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SSShooter
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H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Feb 1st, 2011 at 9:14am
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Am looking for a rifle to shoot my club's our 2011 BPCR 600yd events: 
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and am wondering about the H&R Trapdoor rifles, which were made in the '70s. Are they a decent rifle? There are several availabe on the internet and I've always thought it would be nice to own a Trapdoor.
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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John in PA
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #1 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 9:26am
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Frankly, an original trapdoor rifle with buffington sights in fine mechanical and bore condition would be a better choice if you're wanting a trapdoor.  The H&R Officer's Model is a bit too light, rear sight is mounted on the wood rather than the action, and has no graduations for windage or elevation.  You could get around that with a vernier caliper checking adjustments, but might be annoying.  The H&R's are nice to own and shoot, but maybe not for match purposes.
  

John Wells
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #2 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 10:07am
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My only problem with an original Trapdoor is knowing that I bought a good one. Can you recommend a 'Trapdoor knowledgeable' person who would check out and give a 'clean bill-of-health' to an original if I purchased? Could that be you?
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #3 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:20pm
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I'm knowledgeable about trapdoors, plus have both of Frasca's books, and the Poyer and Reisch book to refer to if needed. Also more than willing to help out a friend.  Spence Wolf's book on shooting trapdoors probably gives the best info on shooting original military loads in the trapdoors and details on what to look for in a shooter. 

The issue I guess will be one of geography. Are you near Altoona/Hollidaysburg PA?  Otherwise, it might be a challenge getting together.
  

John Wells
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #4 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 1:46pm
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There is always the option the option of buying a receiver, block, lock, etc. and putting together a "parts gun" with a new manufactured barrel.  I am going this route with one I'm building up for BPCR in the not so distant future and can tell you vtigunparts.com can sell you a pedersoli lock and set trigger assembly for not a ton of money, and it'll go into a treebone pistolgrip stock that shoots very well offhand.

I might add that a Sharps action with DST can be had from Dixie gun works rather inexpensively and would make a superb BPCR silhouette gun.
  

I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #5 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 3:52pm
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What is Treebone asking for a 90% stock in standard grade wood?
And, yes....... I certainly would not mind ending up with something like this.
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #6 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 4:02pm
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I had one 20 years ago and used it in 200 yard offhand matches. Recoil was the problem, as finished the H&R officers models are 7 lb guns stocked for offhand shooting only and have a rear sight that is no much use for match shooting.

Stick with Origional Trapdoors is my advice.

Boats
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #7 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 4:52pm
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I have an H & R Officers model and I use a lace on recoil pad and have replaced the rear sight with a more positive one. If you limit yourselfe to BP and cast bullets I would go for an original. I think the H & R will hold up better with the modern powders and bullets.  If I were capable my gun would be competitive. It is capable of as much acuracy as anything else I have in BP. I realy like the treebone stock pattern. Have you looked at any of the repro highwalls?
Tom
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #8 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 5:23pm
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those early H& R trapdoors looked nice but have seen a couple them that upon firing they self ejected the spent case.  very unnerving to see that big piece of metal fly open in front of your eyes
bill
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #9 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 5:36pm
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I have to disagree with screwloose. The originals are way better made than the repros.
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #10 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 7:06pm
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Mine worked good no problems with the the lock up you often hear about but overall the gun was not real shootable. Orgional Officers models were built to be hunting rifles. One shot every so often. Shoot a 40 shot match with one you will wish you had a full rifle Origional.

Buffington sight is way better than the 10 dollar sight on the H&R's  I see one unfired on Cherrys sight 1000 bucks. 600 buys a real nice Trapdoor all day long

Boats
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #11 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 7:32pm
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Thanks for all the input. I've purchased an original 1884 in reasonable condition for $650, which seems to be about the going rate on these. Agreement is I can return for any reason after being checked out by a gunsmith. I can stand shooting the 45-70 for the two matches we hae this season. I'll also try to find a good complete Trapdoor action in the meantime so can start on my Treebone style build. Will build it in 38-55, 38-56 or 40-65 for 600yd. Any opinions? That gun sure is good looking.
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #12 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 7:58pm
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That "Treebone-style" is actually a Marksman's Rifle (or copy).  It is the Holy Grail of trapdoors.  From Frasca's website:


"Marksman  Rifle
NRA Very Good = $35,000
NRA Excellent = $50,000

Only nine Marksman rifles were produced as prizes for the Army marksmanship program. However, the winners preferred medals rather than rifles, so the Marksman rifle was discontinued after the first group of nine were awarded.

