Carbine in 45/70 vs one in .454


December 9, 2006, 05:15 PM
My next rifle will be a short-barrellled rifle/carbine, in either .454 (the 16.5" Puma) or in 45/70 Govt. (the 18.5" Marlin Guide Gun in ss).

Question: for a general field gun, with no particular purpose in mind, what are the strong and weaks point of each gun?

I like the fact that the 45/70 can carry larger bullets, including real hot loads (Garrett, BB, etc.), while the .454 is 'limited' to 300 grains or so (are there any .454 bullets larger than 300 grains available??), but I wonder if I can even handle the recoil of the hot, heavy 45/70 loads. Is the ported barrel of the Puma a negative? Is there a material difference in quality 'tween the two carbines? Thanx for your comments.

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Brian Williams
December 9, 2006, 08:26 PM
454 in a Puma is a great gun, go to and look for PACO's articles on this gun.

December 9, 2006, 09:23 PM
I have a Marlin GG in 45/70 and I had a 454 Puma (my brother-in-law wanted it, so I sold it to him, cheap). The 454 with 300gr bullets is right up there with factory 45/70 300gr loads. If you want hotter, go with the 45/70, as it can be loaded up hot enough that it is almost unpleasant to shoot.

I did work up a load for the 454 to equal the 45/70 factory 405gr. I took cast 458 bullets, lubed them with sizing lube and ran 'em through a .452 sizing die. I loaded 'em in 45LC cases and was getting about 1200fps with easy extraction. I stopped there but I might have gotten a little more velocity with some work. I shoot 'em in my Blackhawk, too.

December 9, 2006, 09:40 PM
i have a puma in .480 ruger and load it standard with 400g speer gold dots. it rocks. it is a good gun because it's dirt cheap. it is however, appreciably shy of accurate. (my 8.875" barrelled taurus raging bull shoots tighter groups than the 16" barreled rossi puma)

even so, it's a hoot to shoot. i'd recommend it for the money, and i definitely love the caliber.

December 9, 2006, 11:48 PM
If you use same bullet weight and velocity in 454 and 45/70, wouldn't the 454 run at higher chamber pressure? And wouldn't that cause more stress, wear, and tear on the rifle?

December 10, 2006, 02:04 AM
Well, IIRC, the .454 runs at 65,000 psi.(that's a lot) to launch a 300gr jacketed bullet 1500fps from a 7 1/2" barrel. I figure it's going 1900-2000fps out of the carbine. The 300gr factory 45/70 load is rated at 1850fps.

The 45/70 runs at 21,000 psi.(Trapdoor safe) to launch a 400gr jacketed bullet 1800fps from a 26" barrel.

With a little care and the right powder, a 400gr lead bullet at 1200fps from a 20" barrel is pretty easy on the gun and the shoulder.

And like I said, I shoot the same load in my Blackhawk with no problems. I'm guessing that load is running 850-950fps out of a 4 5/8" barrel.

I'll know when I get my chronograph up and running after Christmas.

stiletto raggio
December 10, 2006, 03:45 AM
Straight up, the 45/70 factory loads wll approach the hottest 454 loads available, and will have a lot of room to move up from there. I'm a 45/70 fan from the beginning nbut I will say that the hotter 454 loads give it a run for the money in lighter bullet weights. At the end of the day, the 45/70 is a more powerful and versatile round. It will kill anything from deer to elephant given the right load.

December 10, 2006, 04:59 AM
I hope I'm getting it right for the guide gun. The Winchester is built for handgun calibers and will be dimensionally smaller and easier to carry. I've got a '92 that weighs just under 6 lbs. The Marlin is probably nearly a pound heavier.
The .45-70 will give you extended range with a heavier bullet.
You really can't go wrong with either.

December 10, 2006, 10:33 AM
I'd choose the Marlin in .45/70 for a lot of reasons, but, the one that comes to mind first, is ammo availability.
IF I have to, I can even get these little 'cigars' at Wallyworld.

The .454 just doesn't 'do' anything for me.


