45-70 for deer?


December 8, 2013, 12:39 PM
I inherited (more like keeping for my children) a Marlin 1895 from my father-in-law. After looking at the price of ammo, I'm planning on adding it to the reloading menu. It came with a few jacketed hollow points, but those are also kind of expensive. Anyone used just plain lead round nose flat point 405grs for deer?

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fallout mike
December 8, 2013, 12:54 PM
I load for it for deer hunting but have not used cast boolits. It should be good to go though. Its on my list to buy a 405gr mold to do that very thing.

Shanghai McCoy
December 8, 2013, 12:58 PM
I know a fellow who loads 405 cast bullets in his 45/70 model 95 and used it very successfully on hogs last year.

December 8, 2013, 01:02 PM
They will certainly punch a big ole hole through any deer, hog, bear or backhoe. There will be a bleed hole both in and out IF perchance a SHORT tracking job were to be needed.

Been working since about 1873 or some such. On the good-better-best scale, they may not be "best" but they are on the high side of better.

SHOT PLACEMENT is the key. There will not be much "shock value" unless something solid is hit, but not to worry.

Have fun shootin' those big ole punkinballs. (BTW my Ruger #1 shoots 'em like a laser.)

December 8, 2013, 01:10 PM
I can't imagine there is anything you could put in a .45-70 that wouldn't crush a deer.

Different bullets will have different trajectories and terminal ballistics...just get to know your hunting bullet on the range, determine it's limits, and have fun.

I hunt with one during our "primitive weapon" season and i can tell you...the deer do NOT like it. It's not a flashy, flat-shooting, long range cartridge...but anything that does wander inside the kill zone...is gonna get a cinder-block sized hole through it. :)

The best blood trail I ever saw was from a .45-70. I shot a doe at about 40 yards and it looked like a fire hose of blood gushing out of the ENTRANCE wound. The trail went about 6 feet.

December 8, 2013, 01:15 PM
At a 100yds or less the 45-70 will down anything on the North American Continent..have personally seen bears that were left hemraging from every orifice of their body and I'm not exaggerating. IMO.....your way over gunned for a deer....even my .444 Marlin is just a hammer on deer size game and that's only 240gr. not .405gr.

December 8, 2013, 01:43 PM
I have loaded up some 405 grain dead soft lead rounds at ~1500 fps for an elk hunt this year. I am sure the round will pass right through bone or anything else.

The 45 70 wiped out millions of buffalo with a black powder charge that ran a 405 grain bullet out the barrel at around 1300 fps.

I sighted mine in with a scope with a couple of hold over marks on the reticle. Zeroed it at 100 yards, first mark gets it out to 120 yards and the third mark gets it out to 150 yards.

I am taking the 45 70 to make the hunt a bit more sporting. You might even consider the 300 grain lead rounds at a slightly higher velocity to extend your range without having to calculate an artillery arc.

December 8, 2013, 02:05 PM

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December 8, 2013, 02:08 PM
If your Marlin has a micro groove barrel you might want to ask what to do to keep your bullets from tumbling. If I knew I would tell you, but from past experience in my .30-30 the lead bullets I used tumbled very badly.

December 8, 2013, 05:49 PM
Couple good things about the 45-70 with lead bullets on whitetails. You don''t have to drive them fast to be effective. (Fast, is relative, and won't really improve the lob-style trajectory) and... you will be able to eat right up to the bullet hole - no losing both shoulders from hydrostatic damage.... just my opinion...

December 8, 2013, 07:07 PM
This doesn't speak directly to your question about a solid lead 405 grain bullet, but a bullet I can heartily recommend is the Remington Jacketed Soft Point (bulk bullet 405 gr.)

It is meant to be used in the venerable 45/70 but I use them in my .458 SOCOM which produces velocities consistent with mid-range 45/70 loads, so you could expect similar performance from your rifle.

All of the bullets (on the left second pic) were recovered from either Whitetail Deer of Feral Hogs.

It is rare to recover one, since normally they pass through (at almost any angle) but you can see.... they expand well.

At higher impact velocity (1600 + fps) they will sometimes shed their jacket, but it really doesn’t matter, the bullet continues to penetrate and expand….even if not so ‘controlled’.

They are superbly accurate (in my rifle) and will always be a staple bullet of mine to load. Give them a try!



