45-70 plinking loads, & powder wads - who uses them?


February 29, 2008, 12:08 PM
So I'm looking at loading up some plinking loads for the 45-70, using cast bullets and either Unique or 2400. The only manual data I've got for these loads comes from Lyman 47, which specifies the use of a "1/2 gr. polyester fiber wad, 5/8 square X 1/4 thick over the powder" for almost all loads using Unique and 2400.

In reading this thread (and several others):


It seems there's a good bit of back and forth on when fillers are necessary to ensure proper ignition with powders that don't fill the case. I also looked in the Lyman 48, and it doesn't look like they list these loads any more.

For what it's worth, I've also got IMR-4895 and RL-15 to work with, but I'm really looking to roll up some of the light, just over 1000 fps loads for plinking fun.

I'd prefer not to add another powder can to the bench at the moment, so that's why I'm not messing with Trailboss.



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February 29, 2008, 01:36 PM
I shoot 19gr of unique under a 300gr cast (rcbs mold) in the 45-70 with standard LR primers and NO Filler and it works great. I use fillers on some loads where I have to, but unique has never posed a problem.

February 29, 2008, 05:32 PM
I use the info at GMDR.com (http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm). After comparing it with data from the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook it made sense to me. Best load for me is the Laser Cast 350g FN, 12g Unique, CCI 200, 2.525 OAL. 1124 fps average, one hole at 50 and 1.5" at 100. No problems ringing the 8" steel at 150 and a very fun plinker. No wad was recommended and that's how I load 'em. When I tested over the chrony I played with the powder position for each round, testing powder back/forward and cartridge rolled around on the bench for groups of cartridges. Got one big hole with an ES of 33 and an SD of 11 so powder position didn't seem an ignition issue and I haven't had a problem in the couple of hundred rounds since testing.

I also tested out 2400 up to 25 grains with the same bullet/primer/OAL. 1391 average FPS but with an ES of 81 and an SD of 35. They weren't as consistent or accurate (still pretty good accuracy wise, about 1.5" at 50) as the Unique load so I dumped it. Again, no wad.

This is a hot topic, so do your reading and make your choice. The next guy may tell you I'm a fool and he may be right.

Read the data sheet at GMDR. I tend to agree with their logic regarding powder choices and burn characteristics.

March 1, 2008, 08:11 PM
Thanks for the link to GMDR - nice to see someone takes their experimentation seriously. Think I'm going to try 20 gr of 2400 under a rem 405 gr jsp (all I could find in bulk) - a load from an older Hercules / Alliant manual. probably try a low-end Unique load as well.

These are all going out of a 22" H&R.

March 1, 2008, 09:39 PM
I've used 24 gr. of 2400 and a 320gr. cast bullet for several years.

At first I never bothered with a filler, but after some ignition problems I've gone to a small dacron wad to hold the powder in place.

This load is accurate and not too punishing from a Ruger #1.

March 1, 2008, 09:44 PM
I'd like to find someone who sells collar button bullets to load into my .45-70 bolt action.

March 2, 2008, 12:34 AM
One more thing I'll add, I use a dang firm Lee FCD on all my loads because of the tube magazine on the 1895G and setback, but on the light ones I make real sure of it. I figger my biggest worstest problem would be to get just enough ignition to stick the bullet in the bore and then have the rest of the charge ignite. Last guy I talked to who got a *click* ssssssssss *boom* was just lightly rolling them in. I would think a little extra containment would help out on a marginal ignition situation.

March 2, 2008, 09:11 AM
Collar buttons are readily available from Western Bullet Co. in Missoula Montana. I use them in 45-70 and 45-90. For data look in Ideal/Lyman #39.

March 2, 2008, 09:14 AM
i havent downloaded for my 45-70 yet, i have been messing around with my 300 win mag. i havent used any fillers, no ignition problems "yet". even down to 10 grains of acurrate no 7 (which, by the way is not enough powder). i just bought some imr sr4759 for downloading. now i need to get a chronograph. next on the list!

Harve Curry
March 16, 2008, 11:43 AM
I was searching for info about using a felt wad/disc to protect the bullet base when I found this informative topic.

That GMDR website listed above is a wealth of information. They have alot of encouraging data using powders I did not consider would yield good or accurate results.

I've been using Hercules 2400 in my 45-70 for about 17 years. This is for a relined 1881 Marlin rifle. When I was working up the load I found 2400 wouldn't completely ignite without a tuft of poly fiber fill (dacron) to keep the powder over the LR primer. When I did that the groups shrunk to 1.5" at 100 yards, and 3/4" at 50 yards. SD is about 10 and PSI is below 19K psi. with a Lyman 330gr cast bullet and 23gr of 2400, for a MV of 1500fps. If I had tried to increase the powder charge (which I didn't) to a density-level where it would burn efficiently by itself the PSI would have been to high for my rifle. Like Starter52's no. 5 post, our loads are similar except mine is 1gr of powder less.

David Wile
March 16, 2008, 04:42 PM
Hey Upriver,

I am not a fan of small quantities of fast powders in large cases. When I first started reloading, it was a given that all light loads and most cast bullet loads had to be made with fast powders. After charging a case, I would put in a tuft of Dacron fiber (looked like cotton) to keep the powder charge at the base of the case. Eventually, I started using small charges of medium burn rate powders for light loads and cast bullet loads. I found they were safe to use, were capable of good accuracy, and since the charges filled the case more than half way, I did not need to use anything to keep the charge toward the base.

