lever gun: .45-70 or .30-30?


March 20, 2005, 08:55 PM
Someone on a board(can't remember which one) stated the opinion that there should be a .30-30 lever gun in each house. I'm not in complete disagreement, I plan on having a lever in the collection. With smokeless, a .45-70 is a nice peice of ammo. So, which would you prefer in a lever gun?

If you enjoyed reading about "lever gun: .45-70 or .30-30?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
March 20, 2005, 08:58 PM
Edited: Wrong thread, and it won't let me delete.

R.H. Lee
March 20, 2005, 09:01 PM
I have a Marlin 336 30-30 that is way fun. I've often thought I wanted a 45-70, but have no idea why. I'm not a hunter and 45-70 ammo is real expensive. Maybe I'm happy with just the 30-30. :)

March 20, 2005, 10:00 PM
Ammo costs may be the deciding factor. 45-70 is the first cartridge I reloaded. That really helps keep costs down. Manufacturers are proud of their 45-70 ammo. Plenty of history associated with 45-70. It was a fine black powder cartridge and it made the transition to smokeless nicely. They've been used to kill every big mean thing in Africa including elephant and they can be loaded down for pleasant range plinking. I've still got a ported, stainless guide gun in 45-70. I use it to hone my flinching skills. I particularly like the Marlin safety which I frequently leave on accidentally when I pull the trigger. Nothing like a quiet click accompanied by a dramatic flinch and a quick look around to see who noticed. But, if I had to buy factory ammo and money was a factor, I think I'd might be happy with 30-30. I've heard it theorized that more deer have been taken with that round than any other. Either one is a fine cartridge but that 45-70 is one big piece of ammo. End of ramblings.

March 20, 2005, 10:09 PM
With the cowboy action craze in full swing, lead bullet 45/70 is available from several companies at pretty reasonable prices. My guess is you can get this stuff for less than $15 a box pretty easily if you shop around.

Even the hotter stuff can be had at decent prices--Saturday, I picked up a box of the new PMC loading--350gr JSP @ 2050fps from a local shop. There are actually 2 shops within 10 miles of my house that carry this load and both of them price it under $20. Southwest Ammunition Supply in Mesquite is the winner at $17.25! :D

March 20, 2005, 10:24 PM
I have a 16" Winchester 94 in 30-30 and it is fun to shoot. 30-30 is big enough for any Texas game up to 100 yards or a little more. I use it in wooded areas where I am not likely to get a shot any farther. I get Winchester 150gr power points for $10 a box tax and all at Wal-Mart.

March 20, 2005, 10:28 PM
Everyone should have a 30-30 in their safe...

March 21, 2005, 08:36 AM
Everyone should have a .30-30 and a 45-70 in thier safe.

But if I was forced to choose I'd opt for the 45-70. Have a .30-30 that was one of my primary go-to guns for years. It rarely leaves the safe after getting a Marlin 1895 45-70.

Ammo price is comparable. Shop a little.


March 21, 2005, 09:01 AM
Get the 30-30 and when the bug for a larger lever gun bites you, skip the 45-70 and go for the 450 Marlin. But put a larger loop on it, 'cause it tends to eat knuckles.

March 21, 2005, 09:26 AM
I've got both. I tend to take the 30-30 out a lot more than the 45-70, I'll confess I don't find shooting my ported 45-70 guide gun much fun and so far the 30-30 has killed every deer I've had the opportunity to come across.

March 21, 2005, 09:28 AM
I traded my 30-30 in on a 45-70 and haven't looked back since. The 45-70 is a blast to shoot, but does wear on the shoulder faster than a 30-30. I still have to get a good recoil pad. In my experience ammo runs about $18-$20 per box with the hevily loaded Buffalo Bore stuff being more expensive. My Dad has a friend working on some reloads for me to try out soon.

March 21, 2005, 01:14 PM
The more you want to shoot either caliber the more you will need to reload.

Personally I would rather have a 30-30, but the 45-70 is better for hunting up north.

No problems with either, shoot both and see what you like.

March 21, 2005, 11:24 PM
I had a .30-30. Now I have a .44 levergun. 10 shots, powerful for the range it's made for (100 yards) and I have a .303 for longer range.

March 22, 2005, 06:38 PM
.45/70's are so badass. I want a Marlin Guide Gun with ghost ring sites and maybe a scout mount. :)

March 22, 2005, 07:07 PM
if I was going to get another 45-70 lever I would get a Winchester 1886 becuase the stock design is a hell of a lot better than a Marlin. I had a guide gun and while it is a well made rifle the stock design sucks so it kicks a lot. I still have a Ruger #1S in 45-70 and I won't ever get rid of it. it is a great round and even better if you reload

March 23, 2005, 08:57 AM
Depends on what you want. I prefer the 45-70 because with the right ammo its a great bear defense round in a handy lever action.

