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Old October 5, 2005, 08:15 AM   #1
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Premium rifle ammunition

This is sort of related to the "most underrated deer cartridge" thread. A friend of mine has been hunting for ages all over the country and evidently insists on using only his own handloads, on the assumption that they are better in some way. Reading mainly commercial websites, I see there are a few that offer custom handloads, all presumably more powerful than store bought ammuntion and there are always people who are developing a different load for some particular caliber and essentially attempting to produce a different cartridge altogether. Not that there is anything wrong with that, since that's where many new cartridges come from. But some even require new guns in some cases, since many original guns, rifles in this case, won't handle the more powerful loading. It is possible the .45-70 government is the subject to more experimentation than most because of the potential for improvement.

I can see that there might be two ways of looking at the question. One is from the standpoint of hunting dangerous game, where an edge might be appreciated, and the other of, well, everything else.

My question is, is anything useful achieved beyond what you can buy at the local gun shop? I almost said Wal-Mart but none I've been in have .45-70. I don't mean to belittle anyone who is attempting to do thing because that's how progress happens. But for someone who is only interested in getting the game, is it progress? I wonder what people talked about when they used muzzleloaders?
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Old October 5, 2005, 10:28 AM   #2
Art Eatman
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Messin' with handloads is part of the same deal as hot-rodding with cars. some folks just like to tinker. You get the same sort of arguments about the various bullets as you get about camshafts.

What we do know about rifles and reloading is that it is possible to work up a load with some particular combination of primer, powder and bullet that is not only the best grouping which can be achieved, but will reliably take game.

The factories, following the lead of handloaders, have been doing the same sort of thing. The various bullet designs are responses to hunters' and shooters' demands...

We haveit easy, today. Used to be, if you wanted a "custom" bullet, you had to make your own--which is how many of today's bullet manufacturers got their start.

, Art
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Old October 5, 2005, 10:31 AM   #3
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Please consider this as only a slightly educated reply. I don't shoot 45/70 and have never reloaded it. I have shot a friends a couple times - well, you know how that goes.

Unless I am mistaken, current normal "factory" 45/70 loads are very soft and are loaded to specs (28,000 cup per my Speer manual) that are 100 years old. I can't really comment on the premium loads (Fed, Win, Rem loads. Excludes intentional hot loads like CorBon) other than to say that I would be very surprised to see that the Premium loads were loaded to any higher pressures. Better bullet, yes. More consistent powder charge? Yes. Higher pressures? Doubtful.

Companies like Corbon, Buffalo Bore and the like came about because people wanted higher performance ammunition but didn't want the challenges of reloading (at least, that's my take on it.). Corbon comes along and develops their super-premium loads that are expensive as all heck but are also much hotter and seriously deliver a much increased knockdown.

So, back to your original question: Is it worth handloading when premium loads are available?



1. Greater control over your load. In this case you have the option to load hot or soft. No sense hitting a deer with a cannon blast called in by the FO. Download a 45/70 and you destroy less meat.

2. Bullet control. Again, you have the option of completely tailoring your loads. Did you know that there are SPITZER bullets out there for 45/70? Penn Bullets makes a 370gr spitzer...a nice, streamlined brick of a bullet if you will that would potentially offer greater downrange performance.

3. Absolute custom tailored accuracy and consistency of shots.

4. Costs: factoring time costs, it's generally cheaper to handload than it is to buy factory.

Now, if you find some premium factory load that groups an inch at 200 yards, well, I might not even bother reloading if the factory stuff is that good. In my experience though factory stuff, while good, generally isn't "that" good.
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Old October 5, 2005, 10:31 AM   #4
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I'm going to tackle your question from the stand point "Why Do People Reload"?

I can only speak for myself :
1.) I enjoy the process of reloading, learning the details of why bullets fly, testing different loads for power and accuracy and just the whole working with your hands thing.

