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john d
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sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Mar 1st, 2019 at 6:57pm
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New to this forum and from Britain to boot.

Have just purchased a brand new Pedersoli Sharps 45/70  34" Octagonal Barrel. proofed for smokeless.

I use Unique in my ML Handguns (legal in UK) and my .357 Winchester U/L. I can find plenty of info on BP loads for this rifle but little for smokeless. Reading through dozens of forums there seem to be many varying opinions on Powder to Bullet weight, filler or no filler. Position sensitive, or not, and so on.

I am using Starlight brass, 2.100" long and want to load both Postell bullets at 530 gns and RN FP at 412 gns Hard cast lead with grease grooves. Just about all there is available over here.

The rifle will chamber a round loaded with the 1.440" long 530 gn Postell Head to a LOA of 3.100", meaning the round has no 'jump' to engage the rifling which I gather is a good thing. However this means a lot of space in the case and loading Smokeless powder, which is position sensitive, (some say), will affect the accuracy.

There is a saying, ask 5 different people the same question, you get 5 different answers. Trawling through the many forums on the net seems to support this view.

The 12 Lb rifle is accurate I am sure and I am not a bad shot with a Vernier back sight and ring foresight, so I realize much of the results on the range will be down to the home loaded ammo.


Can any of the undoubted experts in the US offer any guidance to a beginner in these matters.

Many thanks

John D
  
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Premod70
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #1 - Mar 1st, 2019 at 8:21pm
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What smokeless powders do you have access to and bullet speed you intend to run?

As a side thought, a lot of Pedersoli's have a throat that is best suited to black powder usage. Not saying you can't get a smokeless load to shoot well but the lack of obturation requires a specific bullet to fit the throat and seal properly, that bullet I have yet to see.
« Last Edit: Mar 1st, 2019 at 8:33pm by Premod70 »  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #2 - Mar 1st, 2019 at 8:35pm
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There is lots of reliable and safe load data for smokeless powder in 45-70, and a large selection of powders that can be used. My old standby is 4759 but that is no longer available. Accurate Arms 5744 is currently available in the US and also an excellent choice. If you can let us know what powders you have access to I am sure we can help you out.
Welcome aboard!
Joe S
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #3 - Mar 1st, 2019 at 11:29pm
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You might want to experiment with the cartridge OAL, engaging the rifle might not produce the best accuracy.
  

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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #4 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 12:11am
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I think someone will come along and say just try 12 grains of Unique with no filler or 1/16th of a sheet of single ply toilet paper pushed down to just off the powder. I once had a sheet of TP that was marked Property of HM the Queen. That might work better over there;-)
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #5 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 8:26am
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   24 to 28 grains of 4198 or 22 - 23  grains of 2400   or 24 to 28 gr, of 5744    art
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #6 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 9:11am
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I have the same rifle and use 25 gr 5744 with a 405 fp cast bullet.
  

Bob  NRA Life Benefactor
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Schuetzendave
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #7 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 9:47am
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Lyman 457658 490 grain cast bullet  C.O.A.L. 2.910 (.010" off the lands):

24.6 grains XMP 5744  1,186 fps Best Accuracy
23.5 grains SR4759     1,257 fps
47.0 grains IMR3031    1,704 fps Major Recoil
44.0 grains Varget       1,434 fps Worst Accuracy


Never use information listed without the bullet identified since minimum and maximum powder loads are specific to a certain size of bullet and if it is cast or jacketed.

All of the listings above have been confirmed to be acceptable loads that have had the pressures confirmed for the bullet I used.
Some of these loads would not be acceptable for use in a Trapdoor or a Rolling Block.
So always confirm published loads for your specific rifle and for a specific weight bullet before using it.