December 8, 2013, 07:52 PM
Flintknapper....Thanks for taking the time to dig around and find those bullets. It is always interesting (to me at least) to see how a bullet performs on game. I've recovered a few, but never from the 45/70. Good job. Now get back to those piggies:-)

December 9, 2013, 11:30 AM
2 years ago I used a Springfield trapdoor carbine with 405 grain lead cast bullets to take a doe. The round dropped her in her tracks at 70 yards. You should have no problems with them. You are correct for hand loading, the only way to go and in the 1895 you can load a lot more stout if you want over trapdoor loads.


December 9, 2013, 11:44 AM
I've killed maybe twenty deer with an RCBS flat nosed 405 grain design, which with my alloy weighs out to about 420 grains. It works fine, and you'll recover a bullet. If you're open to suggestion, I would recommend their 300 grain mold instead. The lighter bullet has less recoil and I've yet to recover a bullet from a deer.

December 9, 2013, 11:48 AM

December 9, 2013, 08:27 PM
45-70 405gr lead round nose gets a big thumbs up on deer. Heck, I would use it on black bear and at close range hunting on elk. Big big hole and lots of penetration.

I would hestitate to use a 200gr lead round nose 35 Rem on deer.

December 10, 2013, 11:33 AM
I've used the 300 grain Hornady Leverevolution ammo in my 1895 with excellent results on deer. Including a very large bodied Pennsylvania 10pt. a couple of years ago that dropped in his tracks with a double lung shot in the crease of the shoulder. As I understand it they are available for reloading now.

Nite Ryder
December 15, 2013, 08:27 PM
I have five different 45-70's (all rifles) and I reload for them, however I have never used 405 grain bullets and don't plan to. I also have two Encore barrels in 45-70 and the heavier bullets increase the felt recoil, which is not pleasant in a handgun. Most of my 45-70 shooting has been from the two Thompson pistols, but I've done a fair amount of shooting my Sharps single shot rifle. The most recoil comes from a small light weight Ruger #1, but the loads for that particular rifle are somewhat hotter than loads for the Sharps and loads for the two Marlins I have. Most reloading manuals will show three separate loads for 45-70, depending on what kind of rifle you are going to be using. These rifles will certainly kill a deer, or just about anything else that gets in the way. We have one fellow in our town who has successfully taken many African game animals with his 45-70's.

December 15, 2013, 10:39 PM
Armymutt: My Son and I have several 45-70`s two Sharps & 3 1895 Marlins and the load we use most of the time is 35grs of IMR 3031 and a Hard Cast 405 gr LRNFP bullets. This load is very comfortable to shoot and You can shoot it all day it is our Cowboy Action Load. I think it gives about 1250 fps don`t have a chornagraft. We got a cahnce to go Pig hunting down in Texas and I packed the wrong ammo my Son bought some Corbon and Garrett hot factory loads. We did not find this till we were there and ready to go hunting. My Son was really mad at me, but we had to use the light loads I had packed. Befor dark My Son had to 2 pigs on the ground and I even got one. We had full penatration on all 3 and 2 were DRT and one went about 25 to 30 yds. All 3 were shot at 75 yds or less. This is the load I hunt with, on just about everything, and on Deer it is like using THORS HAMMER. I have shot the heavy loads in my Marlin 1895 but find them very unconfortable to shoot. I am 70yrs old now and am getting more recoil all the time.

December 15, 2013, 11:18 PM

A 405 cast bullet 45-70 for deer?

For sure!

Just don't shoot one standing in front of the rest of the deer herd.

Or you will be well over the legal limit with one shot!!


December 23, 2013, 06:50 AM
......What RC said......+The 405 was the original load for the 45/70. Killed thousands of bison and has taken every big game animal on the planet. The nice thing about "Thor's Hammer" is it doesn't destroy much mean at all. The round is big and slow. Hardcasts will go completely through an elk from north to south. No, you aren't going to get 500 yard kills with a 45/70 with out spending a pretty fair amount of time at the range burning up lead. But 100-200 yard harvests are entirely achievable. I always have to laugh when I read other forums where guys talk about the inadequacies of the 45/70. What they are really doing is admitting to poor bullet choice and/or poor shot placement.

