1874 Sharps 45-90 reloading questions.

Oct 12, 2012
1,570
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White Knoll, SC
#1
I am picking up a Pendersoli Dixon Sharps 1874 with a 6x scope on it next weekend. This is my first forray into this type of gun. It is a 45-90. I would like to reload to shoot 600-1000 yds with it. My heart wants to reload black powder paper patch rounds but my brain say grease groove smokeless. I have no experience with anything but modern rifle reloading. Anyone here have experience in this area?

Ryan
 

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sandwarrior

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 21, 2007
4,237
205
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in yooperland
#2
Nice find punisher. I can't give you a load, but I would look on Hodgdon's website and start there. As you say, grease-groove fake black powder is going to be easier, but look into the real black powder loads too. The only thing I know about real black powder is NEVER leave a gap between the powder and projectile. The explosive properties of black powder can do more than you think they will vs. the burn properties of smokeless "fake" black powder.
 

kraigWY

CMP GSM MI
Feb 10, 2006
2,254
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Wyoming
#3
You need to use soft lead bullets and dont push them too fast. Lyman's 535 gr bullet # 457132 is about the best you can find for long range.

I think youre best bet would be to pick up Lyman's BLACK POWDER HANDBOOK & LOADING MANUAL.
 
Nov 27, 2004
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Central Ohio
#5
Three books to help you on your way: SPG Lubricants BP Cartridge Reloading Primer by Mike Venturino & Steve Garbe, Loading the Black Powder Rifle Cartridge by Paul Matthews and Loading and Shooting Paper Patched Bullets by Randolph Wright. 15233A93-315F-4AE8-B3F1-0F340D42FB2A.jpeg
 
Oct 12, 2012
1,570
2
38
42
White Knoll, SC
#7
Thanks for the info. Keep it coming. I will order a couple of those books to start with.

SW - thanks. I didnt know that but makes sense considering how you load a muzzle loader.

I plan to get a good load for it, then remove the scope for a vernier sight.

Ryan
 

D_TROS

Flag-Sword-Cross
Aug 19, 2010
1,293
65
48
North Denver, CO
#9
Also recently picked up the exact rifle/scope but in 45-120

Also a rook in the department of these man cannons. Got the brass (3.25 inches long lol) dies (3 die set) and lead. Cant decide on a powder.

How do you know if the rifle can handle smokless powder?
Is it ok if the case isn't full? (of smokless)

I also read using a filler is VERY bad for the barrel as essentially the "filler" compresses and causes damage to bore somhow.

Thanks for any leads. Will be looking to get a couple books mentioned above.


Regards,
DT
 

sandwarrior

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 21, 2007
4,237
205
63
in yooperland
#10
Also recently picked up the exact rifle/scope but in 45-120

Also a rook in the department of these man cannons. Got the brass (3.25 inches long lol) dies (3 die set) and lead. Cant decide on a powder.

How do you know if the rifle can handle smokless powder?
Is it ok if the case isn't full? (of smokless)

I also read using a filler is VERY bad for the barrel as essentially the "filler" compresses and causes damage to bore somhow.

Thanks for any leads. Will be looking to get a couple books mentioned above.


Regards,
DT
It is okay to use a non full case with smokeless powder. It's blackpowder that needs to be full.

I do not know if filler will damage the bore. I know people who use it regularly it doesn't seem to affect anything. It would be best to consult a reloading manual. If you do not find the answer you are looking for contact the powder MFG'r to get the straight scoop from them.
 
#14
I recently tried some new 45-90 loads with a 385gr bullet and Blackhorn 209 powder. The idea was they would work in my 1886 lever gun and Sharps rifle, they are a millimeter to long for the 1886. That being said, the powder was actually very nice, a little smokey and easy to clean up, similar to black powder but no extra equipment required to load. The downside is they the powder is sold in 10oz containers so it is a mild robbery.
 

jbell

Gunny Sergeant
Jan 16, 2010
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Lewiston, ME
#15
I miss my 1874, what an amazingly accurate rifle, and so fun to shoot! I am always keeping an eye out for a 45-110 or 45-120, especially an Axtell...
 
Sep 6, 2006
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Southern California
#17
Id use real black powder personally. My target load ES figures can’t be touched by any smokeless load. Typically lower than modern SD figures for a 10 shoot string. Paper patching is neat, and what I like to shoot, but it’s another layer of load developement you’ll have to learn. I suggest grease groove first, then work into PP loads. The books listed above are good, and buffalo arms is a great place to buy stuff.

I don’t buy the air gap danger thing either. An old wives tale imo. The paper cartridge percussion rifles operated with a bunch of gap. Breech seating bullets by target shooters frequently puts the bullets base well above the case mouth in some circumstances. I’d wager that most ringed chambers were caused by smokeless or duplexed loads, not air gap BP loads. There are also quite a few old ordinance dept tests on this subject.