From Richard Lee Modern Reloading:

520 grain cast bullet:

XMP5744  21.6 to 24.0 grains  1060 to 1205 fps

530 grain cast bullet:

A-XMR-2495 41.4 to 46.0 grains 1237 to 1406 fps
A-XMR-3100 49.5 to 55.0c grains 1196 to 1359 fps
A-XMR-4350 43.2 to 48.0 grains 1167 to 13226 fps
AA 8700 58.5 to 65.0c grains to 1059 fps
« Last Edit: Mar 2nd, 2019 at 10:32am by Schuetzendave »  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #8 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 10:15am
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All less than case full loads are position sensitive . Best way to get around it is mount the gun exactly the same way every shot.  Some very good work has been done large cases less than case full smokeless powder. You can bet the rifles were handled consistently .

While I prefer Black Powder when I Shot 45/70 majority of my loads were smokeless with Unique & light bullets or 4759 & duplicates of black powder loads, bullet weight and velocity . About the same as Schuetzen Dave’s 4759 load. 

Boats

Boats
  
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john d
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #9 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 2:42pm
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Gentlemen one and all, Thank you for your responses.

You are fortunate to live in a country that is 'gun friendly', here in the UK, Gun ownership and shooting is discouraged or at least made difficult. (unless you are a criminal of course).

As an example, although being ex military and having held a firearms certificate for nearly 60 years, I have a round trip of over 200 miles to be able to shoot anything,( other than my .22 Rifles), on an approved range. Usually Military or in my case Bisley.

Then there is a limited choice of components for re loading ( unless importing from the U.S. in itself problematic ).

So.

Thank you 'Boats' for your comments on position sensitivity I will bear that in mind

'Oneatatime'.
I wonder if a wisp of Cotton Wool would deputise for Her  Majesties' toilet paper since I am no longer in her employ.

Shuetzenmiester/Premod70
I will experiment with seating the Postell Head further back in the case, just that I read somewhere that a 'jump 'across the throat could be detrimental.

Bullshot/art. It seems the norm on American forums to refer to powder by a four figure group. Looking on the internet there seem a variety of meanings for these groups depending on the manufacturer, none of which I can relate to powders available here.


To answer Joe_S.

I currently use Alliant 'Unique' in my Nitro Converted M.L. Revolvers. (Ruger Old Army and Uberti Rem. 44 New Model Army), and also my Winchester Model 94  .357 U/L Rifle,
which is easy to come by over here.
I shoot Vitavuori 'Premium'  N 140 in my .303 No 1 Long Lee Enfield and my SMLE. again freely available.

I intend shooting Swiss 2Fg, which I use in my M.L.Parker Hale .451 2 band Volunteer. in the  Sharps 45/70 and information on this is plentifull, however on the occassions that my range time slot is short I want to be able to dispense with the cleaning after every shot that seems to be the prerequisite for accurrate B.P.shooting.

To sumarise, thank you all for your input, if anyone has a view on a suitable load of Alliant 'Unique' or indeed Vitavuori N140, for both a 410gn RN-FP and a 530 gn Postell, I would be greatly obliged since the four figure groups you almost always refer to, I can not relate to any powders I have available here.
Thanks again
Regards

John D.




  
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john d
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #10 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 2:51pm
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schuetzendave.

Could you enlarge on the meaning of
A-XMR
AA
XMP
SR
IMR,

Thanks

John D
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #11 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 3:10pm
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In my opinion, you already have one of the best powders for the 45/70, Unique!

My best accuracy (Douglas barreled Borchardt), with a 430 gr bullet was 10.0 and 10.5 gr. It is easy shooting and produced a best 5 shot group (100 yd) of ~.80, I'd have to go to my records to get the exact size group.

A very good friend of mine, worked with his Trapdoor and got the Lee, 450 gr, bore riding bullet, to shoot best with, the above cited, 12.0 gr load.

One of my concerns, with your load, is the hard cast bullets. Are you allowed to cast your own bullets, in the UK? If you can, I would diffidently suggest you do that, using 30/1 for the light loads that I suggest.

