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The Misunderstood .450 Marlin

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Cosmoline, Jun 9, 2009.

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  1. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I've been researching and handloading the .450 Marlin for the past few months, and I've been amazed by the amount of disdain expressed for what really is a fantastic round. As usual I think marketing played a large role. The round is characterized as a .45-70 that comes at magnum levels from the factory. Why they would have chosen to sell it in this fashion when B-Bore, Garret and others have long been producing magnum level .45-70's is beyond me.

    In reality, the .450 Marlin has nothing to do with the .45-70. It's not in the .45-70 family and doesn't cross-chamber at all. It is in fact a commercial variation of the .458x2 American wildcat. This was a round made from a cut down .458 win mag for use as a magnum level brush buster. It has plenty of power and the belted design allowed it to be chambered in bolt actions and even Win 94 size leverguns. The only drawback of the .458x2 was that it would potentially chamber in some other belted magnums with much smaller bores, but this was easy to solve by a minor dimensional alteration.

    With all the emphasis the companies put on ultra-short magnums designed to squeeze a quarter inch off receiver length, you would think that a cartridge bringing enormous power to a very compact bolt action or levergun would be a major advantage, but it was never marketed that way. Winchester finally did put out a commercial version of the Big Bore in .450 Marlin, but only at the very end of the company's existence. Marlin, for its part, only chambered it in a full size 1895 frame levergun, giving the shooter no advantage over a .45-70. And to my knowledge no company has produced a .450 Marlin express bolt action other than an obscure offering from Steyr-Mannlicher.
     
  2. Hostile Amish

    Hostile Amish member

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    I've never even heard of the cartridge before.
     
  3. H2O MAN

    H2O MAN member

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  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Actually, it was, and it is currently. It's been kept a secret, though.

    http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/family.asp?webflag_=003B&catalog_=B

    The real problem is that Brownchester seems contractually obligated to use their guns to push the WSM and WSSM rounds from Olin, instead of just building guns that people want in chamberings that people want. The new 70 Featherweight is a perfect example. They can ditch the WSM chamberings for all I care. Make a .260 and a .338-06.

    Whenever there's a really nice gun on the clearance rack here for a really good price, it's in a WSM chambering. Like just about everyone else, I put it back on the rack. Clearly, Brownchester isn't responding to demand; they owe it to Olin to make those guns, whether or not they sell.

    The .450 Marlin is a casualty of that bassackwards "marketing", but you can indeed get it in the BLR lightweight, including takedowns. Same size as a .308.

    Browning should at least tell people about it.
     
  5. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    In my opinion the only purpose 450 marlin served was to simply show folks just how good 45-70 can be. Once that was accomplished there was no further need for this chambering.
     
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The big rim on the .45-70 makes it difficult to chamber in a bolt gun, and requires a large size tube and receiver for leverguns. I've got a 94 in .450 Marlin and it's considerably more packable than a 1895 or 86 Winchester.
     
  7. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Not as packable as a takedown BLR, also available in .450 per my post above.
     
  8. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    That is indeed interesting to have a smaller rifle like a 94 pack that kind of wallop - not too dissimilar though, to the LSI Puma 92 in .454 Casull. But with even more power - masochists unite and spread the gospel of the .450 Marlin! :)

    In that regard, I agree that it was misunderstood, at least by me. Thank you for the explanation.
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I didn't realize the BLR was being chambered in it. Those are great, though I would never characterize them as being as packable as a Win 94. Where this cartridge could really shine is in the underserved bolt action brush cartridge market. These are light weight bolt action rifles with express sights and barrels under 22". Ruger and Rem have come out with compact bolt guns along these lines in recent years. I can't think of any cartridge bigger than the .35 Whelen that fills this role, and that one is rarely seen in commercial chamberings. A .450 Marlin with spitzers or leverevolutions would really shine out of that package.
     
  10. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Not packable?

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Reid73

    Reid73 Member

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    Correct. According to Marlin's website, it's "a potent 45 caliber belted cartridge that is an upgrade on the classic 45/70 Government".

    A solution in search of a problem, if you ask me. Just like all the 'short magnums' (talk about an oxymoron!).
     
  12. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    The 450 Marlin, (introduced in 2000) which as already pointed out is really a legitimate version of the 458 x 2 inch American, is becoming fairly popular up here in Alaska. Both in the Marlin lever carbines and the Browning BLR. Although repeated firings in a lightweight version of the BLR are rather painful.

