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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a Taylor's Arms Quigley Sharp's replica in 45-70 with a 32" barrel. With a Saeco cast 420 grain gas checked 0.458" diameter bullet and 31.5 grains of Accurate Arms 5744 powder, this rifle will shoot inside the 10 Ring on a 25 yard pistol target at 100 yards for at least 50 rounds without a problem. I shot a 200 yard centerfire high power rifle bullseye target at 200 yards with the same load and my score for 8 rounds was 78: 4 X's, 2 - 10's, and 2- 9's .


Now the frustration: It has no accuracy shooting the Lee 405 grain cast bullet with a plain base. It was the same batch of melted lead, same bullet lube, same sizer, same powder, just a Lee mold. The best group has been inside the 10" square repair center for a pistol target. I have used the 25 and 50 yard target centers at 100 yards. I have tried AA 5744, AA 2230, IMR 4198 powders as suggested by the Accurate Arms or Lyman reloading manuals. My charges have been max load for 1873 Springfield Trapdoors to 2.0 grains less than starting for Marlin or Winchester lever guns.


Does anyone have a low pressure load for the Lee 405 grain bullet with the flat nose, part number 457-405-F, in a Springfield Trapdoor or Sharps rifle clone [not a Ruger #1 load]? I'm looking at muzzle velocity in the 1,400 FPS to 1,750 FPS range.

EDIT: The Lee mold as-cast bullet diameter is 0.457" to 0.458" . I have tried 350 grain commercial cast lead bullet with even worse results when I first got the rifle. The Saeco mold gives great accuracy but has recoil that can be uncomfortable. The Lee 400 grain bullet has 'tolerable' recoil but lousy accuracy. I'm just trying to find a smokeless powder load that will give good accuracy. Black powder, a different mold, alloy tinkering, bullet lube experimentation are not going to happen.

My next step is a phone call to Lee for their words of wisdom. Lee Precision 'Words of Wisdom' (12/04/2018) [

QUOTE:

"Some cast bullets just don't shoot accurately in some guns. I can't give out any load data."

END QUOTE] We had another 5 minutes of no-solution discussion using a different mold.


Thank you for your suggestions.

EDIT 2-2-19:



This is the results of two trips to the range. I can't say much positive about the Lee 0.457" diameter mold, but it can be fiddled with to cast a larger diameter bullet (not going to try).

I did buy the 0.459" single cavity, hollow base

Lee mold
on sale at MidwayUSA, going to cast new bullets this afternoon. Reloader #7 didn't help anything.



I had 50 rounds with carefully sorted bullets sized at 0.458" . There were 23 bullets that were culled from the sized bullets as unsatisfactory. Those 23 shot the smallest group of the day -- about 4" at 100 yards. The other 27 "good" bullets had multiple fliers, but the accurate ones went into the 4" group growing it to ~5".



Three other shooters shot the rifle and came away with big grins. First time shooters of a "buffalo gun" were happy, that is what range time is all about, having fun!


EDIT 11-19-2020:


Went to the Ft Gordon Outdoor Range with some Lee cast bullet ammo described above loaded with 31.5 grains of AA 5744 powder. I shot several rounds to get a good 100 yard zero, about 4"+ group with 4 shots. I then reset my Lyman front rest, adjusted my rear sight to shoot at a steel tombstone target fully exposed at 200 yards, then tried to hit the second tombstone at 367 yards. The two right hand, low shots on the 367 yard tombstone were at the bottom of the exposed target because of a raised berm that only allowed half of the target to be visible from my shooting bench.

The long range group size is not small, but I scored the hits with cast lead bullets, iron metallic silhouette sights, and 72 year old eyeballs. OK --- I did go home with a big smile on my face.

200 yard target:
488310



367 yard target:
488311
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
A summary of my efforts since buying the rifle ~10 years ago. Commercial cast 350 grain bullets were useless, no leading, no accuracy (50 yard group was 12", @ 100 yards 5 shots gave 4 holes in 36" square target). Remington 400 grain jacketed bullets shot 5 shots into 2" group @ 100 yards with on 3-hole clover leaf. I'm cheap and wanted the rifle to perform with cast lead bullets. My .308 Win and 30-06 rifles are accurate with cast bullets -- why not the 45-70?

MidwayUSA had a Saeco mold sale about 9 years ago, so I bought the 2 cavity 420 grain gas checked mold and handles. First time shooting the 'new' loads was AMAZING! Two different shooters, same target @100 yards, 12 shoots fired, groups size was under 3" AND 8 shots were inside 10 ring on a 50 yard Bullseye pistol target. The other 4 shots were inside 9 ring.

I have tried AA 5744 (best accuracy), IMR 3031, AA 2015, Reloader #7, Unique, and H322 with the Saeco bullet. The Lee 400 grain mold has not shoot well with any of those powders. With the Lee mold; I've pan lubed, Lee Liquid Alox, commercial cast bullet lubes, bought .457", .458", .459" sizer dies, loaded unsized & lubed bullets, and nothing matches the Saeco accuracy. All my loads are crimped at the crimp groove on the bullet. I will try loading the Lee a little longer to just touch the rifling. The 'Words of Wisdom' from Lee Precision will be posted here after I talk to them about my challenges.

My next step is a phone call to Lee for their words of wisdom.


Lee Precision 'Words of Wisdom' (12/04/2018)
[QUOTE:
"Some cast bullets just don't shoot accurately in some guns. I can't give out any load data." END QUOTE] We had another 5 minutes of no-solution discussion using a different mold.

Thank you for your responses.
 

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Honestly, with the results and history of your gun with these 2 bullets, I would just focus on finding a recipe that is "tolerable" with that Saeco mold and shoot that.

