Skip to comments..45-70 Big Power At Close Range
Posted on 10/29/2003 2:00:09 PM PST by 45Auto
High in the Oregon Cascades, I squinted into a wet, blowing snowfall for the antlers of a bull. I could see elk moving through a couple of gaps in the young fir trees about 60 yards away, when I caught sight of a bull. I flipped the cover off my scope lens and waited for the bull to show in the next opening.
As the bull reappeared, I could see antlers distinctly through the brush. I shouldered the rifle and tried to look throught my scope, but the lens was covered with wet snow. I swept it off quickly with a wet, gloved thumb. When I looked up, the bull had passed the opening and was out of sight.
That was not the first time that happened to me. I've lost game several times because a scope was rendered useless by either rain or wet snow. Thinking back about my elk hunting during the last few years in this wet, thick-wooded region, nearly all shots have been less than 100 yards. All this got me thinking about changing my rifle choice.
One hunter I know bought a Marlin .45-70 for elk and fitted it with a receiver peep sight. He was so successful with the cartridge and receiver sight that several of his friends bought the same combination. Local hunters also reported one-shot kills with the 350-grain Hornady roundnose and 400-grain Speer flatnose bullets in handloads. The performance of these bullets on elk-sized game was reported to be awesome.
When you think about it, it makes alot of sense. The rifle/cartridge/sight combination seem like a good match, particularly for elk under these conditions. Big heavy bullets have the mass to deal a powerful blow to an elk even after passing through a fair amount of heavy ferns and light brush. And what better cartridge is there for big bullets than the .45-70?
Iron sights are plenty good for the effective range of the cartridge and the relatively short shooting distances encountered in dense brush and timber. So I decided to give the old .45-70 and a new Marlin Model 1895 chambered for it a chance. The Marlin Model 1895SS is an easy-carrying fast-cycling lever gun. I knew from past experience with lots of Marlins in other calibers that these rifles are plenty accurate.
While everything so far sounds good, there are clinkers in this peep sight and .45-70 plan. First, while a good receiver peep sight is fast to use, there is no denying the fact that a scope gathers light and is a better performer under low-light conditions. An optical sight works earlier and later in the day.
Second, many middle-aged shooters have a problem with iron sights due to far-sightedness.
Third, the .45-70 is loaded mild at the factory, and rightly so, in deference to the old and weak actions are chambered for this round, so if you want high performance from this cartridge, it's a handloading proposition.
SAAMI specs on the .45-70 call for 28,000 either in pounds per square inch (psi) or copper units of pressure (cup). On the other hand, Marlin's lever actions are known to be strong rifles. Marlin's own .444 round, for example, carries a pressure spec of 42,000 psi, same as the .30-30 Winchester. The newer .356 and .375 Winchester cartridges, rounds the Marlins have been chambered for in the past, have maximum pressure standards of 52,000 cup and psi.
SAAMI/ANSI specifications are relatively mild for the .45-70 cartridge in general, handloading manuals have separated .45-70 data into catagories that match the various rifle action strengths. Nearly every major loading manual has plenty of good data developing pressures specifically for the strong Marlin rifles.
I shot several varieties of factory ammo and its performance could be safely exceeded with good handloads in every instance with the Marlin rifle. So, while SAAMI standards limit factory load performance, this is not a problem for a handloader with a strong Marlin and reliable shooting data.
Fourth, the .45-70 shoots large diameter, blunt bullets at relatively low velocity. While these are killers at close range and great for busting through brush, they make for a lot of drop at any distance. The blunt bullets with poor ballistic coefficients (B.C.) not only drop a lot over short distances, energy is also rapidly dissipated for the same reason - blunt bullets. I was interestd to see the downrange drop and energy figures after I determined the velocity to be had from the loads in my rifle.
Putting the .45-70 To The Test
I figured that iron sights were plenty good for 200 yards, and I like to hit an elk with 1500 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of energy. While shots are generally close, I want to be able to take an elk out at 200 yards in case the opportunity presents itself. Would the .45-70 shoot flat enough and have enough energy to do it?
Just for test purposes, I mounted a Tasco 1.75-5X scope on the new Marlin. I figured a more honest load comparison could be had with the greater sighting precision of a scope. The scope could be taken off, and the iron sights mounted, after I completed the accuracy testing and settled on a hunting load.
Four factory loads were fired from Federal, Remington, and Winchester. Five bullets and eight powders were tried in handloads. I experimented with several propellants including VV N130 and N133, AA 2495, 2015, and 2520; Varget; H322; and RL 7. As it turned out, my chosen hunting load was 50.0 grains of RL 7 with bullets weighing 300 to 405 grains, which are plenty heavy for elk.
With the components selected, loading and shooting soon revealed the performance of the handloads with my lots of components in my rifle. The highest velocity loading fired during the test series was 2173 fps from a 300-grain Hornady hollowpoint ahead of 61.0 grains of W N133. The case was a Winchester, and the primer was a Remington 9 1/2. The same 300-grain Hornady hollowpoint loading produced the greatest energy at 3145 ft-lbs.
(Excerpt) Read more at membres.lycos.fr ...
The passage of time sucks.
Ruger No. 1 falling block.
It can also fire 410 gauge shotgun shells. If you cut the shell into at the wadding, it fires like a slug. Ah, those were the days.
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