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Old 02-03-2020, 01:30 PM
johnt671 johnt671 is offline
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Talking 1884 Springfield

I've owned this rifle since 1978 and never shot it. I've just started out firing black powder with a nice lightly used 1858 Remington New Army, and the urge came back to shot the Springfield. I just got back from the gun shop and they said it's fine to shoot. As soon as we get past winter I be doing a test of it. Come on spring!

Can anyone tell me the barrel length of the cadet and infantry barrels. The shop guy said the barrel looked too shot to be an infantry piece, but it seems too awkward to bee a cadet model.
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Old 02-03-2020, 04:08 PM
BLACKHAWKNJ BLACKHAWKNJ is offline
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Try Culver's Shooting Forums. They have a Trapdoor Rifles Forum with some VERY knowledgeable people.
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Old 02-04-2020, 01:06 PM
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The cadet model 1884 had a 29 1/2" barrel. The full sized rifle was around 32 1/2". I had an 1884 Cadet years ago. bought it for $115 and an auction. Traded it away about 5 years later for a brand new Ruger #1.
I now have a somewhat sporterized Cavalry carbine.

Reloading and casting your own bullets is a great way to enjoy shooting these old army veterans. If you don't want to use black powder, 10-12 grains of Unique is a good alternative. In either case, your rifle will probably shoot a couple feet high at 100 yds. I've heard it was because troops were trained to
aim at the feet with the expectation of hitting at the belt line of their target.
Another good source of info for shooting the old trapdoor and other older single shot rifles is the ASSRA forum. ASSRA Forum - Index

Have fun!

John
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:36 PM
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John671;

I too got my Springfield Model 1884 in 1978. We were about to marry and I thought it was going to be the last firearm I'd ever get to buy. Hah! I always look at it fondly because of that misguided notion.



Have shot it over the years, occasionally quite a lot, with handloads, both smokeless and black powder as well as quite a few Remington 405 grain factory loads in bygone times. An accurate rifle from the bench rest.

Nice tip BlackhawkNJ. Thanks! Contains stuff I'm interested in.

I got led here to access the Trapdoor sub-forum.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:48 PM
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Some information for you. The Model 1884 (all variations) is the most common trapdoor, with 232,500 made between 1885-1890. About 200,000 were rifles, having a 32-5/8 barrel. I have two of those. The carbine version has a 22" barrel, about 20,000 were made. I have one of those. The cadet rifle has a 29-1/2" barrel, made during 1888-1893 in two versions, totaling 12,500 made. I don't have one.

One of the more unusual and seldom seen trapdoor models was the Model 1886 experimental carbine. Actually, it was a short rifle having a 24" barrel and a full length stock. Only about 1,000 were made. I have one of them, on permanent loan to a museum. It has an interesting history, it came from the Ohio prison system, and was used in a prison in the Cincinnati area. Some of the faster smokeless rifle powders work well, such as IMR 4227 and 2400.

I don't shoot mine much, but my reloads use Pyrodex rifle/shotgun powder, with about 5% (roughly) black powder mixed in for better ignition.

Last edited by DWalt; 02-04-2020 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:50 PM
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:46 PM
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The factory load used back then was 70 grains of BP with a 500 grain soft lead bullet compressed over the BP. To be sure, it has a stout recoil.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
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The factory load used back then was 70 grains of BP with a 500 grain soft lead bullet compressed over the BP. To be sure, it has a stout recoil.
I have an 1884 rifle and also a carbine. That rifle load is fine in the rifle but it will kick the beejeebers out of you in the carbine. I usually use the old carbine load of 55 grains of 1F black, or smokeless equivalent, with a 405 gr bullet. That’s much more shootable in the carbine.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:46 PM
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I have prepared and shot the .45-70 500 grain load with the 70 grains of black powder and it has truly stiff recoil.
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:16 AM
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They are fun rifles to be sure.

If loading with BP, they will generally shoot to zero, but if using smokeless, they will shoot high as noted in a post above. Some shooters install a taller front sight to compensate for that when using modern powders. I keep one of mine set up with a high front sight just for smokeless.

