Cavalry Battery

How would you go about experiencing what it was like to shoot .45 Government (.45-70) Model 1873 “Trapdoor” carbines and .45 Colt SAA revolvers, such as the troopers carried? For cavalry service, the carbine charge was 55 grains of black powder with 405-gr. lead RN bullets. The charge for the Colt revolvers was 30 grains of powder behind 250-gr. conical bullets with a small flat nose.

Nowadays black powder charges using Swiss or Goex 1-1/2 Fg or FFg black powder easily fit in modern .45-70 and .45 Colt brass. Moreover, any RNFP 250-gr. bullet design from molds made by Lyman, RCBS, LEE or Redding/SAECO approximate the profile and weight of the swaged lead alloy .45 Colt Government bullet. Lyman’s cast bullet #457124 was actually designed in the late 1800s specifically to duplicate the 405-gr. swaged lead alloy Government carbine bullet.

Velocities of the Government loads at the time were rated at 1,150 fps from a 22" carbine barrel and about 850 fps from a 7-1/2" SAA barrel. Those figures may sound deceptively puny to modern shooters.

One day a few years back I helped a movie company with live firing using my original Model 1873 Trapdoor. While filming I touched off about 70 rounds from the 7-lb. carbine and that night I had trouble sleeping because my shoulder was bruised from recoil. Thirty grains of black powder behind a 250-gr. bullet in a 2-1/2 lb. Colt SAA will cause the muzzle to flip skyward in recoil. Both carbine and revolver put out huge clouds of smoke.