45-70 vs 300 WSM

I'm debating the purchase of one more firearm before I'm done. I do have a 30-06, but I'd like something with a little more knock down power for the day I'm invited to go elk hunting or big game hunting.

I'm intrigued with the 45-70, but also like what I've read regarding the 300 magnums. I'd be curious to hear your opinions between the two. I guess the trajectory of a 45-70 is more like a high arcing trajectory vs the flatter shooting 300 magnums.

Which do you like? Which do you prefer?

2 very different rounds.

45-70 is an old thumper with a lot of energy, but an effective range within 200 yards.

300WSM or 300WM are flat shooting modern rounds with effective range of at least double the 45-70

If you do not have a big bore in your cache, then go get a Marlin lever in a 45-70 and you will have a great combo.

If you need to reach out for mulies or elk, then the long range 300's is what you need.

Good info, 89. From what I've read, you can reach out 1000 yards on a 45-70 as well, but you have to know trajectories, etc.

a little more knock down power for the day I'm invited to go elk hunting or big game hunting.

I like my .338 WM...very much...

300 WSM - 180 GR. SFT SCIR Hodgdon H4831 .308" 2.860" 65.5 2775 52,000 PSI 70.0C 2929 64,000 PSI
30/06 - 180 GR. SIE SPBT Hodgdon H4831 .308" 3.300" 54.0 2447 34,700 CUP 60.0C 2710 44,300 CUP

Unless you're just wanting a new rifle, which I definitely don't have a problem with that, your 30/06 will do for elk. I posted 2 similar loading charts above for 3006 and 300 WSM form Hodgdon's website to show you the difference. Personally, I would take either of the 2 over the 45/70 strictly because of ballistics and the possibility of a long shot.

bypass the 45-70, go with the .450. Its a basically a belted 45-70 cartrige. ok, maybe I'm a little biased b/c this is what I have. Does a number on hogs.
Your '06 will kill any elk you can hit at any reasonable range. Get the 45-70, you will love it.

DONT scope it. Put a rear peep sight on it, Lyman for me but there are others, and enjoy. Avoid the Guide Gun Marlins. The short barrels are fine, but the porting is a nuisance for noise and flash in low light.

My 1895SS was the first rifle I bought out of college (BEFORE they where cool!) and its still one of my favorites. It will be my lion gun when the time comes.

PP '89
(BEFORE they where cool!)

Here's your blue star.
Alright, guys, I'm just looking to get a new gun. If not the Marlin guide guns, which do you recommend Puryear Playboy?

You have gotten some good info from 89. Any of the 300 mags should be plenty for elk. A .338WM or a .340 Weatherby as suggested by glm are also a good round for most any large North American game.

The 45-70 reminds me of a larger cousin to the 30-30. It is a big, fat, slow (kinda like me)slug with a great deal of knockdown power but a very limited range. The ballistics on it at a 1000 yards do not exist as far as I know. My brother has one and I have shot it many times. Kicks like a mule but will knock down a 4" diameter tree. Makes a great pig gun. Also great on buffalo. I think that most people use them for a backup gun when hunting bears with a bow. They are supposed to knock down a bear with one shot.

[This message has been edited by ghollow (edited 4/14/2009 3:04p).]
The Hornady flex tip rounds make a good short range 45-70 to 200 yards for anything in N America.

Get the Marlin, just not the guide gun version (those are short brl levers), but rather get the 20-24" brl Marlin levers as the 30-06 will work fine on Elk.

And, someone else here was right - DONT scope the Marlin...Gotta stay oldschool peep/open sight
What the effective range of the .45-70 is depends significantly on what type of platform you chose for it.

If you go with the 1895 (great gun - I have one) in that caliber, your range is going to be fairly limited. The guide gun shortens that up somewhat as well. However, if you are listening to everybody and not electing to scope it (I agree - still have the factory open sights on mine), then the round more than likely still has more range than your eyesight does.

If you go with a Sharps variant, with the longer barrel (on my wish list), then your range is extended by leaps and bounds. The Sharps in that caliber used to win the 1000 yard shoots back in the day with a pretty high degree of regularity, and there are many recorded cases of buffalo getting taken at 600+ yards with a Sharps.

Like anything else, you need to spend some time learning the round. Once you get your ballistics down, you can have a lot of fun with lobbing artillery in, which is basically what you are doing with any rifle at long range - but moreso with the .45-70.

