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Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

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Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#1 Post by indy1919a4 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:33 pm

All the Trap door talk has my blood boiling :P

So the American Civil War is over, Which rifle would you recommend to re arm with.. The Springfield Trapdoor or Remington Rolling Block.. And here is the fun part Why..

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#2 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:20 pm

Cost were a main concern back then, not exactly function. Cheaper was far more important than better. Also, ammo was not to be wasted. After most of the imperial army was defeated in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, the French Republic took anything they could get their hands on, including old Springfield muzzle loaders.

Shortly after the Franco=Prussian war European small arms were greatly upgraded. Many bolt action guns were given magazines that held several rounds, something the rolling block and trapdoor lacked.

The true collector just gets both,.....Easy-peasy. Also pick up a Vetterli, Dutch-Beaumont, Martini-Henry, Snider Enfield, 1874 Mauser, and a 1886 Lebel. My Springfield actually was made after the Lebel first came out.

Get the Trapdoor first, as 45/70 govt. cases are easy to find. Rolling blocks are nice too, but you got to find one in a caliber you can easily find cases for. Firing a black powder bolt action magazine fed rifle does make an impressive cloud after a few shots. They are all good.

Best Regards,

Mark

BTW, there are also parts for the Trapdoor if needed. Get another rifle listed above and it is good luck finding parts. I do mean that sincerely.

BURNER once let me fire an AK-47 with all black powder loaded ammo. That's a fun route to go. He days he cleaned it at a car wash afterwards.

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#3 Post by Rapidrob » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:28 pm

The rolling block. Very strong action. Easy to load and unload. Very easy to clean. Easy to use sights. Very accurate. Was made in many calibers. Used by many countries.
I have shot my rifles out to 500 yards with very good results. I've shot my 7mm RRB out to 800 yards and it shoots as well as any rifle in that caliber. I would carry one into trouble.
The trap door is a good rifle. Accurate and fairly strong. Not as easy to clean and when fired quickly can be a bear to clear the chamber when fouled. Many loads for the rifle and carbine to choose from.
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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#4 Post by Cattus Borealis » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:02 am

Hello everyone,

If my Army were re-equipping in the late 1860s, my pick would be the Rolling Block due to strength and Remington's ability to produce a large volume rapidly.

I think my next pick would be the Martini and then the Trapdoor system.

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#5 Post by Smokey » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:56 pm

Later trapdoor models had the rear of the bold back up against the rear of the action. Those were much stronger than the early models. I read somewhere that one was rebarreled to .30-06 and fired a lot with no problems.
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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#6 Post by Rapidrob » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:34 pm

Yep the trap door in the later models was much stronger. I know of a rifle converted in the late 1900's to .30-40 Krag and had been shot a lot of times with no problems.
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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#7 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:51 pm

I think the 1867 French Chassepot is a better weapon. Also, Snider-Enfield conversions are nothing to laugh at. Both proved their worth in battle. The Chassepot impressed the Prussians so much they had to upgrade to the 1871 Mauser. Snider-Enfield rifles blasted Russians to pieces even in 1877. Martini's are likely better, but more expensive. Performance is great, but costs often matter more. I would guess the trapdoor was far cheaper to make than a rolling block and that's why the US Army choose it. Tube magazine fed Henry rifles seem to be a superior weapon for any engagement under 400 meters due to their ROF. They were even used during the Civil War, but costs kept their numbers low. I think a Springfield muzzle loading rifle was about 1/10th the cost of a Henry at the time. I can Imagine that Trapdoor's were significantly cheaper to make than rolling blocks as well. I don't know for sure, but it looks like it has a few parts very similar to those of a muzzle loading Springfield as well as having a very simple breech block system. Retooling the Springfield armory to make them instead of the more complex rolling block system seems like a more economical choice.

Remember, most armies had to equip themselves with a budget in mind. Napoleon III couldn't equip his armies with as many machine-guns as planned due to a limited amount of funds and neither could Lincoln arm all his regiments with Henrys for the same reason. The British converted their muzzle loading Enfields with the Snider breech system until they could produce a better rifle efficiently. Most European armies settled for bolt action rifles over the trapdoor and rolling block systems when it came time to upgrade. Furthermore, the single shot bolt action rifles were upgraded to have magazines to improve their ROF, something the trapdoor and rolling blocks didn't allow.

