View Full Version : The perfect guide gun?

November 26, 2004, 06:40 AM
I personally love the concept of the 45-70 guide guns.

I'm a guide in South Africa and I hunt almost exclusively with my .375. I find it a perfect all rounder but unfortunately it is quite heavy.

I seldom have to kill a client's animal for him on soft skin animals so it is a waste to carry all that weight the whole day. The kills that I do are very short range quick shooting anything from warthog to eland.

What I was thinking of was building a 45-70 on a bolt action with an 18" barrel and a light synthetic stock, ghost ring site and quick release scope mounts for a red dot scope if needed for bush pig hunting.

We are very limited with gun licenses in South Africa. I own a 30-06 and the .375. I consider them as very good “all rounders” as I reload and that makes these two very versatile. Between the two rifles I can shoot 130grain to 400 grain bullets.

What I am trying to get at is that:
I mainly hunt in dense areas, shoot fast and at short ranges and I need all the fire power I can get!
I think that this rifle will be perfect but very little South Africans use a 45-70 so it is very difficult to get advice.
I don’t want to go through the whole process of getting the rifle licensed and then be disappointed! (Licensing a rifle is very expensive and time consuming!!!!)
Do you guys have any comments and advice on my idea?


Northwest Cajun
November 27, 2004, 09:35 PM
I love mine,
I'm good to 200 yds with my handloads of 405 Rem's at 1700 fps using Reloader #7. I flipped a 700lb Elk off it's feet at about 50 yds.
A gun magazine writer recently told of taking out 2 Cape Buff's with one shot.
I think he was using a FMJ round.
Good luck. In my openion you cant go wrong with a Marlin Guide gun. You might also want to look at one of Jim West's creations at wildwest guns in Ankorage Alaska.


February 20, 2005, 05:04 PM
you will not be disappointed the .45-70 lever handles very well and can be tamed right down or loaded up with those high-ocatne 500 (or larger) grain hardcast bullets. ive heard nothing bad about these guns and im sure that one would suit you just well

April 20, 2005, 04:45 AM
I have a Marlin 1895 GS in 45/70, stainless steel.

It is setup as a dangerous game rifle for bears (black, grizzly and polar) at close ranges of 25m or less. I am a geologist and work in remote areas in Canada and abroad.

I've added: Wild West Guns ghost ring sight, Willams front firesight with cutaway hood, one piece trigger (very smooth, light trigger pull now), one piece ejector, aluminum magazine follower and a Pachmayer Decellerator recoil pad.

The rifle is very handy, only 37" long though loaded with 4 in the tube magazine and 6 more in and elastic holder on the stock, it weighs at least 7.5 lbs.

The cartridge feed has been flawless and offhand I am able to put 5 rounds of full power, hard cast loads into a 8 cm circle at 25m as fast as I can cycle the lever.

It is a very reassuring rifle to have when the big bears are around.

For dangerous game, I even prefer it over my controlled round feed, Mauser action, BRNO ZKK600 30-06 and that is saying a lot.

It has been worth the money for me.

Sharp Shooter
April 20, 2005, 10:09 AM
go with a marlin 444 lever.

Rich Lucibella
April 20, 2005, 12:04 PM
Danie Van Graan in Nelsbruit(sp) uses the LA 45-70 as his main guide gun. He accompanied me to Tanzania when I took 3 Cape Buff with my own 45-70. Email me for contact info if you wish to speak with Danie.

He reloads and looks to push a 430 grainer at 2K+ fps. Last time I was there, we introduced him to a Lever Action 50 Alaskan. Were it not for the gun quantity restriction, I'm fairly confident Danie would be carrying that today. Easily capable of pushing a 450 grainer at 2100 FPS, there's nothing the 45-70 can do that the 50 AK can't do just a bit better.

Whether the 45-70 or 50 AK, given your stated hunting conditions, I just don't think you can go wrong with a lever gun. Easy fist carry; high capacity; very fast action; rugged and dependable.

April 20, 2005, 02:05 PM
I like my 45-70's and for high power rounds you will need to reload,I have had case head seperations on some of my hot loads after being reloaded a few times and cant help but wonder if the 450 cartridge would help with this as the 45-70 case isn't very stout.I'd hate to be in a bind and have half a case stuck in my chamber.

