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Old May 11, 2002, 05:22 PM   #1
Gewehr98
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Finally found a clean-burning .45-70 load!

If you look back in the handloading posts from a while ago, I asked if anybody could clue me in on how to handload for my Ruger #1 in .45-70 so that there wouldn't be a ton of unburnt powder left in the barrel after each round.

The problem: The Ruger #1S in .45-70 has a short 22" barrel, which doesn't leave a lot of burn time for some powders. For 405gr cast bullets, I tried everything, from IMR 4198, IMR 3031, XMR 5744, light loads of Unique, FFg black powder, and even duplex WW231/FFg loads. The Sharps and Rolling Block guys seldom have that problem, leading me to believe the Ruger's short barrel is the culprit.

Believe it or not, the cleanest burning of all the above powders was the duplex WW231/FFg loads, and I got real good at drop-tubing charcoal onto the 5 grains of 231, seating a Wonder Wad, then seating a cast bullet. Worked fine, but it stayed around 1000fps over the chrono, comfortable, but no pizzazz. Accuracy with the duplex cast bullet load was good, surprisingly enough.

A couple weeks ago, two boxes of Beartooth bullets finally arrived, after about an 8-month wait. These are HARD (22 Brinell) 405gr cast bullets sized .460" with a gas check installed. Looking in my pwder drawer for another suitable .45-70 load, I noticed a forlorn can of Alliant 2400, which I normally use for cast bullet .32 Remington and 7mm Rimmed International loads.

What the heck, I'll try the stuff, 25.0 grains of 2400 in a Winchester case, Federal Magnum primer, and that neat Beartooth 405gr cast bullet. 20 rounds made with care.

At the range this afternoon, my target awaited at 50 yards to see if my point of impact was different from the duplex loads I had been using in the scoped #1. Sure enough, about 14" difference, the smokeless load shot lower. (Flatter trajectory, I can understand that). And I knew it was flatter, my shoulder told me that. Drop the breechblock, and voila'! A clean bore, no unburned powder!

Once I set the scope's vertical adjustment for the new load, the gun proceeded to produce 3/4" 5-shot groups at 50 yards. Nice, but before I could get the paper downrange to 100 yards, I'd burned through the ammo in a fit of joy, letting other range officers fire the big honkin' slugs into the target.

No problem, I placed another order with Beartooth, so I'll be set sometime later this fall when they ship. In the meantime, I still have 80 of those bullets to load up...
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Old May 11, 2002, 10:33 PM   #2
KP95DAO
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45-70 and unburned powder.

98,

Your problem finding a load that leaves no or little unburned powder in your Ruger 45-70 has nothing to do with the barrel length. It has everything to do with the operating pressure. For most middle range powders 4895, 3031, etc., they are operating in the lower 2/3 range of their optimum pressure range when used in a normal 30K to 40K Ruger/Marlin load. And you were loading cast bullets which puts the pressure levels even lower.

The 2400 was designed to burn efficiently at the levels you are operating. Therefore, no unburned powder.
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Old May 12, 2002, 10:05 AM   #3
Gewehr98
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Damn. I had the other powders at or near max!

So, in other words, with cast bullets and max loads of the recommended extruded powders, I just can't get the pressures high enough to burn efficiently in the Ruger #1? It does explain how my jacketed 405gr loads burn those powders, though.

Which leads me to wonder how the guys with the longer Sharps and Rolling Blocks manage to burn the stuff cleanly in their cast bullet loads, if it isn't a pressure issue.
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Old May 12, 2002, 05:28 PM   #4
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Gewehr98
I use Varget in my guide gun(18" barrel) with rem 405's. My load is with 55.8gr of powder. It sends them down range @ 1600fps. It's too hot for a trapdoor but your Ruger #1 shouldnt be a problem. This load is ever so slightly compressed and I can routenly shake 5 kernles of powder out of the case after firing, There are none in the bore. Strange....
I've also used RE#7 , That stuff is really clean and you can also get more speed (2000fps with 405's) But sending 405's that fast is very difficult to hang on too in such a short gun
For all the info you could ever want on the 45-70 try the big bore fourms at marlin's web page
http://www.marlinfirearms.com
there is no moderator so the name calling and fighting can get out of hand sometime.

