View Full Version : 45-70?

August 4, 2009, 01:26 AM
This round has had me intrigued for some time now. The more I read about it, the more I become fascinated by it. I've always been curious about it, but wanted to get into reloading before I bought a gun for it. It would be both cheaper and more versatile to shoot since you can load it darn near anyway you want for a variety of applications. Be it hogs or Cape Buffalo, it seems like you can load it to do them all. But... the buying bug has bit me yet again and I am seriously considering getting a Marlin lever action soon.

Two questions:

1. How well does it perform on whitetail?

2. What about damage to the meat with factory ammo?

3. What round would you recommend?
I'm looking at Hornady LeverRevolution or Winchester SuperX JHP as they are the only thing I can find around here. Maybe Double Tap if the backorder ain't too bad. I've heard hard cast flat points are the best, but was curious how the expanding stuff was in terms of meat damage and stopping power.

August 4, 2009, 01:47 AM
I used to hunt mainly with a 45-70 lever action,some years ago. It seemed to do good for deer hunting and as for the meat it really didnt do all that much damage with the right load. I certainly wouldnt feel undergunned with one,since the shots around here tend to be 100 yards or less.

As for the type of ammunition I couldnt even begin to start on that. I dont even remember the type of bullet or weight I used in those days.

August 4, 2009, 01:58 AM
The rang is why I'm looking. I have a .308 and a 7mm Rem Mag, but their long range capabilities aren't really useful in Georgia. Everything I have ever shot could have been done with iron sights if my eyes would allow it.

I'd also like to use it on hogs and could use it as an excuse to get into reloading. :D

August 4, 2009, 02:09 AM
I have never personally used a 45-70 for hogs but im sure it would work very well. I know a few people that use it for them and It seems that quite a few on this forum do as well.

And as far as range I think it would also be quite sufficient for your area. You could reach out to hit one if you had to but the close range shots would still work very well.

Reloading would be great to get into as well.That would let you tailor loads for all of your rifles,and it is a fun hobby in itself.I would almost prefer to load up match grade ammo as apposed to shooting it.

One more thing. Have you looked at the 35 remington. My father had a marlin lever action in this caliber that he used for deer hunting and it got the job done very good,with little meat damage, And i beleive it is also a fairly common hog hunting round. Ive known quite a few people to use them for hogs anyways. It has a very mild recoil. If you dont want the extra power this may be something to look into.

August 4, 2009, 04:17 AM
I can't hunt with rifles here.

But my 45/70 Marlin 1895 Cowboy can give me .43" groups at 100 yards, with iron sights. That is with commercial ammo also.

Hornady LeverEvolution.

Premium ammo for a decent price. I think you can buy those bullets now too for hand loads.

I wouldn't hesitate to take a deer with it. Would be the first rifle I would grab at the opportunity.

August 4, 2009, 06:35 AM
The 45-70 is a great whitetail round. As mentioned, the only draw back is that without a lot of practice, it's a 100 to 150 yard rifle. You already have longer ranges covered so it's not really an issue with you.

As far as performance on whitetail, it is a well suited for them. I've only taken a doe with mine, shot her at about 50 yards, she ran about 75 to 100 yards on the single lung shot and then dropped. The round left a nice, open entrance wound and a slightly larger exit wound. Good blood trail on both sides of her track.

As far as ammo, I wouldn't be concerned that you need any thing fancy. I used 300 gr gray box Winchester (I believe its the Super X brand). It appeared that the bullet didn't break apart and did very little overall damage to the meat.

August 4, 2009, 08:09 AM
My father used a Marlin 45/70 for years until he made a 375 yard shot on a doe with a borrowed 7mm mag. He traded the 45/70 in on a 7mm mag the next year. He shot one deer with the 7mm mag and then bought a new 45/70. The 7mm mag was just overkill both on the deer and his shoulder. I've watched him reach out to 180 yards with the 45/70 and shoot through any brush that you can see into. Once he even split a 3'' sapling in 2 before hitting a running buck. (he didn't try to but didn't see it until he got over to the deer). It does little meat damage compared to other rifles, mainly because it's just a big heavy hole punch. He typically uses 325 grain bullets and has recently switched to the Hornady LeverRevolution ammo. With his gun it hits about 1.5'' higher at 100 yards and shoots alot flatter, which you may like or may care less about. It's not overkill and with experience is very efficient, especially if you hunt in cover.

August 4, 2009, 08:36 AM
The 7mm mag was just overkill both on the deer and his shoulder.

Same here. The .308 is fine, but the 7mm Mag is too much. I'm fused from L3-S1 and it lights up my back like a Christmas tree when I shoot it.

August 4, 2009, 04:16 PM
The recoil of the 7mm mag is much more violent than the 45/70. The 45/70 is a tough kick in the shoulder. You might want to try it out first if you can, with the work you've had done on you back. It is however more pleasant to shoot from the bench than the 7mm, but still will give your shoulder some nice bruises.

