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The 45-70:A modern reloaders conundrum.
It exists because there’s simply nothing that compares, or can deliver what it does.
The 444 would have been such an excellent idea. Unfortunately, in an all too common stroke of unbridled genius, the designers threw it under the bus by hamstringing it with too slow a twist to be a versatile long range cartridge like the 45-70 and as a consequence it’s popularity is fizzling.
Not one to to be daunted by failure and completely willing to substitute one giant mistake for another, Marlin tried again with the 450 Marlin. Aha!!! The twist rate was correct! The case capacity was more balanced! It was a belted case!!!……..Oh yeah. About that belt: different than any other belt on the planet and different in a way that prevented people from simply reaming out the chamber so other common belted cases could be used instead of Marlins proprietary design. Gomer Pile on Valium couldn’t have done any worse.
Thus, the nearly century and a half old 45-70 holds its place in the lineup of cartridges as the only viable cartridge in it’s genre’ and capability level.
Certainly, my own experiance lends no other cartridge as a contestant. Shooting steel plates at 100 yards on my property shows the true power of this vintage cartridge in stark contrast to some other common hunting calibers. For instance, the 30-06, 270, 30-30, and 308 simply slap the plates and knock them hard till their backwards flight is arrested by the chains that restrict them, so they come bouncing and twitching back into place for another shot. On the other hand, a hit from the 1886 pushing a soft lead bullet at only 1200FPS trasfers so much energy into the plates that they wrap themselves around the vertical beam of the A frame that holds them like a runaway window blind till they use up their chains and come to a sudden stop pinned to the beam like a fly that was swatted with a hammer.

However, it is not without it’s problems. It has roughly 50% more case capacity than it can use if you wish to run it somewhere between the elephant loads commonly available on the shelf at Walmart (350 grain bullets cooking off at 2000FPS are common) and the original BP loads from the days of yor which spat the legendary 405grain bullet out at a blistering speed of 1200 FPS.

Between these two extremes lies the place many would feel comfortable setting up shop for mid range precision shots on paper and game. Unfortunately This is a sort of “no mans land” where finding decent accuracy is a very difficult thing to do without resorting to advanced or even “questionable” loading techniques. There simply is no plug and play option.
It is my hunch that the demise of SR4759 took with it the most viable and easily attained accuracy combination with this cartridge in the 1400-1600FPS range, which leaves me searching for a suitable propellant that may not exist.

I have designed a bullet for my rifle that seems to give me the balance I desire in a projectile. Unfortunately, without the right powder to drive it, it seems akin to putting the perfect tires on a car I wish I had an engine for.

The search continues, but I don’t fret too much about it. In my world where so many firearm problems are easily solved, I enjoy having one illusive white stag.

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