Frank
  

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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #12 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 4:09pm
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John D, this chart may help you with the full manufacturers and the various powders burning rates that you can compare with those you know. (You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)
Also, SR and IMR are old duPont designations for Sporting Rifle and Improved Military Rifle. SR4759 is an old single base powder that replaced the older No. 80 and was our standard powder to use in large black powder cases. Being single base it burns cooler and is kinder on old barrels than the double base powders which are most, but not all powders available today. Even the Accurate Arms 5744 which some deem the logical replacement for SR4759 is a double base powder.
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #13 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 7:55pm
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One of my trusted sources told me I could not go wrong with 24 grains of 2400 for the Trapdoor.  I used it until I saw an article in the American Rifleman saying 24 grains of 2400  was a good way to blow up a Trapdoor   Shocked  Cry
  

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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #14 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 9:05pm
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26.5 gr of 5744 works great in my Pedersoli 1874 with a Lyman 535gr GCd boolit. Just over 1300 fps & really bangs the steel at 200 yds Smiley Smiley Smiley
Mark
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #15 - Mar 2nd, 2019 at 9:05pm
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Just wanted to say:
Re. This Obturation thing.
over the years I have used my "standard" bullet alloy
of 9 +1 WW/Lino on Handgun, smokeless rifle , BPCR
and even Schuetzen bullets.
this alloy is estimated at about:  94.5 lead/4.5% antimony
and 1% tin.  Has been tested at about 14.5 BHN.
It has been said that such an alloy is not likely to bump up well.
KEY HERE is to make the bullets at or 1-2 thousandths
larger than groove/freebore diameter so as to avoid
blowby gas cutting. In other words, the bullets don't need to bump up. They are already "there"
Works for me.
Oh, this has been working for last couple years even for
my Paper Patched bullets:  Dual diameter, with the
base band patched up to freebore/groove dia.
beltfed/arnie
  
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Schuetzendave
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #16 - Mar 3rd, 2019 at 12:20am
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The codes used in the Lee Manual indicate:

A or AA: Accurate Powders (previously Accurate Arms Company)

XMP or XMR were pistol or rifle codes previously used with a 4 digit number for a powder.
Accurate Powders has since dropped the 3 letters in front of the powder name and now only call it by the 4 digit name
i.e. previously labelled XMR 5744 is now labelled as 5744

IMR: IMR Powders

(You need to Login or Register to view media files and links)

SR 4759 is the specific name of an IMR Powder which  is no longer being produced and only old supplies would be available.
It was a great powder for use in straight walled rifle cases but discontinued when the Company was bought by Hodgdon.

Both IMR and Winchester Powders are now owned by Hodgdon Powders FYI.
« Last Edit: Mar 3rd, 2019 at 12:42am by Schuetzendave »  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #17 - Mar 4th, 2019 at 6:25pm
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Gentlemen one and all.

Thank you for your responses and I think i am beginning to see "'the wood for the trees".
I have several  1 lb pots of Alliant UNIQUE which says on the pot "Most versatile powder made, good in all popular pistol calibres". Made with pride in the U.S.A."

It does indeed suit my ML Nitro converted muzzle loading revolvers and my 94 Winchester carbine.

In the table of relative burn rates kindly pointed out by oneatatime,UNIQUE appears as No 32  out of 150 meaning it is, I assume, quite a fast powder.

As a complete ignoramus, should I assume this is NOT good for a long .45 /  32" barrel.

Conversely Vita Vuori ( of which I have a a goodly supply), appears at No 101 of 150, meaning it is slower.

I use 38 grains of this in my  1898 Long Lee Enfield .303 and my 1918 SMLE .303. very successfully. (a Lady Friend of mine got  five out of ten in the black at 1000 yards at Bisley, with the' Long Lee' rifle resting on  her haversack. (vernier rear sight).

Therefor, would this be a better powder for the Sharps with its even longer barrel and heavier bullet ?????