If loading with BP, you may want to use the original infantry load of a 405 grain bullet (cast soft with a beeswax/STP lubricant) over about 65 grains of BP. Modern solid head cases do not have the capacity of the original balloon head cases the military issued, so stuffing in a full 70 grains usually takes a special compression plug to make room for the bullet without damaging it. Also for BP, you should use a magnum primer and you can also open up your flash hole to enhance ignition. Be sure you use enough BP to compress the load slightly. The cavalry loads of 55 grains of BP actually used a cardboard filler over the powder to ensure compression of the powder.

You should probably steer clear of jacketed bullets in the soft steel barrels of Trapdoors. When using cast bullets, size to about .460" to .462" for good accuracy. The three groove barrels seem to like slightly larger bullets than modern 45/70 barrels.

Lee makes a 405 HB RN bullet mould that closely matches the original 405 grain Frankford Arsenal bullet that the army used up until the 500 grain bullet was adopted. When shooting a 500 grain bullet, I use a Lyman mould.

These old rifles will shoot very well all the way out to 1,000 yards and further.
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Old 02-05-2020, 10:22 AM
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For short-range fun shooting, you can buy .457 lead round ball bullets. Seat them down in the case with a dab of Crisco on top. Use a light charge (maybe 10-15 grains) of any fast pistol or shotgun powder.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:33 PM
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If you have the Cadet rifle, use the carbine 55gr FFg, 405 gr soft lead. Use a 45 caliber over the powder card over compressed powder and use Crisco infused cotton or felt (Bore Butter works great too) under the bullet. In my carbine I used 55 gr FFG and Lyman 300gr HP bullet with filler and lube.

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Old 02-05-2020, 04:35 PM
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BP and lead bullets only in my Trapdoors, there's something about that big cloud of white smoke. Cleaning isn't that much of a hassle, in re-enacting we use the 3-in-1 formula, 1/3 denatured alcohol, 1/3 peroxide, 1/3 Murphy's Oil, many have found windshield washer fluid works fine.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLACKHAWKNJ View Post
BP and lead bullets only in my Trapdoors, there's something about that big cloud of white smoke. Cleaning isn't that much of a hassle, in re-enacting we use the 3-in-1 formula, 1/3 denatured alcohol, 1/3 peroxide, 1/3 Murphy's Oil, many have found windshield washer fluid works fine.
I drop my fired cases in a half gallon of blue windshield washer fluid. If you use just water the brass turns black. (Some people like the nareley looking brass!)

Soaking your cases softens the fouling & and make cleaning by any method easier. It also stops the corrosion of your brass.

Ivan
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Old 02-05-2020, 07:15 PM
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The sound of a Trapdoor going off and the resounding 'thump' of lead on a target berm is really cool. It also is sad to imagine the damage that 500 grains of lead would do thumping a body,

They are really neat rifles
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLACKHAWKNJ View Post
Try Culver's Shooting Forums. They have a Trapdoor Rifles Forum with some VERY knowledgeable people.
Thanks for the lead. it has a ton of good info in it. I'll also check out the other forum suggested. Thanks to all who posted in this thread with all the info and tips. I can't wait for nice weather so I can give it a go.
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Old 02-12-2020, 05:18 PM
Wyatt Burp Wyatt Burp is offline
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My dad bought this 1884 from a newspaper ad in the early 80s, I think. $175 rings a bell. Then later on at a garage sale up the street he found that bayonet. The wrist of the stock was cracked but repaired and stock probably refinished. Bore is visually excellent and the trap door locks up tight. We never shot it. But it sure has a great balance not being unwieldy at all. It's funny how these '84s sell for far less than a brand new Uberti repro of it.

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Old 02-12-2020, 06:14 PM
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Thanks to DWalt, I thought my Trapdoor was a rifle. Instead it's a Cadet. I haven't fired it yet...I've only had it three or so years.
I did reload 20 rounds of 300gr cast ahead of 3031, just to test. I'll get around to it, some day.
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