I really need some help/advice on this one...


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Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 01:46 AM
Recently I have had a thing an obsession with large bore rifles, and one of my latest acquisitions is a Browning 1885 High Wall, chambered in .45-70Govt. I am currently thinking about purchasing a dangerous game rifle in .458WM/Lott (Mistake No. 1)...do you see what kind of train wreck I am heading for? So I got to thinking (Mistake No. 2)...what about reaming out that wee little chamber to make it a nice roomy .45-120 (Mistake No. 3?). That should allow me to load the rifle with a 450gr. jacketed bullet at about .458WM or even Lott velocities when I wanted a little extra thump (buffalo, large bear, Africa perhaps)...while allowing me to download to .45-70 velocities (for plinking, deer, et cetera). If I decide to ream it out I will be: A. Consulting with a certified gunsmith to perform the work & B. Using .45-120 brass for all of my loads to prevent throat damage and leading. Of course I would love to hear from anyone that has already tried doing a modification like this in a strong modern firearm like the 1885/No. 1/No. 3. Any advice as to how to proceed (specifically with load development)...or have I finally fell off the apple cart? Thank you in advance for helping me to sort though my "eccentric" ideas, Mav. :)

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ArchAngelCD
September 26, 2009, 02:06 AM
Why not just purchase a 1885 in 45-90, 45-120 or even in 50-90 for an even bigger punch?

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 02:13 AM
Why not just purchase a 1885 in 45-90, 45-120 or even in 50-90 for an even bigger punch?I don't think they (Browning at least) ever built the High Wall in anything other than .45-70...besides I already have an 1885, if I purchase something else...it will be...something else as I don't care for duplicates in my collection. Thanks for the reply. :)

ReloaderFred
September 26, 2009, 02:19 AM
Maverick223,

I just happen to own a Browning B-78 that started life as a .45-70, but has happily been a .45-120 Sharps for more than 25 years. Mine has a very heavy octagon barrel, which helps to tame the beast. I shoot a cast 420 grain gas check bullet at over 2,200 fps through my 24" barrel. Very few people will shoot more than one round through my rifle, but I did have a medium size female game warden put 21 rounds through it one time. She would shoot and laugh, shoot and laugh. The only reason she stopped at 21 rounds was because that was all the ammunition I had with me at the time. Most large size men will shoot one round and hand it back to me. The most rounds I've ever put through it in one session was 44 rounds.

It would be my recommendation to have your rifle rechambered to .45-90, if you're going to shoot smokeless powder, since the longer (3.25") .45-120 case won't be filled with most smokeless powders. I use a case filler that's no longer available (Winchester Super Grex), but I laid in a large stash of it just before they discontinued selling it to the public.

The .45-90 lends itself better to the use of smokeless powders, making it more efficient for most uses. There is a lot of wasted space in the longer .45-120 case with smokeless. The .45-90 brass is also cheaper and more readily available. The .45-120 brass is about $2.50 per casing, or about $50.00 for a box of 20.

On the other hand, if you're going to shoot black powder, then go for the .45-120, but with black powder, you'll never achieve the velocities that can be attained with smokeless.

I don't download my .45-120 at all. If I want to shoot a .45-70, then I shoot one of my Marlin 1895's. The only live thing I've ever shot with my .45-120 was a cottontail rabbit, which was vaporized, except for the ears and tail. I felt bad about shooting that bunny, but couldn't pass up the shot with what I had in my hand at the time. I have gotten a moose with my Marlin .45-70, though. One shot, one moose. Those in my hunting party that were using .300 Winchester Magnum rifles all shot their moose multiple times before they went down, and ruined a lot of meat in the process. I lost about a double fist full of meat on my moose, and he was estimated at about 950 pounds on the hoof.

If you want to PM me, I can give you more details on the .45-120 Sharps. It's not for the weak of heart......... But I love mine!

Hope this helps.

Fred

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 02:53 AM
I am excited to hear of someone else that has what sounds to be very nearly the exact rifle (mine has a 28in. long octagon bbl) and has already performed the modification that I am considering. Why would you say that the .45-120 would have to use case filler (I am not disputing your claim...only curious)? I am seeking to drive a 450gr. Barnes Banded Solid at 2300fps (similar to a .458 Win. Mag.), would the .45-90 be able to handle such a stout load (keeping it at sub-40,000CUP)? Would the .45-110 be able to do the job (I would rather use it to keep it a buffalo cartridge in a buffalo rifle)? I am also very interested to hear about your .45-120 loads, please feel free to PM me loading information if you feel more comfortable doing so. Thank you so much for posting! :)

ReloaderFred
September 26, 2009, 11:34 AM
I don't know about driving the Barnes bullet that fast in the .45-120, or any of the other calibers. I've only used three bullets in mine, the 385 grain Round Nose the person I bought my rifle from had been using, a 350 grain Jacketed Hollowpoint, but I don't remember the brand, since I don't use it anymore, and my RCBS 405 grain gas check Round Nose Flatpoint. This bullet falls from my mold at 420 grains, using Lyman #2 alloy. The RCBS has proven to be very accurate, so I dropped the other bullets and settled on just one, and only one load for it.

