Marlin 45-70


January 22, 2014, 08:39 PM
I've always avoided starting this thread because I don't hunt any more. I just happen to enjoy levers, especially pre Rem Marlin Levers. I own a 56 and 77 39A and a 79 1894c 357. ( I also have a Win 30-30) These are fine for the critters in my neighborhood and they plink well but for some dumb reason I find myself wanting to try on a 45-70. Am I nuts? I am not a fan of huge recoil, I do not reload.. yet. Is 45-70 ammo availability any more of an issue than any other cal these days?

My max recoil producer on hand would be a Rem 870 with 2 3/4" 7/8 and 1 oz slugs. Would that be even close?

I don't know anyone with one to try out but something about this legendary thumper keeps drawing me in. I have not purchased a firearm in well over a year (last was a Colt 6920) and right now I am craving a 45-70 lever or a good coach gun.

BTW all the concern about recoil stems from a mucked up shooting shoulder from loosing a fight with an suv while mounted on my motorcycle in 03. If I run a full mag from my 870 my eyes can get a little wet.... but I'm grinning.


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January 22, 2014, 08:44 PM
I just picked up an 1895g - it's a REM, and I love it! The recoil is manageable with LeverEvolution rounds. It's also more accurate than I am. I'm planning to load some heavier bullets in the near future. I have some 350's, 405's, 420's, 500's and 540's to play with. I'm on the hunt for load data for the big ones.

I'm not going for blazing fast, just locomotive qualities.

January 22, 2014, 09:12 PM
I only owned a .45-70 for a little while (the Marlin guide gun). My limited experience shows that like many rounds, you can go high or low. The cowboy loads made for .45-70 hardly kick at all. I never shot anything .45-70 that kicked as hard as 12 gauge slugs, but I only tried commercial loads.

January 22, 2014, 09:22 PM
I don't think finding ammo will be an issue as long as your shopping range is bigger than Wal Mart. The LGS around me have it more often than not. It is more expensive than a 30-30 but nothing like, say, a .375 win. It is also readily available online from Midway, Cabelas, etc.

As for shooting it I know nothing. Never shot one. But I also like levers and will have one in 45-70 one day. The old calibers fascinate me.

January 22, 2014, 09:44 PM
I got a GG from the first run. Factory Remington 405gr ammo is easy. Winchester 300gr is a tiny bit stiffer. Garrett gives a nice shove. My reloads (still well below max) are called 'Rhino Rollers' by my shooting buddys and are 'brisk'. If you can shoot 12ga slugs, no worries.

January 22, 2014, 10:36 PM
My 1895G loaded with hard cast 405gr bullets loaded hot is the most painful thing I have ever shot. That includes a 470NE. But, those are loaded like Buffalo Bore ammo... Not for the faint of heart. But that is not required. With normal factory ammo I find it to be pleasant.

January 22, 2014, 10:58 PM
The recoil of the 45-70 is stout but manageable. It's less than shooting a pump 12 gauge. The recoil of the Marlin 1895 is better with a good recoil pad. Avoid shooting it from the bench.

Get one and try it. Worse that could happen is that it brings tears to your eyes and you trade it for a Marlin 32 H&R Magnum :D

January 23, 2014, 12:47 AM
I like my GG. If you can handle the above slugs you can handle Govt loads. If you're worried, get a longer barreled job: I kinda like those but I can't justify it. I really like having a bit of history with a modern twist. Plus, if you ever want to be mean, alternate govt with some Corbon or other hot loads and see your friends squirm...but I don't even think those are that bad.


