Hand Loading at the Range – Springfield Trapdoor

I saw something recently that I suspect many shooters don’t get to see. Someone who is actually loading rounds at the range to test for optimum accuracy.

Ok. Let me say that again. There was a guy at the range who had setup a single stage press and was assembling live rounds to various specs and then turning around and shooting them for results.

Shooter sets up a blackpowder loading station while shooting at the range.

Shooter sets up a blackpowder loading station while shooting at the range.

I personally have only ever seen that once before and that was about 20 years ago and involved a bench rest shooter and a pretty modern bolt gun. In this case, the guy was loading cast lead bullets and using blackpowder in a 45-70 Trapdoor.

You can see the different bullet weights he is trying with various powder charges

You can see the different bullet weights he is trying with various powder charges

He was kind enough to let me take a few photos to share with all of you. You will notice such things as soapy water and toilet paper. Blackpowder, besides being a mess, is corrosive. So he was performing due diligence and keeping his barrel very clean to maintain the validity of his data.

Pretty interesting guy. I can even go as far as to say he was an “old coot” who liked what he liked and didn’t have time for anything that bored him. Upon inquiry, he stated he personally owned this Trapdoor for 50 years. And even admitted that at one point in his youth, he had some of the parts hard-chromed since, “that was the style back then”. But his tone seemed to indicate that he regretted the act in his later years.

Personal challenge. When some of you young bucks are at a range and you see the typical “old coot” down at the end, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. If he’s shooting something that was made before your daddy was a glint in his daddy’s eye, be honest. Admit you don’t know something and be open to hearing the inevitable story.

Old Coots are funny like that.

 
Sincerely,
Marky
www.tacticaltshirts.com
www.john1911.com
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at John1911.com
Writer for john1911.com. Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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  • Conner

    That’s awesome! If I (only) had the skill, patience and a private range. Not to mention the cool trapdoor and it’s stories. We used to see folks doing that here but since all the private areas to shoot have been closed down most ranges are packed. In my town when you take anything ‘unique’ firearm to the range you will encounter much more conversation then actual shooting time. Which is okay, but I want to concentrate always, especially when I was reloading. I’m not worth a damn at multitasking when I’m at the range. If you want to be left alone here and avoid any contact, anytime someone says good morning just grunt and keep your eyes downrange. I don’t do that, but I sure stay away when it’s done to me. It’s a pretty clear sign. Very cool guy to stop and take pictures for you and tell his story. To hold on to his old trapdoor rifle for fifty years……..priceless.

  • Brennen Munro

    I have never seen anyone reloading at the range, but I did get to see someone who showed up with many different boxes of home loaded ammo and what seemed like a ream of data charts. He was there for hours shooting and writing results, shooting and writing more. I really wished I had had more confidence at the time to talk to him as I feel sure that he had some knowledge to pass on had I only asked.
    Munro

    • This is only the second time I have seen such a thing in the last 20 years. So I figured it was worth a write up.

      Marky

  • Conner

    Marky, it sounds like the gentleman enjoyed your discussion and showing off his trapdoor. Otherwise you probably would have gotten the “grunt”. 🙂

  • MickeyG

    I inherited 2 rifles from my grandfathers when I came home from ‘Nam in ’69, a Winchester 1886 45/70 (made in 1893) and a Savage 99 30/30 (made in 1895). I still love taking them to the range and shooting them. I often get into some great conversations with some really nice folks, especially the younger ones (I’m 70) and pass on a little of my knowledge to them. A couple of them have even bought new models of these rifles. 🙂

    • Hi Mickey! Both very desirable rifles to this day. The Savage 99 action and magazine system is very, very. very neat. Youngers are usually surprised to see such a system in such an “old” rifle. And a hunting rifle at that!!!

      Marky
      http://www.tacticaltshirts.com
      http://www.john1911.com
      “Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

      • MickeyG

        Roger that bro !!