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.444 Marlin & 45-70?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by 38-45 Special, Nov 13, 2020.

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  1. 38-45 Special

    38-45 Special Member

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    I've liked 45-70 for a long time as I like the classic cartridges and firearms. I also have a love for any/all straight-walled cartridges as well, kind of why I'm a bit of a revolver guy. But in the last couple of years I've come upon the .444 Marlin (big fan of Paul Harrell's so that pretty much explains how). I've done some research and from what I've seen (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), the two are comparable in terms of velocity and EFP and are, as best I can tell, pretty similar in appearance as well. I haven't seen a .444 Marlin in person as in my part of the country I think I've seen it maybe once in my LGS. I'm just curious to see what you guys could tell me about the .444 Marlin and/or how it compares with the 45-70 in terms of performance, hunting, etc.
     
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  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    This is a really basic primer;

    The .444 is fairly similar to the .45/70 visually and in on-paper ballistics, with a couple of major differences.

    Bullet style-weight in the .444 is limited to .429 inch bullets. Most of those made are for the .44 Mag, though tougher bullets (A-frame,etc) are out there. Bullets for the .444 run roughly 180-340 grains. The longer/heavier weights may be hampered by the slower twist rates .444 rifles were known for, meaning they don’t stabilize well. Faster twist barrels will shoot them fine. Factory ammo and rifle selection for the .444 Marlin is limited and pricy.

    The .45/70 is a lot more popular, and can be found with a much wider variety of rifles and ammo options.

    The .458 diameter bullets range from 300 to 550+ grains. The sectional density of the larger bullets is awesome, with hardcast lead broadside shots easily going through and through big bison.

    If you handload for either cartridge you can go from mild to wild fairly easily.

    I’ve had my original .45/70 since the 1990’s, a Marlin guide gun. I picked up my second one, a 26” Marlin 1895CB, a couple of years ago. A good friend has a .444 Marlin that I’ve shot a couple of times, it is very similar to my Marlins in both handling and recoil with comparable power-level loads.

    Again, others have a lot more info than I do, but if I were to have to choose I’d go .45/70 for the versatility alone. :thumbup:

    Stay safe.
     
  3. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

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    I would love a .444 Marlin and plan to get one when Ruger makes me one with Ballard rifling and maybe they will reintroduce some of the Marlin Express cartridges in new rifles. But, that said, nothing puts the whoop axx (in a handy size) on a mean critter like the .45-70 without going up to the African stuff. Loaded to "Marlin" levels it is IMO a level beyond the .444 capability. But I am a lever gun guy and fan of the .45-70.
     
  4. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    The .45-70 outclasses the .444, but that's not to say the .444 is not an excellent cartridge. I believe it's very close if not the same ballistics as the .405 Winchester (?) which Teddy Roosevelt ran around knocking lions over with.

    I think Hornady makes a 300 grain XTP for the .444, which is what I'd shoot in one, if I had one. It must stabilize well if Hornady makes it. I would also expect it to have more controlled expansion, unlike many of the lighter .429 pistol bullets which might tend to blow up/over expand at .444 velocities.

    Hornady also used to make a nice 265 grain bullet especially for the .444, which I used to shoot in my .44Mag rifle, and performed very well in it. I would still go with a 300 grain, even if the energy tables show more....energy...for faster moving bullets.

    I don't think the .444 and .45-70 are comparable in velocity, or bullet weight. The .444 out shines the .45-70 in velocity, but the .45-70 outshines the .444 in bullet weight.
     
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  5. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    With respect to.those commenting above with outmoded and debunked points of view, given that a current model Ballard cut 444 Remlin or an H&R Handi Rifle will throw a 320 grs bullet at 2200 fps, the idea that the 45-70 "outclasses" the 444 Marlin is simply silly. At what? Not at hunting. Anything you would hunt with the 45-70 will be as dead with the 444. As a black powder nostalgia cartridge,it excels. I compete long range with a 45-70 RB and a 535 grs Postel over 67 grs BP is great fun. But in practical terms the 444 does everything the 45-70 does. Nobody is shooting buffalo at 500 yards. And at the ranges one would shoot buffalo, the difference between 300 grs and 500 grs is not material.
     
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  6. 357smallbore

    357smallbore Member

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    I'm a fan of both. I believe that 95% of game taken by these two cartridges, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in the effect of killing power.
    No ethical hunter is going to hunt game past 300yrd with them.
    I'd say if I were after large brown bear in AK. I'd prefer the 45-70. In the lower 48. It wont matter which one you use.
     
  7. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    2 sides of the same coin inside of 200 yards. The 45-70 is generally easier to find and cheaper commercially. Although moot if you reload.

    But I still prefer my tang sighted 45-70 Marlin 1895CB when out in the desert.
     
  8. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The original 444 loads were shooting the same 240 gr bullets used in 44 magnum revolvers, just a lot faster. They didn't do very well since they were designed to be used at revolver speeds. The 444 was a pretty big disappointment initially. Marlin revived the 45-70 primarily because it was better suited to use 400-500 gr bullets. Combined with modern loadings it was a big step up in performance over 444. The Marlin 444's have been in and out of production over the years since most people considered the 45-70 as a much better choice.

    But in recent years heavier 44 caliber bullets have been developed that are designed to work at 444 speeds. That has closed the gap quite a bit, but in my mind I don't see a 444 as doing anything a 44 mag rifle won't do. I've never owned a 444, but have had multiple 45-70's over the years as well as 44 mag. I think both 444 and 45-70 are over rated. There isn't an animal I'd hunt where I'd not rather have a 7X57, 308, or 30-06 in my hands than either a 45-70 or 444.
     
