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.444 Marlin vs. 45-70.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Hammerhead6814, Sep 2, 2009.

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  1. Hammerhead6814

    Hammerhead6814 Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    I've googled the hell out of the topic title and I'm getting conflicting information. A LOT of conflicting information. One site or forum says that the .444 Marlin is a faster, better range cartridge out to 200 yards. Another says that the 45-70 was always better. I could go on all night and go over the conflicting statements.

    So what I want/need to see here:

    Of you 45-70 owners and .444 Marlin owners, this is guys who own BOTH guns now, which was better out of the box? Out to 200 yards, which cartridge carries the better overall performance on say, Elk? Which of the two is easier to reload for? How much do you pay for cartridges?
  2. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    East Texas
    I don't HAVE them both, but I have shot them both. 444 kicks more.
  3. Macgille

    Macgille Member

    May 6, 2007
    N. Calif
    Simple answer, how many rifles are chambered for .444? how many are chambered for .45/70?

    .45/70 rules!!
  4. tango2echo

    tango2echo Member

    Dec 14, 2008
    I have owned both, but not at the same time. I currently own a 1885 HW in .45-70 and a 1895SBL "Guide Gun" in .45-70. I find the .45-70 ammo much easier to find. Not much difference in recoil IMO. There are much hotter .45-70 loads available than what you can find for the .444. My nod goes to the .45-70.

  5. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    May 27, 2007
    The .444 uses a short stubby pistol bullet with a poor balistic coeficient that will loose velocity very rapidly no matter how fast they are started. Penatration is also poor. The .45/70 can be has with much longer, heavier bullets of 400 to 500 grains that will pass clean through the largest game in North America.

    Exactly what gun are you looking at? Most .444's will not chamber bullets heavier that 265 grains. The heaviest common .44 bullet you can hand load is 300 grains and that is the lightest weight load you can buy in .45/70.
  6. Hammerhead6814

    Hammerhead6814 Member

    Apr 6, 2009
    I'm going to have to call that "Most .444's will not chamber bullets heavier that 265 grains. The heaviest common .44 bullet you can hand load is 300 grains and that is the lightest weight load you can buy in .45/70. " into question. I do not know much about these, but a visit to Midway USA showed that a whole lot of .444 in loads heavier than 300..

    Then this brings me to another conflict in statements. A lot of guys tell me that the .444 Marlin uses .44 mag pistol bullets. But then I have guys who tell me that said issue was a birthing problem for the .444. I do know that Hornady's "Leverevolution" cartridges are designed with a rifle bullet.

    This whole search on honest-to-goodness answers that cannot be contradicted is becoming a cluster-f*ck. Isn't there anyone who owns both?!
  7. raz-0

    raz-0 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I only own a 444p, but did a lot of research before deciding on .444 or .45-70.

    The answer is they overlap a lot. From everything I have read, they overlap on elk too.

    The one easier area to make a decision on is reloading. The 45-70 is easier to deal with there hands down. More recipes, more bullets designed to be fired in a rifle, more sources of brass, and more bullets designed to work with the OAL of the cartridge. On the other hand, the .444 is more versatile, but you have to work harder for it. You can load light plinking rounds, up to stuff that is on par with factory 45-70 (or even a little bit harder hitting). With 45-70, you can't really mess around on the lighter end of the spectrum, but you sure can play around with some quite heavy bullets. (range for .444 is from 200gr to 405gr for bullets with .405gr requiring a lot of know how to load safely. 45-70 is from about 300-525gr)

    Neither is objectively better, but it is a pretty clearly defined line to choose around.

    Factory ammo available? 45-70 has more options overall, but with the .444 I can go with the 240gr remington at the light end, and I can order a 335gr round at 3049ftlbs and 2025fps from buffalo bore. Their 45-70 in similar weights is a tad lighter on the ft-lbs and slower moving. Cor-bon, grizzly, and buffalo bore have both cartridges covered for some pretty insane ammo. If you want to walk into a store and find something in stock, 45-70 is a better bet.

    The 45-70 lets you choose from more guns to shoot it from. If you are thinking marlin lever guns, you want the ones with ballard rifling, not the micro-groove rifling for 444, and probably 45-70 too.

    They both have trajectories that want you to keep it under 200 yards.

    As for hunting, the best I could put together was that if you wanted to hunt bigger bears along with elk, go 45-70. If you want to hunt deer as well as elk, go with .444. If you want to shoot your elk form farther away, go with a bolt action gun and an appropriate bottle neck cartridge.

    ETA: some answers to a late post by OP

    The remington cartridge uses a pistol bullet. For a while, the best alternative was the swift a-frame .44 pistol bullet, which would penetrate well, but had too big a hollow point and would fragment the expanded petals. The hornady leverevolution and light magnum 265gr bullet is a rifle bullet. The cor-bon light end ammo uses the barnes pistol bullts, but they are solid copper alloy and generally stay a bit more intact than jacketed pistol bullets. Most of the heavy stuff in both calibers is cast lead. In .444 that what cast lead bullets that are easy to find won't come apart, but tends to have the cannelure in the wrong place for the .444 as loading hefty .44 magnum rounds at some point you need to preserve cartridge capacity so they design the bullets to be stuck further out the front. You need to find cast bullets that either have the cannelure in the right place, or have double cannelures. One for pistol and one for rifle.

    Beartooth bullets is a fan of the .444 and has a number of good articles in their tech notes section on reloading for it with heavier bullets. They also sell a lot of cast bullets specifically intended to work with the .444 (with differing levels of effort required).

    If you take a good hard cast lead 300gr projectile in 45-70 and 444 marlin, you can expect them to stay intact about the same in the same critters.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2009
  8. ECVMatt

    ECVMatt Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    .45-70 Government.....the only Government I trust!