2.) To obtain the best accuracy from any firearm rifle or handgun, a round/cartridge for that firearm must be developed. Two identical guns using the same load will not shoot the same, this is mainly ( but not 100%) due to the allowable tolerances during manufacturing of the firearm. Now that's not to say that over the counter ammo is bad but it is manufactured to work in all firearms of a given calibrate and it too have manufacturing tolerances. If you use over the counter ammo you still must try different brands and bullets weights to find the one that works to best in your gun.

3.) There is a sense of pride when you can shoot a sub inch group with a round that you developed or take a deer with "Your" load. This year my 12 yr daughter will be hunting with a load she helped work on and assemble.

As far as the question concerning the 45-70, it like all cartridges used in lever action gun ( and I own and use more lever guns than anything else) suffer from the flat nose bullet it must use. The over all ballistic can not be improved without using a non-conventional 45-70 bullet. If you compare a 30-30 to a 45-70, no matter what the muzzle velocity they start with, at around 175 yards their velocities are almost equal, granted the 45-70 is still carrying more energy. The point is the flat nose looses velocity quickly.... Huh I wonder want would happen if we used a pointy nose bullet in a single shot 45-70.....Huh maybe that's why we reload???
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Old October 5, 2005, 01:10 PM   #5
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What I really meant, if I sounded vague and wandered all over the topic, by premium ammunition was something like Cor-bon, which loads high pressure loads for a certain number of cartridges. As I said again, I picked .45-70 because it is one that almost begs to be hot loaded. Factory loads supposedly have to be safe in a trapdoor Springfield.

But is it still a good idea or not, which I only ask by way of encouraging other comments. One way to look at it is, if the original factory load isn't good enough, then either change the caliber or use a different factory load. Although there might be two or three dozen for .30-06, there aren't that many for a .45-70. But, still, it seems ironic to love a certain caliber or cartridge, yet insist that the factory loads are no good. The same seems to hold true for .45 Colt revolver and used to be for .44 Special but you don't read so much about hot loading .44 Specials any more. In fact, you can see the differences in different editions of reloading information as published by power companies, though I have none to reference at the moment.

I used to handload, more in the nature of reloading, and it was more of a hobby than the shooting was. The cart sort of got before the horse, in a way. But I was never able to achieve any superiority in handloads compared to factory loads, at least in handgun cartridges. I only reloaded a limited number of rifle rounds.

In a very real way, the discussion is similar to what can you do with a .45 Government Model. Some people think it is perfect already, while others think it can be the basis of a good gun but only if you do this and that to it.

It reminds me of one of those Skeeter Skelton stories about handloading a .22 rimfire.
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
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Old October 5, 2005, 09:32 PM   #6
Yankee Doodle
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I spend a good deal of time (and money) reloading the 45-70. My reason is really quite simple. I hunt with a Ruger #3 single shot.
I hunt bear, moose, deer, and boar on a regular basis. Being I only have one shot readily available, I want to make the most of it. Especially with bear and boar. So, I handload, and push a Hornady 350 gr. slug at over 2100fps. Can go hotter, but don't need to. With the extra power this load gives, I can shoot completely through a boar or bear's boiler room, and leave a rather large exit hole. Good blood trail if I have to track. Thankfully, so far I haven't had to. The load also shoots 1 1/4" groups which are less than half the size of any factory ammo I have tried. It boils down to the fact that the extra accuracy and power just make me feel more comfortable. Considering the fact that I hate reloading, the fact that I am willing to do it at all speaks volumes.
End of rant.
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Old October 6, 2005, 03:10 AM   #7
Smokey Joe
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BP is also handloading!!

I wonder what people talked about when they used muzzleloaders?
Bluetrain--Every round shot through a ML is a handload! And people then, and today, argue about the exact amount of powder to use, today also, which BP substitute is the ultimate, then there are patch thicknesses, different lubes to use on the patches, and I don't even want to start on the different methods of cleaning the smokepoles.

Oh, and how hard to ram the ball, and which ramrod material is the best, and how to get a stuck ball out of the bore, and on, and on, and on.

I don't believe for a minute that arguing about loading yr weapon is something that came into being anytime recently.

Presumably Ug and Og argued about the exact size, shape, and composition of the very best rock with which to knock out a saber-toothed cat.
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