45/70 barrel length

Csinn

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I was very interested in getting a 444 marlin or 450 marlin. However, looking at available guns and ammo (I don’t reload yet), there are 45/70’s everywhere while the other two are scarce. Ballistics looks like 444 is a little better but not enough to where I’d need to pay $2500 for a gun vs $999-1200. Looked for a .358 but can’t find a lever gun in that caliber either. Going with a 45/70 what is the optimum barrel length? I’m liking the 24” but how much does that gain velocity wise vs say a 18.5”? Also, what’s the recoil difference? I’ve never shot one but have heard they can be thumpers. I am familiar with heavy 12 gauge rounds so it doesn’t bother me, Just curious if longer barrel makes that much difference with this cartridge?
Thanks
 
I was very interested in getting a 444 marlin or 450 marlin. However, looking at available guns and ammo (I don’t reload yet), there are 45/70’s everywhere while the other two are scarce. Ballistics looks like 444 is a little better but not enough to where I’d need to pay $2500 for a gun vs $999-1200. Looked for a .358 but can’t find a lever gun in that caliber either. Going with a 45/70 what is the optimum barrel length? I’m liking the 24” but how much does that gain velocity wise vs say a 18.5”? Also, what’s the recoil difference? I’ve never shot one but have heard they can be thumpers. I am familiar with heavy 12 gauge rounds so it doesn’t bother me, Just curious if longer barrel makes that much difference with this cartridge?
Thanks
Here are some 45/70 available I use them for many years.
 
Neither the 444 or 45-70 depend on velocity for their performance. In fact part of the 444's problems early on was more velocity than the bullets were designed for. Bullets were breaking up on contact and giving poor results.

I've had both 22" Marlins and 18.5" Guide Guns in 45-70. For me I'd take the Guide gun every time. The longer barrels would be some advantage in that the longer sight radius would help with iron sights. I doubt if you'd see 100 fps between an 18.5" and a 24" barrel. That's 5.5"., maybe closer to 50 fps Somewhere around 20-25fps/inch velocity loss is the norm for high pressure modern cartridges such as 308 and 30-06.

I've not seen any data where someone actually cut a 45-70 to measure velocity at various barrel lengths, but based on what I've seen with other cartridges there is probably very little to gain by going over 20". The original loads with black powder need much more barrel to get velocity than modern loads using smokeless powder. The original rifles probably needed 24-28" barrels with black powder.

Recoil:

45-70 loads are all over the place. Some of the black powder equivalent loads are in the 30-30 recoil range. Most modern mid-level loads are comparable to 30-06. Some of the top-end loads fired in a 7-7.5 lb rifle are knocking on the door of 458 WM recoil levels. But a typical 458 WM is going to weigh 9-10 lbs.
 
Since reloading talk started , 300 gr Hornady and 40 gr of Buffalo Rifle powder makes a fine deer and target load
 
I’ve have 45-70’s from 7.5” to 32.5”, balance and handling are all different, but really, the velocity difference between the 18.5” and 22” or 24” is really not terribly pertinent in the hunting field. Neither would be a choice for competitive long range matches. Better still, a Marlin could be loaded such an 18.5” could match a 22” standard load. I’ve killed deer as far as 250yrds with an 18.5” Guide Gun, and have hit targets twice as far with it.

Recoil is what you make it. My wife shoots our Guide Gun as her favorite deer rifle, she’s 5’3” and 130lb.

The stainless Marlin 1895 Guide Gun is one of my favorite firearms of all time.
 
Fan of both 45-70 and 444 Marlin. Have rifles in both. Not a fan of the 45-70 in a light, short barreled (20” or less) lever gun. Thumpy with diminished performance. But, too each his own.
 
Gotta say that the shorter barreled Guide Gun, depending on the load, can be fairly unpleasant to shoot. Yes, it's a "thumper."

But I love the portability and the handling over the longer-barreled models. I just can't see obsessing about fairly minor differences in velocity with the .45/70.