The arm is heavily engraved and features a peep sight and hooded/ bubbled front sight. The rear barrel sight is stamped, "M.R." to denote it as a marksman calibrated rear sight. The rifle is the only trapdoor rifle that Springfield made with an integral pistol grip in the burl walnut stock. The silver plate at the base of the pistol grip was to be engraved with the name of the winner.

Today these arms are very hard to find. Most reside in museums or old collections. Because of their rarity, they are quite valuable."



The amazing thing to me is that they were the Second Prize in the matches, not First, and the shooters who won them wished they had a medal instead!!!  I would love to know the whereabouts of an original just to be able to handle it (and drool a bit, maybe!)  
  

John Wells
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #13 - Feb 1st, 2011 at 9:39pm
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For 600yd I'd stick with either a 38-55, 45-70 or 50-70.  Don't underestimate the Pedersolli parts, those set triggers are nice.  And not having ot cut a noriginal tumbler is a plus.
  

I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #14 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 2:14am
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C Sharps will sell you a double ste triiger assembly for about 200, and way better quality than the Italian crap. Plus with the Euro being up those parts from overthere are getting pricey.
Mike
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #15 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 12:29pm
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Told ya I was back. The original H&R and the newer Italian repo's have a lot of issues as  far as I am concerned. The primary one being the auto-eject feaure some, not all, but many have. An original breech block (trapdoor) can be made to fit,cuz I've done it and put the pix here a while ago. I am totally in agreement with an original. Unless the bore is totaly erroded, most will shoot very well. I'll help anybody I can. 

Dick
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #16 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 3:18pm
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trapdoor Dick wrote on Feb 2nd, 2011 at 12:29pm:
I'll help anybody I can. 
Dick
Can you hook me up with a nice, complete 1884 rifle with an excellent bore for not much money? Would really appreciate your doing so. PM me if you have something to offer. I would also be interested in a complete action without a barrel or stock, if you have a nice one of those.
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #17 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 5:41pm
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I agree with Dick, the H & R are not all that well made. Several years ago several folks did a study ont trapdoor strengths and were really suprised. They rebarrled one in severalk calibers, including the 30-40. the 30-06, 270, 243, 38-55 all the way up to the mag calibers. The barrel finaly flew off with a 300 H & H if I remember correctly. The door stayed closed on all others. It is a simple design but strong. When the barrel left I think it took the threads off the barrel not the reciever.
Mike
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #18 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 6:30pm
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Mike
I'm not buying the threads on the barrel failing and coming out of the receiver if it were tight to begin with. Had a gunsmith friend years ago who welded Arisaka barrels shut to show the strength of the jap receivers and the barrels always split. I think the receiver has to fail for the barrel to come loose. I agree the TD receivers are stronger than believed Im just not buying stripped threads as a failure. I read that thread also it sounded like a story to me. I also think modern heat treated aloys are stronger than originals.
Tom
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #19 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 8:49pm
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Mikes comment on the barel tests is 100% correct. I have the test details.  In some other tests. it took twice the load that grenaded a RB and injured the shooter.  to seperate the breech block from the receiver on a TD. Only shooter damage was a pants change. Guys, there's a lot of myths out there about TD's strength, but just for a reminder, the army actually made some in 30-40 Krag, when they were short on Krag's. Never was a problem and these were smokeless loads. 

Oh, on the 1884 action. Yes I've got a few, but these are kinda reserved for custom projects, maybe another Scheutzen. Give Red Dougherty a call at 260-833-2315. I get a LOT of parts from him and he is first rate and VERY fair with pricing. Telll him I sent you. Might even help a little.