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Old May 13, 2002, 12:25 PM   #5
RobCon
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G98,
I would second Cajun's recommendation of Reloder 7. 1700fps with a 405 is all I want from my 1886 Browning carbine. This powder is very clean and accuracy is splendid.( Don't have a Guide Gun yet.) RL7 works fine with 405gr cast bullets as well. Hope this helps. Rob
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Old May 16, 2002, 03:36 PM   #6
Gewehr98
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OK, got a pound of Reloder 7...

Now, besides Speer's listing of that powder for their jacketed bullet, where do I look for starting loads of Reloder 7 behind a 405gr hard cast bullet? Getting all excited, for a while there I was gonna put a paper plate under the muzzle and save the unburnt stuff from my previous rounds for economy's sake.
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Old May 20, 2002, 04:56 PM   #7
George Carlson
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G98,

If your still wondering why the guys with the long barreled guns don't complain about unburned powder, check the weight of their projectile's! Most likely there at least 150gr heavier than what your using. That's enough mass to help the slower powders to burn better. Auctualy some of my best groups happen when my barrel has a lot of powder left in it. I'm not sure why some people get excited when they see a few unburned powder fragments. After looking at my targets, and seeing the groups I want to see, that extra powder is of little consern to me....Geo
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Old May 20, 2002, 09:53 PM   #8
KP95DAO
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Unburned powder 45-70 loads.

GC,

I use a powder that Jeff Bartlett calls M9. It gives the velocity I want at a pressure I can accept with groups that make me smile and yet it leaves unburned powder in the bore. I just make sure to brush out any within an inch of the end of the chamber so it will not interfere with the next round. This is with jacketed bullets.

I think many people would be surprised by the amount of unburned powder exiting the bore of their firearms. You can test this by placing a sheet of butcher block paper in front of your firearm and shooting through the paper. All those little holes are the result of unburned powder.
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Old May 21, 2002, 12:03 PM   #9
Gewehr98
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I have no adversity to unburned powder in a barrel...

I ran into a somewhat similar problem running H380 in my 8mm Mauser and .30-40 Krag. It's just the AMOUNT of unburned stuff in my Ruger #1 that surprises me. Oh, that and the condition of the unburned stuff, it's still in extruded and dark (graphited?) form. I'm sure that for a box of 50 .45-70 IMR3031 and XMR-5744 handloads I could probably recover enough of the stuff to make a whole 'nother round. In other words, more - lots more - than just a few unburned granules.

Now, the same type of load behind a Speer jacketed flatnose 405gr bullet burns quite clean. So I tend to believe the pressure logic. Hence my trying Alliant 2400 and Reloder 7.

As I finish building my Rolling Block Creedmoor, I planned on using 405-450 gr cast or swaged bullets. I figured with at least a 30" barrel, stuff would burn clean, save for pure FFg loads. Now there's more testing to be done, yee-haa!
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Old May 22, 2002, 08:04 PM   #10
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Lyman 47th reloading handbook will cover just about anything in the way of cast bullets. Lots of good info and several RX7 loads for 45/70.
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Old May 23, 2002, 10:24 PM   #11
Gewehr98
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Hey!

I've got that Lyman manual somewhere around my reloading bench. Duh!

Thanks for the tip,Kaboom, sometimes we get in a rut and forget the best info is right under our noses.
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Old June 2, 2002, 08:14 PM   #12
Gewehr98
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Some follow-up.

Ok, ladies and gentlemen. Reloader 7, 45.0 grains of it, went into a W-W case, underneath a 405 grain hard cast bullet (John's Precision Cast Bullets). 20 rounds, assembled with care. Not much empty space in the case when I shook them, I noticed. Another 20 rounds, this time with 49.0 grains of Reloader 7, went underneath Beartooth 405gr super hard cast gas checked bullets. Even less empty space in that big .45-70 round when I shook it.

Off to the range. I worked my shift as rangemaster, then we kicked off the public at closing time and set up targets for ourselves. Out came the Ruger #1 and the benchrest. First round, with the 45.0gr Re7 load, shot a bit low at 100 yards, but WOW! That had some moxy on the ball, I've not felt a .45-70 load recoil like that, ever. Not really painful, but enought to let one know they were holding on to something with power. I shot 10 of those, grouping into about 3" at 100 yards, albeit kinda low. That's easy to fix with the elevation turret on the scope. Not too bad for a starting load. Very clean-burning, too!