The stainless Marlin 1895 Guide Gun is one of my favorite firearms of all time.
I agree, and think it's the best of the breed in the caliber. Highly versatile with an immense "cool factor." (Yes, at my age, I still buy guns because I think they're cool. I'm too old to worry about recoil or practicality.)
 
Here are some 45/70 available I use them for many years.
I LOVE the Kittery Trading Post! Every time I visit my In-laws in Alton, NH. I make the drive to Salmon Falls Stoneware and then jog over to Kittery to gawk at all the goodies.

@Csinn, The 22” standard 1895 barrel length is a good compromise in .45/70 between weight (recoil reduction!), handiness and performance (If one so desires.) My 1895’s straddle this, the 1895G is 18.5” and the 1895CB is 26”.

The CB is a brute when fully loaded with cartridges sporting 400-500 gr bullets, it’s length and weight conspire to make it not the most fun to tote through the woods so it is a range toy for the most part.

The 1895G I have is an original factory ported model. It is easier for me to carry and swing on moving stuff, but even after adding a cushy recoil pad it still can buck pretty hard with Marlin-levergun loads.

I put Lyman peep sights on them both. Both have a mortar-like trajectory, so any reasonable shots on targets for me max at about 175-200 yards. On a deer, pig, etc., for me 125-150 yds would be my tops.

.45/70 is a cool cartridge. Its easy to load for and can he accurate with a variety of loads up and down the power spectrum.

Let us know what you get and how it shoots for you. :thumbup:

Stay safe.
 
In recent years I've had 2 .45-70 rifles....

I had a very nice Marlin 1895 LTD V, with a 24" barrel. I don't know what the weight was... it wasn't heavy, but it wasn't light, either. I will tell you, with starting 'lever-action' loads, using IMR's 3031, 4895, and 4064 and a 405grn bullet, those loads kicked the stuffing out of me, and I'm not necessarily recoil shy. I was shooting them off sticks, which transmits nearly the entire recoil impulse to your shoulder. I shot about 15 of them, and had to give it up. I wound up pulling nearly 100 cartridges.

I sold the Marlin to buy a Pedersoli 1885 single-shot, with a 32" barrel. The 1885 action can't handle 'lever-action' loads, so I don't have a direct comparison between the two, but I can tell you shooting 'Trapdoor level' loads is not nearly as punishing, and delivers enough killing power for anything you are likely to shoot.

My recoil threshold, with the 405grn cast bullet, is about 1400fps. I get that quite easily with IMR4198, H4198, or AA5744. If I had to have more velocity, those powders would do it, well within the pressure envelope my 1885 can handle.

The only 2 loads I have a direct comparison, Marlin vs 1885, would be...

15grn Unique, 405grn cast FP, 1220 and 1200fps, respectively. I'm guessing the extra 10" of barrel on the 1885 limited the muzzle velocity.

My normal 'extra' load... 35grn IMR4198, 405grn cast FP, 1475 and 1550fps, respectively. Here, the slower powder (when compared to Unique...) takes advantage of the longer 1885 barrel... but not by that much.

My 'normal' normal load is 32grn IMR4198, which gives me right at 1400fps in the 1885, and probably not much less in the Marlin.


If I were buying another .45-70 lever-gun, I would find one with a 20-24" barrel. My first .45-70 was a wonderful Browning 1886 saddle-ring carbine, with a 22" barrel. In my mind, that is the perfect .45-70 levergun.
 
I LOVE the Kittery Trading Post! Every time I visit my In-laws in Alton, NH. I make the drive to Salmon Falls Stoneware and then jog over to Kittery to gawk at all the goodies.

@Csinn, The 22” standard 1895 barrel length is a good compromise in .45/70 between weight (recoil reduction!), handiness and performance (If one so desires.) My 1895’s straddle this, the 1895G is 18.5” and the 1895CB is 26”.

The CB is a brute when fully loaded with cartridges sporting 400-500 gr bullets, it’s length and weight conspire to make it not the most fun to tote through the woods so it is a range toy for the most part.