December 10, 2006, 11:29 AM
The wide selection and availability of 45/70 ammo would do it for me. A Marlin will always resell better than a Rossi.

December 10, 2006, 11:43 AM
A Marlin is a top-quality American-made gun, without a prohibitive price tag. That's a powerful argument for buying one. The 1895G is a proven design to say the least, and I've never heard a single negative comment about the gun (apart from someone who put a John Wayne loop lever on his because the standard lever was bouncing off his fingers too much for comfort, and that's hardly negative, since you can mailorder the large loop and put it in easily).

The really good reason I can see to get a .454 or .480 carbine is if you want a companion revolver (not a bad reason, since one of my wish-list guns is a .480 Super Redhawk).

Otherwise, those are oddball rounds, compared to the .45-70. If you have a need for a Guide Gun, the Sporting Goods Store Test applies (can I get it in any sporting goods store in Spunkwater, Kansas?). I'd avoid any cartridge I can't get when and where I might need it.

Absent other factors, like a companion revolver, I'd vote for the Marlin in .45-70. Of course, either gun will get big hunks of lead downrange, so like any such choice, it's not all-or-nothing.:)

December 10, 2006, 12:32 PM
the 11th guy who summed it up the best. Ditto everything Armed Bear said. I will add a couple of things of my own. First let me say that I have owned several of the Rossi/Puma rifles and several of the Marlins. Yes, the Rossi stainless rifle in 454 Cassull is a good gun and I am aware of the torture test done on it. For the reason that Armed Bear stated it is currently my first choice in a companion rifle for a hangun in the same caliber. However, if Marlin ever makes a rifle for the the 454 or, better yet the 460, I will buy the Marlin. The Marlin is the better gun. Yes, it is more expensive, it is also more reliable. If you don't believe that is more reliable go to a Cowboy shoot and look at the numbers. Those guys don't want their guns to jam and, the fact is, Marlins are less prone to this. As I said earlier I have owned several of the Rossi's and one I wish I had not sold. It was very reliable. I had 3 others that weren't even close to reliable. All my Marlins, and I currently own 5, are completely reliable. The real bummer for me is that I really like the look of the 92' design much better than the the 94 Marlin.

With all that said, what really matters is what do you want or need? If you don't plan on getting a handgun in the same caliber you will probably be better off with the 45/70. If you want/need 45/70 performance most of the time get the 45/70. If you handload you can light load for plinking. I personally like the idea of interchageability, comapatability of ammo in the rifle and handgun. I currently load for the 45 Schofield and the 45 Colt, for this reason I have had my eyes on a revolver/rifle combo in 454 cassul. As I said earlier the Rossi is currently my first choice because, as far as I know, it is my only choice. As far as revolvers go the Ruger is in the lead right now because of the cost and its ruggedness. The only thing stopping me from buying anything right now, aside from the money thing of course, is that I am hoping that Marlin will introduce a Rifle in the 460. In case you are not familiar with it yet, it is the 454 lengthened and Smith makes a revolver for it as do some of the other manufacturers.

December 11, 2006, 02:56 PM
Thank you all for your incisive comments. I learned a lot.
Have any of you loaded any buckshot/birdshot into your .454 or 45/70 casings? Any success?? Thanx again, gents and ladies.

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GI Joe
December 11, 2006, 09:02 PM

Regarding your question about the bullet weights for the 454 Casull, factory loads go up to 360 grains (Corbon, Buffalo Bore, Grizzly) and some 320, 335 grains as well. The 45-70 can go from 300- 540 gr in factory loads. I do not reload so maybe reloaders can get even more.

The 454 Casull Puma is a compact powerhouse. It holds more rounds compared to the Marlin (9 vs 4). Ballistically, I think the 454 can keep up with the 45-70 until you get into the 400 grain bullets and above (not completely sure though). On the other hand, the 45-70 can do everything the 454 can do and more with much lower pressures. My Puma's action is somewhat sticky sometimes, the Marlin is very smooth. Recoil depends on the load. My Marlin has the porting but even with it, the 430 grain Buffalo Bore loads I like kick noticeably more than the 360 grains out of the Puma.