Dick
  

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb. - Benjamin Franklin
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #20 - Feb 2nd, 2011 at 9:25pm
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Dick 
Do you have the details of the barrel threads stripping and no damage to the receiver. I still find this hard to believe.
Tom
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #21 - Feb 3rd, 2011 at 1:11am
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Hi, to understand why a barrel would loose it threads before the reciever is a metalurgy probelm. Which steel might you suppose is a  higher tensile strength, the barrel steel or a heat treated reciever? I would say the reciever every time. Now I'll show my age, I actualy talked to a person involved in the test I mentioned. It really suprised me until he explained about the metal hardness differance between the 2 types of steel, 1 heat treated and one plain. If you think along those lines I hope you can see why this is so. And yes Dick is Dead on. A roller will eat you alive if overloaded. I have seen the postmortem pictures of a dude that lost his brain in overloading a RB and it is not pretty.  I have seen others severly injured from there own stupity or a mechanical failure which most but not all can be traced to bad hand loads, or improper heat treating. But to this day I have never ever witnessed a failure that involved a Real Springfiled Armory Trapdoor. Even the old 50-70 models are safe. The last batch of the model 1888 trapdoors were some of the finest rifles ever produced and of real nice fit and finish with all of the refinements that were ever incorperated into the Trapdoor rifle.
The first trapdoors that were the Allen conversions are not even close to the later quality that was achived. If you ever get a chance read just how the armory tested these things, things such as load a primed casing, dump in 300 grain of FFFG or more and load several slugs ontop of this mess and pull the trigger with a lanyard from a distance. In some trails for different designs they actual loaded them up to the point of failure if they could get them to fail. Several models refused to fail including the Peabody sidehammer- My favorite and the trapdoor Springtfield.  Sorry if I rattled on here a bit much
Mike
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #22 - Feb 3rd, 2011 at 8:30am
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A question about Gemmer Hawken. Or, is it more correct to say a Gemmer built in the Hawken style? What is the history of Gemmer and Hawken? Anyone know?
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #23 - Feb 4th, 2011 at 10:17pm
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SSS,
John Baird's book on the Hawken Rifle has a detailed explanation. As Sam Hawken was retiring in the 1860's, after several hoops, Gemmer acquired the shop and rights to the Hawken name. Muzzle loaders were going out, Breech loaders coming in. Gemmer combined the Hawken name and style with the new breech loaders to stay in business. He was successful and an excellent gunsmith, stayed in business until about 1915. Dick probably has more information.
Chuck
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #24 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 8:36am
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The article I have is a trapdoor loaded with 40 grains of unique with a 500 grain bullet.  The right side of the receiver cracked - the shell case had to be hammered out - the bullet melted it's way out the barrel.  'Guns Illustrated, 28th Edition, 1996'  Other tests were conducted in that article as well.  They blew up a few rolling blocks along the way.  The other article I can't cite, but a guy named Wayne conducted tests of his own - I'll try to get it attached here.  The trapdoor handled everything from a 30-40 until a 300 H&H barrel was screwed on the action.  The barrel pulled it's threads and scooted down range.  I do know that square threads take some expertise to do correctly and it may be that the barrel was threaded in a hasty fashion and the cutting tool was not properly ground - but that is speculation on my part.  What I did find interesting in the article is two separate comments.  One is that duplex loads causes a scrubbing action on the cases which would lead one to think case life is shortened.  The more critical comment is black powder being used with excessive air space in the shell.  It can bulge the chamber.  The only way to check for this is a chamber casting.  Over the years I've had a few older rifles and pistols brought in to see if they are safe to shoot and chamber castings is one mandatory part of the check.  The one I remember the most is a single action Colt second generation .45 that was used by a packing house for 20 some odd years.  The chambers were egg shaped and casting was the only way to detect it.  I'm sure the pistol saw far more service than Colt ever dreamed of.  I think I'll defer any further comments and try to post the articles under a new post. 
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #25 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 8:57am
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Don't think I'll be worrying too much about the barrel flying out or the receiver cracking (hopefully). Will be building mine as a 38-56 and shooting 365gr or lighter bullets at ~1500fps.
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #26 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 9:33am
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Trap4570, I do believe Wayne frequents this board, maybe he'll chime in.
  

I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #27 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 9:42am
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OK guys. A lot of good and correct info here. You've been doing your homework. First comment.....Who in their right mind, or maybe not, suggested a load of 40grs of Unique behind a 500 grain bullet. That's not a load, thats a bomb. I have a Unique load I use for a 300gr bullet that is very accurate, and has a medium impact on your shoulder. 
13 GRAINS. More than that gets uncomfortable. For a 405, 12 gets the same results. Unique is WAY too fast burning to put behind a 500, in any thing. 