January 23, 2014, 09:57 AM
I bought a Marlin 1895GBL about two months ago and love it. I've been reloading for quite a while and just started casting bullets a few months ago. With bad knees and a bad back, my hunting days are in the past, so I mainly target shoot for enjoyment. Nowdays, most of my shooting is with revolvers in 44 spl, 44 mag and 45 colt. It's a lot easier to slow things down with revolvers. I also have several lever action rifles in handgun calibers. I cast 340 and 405 grain bullets for the 45-70 and keep the velocities down to around 1500 fps or less. Recoil is mild and the fun factor is high. The only factory loads I have shot are the Hornady Leverelovution 325 grain rounds. I shot 4 boxes of those the first time out at the range. Recoil didn't seem too bad, but my shoulder was sore the next day.

January 23, 2014, 12:50 PM
With the old Blackpowder equivalent loads you are looking at around 22-23 ft lbs of recoil. That is slightly less than 12 ga slugs and about what you'd expect from hot 30-06 loads or mild 300 mag loads.

If you step up to the hottest loads available you are looking at 50-55 ft lbs if recoil. That puts you squarely in the 375-416 magnum levels. I've fired some of those and want no part of them, especially from the Marlins poorly designed stock which magnifies recoil making it feel much worse than it really is. If I'm getting kicked that hard I will be using something that kicks just as hard from the muzzle end.

I've owned several Marlin 45-70's dating back to 1976. I used them some, liked them at first, but eventually grew tired of getting that much recoil for so little performance. I sold my last one 2-3 years ago.

January 23, 2014, 06:22 PM
A little over two years ago I owned three Marlin lever actions in .45-70 Govt including an XLR, Guide Gun and SBL. All three were excellent rifles but I ended up selling the XLR and Guide Gun because the SBL is the perfect big bore lever action rifle for me. If you're looking for an outstanding factory load for hunting then look no further than the 300gr TSX load from Barnes. Recoil is very manageable and the load is sub moa at 100 yards from my SBL. I took that rifle and load deer hunting last fall but didn't spot a nice doe until well past sunset.

January 23, 2014, 08:11 PM
Even though I am a diehard blue steel and wood guy when it comes to levers that SBL looks like a fine modern lever. I don't enjoy ported guns and in my opinion any lever looks better with a full length mag tube on it... but that's just me.

I think my quest is going to be temporarily delayed. I just backed into a car at work. My old pickup got a smudge, her Buick didn't fare that well so I'll be dipping into the fun fund.

Thanks for the comments!

January 23, 2014, 10:42 PM
The 45-70 can literally be a plinking gun. Or, it can go to Africa. A 405 grn bullet at 1100-1300 fps is nothing compared to a slug from an 870. The LeverEvolution ammo is very shoulder friendly. Where the real thump of the 45-70 comes into play is when throwing big lead (405-550 grn) fast (1700-2000 fps). It's not the shoulder breaker some people claim. BUT, it can be if you want it to be.

Cee Zee
January 24, 2014, 02:49 AM
Can anyone tell me how the hottest .45-70 loads compare to12 slugs like the Brenneke Black Magic 3" slug? I have those and can fire a few of them before my shoulder revolts but they aren't really for fun shooting anyway. I shot 3 in a row once just to make sure I could stand it if I was faced with a bear situation. It hurt but I survived. That was from an 870 Express with a Limbsaver pad on it. I've thought about buying a guide gun before but wondered about the kick. That's not what kept me from buying one. I ended up buying a CZ 453 instead. I love that rifle.

January 24, 2014, 12:16 PM
Can anyone tell me how the hottest .45-70 loads compare to12 slugs like the Brenneke Black Magic 3" slug?

I've shot a bunch of 405gr bullets at around 1,900 fps and the felt recoil is no where near as bad as a 600gr payload at 1,500 fps from an 870 pump action such as the Express Tactical or the Express Synthetic 7-round. I have an SBL and both of the shotguns mentioned. A recoil calculator indicates about a 25% increase in felt recoil with the shotgun.

January 24, 2014, 01:45 PM
Hey Mark, If you live in SE MI PM me and I'll let you shoot mine sometime when the weather breaks a bit.