I have a Marlin 1895 Cowboy in 45-70, and I use 45 grains of surplus 846 (similar to Hodgdon BL-C2 and just a bit faster than 4895) with a 300 grain gas checked cast bullet that I make. I don't know what the speed would be, but it is probably closer to 1,500 than 1,000. In any case, it is mild shooting.

I am not certain what kind of rifle you have; you mentioned a 22" H&R, but I don't know if that is a modern 1873 Trapdoor replica or what. In any case, you could safely use data from 1873 Trapdoor loads which would be much lighter than an 1995 Marlin or a Ruger. Since you already have 4895, you might want to use it for a light load.

My Lyman 47th manual lists 34 grains of 3031 as a starter load for a 293 grain cast bullet in the 1873 Trapdoor rifle. It also lists 51 grains of 3031 as a starting load for the same bullet in a Marlin 1895 - a fairly big difference. My Speer No. 9 manual lists a beginning load of 53 grains of 4895 for a 400 grain bullet in the Marlin 1895. Based on this data, I would think you could safely start with 35 grains of 4895 behind a 300 grain bullet in any 45-70 rifle, and then work your way up or down from there. The Lyman load of 34 grains 3031 behind the 293 grain bullet is listed as having a muzzle velocity of 1,269. I would guess 35 grains of 4895 behind a 300 grain bullet would have a similar velocity. It would also fill the case enough that you would have no need to fill empty case space with a filler. That is a real plus in my book.

If you test your 4895 loads carefully, I would expect that you should be able to get down close to your 1,000 FPS goal. Shoot one at 35 grains and check the case for signs of pressure on the primer. Frankly, I doubt if you will see any signs of primer pressure at that load. You can work your way down from there, but you want to make sure you hear the "crack" of the bullet in flight. Once the sound of the "crack" disappears, your FPS will be less than the speed of sound which is somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 FPS.

You do not want to go so low that your bullet fails to leave the barrel, but that is something you should be able to control if you work slowly and carefully. If you should ever get a bullet stuck in the barrel, just push it out with a wood dowel. Be careful, and if you are ever in doubt, STOP what you are doing and get the information you need to proceed safely.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

March 16, 2008, 09:16 PM

I've got a few test batches rolled up from 20 - 24 grains of 2400 in 1 grain increments, all over the rem 405 jsp. I didn't use any filler. Haven't been able to try them, because the range is still snowed in. Anyway, I'll try working up some loads with 4895 as well.

On an unrelated note, I had 50 / 50 once fired starline and R-P brass. I keep getting high primers with the R-P. They seat without significant resistance (CCI 200's) but are high enough that the rounds "wobble" when they're stood on end compared to the ones I loaded in the *-* cases.

Hmmm. These aren't going out of a lever action (so I'm not worried about setting them off on recoil), but I'd still like to get this figured out.



David Wile
March 16, 2008, 11:45 PM
Hey Upriver,

When you shoot your test batches of 2400 powder, raise the muzzle of your rifle after chambering each round so the powder will fall back toward the primer before squeezing the trigger.

More importantly, you have a problem with your raised primers. I don't know what you are using for reloading equipment, but all primers should be seated somewhat recessed in the primer pocket. If you have "primer wobble" on cases stood on end, you have done something wrong, and you do not want to seat the primers further while there is powder and a bullet in the case. I doubt if anyone would disagree with that advice. I don't know how many cartridges you have like that, but I would recommend pulling the bullets, dumping the powder, and then seating the primers properly. If you cannot do it yourself, you should find someone with more experience to help you and show you if necessary. If you can tell more of how they got that way, perhaps someone on the forum can figure out what is wrong and help figure out what to do.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

March 17, 2008, 12:31 PM
That's the thing - I couldn't figure out why they weren't completely seating - I've been using an RCBS hand priming tool and they seemed to seat with the normal amount of resistance, but appear to be flush with the lip of the pocket, not slightly recessed like they should be.

Primer pockets got the same prep as usual - a good scrubbing until there wasn't any residue. The hand priming tool was at the top of the stroke, and I wasn't going to get any further with seating. Only had this problem with the R-P cases, not the *-*. There aren't any signs of hard seating on the primers, and the cases otherwise seem ok.

I would have thought that if the pocket of primer was out of spec, I'd have felt some type of more noticable resistance while seating them.


David Wile
March 21, 2008, 10:18 PM
Hey Upriver,

I have the hand primer tool from RCBS and Lee, and I also have a lot of R-P brass in 45-70. I do not understand why you are having problems seating your primers. Like I said before, see if someone local with experience can help you figure it out. If the primer pockets in your brass is somehow out of spec, it should be measurable with a dial caliper. You could check the depth of the R-P brass and compare it with your other brass which is working properly. If you find the R-P brass is wrong, call them about it. I just find it hard to think there is anything wrong with the brass, but I can always be surprised.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Harve Curry
March 23, 2008, 11:03 AM
Found a list of sources is here:

March 26, 2008, 02:07 AM

Thanks for the link, that's more good reading. David, your advice is sound, and appreciated. I only have 10 loaded in the R-P cases, so pulling them isn't a huge deal. Like I say, I haven't had this problem with the priming tool (so I don't really think it's the tool) in any other caliber. I checked my measurements again, and the primed R-P cases are not seating correctly. I'll have to pull and de-prime some to check, as I don't have any other fired ones (although maybe I'll fire a couple more factory rounds to measure them I've got a dial caliper I can check with.



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