John Phillip Gemmer. Info on history shared here is basically correct . Gemmer made rifles on about any military arms he could get. Sharps, RB's Spencer's, TD,s Snyders and a version of lifting breech of his own design. All that I have seen use the barrels they came with ie: stock military or commercial. I'm sure he made some customs, but it was not practical to rebarrel every one. There are only two known TD's out there. One is in the Missouri Historical Society in St. Loius. The museum rifle, contrary to Mr. Bairds drawing and description in his second book, was built on an 1876 Cadet action. It has a conventional Hawken lock, vice Springfield, the stock barrel, vice octagon, furniture blue, not brown. I have examined and photographed this rifle. The museum curator says this is the only TD Gemmer they have ever had. After building a couple basrd on Mr. Bairds information, you can imagine what I felt when I first saw this rifle. I have been told that the one in private collection mimics this one, but I have not personally seen it to confirm. I'm running out of space for my ratchet jawing here, but a Gemmer is, as far as I'm concerned, for the sake of description is a "Gemmer/whatever action is used." The multiple barrel test description is accurate, I do have a copy of the original write-up, and the Shooting Times article too. Will share these later if you want.

Dick
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #28 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 9:59am
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SSShooter: I built a rifle from parts that looks just like the pictured one you put up minus the tang sight. I accumulated all the parts, engraved no less and bought a Treebone stock. I built mine to be a hunting rifle and with the set trigger is it ever accurate. I tried to post pix but mine were too big. Thanks for posting the one you did as its identical to mine.      I am pleased that I used a better grade of wood as it stands out very well. Thanks Treebone.     Don   rustyrelx
« Last Edit: Feb 5th, 2011 at 10:10am by rustyrelx »  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #29 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 10:23am
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rustyrelx - exactly what I'm thinking of building with a 30" barrel, Soule rear and Lyman front. Should be a fun project.

Next question is............... have been offered a complete 1884 TD action, including the 2-piece trigger guard in very good condition (no rust or pitting and strong stampings - no barrel, sights or wood) for $415. Is that a reasonable price for such an animal?
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #30 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 2:56pm
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I think a good used #1 ruger could be bought for what is spent on a prehistoric Trapdoor and not thinking about the thing blowin up.
Here is Dick Trenks opinion of Trapdoor strength And i think it is more valid than some one who screws various barrels into a TD action.I think the fact that a barrel coming out of a receiver is due to his lack of thread fitting skills which to me negates the whole theory.
Read and learn
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Tom


  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #31 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 3:49pm
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Hi SSShooter. If what you're describing is the bare receiver, with breech plug and trap door complete, less barrel the price quoted to you was way high. The last assembly as you outlined that I bought was $125.00. Oh, and that was with a good barrel. I think I'd look around some more. Might try giving old Red Daugherty a call, I think his number is already in the thread. If not let me know. 

I'm attaching the article that everyone is "quoting" on the bad threads and flying barrel. 

Dick
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #32 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 3:57pm
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A teaser for Gemmer/Hawken lovers. When I received permission to photograph the museums originsl, I had to sign a papeer that I can not "publish" any of the pictures. I can share them with people for for study. I also had to provide a complete copy of the pictures to identify, if'n I forget.. Roll Eyes. The museum people were really great. When I arrived, the rifle was out of the display, laying on a padded table. I was asked if I needed anythin additional to let them know. The picture I'm posting is a three picture collage. It's tell a lot. If there' any particular part of the rifle anybody's interested in, holler. I took  40 odd pix.

Dick
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #33 - Feb 5th, 2011 at 4:00pm
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OOPS, guess the single picture was too big.  Huh   This one still tells a lot. More to come a little later.

Dick
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #34 - Feb 6th, 2011 at 1:11pm
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Let's try this again, maybe I'll get smarter. 
don't know until I post it. Again, if there's any particular part or area of this original Gemmer, let me know. I should have pictures of it. 

Dick
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #35 - Feb 6th, 2011 at 2:23pm
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Beautiful. Anyone making a double-set trigger and trigger guard like that these days?
  

Glenn - CPA 44 1/2 w/22LR, 38-40RH & 40-65WCF
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #36 - Feb 6th, 2011 at 2:27pm
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Any of the muzzleloading suppliers, like Track of the Wolf, will have the non-Trapdoor parts.  The hammer would be the hardest to replicate, since the percussion hammer nose is too short.  You would have to either extend a hammer nose by welding on a piece or make one from scratch.   

