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Old August 22, 2012, 09:10 PM   #1
My Toy
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Need some good lead bullet load recommendations for 45-70

I've been handloading numerous rifle and pistol calibers for about 30 years. I just started handloading for my two latest acquisitions: A Marlin 1895XLR and A 1895GS. On my first outing with these rifles a had constructed all of my loads using 300 gr jacketed bullets by Hornady, Speer and Sierra. All of my loads were in the starting load range using IMR-4198, Varget and H-4895. Accuracy with the scoped XLR averaged about 1-1/2" at 100 yards and about 2" to 2-1/2" with the un-scoped GS at the same range. The problem is jacketed bullet heads in this caliber are really pricey; so I was giving some thought to trying lead bullets. I've always stayed away from lead because I hate cleaning lead from my barrels. But economics may be driving me to lead. So I'm in the market for some good lead bullet loads that members have had good luck with as far as accuracy and leading (or lack of leading). Is it necessary to use gas checks with lead bullets fired at rifle velocities? Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks
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Old August 22, 2012, 09:26 PM   #2
abber
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Go to the Missouri bullet Company's website and read some of the informational stuff on there. They talk about how to optimize pressure to hardness in order to avoid leading problems. I have some of their bullets for my 45-70. I worked up a load, but have not tried them yet, so I can't tell you how much or how little leading they will cause. The info is very interesting on that site. Good luck.

Here is what I have assembled but have yet to try out:

Bullet: Missouri #458300M 300 grain RNFP
Primer: WLR
Powder: IMR 4198 36.0 grains
COL: 2.495"
Brass: New Starline

I will be shooting these in an 1895 Marlin guide gun.
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Last edited by abber; August 22, 2012 at 09:36 PM.
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Old August 22, 2012, 09:35 PM   #3
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abber: Do you add gas checks on to your bullets? I've seen some other posts on reloading sites where some people use gas checks; I'm not really familiar with this process.
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Old August 22, 2012, 09:37 PM   #4
abber
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No gas checks (yet). We will see on that.
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Old August 23, 2012, 02:03 AM   #5
Edward429451
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I have several good lead boolit loads for 45/70 and some with gas checks. They all use Reloader 7 powder. I haven't found any powder to be as accurate in my Guide Gun as RL7, to me, it is the 45/70 powder.

Lee 405 gr FN sized to .460 (acww)
42.0 gr RL7
RP Brass (4x/1t)
Fed 210 LR Primers
2.500 OAL 1/2 t crimp.
1706 fps
15 fps Avg Dev
61 fps ES
20 SD
3"@100 yds

Lee 350 gr FPGC sized to .460 (acww)
40.0 gr RL7
RP Brass
Fed 210 LR Primers
2.480 OAL 1/2 t crimp
1612 fps
40 fps Avg Dev
106 ES
one ragged hole @ 100 yds

Lyman 400 gr FP .460 (acww)
42.5 gr RL7
RP Brass (3x/1t)
Fed 210 LR Primers
2.500 OAL 1/2 t crimp
1699 fps
11 fps Avg Dev
47 fps ES
15 SD
4" @ 100 yds

This from an 18.5" GG with Ballard rifling. I've taken two Mule deer with the 400gr FP load and didn't recover either boolit as it sailed right through them. They're all good loads, don't lead, and would be suitable for Elk also.
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Old August 23, 2012, 08:55 PM   #6
frumious
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MyToy,

I'd stay away from Missouri Bullets for the Marlin 45-70 if yours is a recent model. I bought my 1895 GBL from Cabela's last year and slugged the bore and it came out at .4579 inches. The MO bullets I bought (405 gr) mic'd out at about .4585. That was not big enough...I got leading at pretty low charge levels. Mind you I love MO bullets and use them 100% for my pistols but this Marlin of mine just doesn't like them.

These days I am shooting Pennsylvania Bullets' 405 gr bullet. They advertise .459 but they mic' out at more like .460. I load up 38.0 grains of IMR 3031 under them and they shoot into about 2.5" at 100 yards for me with a 4x scope.

When you go to cast bullets do yourself a favor and weigh them all and separate them out in increments of .1 grain. This is pretty eye-opening, or it was for me. Helps reduce fliers. Sorting brass by weight helps too.

Apart from Penn you can also try Carolina Cast Bullets...they have a Ranch Dog 350 grain gas-checked bullet advertised at .460 and as being specifically for Marlins.

