The .45/70… Why?

The .45/70 Springfield from Garrett Cartridges of Texas Sheriff Jim Wilson
The .45/70 is one of those cartridges that it is hard to explain why they are still around. Now, calm down! I didn’t say that I didn’t like the cartridge; I just said that it’s hard to explain its continued existence and popularity.

The .45/70 Springfield (also called .45/70 Government) was designed in 1873 by the Springfield Armory for use in the U.S. Military’s Springfield Model 1873 rifle and carbine. That’s the gun we call the Trapdoor Springfield. The original army load consisted of a 405 gr lead bullet over 70 grains of black powder, for about 1600fps. It’s what we fought the Indian Wars with and everything else until almost 1900 when the .30/40 Krag was adopted. Neat old guns and neat old history.

The amazing thing is that the .45/70 cartridge caught on and has maintained an impressive popularity as a sporting round. You still see guns chambered for the cartridge in the hunting fields from Texas to Alaska. In fact, just last summer, I watched my friend and colleague Richard Mann dispatch a pretty darned big African cape buffalo with a Marlin levergun that was so chambered.

Nowadays, you can get good, stout rifles chambered in .45/70, like the Marlin Guide Gun and the Ruger #1. You can also get factory-equivalent ammo that will do well for deer hunting, or you get some scalding-hot stuff the likes of which Richard Mann delivered to his cape buffalo. Most ammunition companies offer several loadings for the .45/70 cartridge.

As a friend of mine likes to say, age is only a number. Forget that the .45/70 was developed in 1873. Forget that it has a large-capacity case because it was designed for black powder. Forget that there are a number of modern cartridges that will outshoot it. The .45/70 is still around because it works, it’s powerful, it’s accurate, and folks have learned that they can depend in its performance.

Step aside, Energizer Bunny, the .45/70 is still going…

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105 Responses to The .45/70… Why?

    • leon says:

      I just got my 45-70 marlin guide gun, first round on the shooting range and I question myself why I did not buy one 30 years ago. Can’t wait for my hunt in May 2014, I think this rifle is going to work well on our African game. ( Bushvelt hunting).

  1. WGotz says:

    .45/70 is an awesome round… excellent knock down power. I have .303 Lee Enfield converted by Navy Arms to .45/70. I love it

  2. dick sutliff says:

    Buckey Winkley, who has guided in alaska for a generation, has used ’86 Winchesters in 45-70 for all his bear hunts. He showed me a double handfull of perfectly mushroomed 400 gr barnes bullets he has recovered from brown and grizzly bears wounded by clients which he then killed. This is a pretty good reason for the 45-70.

  3. Bill Byrd says:

    It’s a thumper! Love my Marlin.

  4. Ben Bryant says:

    IMO this round demonstrates that Weatherby velocities and recoil aren’t always necessary to effectively anchor big game. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the simplistic efficiency and effectiveness of rifles like the Ruger #1 and the 1895 Marlin Guide Gun chambered in 45-70. I’ll leave the multi round tricked out ARs to the younger crowd inspired by Call of Duty and their various video games.

  5. Mark says:

    I have an older Marlin 1895 45/70 with an older Burris fixed 4x compact scope on it. It shoots Winchester SuperX 300gr hollowpoints into clover leaf 3 shot groups at 100 yds. Whitetails drop and the surrounding meat isn’t badly bloodshot. And last but not least of anything I have to grab and hunt with I have not found anything better for hunting oak flats in the deep woods. A folding chair, binos, shooting stick, Marlin 45/70 is a great way to spend a fall day in the woods harvesting our red meat for the year.

  6. Bill Byrd says:

    Excellent round. Love it in my old Marlin.

  7. Dave Alderson says:

    I have hunted all my life. At 60, many rifles and calibers have come, and gone… But… The 45-70 my Dad passed down to me as a boy… Remains. I now have that old rifle on the mantle.. Having. Replaced it with a modern 1895 Marlin, and a Browning High wall B78. Long live… The 45-70…

  8. Micah Rogers says:

    Used this weapon multiple times. My dad had a trapdoor 1878 model that i got from him. I have a Marlin lever gun. Others had them when i was in South Africa and Swaziland with the church. Tremendous gun. Tremendous power. Back to a well placed shot, have not heard any animal ask what it was hit with, nor had to find the animal — even the mean cape buffalo took only a few steps of stumbling before dropping like a rock.

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