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45-70 in 45-90
March 7, 2014
9:24 pm
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Are there any big concerns with shooting 45-70 cartridges in a 45-90? If this was done too much could there be damage to the chamber? I have heard this is acceptable, but just curious what problems it could cause. Also, if hand loading, could the bullets be seated out a little further to take up some of the free bore?

~Gary~

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March 7, 2014
10:27 pm
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Gary,

The biggest problem I see with shooting 45-70 in a 45-90 is the difference in the rifling twist rate that Winchester used for the two cartridges.

Keep in mind that the 45-70 used a 405-grain bullet with a 1:22 twist rate, and the 45-90 was a 300-grain bullet with a 1:32 twist rate. The 45-90 rifling will not adequately stabilize a 405-grain bullet, resulting in poor accuracy.

Now, it you shoot the 45-70 with 300 – 350 grain bullets, the accuracy will improve, but the free bore is substantial, which also negatively affects accuracy. I do not know how far out the shorter 300-grain bullets can be seated to help negate free bore issue.

Bert

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March 8, 2014
6:14 am
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That’s interesting information, I hadn’t even thought about different twist rates. I was focused more on the potential damage rather than accuracy issues. I’m not sure I would ever do this, but was having a conversation with a gentleman at a show yesterday and I didn’t know much about it other than that it was acceptable to shoot the 45-70 in the 45-90.

Thanks Bert.

~Gary~

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March 8, 2014
6:42 am
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There were a few old fellows around here in the past, that not being able to get .45-90 cartridges to use in their rifles, used .45-70 cartridges.These fellows seemed to have no trouble bagging deer with their .45-90 rifles and the .45-70 cartridges.So for hunting purposes they must be accurate enough to do the job.

March 8, 2014
7:52 am
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Starline makes nice 45-90 brass which I have used. Dies are also available, so there really is no need to shoot 45-70 in a 45-90

March 8, 2014
9:21 am
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Maybe this doesn’t apply here with this topic and a Large Caliber Gun.
But did you ever try to shoot 22 Long Rifle Cartridges out of a Rifle Chambered in 22 Magnum? I know for a fact that you might be able to hit a paper plate at 50 feet using 22 LR cartridges in a Rifle Chambered for 22 mag, but if you were using 22 magnum cartridges you would probably put the rounds through the same hole.
Just a thought here, why did Winchester Chamber all their older, 22 Caliber Rifles in one specific Cartridge,(as in 22 Short, 22 Long, 22 Long Rifle, 22 WRF) was it because they were more accurate shooting from a chamber that fit that Cartridge?
Give it some thought and maybe try it. Would be a lot cheaper than using Center Fire Cartridges,such as 45-70, in a 45-90 Rifle.

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March 8, 2014
12:59 pm
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hokie part of the reason for the different chambers are that the cartridges came at different times.

.22 Short 1857

.22 Long 1871

.22 Long Rifle 1887

.22 WRF 1890 A larger case then the .22LR also a larger diameter bullet.

.22 Mag 1959

Also at the time at least until 1906 the actions in the pumps were not able to control the various lengths of the cartridge as it passed into the carrier. Two shorts would both try to get into the carrier at once in a carrier made for a long or long rifle and cause a jam.

March 8, 2014
2:09 pm
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Mark W. said
hokie part of the reason for the different chambers are that the cartridges came at different times.

.22 Short 1857

.22 Long 1871

.22 Long Rifle 1887

.22 WRF 1890 A larger case then the .22LR also a larger diameter bullet.

.22 Mag 1959

Also at the time at least until 1906 the actions in the pumps were not able to control the various lengths of the cartridge as it passed into the carrier. Two shorts would both try to get into the carrier at once in a carrier made for a long or long rifle and cause a jam.