-cls
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Old August 23, 2012, 09:10 PM   #7
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frumious:
I have never slugged a barrel; it seems really important when you use lead bullets. How do you go about it?
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Old August 23, 2012, 10:39 PM   #8
frumious
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It is easy. Basically you shove a lump of soft lead through the barrel and then measure it with a micrometer. Before you read my explanation you should probably hit up youtube. There's probably 10 videos on there and a video is worth a thousand forum posts.

First clean the barrel really really well. Like, spotless. Then get a pure lead fishing weight or a pure lead ball (like for a muzzle loader) that's just a little bigger than the barrel opening. Oil the barrel a little and oil the weight a little. Open the action and hold the rifle with the butt of the stock on the ground and set the weight in the muzzle.

With a plastic or rubber or leather mallet or a piece of wood, gently tap the weight down into the barrel. Follow it with a short piece of wooden dowel that's a little smaller than the barrel opening. Push/tap it all the way through the barrel and out into the action. It helps to have a paper towel in the action so the slug won't get dinged falling out of the gun.

Once you have the slug, carefully wipe it off and then measure it with a micrometer that is accurate to .0001 inch (most cheap ones do). Measure across the bulges; this is the "groove diameter" of your barrel. Should be something like .458 in the case of the .45-70.

NOTE that if your barrel has an odd number of grooves then you need special tools to do the measurement. But most firearms have an even number of grooves.

That's pretty much it. Lead bullets should be .001 to .002 over groove diameter and be soft enough so that when the hot gas of the powder combustion smacks it in the rear, the rear will expand real well and REALLY seal against the barrel as it moves down the barrel.

Everybody pretty much agrees on the .001-.002 over groove, but some folks believe harder is better for lead bullets. Honestly if you're buying bullets it doesn't matter what you think...you'll buy what they are sellin'

-cls

Last edited by frumious; August 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM.
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Old August 23, 2012, 11:51 PM   #9
Edward429451
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Actually, I've never slugged a barrel either. I cheated and just went to fatter boolits and worked up the load from start and it worked. Perhaps they would work even better if I slugged them and found another .001 would be in order but .452, .430, .311, and .460 have been working good so maybe one day I'll get bored enough to slug a barrel..
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Old August 24, 2012, 03:51 PM   #10
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I have tried many combinations in my 1895G and found that most current day load recipies do not perform well in the short 18 in barrel.
I looked in an old 1977 Hornady manual and found loads using IMR4227 a faster powder. I load 26grs on a 300gr lead bullet, and 27.5grs on a 300gr hollow point. They run much quicker (by cronograph) than i can get with 4198
or any of the other slow powders listed for long barrel 45-70s
The 1977 book says the max load for 300gr jacketed is 50.6grs,-vel,2400fps.
This load is for Marlin and Ruger ONLY not for trapdoors.
I would never run that hot,---not good for the gun or my shoulder !
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Old August 24, 2012, 04:32 PM   #11
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I used to feel that way about lead myself,till i found that copper fouling is just as bad. Now i use lead remover solvent, and for copper i found that
M-pro7 copper remover is fantastic ! I tried several others including Hoppes and they didnt work worth squat ! Now i use both lead and jacketed and dont sweat it !
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Old August 25, 2012, 12:33 AM   #12
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You don't need gas checks if you use a properly sized bullet. Many, if not most Marlins work best with a .460" diameter cast bullet. The way to tell if the bullet is a fit is to look for a lube donut forming on the muzzle crown after a couple shots. Also your recovered bullets will likely still have lube in the grooves. No donut and/or no lube means your bullet is undersized and you'll be key-holing. Plain or beveled base has never mattered to me. If I were you, I would order some .460" diameter bullets from the get go - they'll swage down without overpressure if you by chance have a .458" bore.

Your bore will season after 5 or 6 shots and either be very accurate or obviously not. Key-holing from undersized fodder won't show up till about 8-10 shots. If the bullets fit and the gun is shooting great - don't clean the bore.

I've never encountered a commercial lube that couldn't keep up with 45-70 velocities and pressure.

Personally, I think you should stay in the 400'ish grain weight range.
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Old August 25, 2012, 08:43 AM   #13
Edward429451
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Quote:
I have tried many combinations in my 1895G and found that most current day load recipies do not perform well in the short 18 in barrel.
You haven't tried Reloader 7 (obviously)
Pick up a can of RX7 and prepare to smile.
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