I took a doe with it this year and, well, it did the job with a 300gnHP at 1800+fps. I consiter it one of my "fun guns"

It IS fun. Everyone needs one IMO

January 24, 2014, 06:57 PM
Craig, I am west of you and not that far away. Who knows, in warmer weather I may just take you up on that!


January 24, 2014, 07:07 PM
My Marlin 45-70 Guide gun is a pussycat. That said, I have tried a few handloader's rounds that did wake me up. But even that was nothing compared to a Marlin chambered in 450 Marlin, that was crazy.

If you do get a 1895, seriously consider the Wild West Guns trigger happy kit, it's a high value upgrade IMO.

January 24, 2014, 08:17 PM
As was stated, in the GG the blackpowder-power-level loads are easy on the shoulder. I really don't see that much difference on my shoulder from a Win 94 .30-30 or Marlin 336 in .35 Rem.

It is VERY easy to load for, almost like a giant rimmed handgun round, and you can go from one extreme to another with ease. As for high-end loads; I have brewed up quite a few 405 JSP's with a hefty charge of IMR 3031 that'll make 3 shots in a row feel like a loooooong day at the bench. I would take these to Africa for a buffalo with no worries.

Don't be intimidated; its internet bark is worse than it's bite.

January 24, 2014, 09:34 PM
Thanks for the input. I know this might be like asking an oil question on a Harley forum but from you owners, is there any model more coveted than the rest?

I prefer full length mag tubes and in my opinion the GBL is a handsome rifle but then I like the look of a laminate stock. Any cons to the laminated woodwork?

January 25, 2014, 07:27 AM
Another question if someone has the time. Last one, I (almost) promise.

Are there benefits or negatives when it come to the 1895 Cowboy (26" barrel?) vs the 1895 GBL 18.5" barrel with the 45-70 round? Remember, I don't hunt so moving through brush is not really a concern. Seeing as this is not considered a long range round am I just adding unnecessary weight? 8 lbs vs 7.

Shanghai McCoy
January 25, 2014, 07:34 AM
I have the 95 Cowboy version and I like the look and balance of the longer barrel.

January 25, 2014, 08:10 AM
I do not reload.. yet.

Well when you start...

Look here for some light loads:

January 25, 2014, 08:17 AM
Are there benefits or negatives when it come to the 1895 Cowboy (26" barrel?) vs the 1895 GBL 18.5" barrel with the 45-70 round?

The difference in sound level to the shooter is one difference...

The longer barrel may or may not give you more velocity depending on load...Slower powders can generally take advantage of the longer barrel...

Longer sight plane with iron sights on the longer barrel...

January 25, 2014, 08:27 AM
Factory ammo out of mine is not too bad but I wouldn't call it a pinker due to cost. If you cast and reload it can be cheap and fun.

Loaded at pressures the Marlin can withstand it kicks harder than my 50 BMG. Just shooting a 3 shot group will leave a bruise on an unprotected shoulder.

January 25, 2014, 10:36 AM
Sorry about the Buick - that's aggravating!

The downside to the laminate stock is the checkering. I picked up a GBL a couple months ago and was really disappointed by their new "machine cut" checkering method. It wasn't sharp, and it looked as though a remedial high school wood ship class attempted the project with old butter knives.

I sold the GBL and got an 1895g. The checkering was just as bad. I plan to sand it down to smooth and refinish the wood - I couldn't do that with laminate.

January 25, 2014, 11:05 AM
I got back into 45-70 when I inherited my dads old Ruger #3 in the caliber. I used to hate the thing as a kid growing up, because it was so brutal to shoot. My dad didnt reload, and I dont think I ever made it through a box of 20 factory ammo, even as an adult.

I was going to get rid of it, but figured Id see if I could come up with a plinker load for it, since I do reload. Now that the cowboy shoots have been around for awhile, and its a popular round, there is a lot of info available. I settled on a hard cast 300 grain LFP over 14.0 grains of Trailboss. Its a whole different critter now, and an all day blaster. :)

Soon after I figured that out, I got a Marlin Guide Gun. Both are now two of my favorite rifles. I dont hunt much anymore either, and most of my shooting with them is paper blasting, but even with the reduced load, that 300 grain bullet is still running around 1200fps and generates almost 1000 foot pounds of energy, and Im sure would be fine for the whitetails around here.