December 28, 2013, 11:21 PM
From today. This is the entrance wound. Cut the lower 1/3 of the heart off.192950
Hornady LeverEvolution

Lloyd Smale
December 29, 2013, 06:38 AM
ive shot a number of deer with the 405 rcbs mold bullet and ate backstraps every time.

December 31, 2013, 07:24 PM
Most Marlins like a fat bullet, Mine shoots a cast 400 grain bullet really well. After seeing what it did to a cast rear truck axle I am sure it will slow down exactly when it feels like it and no sooner.

CSA 357
December 31, 2013, 07:48 PM
i shoot 300 gr hollow points in my browning 1878 i have killed many deer with this hand load over the years and it has always done a good job

December 31, 2013, 09:00 PM
405 grain Remington Express @ 1330 fps and Winchester 405 grain cowboy loads @ 1160 fps, both shoot really well in my Sharps. Almost to the same point of aim and will group well under 2 inches at 100 yds. The Remington 300 gr shoots about 6 inches lower and has a group of over 3 inches, almost 4 at 100 yds. The rifle has a 30 inch standard round barrel and has a 1-18 twist. I bought a 405 mold and am gonna stick to the larger size bullets. I'm also gonna load black powder.

January 1, 2014, 10:16 AM
i have shot several deer over the years with 45-70 rifles,i have killed deer with a marlin 95 a winchester high wall and a ruger #3. the ruger number 3 being my favorit as its lighter and i have 4x leupold scope on it for my old eyes. i shot this doe at about 100yds with a 300gr hornady bullet with 46grs of RL-7 for about 1700fps(1-1.5 " groups at 100yds),its very deadly on deer size animals. eastbank.

January 1, 2014, 06:21 PM
I'm using hornady 325 gn flex tips, factory states 2050 fps. I used the same 325 ftx on my reloads and push them close to 2100 fps. I'm not seeing any expansion, entrance and exits about the same size even when one was quartering away. It went in behind shoulder came out back of gut. Any one else see little expansion with the FTX?

January 1, 2014, 06:38 PM
mrgun, try the 300gr hornady, i have found the only reason to drive the .45 cal bullets at high speed is to get a flatter shooting bullet. as i only shoot a little over 100yds where i hunt the 300gr hornady at 1700fps is very deadly and if you are not care full where you hit the deer a lot of meat will be ruined with a faster load. i try to shoot them thru the lungs,with a shot like that you get a very good blood trail with a deer at the end.eastbank.

January 1, 2014, 06:45 PM
I too like the 405 Remington's but there is nothing wrong with cast bullets except sometimes micro grove marlins don't seem to like them. What rifling does yours have?

January 1, 2014, 07:31 PM
Punch a hole thru a deer with any 45/70 bullet and The deer will go down

January 1, 2014, 08:15 PM
All but one I've shot with the 45-70 have been found, he went down hard got up less than a min later and ran off. We trailed him prolly 250 yards but never found him. There was not much blood to speak of and we lost him in the tornado raveaged area where lots of trees are down. my hunting partner and myself have been using factory 325 hornady ftx and both of us are less than impressed with the exit wounds. I did load some up this year myself to near factory but I'm left wondering.....

Eastbank I may try the 300 gn's next. We only use them during Mississippi primitive season.

January 1, 2014, 10:32 PM
Going to see what I can do with the Baikal double rifle in 45/70 this weekend. I've been itching to take something with it, going to be using 405 grain cast bullets.

January 2, 2014, 10:25 PM
I've used 300 gr. HP slugs on hogs at 1200 fps with good effect. If you pick a lead slug cast it 20:1 (lead:tin) and pick a slug with a flat point. At 1200 fps or less it should work with microgroove rifling. If you choose to go with commercially cast slugs they are much harder than 20:1 so pick a flat nose slug and it will work as well as any hollow point.

January 7, 2014, 04:38 PM
According Elmer Keith and historians actual professionals used .50 cal rifles to hunt Buffalo. the Sharps 50/90 and Sharps 50/170 were the top rounds. No doubt the 45/70 was used but was not the the preferred bullet. Since speed was limited by black power the only was to gain power was bigger caliber and more weight. The 50/170 used, hold unto your hat, a 700 grain bullet. And you thought a hot 45/70 kicked. Did the 45/70 kill millions? Maybe so. There were other popular cartridges like the .55/95 in both Sharps and Remington.