I only shot Holy Black out of my Quigley, but it was a 50 cal anyway. I know, you don't want real black powder, ok, moving on... Let's reinvent the wheel here and turn an anvil into a bicycle seat.

First, I'm not sure how soft your bullet alloy is, but that plain base Lee bullet will NOT tolerate a high heat temperature load. If you're going to try to make that bullet work with smokeless, you're going to have to step that charge *way* down. I doubt very much I would go over even "max" on the trapdoor level loads with that plain base bullet. Once you melt, or start to melt the base of the bullet as it travels down the barrel, it's all over. Or stick to the bullet you have with a gas check (Saeco).

What is the end-game use for this gun? Competition, hunting, yucks-and-giggles? And at what range (distances)?

Have you tried Trail Boss powder with the plain base Lee?

What level of accuracy would get you to your happy place?

One other thing you can try, is a wad underneath that plain base Lee bullet. You have to find a way to keep that base from melting from the heat of the powder charge. A vegetable wad, or even a felt "Wonder Wad" (brand name) would help you there.

Just some random thoughts here, will have time this weekend to go more in depth if you want.
 

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I would size that bullet at .459 or .460 and try it.
What Arky said --- BUT, the mold itself has to throw the Bullet to 459-460" diameter to begin with. You *might* be able to do what they call "bump it up" another thousand in your sizer but I haven't had much luck with that.

Either NOE bullet molds, accurate molds, or even mp-molds can all cut you a mold that will throw to that diameter. For the best results, the cast Bullet MUST be .001-.002 thousandths BIGGER than your bore. Undersized cast is the single biggest reason for barrel leading. There are also group mold buys available over at boolit but some I have waited a year or more for...

I have also had great luck with the RCBS 405 grain mold in 45-70's. My favorite is a .462 diameter custom mold that I can size down to whatever my rifle likes.

You can buy custom sizer dies, made to order from a guy named "Buckshot" over on the cast boolits forum. Lead mix can play a big part. *Most"* molds are made to use a mix of Lyman #2 and the only place I know you can get that is from rotometals.com.

Let me know if I've confused you and I'll be happy to back up. Got a ton of experience with cast and 45-70. I *might* have extra custom 420 grain from the mold I mentioned sized to 459" and lubed with high speed red and gas checked. If you want to try them let me know and I'll look. After the help this forum has given me I'd be glad to send you a few if I've got them.

Art
 

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I got poor accuracy with that Lee bullet in my original trapdoor carbine.
 

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I got poor accuracy with that Lee bullet in my original trapdoor carbine.
Original Trapdoors have a bore diameter which is often larger than the current standard of .458 inches. It's hard to get an accurate measurement on the bore due to the 3 groove rifling, but a mould that throws a bullet of .462 or larger and then sized to .460/.461 will usually shoot well in them. Another option is to use the Lee 405 grain hollow base bullet (looks much like the original FA design of 1873). That bullet sized to .460 shoots well in all of my Trapdoors, original or replica. I like a fairly soft alloy with SPG lube for black powder and NRA 50/50 formula for smokeless loads. Keep your alloy soft for the old 3 groove barrels (2% tin, no Antimony) while modern barrels do well with the old Lyman Number 2 Alloy. Hard cast bullets with hard wax lube sized to .458" just don't take well to the old 3 groove barrels in most cases.

Just got to love old Trapdoors! I often shoot mine accurately on steel and targets of opportunity at ranges that make the magnum rifle boys say "Wow!"

I generally load my 45/70 rifles down to the old Cavalry load of a 405 grain bullet at 1,100 fps. It can be shot all day out in the desert and it's very accurate in my rifles and with their long range sights and wind gauge capabilities, one can reliably hit little things out to 1,000 yards and more. When loading to the old FA Gatling gun load, I use an RCBS 500 grain design at 1,300 fps. While it bucks the wind a bit better and has a slightly reduced rainbow of trajectory, the increased recoil does not really compensate for those advantages. Most of the fast pistol powders will generate a usable load for the Cavalry load. Just use caution when loading though as double charges in an old rifles are not conducive to the collectability of the firearm.

The best manual for cast bullets in the 45/70 at reduced load levels using fast pistol powders is the old Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook Edition 3.
 

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My best results with that bullet in the kind of rifles you're shooting has been to shoot them pan-lubed "as-cast", with a relatively soft alloy and mild powder charge.
 

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Black powder seems to work very well in almost any straight sided case. It is worth a try, IMHO.
 

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Both my Pedersoli .45-70 and Shiloh Sharps .45-100 shoot best with bullets that fall from the mould at .460. But I am also using Saaeco and Buffalo Arms moulds which are pricy but man they throw a nice bullet. I pan lube in 50/50 beeswax and peanut oil. I use 25-1 lead. Yes I am using black powder but just as in any cast bullet situation sizing is very important.

My Pedersoli has fired sub 1" groups at 200 yds ( I actually fired a 1/2" group at 200 with that rifle) and the Shiloh sub 3" groups at 300. I don't remember where I read it, but in my early years of fooling around with these rifles, somebody waay smarter than me wrote that he doesn't test loads any closer than 200 yds because sometimes the bullets don't really start performing until then. I want to say it was Mike Venturino.

Slug your bore to find its dimensions and go to Buffalo Arms website https://www.buffaloarms.com/reloading-supplies-accessories/jacketed-lead-copper-coated-bullets and buy some of their cast bullets correctly sized for your rifle. At least that will get you going in the right direction. And don't throw aside black powder. It's what those rifles and cartridges were designed to use. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
A bump to the top, pictures in first post from 11-19-20
 

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^ Or try jacketed bullets.

I’m not certain, but, I believe that somewhere in the Scriptures that may be considered blasphemous! :unsure: memtb
 
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