the same components with 60gr of powder. In order to get powder compression we used a grease "cookie". The grease did a lot to keep the powder fouling at a minimum. But, I was hoping to not use the grease cookie and just add more powder, maybe 65gr or 70gr to get better compression.

Also, how important is a drop tube? I am making one out of 3/8 copper tubing. Until then, Rick and I were holding the case, with powder in it, against a vibratory brass polisher to settle the powder. It made a significant difference.

My plans are to load 3 seperate lots in the 3 brands of brass I have and shoot each brand lot separately to check consistency.

Any comments?
 

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The way I see it - there are 2 separate methods for loading black powder cartridges for .45-70 guns. When loading for the 'newer' style barrels (Sharps and Winchesters), bullet diameter to fit the bore is critical, as well as loading the powder charges to get custom accuracy from each individual weapon. Most of the newer style barrels had 4 groove rifling, while the older Springfield style used a 3 groove bore.

Compressed powder charges burn cleaner and more efficiently than non-compressed powder charges. Black powder charges require that there is zero airspace within the case. In any load, the powder level must at least be at the base of the bullet.

Bullets for the more modern barrels should be a little larger than the measured bore diameter, and bullets should be cast with a hard alloy. These harder alloy bullets can be crimped with a roll crimp and loaded much the same as your would modern cartridges.

For the older 'Springfield' trapdoor barrels, a different approach should be used. The bullets should be cast with a soft alloy with no zinc (only lead and tin) and while the accepted bore diameter is .457, bullets should be sized to .458 or .459. The use of soft alloy requires a taper crimp so that the bullet isn't damaged on firing.

Bullet diameter for the older barrels (.458 or .459) doesn't require much experimenting. The older barrels with the soft alloys allow for the bullet to expand to fit the bore on firing. Lighter bullets (such as the 405 grain) achieve the barrel fit via an expanding skirt at the bullet's base - pressure from the buring charge forces the skirt to flare out and seal the bore. Heavier bullets (like the 500 grain bullets) do not have and expanding skirt - but rely on the inertia of firing to slightly bulge the soft alloy bullet as it travels thru the bore to completely swell and seal the bore.

Powder charges for the older barrels are, of course, compressed. Lighter charges for the 'Carbine Load' is about 55 grains, then there are the standard rifle charges of about 70 grains. Originally, loads for the 55 grain Carbine Load and the Infantry Standard 70 grain charges were loaded to the same length. The lighter Cabrine charges used a filler wad to take up space within the case, but those wads caused accuracy problems with the wads sometimes getting stuck to the hollow base. This was eliminated in 1886 when the Carbine Loads began to be more deeply seated in the case for powder compression and the need for a filler wad ended. That was about the time that the 405 grain bullet ended for Infantry rifle use, and the standard rifle bullet was the 500 grain flat base bullet.

I believe Lee sells a "Compression Die" to compress the powder charge in .45-70 cases. I've never used a drop tube, as my loading is all Carbine loads with a 55 grain charge and 405 grain HB bullets, seated to M1886 specs. My charges are compressed during bullet seating. If you are loading for a Sharps or Winchester, a drop tube may be useful.

The last thing are primers. I modified my flash holes and use LR Magnum Rifle primers for ignition for black powder charges. This was done with information from J.S. Wolf's .45-70 "Original Rifle and Carbine Loading Data". Smokeless loads in the .45-70 I use Standard LR primers - for black powder I use Magnum LR primers for ignition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maybe I should hang it up today. I made a mistake today. I was priming brass and I picked up one and saw polishing media in the flash hole. I cleaned it out and continued to prime. But, the suspense got the better of me. Did I get all of the flash holes cleaned? I called myself checking before, but if I missed one, I could have missed more. So, with a light in my hand I rechecked 50 cases and found another. I got it out without damaging the primer. But it could have caused a misfire.

Attention to detail can never be overstated.
 

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Maybe I should hang it up today. I made a mistake today. I was priming brass and I picked up one and saw polishing media in the flash hole. I cleaned it out and continued to prime. But, the suspense got the better of me. Did I get all of the flash holes cleaned? I called myself checking before, but if I missed one, I could have missed more. So, with a light in my hand I rechecked 50 cases and found another. I got it out without damaging the primer. But it could have caused a misfire.

Attention to detail can never be overstated.
One way to fix that problem is to tumble your brass before you resize/deprime. If you are doing wet tumbling with SS pins, that would not be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry for the 'wordy' response, but there is a lot of area to cover.
Tell me about it!. I've read a lot the last few weeks and it can be overwhelming. My goal at the moment is safe bullets that will be minute of deer kill shots or better. I've got a lot to do to worry about tight target groups.

