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45-70 or 45-90 ?
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RickC
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September 24, 2019 - 3:37 pm
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Just wondering in the 86 what others prefer between 45-70 & 45-90 everything else equal. Is 45-90 in more demand ?, or hold a higher value? I don’t know the numbers on how many were made of each but I assume more 45-70 (govt) were manufactured.

AG

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September 24, 2019 - 4:10 pm
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AG said 
Is 45-90 in more demand ?

Somewhat, I believe, but if comparing ’86s in those two calibers, that would be the last factor I’d consider.

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September 24, 2019 - 7:33 pm
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I have found when dealing with M1886’s, the bigger caliber, the better.  Big Larry

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September 24, 2019 - 9:15 pm
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If all things other than caliber were equal, I would opt for the 45-90. If one does not reload and wants to frequently shoot, the 45-70 would probably be the better option as far as ammunition availability is concerned.

 

Erin

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September 24, 2019 - 10:01 pm
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Erin Grivicich said
If all things other than caliber were equal, I would opt for the 45-90. If one does not reload and wants to frequently shoot, the 45-70 would probably be the better option as far as ammunition availability is concerned.

 

Erin  

Being able to shoot 45-70 cases in a 45-90 greatly enhances the desirability of the latter, compared to other chamberings requiring hard to find cases.

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September 24, 2019 - 10:27 pm
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Good point Clarence. Never thought of that.

AG

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September 24, 2019 - 10:31 pm
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Well aware of that Clarence, just didn’t want to get into twist rates, bullet weights for stabilization issues using 45-70 in a 45-90.

 

Erin

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September 24, 2019 - 10:49 pm
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45-90 will a lot of times bring a premium.  Really there is little difference between the 2 when shooting.  The 45-90 is an express load and is set up for a 300 grain bullet not the 405 or 500 grains you might see in a 45-70.  Never shot the heavier bullets in my 45-90’s so I can’t say how well they shoot or not.   Finding the new 45-90 cases is the biggest problem.  I have not looked for them for many years so I can’t say if they are out there for sale.

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September 24, 2019 - 10:49 pm
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With that said Erin, which I’m glad you mentioned, is there a particular 45-70 load that is recommended if you were inclined to shoot it from a 45-90 ?

AG

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September 24, 2019 - 10:59 pm
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AG, you would want to use a 300 grn.  cast bullet out of the 45-70 casing for use in the 45-90. The 45-90’s had a slower twist rate than the 45-70, accuracy and stabilization will become a factor if using bullets heavier than 300 grains.

In response to Chuck about 45-90 brass, Starline is manufacturing it new for about $1.00 apiece. It’s offered in lots of 100 or 500 I’ve been very pleased with Starline’s quality.

 

Erin

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September 24, 2019 - 11:02 pm
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Erin Grivicich said
AG, you would want to use a 300 grn.  cast bullet out of the 45-70 casing for use in the 45-90. The 45-90’s had a slower twist rate than the 45-70, accuracy and stabilization will become a factor if using bullets heavier than 300 grains.

In response to Chuck about 45-90 brass, Starline is manufacturing it new for about $1.00 apiece. It’s offered in lots of 100 or 500 I’ve been very pleased with Starline’s quality.

 

Erin  

Thanks Erin.

AG

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September 24, 2019 - 11:50 pm
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All things being equal, the .45-90 is more desirable than the .45-70 and brings a premium, although not a significant one.

Given that all things are generally not equal, I would purchase a Winchester 1886 with CONDITION first and consider the chambering of .45-70 vs .45-90 later.

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October 2, 2019 - 8:59 pm
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I agree, condition above all else for return of value.  There are rare features and calibers that trump these two offerings, but either one is a dandy.

As far as shooting goes, I have considerable experience loading for 1886’s in all shapes and sizes.

To keep things period correct, as has been mentioned, the original .45-90 was an express cartridge for shooting 300 gr bullets fairly flat.  It is a great hunting round and a pleasure to shoot.  And yes, Starline makes wonderful brass.

If you are after more vintage power and penetration, the .45-70 would be my choice.  Shooting heavier bullets is where it shines, but I have shot a zillion 300gr bullets out of a .45-70 and it is just as enjoyable as the .45-90.  So if you want to putz around with lighter loads, I still lean towards a nice .45-70.

I cannot recommend shooting modern pressure loads in either version.  I think the assumption here on this forum is playing with original rifles in as good of condition as we can find.  Keeping the loads within those parameters will offer you plenty of shooting fun… and all components are readily available.  Although I have built many big bore levers to see what is possible, these original calibers accounted for plenty of game including bison, and they still will.  I say find the best condition rifle you can afford and enjoy the pride of ownership.

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October 2, 2019 - 9:23 pm
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Great info and advice 34871.

AG

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October 14, 2019 - 2:00 am
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I think the 45-70 makes a better shooter if you’re not going to shoot BP. For me the 45-90 is a BP cartridge because with smokeless the 45-70 will do anything the 45-90 will do, often better. I agree the 45-90 seems to bring a premium but in my limited experience the 45-90’s are generally better condition or have more features…often both.

 

Mike

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October 14, 2019 - 1:29 pm
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TXGunNut said
I think the 45-70 makes a better shooter if you’re not going to shoot BP. For me the 45-90 is a BP cartridge because with smokeless the 45-70 will do anything the 45-90 will do, often better. I agree the 45-90 seems to bring a premium but in my limited experience the 45-90’s are generally better condition or have more features…often both.

 

Mike  

I have to agree Mike. Any of the 45-90 I’ve seen have been deluxe or had several options.

AG

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October 14, 2019 - 5:00 pm
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 Several years ago I met a gentleman from Belgium, he was with an importer at a US show buying antique guns. He ran a gun club in Belgium and all guns had to be in an obsolete caliber per their laws. They were kept by the club and could only be shot there. He was not interested in 45-70 caliber. I also have seen the reference to ammunition availability and obsolete caliber in our laws. It wouldn’t change my mind on which caliber I preferred but it could have some effect in some states as to what is antique, if not now sometime in the future. T/R  

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October 14, 2019 - 7:54 pm
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Interesting TR. Appreciate you sharing this story.

AG

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October 14, 2019 - 9:07 pm
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TXGunNut said
I think the 45-70 makes a better shooter if you’re not going to shoot BP. For me the 45-90 is a BP cartridge because with smokeless the 45-70 will do anything the 45-90 will do, often better. I agree the 45-90 seems to bring a premium but in my limited experience the 45-90’s are generally better condition or have more features…often both.

 

Mike  

Mike, I am not clear as to what you mean?  I shoot smokeless in my 45-90’s and can make it as fast as I feel is safe. Yes, it is limited to about a 300 to 330 grain bullet. But what big game animal could withstand this round?  My 1885 was built in 1909. Winchester-1885-45-90-L.jpgImage Enlarger

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October 15, 2019 - 1:57 am
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Chuck-

It’s just that I haven’t found a smokeless powder that works for me in my 45-90’s. My theory is that big case just has too much empty space with any reasonable charge of smokeless powder. To be quite honest I haven’t tried an 1886, only a couple of Sharps rifles. It simply be my BP bias, hard to say. ? I think the 1886 has a slower twist than the Sharps but that is likely the difference between an express rifle and a buffalo gun. 

 

Mike

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