I don't generally post loading data on forums, since it's so easy to transpose, mis-type, etc. I'll PM you with the load I use, with the understanding that it's safe in my rifle, but I make no warranties as to any other.

My rifle has a vernier tang sight on it, along with the Lyman #57 front sight, which makes for a very accurate combination. I recently won 1st place with it in the long range single shot catagory at the Oregon State Match for SASS in August.

With your 28" barrel, you should get a boost in velocity, so it may be possible to attain what you're trying to achieve with your rifle. Mine is limited by the 24" barrel, but it's such a heavy barrel, it's more like a cannon than a rifle. I once carried it all day on an elk hunt and it kept trying to pull me over backwards when slung, so I went back to my Marlin 1895 for the remainder of the hunt. That handy little rifle is a dream to carry, but the B-78 weighs about 12 pounds, most of it in the barrel.

I have an appointment this morning, but when I get back this afternoon, I'll PM you with some more information.

Hope this helps.

Fred

ants
September 26, 2009, 12:21 PM
...a medium size female game warden put 21 rounds through [a .45-120 Sharps] one time. I wonder if she's happily married...

ants
September 26, 2009, 12:27 PM
Just go for it. I have one firearm that never really cycled very well after I indulged a chamber mod (it's a 1911 pistol converted to rimmed revolver cartridge). But I happily have a half dozen modified guns that are highly successful. Caliber changes, barrel shortening, receiver mods, homemade stocks to change drop and LOP. I say go for it.

rcmodel
September 26, 2009, 12:34 PM
The problem I see is, the .45-120 case is a black powder case. It has to be that big to hold enough black powder to increase performance over the 45-70.

It is no stronger, if as strong, as the 45-70 case, and a 45-70 case will already hold enough smokeless powder to blow up your rifle!

rc

Seedtick
September 26, 2009, 12:39 PM
ants - I wonder if she's happily married...


Certainly sounds attractive doesn't she? :D

ST

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 02:36 PM
I have an appointment this morning, but when I get back this afternoon, I'll PM you with some more information.Thank you for the additional information, I look forward to it. :)

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 02:42 PM
Thank you for the encouragement ants.

The problem I see is, the .45-120 case is a black powder case. It has to be that big to hold enough black powder to increase performance over the 45-70.

It is no stronger, if as strong, as the 45-70 case, and a 45-70 case will already hold enough smokeless powder to blow up your rifle!I don't really know how strong a 120 case is...I am assuming that it is about equal to a .45-70Govt., but I am no expert and haven't any experience with one. Per my understanding (and please let me know if it is!), I should be able to take a much larger case of the same diameter (in this case the .45-120) and load it to pressures of equal pressure of the .45-70, and get much more velocity out of it due to the much greater case capacity (about 75% more)...am I oversimplifying the physics...is there something else that I am not taking into consideration? :)

fireman 9731
September 26, 2009, 03:30 PM
A very heavily loaded 45-70 can reach 458 win-mag territory... Work your way up slowly and see how much your rifle (or you) can take.

If its enough for what you want then the problem is solved. If you want more than you can squeeze out of the 45-70 then buy a 458 win-mag/Lott.

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 03:41 PM
I am willing to push the limit a little (the stoutest load that I have attempted is about 5% over the maximum Ruger No. 1 load), but not high enough to match a cartridge that has right at 35% more case capacity (the .458WM holds about 94gr of water, the Lott 108gr), and it operates at a slightly higher SAAMI spec pressure. That is just too risky IMO. I will have to bump it up to a minimum of .45-90 to feel remotely comfortable with getting the load where I want it (450 solid at 2300fps)...and I think that the case volume should be at least as high and preferably more so...placing it in .45-100/110/120 territory. :)

Maverick223
September 26, 2009, 10:44 PM
BUMP for more input. :)

ReloaderFred
September 26, 2009, 11:34 PM
Her name was Mary Mason, and she weighed about 140 pounds. And yes, she was attractive. She liked big bore rifles, and really liked the .45-120 Sharps. She's retired now, and I hope living a happy life. The last I heard, she made Lieutenant before she retired.

As for the strength of the .45-70 case, one article I read said it had been tested in the lab to 70,000 psi, and hadn't blown. I would never attempt to load to that level myself, and don't know of a rifle that would stand up to those pressures. I'm assuming the lab used a universal receiver and barrel for their testing. The .45-120 is just a lengthened .45-70, so the strength should be similar, depending on the quality of the brass... And how many times it's been fired.

