Quantcast

I find it interesting that the 45-70 was designed for infantry because it is such a large cartridge

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Kevinq6, Nov 13, 2020.

  1. Kevinq6

    Kevinq6 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2016
    Messages:
    123
    Location:
    Texas
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.45-70

    From the wikipedia article I can see it was used for infantry volleys out to 1000 yards and beyond, so I can see that the heavy 405 or 500 grain bullets would be lethal out to further ranges due to their size. However, for an antipersonnel gun it seems like the ammo would be pretty heavy and a bit overkill for use against humans. Why not have a smaller caliber and more ammo? Was the advantage of a longer-range volley worth the price of having fewer rounds?
     
  2. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    2,440
    Location:
    Loveland, Colorado
    Don't confuse it with modern cartridges, wars were fought much differently
    140 years ago.
     
    270OKIE, Big Halal, mgmorden and 10 others like this.
  3. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2018
    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
    I would say that way of thinking has been in continuous vogue for the military for decades which is why we sit with the .223/5.56 round as the standard now. I was never in the military, admire them greatly, but just thinking, why kill a soul if you can wound them enough to take them out of the fight for a good length of time. Especially nowadays in thus far asymmetrical warfare? In the late 1800s the military still used and developed tactics for massed troop confrontations, too bad (or good!) that the natives did not cooperate all the time.
     
    270OKIE likes this.
  4. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,892
    Location:
    Morgan County, Alabama
    Back then the only real way to make a cartridge more powerful was to make it bigger. But it also had to be effective. I don't believe the military ever had a philosophy saying it was better to wound than kill because it used up enemy resources, but such an idea certainly would never have been entertained then.

    A great deal of warfare also involved horses, or ponies when fighting against Indians, and it was almost as useful to kill a cavalryman's horse, and a powerful round was even more necessary for the large animal. In the Civil War George Armstrong Custer had eleven horses shot out from under him from Confederate gunfire. During the Plains Indian Wars he managed to shoot his own horse out from under him once.

    The .45-70 was a powerful long range killer when it was developed in 1873. It out ranged the rounds most leveraction rifles used for some time, until Marlin and Winchester managed to develop repeaters that could handle the longer more powerful rounds like the .45-70.
     
  5. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    11,640
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    It was a step down from the .58 caliber Model 1861 Rifle it replaced.
     
    270OKIE, Big Halal, d2wing and 14 others like this.
  6. AlexanderA
    • Contributing Member

    AlexanderA Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    7,493
    Location:
    Virginia
    Exactly. It would be a mistake to say that the .45-70 cartridge was adopted because it was large. There's been a constant progression to smaller and smaller. Starting with the .75 caliber Brown Bess, we went to .69, then to .58, then to .50, then .45, then .30, then .223. The .45-70 was somewhere in the middle of this progression.
     
    270OKIE, Big Halal, Dunross and 9 others like this.
  7. BreechFace

    BreechFace Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2020
    Messages:
    872
    Metallurgy advances afforded the ability to chase higher pressures.

    As was said by @Tommygunn ”the only real way to make a cartridge more powerful was to make it bigger.”
     
    270OKIE, Kevinq6, DoubleMag and 2 others like this.
  8. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2019
    Messages:
    2,288
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    1) it was from the dawn of the cartridge era and reflected the designs of the contemporary leading military powers of the day, where cartridges were in the 11mm - 12mm range, similar bullet weights, and delivered similar velocities.

    2) As noted above, it was down from the 58 cal Minie ball and muzzle loaders that had dominated the recent unpleasantness and the 50-70 cartridge that had proceeded the 45-70.

    3) Military strategy at the time, just after head to head engagements by massed infantry for years of the Civil War was focused on stand-off capability. There was no serious foreign threat to the U.S. in the 1870s, nor was colonial adventure yet an inkling. The.military strategy post Civil War was The achievement of manifest destiny. The enemy under study were the Plains Indians, and experience to date had taught the lesson that volley fire at distance was a winning strategy. Right up until Little Big Horn. The case has been made that part of the thinking in the 45-70 was for buffalo eradication to deny resources to the Plains Indians. While that was a military strategy, I find no evidence at all that it was a consideration in developing the cartridge.
     
    270OKIE, mljdeckard, Kevinq6 and 3 others like this.
  9. whughett

    whughett Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Messages:
    3,692
    Location:
    Rhode Island/Florida
    Side note:
    That very reason led San Colt to develop his second revolver, today know as the 1847 Walker. A Texas ranger needed a repeating arm against the Mexican mounted Dragoon’s armed with lances. The 36 caliber Paterson wasn’t enough to stop a horse. Sam Colt developed a 44 caliber with cylinder chambers big enough to hold sufficient powder to stop a horse.
     