March 23, 2005, 11:46 AM

Are you sure you haven't got that backwards? I had always heard the reverse--that the Win stock design amplified recoil compared to the Marlin configuration.

I've not shot an 1886 so I'm just repeating what I've heard.

March 23, 2005, 12:23 PM
I vote for one in each caliber. :)

Lobotomy Boy
March 23, 2005, 12:56 PM
Few guns pack as hard a wallop as a 45-70. Truth be told, it hurts like hell to shoot a hot 45-70 round. I would like one for certain application like bear hunting, but for deer hunting or just shooting I'd much rather use a 30-30. It all depends on what you plan to use the gun for. I really don't feel the need to beat the crap out of myself if I don't have to.

March 23, 2005, 01:59 PM
i have a winchester 94 30-30 right now that i inharited from my grandpa but for some reason i really want a marlin 45-70 eventhough i have never shot one. next gun i buy will be a 45-70 i think.

March 23, 2005, 02:07 PM
Back when I was a boy in SW Missouri, it seemed that nearly everyone did.

Besides some sort of shotgun and a .22 rifle, a '94 or a Marlin 336 in .30/30 was the centerfire most likely to be found in any given closet. A milsurp bolt action of some sort might join them if there was more than one hunter in the house.

Why not? IMO, the .30/30 was there for several good reasons:

Ammo was relatively cheap and you could get a box at nearly any gas station/general store no matter how far out in the tules you went.

It had adequate power for the largest game animal they were after locally, and was equally well-suited for use as a rural home defender if needed.

They didn't break much, and took a lot of beating to wear out. Besides, they probably inherited it from their Dad or Grandpa and if it was good enough for them.....

It's real close to the max in what the average once-a-year hunter could tolerate in recoil and noise and still shoot well enough to hit his deer.

Besides those milsurps, they were the cheapest 'deer rifle' option around at the time.

Now that you've got me thinking about it, I'll have to look around for a nice pre-lawyer 336 .30/30 to go with my .35 Rem. and .45/70 '95G. Everyone should have one!

March 23, 2005, 02:46 PM
I split the difference. 38-55.

March 23, 2005, 03:04 PM
A .30-30 lever gun doesn't raise any eyebrows stashed in your truck/trunk. It can handle all the 4 OR 2-legged critters one is likely to encounter on the North and South American continent at the ranges it was designed to be used (0-250 yds.)

A $150 Marlin 336 will not break the bank if it's stolen with/out of your car, either. A M336 or M-94 with a set of Ghost ring sights, sling, and a ammo cuff will get you out of most any situation.

If you are in BIG bear country, then get a .45-70 too.

March 23, 2005, 03:27 PM
These days .45/70 has a huge edge over .30/30 In a modern levergun the .45/70 covers a far wider range of applications. It can be downloaded to cowboy levels or uploaded into a serious magnum rifle. It's also extremely easy to reload for and cast bullets are easy to find and inexpensive. The .30/30 covers only one area of ballistics--the 1,800 to 2,000 ft. lbs inside 100 yards area. .45/70 bullets can hit with less than 1,000 ft. lbs. for small game loads to over 3,000 ft. lbs. for the buf. bore magnums. Read "Forty-Five Years with the .45/70" for more information. It's a truly amazing cartridge.

March 23, 2005, 03:33 PM
Because I'm a cheapskate and don't reload, I'll take the 30-30.

Or just for fun, 357.

Bullet Bob
March 23, 2005, 04:14 PM
Also, 45-70's look gooood. Here's a Winchester ExtraLight with it's Galco removable pad. Hey, steel buttplates look good, but I'm not shooting one in 45-70 without some wuss material between it and my shoulder.


March 23, 2005, 04:57 PM
Agreed. Here's a pic of my Marlin 1895GS. :D


March 23, 2005, 06:03 PM
I guess it would depend upon what purpose it would serve, and I can think of more practical things for which to use that 30-30. Then again I really prefer the .35 Remington round thrugh a Marlin 336 lever gun. Just throwing that one into the fire in case you have not thought of it.

March 23, 2005, 06:13 PM
I have shot a 1886 extra light , 1886 rifle , marlin guide gun and the Ruger #1S. the 1886 rifle is just to heavy to carry even from the truck to the shooting bench. the only way I would take one of those for hunting would if a horse was carrying it(since I don't ride horses that settles that). the fact that it was so heavy made it a piece of cake to shoot. the 1886 extra light and my Ruger #1S felt the same recoil wise and easy to shoot. the guide gun by far kicked and felt the worst of them all. but as they say recoil is subjective to the person

March 23, 2005, 06:21 PM
I have a Marlin 336 30-30 that is way fun. I've often thought I wanted a 45-70, but have no idea why. I'm not a hunter and 45-70 ammo is real expensive

I'm in the same boat except both my levers are Winchester 94s (one 30-30, one .45LC). I keep thinking about that 45-70,and since I have no good reason for one (I don't hunt) I keep trying to think of excuses.