I did spot a single shot Gras rifle upgraded to fire the 8mm Lebel round on Gunbroker last week. A Gras is basically a Chassepot that fires a brass cartridge, so upgrading a trapdoor to fire 30-06 seems possible. The Italians did the same with their 1870 Vetterli rifles. Personally, I wouldn't fire anything but a black powder load out of one since those upgrades were mostly done under emergency wartime conditions. I have fired a smokeless powder cast load out of Vetterli that had been made as a black powder single shot 10.4mm rifle, then upgraded with a 4 shot magazine and then modified to fire 6.5mm Carcano rounds with a 6 round magazine. That's a piece of work.

Best Regards,

Mark

BTW, don't count out the Berdan II used by the Russians designed by the same man who formed the Berdan sharpshooters during the American civil war.

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#8 Post by Cattus Borealis » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:14 pm

Lots of times weapons designs were acquired by governments in interesting manners... mainly not to pay designers!


The Trapdoor was mainly in service because of the Springfield Armory.

The US Army preferred to keep designs in house, Erskine S. Allin, the Master Armorer for Springfield did not make a cent beyond his salary for his design. The early Trapdoors were much more complicated in extraction. Allin liberally borrowed elements from Hiram Berdan's design (Berdan I). If I remember correctly Berdan's widow sued the US government and won in 1899.

The British adopted Jacob Snider's design only after the designer died of TB to dodge royalties. His widow later received a small stipend if I remember correctly.

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#9 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:41 pm

Man, the Berdan II must be totally different than a Berdan I since the II sports some very Mosin like looks. Infact, the Berdan II looks like a Mosin prototype if I believe my eyes.

Yeah, I agree that the Springfield Armory swayed the US Government on what the army was equipped with more than most. Loads of private firms were making superior designs and had to sell them abroad or to the public. I believe that the US Army more or less had to go with the M1917 "Eddystone" since the Springfield Armory couldn't make enough 1903s during WWI. I think the British sold the machinery making the M1914 for a song to get used into the war. Retooling the rifle for 30-06 wasn't too hard to do.

On the topic of designs, I believe the 1903 and M1917 were mostly built around the Mauser bolt action and royalties were lacking or meager. I'm guessing Remington wouldn't sell their rolling block design to the army, hence the Trapdoor. I know Denmark and Sweden used the Rolling block design, if not Remington made rifles. Loads of Latin and South American countries bought rolling blocks, but when Mauser came out with its 1893 and 1895 models, they switched suppliers, especially after the results of the Spanish-American war and the Boar war. Of course the Germans only sold them 7mm models and kept the 8mm ones to themselves and a few to Turkey.

On a side note, I had to replace my Trapdoor's ejector spring recently and finally got it to eject properly. That was a pure joy to see the cases fly out successfully. I was resorting to breaking out my Swiss Army knife and prying them out much like Custer's men had to before they were dispatched by the locals. Parts weren't too hard to find either.

On another side note, I must add that the black powder bolt action Dutch Beaumont is a pleasant rifle to shoot. Getting reloading dies isn't cheap, but you can form cases from 50-90 Sharps with a modest amount of work, unlike the 577/450 Martini-Henry. Snider brass is likewise not hard to make with brass 24GA shotgun hulls. The easiest is the 45/70 of the Trapdoor since it is still commercially made. I always have to research how to acquire or make components for any antique rifle I buy. Unfortunately, the Berdan II is out of my league in every aspect.

On my last side note, a smokeless powder rolling block in 7mm Mauser is good pick up. PRVI still makes the ammo and shooting it is a pure pleasure. Well, any rolling block is a pleasure to shoot actually, not to mention a trapdoor as well. Finding one with a good bore is the trick.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#10 Post by Cattus Borealis » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:04 pm

This is interesting stuff!

It is funny that you mentioned the Trapdoor's ejector...I recently restored an old NJ State militia 1884 Springfield Rifle. The Ejector was completely missing. S&S firearms had a reproduction one that worked great! Watching the cases fly is one of the joys of shooting a Trapdoor.


The Springfield Armory didn't want to pay Remington for royalties on the Rolling Block. Remington had no problem selling the rights. Many of the foreign Rolling Block were Liege made "Brevet Remington." The USN and several state militias had no issue with the Royalties. If you can track down a copy of Robert Ball's Springfield Armory book, it is great reading. It covers the parsimony of Springfield in great detail.



Here is a good resource for old Black Powder cartridge rifles. It is from the Paleolithic age of the internet but the info is still good:

http://www.militaryrifles.com/MAINIndx.htm

My unicorn single shot military rifles would be the following:

Lee Vertical Rifle: The Rolling Block and Peabody-Martini had a baby

Bavarian Werder

Portugese M1885 Guedes

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#11 Post by Cattus Borealis » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:13 pm

Here is a gorgeous Lee Vertical Rifle:

https://www.rockislandauction.com/detai ... ials-rifle

Pretty neat design!

