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Old January 5, 2010, 11:25 PM   #1
Cult .44
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Favorite .45-70 Govt. Loads

I recently ended my monogamous relationship with the .44 mag by buying an H&R Handi-Rifle in .45-70. I thought the .45-70 would be fun to reload for being versatile like the .44 mag. I rationalized the purchase as a backup deer hunting rifle in case something should go wrong with my .44 Marlin (yeah, I know, whatever).

Anyway, I was wondering what people's preferred loads are for the .45-70. I was thinking a trapdoor load for plinking, a stouter load for deer hunting, and maybe a shoulder bruiser for that occasional "jeepers, Wally" effect, and the off chance I might get transported back in time to the cretaceous period.
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Old January 6, 2010, 03:15 AM   #2
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Back when I shot Cowboy Action I shot a 45-70 Sharps. My favorite long range load was a 405 gr. LFN with 36.0 grs of IMR3031. It was what I called a "plinker load" but it was accurate out to 300 Yards. Any reloading manual or website should have the data you are looking for. Look here:

http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp

http://www.alliantpowder.com/reloaders/default.aspx
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Old January 6, 2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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I have had amazing accuracy with 45.0 gr of IMR 4198 behind the Hornady 350 gr JFP. It's a good deer load too.
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Old January 6, 2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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Favorite powders in 45-70 with a 405gr bullet in a Marlin GG are;

1. ReL 7
2. IMR3031
3. IMR 4895
4. H322
5. Trail Boss

4198 is not too bad either. N133 will work too but its kind of spendy to be using. I have been wanting to try some Ramshot powders but we don't get them around here.

Reloader #7 is my go to powder for the 45-70 though.

What a great cratridge!!!
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Old January 6, 2010, 04:56 PM   #5
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I really like Reloader #7 as well. 36.0 grns with a 300 grain bullet is a good plinker load that has little recoil. I deer hunt with it too at 100 yards or less. How fast does a big hunk of lead have to go to kill a deer.
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Old January 6, 2010, 06:58 PM   #6
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A 405gr bullet with 38.5gr of 3031 is supposed to be equivalent to the old Trapdoor black powder load and is usually accurate in any rifle.

4198 is the way to go to get the most power out of bullets in the 300-400gr range.

Most of your loads will be under 2000fps, so using lead bullets will work well and don't cost as much as the jacketed bullets.
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Old January 6, 2010, 10:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tips, folks. Decisions. Decisions. Reviewing my load book, it looks like IMR4198 or Reloader-7 would be good all-around powders to start out with. 3031 is tempting and I already have some Trail Boss. We'll see what's available at the shop.

That 45 grains of 4198 load looks to be about as hot as I'd want to go. What's the recoil like?

It also seems like a good time to start working with cast bullets. My Lee Loader didn't come with a flaring tool. I suspect I'd need one.

Quote:
How fast does a big hunk of lead have to go to kill a deer.
I don't know. I shot my first deer this year using a 240 gr .44 bullet pushed to about 1700 fps from my rifle. It went down on the spot. Hard to imagine a 300 grain bullet going about the same speed being less effective.
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Old January 7, 2010, 09:17 AM   #8
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I have never shot a Handi Rifle but I think they can be loaded to class 2 loads(Marlin loads)?? I may be wrong and if I am please chime in. If that is the case you will find that near max loads of 4198 or any powder for that matter with 350-405gr bullets will have a "Brisk" recoil. My Marlin GG with close to max loads comes back with authority.

For a plinking load the Trail boss is great. That is what I shoot out of my trapdoor. Trail Boss and a big soft 405gr bullet is a blast to shoot.

For general shooting in my Marlin a 350gr cast bullet and a starting load of RL#7 or 3031 shoots nice and soft, hits hard and is accurate.

For hunting I use 49gr of RL#7 and a 385gr hard cast WFL PB Bullet. This is a NEAR max load and I am not sure if its safe in the HANDI RIFLE you have. This load is used for Hogs and as I stated before it is brisk in the recoil dept.

