45-70 low pressure loads


chuck plissken
April 22, 2013, 11:21 PM
I have a HR handi rifle in 45-70 and want to use heavier bullets 405-500gr. Is there any safe data for this range weight projectiles and smokeless powder? Any good starting loads would be helpful.


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April 22, 2013, 11:27 PM
Almost all good reloading manuals have three pressure levels of 45-70 load data listed.
1. Old 1873 Trapdoor Springfield's.
2. Modern lever-actions like the 1895 Marlins and Winchester 1886's.
3. Modern single-shots like the Ruger #1.

The loads you want are the #1 loads for the Trapdoor Springfield pressure loads.

I might suggest you buy a Lyman #49 load manual if you want the best data available for all three levels of power with lead or jacketed bullets.

If you are to cheap, or broke to by at least one good reloading manual?

Data is available free from Hodgdons website, and others.


April 23, 2013, 02:12 AM
chuck plissken,

the handi rifle will handle the ruger #1 loads stated above (it is also chambered for the s&w 500 cartridge (a 60,000 psi round)). so, i would use (and do use in my buffalo classic) the data behind door number three!

my load uses a 460 gn lead cast performance bullet. it chronys at a little over 1800 fps (that's out of a 32" barrel mind you). can't find the load info, but the lyman manual has load info for a 475 grain lead gas check bullet. that should get you started. as always, start low and work up.



April 23, 2013, 07:37 AM
Chuck, start low and work up if desired. There are many suggested loads for #2 alloy cast bullets in those weight ranges in the Lyman's #49. It will cost you under $30 and is packed with hundreds of pages of information and load data for nearly every caliber you could think of. It is the book most start with.

April 23, 2013, 07:39 AM
Duuno about 'low pressure', but if you are looking for low velocity loads, scroll down to .45-70 in the left pane:


chuck plissken
April 23, 2013, 11:49 PM
Thanks guys. I have 2 reloading manuals but none with my desired bullet weight. I think I'm gonna pick up a Lyman manual.

Don McDowell
April 23, 2013, 11:56 PM
Use the trapdoor data in that rifle, it will thank you and your shoulder will thank you.
Plus they haven't made the critter than can contain one of those big hunks of lead on a broadside hit at 200 yds.
Grab a copy of the Lyman 49th reloading manual, lots of good data in there.

April 23, 2013, 11:57 PM
google 45/70 loading data

April 24, 2013, 09:58 AM
I got a 45/70 Handi Rifle in 1999 used for $100 from a carry in guy at the gun show in a wheel chair. I have done a wide range of experiments with it. I have killed raccoons with body shots with a 155 bullet at 440 fps with one grain of Red Dot and a metal filler in the 45/70 case. I sounds like a BB gun.

But the data I have made that you want is as follows:

1) 405 gr lead bullet Ardvark Ent. One lube band
a) 46 gr IMR4895 [trapdoor load]
This load is brutal with an H&R handi rifle.
One shot hurts the shoulder for 10 minutes.
b) 30 gr IMR4895 [lite load]
This load kicks harder than an SKS, heavy crimp
1/2" groups at 50 yards
c) 27.5 gr XMP5744 1355 fps [AA trapdoor load]
d) 33 gr XMP5744 1589 fps [AA Ruger, Marlin, Sharps, Winchester load]
e) 20 gr XMP5744 kicks like a .410
f) 25 gr XMP5744 kicks like an SKS
g) 27.5 gr XMP5744 kicks like a FAL

April 24, 2013, 10:30 AM
I haven't loaded these for some time - but I used the IMR3031 in my ruger no 1. I am shooting a 378 gr gas checked Lyman 457383 bullet. I used the Lyman #46 manual and you can load for everything from trapdoor loads to Ruger #1 whambo loads. IIRC the powder range was anything from 30 grains (roughly 1090 fps) to 60 grains at over 2000 fps (use the 366 gr data - similar bullet without the gas check). Recoil varied from something like 10-12 ft-lbs to over 50 ft-lbs.