August 4, 2009, 04:44 PM
I don't believe you need expanding bullets in the 45/70, I got more than enough meat damage from flat point lead on a medium muley last season. :(

August 4, 2009, 07:22 PM
It works great on just about anything you can hit. I've shot the Hornady LeverEvolutions and the accuracy has been great, although I can feel the difference in recoil. I haven't shot any game with those bullets but I don't think it will matter. At 45-70 velocities you don't get much expansion from any bullet and you don't really need it either. It's already a great big hole. With the new Hornady ammo, I know I have plenty of power out to 200 yards to kill any critter in Wyoming, but my eyes make that the very limit of my shots with the 45-70. It would no doubt kill an elk at 400 yards, but the bullet is dropping very fast after 200 yards. I won't be taking the 45-70 elk hunting this year because there is a very good chance that I will have to take a 300 yard shot in my hunt area this time. 300 yards is my self imposed limit even with my 7 mm mag.

But if I knew for a fact that I wouldn't need to make a shot past 150 yards, I would take the 45-70 on any hunt for any critter I've seen.

August 4, 2009, 07:29 PM
45-70 on whitetail...well,lets put it this way.My brother got a whitetail with his marlin .444,a .444 and 45-70 are almost identical exept the .444 is a hair less powerful,and that deer got smacked up against a tree before dropping.

August 4, 2009, 10:55 PM
45-70 on whitetail...well,lets put it this way.My brother got a whitetail with his marlin .444,a .444 and 45-70 are almost identical exept the .444 is a hair less powerful,and that deer got smacked up against a tree before dropping.

I killed a 4-point buck (I thought it was a doe because it was eating palmetto berries. couldn't see its rack)with my 7mm Rem Mag last season.

No kick. No running. Didn't even lift its head... It just stood there and slowly tipped over. It was like watching tree that had just been cut fall down.

But if I knew for a fact that I wouldn't need to make a shot past 150 yards, I would take the 45-70 on any hunt for any critter I've seen.

That's my reasoning here. Everything I have even seen has been less than 150 yards away. 100 yards is considered "long range" in the thick pine land around here. I can keep my .308 if I need to do long range and for plinking, but a Marlin 45-70 lever action like the 1895 would be better suited for what I come across and where I come across it.

August 4, 2009, 11:35 PM
Last season my Marlin 1895 45-70 was used to kill (actually help kill) a Kodiak Brown Bear and two little Sitka Blacktail Deer in the same trip. To me this speaks well of the cartridges versatility. Do a search for "Kodiak island hunt report" to view details.

August 4, 2009, 11:48 PM
Well there ya go! I think you figured out what you need to take deer hunting then. It is a fascinating round like you said. And so historical too. The thought that you are about to shoot a deer with a cartridge that has been around for like 130 years or so is kind of cool.

It's not just the ballistics of the bullet hitting the flesh and doing its job. That whole thing about a compact lever action rifle is just so perfect. As you know, 99% of the hunt is tromping about the woods just CARRYING the rifle. Only 1% is actually SHOOTING it. Those little lever actions just fit your hand so well that you are inclined to walk another couple hours if need be since you're not worn out by lugging around a thicker bolt action.

And when it comes to the shot, those little lever actions are SO quick to point if you only have a second or two to get the shot off. No fumbling around trying to find where the deer in your scope. Mind you, I'm not discounting good modern bolt actions with a wizz bang scope. Lawdy sakes, I have a whole closet full of them and they're great. But nothing will come up to your cheek with the deer just naturally in your sights quite as fast as a lever action rifle.

It takes some time to get proficient with any rifle. Shoot, I spent the first 25 years of my life shooting a lever action Winchester 94 in 30-30 before I ever held a bolt action scoped rifle (HEY....... now THERE'S a novel idea for you.... a 30-30 lever action for deer... who'd a ever thunk THAT idea up?)) So maybe I'm just more used to looking down the sights and working a lever than I am a more modern invention. Nevertheless, if you're 90% certain that you'll be shooting inside 125 yards, there's no reason to look beyond that Marlin 45-70. Unless it's for a 30-30 or 32 or 35 of course. But I can't recall anyone ever shooting a deer with those calibers though...;)

August 4, 2009, 11:54 PM
Yep, gotta love those Marlins. Mine is my favorite gun, hands down. It also shoots 1.25" groups.

lt dan
August 9, 2009, 01:47 PM
or Cape Buffalo,

oh boy be very carefull with this round and the Cape Buffalo.

August 9, 2009, 07:27 PM
Actually, the 45-70 can be loaded up to the same energy levels as lighter 458 Win. Mag so I'd say it's suitable for Cape Buffalo. In fact, http://www.garrettcartridges.com/lupoindex.asp

I will not claim that the 45-70 is a big 5/6 stopping cartridge, that's why the PH will have a monster size double, but the 45-70 is sufficient to kill African dangerous game quickly.