Going back to Unique, 12 grains has been suggested but bullet wt. not specified and, 25 grains of 5744 (burn rate 68 in the table) with a 405 bullet. and at about the same burn rate, 4198,   24/28 grains and 405 bullet.

BUT, sheutzenmiester says he read 24 Grains of 2400, (57 in the table), would blow up a trapdoor. (but they are weaker than a falling block I gather).

Before I found this site and with no real knowledge I loaded
13 grains of UNIQUE behind a 410 Grain RN-FP  bullet, with little recoil and a not very good group.

I have now loaded, but not fired, 15 grains of UNIQUE behind a 530 Gn. Postell bullet. The pointy/round part, about the first half of the length, measures .442 and is like a **** in a dustbin at the muzzle end but the bottom half has four grease grooves and measures .456.

I have not 'slugged' the bore but a caliper at the front end  reads  .456 so can I take it this bullet should engage the rifling o.k. allowing for a touch of 'obduration'.

I seems to me that in future, I should look at Vita Vuori N 140, (101 in the table), as an alternative to UNIQUE,  (32 in the table), being  considerably slower burning.

Am I moving slowly in the right direction your views would be appreciated

Regards

John D

  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #18 - Mar 4th, 2019 at 7:36pm
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If a load of 13 grains of Unique does not shoot well you need to slug the barrel and find a proper fitting bullet before venturing any further in the smokeless powder world. There are plenty of mold makers that can make a mold for your needs, all will need proper measurements. LBT molds on their website details the proper way to slug the chanber neck/throat/leade and groove dimensions in one step, good luck.
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #19 - Mar 4th, 2019 at 7:46pm
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John, N140 sits between our IMR4895 and IMR4320 in the table so it shoud be usuable. For 350 to 450 grain bullets both of the IMRs can be used in the 38 to 43 grain range and be safe in our old Trapdoor Springfields so should be fine in a Sharps. I saw one reference to 40 grains of 4895 giving 1365 fps with a 405 grain bullet. If you have a chronograph and stay in the 1250 to 1350 fps ballpark with your N140 you and your shoulder should be OK,
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #20 - Mar 4th, 2019 at 8:52pm
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john d

As an undoubted expert (at least in my own mind) I can agree with the previous posts regarding Unique. I keep a good supply on hand because it is indeed unique in that I make any gun I have from 22 Hornet to 12 gauge shotgun work at least fairly well and sometimes very well with it. For higher velocity loads in the 45-70 Reloader 7 is a good one if you can get any.

JS
  

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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #21 - Mar 6th, 2019 at 4:55am
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Hi premod and oneatatime.

I have printed off the info on slugging a barrel that you suggested and will give it a try having made a suitable slug.

4895 is faster than Vitavuori 140 so I'm encouraged to give Vitavuori 140 a try.

I do not have access to a chronograph more's the pity. I guess the people I shoot with are not quite into the high tech stuff.

With limited funds available and the difficulty of getting reloading supplies in the abundance and variety available in the U.S. I will just have to 'trial and error' with what is to be obtained.

I really did not want to risk damaging what to me was a huge investment and I think joining this forum has been well worth while in view of the information that has been forthcoming.

Many thanks

John D

  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #22 - Mar 6th, 2019 at 7:35am
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John, I would caution you about using burn rate tables because powder reacts somewhat differently in actual use than it does in a closed bomb. Some powder is very flexible and doesn't gain burning rate very much as pressure goes up but others do and small increments of powder increases can really up the pressure. Bullet weights and loading densities mean a lot as well. They might be good as references but be careful. Thanks, ratseye
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #23 - Mar 6th, 2019 at 3:08pm
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Another thing about the possible dangers of using the burn rate charts besides the changing characteristics with loading of different types is that you cannot see how big the 'jumps' are between any two groups of powder. While experimenting, you may look at two or three that seem to be just a wee bit faster, say, than the last one and then go to the forth and find that the small increment is now a big leap faster. Stay safe out there boys.
  