The full house loads are not fun to shoot! Especially out of a light rifle like the #1.

Pete D.
April 24, 2013, 01:00 PM
I know the question concerned smokeless propellants. If, however, you want low pressure loads for the .45-70.... Black powder is a sure bet. The 45-70 was made for the stuff.
Modern guns are easy to clean following a shoot. Just scrub the bore with some warm, soapy water. You have to clean it anyway.

April 24, 2013, 01:22 PM
I guess it would help to know what you are trying to achieve. Are you just looking for something safe in that rifle, or are you looking for something you can shoot all day without too much pain?

April 24, 2013, 02:39 PM
Chuck for years now in my 45-70 Handi I have settled on 32.0 grs. of IMR 4198 under a Rem. bulk 405 gr. JSP. Trapdoor level pressure and velocity very close to the original BP load. It is accurate, burns cleanly and efficiently, is easy on the shoulder and drops whitetail bucks reliably with an exit hole and blood trail you can bank on.

April 24, 2013, 07:16 PM
For safe, low velocity loads with lead bullets, I suggest trying Trail Boss powder...it was made for this kind of situation!


highlander 5
April 24, 2013, 08:52 PM
I use either 24 gr of 4227 or 25 gr of 5744 over a 500 gr lead bullet I figure around 1100 to 1200 fps.

April 24, 2013, 09:19 PM
The 45-70 is a relatively low pressure cartridge to begin with. In it's comparatively mild factory trim, it will take ANY game in North America and most of the rest of the world. I've never understood the need to magnumize it. You do so at the expense of hugely increased recoil, often in light rifles where you least want it. If you need a more powerful rifle, there are plenty of 375s, 416s, 458s, and 460s out there that will easily exceed the power levels of the old 45 government. I happen to like the old gentleman just as it is.

jolly roger
April 25, 2013, 10:19 AM
Second the use of Accurate Arms 5744. About 25 grains with a 405 cast bullet. Nice load.

Don McDowell
April 25, 2013, 10:25 AM
Several years ago I chronographed 25 grs of 5744 with the 480 gr Lyman Schmitzer bullet,the velocity was 1210 fps, and my goex 2f load with the same bullet was 1200 fps. So that made for a good practice load when I did not want to bother with cleaning cases.

April 25, 2013, 10:36 AM
These loads were safe in my Blackpowder era Martini Henry action.

45/70 Martini Henry 26" Shilen Barrel

405 LRN 26.5gr AA5744 R-P cases WLR
29-Apr-04 T = 80 F

Ave Vel = 1294
Std Dev = 14
ES = 40
Low = 1274
High = 1314
N = 15
Group Size Very . good

405 LRN 27.0gr AA5744 R-P cases WLR
24-Mar-04 T = 70 F

Ave Vel = 1284
Std Dev = 23
ES = 80
Low = 1263
High = 1343
N = 12

405 LRN 27.5gr AA5744 R-P cases WLR
15-Apr-05 T = 75 F

Ave Vel = 1363
Std Dev = 25
ES = 97
Low = 1298
High = 1395
N = 20

Group Size good offhand at 100 yards


Winchester BPCR M1885 30" Badger barrel

Ladder Sights: 5 graduations per 1/4 inch major.
1/4 inch major is 25 MOA, 1 grad is 5 MOA, 1 Veriner is 1 MOA

405 LRN 27.5gr AA5744 R-P cases WLR trimmed 2.085"

29 May 2010 T = 89 F

Ave Vel = 1324
Std Dev = 9
ES = 26
High = 1338
Low = 1312
N = 6


April 25, 2013, 02:15 PM
I like the Accurate low pressure data (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=6619819&postcount=2) with 5744. The link is to an earlier post with the data sheet.

Have fun slinging those big bricks!

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