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45 Colt vs 45-70

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by xjchief, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. xjchief

    xjchief Well-Known Member

    I'm tying to figure out if I want a 45 Colt or 45-70 lever gun. I'd appreciate it if those who have owned either would post their opinions. It will be a Marlin either way.

  2. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    I have two Marlin .45-70's.

    My take on it is that you can load down a .45-70 to .45 Colt levels...it's a bit more difficult to load .45 Colt to .45-70 levels.

    If you reload, the price is not a concern. If you're buying factory ammo, it's a BIG strike against .45-70. Have you priced ammo lately?

  3. xjchief

    xjchief Well-Known Member

    I realize the ammo prices are huge. I guess what I'm asking is the bang worth the bucks?
  4. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Frankly neither of these rounds is good for a non-reloader from an economics view. If you don't reload these will break you to shoot in any quantity.

    If you don't care about the money side then the .45-70 will certainly have more use for hunting etc.

    Just depends on what you want the rifle for.
  5. Z71

    Z71 Well-Known Member

    I've never owned a .45-70, but I do have a .45 Colt Marlin carbine/rifle.

    My .45 Colt rifle is a Marlin 1894 Cowboy Competition Model. Had belonged to my father in law, and passed on to me when he died.

    The rifle is actually what I'd call a carbine, although it has an octagon barrel and rifle style forearm. A beautiful little gun, and a great shooter too. Very accurate with the cowboy ammo, which is about all that can be found in my area.

    With the cowboy ammo, power is quite modest, virtually nil recoil, certainly not enough to hurt. Not suitable for big game hunting by any means. I have reloaded several batches of ammo for the rifle using .230gr lead bullets intended for .45acp. I've kept the power level low in deference to the fact that I also inherited a Uberti Colt clone in the samr caliber. Can use the same ammunition without worrying about hurting the Uberti.

    I would imagine the Marlin rifle could handle considerably hotter loads, but just have not bothered to look for any suitable bullets for a "hotter" .45 Colt load. Probably won't either.

    If I would have bought the gun for myself, would have opted for a .45-70 rifle. But since I inherited the little rifle, will just treasure it for what it is.

    Since you intend to hunt, buy the .45-70 rifle. You could likely reload the .45 Colt to power levels approaching the more modest "trapdoor Springfield" factory .45-70 ammo. But why bother when the .45-70 offers so much more.

    For plinking, and maybe small/medium game at closer range, I think the little Marlin .45 Colt would be fine, but it ain't never going to be a grizzly bear rifle!
  6. JustsayMo

    JustsayMo Well-Known Member

    I have both calibers in Marlins. Three 1895's (1895CB, 1895GS and 1895) and one 1894CB in 45 colt.

    I'd HATE to have to pick just one or the other and don't know that I can give you an answer but I can list what I like about each.

    The 1894 Cowboy Limited is absolutely one of my favorite rifles. It cycles everything I've loaded including over-length Keith style SWC cartridges. It shoots Jacketed and cast (both commercial and home brewed) bullets very well,
    http://www.grovestreet.com/jsp/onepic.jsp?id=1225592 . It does seem to prefer bullets 250 grains and higher, loves 320 gr cast bullets. The 1894 is slightly easier to clean than the 1895. I have over a week in the field with it this year. It carries great and is easy to shoot from field positions. The 45 Colt is an easy cartridge to reload, 99% of what I shoot out of it is at the Colt replica max or just into "Ruger/Contender Level" loads. Even the hot stuff is easy on the shoulder. Knowing that a 300 grain bullet out of 44 mag out of a revolver at 1200 fps will easily pass through and Elk (east to west anyway) I'd even use this rifle with the 320 grain wide meplat cast bullet traveling 1300fps + (= to factory 45-70 300grain loads) on a broadside Elk inside of 100 yards. Anesthetically and ergonomically perfect IMO. :)

    I've also hunted and shot the 1895's a good deal the last couple of years. The accuracy is slightly better than the 1894's and I'd feel more comfortable shooting at bigger game and at longer range with the 45-70. http://www.grovestreet.com/jsp/onepic.jsp?id=1206746 The GS is easy to carry in the field and has proven to be devastating on game. It took a Idaho Bear this spring and all who witnessed were impressed by its lethality. The bullet, 425gr Bearthooth Pile Driver Jr, jogging along at around 1400 fps took the long way through the bear, front left, to right rear busted through everything along the way and was last seen heading toward Montana. The Bear had a thumb sized wound channel all the way through... He expired before he could even think about skedattiling.

    The 45-70 cartridge is easy to load though components are more expensive. I cast Ranch Dog's excellent 420gr bullet and a pound of lead only yeilds 16 of those beauties. I don't typically plink with my 45-70 but a 405 cast bullet over 11 grains of Red Dot spits out of the barrel at just over 1000 fps and is 3" accurate at 100 yards. Its a good load to introduce new big bore shooters with.

    If big heavy bullets going fast is appealing to you the 45-70 levergun is capable. It takes a chronograph to appreciate them unless massive recoil is what you are after. For me the fun ends about 1800 fps with 400 grain bullets. The gun is capable of more but I find no pleasure above that.

    Most factory stuff is mild but effective. The LeverEvolution ammo expands the versatility for non-handloaders.

    Both calibers would be among the last I'd get rid of...
  7. iamkris

    iamkris Well-Known Member

    What are you using it for? No way anyone can leave a cogent response unless they know what you want to use it for.

    Target shooting?
    Cowboy action shooting?
    Home defense?
    Looking at?
  8. xjchief

    xjchief Well-Known Member

    JustsayMo pretty much answered all my remaining questions. Thank you for your responses!
  9. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Well-Known Member

    45 Colt vs 45-70 in Marlin's

    Quality reloads for 45 Colt in a 1894 Marlin can be worked up to using Ruger/TC Contender data. Model 1894 Marlin's have the original style square bolt, strong then and stronger now with better steel.

    1895 Marlin's are not the same as the original 1895. Now they're are a round bolt model 336. A strong action and can be reloaded close to the 450 Alaskan.

    I have lever actions in both calibers. Mine are original antiques. So far I have not found the need for the extra power and range from a new rifle with hotter loads.
    The 45 Colt is a 1873 Winchester 20" octagon barrel, that was a 44wcf and was so worn and shot out I had it relined and chambered to 45 Colt. It kills black bear with 225gr SWC lead bullets at 1100fps just fine.
    The 45-70 is a 1881 Marlin made in 1886. Also relined. Drops deer & elk so far out to 200 yards with one shot. This is with 330gr Lyman/Gould bullet I cast and load to 1500fps. 45 Colt reloads could match or exceed that.

    My choice of the 2 rifles you mention would be the 1894 CB with 20" octagon barrel. 45 Colt is effecient to load for in that rifle. The 1894 looks and feels good, but that's my opinion. With the heavier bullets your limitations would be, how good you can shoot?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  10. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Have you considered a Puma '92 chambered in .454 Casull? You can load it down to embarrassingly weak "cowboy" loads, or up to .45-70 levels with the .454 and heavy bullets. And it holds more rounds in the magazine than a .45-70.

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