Long Path
April 20, 2005, 10:10 PM
The stainless Marlin 1895 is an amazingly rugged rifle, and handles like a walking stick. The feeding is very uniform, even straight from the factory, with factory loads and a variety of handloads. I strongly advise improving on the factory sights, but that's easily done with no fuss. Frankly, in heavy brush, a red dot on one would be excellent. They come drilled and tapped for scopes on the receiver, and a nice intermediate mount is available.

Another nice thing about the Marlins is that their actions are so strong, the manufacturer is okay with using the heavier loads like Garrett and Buffalo Bore through them. This steps up the utility of the rifle immensely in your section of the world.

For your kind of work, I would think them absolutley perfect. You're not going to be sniping heart shots at 200 yards-- you're looking for a fast-handling repeator for closer shots, which have some knockdown. Given your concerns about ammo availability, I would definitely turn down the .50 Alaskan, but there's been .45-70 on the ground for a hundred years and some, and over the last few years there's a resurgence. I would mark it an option, IMHO.

the possum
April 25, 2005, 06:49 PM
Greetings, fellas.
With this much experience weighing in, I have no business offering advice. So, I'll pose this as a question to you folks.

Would a lever gun in one of the more powerful pistol calibers be a viable alternative? As in, .454 Casull, .475 Linebaugh, etc.?

It sounds like his main interests are finding a gun that's lighter & handier than his current guns; it didn't sound like he was really looking for more power. I figure these rounds may not have quite the power on the upper end as the .45-70 or .50 Alaskan. But they are nothing to sneeze at out of a rifle barrel, either, and he did say this was for "thin-skinned" game.
Ammo availability? The way he makes it sound, he can't walk into the local hardware store & pick up a box of any of the rounds we're discussing, .45-70 included. He could order a couple hundred empty brass & components from one website as easily as another. The main advantages to this option that I can see, is that the gun would be a little shorter, lighter, and "handier", with a shorter throw and increased capacity. (he did mention "firepower".) If ya really wanna spend some bucks, Wild West Guns (http://www.wildwestguns.com/) is even making a handy little lever gun in .500 S&W Magnum.

Is there merit in this line of thought, or do I need to lay off the crack pipe for a while? :)

Smokey Joe
May 15, 2005, 04:36 PM
If you must go with a lever, fine. If, however, a bolter would do it for you may I suggest the Remington Mdl 700 or its new reincarnation, in .35 Rem mag.

The original came out years ago, and was a light, handy, short gun. It was also quite ugly, with a shark-fin front sight and a vented railroad track atop the bbl, and a dog-leg bolt handle. The magnum cartridge kicked like a mule, but as it was mostly used as a backup gun, that didn't matter much. It became much prized by Alaskan guides.

Have handled one in .308Win, and it is short, handy, light, and ugly. The one I used also had a side-mounted 'scope that added nothing to the rifle's esthetic qualities. Besides hurting your eyes to look at it, rifle and 'scope worked just fine. .308 of course is a bit light for your purposes.

Rem has recently re-introduced the same short, handy, light, ugly bolt-action rifle, but they now call it something else. And they at least eliminated the railroad-track on the bbl. But it is still available in .35 Rem Mag, and I suggest that as a guide's "stopper" for thin-skinned game, it would be ideal.

JB in SC
May 15, 2005, 07:41 PM
Charlie Sisk builds some nice looking bolt guns for the .450 Marlin.

Never having owned a bolt gun for a rimmed cartridge like the .45-70, I wonder how well it would feed. Seems important in your part of the world for a rifle to feed every time the bolt is worked. Why not a short barreled .458 on a Model 70 or Mark X action? Phil Shoemaker, the Alaskan big bear guide, has written a series of articles on his "Old Ugly" .458 carbine. Could be loaded up or down to suit.

Of course, the lever would do fine if you want to limit yourself to .45-70 levels. I used a Ruger No. 1 in .45-70 as well as the re-introduced Marlin 1895 in the 70's for boar with excellent results. The Ruger could give me all I wanted in power (and recoil) with the Marlin not far behind.