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45-70 loading advice

JayJay Senior MemberPosts: 3,809 Senior Member
Several of you already added thoughts on Zee's thread. But so as not to mess up his thread, I'll ask my questions here.

I allowed myself to slip and ordered the Lyman/Pedersoli Sharps rifle in 45-70. It's been on the grail gun list for me for a long time and that one just looks really nice for the cost. Hopefully it meets expectations.

I don't load that cartridge, but I guess I will now...  I'm in the process of shopping for dies and will pick up some brass while I'm at it.  I also have a buddy who has some brass he said he'll give me, if he can find it.  So, I'll need to pick up some bullets...

Having never loaded 45-70 before, much less for a Sharps style rifle, any thoughts on bullets and powders to get me started would be appreciated. I probably won't be hunting with this gun in the near future, but would like to take it on an elk hunt in the next couple of years.  So the intended purpose right now will just be plinking, coming up with loads and getting to know the gun and eventually start lobbing lead at steel a pretty good ways out there. If a coyote happens to get in it's way while it's making noise, it'll become a target of opportunity.

When loading lead, are gas checks preferred for this application?  Will a lead base bullet cause any leading issues when pushed to a decent speed to get it down range? For plinking bullets, I'm thinking up to 405 grains with Trail Boss. Berry's offers a 350 grain plated bullet I'm considering trying as an inexpensive Trail Boss load for target shooting. And maybe a decent round nose bullet launched at a reasonable speed for lobbing lead at targets beyond 600 yards?  I plan to reload using modern smokeless powders and don't intend to load BP loads right now. Off the top of my head, I know I have plenty of H4895 and probably have some IMR3031 and a few others I can't recall. I have a decent bit of Trail Boss, but will probably need to pick up some more. 

Thanks in advance.
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Replies

  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    Very cool!
    No experience here. I'll be reading and watching. Good luck!
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,548 Senior Member
    I use Starline Brass in mine. 
    I prefer Gas Checks with hard cast. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Big Al1Big Al1 Senior Member Posts: 7,762 Senior Member
    If you plan on shooting over about 1600 FPS than hard cast and/or gas checks are in order. My go to load that shoots well in three different rifles is the 405 cast and 40.5 grains of 3031. This is equal to the original BP performance and gets about 1350 FPS. Never had a leading problem at those speeds, and shoot holes touching groups at 50 yards with an 1884 trap door rifle and carbine, and a #1 rolling block. It's a little stout in the carbine so I came up with a load of 16 grains of TB and a 300 grain cast, more pleasant on the shoulder, accurate and about 1600 FPS. The 1884's have the Buffington rear sights so 200 yards is about my limit, old eyes!! ACME bullets has a nice selection of cast bullets, including some powder coated. https://acmebullet.com/
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,763 Senior Member
    Strange as it mat seem...Varget works great under a 405 grain RNFP
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,875 Senior Member
    My only loading for that round is for my 14" Contender with jacketed bullets, so I can't help much, sorry
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 1,426 Senior Member
    edited May 26 #7
    Going to watch for future ideas.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,010 Senior Member
    Jayhawker said:
    Strange as it mat seem...Varget works great under a 405 grain RNFP
     Varget is what I use in my hunting loads with a Hornady 350GR SP.  Don’t remember the recipe right now

    For the fun time loads, I use the Gallant powder coat lead 405 Grain over a 14 Gr (I think) load of Trailboss.  I have rang steel at 300 yards with that load.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Thanks guys.  Just the kind of info I was looking for to get me started.  Having not loaded it before and looking at all the different bullets out there, kinda hard to find a starting point.  Ya'll are narrowing some things down for me.  Starting to throw some things in my Midway cart so I can get some stuff on the way on payday.  

