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October 15, 2021 - 4:31 pm
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I was looking for mild .45-70 loads.  My, “Accurate Smokeless Powder Loading Guide” has an obsolete cartridge section.  I notice there are six different lead bullets listed (340 grain to 530 grain) and all of these include an option for 4350 powder.  I’ve used IMR 4350 and AA 4350 for years and believe they are roughly equivalent.  In my other various loading manuals, I don’t see any .45-70 loads using IMR 4350 powder.  This section of the AA manual is all about low power loads and all the 4350 loads are low velocity/low pressure.  For example, they list 56 grains of 4350 (a compressed load) with a 420 grain lead bullet @ 1474 fps 1620 psi.  

I’ve used 4350 in other cartridges and not for lower power loads.  For example, in the AA manual, using their version of 4350, in a .30-06, the max load for a 220 grain round nose jacketed bullet is 55 grains.  This generates 2467 fps @ 59400 psi.  So, same amount of powder as the, “low pressure” .45-70 load listed above.  Does the shape of the cartridge case and bore size make that large a difference in the pressure?  This really doesn’t add up to me.

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October 15, 2021 - 5:05 pm
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The 56 grains of IMR 4350 seems too hot for me???

In general a larger case volume will lower the pressure with the same amount of powder.

Bullet weight will raise the pressure.

My 2000 Accurate manual says 56 grains of 4350 will produce 1,474 Fps and 16,200 Psi with a 420 grain lead bullet.  **This is their maximum load.

The starting load is 50.4 grains.

In my manual it states 4350 is actually XMR 4350 that is similar to IMR 4350.  The powder burn rate chart says XMR is one step faster than the IMR.  The IMR is one step faster than the Hodgdon.

If I were to use their data I would start below 50 grains and work up.  I would let my chronograph tell me when I hit the FPS I wanted.

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October 15, 2021 - 6:14 pm
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Chuck – thanks for your thoughts.  Even though the 56 grains is their maximum, bear in mind this is their Trapdoor Springfield section of their manual and they state loads for that rifle should top out at 18,000 PSI (this particular load hit 18,200 PSI).  My point is that an 18,200 PSI load should not be of any concern in a Model 1886 Winchester.  

I still find it curious that the pressure is so much lower than 55 grains in a .30-06, with the ’06 bullet being about half the weight of the .45-70 bullet.  

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October 16, 2021 - 1:44 am
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It does sound a bit slow for this cartridge, Steve. Bottleneck cartridges significantly raise pressures so I guess it’s possible a powder well-suited to high-pressure loads will do well in the 45-70 but a powder in the burn rate range of 4350 would not be my first choice, or anywhere near the top. I guess this means you don’t have any 5744?

 

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October 16, 2021 - 2:18 am
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Mike –

TXGunNut said
It does sound a bit slow for this cartridge, Steve. Bottleneck cartridges significantly raise pressures so I guess it’s possible a powder well-suited to high-pressure loads will do well in the 45-70 but a powder in the burn rate range of 4350 would not be my first choice, or anywhere near the top. I guess this means you don’t have any 5744?

 

Mike  

I do have some 5744 around, but a lot more AA4350.

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October 16, 2021 - 2:51 am
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Steve-

I have a fair bit of IMR and H4350 myself. According to my records I haven’t tried them in straight wall cartridges. I always say the 45-70 is an incredibly versatile cartridge, I’m a big fan of Trapdoor level loads. Hope you’ll keep us posted on your experiment.

 

Mike

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October 16, 2021 - 2:39 pm
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I also have Accurate Arms Data 2200 and 2230-C powder.  There are quite a few .45-70 loads listed for both of these powders.  Anyone use either of them in a .45-70?  The maximum loads are fairly stout (e.g. Sierra 300 grain jacketed at 2066 fps and 27,000 PSI – but allowable within the M1886 action range.

Speaking of action strengths, I note my Hornady manual (1982) has three groupings for the .45-70.  The first includes the 1873 Springfield AND the Winchester M1886.  The second group is for the modern Marlin M1895 (newer) and the third group is for the Ruger No. 1.  

My Lyman Reloading Handbook has an 1873 Springfield section, a Winchester Model 1886 and M1895 Marlin (old and new) section and a Ruger No. 1 and No. 3 section.

