The Misunderstood .450 Marlin


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Cosmoline
June 9, 2009, 02:27 PM
I've been researching and handloading the .450 Marlin for the past few months, and I've been amazed by the amount of disdain expressed for what really is a fantastic round. As usual I think marketing played a large role. The round is characterized as a .45-70 that comes at magnum levels from the factory. Why they would have chosen to sell it in this fashion when B-Bore, Garret and others have long been producing magnum level .45-70's is beyond me.

In reality, the .450 Marlin has nothing to do with the .45-70. It's not in the .45-70 family and doesn't cross-chamber at all. It is in fact a commercial variation of the .458x2 American wildcat. This was a round made from a cut down .458 win mag for use as a magnum level brush buster. It has plenty of power and the belted design allowed it to be chambered in bolt actions and even Win 94 size leverguns. The only drawback of the .458x2 was that it would potentially chamber in some other belted magnums with much smaller bores, but this was easy to solve by a minor dimensional alteration.

With all the emphasis the companies put on ultra-short magnums designed to squeeze a quarter inch off receiver length, you would think that a cartridge bringing enormous power to a very compact bolt action or levergun would be a major advantage, but it was never marketed that way. Winchester finally did put out a commercial version of the Big Bore in .450 Marlin, but only at the very end of the company's existence. Marlin, for its part, only chambered it in a full size 1895 frame levergun, giving the shooter no advantage over a .45-70. And to my knowledge no company has produced a .450 Marlin express bolt action other than an obscure offering from Steyr-Mannlicher.

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Hostile Amish
June 9, 2009, 02:29 PM
I've never even heard of the cartridge before.

H2O MAN
June 9, 2009, 02:59 PM
Model 1895M in 450 Marlin (http://www.marlinfirearms.com/firearms/bigbore/1895M.asp) :)

Hornady Ammo (http://www.hornady.com/shop/?page=shop%2Fbrowse&category_id=a5b443089852c86e57a12894ec7783d8)

ArmedBear
June 9, 2009, 03:39 PM
a cartridge bringing enormous power to a very compact bolt action or levergun would be a major advantage, but it was never marketed that way.

Actually, it was, and it is currently. It's been kept a secret, though.

http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/family.asp?webflag_=003B&catalog_=B

The real problem is that Brownchester seems contractually obligated to use their guns to push the WSM and WSSM rounds from Olin, instead of just building guns that people want in chamberings that people want. The new 70 Featherweight is a perfect example. They can ditch the WSM chamberings for all I care. Make a .260 and a .338-06.

Whenever there's a really nice gun on the clearance rack here for a really good price, it's in a WSM chambering. Like just about everyone else, I put it back on the rack. Clearly, Brownchester isn't responding to demand; they owe it to Olin to make those guns, whether or not they sell.

The .450 Marlin is a casualty of that bassackwards "marketing", but you can indeed get it in the BLR lightweight, including takedowns. Same size as a .308.

Browning should at least tell people about it.

R.W.Dale
June 9, 2009, 03:44 PM
In my opinion the only purpose 450 marlin served was to simply show folks just how good 45-70 can be. Once that was accomplished there was no further need for this chambering.

Cosmoline
June 9, 2009, 04:31 PM
The big rim on the .45-70 makes it difficult to chamber in a bolt gun, and requires a large size tube and receiver for leverguns. I've got a 94 in .450 Marlin and it's considerably more packable than a 1895 or 86 Winchester.

ArmedBear
June 9, 2009, 04:38 PM
Not as packable as a takedown BLR, also available in .450 per my post above.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 9, 2009, 04:39 PM
That is indeed interesting to have a smaller rifle like a 94 pack that kind of wallop - not too dissimilar though, to the LSI Puma 92 in .454 Casull. But with even more power - masochists unite and spread the gospel of the .450 Marlin! :)

In that regard, I agree that it was misunderstood, at least by me. Thank you for the explanation.

Cosmoline
June 9, 2009, 05:44 PM
I didn't realize the BLR was being chambered in it. Those are great, though I would never characterize them as being as packable as a Win 94. Where this cartridge could really shine is in the underserved bolt action brush cartridge market. These are light weight bolt action rifles with express sights and barrels under 22". Ruger and Rem have come out with compact bolt guns along these lines in recent years. I can't think of any cartridge bigger than the .35 Whelen that fills this role, and that one is rarely seen in commercial chamberings. A .450 Marlin with spitzers or leverevolutions would really shine out of that package.