Even with my heavy rifle, and somewhat moderate loads, this caliber isn't for the weak of heart with smokeless powder. Black powder gives a different recoil impulse than smokeless does, and the smokeless loads deliver plenty of recoil. So much so, that the tang sight has to be reset to verticle after each shot. The rifle moves to the rear and the tang sight tries to stay in the same location, which means it's leaning forward after each shot.

Hope this helps.

Fred

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 01:11 AM
Received your PM, thank you very much, and I look forward to the recoil. :D

Seedtick
September 27, 2009, 01:39 AM
Maverick223 - Received your PM, thank you very much, and I look forward to the recoil.

Hey Maverick, If it's just a good jolt you're a need'n I know a guy that's got this old one eyed mule. I bet if you slipped up from behind it on it's blind side and goosed it you'd get all the recoil you wanted. :neener:

ST

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 01:58 AM
Thanks...you parasite. :neener:

fireman 9731
September 27, 2009, 02:03 AM
the stoutest load that I have attempted is about 5% over the maximum Ruger No. 1 load

Thats about where I stopped with my loads. I can officially say that you are tougher than me if you want to go beyond that.

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 02:20 AM
What can I say...I like a nice thumper. :D

Marlin 45 carbine
September 27, 2009, 02:54 AM
have you ever been down to Cherry Grove (IIRC) N.C. where they ring in the new year blasting off their black powder guns?
some of them ol' boys (and some gals) get knocked flat on their butt from stuffing their guns with bp and just wadding atop. sometimes a gun will go flying out of the hands.

highlander 5
September 27, 2009, 09:38 AM
If I might chine in here,I have had several 45/70 rifles mainly Ruger No!1 and Browning 1885. I can reach 2000 fps with a 400 gr bullet and question why you would want to increase velocity. The 1885s have an absolutely useless recoil pad and I got the bruises to prove it. Browning did make a run of 1885s in 45/90 saw them at CDNN a few months back so they may have a few kicking around. I have a Shiloh Sharps in 45/70 and it a blast to shoot,get one now

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 12:18 PM
have you ever been down to Cherry GroveI have been to Cherry Grove, but didn't even know that they had a BP shoot. I may give BP a shot in my rifle (just for fun and nostalgia) but plan to use smokeless nitro almost exclusively in order to obtain the ballistics that I want.

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 12:24 PM
I can reach 2000 fps with a 400 gr bullet and question why you would want to increase velocity.I want to increase the velocity to ensure hydrostatic shock (generally occurs at about 2250fps), and also want to increase the payload to acquire a more favorable sectional density for hunting large dangerous game. You can try to convince me that those values make no difference, but I am more inclined to believe the PHs with whom I have spoken, with years of experience that claim that both make a substantial difference (as well as caliber and most importantly bullet construction). The .45-90 may be adequate but I have doubts, the .45-100 is a bit closer (and brass is about the same price) so I am consideringit as well.

Thank you all for commenting and providing information, Mav. :)

Maverick223
September 27, 2009, 07:42 PM
Anyone know the rated pressure limit of a 450 Nitro Express 3.25"...it just so happens to have the EXACT same internal case dimensions of the .45-120. It would give me a great place to work up to, as 450NE loads are available, though difficult to find. It seems that RL-15 and N560 are good powders to start with, and 4831 (both IMR and Hod.) may be a good load, as I already use it for my .300WM. :)

Maverick223
September 29, 2009, 08:34 PM
BUMP for any further comments/advice/words of wisdom. Anyone know the pressure of the old 450 Nitro Express 3.25"?

fireman 9731
September 29, 2009, 10:19 PM
From Wikipedia:

Early cartridges used the black powder case that was designed for around 11 tons of pressure per square inch and not the 17 tons of pressure that the Cordite load generated. Case extraction was difficult, especially in warmer climates such as Africa and India where the cartridge was primarily used. To remedy this problem, a reinforced case was produced and Kynoch made a reduced load to lower the case pressure.

So around 22,000 PSI for black powder and 34,000 PSI for the Cordite load.

That might be rough ballpark area to start with... I couldn't find much else.

Maverick223
September 29, 2009, 10:26 PM
That might be rough ballpark area to start with... I couldn't find much else.Thanks fireman...I'd rather have a better source, but beggars can't be choosers, and that is better than what I didn't find. At least that confirms what I thought...that even the later nitro rounds were less pressure than what the 1885 High Wall is rated for (50,000CUP Max, 40,000CUP Working Pressure according to SAAMI IIRC). I still plan to work up to it, and will keep it well below 40,000CUP, but it is nice to have a idea of where I will end up at with my pressure and velocity. :)

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