The 1895G I have is an original factory ported model. It is easier for me to carry and swing on moving stuff, but even after adding a cushy recoil pad it still can buck pretty hard with Marlin-levergun loads.

I put Lyman peep sights on them both. Both have a mortar-like trajectory, so any reasonable shots on targets for me max at about 175-200 yards. On a deer, pig, etc., for me 125-150 yds would be my tops.

.45/70 is a cool cartridge. Its easy to load for and can he accurate with a variety of loads up and down the power spectrum.

Let us know what you get and how it shoots for you. :thumbup:

Stay safe.
I used to be stationed in Portsmouth NH and have friends that live in East Livermore Falls. We go to Maine twice a year and will be heading up to Acadia soon.
 
I LOVE the Kittery Trading Post! Every time I visit my In-laws in Alton, NH. I make the drive to Salmon Falls Stoneware and then jog over to Kittery to gawk at all the goodies.

@Csinn, The 22” standard 1895 barrel length is a good compromise in .45/70 between weight (recoil reduction!), handiness and performance (If one so desires.) My 1895’s straddle this, the 1895G is 18.5” and the 1895CB is 26”.

The CB is a brute when fully loaded with cartridges sporting 400-500 gr bullets, it’s length and weight conspire to make it not the most fun to tote through the woods so it is a range toy for the most part.

The 1895G I have is an original factory ported model. It is easier for me to carry and swing on moving stuff, but even after adding a cushy recoil pad it still can buck pretty hard with Marlin-levergun loads.

I put Lyman peep sights on them both. Both have a mortar-like trajectory, so any reasonable shots on targets for me max at about 175-200 yards. On a deer, pig, etc., for me 125-150 yds would be my tops.

.45/70 is a cool cartridge. Its easy to load for and can he accurate with a variety of loads up and down the power spectrum.

Let us know what you get and how it shoots for you. :thumbup:

Stay safe.
But the CB has that cool tapered barrel
 
Maybe not relevant but my Sharps enjoys its 32” barrel. Kinda makes me smile too.
 
300 gr gas check Lyman and 300gr Hornady are loaded with Buffalo Rifle, 5744 and Benchmark. Don't go over 2000fps and it won't spank you on the bench.
 
I know. Just an interesting coincidence.

I have read that when the Army went to .45-70-500 they quit the Carbine load. So the poor cavalryman had to put up with still more recoil. I don't have a cite and don't know if it were so.
 
45 70 had gobs of history, don't need long barrels to burn the faster powders, shorter the barrel more the blast. And you don't need to spend a lot of money to own a nice leveraction. There is a conversation going on about a Rossi m95 30 30 that comes in 45 70. I'd study up on that one.
 
The 45/70 needed a long barrel when the propellant was black powder. When loaded with smokeless the 45/70 acts much like a handgun cartridge. My go-to load is about 13 grains of Unique behind a 500 grain lead bullet, gives about 1,000FPS. That round will kill anything you can hit with it. Problem is hitting something.
 

If you can hit it, a 45/70-500 will kill anything. The problem is hitting it.​

.45-70 at Two Miles: The Sandy Hook Tests of 1879​


When the Springfield long range cartridge was fired, the 500-grain blunt nosed lead bullets propelled by 80 grains of black powder in the 2.4-inch cases at about 1,375 fps penetrated right through the three inches of wooden target and buried themselves in the sand. One 500-grain slug pierced three inches of target and buried itself in a supporting six-inch post, giving a total penetration of a measured 5.25 inches. The Service 405-grain bullet gave a penetration of just 1.12 inches, and the Martini-Henry 480-grain bullet, 2.50 inches.

This was at a surveyed distance of 2500 yards.
 
I like the 22" 1895SS and it's the only one I own. I wouldn't want a stubby 16" or 18" if it were free. The 1895CB only looks heavy, they balance beautifully and are not overly heavy.



The 1885 action can't handle 'lever-action' loads.....
Yes it can. From the Buffalo Bore site.

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