ArmedBear
June 9, 2009, 05:48 PM
Not packable?

http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/images/034015m.jpg

Reid73
June 9, 2009, 05:59 PM
The round is characterized as a .45-70 that comes at magnum levels from the factory. Correct. According to Marlin's website (http://www.marlinfirearms.com/firearms/bigbore/1895M.asp), it's "a potent 45 caliber belted cartridge that is an upgrade on the classic 45/70 Government".

A solution in search of a problem, if you ask me. Just like all the 'short magnums' (talk about an oxymoron!).

Float Pilot
June 9, 2009, 06:17 PM
The 450 Marlin, (introduced in 2000) which as already pointed out is really a legitimate version of the 458 x 2 inch American, is becoming fairly popular up here in Alaska. Both in the Marlin lever carbines and the Browning BLR. Although repeated firings in a lightweight version of the BLR are rather painful.

The COL for lever guns runs around 2.52 or 2.53 inches COL. And you can push a 350 grain round nose to 2,200 fps if you work at it with H-322.

What we are seeing more of up here is converting short action bolt rifles to this caliber. Mush as what was intended for the original 458x2.

A prime candidate for conversion to 450 Marlin is the Ruger M77MKII Stainless factory chambered in 350 Rem Mag. It will allow loading to 2.800 COL. PLUS, the magazine and bolt are already set up for the right sized belted case. I have also seen a couple converted Remington 673s.

The extended COL and the bolt action give you a little more room for working up loads.

Cosmoline
June 9, 2009, 09:22 PM
Not packable?

It's apparently seven pounds which is pretty nice. I thought they were closer to eight or nine. I still find the BLR's lumpy and a little odd. But maybe that's just me.

ArmedBear
June 9, 2009, 11:17 PM
No, I find them lumpy and a little odd, too.:)

But a 7 lb. takedown .450 Marlin would be just the right thing for some applications.

The older ones were heavier; I think Browning went to an alloy receiver.

natman
June 10, 2009, 04:14 AM
The round is characterized as a .45-70 that comes at magnum levels from the factory. Why they would have chosen to sell it in this fashion when B-Bore, Garret and others have long been producing magnum level .45-70's is beyond me.

In reality, the .450 Marlin has nothing to do with the .45-70. It's not in the .45-70 family and doesn't cross-chamber at all. It is in fact a commercial variation of the .458x2 American wildcat.

The round has been characterized as having the ballistics of a hotloaded 45-70, not literally being a hotloaded 45-70. Some of the boutique loaders have hotloaded 45-70s, but that is not the same as having factory SAAMI spec ammo. The 450 Marlin gives people who don't handload access to the level of performance enjoyed by 45-70 owners that do, without exposing the major ammunition companies to the liability of non-SAAMI ammunition.

If you own a 45-70 and handload there's not much point to the 450 Marlin. If you don't handload, then it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

bowmanr
June 10, 2009, 05:01 AM
Regardless of whether it's needed or not (as compared to the .45-70), one thing's for sure...it DEFINITELY has the KNOCKDOWN POWER!

After just acquiring one, my uncle decided to try the .450 Marlin on a mulie just to see the result. The sound of the bullet striking the hide of the poor, poor animal standing at about 75 yards was like the hand of God in the form of a thunder clap as it quite literally picked the mule deer up in the air, spun it over, and dropped it to the earth about 10 feet behind where it had stood. It was, of course, quite dead upon arriving at the scene having punched a fist-sized hole out the exit wound. The most amazing thing was that somehow--it ought to go down in the books as the eighth wonder of the world--all (and I mean "ALL") of the entrails had been blown out the entry wound side about the size of a quarter! A little overkill?...perhaps, but it took that deer cleanly and humanely, and was a lot of fun to witness.

Just thought I'd throw that out there for fun!

woof
June 10, 2009, 09:22 AM
The .45-70 is enjoying a large upsurge of nostalgic popularity and any cartridge that is competition is going to be trashed by the .45-70 zealots. I don't own a .450 Marlin but if an 800lb grizzly was chasing me it would be a good one to have.