Given a choice between one or the other, I would go with the Marlin.

June 25, 2007, 10:53 PM
Any more comments on this topic? :)

I'm looking at the same two rifles as the original poster, use as a roustabout and eventually airplane gun in south central Alaska.
(actually, I was thinking 20" Puma, but the local store I've seen has only a 16", and it seems to handle right nice)

My heart is saying - "ooh! '92 pretty! and I can load it with .45 Colt for practice and nice soft funsies and as a town bedside piece.. maybe eventually even trade in my .44 for a nice .45 and have everything match"

On the other hand, the Marlin certainly looks sturdier.

On the first hand again though.. the Puma's a little handier, and my last experience with a Marlin (in .30-30) wasn't that hot, as I couldn't hit spit with it.. but the Winchester '94 .30-30 I have fits like a glove, and I can shoot much better with it.

On the second hand again.. I figure there's a reason every other guide up here seems to have Marlin.

Bother. decisions, decisions.

I guess it comes to this.. for the relatively sparse diet of honest-to-goodness .454 I'd feed it, would the Puma be adequately strong and sturdy enough for general wilds defensive piece to offset the greater versatility and just plain "feeling-ness" I like about it?


Red Tornado
June 26, 2007, 10:16 AM
No first hand experience, but since it's for Alaska, can you envision a time where you need the rifle and hear yourself saying "Oh ****, I wish I had a 45/70!" If so, get the Marlin. :D

Dusty Wheeler
June 27, 2007, 10:39 AM
Marlin .45-70 = versatility. I have several .45-70 rifles and a BFR .454. I shoot the rifles...
You can't beat the .45-70! Round ball loads to shoot in the back yard to buffalo stompers!! 10 gr. Unique and a 300 to 350 gr cast bullet id GREAT!!!

June 27, 2007, 02:51 PM
get the Puma!

Il Duca
June 27, 2007, 07:02 PM
I have a 20" Puma .454 and I love it. If you find .45 Colts that have a long over all length you can fire those in it too, but it is picky about them. I don't think I would have one with a 16" bbl though. I would say the 20" would give better performance with the .454 due to the large volume of slow burning powder you're dealing with. To me I liked the Puma for the Winchester modelled action, the straight stock and the lower price tag. When you're on a short budget the $450 price tag of the Puma wins over the $600 for the Marlin. I don't hunt in Spunkwater Kansas, I hunt locally and roll my own so ammo availability is not a concern for me. If I'm going to fly somewhere to hunt, I'll take a Savage .30-06 or something.

June 27, 2007, 07:10 PM
I would personally go with the Marlin. I find the round bolt of the Marlin to be smoother operating than the square bolt designs. The 45-70 has many, many more factory ammo options than the 454 and has been around since 1873. That is a pretty good track record. With that said, the Puma is lighter and handier and can hold more rounds. If either of these factors are very important to you then go with the Puma.

June 27, 2007, 08:43 PM
For those with Puma 454's - will they feed and stabilize the heavier bullets (320gr+) I thought I saw that is has 1 in 30" twist rate, which seems a little on the slow side.

June 27, 2007, 09:48 PM
My primary concern with the .454 would be the performance of handgun bullets at rifle velocities; i.e. are they sufficiently robust to hold together and/or perform adequately when fired from a long gun? One would assume the hard cast or jsp's might, but it's comforring that I've no such worries with anything I shoot from my .45-70 1895GS, as they are purpose-built rifle bullets exiting the muzzle.

June 27, 2007, 10:44 PM
Why settle for 454 when you can get an encore in .460 Then you'd be able to shoot 45 colt, 454 casull AND the .460
Left to right 45LC, 460S&W 300grn MAG XTP, 250grn Shockwave ML bullet and 45ACP ball

June 28, 2007, 10:44 AM
Is not the Marlin 450 able to shoot 45-70?

That might be an option as well.

June 28, 2007, 06:26 PM
Is not the Marlin 450 able to shoot 45-70?

That might be an option as well.

No the .450 is a belted case and the 45/70 is rimmed. Besides there isn't anything 450 can do that 45-70 can't

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