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Old 02-20-2007, 05:53 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 9
The BFR in 45-70

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I had a brief introduction to the 45-70 BFR in Alaska a year or two ago and I liked it.
I decided that this was the year for it as I will be going back to Alaska and may well have the opportunity to put it to use. The only problem is that what use could I put it to? How effective is the 45-70 in a revolver? Is the .450 Marlin a better cartridge? What kind of performance could I get out of a 10” revolver? I have read in several places that the 45-70 is a poor cartridge in a revolver, yielding poor velocity and accuracy. After doing quite a bit of research I decided that many of the naysayers were wrong about a 45-70 revolver. I believed with handloads or custom loads such as Garret’s that it will be superior to the .450 Marlin and may be up to taking large game such as Brown bear. So with some lofty goals in mind I ordered my BFR at the beginning of January.

Today my goals were more than realized for the BFR. Using Beartooth 425 grain Pile Driver Juniors on top of 52.5 grains of Hodgdon Benchmark I shot a five shot group at 100 yards that measured 2.4 inches with a velocity of 1618 fps as measured by my Oehler 35. The standard deviation was 5. This was shot from a bench with a two power scope.

I did not get here by just taking the BFR out of the box and starting shooting. OK, I did just take it out of the box and just start shooting. I even had to borrow some .458 bullets from a neighbor. But upon cleaning it after this first session I found that the barrel was defective and needed replacement. Apparently the reamer had a burr on it and left cuts in the lands a couple inches down the barrel form the muzzle end.

As you can imagine I was not happy with this and contacted Magnum Research. I emailed them a picture of the problem. They promptly got back with me and told me to send it back to them for repair. They paid overnight shipping both ways, threw in a trigger job and gave the muzzle an 11 degree crown for free. I had it back about in eight or nine days from shipping it to them. I can’t think of any thing else I could have asked for. Service like this is hard to find.

While I was waiting for the BFR to return my lapping kit arrived from Beartooth bullets. I read Marshall Stanton’s Beartooth Bullets Technical Guide a couple of times from cover to cover. There is a lot of good information in it. As soon as the BFR was back in my hands I slugged the barrel and the cylinder. As expected there was a constriction in the barrel of about .001” under the threads. The cylinder throats were all about .459. The barrel generally measured .4585. Based on Marshall’s book I decided to use .460 diameter bullets and to open up the cylinder throats to .460. But first it was time to fire lap the barrel.

I followed Marshall’s instructions carefully. I rounded up 15 used cases from a local shooting range. These are now my dedicated fire lapping cases. I ended up using 4 grains of Hodgdon Clays with polyester filler and CCI 200 LR primers. This was just enough to get the lapping bullet out of the barrel. I only put 50 rounds through the barrel because at the time that was all I had. It is a tedious process preparing the bullets and cleaning frequently while lapping but like many things it is worth the effort. I re-slugged the barrel and found that I had gotten rid of most of the constriction, and since I was out of lapping bullets I decided to hand lap the bore and try shooting it.

The only problem was that I did not have any .460 bullets yet. They were on order so I decided to try some .459 300 grain that I had acquired for plinking. These fit the cylinder throats as they currently were so I figured what the heck. I found some data for Accurate Arms 2015 that I had on the shelf and loaded 20 rounds. My first chance to shoot these was when I was out of town for a week with my reserve unit. It was cold and windy but the first five shots at 25 yards were all touching in a vertical string about an inch and a half high. I was quite pleased with the group but not with the load. There was a tremendous amount of unburned powder in the barrel and from the report I could tell there were significant velocity variations. After letting a friend and his family (including his seven year old daughter) shoot a few of these rounds I decided to stop using them and look for a better light load powder when I got home.

A few of days later I returned home and got to work opening up the cylinder throats to .460. This was rather easy to do per the instructions in the technical guide. A day or two later my order from Beartooth arrived. I now had the 425 grain .460 diameter bullets I had been waiting for. I also received some 405 grain bullets just in cast the 425’s did not work out.

While I had been waiting for these bullets I had been doing a lot of searching for load data for these bullets. Unfortunately when I found cast bullet data it was usually for 20,000 psi and under loads. The BFR is good to at least 43,500 psi and I wanted to make use of this capability. I spoke with a rep at the factory and was told the following, more or less. The 45-70 BFR is almost identical to the .450 Marlin BFR. The biggest difference is the belt on the .450. The SAMMI spec pressure for the .450 Marlin is 43,500 psi. Therefore the 45-70 BFR will safely handle the same pressure as the .450 Marlin. I was also told by the rep. that any load data for the .450 Marlin could be used for the 45-70 in the BFR.