Hence, the loading manuals don’t seem in agreement on the strength of the M1886.  Perhaps this has something to go with the range of years of manufacture of the M1886.  We know the very first M1886’s were shooting black powder cartridges.  Assuming rifles of equal top condition, I would feel more comfortable shooting hotter .45-70 loads in an ’86 made in the 1920’s than one of first year production.  Do others feel the same?

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October 16, 2021 - 9:24 pm
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I wouldn’t push loads for the 86.  I’ve seen 86’s that were hammered with heavy loads and now have problems.

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October 16, 2021 - 10:29 pm
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Chuck said
I wouldn’t push loads for the 86.  I’ve seen 86’s that were hammered with heavy loads and now have problems.  

I’m curious about the specifics.  First, what is meant by pushing loads – how many PSI?  The first 86’s were developed around black powder loads.  Later, Winchester produced High Velocity Loads.  Second, safer to use stouter loads in a later manufactured rifles?  

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October 18, 2021 - 2:46 am
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Steve-

It’s my impression and opinion that the 1886‘s action strength is somewhere between the 1873 Springfield and the 1895 Marlin with the caveat that the later 1886’s were likely a bit stronger than the earlier ones as a result of taking advantage of advances in metallurgy. Most of my Lyman catalogs are a bit old, I suppose the lab folks at Hornady may have viewed the 1886 as a bit older gun than the people who developed the Lyman catalog. That’s reasonable. I’ve always been impressed by the solid look and feel of the 1886 action but it was designed for black powder cartridges. I’ve always felt it was stronger than it needed to be because the 71 is essentially the same gun with somewhat improved metallurgy and some minor design updates. 

At the moment I don’t own an 1886 but I do own and shoot an 1873 Springfield and two 1895 Marlin hunting rifles in 45-70. I treat them as two different cartridges as the Springfield is a BP fun gun and the Marlins are serious pig guns. When I do get an 1886 in 45-70 I will probably load it only somewhat above the 1873 loads and will likely use smokeless to ease the cleaning chores. I would also group a Single Shot with the Ruger No.1 but would probably never load hotter than my Marlin load as I don’t feel I deserve the punishment this load can deliver and nothing I hunt needs more power than this load delivers. And no, I won’t tell you what my big piggy load is. It’s well within published load guidelines.

 

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October 18, 2021 - 5:21 pm
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steve004 said

I’m curious about the specifics.  First, what is meant by pushing loads – how many PSI?  The first 86’s were developed around black powder loads.  Later, Winchester produced High Velocity Loads.  Second, safer to use stouter loads in a later manufactured rifles?    

Pushing means shooting hotter than necessary.  I can’t give a safe pressure for any specific gun and without a strain gauge glued to the side of your gun you are just guessing at the pressure.  Just because barrels were made of better steel in the later guns that does not rule out all the internal parts that can be over stressed.

Just be safe.

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October 23, 2021 - 5:13 pm
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Again, my main (pragmatic) interest is mild loads.  However, all loads and the advice on their application interest me.  In further exploring this, I see that my Barnes reloading manual (1997) list three categories for the .45-70.  The lowest level, which they title “.45-70 Springfield (Trapdoor) lumps the Winchester 1886 into this category.  Their next category lists on the M1895 category and the final category lists only the Ruger No. 1.  It seems to me they leave themselves open to some liability on the M1895.  I say that because they make no mention that these loads are for the modern M1895 Marlin and not the M1895 of early manufacture.  I was going to say of, “antique” manufacture but that isn’t accurate as I believe more 1895 Marlins were made after 1898 than before.  It is possible that someone reloading for an early 1895 Marlin might assume the loading handbook section for the M1895 Marlin was referring to his rifle.  

It got more interesting when I opened my Sierra (1978) manual.  Their first section is for, “Model 1873 Springfield, Remington rolling block, other old blackpowder rifles, and replicas.”  The next section is specifically just for the 1886 Winchester and the third section is for the Model 1895 Marlin and Ruger No. 1 and No. 3.  This is the first example I have seen where the ’95 Marlin is thrown in with the Ruger.  All the more reason for a vintage Marlin ’95 loader to not use this data!  

My main takeaway is that the various reloading manuals have divergent opinions for where they place the strength of the M1886 Winchester.  And, none of them seem to have any idea that Marlin made an earlier M1895 .45-70.

