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Old January 21, 2013, 09:45 AM   #1
Bill Daniel
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Cause I don't have one

So now I have a bug for a .45-70 lever action rifle. Can anyone with experience with that caliber in a Henry, Marlin, Rossi or Winchester tell me why I should or should not buy his particular rifle?
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:19 AM   #2
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My son has a Marlin in 45/70. I don't recall which model - if there is more than one.

I've shot it enough to have an opinion. These are the down sides.

It does kick quite a bit.

If wasn't really scope friendly. The scope sat rather high. He took it off - in part because of the next observation.

It has a trajectory like a mortar. That's ok for a range where you know the distance to the target. Not so good if you are hunting in an open area. I don't think you need a scope at those ranges.

The ammunition is a bit on the expensive side.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:39 AM   #3
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Marlin if actually planning to "hunt regularly" and if on. lower budget of any sort. OTOH, Browning if as just. "Wanna have a classic .45-70" for general enjoyment and heirloom passdown.

The Browning '86--made in the Miroku, Japan plant (and importantly no longer made) same place and probably much of the tooling as the current/recent Winchester levers but without all the lawyering safety and rebound "stuff" of the newer Win's--reeks of history, is very true to the original Browning/Winchester, and is a classic in its own right. Famous for its smooth, stout action and slim lines. Highly sought after, you'll be looking over $1000 for any of its configurations in any kind of shape, much over if pristine. My favorite, the 22" carbine, is much lighter and more carryable for daily tromping. The 26" (?) octgonal rifle--heavier and less wieldable as you might guess, also better for stationary shooting, that same heavy barrel helps steady the not-insignificant muzzle rise and overall mass moderates the kick. The octagonal also has the traditional "rifle"-sharp crescent butt, versus the carbine's more gentle curve, also traditional for oriiginal 86 as well as 66-73-92-94 carbines. The Brownings come (came) in two primary forms High grade--with a fair amount of engraving/figuring nd polish, and standard, with prices commensurate to their levels of finish. The standard grade is no slouch with a high polish stock. Browning finishes aren't loved by all, as this era's guns are topped off with a poly coat. They're good lookers regardless and not.a bother to me--for now--but many with the patience and skills have stripped it and given it a good ol' oil finish. It's mostly an up close/tactile thing for those who've decided to do that. My take: if someone skilled in refinishes wanted to volunteer to re-do mine as a gift, I'd say sure! Otherwise, not for now.

The Marlins are about 1/2 the Browning (standard, not High Grade) price and also are fine guns stoutly made and, most importantly for that "regular hunting" role- scope-able. They're also known to be easier to clean. I don't know what the current "Remlin" crop looks like but there've been many derogatory comments lately about Marlin in general since the Remington take-over. That would suggest perhaps looking at guns older than three years back, but maybe the .45-70s are another matter and the current ones fine.

Got the money and only very occasionally hunt and want mostly a show/fondling piece? - try the Browning. Otherwise - the Marlin will do you well.

Last edited by gak; January 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:53 AM   #4
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Everyone wants one, until they get one. One LGS has a Marlin on the racks that he has sold 5 times. People buy it, keep it a few months before bringing it back and trade it in on something more reasonable.

With traditional loads you have approximately .45 caliber muzzleloader performance, but in a brass cased repeater. Modern loads that are only safe in modern guns do improve on that quite a bit, but with EXTREME recoil from the lighter weight Marlin rifles. If you need that much performance a 375 magnum will far outclass the hot loaded 45-70's, and do it with far less recoil, better accuracy, more effective range.

Most guys buying lever action 45-70 do so because they think they are buying an old round with a lot of history. The 45-70 round was adopted by the Army in 1873 for fighting indians in single shot trap door rifles. In less than 20 years it was dropped and replaced by the 30-40 in 1892. It was used for some hunting simply because as a military round it was commonly available at the time, but was never a top choice of the buffalo hunters of the day. It was considered too weak for buffalo by serious hunters. Marlin and Winchester offered lever action rifles for the round in the late 1800's, but they never sold well.

The round lay dormant and basically unused from about 1900 until Marlin revived the round in 1973 on it's 100'th birthday. I paid $150 for one of those original 1st year Marlins back in the mid 70's and hunted with it and shot it a bit for over 35 years before someone offered me 4X what I paid for it about a year ago.