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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #24 - Mar 6th, 2019 at 6:26pm
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As I told John, N140 sits between 4895 and 4320 in the chart and the listed Trapdoor safe loads for both 4895 and 4320 are greater than the range I suggested for his Sharps. I just found a German reloading video where he is testing a 74 Sharps with RS30 and N140 powders and 405 grain Missouri Bullet Company (lead) bullets. He shot the N140 in 41-43-45-47-49 grain loads off bags at 50 meters. The 41 and 43 grain loads did the best at about 1 inch. The groups opened up past that (or his shoulder was getting sore.)
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #25 - Mar 6th, 2019 at 8:48pm
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John, I think Viht N-140 might be a little on the slow side even with that heavy Postell bullet. The program I run shows low efficiency and only burning about 80 or so percent with the bullet against the lands. It is worse for the light bullet. I might try N-133 or even N-130 depending on how fast you want to go. Loading density goes down as you try to slow it up and faster powder usually does better. For what it's worth. Thanks, ratseye
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #26 - Mar 7th, 2019 at 8:28pm
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I have quite a few current and old reloading manuals and there is quite a bit of load data there for Unique in cal 45-70. However, none of it is recommended for the trapdoor, so you have to decide what your comfort level is with your rifle in terms of what it will take. I suspect Pedersoli may recommend black powder only, so they will not be of any help. Many people rate the sharps as being stronger than the Trapdoor but definitely not in the same category as a Ruger #1.
I also just found a post stating that Accurate Arms powder is no longer available in England, so that might not be a viable option.

You can e-mail the powder companies and ask for specific load date for your rifle with a particular powder and bullet, and you might get data not otherwise published. I would try that for Unique and Vita Vuori.
Otherwise, find out what powder you do have access to and work from there.
If you are comfortable working with Unique, that might be your answer.
Joe S
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #27 - Mar 21st, 2019 at 7:35pm
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Gentlemen,

Since many of you kindly offered advice on Smokeless loads for my Sharps 45/70, I thought I should note the results of my experiments so far.

Having put 45 rounds down range in groups of five, all slightly different, the best results so far, (albeit at only 125 yds.), have been.

28 gn. of 4198 under a 535 gn Postell soft lead bullet.   0.6 gn Cotton wool and thin card wad. Federal 215 Magnum Primer  3 holes virtually touching, the remaining 2 at  1- 1/2"  and 2 1/2" off.

14 gn Unique under 412 gn RNFP  0.6 gn cotton wool and thin card wad. Federal 210 Primer.  2 touching,  remaining 3 within 1- 1/2".

15 gn Unique under 535 gn Postell  a  Fed 210 Primer.            
      2- 1/2" group.
NO cotton wool OR wad.

4198 used in five out of the nine details always seemed to leave unburned powder in the barrel.

The four groups using Unique did not.

Probably not great results but then I'm not that good a shot with this rifle yet, trigger control could improve and the bull had a lot of daylight round it in the foresight aperture ring. Might try the insert with the very fine cross hairs next time.

Now to see how it performs with Swiss No 3.

John D
  
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Re: sharps 45/70 smokeless loads
Reply #28 - Mar 23rd, 2019 at 8:43pm
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I have been reloading 45-70 for years in various rifles.  With a lot of variation in old barrels, the best all around bullet I have found was for a Lee mold, 405 grains, a hollow base which seems to fit all barrels, 3 or 4 Sharps, and two trapdoors.  That bullet looks very close to the original military load which was swedged with a small hollow base and 16-1 lead to tin which obturates well.  I believe the original was 70 grains of FFg with a card wad, big wad and 55 grains for carbines, they kicked like a mule.  24 grains of 2400 gives about the same performance as black, using kapok or a little toilet paper or Dacron.  Any of the reasonable 5744 loads should work well.  The Lee mold sells for 26-30 $ US here.  Actually, I use plumbers scrap lead and a few wheel weights.  Might get scientific if I shot matches.

James
  
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