Well Mark, thats all well and fine for the Winchester 22 Pump Rifles, Model 1873 and autoloaders, that won’t Chamber the different length 22 Cartridges because of the feed mechanism. But you can still shoot one shot at a time out of those Rifles,by inserting the Cartridge into the Chamber.
Winchester made various Models that Chambered the 22 Cartridge, ( Model 1885, Model 52), you get the idea single shots and bolt actions. I have never seen a Winchester Model 1885 Chamber Marked for all three(3) Cartridges, Stamped on the Barrel, (maybe Bert has), yet the Model 1885 was produced well after all three(3) 22 Cartridges were introduced. I am not a big Winchester Model 52 fan, but I don’t think I have seen a Model 52 Chambered for all three 22 Cartridges,Stamped on the Barrel.

Anyway the disscusion was shooting a 45-70 Cartridge out of a 45-90 Chambered Rifle. I was just referencing the same principal using a 22 Cartridge.

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March 8, 2014
8:43 pm
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The Model 1885 was never chambered to shoot all three of the standard .22 rim fire cartridges. The reason was primarily accuracy driven. Additionally, the rifling twist rate was different for the 22 Long Rifle.

22 Short 30-grain bullet, 1:20 twist rate
22 Long 35-grain bullet, 1:20 twist rate
22 Long Rifle 40-grain bullet, 1:16 twist rate
22 WRF 45-grain bullet, 1:14 twist rate.

All four used the same bullet diameter, but the Short, Long, and Long Rifle used heeled bullets. The 22 WRF required a larger case diameter because the bullet was not heeled.

It is never a good idea to shoot the heeled bullet cartridges in a 22 WRF (or 22 Magnum) chamber, as the cases will at a minimum swell, or possibly burst in the chamber.

Bert

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March 8, 2014
8:47 pm
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pdog72 said
That’s interesting information, I hadn’t even thought about different twist rates. I was focused more on the potential damage rather than accuracy issues. I’m not sure I would ever do this, but was having a conversation with a gentleman at a show yesterday and I didn’t know much about it other than that it was acceptable to shoot the 45-70 in the 45-90.

Thanks Bert.

Gary,

It is safe to shoot the 45-70 in a 45-90 chamber, just not real accurate.

Bert

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March 9, 2014
10:55 pm
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Thanks for all the good information everyone.

~Gary~

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March 10, 2014
4:45 am
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just a few thoughts on this subject
first off to add to berts comments the 22 short 22 long and the 22 long rifle
all use the same case just different lengths. the 22 wrf and the 22wmr
cases are of different sizes from either of the three so IMHO one should
shoot a 22s,22L or a 22LR from a 22 WMR or 22 WRF?

I have a model 39 that has been in my family since the late 40s and there
is no telling how many shorts has been through the old thing with no loss
in accuracy when going back to long rifle. on a side note the 22s is not a
accurate by no means as the long rifle and there is a cleaning issue as well
the same as when shooting the 38 special out of a 357 magnum.

as far as accuracy bert didn’t the old single shot target shooters seat the
the bullets for the final overall length in the chamber so the bullet would
be snug to the bore?

March 10, 2014
5:53 am
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This thread has had me thinking about just what is considered accurate and what is inaccurate.I have known hunters who have used .45-70 cartridges in their .45-90 rifles on deer with good results.Always bagged their deer.Also have known hunters who use nothing .but .22 shorts in their .22 rifles chambered for S,L and LR.They seemed to have no problem bagging rabbits with the .22 S .Seems to be accurate enough for hunting.

I am thinking that the difference in accuracy would show up if one were target shooting.Where a win or loss can be measured in a very small difference.

Would be interesting if someone were to try shooting .45-90 cartridges at a target and then .45-70 cartridges out of the same rifle and compare them.

Could be done with ,22 cartridges as well.

March 10, 2014
7:52 am
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GentlemenJim said
as far as accuracy bert didn’t the old single shot target shooters seat the bullets for the final overall length in the chamber so the bullet would be snug to the bore?

Yes, some did. Some also breech seated the bullet separately from the cartridge case. Myself, I maintain the cartridge case length, powder charge, and bullet weight as closely as possible, and seat the bullet so that it just touches the rifling lands when the action locks up.