ArmedBear
June 10, 2009, 11:58 AM
The 450 Marlin gives people who don't handload access to the level of performance enjoyed by 45-70 owners that do, without exposing the major ammunition companies to the liability of non-SAAMI ammunition.

But Cosmoline's whole point is that lawyers aren't the only reason for the .450 Marlin. He's right.

That said, a .45-70 1895 GS would probably be my choice. Variety of loads is a big plus.

Robert
June 10, 2009, 01:04 PM
Does the .450 Marlin offer huge gains in power and fps over a well loaded 45-70? I know that much of the factory ammo is downloaded so grand dad's trap door does not become a grenade. But is the 45-70 loaded up to spec that much weaker than the .450?

ArmedBear
June 10, 2009, 01:12 PM
But is the 45-70 loaded up to spec that much weaker than the .450?

It isn't weaker.

However, Cosmoline's point was that you could put the .450 in a more compact, better-carrying gun than the .45-70.

The fact the Marlin doesn't is one reason people don't see any good reason for the .450 Marlin -- and why I'd just get the .45-70 instead, in an 1895.

Hence, the Browning above. It's smaller and lighter, available as a takedown, and comes in .450.

Sure, it's ugly. But I think that most Browning products are ugly (and/or too heavy, bulky, etc.). So it's no worse in that area than a lot of their stuff.:)

Robert
June 10, 2009, 01:16 PM
Thanks Armed Bear. After reading the thread two times I still managed to miss all that... I need another cup of coffee.

natman
June 10, 2009, 01:21 PM
But Cosmoline's whole point is that lawyers aren't the only reason for the .450 Marlin. He's right.

Which whole point would that be? I read something about "smaller, lighter rifles", but according to Cartridges of the World, both cartridges have identical 2.55" COL, so I don't see how that can happen.

ArmedBear
June 10, 2009, 01:24 PM
You could try reading his post, or even my #20. Then you'd know.:rolleyes:

natman
June 10, 2009, 01:32 PM
Sorry, but I sincerely don't see the point.

waterhouse
June 10, 2009, 01:42 PM
Which whole point would that be? I read something about "smaller, lighter rifles", but according to Cartridges of the World, both cartridges have identical 2.55" COL, so I don't see how that can happen.

It has plenty of power and the belted design allowed it to be chambered in bolt actions

Where this cartridge could really shine is in the underserved bolt action brush cartridge market. These are light weight bolt action rifles with express sights and barrels under 22".

What we are seeing more of up here is converting short action bolt rifles to this caliber.

I think the smaller, lighter rifles concept comes from making a bolt action .450 Marlin instead of something like the 1895G.

Asherdan
June 10, 2009, 01:43 PM
This is the best additional use for the 450 Marlin that I've seen brought up. For someone that needs it, that is a heck of an option.

The 450 Marlin, (introduced in 2000) which as already pointed out is really a legitimate version of the 458 x 2 inch American, is becoming fairly popular up here in Alaska. Both in the Marlin lever carbines and the Browning BLR. Although repeated firings in a lightweight version of the BLR are rather painful.

The COL for lever guns runs around 2.52 or 2.53 inches COL. And you can push a 350 grain round nose to 2,200 fps if you work at it with H-322.

What we are seeing more of up here is converting short action bolt rifles to this caliber. Mush as what was intended for the original 458x2.

A prime candidate is the Ruger M77MKII Stainless factory chambered in 350 Rem Mag. It will allow loading to 2.800 COL. PLUS, the magazine and bolt are already set up for the right sized belted case. I have also seen a couple converted Remington 673s.

The extended COL and the bolt action give you a little more room for working up loads.

natman
June 10, 2009, 01:49 PM
I think the smaller, lighter rifles concept comes from making a bolt action .450 Marlin instead of something like the 1895G.

Thanks for clearing that up. Yes, the 450 Marlin would be more suitable for bolt action use. Neither Cosmoline nor ArmedBear were exactly clear that the "smaller, lighter" gun was to be a bolt action.

Given the recoil involved I'm not sure I would want a rifle much lighter than an 1895. It won't be possible to make a lever gun much smaller than an 1895 in 450 Marlin in any case.