I found an article on the BFR by Mr. Lee Martin. In this article he provided some impressive performance figures for the BFR in .450 Marlin, of which he has one. I contacted Lee and he graciously sent me some basic load data that worked for his .450 Marlin. It was in the ball park with what I had gathered from various other sources. The two powders that keep showing up are Reloader 7 and Hodgdon Benchmark. I immediately focused on the Benchmark as I buy it 8 pounds at a time for my 6mm BR rifles. It provides exceptional accuracy, burns clean, meters well and is an “Extreme” powder, meaning that it is very temperature insensitive.

After a little trial and error I loaded 5 rounds with the 425 Beartooth bullets, Starline brass, CCI 200 primers and 52.5 grains of Benchmark. This is a slightly compressed load. I used an RCBS “Cowboy” expander die which comes highly recommended for cast bullets. I then crimped the bullet with a Lee “Factory Crimp Die”. After waiting for the 1 year old to wake from her nap I took the BFR and these rounds to the shooting bench in the back yard. I used a laser bore sighter to get every thing lined up. This item has saved me a lot of time getting the chronograph set up. It also works very well on items such as this revolver where you cannot look down the bore to bore sight a scope or red dot sight.

This takes me back to the beginning. I will add more information as I acquire it. I hope to be able to have this load pressure tested at some point. I am still working on some light loads for plinking. I tried some S1000 today and the initial results are promising.

As you can imagine I am extremely pleased with the accuracy of this pistol. It is better than expected and more than needed but I’ll take it. The velocity with the 425 grain Beartooth bullets exceeded my self placed goal of 1600 fps. These bullets with their large metplat should perform very well on bear or other large game. Obviously this is not a load for deer. For those a light load with some 300 or so grain bullets would be ideal.

As a side note I loaded the 425 grain bullets with as much as 53 grains of benchmark. The velocity reached 1640 but the standard deviation was up to 22 and the group had opened up to the four or five inch range.

I’ll answer any questions I can. It may take me several days to answer as I am often out of town.

John Poulter

Any information in this article is for information only. The loads mentioned here have not been pressure tested and are not to be construed as safe in any firearm but mine.
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Old 02-20-2007, 03:14 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Central Ohio
Posts: 623
Great post! Thanks for sharing. I've wanted a BFR in .45/70 for a long time. Your experience makes it sound even better.
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Old 02-20-2007, 04:43 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 9
Thats why I put it here. There seems to be a great lack of information on the BFR and what it is really capable of. Also, I do not presume to have maxed out it capabilities by any means. If someone with some pressure test equipment wanted to work with it I am sure we would see even more impressive results while still being safe. Hopefully my friends in Alaska and I will get to put several 45-70 BFR's to the test this spring. I just hope the weather and the bears cooperate with my schedule.

If you decide to get a BFR and have any questions please feel free to ask.

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Old 02-20-2007, 04:55 PM
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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 32,857
Magnum Research has really improved their products of late, in my opinion. Not a Freedom Arms..... but doesn't cost what a F/A does, either.

Good report.

Originally Posted by faucettb
Welcome to the forum. Rules are simple, be nice and join in.
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:11 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Ohio
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by Gunslinger2005
Great post! Thanks for sharing. I've wanted a BFR in .45/70 for a long time. Your experience makes it sound even better.

Just what you need. Another reason to buy your "soup can."
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:07 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 214
Great article! I love my BFR. I need more practise with mine though.
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Old 03-26-2007, 08:58 AM
Beartooth Regular
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Salina, Ks.
Posts: 377
I've got to get a 45-70 BFR!. I love my 454 BFR. I can routinely take it to 100 yards and hit 4 inch swingers one after the other. My throats were spot-on and this is the only lead shooter I've not had to lapp. Another fellow on Cast Boolet forum shoots a healthy dose of SR4759 and a 300gr. bullet for deer. I don't think he's had to do anything to the throat or barrel either.

Last edited by Dr. A; 03-26-2007 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:14 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 9

I have not been to this forum in a long time as I have been very busy. I had a chance to see the pile driver Jr's from the BFR in action on some AK black bears last year. Really not much of a match but as before great accuracy and estimated 1.5" wound chanells clear through their chests. I have some of the Beartooth 425's loaded for my BFR and some 405's loaded for a friends BFR and Marlin XLR. On paper the 405 gets the nod out of the BFR but it is very close.

Hope to get to do some hunting on various big game later this year. Every time I have taken the BFR to the range all groups with the 425 pile driver junior, the only bullet I am shooting, are under 2.5" with a 2 power scope at 100 yards. On a good day they are right around 1.5". Tough to see that detail on the target at 100 yards.

I am still extremly satisfied with my BFR in 45-70 and the Beartooth bullets. No I do not work for Beartooth and I pay for all of my bullets.

Take care,

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