  10. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,888
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Black powder.
     
    tbob38 and Alaskan Ironworker like this.
  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    14,173
    Location:
    Georgia
    The 45-70 replaced a 58 caliber rifle. It was a huge step down in size and power, the original poodle shooter. The truth is that it was not all that successful, nor popular. One of it's 1st uses was with Custer at Little Big Horn. Neither the cartridge nor rifle faired well in battle. Many of the rifles found after the battle were hopelessly jammed and unfunctional.

    I guess you could call the 45-70 a failed experiment. The Army wanted a breech loader and the technology just wasn't quite ready for modern cartridges just yet. It wasn't in service very long being replaced by the 30-40 Kraig in the early 1890's. In Europe the 6.5X55 and 7X57 were developed at about the same time and 30-06 wasn't far behind.

    In it's day it wasn't well thought of as a hunting round either. Hunters found it inadequate for game bigger than deer. Power wise original black powder loads are comparable to 45 caliber muzzle loader rounds which are still not legal for game bigger than deer in most places. 45-70 was never popular as a buffalo hunting round. Partly because it proved to be inadequate, but mostly because most of the buffalo were dead before 45-70 was introduced in 1873. They passed laws banning buffalo hunting in 1874 to preserve the handful left.

    By the 1890's 45-70 was all but dead and it remained dormant and all but unused until 1972 when Marlin reintroduced their 1895. With modern loads that can be safely fired in modern lever action rifles the power level does make it adequate for most any game you'd hunt with a 30-06 class cartridge.
     
    d2wing, Kevinq6 and ThomasT like this.
  12. DoubleMag

    DoubleMag Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,134
    The venerable 45-70 will penetrate several feet of wet newspaper at the original (OP) posted distances. And surprise surprise, EVERYTHING the opposition has is, a TARGET. Horses, soldiers, Indians etc. Buffalo, neighbors cat :what: (ooops! LoL)

    And people shot with these portable howitzers sometimes STILL lived. WOW! !

    I never thought of the mil logic at that time (which continues to today), the downsizing of caliber due to modernization of powders, bullet designs etc. Just imagine the designers saying something to the effect, ''This 45-70 cartridge will allow the infantryman to carry more ammunition.'' Probably a whopping 30 cartridges hehe

    Thanks! ! !
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  13. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2017
    Messages:
    776
    Wasn't there something in there about Marlin introducing the 444 Marlin cartridge to be a modern replacement of the 45-70?
     
  14. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    12,176
    .50 caliber. The .58 was a muzzle loader.

    It was widely used and very effective. Most European military rifle cartridges of the era were similar.

    Had to do with the case material used early on.

    I wouldn't.

    Thwy already had one. The 1873 Springfield, with its new cartridge, was a marked improvement.

    Krag. That was enabled by the development of smokeless powder in France.

    That's ridiculous. The Winchester 1886 in .45-70 was an extremely good hunting rifle.

    Manu of the professionals preferred longer range rifles, such as the .50-110.

    As were most black powder rifle rounds.











    .
     
  15. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    3,373
    Location:
    virginia
    Uuuuuhhh... No.
    The 58 Springfields, Enfields Colt (Contract Models), et al... were rifles.
    That said, we're over-thinking this.

    The above-mentioned rifled muskets shot a .577 caliber/500gr Minnie over a service load of 60gr of BP ignited by a separately-loaded musket cap..
    The newer/improved 45-70 increased the charge to ~70gr, introduced a more ballistically-efficient 45 cal/500gr projectile, in a fully self-contained/does-it-all cartridge.

    Made of soft lead, it did (still does) everything better -- lethally, logistically and at longer ranges -- than the mid-century rifled muskets -- much as we might like to nostalgically worship them.

    It killed man & beast superbly -- still does.
    The Trap-Door, however, was a miserable failure in combat conditions.

    ...and high-weight/low-velocity/BP-powered cartridges went the way of the dodo bird w/ the 7mm Spanish Mauser inside of 20 years
     
  16. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2018
    Messages:
    1,220
    Location:
    People's Republic of California, Central Valley
    There is a very long development cycle for firearm ammunition, running from the earliest hand cannons up to the present day. The 45-70 was a fairly typical cartidge during this point in the cycle, for reasons others have already explained.

    What might be more helpful to consider is what came immediately after this era, and a painless introduction can be found in the two videos below about the Swiss 1889 Schmidt-Rubin rifle and the French 1886 Lebel rifle. Swiss Colonel Eduard Alexander Rubin is considered the father of the small bore (6.5-8mm) FMJ rifle bullet; his work began back in the brief era of the compressed black powder cartridge, and was heavily borrowed for the first smokeless powder service cartridge, the French 8x50mmR Lebel.