DeepSouth
June 10, 2009, 02:11 PM
The only reason I bought a 450 was because the gun shop I went to didn't happen to have an 1895 45-70. I had never heard of a 450 but I was young and had a hole burning in my pocket. Now I am glad I got the 450 over the 45-70, it is one of my favorite guns.

The thing is so many people say that the .450 is pointless because of the 45-70, well the opposite is true the .450 does everything the 45-70 does, it just does it better IMO.

Sure ammo for the .450 is a little higher, so what, neither round was designed to take to the range and fire 200 rounds of in a day. The availability of 45-70 ammo isn't as good as most make it out to be, and the availability of .450 isn't as bad as most make it out to be, though it is harder to find than 45-70 ammo but it would be more available if the round gained popularity.

In short, I'm not overly concerned with the price or availability of ammo in a round that isn't a "target" round. I am concerned about the function and "ballistics" of the round, and in both areas the the .450 wins.

waterhouse
June 10, 2009, 11:23 PM
Given the recoil involved I'm not sure I would want a rifle much lighter than an 1895.

I'd agree (mine is 45/70 though) but I shoot mine a lot at the range and don't carry it very far.

If I were looking for a gun to carry around Alaska I might be willing to endure a little more recoil for the lighter carrying weight.

I do think the bolt action idea is interesting for the .450, and I'm glad someone brought it up. When I look at the Marlin lever guns chambered in it all I ever thought was "you know they make hot 45/70, right?"

I'm certainly no expert on the concept of the belted cartridge. Can anyone point me to some tutorial or diagram of why they work for bolt actions and the 45/70 doesn't?

Cosmoline
June 11, 2009, 01:31 AM
but according to Cartridges of the World, both cartridges have identical 2.55" COL, so I don't see how that can happen.

Look at them side by side and you'll see it in an instant--the RIM! That big honking ledge around the base of the .45-70 mandates a tube of no less diameter and forces the receiver to be just as wide in every dimension. All that extra space adds up. The rim also makes chambering in a bolt action, while not impossible, quite difficult. The action must be expanded outwards at the base to hold them. Siamese Mausers and modified Enfields have been used to accomplish this, but not without difficulty. A .450 Marlin can actually fit in something as small as a Winchester 94. The result is incredibly handy. Faster in the hand than the beefier Marlin 1985 and leaner in profile.

I don't know how compact you could make a bolt gun and still handle 3+1 capacity, but I'll wager it could be quite compact. Recoil is stout, but not intolerable. Here's my custom 94 with the most potent of .450 loads:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oJCsX1RCh0

As you can see, it doesn't exactly bowl me over. I would say it's on par with a stout .45-70 out of the Guide Gun, but not as bad as the Ruger No. 1 or a Mossy 500 slug gun firing Brenneke magnums.

natman
June 11, 2009, 04:08 AM
Look at them side by side and you'll see it in an instant--the RIM! That big honking ledge around the base of the .45-70 mandates a tube of no less diameter and forces the receiver to be just as wide in every dimension. All that extra space adds up. The rim also makes chambering in a bolt action, while not impossible, quite difficult. The action must be expanded outwards at the base to hold them. Siamese Mausers and modified Enfields have been used to accomplish this, but not without difficulty. A .450 Marlin can actually fit in something as small as a Winchester 94. The result is incredibly handy. Faster in the hand than the beefier Marlin 1985 and leaner in profile.

I don't know how compact you could make a bolt gun and still handle 3+1 capacity, but I'll wager it could be quite compact. Recoil is stout, but not intolerable.

Thanks for the reply, your point is much clearer now. The difference between the rim diameter on a 45-70 and a 450 Marlin is less than 8 hundredths of an inch (.08"), but it would appear that that is a roadblock to fitting it into a Winchester 94. I've never really noticed that much difference in the handling of an 1895 and a 94, but I'll take your word on it.

As I've already stated, the 450 Marlin is much more suitable for bolt actions. When you were talking about "smaller, lighter guns" I had in mind a really light bolt action such as a Remington Ti. 450 Marlin recoil in a ~6 lb rifle would be "interesting".

Rob96
June 11, 2009, 06:24 AM
When I was looking for my Guide Gun I knew specifically I wanted a 45/70 becasue I would be reloading for it. A lot more brass available plus manufactured ammo. I am pretty confident if I do my part the 405 JSP loaded on top of 50grs. of H322 will do its.

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