I'll be hunting elk later this year and will be taking the .30-06 and I guarantee you that I won't be worrying about whether or not the round has enough power.

If you are just looking to add to your arsenal, then go with something other than a .30 caliber - the '06 you have will do just about everything that a .300 magnum chambering will do. Get something a little different so you aren't kicking yourself later for having basically two of the same rifle.
I would prefer a Gold star, thanks.

Get a new Marlin 1895, or the older 1895SS. No difference between the two. The SS can be had used online for less than the new 1895.

Great gun. Lyman makes a peep sight that will fit into holes already tapped into the side of the receiver by Marlin. (When you get the sight, throw away the disk and just use the threaded hole as the rear appearture, its much faster, better in low light, and just as accurate. You will see when you get one...)

45-70's just fun to hunt with, you will be very happy with yourself.
My two favorite short range pig getters (and my son's donated pacifier). AK-104 and 1895SS.

Yes my tastes do wonder around a bit...

http://www.remington.com/products/ammunition/ballistics/comparative_ballistics_results.aspx?data=R4570G*RS300WA hth

[This message has been edited by birddogman (edited 4/14/2009 5:00p).]
That 405 would be great for shooting something on the back side of a mesa..
schmel, I can't see anyone using the .45-70 for ranges that far. You know what kind of bullet drop you're getting at 500 yards, much less 600 or 1000? That one link above has it dropping 300 inches at 500 yards! At that trajectory it would be coming almost straight down. Not to mention the fact that the amount of energy it has that far out would not do jack to American Buffalo.
Remington Shoot has the 45-70 with a 405 grain soft point sighted at 200 yards dropping 1561 inches at 1000 yards. Yikes.

edit:correcting drop

[This message has been edited by mwlkr (edited 4/14/2009 5:46p).]
schmel, I can't see anyone using the .45-70 for ranges that far. You know what kind of bullet drop you're getting at 500 yards, much less 600 or 1000? That one link above has it dropping 300 inches at 500 yards! At that trajectory it would be coming almost straight down. Not to mention the fact that the amount of energy it has that far out would not do jack to American Buffalo.

In 1873 the Army adopted the .45-70 as it's standard rifle cartridge. Sharps was the main supplier, especially for the cavalry soldiers.

About this time, Creedmore 1000 yard shooting competitions were extremely popular and Sharps Rifles made many variants of target rifles specifically for this competition. Most were in the .45-70 chambering, because that was military standard. They also made custom cartridges such as the .45-90, .45-100, .45-110, .45-120, .50-90 and .50-120 as well. In their heyday, Sharps was probably the highest quality and highest accuracy rifle you could get.

Most buffalo shots were made in the 200 - 400 yard range, if I'm remembering some obscure reading correctly. Not a short distance, and not nececarrily a long distance either. But there were recorded cases of extremely long kill shots as well, much like there are today. In fact, I read about a shot in an indian war of about 1 mile that hit it's target - didn't kill the indian, but it still had enough punch at that range to knock him off his horse and make the rest of the war party think twice about continuing their attack (I believe this was during the Adobe Walls raid on the Canadian River in north Texas, actually). It was not common place by any stretch, but it seems to me that you are shortchanging the capability of the cartridge by stating that it's a 200 yard or under round, when it is not.

I also likened shooting something along the lines of a .45-70 to lobbing artillery in - you are using high angle trajectories to get the projectile that far, but the mass of the round is what makes it deadly.

Remember, 405 grains (standard projectile weight of the time period) has a lot of mass. It doesn't have to have blazing speed to do some pretty good damage.

Is it something that I'm recommending to take to a 1000 yard shoot? Not even close, but it has far more capability than 200 yards, given the right platform.

I wouldn't shoot my 1895 past about 200, and I'd probably be lucky to hit something at that distance. Mostly because the recoil is brutal, and that would be a hell of a good shot with open sights. But a Creedmore rifle with a 34" barrel and a telescopic or vernier sight is far more than capable of putting accurate rounds considerably further downrange, which goes back to my mentioning what type of platform you are choosing.
I can see where you are going with not using the disk, but as a former 3-position shooter, I can tell you that that smaller apeture is much more accurate. However, for hunting, it does diminish shooting time in the morning and evening.
Just another option for sights on a levergun, though PP's suggestion is a good one. XS Ghost rings are very nice, that's what I have on my lever gun and prefer them to the standard irons.
Back when I guided, I typically carried a borrowed .45-70 (for the cliche, the Guide Gun). Typically if I felt the need to shoot, I simply wanted to knock something down, and it did a great job of that.