My latest (and usual) is for camping it might be nice to have the bigger caliber in case I run into any bears or Mountain Lions. However, the East Coast is black bear territory and I'm sure the 30-30 (and the .45LC long gun) would do fine. Also, I have no friends with property to camp on (actually I do have some cousins with property in W. PA but I don't usually go to my cousins' for much) so I tend to camp on public land. Without a hunting license and outside hunting season I'm not sure how well a "hunting rifle" would be reacted to if some authority figure saw me with it- thus it would be stowed in the tent or car and thus it would be too hard to get to if I needed it (so my only practical animal defense gun will be a revolver on my person). So, this really is more an excuse than a reason to get the 45-70.

March 23, 2005, 07:06 PM
If choosing only ONE:
Marlin 1895 .45-70
My pic shows that I managed to lose the front sight shroud my first time out with the gun...I've replaced it and used blue Loc-Tite to keep it there.
This gun is capable of shooting everything from black-powder loads to some seriously mean-a$$ Big Game killing ammunition.

Shortly after I got this gun, I happened to receive TWO Winchester Model 94's that had belonged to my late Father and Step-Father! TWO. In one week.
My "Dad's" had both been dead for years, but within a week, I happened across my late Dad's friend, and spoken with my Step-Brother, both offering me a Winchester 94 .30-30.
I couldn't believe it. :what:

I have the good fortune to have examples of both the .30-30 and .45-70 in either a Winchester 94 or Marlin 1895 in my gunsafe.
But, the Marlin .45-70 has the edge in many ways when it comes to a kick-butt lever-action rifle.

This is MY late Dad's '68-'69 Model 94 refinished in matte blue with a Ram-Line synthetic stock and Lyman #2 sight.
Also added were the Winchester large-loop lever and Uncle Mike's bbl. band swivel.
I had the factory lever and buttplate for the wood done in matte blue for when I get the wood refinished.
It's pretty sharp looking in real time with the different color of the receiver against the matte bluing.
Truly shocking is that I received from my Step Brother in the same week - HIS Dad's pre-'64 ('50-'51) Model 94 !!! It remains in original condition other than the sight hood being replaced. Nice rifles.
As described in the other photo description, this is a '50-'51 version of the Model 94 that belonged to my Step-Dad.
His Son gave it to me in the same week I got my Dad's gun from an old family friend.
Talk about a shockingly good week!

This is one of 'those gun stories' you think only happens to somebody else! :D

March 23, 2005, 07:13 PM
If it's not a Winchester 94, I'd go with a Marlin in .35REM. That's just me.

March 23, 2005, 07:47 PM
I have both a Marlin 30-30 and a 45-70. LIke them both. Getting ready to send both of them out to www.yost-bonitz.com for some custom work!

March 23, 2005, 10:32 PM
Thanks for the info, steveno!

March 23, 2005, 11:41 PM
I have three Marlins .30-30, .45 LC, and 45-70. Of the three the .30-30 is the hunter, the 45 LC is the plinker and the 45-70 is the THUMPER. Now I need to save up for a .357 Mag. My only experience with lever action rifles has been the Marlins.

March 24, 2005, 01:48 PM
Maybe I'm just weird, but IMO my 336 in .35 Rem. thumps my shoulder as hard or harder than my ported '95G. YYMV, but I'm basing this on comparing 200 gr. Federal factory .35s with 300 gr. Federal 'Premium' .45/70s side-by-side.

To be fair, the 336 has only the OEM plastic buttplate and the '95 has the OEM pad.

Cast bullet handloads with 300-350 gr. LFPGCs c.1300 f/s are pussycats. Plink all day with them if you've got the brass (which, incidentally, seems to last virtually forever loaded to this level).

Factory .405 SPs aren't much worse, as they seem to be loaded to pressures deemed safe for trapdoors and replica Sharps and RBs. More of a 'push' than a 'smack'.

I will grant that the heavy loads from Buffalo Bore et al intended for use only in Marlin levers, Ruger #1s, and Siamese Mausers can be punishing from a bench when you're pushing them out of a carbine that weighs something under eight pounds. They're easier to tolerate from the off-hand position, but I'm only good for about 10 rds or less before I'll start flinching.

As I'm not harboring fantasies about running into any grizzlies or buffalo in Indiana any time soon, I'll likely have a couple of partial boxes of the above for a while yet. ;)

But if we start getting a rash of Cape buffalo or elephant attacks in Boone Co., I'm ready! :D

March 24, 2005, 06:07 PM
I have an 1895 Marlin in .45-70. First thing I did was have a Decelerator pad installed. I handload a 405 Speer FP over Varget. IIRC the vel is around 1750 fps. Real nice to shoot and plenty of whack.

If you're going to get a .45-70, I'd suggest looking into a single stage press. You could start with a whole Lee set-up for cheap, and load for around $6 a box if memory is correct.

If you enjoyed reading about "lever gun: .45-70 or .30-30?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!