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  9. natman

    natman Member

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    There are several differences.
    Most factory 45-70 loads are loaded very light because of the many black powder strength rifles in 45-70. Factory 444 ammo is loaded much warmer. So do you plan on reloading or not?
    When loaded to the same level, the 45-70 has a good deal more power. It also has a good deal more recoil. So do you really need more power than is offered in 444? IMO, only if you plan on bothering grizzlies. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot the biggest elk that ever walked with a good load in a 444. No deer or pig would ever know the difference.
    Earlier 444 rifles used a 1-38 twist Microgroove barrel that limited bullet weight to about 265 grains. Later Marlins used a 1-20 twist barrel that lets you use much heavier bullets. So does that matter to you?
    Finally, the 444 is almost a Marlin proprietary cartridge. Few other rifles have been chambered in it. 45-70 ammo and brass will be around for a very long time.
     
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  10. slicksleeve

    slicksleeve Member

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    I like the .444 Marlin. I load the 265 grain Hornady, its a good bullet. I've heard they've been discontinued. After I shoot up my stock, I guess I'll find something else. DO NOT load a hollow point designed for the .44 magnum in them. In my youth I had one blow up on a buck deer at about 25 yards. Knocked it flat, then it got up and ran away. Neighbor killed it four days later, and said it never penetrated the chest cavity. I have zero experience with the 45/70 though. The older I get, the more I find myself hunting with bottleneck bolt actions.
     
  11. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    This is just my opinion from owning both, but once you start loading the 300+ grain bullets in the 444 marlin it really outshines the 45-70 as a hunting cartridge. The 444 will never compete with the 45-70 in terms of shear bullet weight because of course the 45-70 can handle 500+ grain bullets, but the 444 loaded hot with a 300-320 grain cast bullet at like 2300 fps shoots much flatter with less wind drift than anything you can load in 45-70 and it doesn't beat you to death to do it. Full power 45-70 is overkill and the recoil can get pretty brutal. I think the 444 strikes a better balance of power, recoil, and flat shooting.
     
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  12. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I've used one in a Thompson/Center Encore handgun and it was one of the easiest cartridges I've gotten to shoot well in that platform. The biggest animal I've taken with it was a large male Kudu that went maybe 20 feet before dying. I've not hunted with nor done much shooting with a 45/70; I'm sure it's fine but I don't have much personal experience with it.
     
  13. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I have been outmoded and debunked?? Oh my goodness.
     
  14. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

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    Well, I am not anti .444 Marlin, as I said, I am slowly planning an acquisition of one due course but waiting now to see what Ruger does. But I never said "hunting" and was thinking more in terms of defense against dangerous animals. How does it outclass, a bigger hole and a bullet of more mass providing more penetration through heavy bone and dense tissue and another 500 plus FPE or more. I am not talking trapdoor loads here but Garret or BB or HSM Bear or my own loads. A 430 grain hard cast at around 1900FPS is a lot of smack down. I would agree that the .444 with a good bullet is a better hunting rifle for all but perhaps the great bears or African game for which, alas, I will never get to try and if I did it would not be with either of these. But when I was hiking alone in Alaska bear country I will pass on the .444, rightly or wrongly, I will take my Guide Gun in .45-70 with BB or Garret loads.
     
  15. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    marblkgrp.jpg
    I like the .444 just fine, but would choose even "trapdoor loads" (70-80grains of Swiss under a 416gran bullet) in my Marlin over a 320 grain bullet of less diameter. I still think a larger diameter, heavier bullet "outclasses" a smaller lighter bullet. More velocity isn't always a good thing, and FPE formulas aren't always "realistic", as far as actual effect.

    And as you can see, black powder loads in .45-70 (this is 80 grains of Swiss fffg under the Speer 400 grain) are not lacking in accuracy. But hey, nothing wrong with the .444, I like it, and for hunting, or for defense against dangerous animals, one probably would not be able to see a difference.
     
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  16. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Will 525 grs of .458” kill “more” than 325 grs of .430”? Seems unlikely. Yet, I am generally a believer that there is no substitute for cubic inches, so why not? If I were in grizzly country, bigger is better.
     
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  17. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    That's why I leave my .45-70's at home when I hunt in a grizzly recovery area. (have to take a game dept. test, every year, on "how to tell a grizz from a blackie")

    I prefer a .62" rifle over both the .444 and 45-70. There she is belching fire and thunder.
     
  18. The Happy Kaboomer

    The Happy Kaboomer Member

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    My Marlin 444P's all have Ballard rifling and they were made in 1999.
     
  19. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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    Owned both , different models , different times ...
    My favorite 444 was a Winchester Big Bore in 444
    My favorite 45/70 was a Marlin Guide Gun

    I hand loaded for both .. mostly hardcast , I have more experience 45/70 ... .. 400gr [email protected] 1800-1850 fps
    Would easily penetrate anything that walks ...

    444 with a 300gr LHC @ 1950-2000 fps ... would have similar results....
    main difference if with the frontal area ....
    .458 vs .430 ... would that make any difference?maybe is you were hunting
    Cape Buffalo ..

    The 45/70 can be loaded heavier ...which even at modest velocity.. with plow through anything ... with momentum... ...punching a .458 hole through whatever walks .. from head to tail

    The 45/70 handloaded is more than the 444...
    But is it needed ... ???

    I went to a 375 Winchester over both .. much softer shooting.. dropped Whitetail like crazy .....with
    250gr LHC .. @ 1900-1950 FPS
    But now.. 30-30 is my cartridge of choice...170gr factory...or similar handloads
    Back to my first Levergun cartridge...
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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