David
  

David Kaiser
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nobearsyet
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #37 - Feb 7th, 2011 at 12:04am
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The Rifle Shop will sell you a set of fit and hardened castings for $200, and cut your fly for another $59, but you have to buy their fly.  You just have to ask them.
  

I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
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trapdoor Dick
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #38 - Feb 7th, 2011 at 11:21am
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If you happen to notice, the lock is not military, but conventional Hawken. Furniture and hardware are available, as indicated from any of the good muzzle loader supply companies. You guys are all friends, so I guess I can give you some "secrets"  Roll Eyes . For the lock either L&R's Hawken or Leman lock will work. I use the Leman because it has a drum cutout in it. It's nice becuse it is right where it need to be and is easier to inlet the latch. The hammer is the biggy. Tried a lot of different castings. It's not just the length, which you do have to lengthen, but the throat. It has to clear the latch. If you look close at the pictures of the original here, you can see the "add line". The one that I found fits is from the L&R back action lock. It does have to re-indexed 90 degrees to the tumbler. Then just bent it left 3/16th of an inch to the left and you've got it.   Wink

Dick
  

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mwhite49
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #39 - Feb 7th, 2011 at 3:22pm
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Prices, complete Trapdoor actions should only run 125-150 at the most, if they are getting more than that for them I'm amazed. I always wanted to build one of these up and the method that Dick explains sounds simple to me. Simple is almost always better.
Mike
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #40 - Apr 28th, 2021 at 8:18pm
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sportslube wrote on Feb 1st, 2011 at 5:23pm:
those early H& R trapdoors looked nice but have seen a couple them that upon firing they self ejected the spent case.  very unnerving to see that big piece of metal fly open in front of your eyes
bill


What's the fix for this?
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #41 - Apr 28th, 2021 at 9:15pm
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The Fix for the H& R trapdoor is to pin the Thumbpiece  to the round shaft of the cam  latch so that it does not rotate out of alignment. On the  H& R the alignment is  held with a set screw. On the originals, the thumbpiece is on a rectangular stud so there is no way it can come out of alignment. H&R took a little shortcut here which can be problematic. I took the rifle to a local gunsmith to drill into the round shaft of the cam latch but it was so hard he could not drill it. I sent it out to a shop down south and they fixed it. I tried swapping out original parts and they did not fit. 
The H&R rifles are great looking and great shooters, but this problem needs to be addressed.
The problem is fixable. Building a sporter with original parts is a much better option because high quality replacement parts are readily available. There are a lot of cut down original Trapdoors out there that have good bores, all you need to do is put new wood on or dress up the original stock. 
I hope this helps!
Joe S
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #42 - Apr 29th, 2021 at 12:30am
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sportslube wrote on Feb 1st, 2011 at 5:23pm:
those early H& R trapdoors looked nice but have seen a couple them that upon firing they self ejected the spent case.  very unnerving to see that big piece of metal fly open in front of your eyes
bill


What's the fix for this?
  

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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #43 - May 8th, 2021 at 10:51am
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I've repaired a couple of these "auto eject" re-pop trapdoors. First the problem lies in the fact that many of these have the rear latch that is not one piece with the locking lever . So you close the trapdoor, the outside latch snaps shut, but the rear latch is free to move and rotate. There is a set screw in them that can slip for lack of something better to call it. Repair?? None that works well. Answer??replace it with an original  trapdoor breech block. It takes some fitting, but works and ends "auto eject". Hopes this points you in the right direction.
  
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Re: H&R Trapdoor Rifle
Reply #44 - May 9th, 2021 at 9:30am
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Not trying to hijack this thread but wondering a few questions. I too have an H&R Officers modeland want to shoot it more often. Is there a known smith that does this repair? Also, I am thinking about upgrading it and the stock for competition ie. Silhouette shooting and distance. Would a Treebone stock fit it or any others you could recommend? Lastly, i also have a 1884 carbine with a worn bore I would like to get another barrel for. Looking for suggestions there too. I am a total newbie and any help would be most appreciated!
Admin: if this needs its own thread I can remove it don’t want to offend anyone.
  
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