Black powder is quite predictable and safe. That postell bullet that Kraigwy recommended is a good one, and happens to be what I started with, although mine comes out of a buffalo arms mold. It’s got about .650 of bearing surface. If you seated it to the top of the last grease groove (for example),that would leave you about 1.8” of powder space inside the case. To give you an idea of how BP works, you could fill the case with loose BP to a height of 1.8”(about 80 grs), or you could drop tube it to the very top of the case mouth (probably 100+ grains)and use a compression die to cram it down to 1.8”(.6” of compression), and not make a whole hell of a lot of difference. You could also do any variation between that in pursuit of a good load. In other words, your smokeless powder knowledge doesn’t apply to BP.

I think the only loads that consistency didn’t perform well in my shilohs have been light bullet plinker loads. Everything heavy has shot for me though.

The old dead guys were loading this stuff around camp fires after a day’s hunting, it isn’t rocket science. Fun as hell though!
 
Likes: SmileMaker
Mar 12, 2013
84
11
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Salinas, CA
#18
I picked up a Pedersoli Quigley last April. It's a 45-70. It's become an obsession. (As people here warned me it would be...)

My first few bullets were smokeless. Once I switched to black powder, I haven't looked back. My current load is 60 grains of 1.5 Swiss with a .30" vegi-wad, Capped by a 535 gn Postell lubed with SPG. (Seating that bullet takes a little over .25" of powder compression.) At 100 yards that load produces tighter groups than most of the local hooples with scopes can do.

Since you're running that scope, what I have to say next doesn't really apply. But I'm gonna say it anyways: Pedersoli makes some fantastics barrels, but their period sights leave a lot to be desired. I upgraded to Kelly Soule and globe sights. That led to a big improvement in shooting over the course of a day.

These guns command the respect of everybody at the range. They're huge fun to shoot.

Congratulations on your find.
 
Mar 12, 2013
84
11
8
Salinas, CA
#20
Yes, I do.
A short while ago, an old timer in my area passed on and his family dumped all his bullet make stuff at our local gun shop. Besides his tools, (that I snatched up) there was about 900 pounds of cast bullets sitting in vacum packaged 50 round boxes. Beautiful looking bullets cast in a 20:1 lead/tin alloy. I tried shooting a few as is, but my Sharps didn't like them. So I used them as lead for casting 535 gn Postell's. (Lyman mold number 457132) In the end, the gun shop got tired of the bullets taking up space so they gave them all to me just to get them out of there. So at some point in the future, I still need to learn about mixing alloys. For now, I'm cheating.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a different Lyman mold for a flat-nose 405 gn bullet that I want to use with a Rem Rolling Block that found its way into my safe. (Did I mention that block powder shooting is really addictive?) Anyhow, the mold makes such a beautiful hassle-free bullet that I decided to try some out of the Sharps.

They grouped well, but at 100 yards the POI dropped just over 8" compared to 535 gn Postells. This surprised me. I've since heard from several sources that this is due to the shorter period of time that the lighter and faster bullet spends in the barrel subject to recoil/barrel rise. I had never encountered this to any significant degree with modern rifles. But with these big slow moving bullets it's very pronounced.
 
#21
About 20 years ago I purchased a used Pedersoli 1874 Sharps Billy Dixon model in 45/70.
I replaced the tang sight with a Pedersoli souls sight.
That was a mistake!
I then purchase a MVA Buffalo souls sight with a Hadley eye piece.
I also replaced the Pedersoli ‘bubble’ front sight with a better one - no cold molasses slow bubble level.
My loads have been 60 to 61 grains of Swiss 2FFg or Swiss 3FFFg, .03 vegetable wad, slight compression with one lube groove exposed and an overall length of just under 3.00”.
This is with a Lyman home cast Postell Bullet.
I have made hits beyond 1000 yards on occasion!
 

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sandwarrior

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 21, 2007
4,237
205
63
in yooperland
#22
About 20 years ago I purchased a used Pedersoli 1874 Sharps Billy Dixon model in 45/70.
I replaced the tang sight with a Pedersoli souls sight.
That was a mistake!
I then purchase a MVA Buffalo souls sight with a Hadley eye piece.
I also replaced the Pedersoli ‘bubble’ front sight with a better one - no cold molasses slow bubble level.
My loads have been 60 to 61 grains of Swiss 2FFg or Swiss 3FFFg, .03 vegetable wad, slight compression with one lube groove exposed and an overall length of just under 3.00”.
This is with a Lyman home cast Postell Bullet.
I have made hits beyond 1000 yards on occasion!
Hoping you'd see this thread, Karl.:cool: How are things out N. Idaho way?
 
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