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October 23, 2021 - 5:45 pm
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Interesting, and it appears that the old reloading manuals forgot to mention the Winchester Single Shot (M1885) rifles. Loads for the Single Shot can safely approach those that are listed for the Ruger No. 1 & No. 3.

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October 23, 2021 - 5:48 pm
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It does appear their test rifles were of modern manufacture whenever possible. I suppose that’s reasonable. That leaves shooters of vintage rifles out on their own but most of us know to treat our old rifles gently and consider they may have been through a lot over the years. I find the “Trapdoor” level loads more enjoyable so that’s what I generally shoot. Thanks to the loading manuals I have a pretty good idea of what the rifle is capable of, I’ll let other folks explore those loads. I’ve fired loads a bit under those listed as max for the 1895 and I can’t imagine enjoying touching off a max load in a Ruger No. 1 or any other rifle much under 12 pounds. JMHO, of course.

 

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October 23, 2021 - 6:19 pm
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Bert H. said
Interesting, and it appears that the old reloading manuals forgot to mention the Winchester Single Shot (M1885) rifles. Loads for the Single Shot can safely approach those that are listed for the Ruger No. 1 & No. 3.
Bert  

I do consider it an omission.  The loading manuals frequently mention the Remington Rolling Block, Trapdoor Springfield and of course the Model 1886.  The Winchester Single Shot would have been worth of mention and not left to be categorized with, “other antique rifles” that some mention.  The Winchester Single Shot should at least be grouped with the (modern) Marlin M1895.

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October 23, 2021 - 6:33 pm
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TXGunNut said
It does appear their test rifles were of modern manufacture whenever possible. I suppose that’s reasonable. That leaves shooters of vintage rifles out on their own but most of us know to treat our old rifles gently and consider they may have been through a lot over the years. I find the “Trapdoor” level loads more enjoyable so that’s what I generally shoot. Thanks to the loading manuals I have a pretty good idea of what the rifle is capable of, I’ll let other folks explore those loads. I’ve fired loads a bit under those listed as max for the 1895 and I can’t imagine enjoying touching off a max load in a Ruger No. 1 or any other rifle much under 12 pounds. JMHO, of course.

 

Mike  

Mike – I agree about treating our old rifles gently – and I do.  I will admit this has a self-serving aspect.  If I treat the rifle gently, I am also treating my old body gently.  Which makes me laugh when I think about your comment about touching off a max load in a Ruger No. 1.  Note that the max load for the Ruger No. 1 can also be used in the Ruger No. 3.  Isn’t that dangerous?  Absolutely, if the person doing the shooting has an older body. 

I used to have a Ruger No. 3 in .45-70.  A truly wonderful handling piece.  Ironically, a Ruger No. 3 in .22 Hornet is heavier than a No. 3 in .45-70.  I had done the forearm conversion on my No. 3 – which eliminated the barrel band.  As we know, barrel bands, as a rule, do not enhance accuracy.  Anyway, it was still a very heavily recoiling rifle unless used with light loads.  I never even considered touching off a near maximum load in it.  I suppose if a guy was crawling around in bear country, you could stuff a heavy load in it, sling it over your shoulder and barely notice it was there.  

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October 24, 2021 - 5:17 pm
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Bert H. said
Interesting, and it appears that the old reloading manuals forgot to mention the Winchester Single Shot (M1885) rifles. Loads for the Single Shot can safely approach those that are listed for the Ruger No. 1 & No. 3.
Bert  

I don’t think they left them out but instead were using examples that mainly shot 45-70’s.  The highwall is the only Winchester I believe to be really strong.  I know friends that have ruined the headspace on their 86’s because they shot really hot loads too many times.  Actions like the Sharps and highwall have way less moving parts to worry about.

I just don’t see any reason to shoot an 86 with modern powder any faster than the original speeds.  None of us here have no real way to calculate the pressures accurately.  Modern powder will create more pressure at a given speed than black powder at the same speed.  The pressure curve for the black powder is overall more gentle. Modern powder spikes higher then rolls off.  I also know from experience that today’s powders are more powerful than the the same powder made years ago.  If your loading data is real old you should start low and work up.

I have over a dozen loading manuals and they can be confusing.  So which one is most correct?

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