During this first session, I plan to weight every powder charge and to trickle to exact weight for now. Then I will try to make sure every charge is compressed as uniform as possible by holding the case against vibratory polisher. Then measure depth to overcard to make sure the bullet will compress the powder with no air space.

BTW, the copper tubing I have is 1/2". Is that too large for a drop tube?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One way to fix that problem is to tumble your brass before you resize/deprime. If you are doing wet tumbling with SS pins, that would not be a problem.
George, I have done it that way before. I do it after resizing to remove the lube. I just need to check behind myself better.
 

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Are you planning to use a compression die or use the bullet to compress?

I use a Montana Precision Swaging 45 compression die. The bullet compression is a max of .05 because the compression die does the other .150"

My drop tube is 32" high and it makes a huge difference. Drop it in slowly...not all at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'll have to use the bullet. I don't have a compression die. This is my first 45-70.
 

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I use a Lyman M die as a compression die, if I remember correctly I removed the expander and just use the stem.
The expander unscrews, than you have to fill the original screw hole in the stem. Maybe not necessary if you use over powder wads.
 

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I use a drop tube of 24 inches and dribble it slow like Mak described but, doing it the way you and Rick did with the vibrator/tumbler works just as good in my experience. The thing is to remove air space and have the powder settled where it won't settle anymore during handling, it just has to be consistent.

Using that short of a bullet it's my opinion you will have to increase your powder charge to bring the column up to height. I have found that to be the seating depth of the bullet plus 1/10 to 1/8 in. That will be your compression. I have never used a compression die in close to 40 years of shooting BP cartridges. The 1/8 to 1/10 compression can be done with the softest bullets with no deformation. As far as a grease cookie, I'd rather increase the powder charge as resort to a cookie in the 45-70 case. There is such a thing as too much lube. On the other hand...that little short bullet might not carry enough lube. I've never used anything lighter than 420 grs. in any of the 45's I've worked with. They carry plenty of lube for the 45-70 case. If in doubt, check your muzzle. There should be a good lube star if there's enough lube. Also, if there isn't enough lube, when you clean the rifle, toward the muzzle the fouling will become hard and crunchy. Accuracy will also tell you.

As your cases are different your powder column height is probably going to be different. Segregate your cases.

I wouldn't start over because of some bits of tumbling media in the flash hole. BP WILL ignite. I've always used Federal 215 Magnum Rifle primers with excellent results. The argument over hot or mild primers has been going on since the invention of percussion caps. Is one better than the other? I honestly don't know. I started with Federal 215's and as they work so well I'm reluctant to change. I might have to if I get to shooting much BPC Rifle. I'm about out of 215's.

I have never found exact weights of the BP charge necessary. One can weigh a charge after determining the correct height which makes duplicating the charge easier. With different cases it's going to be a different height anyway. I am convinced powder column height, which will give consistent compression, is more important than the actual weight of the charge.

Your wads should be fine as long as they're consistent.

Those are my thoughts, Don.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Vic.

You and Jim Brady both mentioned LRM primers. I have several hundred and I plan to use them in the next batch. I've read good things about them. I started with the LR last week and decided to finish off the 100 pack I opened then.

This is going to be interesting!
 

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Glad you are using the magnum primers. Just finished reading Mike Venturino's and Steve Garbe's section on magnum primers, in their testing they stated the magnums work best with black powder and achieved much smaller shot groups with them at 200 yards. I still have not loaded black powder ...yet, I have several pounds of 5744 and large primers and once I'm done with the smokeless I may develop the courage to dive in to the dark side.
 
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Steve Garbe lives just 20 miles from here and goes to the same range as we do. I hope to run into him one day.

Their book is my BP bible for my Sharps and Springfield.

I'll document with video my next Venturino loads next time I make a batch up.

Might be next year though...I was all over the country this past 2021 summer...only shot 50 out of 200 I had hand loaded in 2020!
 

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Steve Garbe lives just 20 miles from here and goes to the same range as we do. I hope to run into him one day.
You are lucky! Would be nice if you would get a chance to pick his brain.
 

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I can't remember , what rifle are you loading for ? Can't add anything that ain't been already said really . Like most I have a drop tube . Can't remember exact size but use it sometimes and others times got a wooden loading tray I made that I made the holes kind of deep and I will strap to my vibrating and both work . Think most of us have found one time or another some cleaning media in the case or primer pocket if you remove the primer before . Have fun !
 
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