Old Grump
August 9, 2009, 09:40 PM
Just 2 cents worth of opinion but I would scrap the HP idea and stay with 350 gr or 400 gr JSP or JFP. Big hole, only moderate expansion, lots of penetration and a huge blood trail if you have to follow. Your local toy store can order if you don't want to do the ordering yourself but a mold and a supply of lead will go a long way towards making plenty of cheap practice ammo and a good hunting bullet. If you do that I would recommend a FP bullet.

Art Eatman
August 9, 2009, 10:52 PM
Regardless of the cartridge used, if you don't hit the eating part you don't ruin meat. I figure to aim at a particular place on a deer, not "somewhere in the brown". So far, so good...

August 11, 2009, 08:18 AM
I have a Ruger #1 in 45-70. I have killed both deer and hogs with it. I used Rem factory 300 JHP's and they worked wonderfully. Don't know if they expanded much or not as I got complete through and through's. Even if they don't expand, they are already bigger than an expanded .30 cal!

I like big holes. They bleed a lot IF tracking is needed. Highly unlikely.

It is NOT a flat shooter for long range, but the first couple of hundred yards, it is a good thumper. Meat on the ground with good shot placement.

They do not pulverize and bloodshoot meat as bad as the HV calibers. Old timers say you 'can eat right up to the hole' and that is pretty close.

The nostalgia and fun level of the round is really great but so is the performance.

AND for handloaders, it is very, very versatile.

August 11, 2009, 03:51 PM

the 45/70 bug has bit me as well. I always wanted the marlin cowboy model in 45/70 or one of the older guide guns or 20" ones that have the ballard rifiling instead of the micro groove that they now offer.

for me I would load them up with factory hornady leverevolutions or corbon makes some wicked ammo.

I had almost bought an H&R buffalo classic in 45/70 (neighbor owns one and took a buffalo with it last fall), but if I ever move to hog country i would want that fast backup shots that a lever gun can provide.

for me i think either the guide model or the 20" barreled model of marlin will work for me on deer and hogs. get a scope with see through mounts and you should have a fine hunting gun for up close and out to 200yards.


August 11, 2009, 06:34 PM
I think Marlin started using ballard rifling again not too long ago, at least for the big bore rifles. I bought my 1895 GS sometime between 2005 and 2007, it is stainless and shoots cast performance bullets flawelessly so I've always assumed it's ballard cut. Somebody educate me please.

August 11, 2009, 08:00 PM
I've got two .45-70 rifles and a Marlin 1895M Guide Gun in .450 Marlin. The .450 Marlin with the Hornady LeveRevolution ammo is really a THUMPER. Not too much fun on the benchrest table at the range, but when we're stalking big black hogs on Ft Stewart in the creek bottomlands, it's a one-shot DRT round. If you think you want a .45-70, try the .450 Marlin...

August 11, 2009, 08:54 PM
the 450 can't do anything any better then the 45-70..

But you have a lot more options on reloading the 45-70....


August 11, 2009, 09:56 PM
I've got two .45-70 rifles and a Marlin 1895M Guide Gun in .450 Marlin. The .450 Marlin with the Hornady LeveRevolution ammo is really a THUMPER. Not too much fun on the benchrest table at the range, but when we're stalking big black hogs on Ft Stewart in the creek bottomlands, it's a one-shot DRT round. If you think you want a .45-70, try the .450 Marlin...

You must not reload. The 45-70 Gov. and 450 Marlin are ballistically identical if you use the Garrett/Cor-bon/Buffalo Bore loads or do like most of us do, reload. Most over the counter 45-70 loads are only weak because they are loaded so that a trapdoor rifle can handle them. The modern Marlin lever action (and others) can handle modern 45-70 loads; the 450 Marlin is just there for the non-reloading fella who wants full 45-70 power.

Below is just one example from Hodgdon load data...

45-70 (modern rifles)
400 GR. SPR JFP Hodgdon H4198 .458" 2.540" 48.0 1915 31,800 CUP 53.0 2108 49,100 CUP

450 Marlin
400 GR. SPR JFP Hodgdon H4198 .458" 2.520" 41.0 1872 41,200 PSI 45.5 1958 42,600 PSI

So, in this particular example the 45-70 is actually 150 fps faster than the 450 Marlin (2108 v. 1958) using the same bullet and a max load of the same powder.

see more examples for yourself.


Once more, Marlin developed the 450 Marlin for the non-reloading levergun enthusiast who wants a full power big bore.

August 12, 2009, 06:22 AM
Another vote for 45-70 over the .450. The 45-70 can do everything the .450can plus a bit more with good handloads or custom loads. The .450 is a good cartridge, but has no advantage for a handloader, at least in traditional lever actions. The Browning BLR is chambered in .450 Marlin where it works better in its box magazine than the rimmed 45-70 would. My favorite 45-70 load uses the Speer 400 grain at 2060 FPS.