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#12 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:43 pm

I have an old ruleset for miniature war-gaming that rates the Werder as good as a Chassepot, else the Bavarians were using old muzzle loaders converted to breech loaders, which lost a great deal of their previous range. I think Simpsons ltd. has a Werder as I was eye shopping their website today. Who knows what case and bullet that thing uses. Just more money to invest in. Researching for the Werder will likely give me a big headache, but it is a nice rifle. Good taste in a rifle sir.

I have a very strange aversion to buying books on guns. I would guess that is due to finding so much information on the internet for free instead of getting the book. This is strange because I will not read history from the net and prefer a book instead. I have a few general overviews on guns I got cheap on clearance and that's about it. I do buy reloading books though (usually on clearance or used).

The RSO at my range got a total kick out of my Trapdoor. He loved the big old hammer coming down and setting off the round. Hey, I didn't even have to put on a percussion cap too! My nephew even hit the bullseye with it on his first shot. Not bad, not bad at all.

Man, the Lee Vertical rifle sounds like an adventure into a money pit. Nice looking rifle once again. If they could only look that nice and stay cheap to buy and reload for.

I haven't ventured into the land of muzzle loading for reasons that escape me. I think biting the top off my paper encased round will give me a taste of gunpowder I'm not ready for. If I'm going to get one, I'm certainly going to bite the top off the cartridge and then dump the powder in like I see in the movies or I'm not getting one. Actually, I think I need some info on making a paper cartridge and finding the proper percussion cap. This info has annoyed me for no good reason.

That Portuguese rifle doesn't sound familiar at all. Didn't they get some sort of Mauser knock off with a tube magazine named after the Prussian inventor of that tube magazine system it uses, just exactly like a Mauser? I stay away from that Mauser knock off cause I'm afraid on yet another caliber and migraine headache in finding the proper bullet and case. Anyways, I have the original Mauser, but the magazine system is beyond saving, yet it looks and shoots nice.

I'm really into the Berdan II, but I like pain and can't stop myself. I have shot one or at least fondled one a long time ago. I think the first thing I said when I saw it was "Is that actually a Berdan rifle?" The owner said "Yes". I then said, "I think the guys at Tula turned it into the Mosin from what I see."

Hey for the price of the Lee, you could get a semi-auto modern day made BAR. Food for thought.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#13 Post by Smokey » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:34 am

After the Civil War, the US had a huge inventory of muzzle-loading rifle-muskets. The virtue of the original Allen conversion was the obsolete muskets could be (and were) upgraded to breech loaders. Most of the existing rifle was reused.
They originally used a .58 rimfire cartridge. Later the barrels were sleeved to a centerfire .50-70 cartridge. The .45-70 was adopted for new manufacture in 1873.
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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#14 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:14 am

I wonder how hard it is to sleeve a barrel? It sounds nasty and I do machining for a living. Looks like the Brits just kept the original barrels and used the same bullet in a brass cartridge. The French and Bavarians had similar rifles. Surprisingly, the Prussians had a single shot bolt action rifle since 1848 and never converted their rifles.

I found out the Henry rifle was somewhat fragile and only 10-15K were made. Later the company was bought by Winchester and the Turks actually used the 1873 model. Also, Spencers were more robust, but I heard they tended to jam. This info makes converting muzzle loaders seem real sane, not to mention cost effective.

As for price differences, I saw that a Henry ran $40 back in the day and a 1855 Springfield musket was $10-$20 as I've seen two different sources for the price on 1855 Springfields. This is from the famed source called Wikipedia. Wikipedia listed the 1855 at $20 and I think that is wrong, but I cannot recall where I read the $10 price.

For the money.....I would go for a conversion rifle using the same old caliber. The Snider-Enfield seems like the best of the lot.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Which would you pick for your army A TrapDoor or Rolling Block

#15 Post by indy1919a4 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Cattus Borealis wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:02 am
Hello everyone,

If my Army were re-equipping in the late 1860s, my pick would be the Rolling Block due to strength and Remington's ability to produce a large volume rapidly.

I think my next pick would be the Martini and then the Trapdoor system.
You had me going with that Martini, out of the box.. you may have to wait till the 1870s to rearm.. But I like lt.. Imagine Custer & Rorke's drift having the same guns.

Came across this accidentally on the way to other things,but it does compare shooting a trapdoor system to a Martini.

Now it would be real easy to nit-pick but a free test is a free test.. you can skip to 9.50 for the trapdoor and 14.00 for the Martini..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np2ZIEen0Xc

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