Bert

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March 11, 2014
1:31 pm
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pdog72 said
Are there any big concerns with shooting 45-70 cartridges in a 45-90? If this was done too much could there be damage to the chamber? I have heard this is acceptable, but just curious what problems it could cause. Also, if hand loading, could the bullets be seated out a little further to take up some of the free bore?

I have a 28" 86 in 45-90 and used to shoot 45-70 cowboy action loads through it all the time. Worked fine. I’ve been told to stick with soft lead because the old barrels wear quicker with copper jackets and hard lead. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I used soft lead. The weapon was more accurate than me so I can’t say much about that.

June 12, 2016
4:17 pm
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The best thing about my winchester 45-90 is that I can shoot Garrett’s 540 hammerheads with no problem.  This great cartridge will not load in a winchester 45-70 rifle but works great in the 90 and I’ve been using them for years!

June 18, 2016
7:20 pm
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Is yours an original Model 1886 or is it a modern one? I am surprised that an original 1886 45-90 would stabilize a 540 grain bullet. With regard to chambering, I can load 500 grain bullets set out to the O.A.L. of the 45-90 and chamber and shoot them in my original 45-70 with no problems whatsoever. However, a key issue might be the diameter of the bullet forward of the case. For example, the modern Hornady 350 grain JFP will not chamber because the bullet interferes with the rifling, but the Hornady 350 grain JSP will chamber, because it has a different olgive.

May 11, 2020
10:50 pm
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Bert H. said
Gary,

The biggest problem I see with shooting 45-70 in a 45-90 is the difference in the rifling twist rate that Winchester used for the two cartridges.

Keep in mind that the 45-70 used a 405-grain bullet with a 1:22 twist rate, and the 45-90 was a 300-grain bullet with a 1:32 twist rate. The 45-90 rifling will not adequately stabilize a 405-grain bullet, resulting in poor accuracy.

You don’t miss a thing Bert. Thanks for the post.

AG
Now, it you shoot the 45-70 with 300 – 350 grain bullets, the accuracy will improve, but the free bore is substantial, which also negatively affects accuracy. I do not know how far out the shorter 300-grain bullets can be seated to help negate free bore issue.

Bert  

May 12, 2020
9:03 pm
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Mark W. said
hokie part of the reason for the different chambers are that the cartridges came at different times.

.22 Short 1857

.22 Long 1871

.22 Long Rifle 1887

.22 WRF 1890 A larger case then the .22LR also a larger diameter bullet.

.22 Mag 1959

Also at the time at least until 1906 the actions in the pumps were not able to control the various lengths of the cartridge as it passed into the carrier. Two shorts would both try to get into the carrier at once in a carrier made for a long or long rifle and cause a jam.  

What antique Winchester shot a 22 LR ?  I don’t think Winchester used this round in 1887.  It was after the turn of the century when the LR was used, at least in the 1890s. I am not an expert on 1873s to know if or when the LR was used.  

There are more 45-70 1886s than Winchester ever made. Close inspection of the barrel usually shows signs of where the old caliber markings were removed.  I say go ahead and try 45-70s in a 45-90.  It won’t hurt the gun but it may or may not be accurate.  

May 12, 2020
10:53 pm
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Chuck said

Mark W. said
hokie part of the reason for the different chambers are that the cartridges came at different times.

.22 Short 1857

.22 Long 1871

.22 Long Rifle 1887

.22 WRF 1890 A larger case then the .22LR also a larger diameter bullet.

.22 Mag 1959

Also at the time at least until 1906 the actions in the pumps were not able to control the various lengths of the cartridge as it passed into the carrier. Two shorts would both try to get into the carrier at once in a carrier made for a long or long rifle and cause a jam.  

What antique Winchester shot a 22 LR ?  I don’t think Winchester used this round in 1887.  It was after the turn of the century when the LR was used, at least in the 1890s. I am not an expert on 1873s to know if or when the LR was used.       

In answer to your question, the Winchester began chambering the Model 1885 Single Shot for the 22 Long Rifle in 1890.

Bert

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