    All kidding aside, they do overlap. However I feel the .45-70 is much more versatile. You can load it light or heavy with a broad range of bullet weights. The .444 just can't do that.

    Having just said that, I still want a .444 to add to the collection.
  9. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    The main issue with the .444 is the rifling twist rate in the early guns. The original loads did use the same 240gr bullets as the .44mag handgun cart.

    Now, most .444 rifles have faster twist rifling and can "approach" the performance of the .45/70.

    That statement is telling in that with the larger bore, the .45/70 can hold more powder, and of course a larger dia. projectile of considerably heavier weight. And, the twist rate has always been sufficient to stabilize a 500gr bullet as slow as 1,100fps.

    So, I have to likewise vote for the .45/70. However, my preferred loads for the .45/70 are a 320gr Cast Gaschecked flatnose (RCBS 300-FNGC) at about 1,600fps. Lower recoil is the reason. Killing effectiveness on intended game is unaffected. (Will completely penetrate most anything I will encounter in my lifetime.) These aren't much more powerful than most of the .444 offerings, so, the difference "MAY" be moot.....
    Get what you WANT...... Both are excellent IMO.
  10. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Northern Indiana
    I used to write the outdoor articles for the local newspaper. All you need to be an expert is a computer, a little time, and sufficient ego. Writers are paid to give an opinion. Doesn't necessarily need to be correct.

    "Better" is a relative term. Refer to the Ford-Dodge-Chevy debate. People tend to confuse "better" with "preference". My preference is the .45-70 as it's considerably easier to get cheaper factory rounds of a more extensive variety.

    If you're concerned about relative killing power, see "Box 'O Truth" #19. I can safely hand load my Marlin 1895 to or very close to dangerous game levels. 400 grains at maybe 1,800 fps. If you need more than that, I'd suggest a .458 or .416 Rigby.
  11. natman

    natman Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    Part of the confusion stems from the fact that you are really talking about three different cartridges, not two.

    45-70 Govt factory loads (Rem, Win, Federal, etc)
    444 Marlin
    45-70 Handloads and custom ammo (Corbon, Garrett, etc)

    The 45-70 Govt has a 130+ year old history and was originally loaded with black powder and was chambered in some very old and weak guns. Because of this legacy most factory loads are loaded very soft (400 gr@1300 fps)

    So if you stick with factory loads, the 444 is more powerful and flatter shooting.

    If you handload or buy custom ammo, the 45-70 is an entirely different beast. In this guise it is considerably more powerful than the 444. Recoil is a good deal stiffer too.

    In the end it all depends on what you want. I would be happy to hunt the biggest elk that ever walked with the right loads in the 444. If you want to hunt grizzlies then the right hand/custom load in the 45/70 would be just the thing.

    I don't see it as one being "better" than the other, it just depends on which one fits your needs. How do you get your ammo? How big is the game? How much recoil are you willing to put up with?

    I'm just glad we get the choice.
  12. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    Munising MI
    Both are plenty powerful and accuate to take game out to 150 yards. neither excells at ranges past that. The 4570 definately has the advantage of more power espeically if you handload or can afford buffalo bore ammo. The power comes at the price of a lot more recoil though. As to bullet weights my go to load in my 444p uses a 340 grain bullet. Good bullets in the 4570 in my opinion start at about 400 grain. Cool thing with the 444 is the 340 grain bullet has about the same sectional density as a 405 4570 bullet if not even a little better so it will pentrate as well at much lower of a recoil level. 444 also is a handloaders delight as it can be loaded with light pistol bullets either cast or jacketed and load down to recoil levels that apporach a 38 special and it makes it a ball to roll cans at the range and it can even be loaded with a 250 cast or jacketed to about 1200 fps and be made into a real light recoiling gun that will handle most hunting chores. But when push comes to shove if really big game is on the table id take a 4570 hands down. A good marlin 4570 is capable of teeth rattling power on both ends of the gun.
  13. wnycollector

    wnycollector Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    Western NY
    A shooting buddy of mine has a marlin 1895 in .45-70. Before he started to reload for 45-70 he used doubletap's 45-70 405gr SP loading. Its ~60% of the price of buffalobore for comparable performance.
  14. kragluver

    kragluver Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    Aledo, TX
    If you handload, buy a .45-70. If you don't, go with the .444 Marlin. In modern lever actions, you can handload the .45-70 to the same velocities as the .444 Marlin. There's not any appreciable difference.

    MMCSRET Member

    Feb 18, 2008
    North Central Montana, across the Wide Missouri
    I have both, not in the same style. The 45-70 can be loaded heavier with bigger, heavier bullets to the point that it can rival the venerable 458 Winchester Magnum. You can never do that with the 444. For an in depth analysis of each, read Ken Water write ups. His summation of the 444 is that it is a modern day express cartridge, much the same way the 45-90 was to the 45-70. I like both, but if I could have only one it would be the 45-70 as I can and do shoot light roundballs and 150 gr. "collar buttons" for plinking and gallery loads, but I have several molds up to 510 gr.. I have never put a jacketed bullet in my 45-70, but my 444 is a fantastic elk gun with Hornadys 265 gr. soft point.
  16. 10pacesmike

    10pacesmike Member

    Sep 24, 2007

    The 444 is a neat cartridge, but there is something about the 45-70 that really gets me. Same reason I own single actions in 45 Colt.

    My preferred 45-70 load pushes a 405g hard cast at about 1300 fps out of my 1895GS. Yea, I can load it up to 2k FPS and that's fun at the range for impressing friends, but I've found it no more effective on game than the slower loads.
  17. Baldeagle

    Baldeagle Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Can any one tell me as to when Marlin started using Ballard style rifling in the .444's?
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