You will need to work up your own loads. The 45-70 is a great round and its very fun to shoot loaded down. I would have thought you would get a 444 barrel for it if you load for a 44mag. you could have used the same bullets Just a thought.

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Old January 7, 2010, 12:34 PM   #9
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Cult 44, I have had my 45-70 NEF Handi rifle for a number of years . I used to load a 300 gr. Rem JHP with 52 grs. of IMR 3031. It ran about 1700 FPS. It is a very accurate load, but it did leave some unburned powder in the bore. I used this combo to take several large whitetails with total pass through, broadside shots. They were very quick stoppers and provided good blood trails. Then one season, a large buck presented me with a shot that required me to drill through the facing shoulder, which I did. The buck thankfully was in an open pasture area because though he only went about 40 yards, there was no visible blood whatsoever from where he stood to where he dropped, the reason being the bullet had failed to exit. Had I been in my usual, heavy cover area, there is a chance I could have lost him. I have since gone to a Rem. 405 gr SP and 32 grs. of IMR 4198. It runs right at 1350 FPS, which is a trapdoor level load. It too, is very accurate and leaves no unburned powder in my bore. It also stops deer quickly, and always leaves an exit hole for easy to read blood trails . Have fun & good hunting.
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Old January 7, 2010, 11:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
but I think they can be loaded to class 2 loads(Marlin loads)??
I did some research before buying the Handi Rifle (there's a good forum for "Handiholics" at Greybeard Outdoors). The consensus is that the Handi is safe for Marlin level 2 loads and there's a good number of people who think it's safe for Ruger level 3 loads. Buffalo Bore lists the Handi-Rifle as safe for all of its .45-70 loads. Personally, I don't intend to exceed level 2. I did fire some Hornady LeverEvolution stuff (325 gr bullet, 2050 fps) and that has plenty of kick for my tastes. Mostly I suspect I'll stick with trapdoor power.

Quote:
I would have thought you would get a 444 barrel for it if you load for a 44mag.
I certainly gave it thought (the symmetry would be cool) but the more I looked into it, the more the .45-70 seemed like a better choice -- greater availability and variety of factory loads, greater availability and variety of bullets for reloading. Also, the caliber's historical pedigree interested me.

Quote:
Had I been in my usual, heavy cover area, there is a chance I could have lost him.
Yeah, I hunt in the thick woods south of Mille Lacs in central Minnesota. To the extent possible, I want to give myself good odds of stopping a deer in its tracks. If it moves far at all it could be difficult to find. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to guarantee the desired result. But a 405 gr bullet ought to have plenty of thump.
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Old January 8, 2010, 09:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Quote:
I would have thought you would get a 444 barrel for it if you load for a 44mag.

I certainly gave it thought (the symmetry would be cool) but the more I looked into it, the more the .45-70 seemed like a better choice -- greater availability and variety of factory loads, greater availability and variety of bullets for reloading. Also, the caliber's historical pedigree interested me.
I Had the same thought. I shoot a lot of 44 Magnum and was looking at getting a 444, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted a 45-70. I have not been disappointed.

Quote:
Handi is safe for Marlin level 2 loads and there's a good number of people who think it's safe for Ruger level 3 loads.
I thought this was true also but I was not sure. I would hate to see it open up on you. If you have not tried TrailBoss yet it is a blast in the 45-70. It is one of my favorite powders just to mess around with. Its great in the 30-30 too. I am working up a load for a 32-20 that I can use on tree rats. I really like TB.

Good luck with the HR. Get back with some load development and maybe a picture of it.

Sam
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Old January 8, 2010, 11:14 AM   #12
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RL7 is my goto powder for 45/70 also. It seems like it goes good under any bullet and the scary thing is that it seems like the more powder you use the tighter it groups. Your Handirifle should not let you take it too far though.