January 7, 2014, 05:00 PM
God bless all ya all that can handle that recoil.
I used to be able to and it was fun! Now I use a Marlin 357 at 50 to 70 yds to avoid jarring my pacemaker and aggravating the arthritis.

January 9, 2014, 03:14 AM
It's not like the ole 357 isn't more than capable. Just be thankful you can still get out there and do it. Don't know what I would do if I had to give up hunting. Talk about depressing.

January 9, 2014, 06:50 AM
If your Marlin has a micro groove barrel you might want to ask what to do to keep your bullets from tumbling. If I knew I would tell you, but from past experience in my .30-30 the lead bullets I used tumbled very badly.
You need to load bullets that are considered "big" for the bore. Over on one of the cast bullet sites the guys have lots of information.

January 9, 2014, 06:50 AM
I'm on my third .45/70 and the second Marlin.
My current one is a GuideGun, but no ports, with Ballard rifling.
It wears a Williams reciever sight and fire-sight front sight. I has in recent past also worn a Bushnell 1.5-4.5 Banner.
It has the 6-groove rather than 12groove barrel. My 12 groove barrel shot cast bullets well, but needed a .460" sizer. My current isn't picky.

I've only shot deer with CAST bullets. No jacketed bullet has been fired through my GG since I bought it in '05 (it's a ~00-01 vintage gun). I've got a box of 500 Remington 300gr HP's. Never opened. Probably never will.

I also had an H&R single shot. It was too light, and not accurate with cast bullets (large bore?) but shot factory 405gr Jacketed well. It was brutal on recoil with anything besides light factory loads. I sold it.

The performace on deer with a 400gr bullet at 1,200-1,700fps is well documented. All my deer have been bang-flops or less than 20yd, even the lung shot ones. No bullets have been recovered. My 405gr HP Lee mould dosen't seem to perform any differently than Flat-nose Hollow base. With the hardness of the lead I use (air cooled as well as heat-treated w/w metal), it doesn't seem to expand much, but dosen't need to.

After seeing my .45/70 in action, my younger bought one. He uses a commercial cast 405gr FNGC @ ~1,800fps for elk, mule deer, and antelope (he lives in NV). He prefers it to his pre-64 Win Mod-70 FW in .308.

Expect a large two ended hole, with some axial damage from bone shards. Not a lot of blood shot meat. Nothing really works any better on deer. Only drawback to the .45/70 is trajectory beyond ~150yds. Inside 150yds, it point and click.... and most shots ARE within 150yds.....

My prefered load for deer is the RCBS 300gr FNGC (cast to 322gr w/gascheck) at ~1,650fps (30.0gr #2400). It is ~2moa at 100yds and will shoot through anything in N.A. except a lengthwise shot on a large moose or brown bear. The only reason I'd increase velocity would be for longer shots west of Mississippi river. If I'm hunting where I'll need longer shots, I'll use something else.
this load has tolerable recoil, is inexpensive to shoot, and I enjoy shooting it. A 400+gr bullet at over 1,500fps becomes "un-fun" quickly...from a 7lb rifle.
For hunting feral pigs on hardwood river bottoms, there isn't much better.....

January 9, 2014, 06:52 AM
I haved used the 45-70 for hunting (before getting a 50-70). For deer, the Lyamn Gould bullet (547122) a 300 grain cast HP was a good shooter and anchored game well. As was the 405 grain hollow base bullet from the Lee mold. Both were loaded over black powder. THe 405 was actually a lot more bullet than needed.

January 10, 2014, 06:59 PM
H&R handirifle 300 grains sierra Hp fn bullet and IMR 3031 powder to get 1900 fps = dead deer clean through to at least 225 yards

January 11, 2014, 12:40 AM
Fisherman 48768,
A 350 grain JFN Buffalo Bore will go clean through an Elk much less a deer. As my eyesight fails with age I hunted elk at bow ranges. Buffalo Bore is pricey ammunition but it is absolutely final every time I have used it.


January 11, 2014, 09:23 AM
Shot a medium sized GA doe in thick cover 2 years ago with my 1895G. It was a 405gr cast from wheel weights. It was an angling shot and took out the lungs and front right shoulder. Pass through.