    The COL for lever guns runs around 2.52 or 2.53 inches COL. And you can push a 350 grain round nose to 2,200 fps if you work at it with H-322.

    What we are seeing more of up here is converting short action bolt rifles to this caliber. Mush as what was intended for the original 458x2.

    A prime candidate for conversion to 450 Marlin is the Ruger M77MKII Stainless factory chambered in 350 Rem Mag. It will allow loading to 2.800 COL. PLUS, the magazine and bolt are already set up for the right sized belted case. I have also seen a couple converted Remington 673s.

    The extended COL and the bolt action give you a little more room for working up loads.[
    /B]
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    It's apparently seven pounds which is pretty nice. I thought they were closer to eight or nine. I still find the BLR's lumpy and a little odd. But maybe that's just me.
     
  14. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    No, I find them lumpy and a little odd, too.:)

    But a 7 lb. takedown .450 Marlin would be just the right thing for some applications.

    The older ones were heavier; I think Browning went to an alloy receiver.
     
  15. natman

    natman Member

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    The round has been characterized as having the ballistics of a hotloaded 45-70, not literally being a hotloaded 45-70. Some of the boutique loaders have hotloaded 45-70s, but that is not the same as having factory SAAMI spec ammo. The 450 Marlin gives people who don't handload access to the level of performance enjoyed by 45-70 owners that do, without exposing the major ammunition companies to the liability of non-SAAMI ammunition.

    If you own a 45-70 and handload there's not much point to the 450 Marlin. If you don't handload, then it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
     
  16. bowmanr

    bowmanr Member

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    .450 Marlin definitely has the knockdown!

    Regardless of whether it's needed or not (as compared to the .45-70), one thing's for sure...it DEFINITELY has the KNOCKDOWN POWER!

    After just acquiring one, my uncle decided to try the .450 Marlin on a mulie just to see the result. The sound of the bullet striking the hide of the poor, poor animal standing at about 75 yards was like the hand of God in the form of a thunder clap as it quite literally picked the mule deer up in the air, spun it over, and dropped it to the earth about 10 feet behind where it had stood. It was, of course, quite dead upon arriving at the scene having punched a fist-sized hole out the exit wound. The most amazing thing was that somehow--it ought to go down in the books as the eighth wonder of the world--all (and I mean "ALL") of the entrails had been blown out the entry wound side about the size of a quarter! A little overkill?...perhaps, but it took that deer cleanly and humanely, and was a lot of fun to witness.

    Just thought I'd throw that out there for fun!
     
  17. woof

    woof Member

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    The .45-70 is enjoying a large upsurge of nostalgic popularity and any cartridge that is competition is going to be trashed by the .45-70 zealots. I don't own a .450 Marlin but if an 800lb grizzly was chasing me it would be a good one to have.
     
  18. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    But Cosmoline's whole point is that lawyers aren't the only reason for the .450 Marlin. He's right.

    That said, a .45-70 1895 GS would probably be my choice. Variety of loads is a big plus.
     
  19. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    Does the .450 Marlin offer huge gains in power and fps over a well loaded 45-70? I know that much of the factory ammo is downloaded so grand dad's trap door does not become a grenade. But is the 45-70 loaded up to spec that much weaker than the .450?
     
  20. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    It isn't weaker.

    However, Cosmoline's point was that you could put the .450 in a more compact, better-carrying gun than the .45-70.

    The fact the Marlin doesn't is one reason people don't see any good reason for the .450 Marlin -- and why I'd just get the .45-70 instead, in an 1895.

    Hence, the Browning above. It's smaller and lighter, available as a takedown, and comes in .450.

    Sure, it's ugly. But I think that most Browning products are ugly (and/or too heavy, bulky, etc.). So it's no worse in that area than a lot of their stuff.:)
     
  21. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks Armed Bear. After reading the thread two times I still managed to miss all that... I need another cup of coffee.
     
  22. natman

    natman Member

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    Which whole point would that be? I read something about "smaller, lighter rifles", but according to Cartridges of the World, both cartridges have identical 2.55" COL, so I don't see how that can happen.
     
  23. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    You could try reading his post, or even my #20. Then you'd know.:rolleyes:
     
  24. natman

    natman Member

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    Sorry, but I sincerely don't see the point.
     
  25. waterhouse

    waterhouse Member

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    I think the smaller, lighter rifles concept comes from making a bolt action .450 Marlin instead of something like the 1895G.
     
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