I'm big into 44 mags also and researched the 444 about the time I chose the 45/70 and my research indicated to me that you can not use 44 mag bullets in the 444 (or at least shouldn't) because the jacket construction is different for the 444 bullets than the ones intended for handguns. If you were using solid bullets like lead then you would probably be ok and not have squibs.
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Old January 12, 2010, 11:41 PM   #13
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Okay, I got some Reloader 7 and Hornady 300 gr JHP bullets to start out with. I'll wait until I find a flaring tool before I start in with cast bullets. Loaded up a few cartridges using 45 grains which is on the high side of the trapdoor level. I plan to work up to about the middle of the Marlin level (around 50 grains) and see what happens.

Here's a pic of the Hand-Rifle. With the synthetic stock, it's kind of the type of gun that only a mother/father could love. Eventually, I want to get an aperture sight for it with a hooded front. I might get a wild hair and paint the stock and forend. I've seen some done in pretty good lookin' camo, although I was thinking maybe zebra stripe.

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Old January 13, 2010, 08:33 AM   #14
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Even in a Handi...

Favorite 45-70 loads :
Even in a Handi-Rifle....65 grains FFg BP, a 0.030" fiber wad, a 405 grain FB lead bullet.
Another is the old cavalry carbine load - 55 grains BP, 0.030" fiber wad, filler such as corn meal, cream of wheat or PuffLon and the 405LFB.
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Old January 13, 2010, 02:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
I'll wait until I find a flaring tool before I start in with cast bullets.
I used Lymans "M" die in this caliber which is made to expand for cast lead and is significantly better than the standard type belling dies.
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Old January 13, 2010, 02:29 PM   #16
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M Die= good stuff

The M die is worth the $$. I have one for every cartridge I load cast in.

Here is some data on them:

http://www.lasc.us/Brennan_LymanMDies.htm

Good catch Ed

That is a nice looking rifle. I thought they had longer barrels on them, but maybe I am thinking of the buffalo hunter rifle. I would expect that gun to push back like a single barrel shotgun(Hard) with heavy loads.

The 300gr bullets are what I load in my T/C Contender Pistol. Try some 405gr cast with RL7 for a hard hitting hunting round or Trail Boss for a plinking load.

Yes you need a Receiver sight. Do they make on for it, if so that would high on my list of "to Get".
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Old January 13, 2010, 03:48 PM   #17
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Cult, I have the NEF buffalo classic in 45/70. It comes stock with Lyman aperture sights front and rear. I'm sure they,(NEF), would be able to supply them for you, they should fit just fine on the handi.

Now for some loads I've come up with. Nothing specific, just some blasting stuff. I've tried both remington and Hornady 300 JHP bullets. The shot just fine, that's the only jacketed I tried.

Now, I cast my own bullets, so I can make any weight or style. The best all around mold to get is the lee 350 RF plain base bullet. It's lighter than the standard 405, so you can boost it faster without paying for it in recoil. With trailboss, even at max it's something that you could shoot all day long. Then the other powders mentioned, you can go all the way to max levergun loads for hunting loads.

I also have 4 405 grain molds, 1 is a hollow base, 2 is a flat base with a hollow point, 3 is a very old plain old 405 RF, and 4 is a group buy mold from over at cast boolits.com. It's also a plain base RF, happens to be a 6 cav lee mold. Here's a couple of pics;


That's the 405 hollow base.


Here's the 405 lee group buy.

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Old January 13, 2010, 11:57 PM   #18
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Quote:
I thought they had longer barrels on them
The Handi's barrel is 22" but, being a single-shot, it doesn't need much of a receiver so overall length is shorter than other rifles with same barrel length. The length of pull, however, is 14.5", about an inch longer than my Marlin, which I like because I have long arms. The H&R Buffalo Classic has a 32" barrel.

Quote:
push back like a single barrel shotgun(Hard) with heavy loads.
While trying it out with LeverEvolution stuff, it bucks pretty good. After 12 rounds my shoulder was feeling it. I've since added about a pound of weight to the stock (bringing it to 8 pounds). We'll see what that does. There are fitted Limbsaver pads for the synthetic stock. I might get one of those. The recoil pulse is nearly straight back, not as much rise as I was expecting.

The chamber is tapped for scope mounts. I imagine I could get sights to put there but I haven't researched it much yet.

snuffy, those are some nice lookin' bullets.

Quote:
Lymans "M" die
Sounds ideal. But then I'd have to break down and get a press. I'm a Classic Lee Loader guy.
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Old January 14, 2010, 03:39 AM   #19
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45/70 loads

I have a NEF and have been reloading for it about 10 years. I have two loads which are sub MOA. Starline brass preferred but also use rem fed and win. 50 gr reloader 7, CCI BR2 primer, 300 gr sierra hp. Next load is the same except it uses a 400gr speer jfn. These are Craig Boddington loads and were the first and only loads I tried. They hit like a freight train and sub moa too,what more could you want.
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Old January 14, 2010, 05:56 AM   #20
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sights

Quote:
want to get an aperture sight for it
I put an NEGC rear on mine. Nice. Fast pointing.
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Old January 14, 2010, 11:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
except it uses a 400gr speer jfn
50 grains of RL7 behind a 400gr JFN is quite a load, looks to be in level III territory. I assume your NEF is a Handi. No problems handling it? Must kick like Bruce Lee.
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Old January 16, 2010, 09:30 AM   #22
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In my guide gun I use 44 gr IMR 4198 behind a Hornady 350 gr FN. I get about1800 fps and is a tackdriver. The only deer I've taken with this gun is with this load and it dropped it right there in it's tracks with complete psss through. I won't use a rifle that won't give me complete pass through as I like a blood trail out both sides of the deer usually this gives to little or no tracking at all.
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Old January 16, 2010, 06:53 PM   #23
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Just Want To Point Out

Back in the early 90's I had a NEF Handi-Rifle w/ 2 barrels .223 and 45-70. This was the first rifle I ever reloaded for, so naturally to what pressure level to load to was one of my questions. The reloading manual I had was the Lyman 47th edition, and in the 45-70 section, under trapdoor loads it says ''These loads are intended for ''Trap Door Springfields'', reproductions of these 1873 to 1884 Springfields, Remington Rollingblocks, Sharps rifles and replicas of same, as well as the H&R ''Shikari''.'' Having to rely on some older folks for information (this was before Al Gore invented the internet), I was told that the Original Harington and Richardson single shot rifle ''The Shikari'' was the same gun as the NEF Handi-Rifle and should stick to Trapdoor loads. I'm not 100% sure about this but I have no reason to believe otherwise, so I always kept my loads on the safe side of level ''2''.
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Old January 16, 2010, 07:09 PM   #24
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Handi 45-70

A quote from Buffalo Bore regarding its 45-70+P ammo - 350 grain bullet at 2150 fps.
Quote:
Intended for use in Marlin 1895 made since 1972, Browning 1885, 1886, New England Arms Handi-Rifle, Ruger #1, #3, T/C Encore, Shiloh, Christian, Petersoli Sharps, New Production Winchester 1886.
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Old January 16, 2010, 11:35 PM   #25
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Quote:
as well as the H&R ''Shikari''
The modern NEF Handi-Rifle (now produced as H&R Handi-Rifle) is a much stronger gun. The same platform is also chambered for the .500 S&W which has higher SAAMI pressure specs than industry standard for .45-70 Level III loads (50,000 cup). I'm not sure if this makes for an apples-to-apples comparison - and I'm certainly not recommending using max Level III loads - but it does add to my confidence that Level II loads are safe.

Anyway, I touched off my first .45-70 hand-loads at the range today. (45.7 grains Reloader 7, 300 gr JHP). All went well and Reloader burns nice and clean. I plan to work it up to about 50 grains and see where I like it best.
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