There's a video somewhere on YouTube that shows a Cape buffalo being shot post mortem with FEET of penetration. Impressive.

January 11, 2014, 12:35 PM
d2wing you are partially correct. The Buffalo hunters did prefer the .50-90 prior to about 1874 or 1875 as the .45-70 Govt. wasn't even adopted until 1873 and likely wasn't used commercially on a wide spread basis for a year or so after that. Realize too that the commercial buffalo hunting boom started in about 1866. Once the .45-70 became available it was favored by many for it's accuracy and trajectory improvements as the buffalo became a bit more wary and ranges increased. IIRC from my readings the years 1874 & 1875 saw the greatest numbers taken though many still fell through about 1878 from the northern herd. The .45-70 most certainly killed vast numbers, likely millions of buffalo .

January 11, 2014, 04:42 PM
all the big 50/90 etc were all basically special purpose wild cat calibers.when the 45/70 was adopted by the military,it was more widely accepted by the general population and more readily available.back then,alot of ammo,weapons, was sent via general stores,as there was no other shipping/receiving available,and it was cheaper.back then,the biggest caliber in standard use was the 44/40 in winchesters.(before 30-30).

January 13, 2014, 12:01 AM
According to Elmer Keith who talked to actual buffalo hunters and bought equipment from them the 50/90 and bigger cartridges were favored by the buffalo hunters as having more killing power and range. Written accounts by actual buffalo hunters such as at Adobe Wells say the same thing. The 45/70 may have or may not killed more buffalo but it was not the choice of premier hunters and it and the many other 50 and 55 cal cartridges used were not wildcats but standard hunting rounds of the day.

January 13, 2014, 01:53 AM
Primary bison round back in the day or not, you cannot deny it's abilities. It HAS taken Grizzly, Moose, Elk, Bison, Cape Buffalo, Rhino, even Elephant, ethically. Was the 45-70 "ideal" choice for all those animals? Debatable either way. But the question is not whether it's ideal. The question is capability on deer. And it is more than capable for any deer.

Why then, when the question of "45-70 for deer" comes up, does it always gets turned around to "45-70 for bison" or "45-70 for even bigger game" then try to discredit the cartridge as not optimal? How do you discredit a cartridge with that kind of proven track record? It's like discrediting the 30-06 or 270 for elk. It's honestly a waste of time. Too many have been ethically harvested with those two cartridges for naysayers to have any valid ground to stand on.

When discussing with people "In the know" about the 45-70's penetration and performance on any game animal, especially with 400+ grn hardcasts, it's almost always measured in feet, not inches. And if it IS measured in inches, the inches add up to feet anyways.

January 13, 2014, 11:08 PM
Consider that a close range load for deer is .50"cal and 100 grains of powder, a lot of guys shoot .54 cal with 150 grains.for deer.

January 13, 2014, 11:52 PM
More on what the original post inquired.
I mold 405 gr. and they work just fine on deer.

January 14, 2014, 08:34 AM
here is another rifle that was available to the buff hunters and it came out only 3 years after the 45-70 in 1876 and it was the winchester model 1876 in 45-75. as you can see its the same lenth,but could fire 9 shots before reloading. it was as powerfull as the standard 45-70 and would shoot a 300-350 gr bullet at 1380fps and with quick follow up shots if needed.the winchester came on the buff hunting era late in the game,but was used. i shoot the 1876 with reduced loads and it is a hoot to empty a magizine full of black powder loads,it gets very smokey quick. eastbank.

January 14, 2014, 09:13 AM
I find it difficult to call most of the buffalo hunting "hunting" regardless of the caliber once the white man got involved. If this "hunting" were being conducted today, many of the "hunters" would be using semi-automatic rifles.

As far as using the 45-70 on deer or deer sized game, go for it. If I had a 375 H&H, I'd probably use it on deer also since otherwise the rifle would get little use. Choose your shots carefully is all that I suggest due to meat damage.

January 14, 2014, 11:14 AM
Sorry for hijacking the thread. A study on another thread, the caliber isn't real important, penetration to the vitals is. Sure killing shot is a heart shot a miss is still the lungs and fatal.
The deer will go an average of 29 yards. If you want to drop them right there, a shoulder shot, but you will lose some meat. Good hunting.

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