    I don't have Varget right now.  I can try to pick some up if I can find it around here.  For everything I load, if Varget is an option, usually H4895 is as well.  I have an 8 lb container plus a few 1 lb containers of that.  But it doesn't seem to be very optimal for 45-70.  Just looking at load data, it looks like IMR3031 gets a bit better velocity with 350-400 grain bullets.  Trail Boss will definitely be used for plinking rounds.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,825 Senior Member
    I load 45-70 for 3 different platforms at 3 different performance levels. My H&R Buffalo Classic pretty much lives on the 405gr over 13 gr of trailboss. At the range my dad belonged to there was a steel buffalo at 600 yards and it was not difficult to hit once dialed in.
    My marlin Cowboy model loves the 350gr Hornady jacketed soft point pushed by IMR 3031.
    My browning B78 goes from mild to wild with 300 to 500gr bullets but it's favorite are the original Barnes X 300gr pushed pretty hard but I don't recall the load off hand.
    My Sharps is a model 1875 and is actually a 40-65 Winchester but I only load black powder in it.
  • N454casullN454casull Member Posts: 537 Senior Member
    I will have to look up specifics but a medium heavy cast bullet over Trail Boss is amazingly fun to shoot out of a Marlin Guide Gun. 

    Over the years I have fallen in love with Trail Boss. Easy to load and easy to shoot. 
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,548 Senior Member
    I think I use H4895 or H4198. I’ll have to look. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,548 Senior Member
    H4198

    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 1,426 Senior Member
    edited May 26 #14
    Zee, how does that load group at 100 yards?  In my .458x1.8 pushing the Hornady 300 (even the Speer 300 does the same) I would get 50 yard groups slightly bigger than what yours is, but at 100 yards it would be at least a 6" group.  I was starting out at 2200 FPS.  I have yet to find a load that will not fall apart at 100 yards with a 300gr bullet.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 23,548 Senior Member
    Haven’t tried. 
    Killed a doe at 85y with it, though. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    I went ahead and put in an order for the dies and shellhoder (RCBS), brass (Starline) and a box of 250 Berry's 350 grain plated bullets to start with. Figure those will be ok for plinking. We'll see. I'll order some more bullets on payday. I'm kinda liking those Acme 405 grain powdercoated bullets.. I also have a crapton of water jugs at home right now..  B)
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 1,426 Senior Member
    I have used a good number of these in my .458s.

    https://missouribullet.com/details.php?prodId=205&category=20&secondary=36

    Bit of a delay in shipping right now though.  Normally I have my orders within a week.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Those look pretty good. And a bit better price. 👍
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,152 Senior Member
    edited May 27 #19
    "How do I load for a .45-70?"  Boy does THAT open up a Folger's sized can of worms!  :D

    You do not NEED a gas check for any of the velocities you're likely to get out of a Sharps, HOWEVER, if you are not far down the rabbit hole of casting your own, manipulating alloy hardness, and getting deep into the weeds with finding exact barrel dimensions with pin gauges and swaging chamber slugs, and then sizing bullets for best fit, a gas-checked bullet is the K.I.S.S. path to good accuracy without all that jazz.

    There are a buttload of bullets for a buttload of purposes.  I would unhesitatingly recommend the RCBS 405 grain flat nose GC bullet as your first lead option.  It shoots well in every .45-70 with a bore diameter that fits that my Old Man has tried it in (some of the oldies need a custom oversize mold).  It's popular enough that you can find commercial outlets that will cast them for you.  In a modern barrel, I'd say start by requesting them sized at .459" and start playing.

    It's worth remembering that the 405 grain was originally the bullet for the reduced 50 or 55 grain charge that they used for the carbine Springfield.  The 500 grain Government bullet for the full size Trapdoor is never a bad choice.  For a pure target bullet, I'd start at the 535 grain Postell - the game there being that you poot it out subsonic so that you avoid all the potential problems of it going subsonic mid-flight.  Kinda like a match .22LR. . .a. . .REALLY. . .BIG. . .match. . .22LR. . .

    4895 - you've probably already got it, and can load about anything with it.
    4198 - kind of a perennial fav for the round.
    5744 - a good powder for filling big spaces.  Been a favorite of ours for lead velocities in ordinarily jacketed, smokeless rounds.
    SR-4759 - according to Lyman, the potentially most accurate propellant for the 500 grain #457125 mold - - probably close enough to the GI bullet as to make little difference.
    Varget - lotta broad spectrum load data in the Lyman manual, and a good chance you already have it.

    Lighter than 405 grains?  Jacketed?  BLASPHEMY!!   :p

    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • 10canyon5310canyon53 Member Posts: 2,071 Senior Member
    Jay said:
     I also have a crapton of water jugs at home right now..  B)
    You better cull that herd before you have overgrazing issues.  I am willing to bet you will get DRN performance out of your .45-70 against water jugs.  When I shoot them with a .30-06 they fly a few feet, but that is just the last gasp of the nervous system.  Kinda like when you cut the head off a chicken.  I have never had a water jug run after being shot.  ;)

  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Casting my own is not in the plans right now.  That's a rabbit hole I can't go down right now..  Appreciate the time taken to provide input.  Very helpful.  All the info I'm getting will help in the long run, keeping me from wasting a bunch of money on junk just to narrow it down to what ya'll are saying already.

    I've been saving water jugs to do some penetration testing with the 450 Bushmaster.  Now, I have this gun to play with as well.  Between the 2 rounds, I'm pretty sure quite a few water jugs will be killed with every pull of the trigger.  So they won't last long.. At last count, I have 20 jugs right now.  I'm sure the native vegetation will enjoy the water...
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,875 Senior Member
    With those huge, slow moving lead bullets, 20 jugs won't last but a few shots. 
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,763 Senior Member
    Stackem up lengthwise and see if you can make a skillet shot on those jugs...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • 10canyon5310canyon53 Member Posts: 2,071 Senior Member
    Oh, my mistake, I thought you had a "crapton" of them.  Only 20?  I seem to accumulate that many in a week.  :D
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
     :D  I thought I had more than that until I got home and counted.. I'll have more by the time the gun and loading supplies get here and I get it ready to take out..  I drink a gallon of milk every 4 days or so myself.  Plus using gallons of store bought water for my coffee.  Well water junks up the coffee maker too much.
  • 10canyon5310canyon53 Member Posts: 2,071 Senior Member
    In my family we have been known to go through over a gallon of milk a day.....
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    I'd have a hard time drinking a gallon a day by myself..  :D Kid is grown and out on his own and there's not a woman out there crazy enough to live with me.. 
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,152 Senior Member
    Jay said:
    I've been saving water jugs to do some penetration testing with the 450 Bushmaster.  Now, I have this gun to play with as well. 
    Save yourself the effort unless you're playing with something intended to expand.  I've gotten nine jugs out of a 230 grain LFN at pokey GI hardball speeds and, IIRC, seven out of the even pokier 265 grain.455 Webley MKII loading.  It's WAY more fun to blow them up one at a time.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    I do want to check expansion on the 450 bushmaster. I was kinda curious how many jugs I can get through with the 45-70, knowing it would take out a bunch of them.  We'll see.  I do intend to set individual water jugs out at increasing distances and lob lead at them... Get to know the tang sight a little and water some plants at the same time..
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Bullets I've ordered so far to try out.

    These will be my miniature footballs to lob several football fields away..
    http://www.acmebullet.com/bullets-reloading-brass/45-70-Hard-Cast-Lead-Bullets?product_id=446

    These will be checked out for potential hunting bullets. A bit expensive, but if they work, I won't use them other than for sighting in and hunting.
    https://www.montanabulletworks.com/product/45-mp-320gr-hp-gc/?attribute_pa_diameter-range=458&attribute_pa_lube=lbt-blue-smokeless


    This will be just for plinkers.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of buddies wanting to send a few rounds out of it.  These will be the cheap ones for stuff like that and general jackassery..
    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/102228143
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    I wouldn't mind trying out some Postell bullets, but I think I'd like to stick to gas checked or coated and haven't found those yet.  I've also seen this Snover bullet, but a tad expensive to just be ordering and playing around with.  So I've narrowed it down to the list above for now.

    https://www.montanabulletworks.com/product/45-lyman-457671-470gr-snover-gc/
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