On to the 49.0gr Re7 loads with the Beartooth bullets. First round, definitely louder, and definitely a hard jab to the shoulder. So much so that I guess I yelped. The other rangemaster walked over and asked to shoot one of the rounds. He said if it made me yelp he definitely wanted to try at least one round, because I never yelped. He shoots. He didn't yelp. He whimpered.

The latter rounds shot above point of aim, but grouped into about 1.5" for 5 rounds. That's all I shot into the paper, I couldn't really sit at the bench and fire any more of them, although the brass looked really good, primers weren't flattened, etc. The shoulder told me to stop shooting from the bench. I listened.

Here's the really neat part. From the standing position (my only option, really) 5 each of the remaining rounds went over the Pact chronograph, giving an average 1780 fps from the 45.0gr Re7 loads. Pretty respectable from a 22" Ruger #1 barrel. Then it gets better. The Pact chronograph averaged 2150fps from the 49.0gr Re7 loads and the Beartooth bullets. Yee-haa! Clean-buring, too. Think I found the right powder for the short-barrel Ruger. Thanks, Cajun, RobCon, and crew, for the Re7 suggestion!

The data I have says for the Ruger #1 action that I can go up to 51.0 grains of Reloader 7 with that bullet. Nice thought, dunno if I have the heart, I think I'm already in .458 Win Mag territory. I do know one thing, anything that gets in the way of that big 405gr bullet would have a very bad day.
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Old June 20, 2002, 02:09 PM   #13
Paul Fitz Jones
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Accurate 45-70 target load

I have 2 new California Saeco 4 cavity with gunstock handles "Competition Winning" 344 grains 45-70 bullet molds I was the Saeco top salesman in the 70s and retired with a stash of the greatest molds ever made after the owner died and the next owner started cheapening the quality of the products to make more money and take advantage of the 47 year reputation of Saeco. I sold almost a hundred 45-70 mold up to 405 grains as I wanted my customers to avoid "Sore Shoukder Syndrome" and "500 grain bullet Flinch" The Hornady #3 manual recommends up to 53 grains of 3031 to take any North American animal including Bear and Moose(If you want to eat them)

But I found that the most accurate load and the one that took dozens of deer and coyotes on my ranch wass 48 grains.

Now 48 grains was accurate, served my purposes and did not leave unburnt particles in my 1895 matlin or have them blow out the barrel. Myself and Hornaday at the time did not see any reason to shoot over a 350 grain bullet in North America.

These accurate molds were not made for oversize worn out barrels and weapons. But current Rugers and quality lever rifles in good conditionwhose owners want to win matches.

coffeyn1@juno.com
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Old June 20, 2002, 04:07 PM   #14
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Gewehr, I love that rifle. Used to have one, but gave it away as a Christmas present a few years ago. Know what you mean about having to shoot form a standing position. That tank-strong action just screams out for some immensely parful rounds once and a while. I never got up as far as the book's 53 gr of 3031....51 gr was enough to make me get off the bench before I'd touch them off. Gotta role with that punch! I feed my 45.70 jones now with a Sharps and some much milder Pyrodex loads beind a 480 gr Montana Precision Swaging bullet. Shot FFG for 2 years, but the Pyro is just so much more accurate that I quit beatin' my head against the black powder wall.
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Old June 21, 2002, 03:17 PM   #15
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The best powder that I've ever found for the .45-70 (1895 Marlin) is Hodgdon's H322. I load home cast 385 GR GC bullets to 1800 FPS. It is amazingly clean, consistent and accurate. I'm getting 2 inch three shot groups at 100 yards.

(BTW, this loads kicks like a Missouri mule!)
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Old June 22, 2002, 06:04 PM   #16
Gewehr98
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Now that I found a decent powder...

Think I'm gonna scale back. It's over a week later, my shoulder is still bruised. That, and if I run the plain-base cast 405's at or around 2000fps, I'll bet leading is gonna be a problem. Gas checks, no sweat.

Pappy John, I did get up to 53.0 grains of IMR3031 with a 405gr cast bullet. Not really that bad. Lots of unburned granules left inside the tube, but the recoil didn't hold a candle to the 49.0 grains of Reloader 7 behind the same bullet.

It has turned out to be a darned fun rifle, though!

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