As I just hate recoil pads, and prefer a shorter LOP, I took the pad off my GG, and its now an even sweeter shooter, and with the load above, still an all day shooter. Even with heavier loads, I find the shorter LOP allows me to better shoulder the rifle properly, and deal with the recoil better than the gun with the pad mounted. Its more like shooting the old military rifles I learned on, and still shoot today. I actually much prefer a properly stocked rifle with a checkered steel butt plate over anything most of the makers offer today stock wise. For me, they are usually way to long for any kind of practical shooting.

January 25, 2014, 01:26 PM
I like the laminated stock on the SBL and the checkering is fine for me. Some have stated that the forend is too "fat" but I think it's perfect. I'd LOVE a quality synthetic stock though. Overall the SBL is one heck of a rifle and one that I'll never part with.

January 26, 2014, 01:10 AM
76shuvlinoff: My Son and I both shoot a 1895 Cowboy 45/70 with a 26 inch barrel. And we think they are just great. I reload for 45/70`s and use 35grs of IMR3031 with a hardcast 405gr LRNFP bullets at about 1200 to 1300 fps. This is our Cowboy load and is very comfortable to shoot all day. But I use this load to hunt with also, shot several pigs with it and always got full penatration. I shoot steel at the Cowboy shoots out to 200 yds with out any real problem if I just do my part. The pigs I have shot with this Rifle and Load have been between 50 to 100 yds, and are usually DRT. I have never had one go more than 25 to 30 yds shot with this load. I just turned 70 yrs old in Oct and am getting more recoil senceity all the time, but I can still shoot this load as much as I like with out any problem. I don`t hunt much any more either, but I can carry this rifle with out any problem on walks in the woods. The 1895 Cowboy in 45/70 is just a great gun to shoot and have fun with IMHO.

January 26, 2014, 05:39 PM
Thank you gentlemen.
I have carbines, both lever and semi auto. Maybe it's time for long gun.... but that extra 9.5 inches of barrel and mag sure is salty!


January 26, 2014, 06:08 PM
I sold my XLR with a 24" barrel since it offered very little velocity increase over the SBL with its 18.5" barrel. I couldn't justify having both so sold the JM marked XLR and got back all of my initial investment and more. Those Cowboy models are nice but I like the compact model more.

January 26, 2014, 06:20 PM
I like the compact models better myself too. I just wish they offered the Guide Gun with a full magazine. I just like the looks better, and I believe its an extra round.

Ive seen one model that looked to be just what I want, but it seems to be discontinued (of course), and is also commanding a pretty big premium if you can find one.

January 26, 2014, 06:27 PM
The GBL and SBL models are Guide Guns with full length magazines and pistol grip stocks. I like the straight stock on my 1894s but much prefer the pistol grip stock on the 95s. The pistol grip puts my wrist in a more natural position which is important for me when shooting powerful cartridges.

January 26, 2014, 10:28 PM
SBL and GBL are 6 in the tube plus 1. Standard guide gun is 4 plus 1.

January 27, 2014, 11:38 AM
If you plan on reloading then go for it. If not, get a pistol caliber lever action in 38/357. "Cheap" 38 special WWB can still be had and it doesnt kick that much. I prefer a true Marlin, however, consider other brands. Some are very servicable and are available currently.

January 27, 2014, 04:12 PM
/\ jm stamped 1894's in .357 and 44 mag are not as easily available as you think. If you find one, snap it up.

January 27, 2014, 08:57 PM
If you plan on reloading then go for it. If not, get a pistol caliber lever action in 38/357. "Cheap" 38 special WWB can still be had and it doesnt kick that much. I prefer a true Marlin, however, consider other brands. Some are very servicable and are available currently.