     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  17. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    12,176
    Yes. Muzzleloading rifles.
     
    270OKIE, Coyote3855 and DocRock like this.
  18. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    The small arms development period from 1860 to 1900 is unmatched in rate of innovation. Something providing over 20 years of service in that timeframe was excellent.

    The general path of large bore muzzleloader (~.58) to large bore cartridge (.58 rimfire, .577 Snyder, .50-70) to medium bore cartridge (.577/.440 MH, .45-70, 11mm Mauser, 11mm Gras) to small bore smokeless (8mm Lebel, 8mm Mauser, .303, .30-40, 7.62 Nagant) was repeated around the world. A few countries even adopted an "optimized" black powder cartridge, such 9.5mm Turkish, but such rounds were short-lived with the small bores coming on line.

    The .45-70 was a good service cartridge, and Trapdoor fully effective. Don't think that we were the only county to struggle with how to make economic service ammo- the Brits had just as much or more issues with their "coiled brass" MH cases as we did with the copper Trapdoor cases.
     
  19. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,892
    Location:
    Morgan County, Alabama
    The problem with the cartridge at the Little Bighorn was not the round, per se, it was the cases used in the cheap ammo the govt. contracted for. They were made of copper, not brass. Copper doesn't behave the same way in a gun and tends to remain expanded upon powder ignition. Combine with BP and a dirty breech = jammed carbines aplenty.

    When made of brass and loaded properly with good firearm hygiene, it's a fine round.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  20. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2005
    Messages:
    2,948
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    You also had the problem of extreme Army stinginess with ammo consumption for training in the early to mid-1870's. Many troopers had little knowledge of how their weapon would behave in a fight, and the skills necessary to keep it functioning.

    An increased small arms training regimen was one of the key fallouts from the Battle of Little Bighorn.
     
    270OKIE and entropy like this.
  21. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    11,640
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    The main problem at the Little Big Horn was Custer's ego.

    As Kleanbore mentions, yes, the .45-70 replaced the .50-70 as the service cartridge. Which replaced the .58 M1861 Rifle. Which replaced the .54 and .58 M1841 Rifles, and the .52 M1819 Hall rifle, .52 M1833 Musket, .69 M1834 Dragoon Musket, and M1843 Hall-North carbine. Which replaced the M1817 and M1814 common rifles, which replaced the M1803 Harper's Ferry .54 Rifle, the first indigenous standard US military long arm, and a rifle to boot. . Which replaced the various .69 and .75 flintlock smoothbore muskets left over from the Revolutionary War, Mostly Charleville Muskets and various iterations of the Brown Bess.
     
    270OKIE, murf and DocRock like this.
  22. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Messages:
    3,373
    Location:
    virginia
    Decent components in a modern firearm... the near 150-year old 45-70 as a cartridge remains one of the best heavy Do-All's in anyone's closet.

    22LR
    243Win
    30-06Gov't
    45-70Gov't

    You can have more... but you don't need it.
     
  23. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    16,394
    I am not saying it isn’t but if it is a failure, it’s the most successful failure I have ever seen, to still have rifles and pistols being chambered for it 147 years after introduction.

    I could list pages of other technological failures that have taken place since then, many of them something that most people have never even heard of, much less buy a new one today.
     
  24. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2010
    Messages:
    789
    Location:
    Arizona
    It was the original American poodle shooter.

    Take a gander at the 577 snider, 450-577 Martini-Henry, 50-70, 58 rimfire, 11mm-Gras/Mauser/Berdan/Egyptian/Spanish, & the 10.something Swiss and Italian.
    They're all quite chunky cartridges. And not as efficient as ours.

    If you want power with blackpowder you have 2 (3 really) options.
    1: More powder
    2: Bigger bullet
    3: Compress the bejeezus outta it. (Only really popular just before smokeless)

    We went from a 58 to the 50-70 to the 45-70 as it was more efficient. As a frontier army this is important. Its all gotta be packed in.

    We tested the 45-70 at sandy hook out to near enough 2 miles and got hits. The 577-450 we tested couldn't reach nor connect.
     
    Kevinq6, ThomasT and DocRock like this.
  25. Septicdeath

    Septicdeath Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2020
    Messages:
    316
    I love mine it's great. So much fun to shoot!!! My son and I Shot coffee cans at 200 yard last week. Only one miss out of 40 rounds.
    Yup the cartridge is big ass. 20200902_185859.jpg 20201029_174351.jpg
     
    DoubleMag, Kevinq6 and ThomasT like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice