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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

After an extended absence from the shooting game (life happens), I missed the sweet smell of burnt powder. As a competitive shooter, my preferred choice of firearm had always been handguns – sliders and revolvers, double action and single action. Most of my rifles were pistol calibre (.44 mag, .45 Colt) for cowboy action shooting. I recently reprioritized a few things in my life and decided to take up some time behind a rifle for a change.

I still have .45-70 loading dies collecting dust my reloading bench from my black powder shooting days with a Pedersoli ’74 Sharps. With a preference to lever guns my whole life, that decision seemed pre-ordained for me. My reloading experience was limited to 10s of thousands of straight walled pistol cartridge reloads. My go-to powder was WW231. It was a tried & true powder for my shooting needs. I decided I did not want to deal with the wonderful fouling qualities of black powder smoke rings, in a lever gun, this time around. (I know…I know… but there is no requirement for the anti-smokeless society to start a new petition…just consider me lazy…) .

After 30 years of shooting , I pretty much have the basics of aim & fire down (most days). I grasp the physics of reloading and I’m on good terms with my reloading presses. Now, I just lack the rifle and extended knowledge of the smokeless reloading characteristics of a .45-70 round. I knew this would be the beginning of a new journey for me. Before dropping hard earned cash, I like to make informed decisions. So…off to gun shows, local retail counters and the internet.

After many conversations, a few new reloading manuals to add to the old collection and countless hours searching all the facts, opinions and outright lies I could find on the internet, the BEST source of comprehensive knowledge I discovered was Marlin Owners site . I tend to have my BS filter on the highest setting when I reference internet opinions and by far, the contributors to this site have been the most helpful and reliable for me from any others I have found. Thank you for the great reference, honest guidance and entertainment you guys have provided to me over the past many months. Keep up the great work.

My first preference for a lever gun was a Marlin. I read the countless documented horror stories of the Remlin odyssey and yet, for me, there is something about a Marlin lever. When I was 15 years old, I got a used Marlin 39A (.22) as a Christmas gift. It was my first real gun - my trusty Red Ryder BB gun notwithstanding. My dad paid $50 for it at the time. That was back in the day when you could get a gallon of gas for 35 cents.

So, with careful consideration for all that I heard to be wrong about Marlin, I was off to the local gun retail store ‘‘just to have a look‘‘. Two hours later I was driving home with a new 1895GBL – with the dreaded MR serial number. (I know, I know…but there is no requirement for the anti-Remlin society to start a new petition…just consider me stubborn…)

Now I had everything but the reload. I began the next leg of my journey to find that sweet load. With a multitude of cross references from the many, seemingly reliable sources, from the Marlin Owners site, various gun magazine authors, along with other popular hunting, shooting and ballistics sites, always with my Lyman & Hornady reloading tables close at hand, I started narrowing down my reloading probabilities. I settled on IMR 4198 as my first powder to experiment with. I still have a quantity of just shy of a thousand .458 lead cast bullets left over from my Sharps shooting days. Unfortunately, M1895 is not fond of those 500 grainers while still being within safe OAL specs. I learned that little fact on this site as well, but I just had to experiment with some dummy rounds of my own just to see what might happen. Did I mention I was stubborn? I did listen to the advice of others and avoided the complete tear down of the rifle to unjam a cartridge in the action. Whew!

Honoring the golden rule of reloading, I started low on the reloading tables and worked up a few trial loads under .420 gr lead bullet- the only cast bullet available locally. Using tips & tricks acquired from you guys, my digital gauges and powder scales confirmed I was still within safe reloading parameters. With an array of reload recipes, using standard & magnum primers, utilizing crimped and uncrimped cases and several range sessions later and I now have a shooting log full of results of the good, the bad and the ugly for shot accuracy results and recoil bragging rights. The large blotchy bruising patterns on my shoulder were quite impressive; the visible rewards of tenacity, if not self-induced foolishness. I’ve often wondered if the paper target could tell the difference in bullet speed or foot-pounds energy of my various rounds. It did confirm for me that straying near maximum reloading specs was not a goal I was interested in achieving. (I know, I know…but there is no requirement for the pro-Recoil society to start a new petition…just consider me sensitive …)

The journey of reloading for 100 yard accuracy with a .458 lead bullet has added Trail Boss and IMR 3031 to my inventory of experimental powders. I have since reduced the trigger pull of 8.5 pounds that Marlin provided me with to 3.5 pounds that the installation of a Wild West trigger gave to me. In an attempt to wring out tighter groups than the stock iron sights, I mounted a Nikon 2-7power scope. That helped my eyes to tighten my IMR 4198 4 inch groups to a fairly consistent 2 inch group. Not yet satisfied with 2 inch groups, I became intrigued with the many advocates of using a pistol powder in a big case rifle cartridge. Being a long time pistol shooter, I was dubious of the potential but , admittedly, I was intrigued with contrary nature of the approach. After much investigation and referencing old reloading manuals, I added Unique to my inventory of experimental powders. I was now in search the ideal plinking load along with my quest for 100 yard accuracy. After working up a few test batches of Unique under a .405 gr cast lead of a .458 diameter I have narrowed my load down to one. The results are looking promising. I think I may be getting close to the sweet spot for my plinking load.

So far I am pleased. With the help of some strangers and friends, I now have a reliable gun with a couple of reliable reload recipes that’s a helluva lot of fun to shoot. I thank you all.

Now....what to do with all those 500 gr cast bullets?? This journey ain’t over yet...

Tinman45

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Tinman45, welcome to the best shooting forum I've found from here in the United Kingdom! That is some mighty fine paper-punching that you've achieved there Sir!:congrats:
 
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Nothing wrong with a REP stamp. My GS was REP and a tackdriver ! Your overall success is better than mine so far. I love that 1 minute of angle thing , but love 1 minute of Elk even more. If I ever find some Varget or Unique I might have a bigger grin. Congrats.
 

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glad to here the remlin worked out for you ( what a post )i will say welcome to the forum and welcome from Oregon.keep us posted on your progress and looks like its ready to go hunting
 

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35 cents for a gallon of gas? My word man you must fart dust.... :) Sadly, it was 54 cents a gallon when I started to drive so I am there with you. That gas price sounds food until you figure what we made an hour back then as well. I remember thinking I was doing well at $1.25 an hour. That was $50 a week!
You made a good choice in the 45-70. I have shot more rounds of 45-70 over the years than any other caliber. I have and do own more guns in 45-70 than any other caliber. But please be careful. The next thing you know, you will start looking at a 444 and a 450 Marlin.
I understand about the 500 grain round nose bullets. I tried them in my Trapdoors but gave up on them due to the recoil as compared to the 405s. Maybe you can trade them off for some that will cycle through the lever action. I bought a box of Speer 350 flat points by mistake and had a devil of a time getting the round out of the gun after discovering that it would load, but not unload. It was a dummy round that I set up to test, so I was stuck.
Lots of good folks here to help you out as you progress in loading and shooting.
 

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Im starting the same journy with reloading for my 45/70. How did that IMR3031 work out. Ive got some of that to start with. Like you I have read some good results from it. Ive also heard from a old timer in reloading. These pistol powders seem to not have as much to get the same results. That seems good to me on powder going farther per pound.
 

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Tinman, I am recommending you for a Resident Expert position to this forum! Keep us posted please.
 
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Hey Tin Man,

Fine shooting!

140 year old cartridge, with cast bullets, no less!

Later, Mark
 

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welcome to the MO from the motor city sir and also to the fraternity know as the shoulder mounted light artillery brigade aka the 45-70!:viking:you are obviously nothing if not thorough. i will make 1 recommendation for you, a limbsaver MEDIUM slip on recoil pad. it adds an inch to lop but it is well worth it AND doesn't require any alteration to the rifle! your shoulder will thank you :biggrin:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
RE: How did that IMR3031 work out.