I already have a couple 39As and 79 Marlin 1894c in .357, it's a beautiful carbine. I am looking to stay in the Marlin family (emphasis on Marlin) but move up to the bigger brother.

January 29, 2014, 06:44 PM
Ok I lied, another question.
I can't seem to find out how long the 1895 Cowboy or the 1895 GBL has been in production. Anyone have a source?


January 30, 2014, 05:45 PM
This could be a poor suggestion if you are dead set on Marlin. I have a grand time shooting my H&R/ NEF 45/70 Buffalo Classic. I managed the recoil with a 3/4" copper tube of lead in the action bolt hole as well as a leather lace recoil butt pad .It is heavy now but handles recoil very well . I am 72 and it doesn't bother to shoot a lot with it .
All that aside, I'll have a guide gun in 45/70 when I can afford it. lol

January 30, 2014, 08:08 PM
I readily concede there are many quality rifles out there but I am kinda set on another Marlin lever. The search is 1/2 the fun.

January 31, 2014, 03:45 PM
To me, and maybe because I haven't shot factory level 405's in forever, the Marlin '95 is the full equal of my 12ga Ithica Deerslayer with Win 1 oz fosters. It's about a second year production with straight grip and 22 inch barrel. I'm usually using either 48 or 52 gn of IMR 3031 with a 300 and occasionally 400/405 jacketed. The 48gn/300's are about at 300 factory spec. I seldom shot more than 10 rounds in an outing and then switch to various '06 case size rifles. I've had it for 30+ years though, so there's a lot of lookback even if I didn't go through boxes of ammo in an outting. It's a microgroove barrel and that type is fine for factory loads but not so good with cast. It can shoot cast, and does very well, but you need to look hard for an oversize .460 ish mould. When the engineers designed their .45 microgroove specs I think they really screwed the rifle and shooting world over.

January 31, 2014, 10:33 PM
i did not read all the posts…

BUT I do love some 45-70. I would encourage you to start reloading if you get one. I can load powderpuff trail boss loads for the girlfriend and if I want to headbang a little I bet you can heat it up a good bit beyond that slug gun of yours… at least if feel that way haha.

Reloading supplies can be had. The brass lasts A LONG time unless you are hot rodding it (which is quite uncomfortable lol). My current brass group has 12 firings on it fwiw.

The rifle is a newer Marlin/rem GBL. It took a while to find one that passed my inspection. This one I would call an A minus specimen. XS Ghost ring sights made a big difference. I can easily shoot 1 inch groups rested at 50 yards with factory 325 hornady loads. This loading smacks deer, HARD, if you are into a bit of brush hunting. Accuracy at 100 yards with my cast bullets is between 1 and 3 inches usually with me shooting off a rest.

Most of the time I shoot a mild cast load from my guide gun. Fairly mild recoil, 1400 FPS 405g bullet. It will thump things even at that lower velocity. You could probably shoot clean through a respectable tree with a nice hard cast load at that velocity lol.

I saw you asked about barrel length. I am totally happy with my 18ish barrel. No regrets or want of a longer one.

January 31, 2014, 10:52 PM
Here's my guide gun conversion. Ordered the SBL laminate stock from Marlin, found the pistol grip tang with lever on, hired a great gunsmith.

This is by a wide margin, my favorite gun. The SBL does carry an extra round in the tube but I could not find an SBL to buy at the time so, had to roll my own. ( (

February 1, 2014, 07:44 AM
Now that's a truck gun on steroids. Good job!

February 8, 2014, 09:49 PM
Draggin this one back for yet another question.
If the barrel has the JM stamp it is a pre Remington rifle?
I found an 1895CB with a JM stamp but the seller says it's a 2009.


edit: The search function indicates the JM stamp means assembled and proofed in Conn. not necessarily pre Rem. There were some heated discussions on it. Since I can't handle and inspect this rifle I am wary of it.

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