Got to shoot on the silhouette range at the Whittington Center few times. One of the guys that was the most consistent at hitting at all ranges was shooting a Sharps 45-70 with a tang mounted aperture sight.

Fun round.
Not to argue, but I would choose the 45-70 over the 450, mainly due to ammo availability. Plus, if you reload, you can load up rounds with less recoil than a 223 or you can load up rounds that will bust up your shoulder.

The 450 has a lot more recoil for what additional velocity you get, which is not much, especially if you decide to buy a Ruger Tropical. Rounds is this will teach you how to flinch.

45-70 is a classic round and will be around a lot longer than any of us. I don't think the same can be said for the 450.

But, back to the question, if it's elk hunting, you would be best to go with one of the 300 magnums, and better yet, I would opt for the 338 Win mag.
Go purchase one box of 45-70 ammo. After that expensive experience, you will really like the .300 WMag line.

That is why reloading is best with most calibers.

I can reload my 45-70's for 20cents/round, using cast bullets. That's only $4/box of 20 compared to $35-$50. Only shooting 100 rounds, I saved enough to pay for the dies, powder, primers and reloading equipment.

With commercial jacketed, I can reload for $10/box of 20. Still a big savings.

The 300's are not cheap anymore and some, especially the WSM's will cost you more than the 45-70's.
To me buying a 300 Mag when you have a 30-06 is like purchasing a firebird when you own a camaro. Very lttle difference in practical killing ability. There is a reason the 338 Win Mag is the most popular medium bore caliber: high sectional denisty and ballistic coefficent, and great for any game in North America at any range.
Lots to think about. I have a 10 gun case, but right now I have 11 guns in it (4 handguns on the shelf). I have room for one more gun. That's it. I likely will not buy another gun after this because I won't be willing to go and buy another case; hence, I have to make this one count.

I like the idea of a big bore rifle. I like the idea of a 45-70, but I don't want to be impetuous. Leaning towards the 45-70, but the 338 Win Mag sounds intriguing. Hmmm.

handloading get the 45-70. man that thing makes big holes. buying 338 winmag.
Thanks, guys, for the help. I am the proud new owner of the Marlin 1895 Cowboy.

Congrats! They are fun to shoot and have a helluva wallop
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do my Marlin 45-70. Everyone should own at least one shoulder cannon.
Looking at Chuck Hawks recoil guide, it shows that a 45-70's recoil is really not that different than a 30-06 (give or take 4 lbs or so).

Is it really that bad?

Honestly, it's not much different than any other high power rifle. This one just launches a slightly larger round than most. You plant the butt firmly against your shoulder, show the thing a bit of respect and you're good to go.
The recoil is not much worse than your 30-06. The slug will knock a 250+ lbs pig off his feet. It leaves a nice, big hole also. We have never had a pig go more than 20 or 30 yards after being hit with a 45-70.
Looking at Chuck Hawks recoil guide, it shows that a 45-70's recoil is really not that different than a 30-06 (give or take 4 lbs or so).

Is it really that bad?


With factory ammo, it's not all that bad. Slightly more thump than an '06, probably pretty comparable to the .300 Win Mag.

I have the 1895 (not the cowboy) with the shorter mag tube and round barrel - no recoil pad. A 350 grain JHP moving at a muzzle velocity of slightly over 2000fps out of this gun will cause you to flinch after the 3rd or 4th round in a quick string of shots.

One of my best friends brought his .300 Win Mag to the range the same day I brought the 1895 out. Neither of us had ever shot the other caliber before, and both agreed that the .45-70 was significantly worse than the .300. But again, I'm talking some fairly hot loads, which factory loads are not.

One of the reasons the .45-70 went through a lull in popularity for about 60 years is because ammo manufacturers didn't load anything significantly hot. While the round still had a lot of punch, it was never loaded with something truly impressive until recently. It gave the round a bad reputation for many years that turned out to be unwarranted, but is also the reason you have things like a .444 Marlin, .450, etc. - they were trying to compensate for the percieved lack of power in the traditional .45-70, when all that really needed to be done was better loading recipies.

And at 100 yards, a 350 grain JHP will just about cut a 4x4 in half. Pretty impressive.
Page 1 of 2