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Ok, so don’t beat up on me too bad here. I’m new to the 45-70. Reading up on it, and why it’s called a 45-70 in the first place, it seems that it was developed on the idea of using 70 grains of powder. This would clearly send this in to the magnum arena, yet, when I search reloading data, they are using 50 grains or less. So, what happened along the way to go from 70 grains that it was named for to a much lower charge? Was it just too much to handle?

thanks.
 

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Also, modern 45-.70 brass is not balloon headed and will only hold about 67 or 68 grains of black if you use a drop tube and a slightly compressed load. black powder has to have the case filled and be in contact with the projectile. in order to use a lighter load of black you need to use a filler to make sure there is no air space in the cartridge.
 

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modern 45-.70 brass is not balloon headed
If you are new to reloading, or guns in general, you probably do not understand that statement. If you look at the piece of brass on the left, you will see that the head is mostly empty. This is called "balloon head", and is the way they made cartridge brass back in the 1800s. The case on the right is a modern case. What is referred to as "solid head". As you can see there is less room for gunpowder because the entire head is solid brass.
 

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45/70 = 45 caliber bullet pushed by 70 grains (by volume) of black powder. Sometime last year, I loaded up a few using a 405 grain bullet and they shot beautifully. No sudden "kick" of the gun, but too messy to clean up afterward so I will probably never load them again, I will stick with a "cleaner" smokeless powder.
 

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Thanks everyone. Great info and can’t wait to start reloading this puppy! Woohoo!
Exactly what .45-70 rifle are you planning to shoot? This caliber is loaded to THREE SEPARATE classes. You need to know what you are doing before you start. The lowest end of these are the old Springfield Trapdoor rifles and carbines due to their age, design and metal heat treatment of that era.

The next level of power and performance would be the Marlin lever actions and similar strength rifles. Of course you can use the lower end of power in these also - but NOT the upper end of the power range.

The highest end would be the modern Ruger rifles produced in .45-70 and some custom built rifles. Never fire ammunition intended for these in the Springfields or Marlins. They can blow up in your hands. The same goes for loading black powder cartridges. Make sure you understand the 'hows and whys' before you start. Do yourself a huge favor and check back in here before you get started. We need to know the rifle and the components you plan to use to safely get you started.

The 'why is it called a .45-70' has already been answered here. Keep in mind that not all of the early ".45-70" ammunition actually WAS ".45-70". The U.S. Government actually loaded several distinct different cartridges for this caliber. There was the early 70 grain BP charge used with a 405 grain lead hollow base bullet for the long Infantry riles, another used the same 405 grain hollow base bullet with a 55 grain black powder charge (and a filler wad) for the light weight Carbines, and finally a 500 grain plain base lead bullet with about a 68 grain black powder charge. The reason for the hollow base bullet was meant to seal the bore on firing - much like the old Civil War .58 caliber muzzle loaded 'Minie Ball'. When a heavier 500 grain lead bullet was introduced, it was found that the inertia of the heavier bullet on firing cause the bullet to compress/swell inside of the rifle barrel and so a hollow base was not necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow, I’d say that’s pretty important information. I just bought a newer Marlin 1895 SBL. I haven’t decided which grain I’ll use. Probably 250-300 for deer. Then have bear loads for fun in 405 and 500. Hoping the load data will tell if it’s safe for my gun?
 

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Wow, I’d say that’s pretty important information. I just bought a newer Marlin 1895 SBL. I haven’t decided which grain I’ll use. Probably 250-300 for deer. Then have bear loads for fun in 405 and 500. Hoping the load data will tell if it’s safe for my gun?
What reloading manual are you using? Most modern manuals do have three separate sections for the type of gun you are loading for.
 

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Having formerly hunted with, shot competitively and loaded for the 45-70 for over 20 years, all level of rifles/loads, I wouldn't waste my time with anything less than 405gr.bullets.

Getting data off line rather than out of a manual?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was just reviewing Nosler on line. I haven’t delved into it too much, and was just curious about the 70 grains that I found on most manuals.
 

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If you are going to try modern smokeless gunpowder, go to hodgdon.com for their load data, which has three different load listing the various types of firearms. (Trapdoor, Break Action, Bolt Action) Hodgdon has load data for Hodgdon brand gunpowders, Winchester gunpowders, and IMR gunpowders. Hodgdon owns all three brands, plus Hodgdon also owns Western gunpowder, which has Accurate, and Ram Shot gunpowders. That website is westernpowders.com of which between those five brands of gunpowders you should be able to find something that will suit you. I have used Hodgdon, H-322 in the past for a T/C Contender 14” barrel hand cannon, which I very non affectionately referred to as the “Recoiling Ouch Meister”.
 