Hey Plumbernater - I worked with IMR 3031 for a bit and I was able to get, somewhat, consistent 4" groups once I got up to the higher end of the loading data. Hotter loads provided better results for me than the lighter loads. My M1895 just didn't like the lighter 3031 loads I was working with - I just couldn't get the consistency of grouping. That being said, I only loaded and tested rounds of 5 for each sampling of powder loads and haven't given the 3031 a fair evaluation. I just wasn't getting the results I was looking for the first go-around. I have spent more time with IMR4198 in the lower end (read:non-shoulder busting...) of the loading data. It took a a bit of testing with the IMR4198 though. I tried some charging-rhino-stopping-make-your-eyes-bleed reloads but was having a difficult time corelating the pain and fun factor of high end recoil. I was surprised how the groups varied from tolerable to awful when the difference was 1.0 or 0.5 of a grain of powder across the loading data charts. I have had better luck with IMR4198 for factory equivalent and hotter. Unique will become my go-to plinking load - for now. Others will likely have much different experiences than I, so I am open to challenging my own assumptions and biases of my limited reloading experiences. It's what keeps this game from getting boring.

Tinman
 

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Keep in mind the bullet and/or its diameter could play a part in getting your groups tighter than where you are now.
 

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Tinman45, you might want to take a look at H322. I've got a group of 4 shots at 25 yds that measures .260" center-to-center with it under a 430 gr WNFP cast "pill". My most accurate powder since getting into reloading..............though I've got a test of IMR 3031 worked up to shoot right now. Here's a picture of that target.

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Discussion Starter #15
Tinman45, you might want to take a look at H322. I've got a group of 4 shots at 25 yds that measures .260" center-to-center with it under a 430 gr WNFP cast "pill". My most accurate powder since getting into reloading..............though I've got a test of IMR 3031 worked up to shoot right now. Here's a picture of that target.

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Hey Chris...nicely done. That's some shootin! I will definitely be sure to add H322 to my list of powders to experiment with. Availability and selection of lead cast bullets in my part is limited so I will stubbornly work with the variables of powders to make that bullet do what I want it. Thanks for sharing.
Tinman
 

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Hey Chris...nicely done. That's some shootin! I will definitely be sure to add H322 to my list of powders to experiment with. Availability and selection of lead cast bullets in my part is limited so I will stubbornly work with the variables of powders to make that bullet do what I want it. Thanks for sharing.
Tinman
I have got good enough results from RX 7 and Hornady RN 350 g bullets to cover my late season elk tag here in Alberta Canada. Nice to see another Canadian on here too...
 

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Hey Chris...nicely done.

Thanks.............but I don't claim to doing the "shootin' " myself. After all, that target was shot from a lead sled. What I was trying to pass on was that H322 sure has worked well in my "iron"............and might in yours.
 
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Tinman,
How hard is it for you to get powder in Canada and Ontario in particular? Loosening up a bit here but still spotty supply in my area. Forget about factory ammo...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Tinman,
How hard is it for you to get powder in Canada and Ontario in particular? Loosening up a bit here but still spotty supply in my area. Forget about factory ammo...
WW231 in my parts is an endangered species but , for the most part, powder availability is good. It's the cast lead bullets for .45-70 that are less available. Local retailer has "a guy" who refills orders when he has time. Which usually means the shelf is empty for extended periods between refills. I guess, that's the price you pay when you are too lazy to cast your own.
 

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tinman45

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you are on the right track.

There is a lot of data for 500gr lead bullets in the Trapdoor level loads for the .45-70, but the bullet is probably seated out so far they wouldn't cycle through the Marlin. If you seat them deeply enough to cycle the pressure would be raised a lot. I don't know how we'd get data for seating the 500gr bullets more deeply. If you have access to some of the older manuals they might have data for the heavier bullets.
Good luck, good shooting.
 
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