There is nothing WRONG with the round, or the Marlin rifles. I have no experience with the others. But there is more mythology surrounding the 45-70 than most any round. A Winchester 94 in 30-30 will do anything a 45-70 will do when firing the old black powder equivalent loads and actually has more real history behind it.
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:30 PM   #5
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I've hunted with .45/70 and it'll stop anything in North America. The Military load, black powder, will shoot sideways through a horse. From 1873 until the last real Indian fight, the .45/70 was there. The '94 in .30/30 came out in 1895, real history goes to the .45/70.
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:59 PM   #6
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An old-fashioned black powder era round? You bet. Lot's of fun to shoot and hunt with? Oh, yeah! A great brush buster. Easy to reload. I've only ever owned single-shot versions, though....
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Old January 21, 2013, 03:31 PM   #7
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I agree with gak's well-reasoned summary. I would add that my pick is the (as mentioned, now discontinued) Winchester (Miroku) Model 1886 reproduction rifle in the "Extra Light Weight" configuration. Extremely smooth, strong and reliable action and exhibits superb workmanship and finish. I prefer a good receiver sight (a Williams "FoolProof" is the unit I'd recommend) on all of my "traditional" lever-action rifles (though I do have a 1x5 scope mounted on my Savage Model 99 chambered in .358 Winchester).
Where I might differ with gak is that I hunt with this rifle "regularly" even though I "fondle" it a lot.
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Old January 21, 2013, 04:12 PM   #8
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my brother in law has the marlin 1895 in 45/70. it's a great gun. if you reload for it it becomes a very versatile platform. there are hundreds of different loads you can work for everything from birdshot to roundballs to 430grain juggernaughts. he insists on see through rings which actually goes to further aid it's versatility. his peep sights are very accurate, I killing a tweety bird with it at 35 yards the first time I shot it. the scope is better for those 1-200 yard shots. he killed a cow elk this year at about 155 yards with it. his is a post remington gun and it looks and feels every bit as good as my pre remington 1894.
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Old January 21, 2013, 04:42 PM   #9
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Using a 300 gr instead of 400 will reduce the recoil nicely ! The typical 300 is too fragile for me .I use Win Partition [Nosler Partition] or Corbon DPX [Barnes all copper] ,both are premium bullets and perform very well .Miroku guns are very well made .
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Old January 23, 2013, 12:14 AM   #10
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I really like the Marlin Guide Gun. It's a handy little carbine-length rifle that gets the job done.

It will never be what it wasn't designed to be - it's not a long range rifle. But it's a great short to medium range brush gun that will knock down any medium to large game within 150 yards. That's why mine wears a receiver-mounted peep instead of a scope.

With 45-70 all you're accomplishing with hot loads is making it more punishing to shoot and maybe a tiny bit flatter trajectory. I load mine to just over max for a trapdoor and starting pressure for my lever gun. Recoil is manageable and it will humanely kill anything in North America.
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Old January 23, 2013, 02:45 AM   #11
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I've owned Bolt Rifles, semi-autos, single shots, and levers, ARs, M1As, 308s, 30/06s, 30/30s and others. I think the Lever 45/70 is the coolest, handiest, simplest most compact and versatile rifle that I've ever owned. I do reload and cast for it so the cost of the crummy factory ammo is of no concern.

Moulds can be had from 145 gr small game collarbutton boolits all the way up to 405s for the Marlin 45/70. It does not need to be loaded with shoulder bruising loads for general use and hunting, nor does it need a scope. I put peep sights on it and a big loop lever for use of gloves, and of course...the Happy trigger from WWG which makes it superb. It just doesn't get any better for a general use rifle for short range use (<150 yds). I've taken two deer with it and they were both DRT. Highly recommended.
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Old January 23, 2013, 03:24 AM   #12
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I have thought about owning one but it wouldn't fulfill any niche for me that my Marlin 336 in .35 remington doesn't.

If I needed a rifle for brown bear country I might be more into the .45-70 as it can move a bullet weighing 100 grains more at the same velocities as the .35 remington. Might be a good option for elk or moose but we do not have those here.

I would trust myself to take a black bear with the .35 remington. The only other game I go after with it is whitetail deer and it is more than capable there.

If you think you have enough of a use for one, get it. Personally I just don't need one.
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Old January 23, 2013, 07:40 AM   #13
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I regulary get the bug to own a .45-70 and I've had three. In fact, the first new rifle I ever bought about 42 or 43 years ago was a .45-70. It was one of those H&R reproduction Springfields. Even with factory loads, however, it would bruise my shoulder. Of course, it had a plain steel (hardened steel, I'm tempted to say) buttplate.

My next .45-70 was a Ruger No. 1, easily the best rifle I've ever owned. It had a nice cushioned buttplate that eliminated the bruising but it still kicked the same and the Springfield, which was actually a longer barrel. It's an expensive rifle now. They also made the No. 3 in that caliber, which must have been something else to shoot. I also had a Marlin like everyone else.

The .45-70 can be a long range rifle, depending on what you mean by long range, but it will take some skill at range estimating and more sight than comes on most rifles. But for hunting, I doubt anyone shoots whitetail deer at anything that you would call long range.
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Old January 23, 2013, 02:33 PM   #14
Bill Daniel
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Cause I don't have one

Why no votes for the Henry? Price, reliability, care, accuracy? If I can not locate a Marlin and purchase a Remlin that has problems is it hard to get the to run right?
jmr40 thanks for your thoughts. I reload and would plan to work up some bunny loads for plinking and Tyrannasaur loads if I feel masochistic or come across a Tyrannasaur.
Thanks for the replies!
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Old January 23, 2013, 03:45 PM   #15
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If i got one it would probably be a Henry

I only own one of their rifles, a Henry .22 and it has given me what must now be a decade of dependable use. It was my first rifle, and it is as accurate as the person shooting it. I just haven't shot the .45-70 Henry, its a big jump. I'm not sure that I like the ghost ring sights, would prefer standard irons.

If you find a lever action with a gritty or less than smooth action you can take it apart, clean all the internal parts, examine the contact surfaces and polish them down. Expect some machining burrs that create more friction in the action and polish them out. Clean the parts you polish. Oil contact surfaces and put it back together. I have done this to two Marlin 336 rifles. If you get an old one, there is probably a lot more gunk in the action than you want to be there. A good cleaning off all its parts will do great things for the action of a lever action.
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Old January 25, 2013, 04:19 PM   #16
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I have nine Henry's and have the 45-70 on order from Henry, I have never had a problem with any of them and are very accurate right out of the box, My friends have other lever guns and they all like shooting mine the best. The Henry's might be a little more costly but worth it in my opinion.
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