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I was just reviewing Nosler on line. I haven’t delved into it too much, and was just curious about the 70 grains that I found on most manuals.
I just looked through the 45/70 load data in two manuals, and I haven't found any load that goes anywhere near 70 grains of powder.
 

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I load a variety of loads for the Marlin Guide gun. Basically I have hunting loads and one plinking load. My plinking load is intended to mimic the trapdoor load and has no recoil and trajectory about like a 22 LR. I have a Lee mold that throws a 340 or so bullet. I then use Unique powder, 14.6 grains, you can find those loads listed in the cowboy
action section of reloading manuals. Mine averages 1,190 fps. It lets me practice without recoil, yet still is ample for any deer or hog out to 100 yards. I sight it for 75 yards, after that the trajectory is like a brick or foster type shotgun slug.

I do like the Hornady ammo and it gives the flattest trajectory you will find. They claim about 2,050 fps, in my shorter barrel it goes 1,809 fps which is pretty flat and a 325 grain bullet so plenty of thump.

I have loaded 300, 350 and 405 grain bullets and probably like the smaller ones better but no pet load. The books tell you to use 52-55 grains of most powders. I like to shoot and with components an issue these days, I like to use my cast play load. The cost of the bullet is just the cost of lead and electricity probably well under 10 cents, then a 4 center primer and that 14.6 grains of Unique costs only 7 cents, the cost being 20 cents or less per round, or $4 a box, vs $40 a box for any factory. I use Starline Brass and just for grins I suggest you at least try one bag of the nickel cases. They look awesome.

I have not yet hunted with it since I hunt the wide open spaces. But the 45-70 has lots of other uses. For example, if you have an unwanted tree or stump on your property, you can pretty well cut it off at the ground line with a box of ammo. Or if hunting hogs you can just line them up and take 2 with one shot, or so I have read.

Enjoy.



I have killed deer with my cast bullets at even less velocity out of 50 cal front loaders and look forward to it. You will enjoy the caliber and the Marlin. I collect levers so I am biased but with the big ammo, it is just special welcome to the club.
 

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Yeah, that was my whole point. It’s called a 70 because that’s what they used in the beginning, not with smokeless.technically a modern caliber should say 45-50+/-
OKAY, so we need to change the name of a cartridge that has been used for almost 150 years cause it doesn't use 70 grains of smokeless powder! Let's change the ones I load to 45/29.8 cause I only use that much IMR 4427. But, But - if I changed to IMR 3031, I would then have to change the name to 45/40.9, that sure would get confusing after a while!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We could just leave the name as 45/70 and allow the use of any powder and weight.
 

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Wow, I’d say that’s pretty important information. I just bought a newer Marlin 1895 SBL. I haven’t decided which grain I’ll use. Probably 250-300 for deer. Then have bear loads for fun in 405 and 500. Hoping the load data will tell if it’s safe for my gun?
The Marlin 1895 is what the manuals call Modern Rifles and it will handle anything and everything except for the section that specifically says it is for the Ruger #1 or other actions. The load data for the Marlin is restricted to 28,000 CUP which is plenty. Your recoil will be about like a heavy 12 gauge shotgun load.

Any size bullet will work for deer and unless you are hunting grizzly or brown heavier bullets are not required. Remember 30-30 is the caliber of choice for black bear for decades. That is a 150-170 grain bullet with about 1,700 foot pounds, your factory 45-70 ammo will exceed 2,500 foot pounds of energy easily. Buffalo Bore sells several rounds of 45-70 for the Marlin that are 3,600 foot pounds with 300 grain bullets, so not to worry. .45-70 Magnum Rifle and Gun Ammo (buffalobore.com)

Enjoy.
 

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Remember, black powder is measured by volume. Smokeless nitro powder is measured in grains by weight.

No sudden "kick" of the gun, but too messy to clean up afterward so I will probably never load them again,
Real black powder leaves lots of residue. I have used Pyrodex, found it left plenty of resdue. 777 is fairly clean, easy to clean up.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Seems like real BP would be a pain to load. Having to add filler, then enough to touch the bullet, getting seating just right. That would be a lesson in patience for sure.
So, modern loads.....they didn’t change the case so much, it’s ok to have 20grains less in the case. All that space now?? Interesting.
 
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