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Old 08-03-2005, 10:41 AM
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The 45-70 at longer ranges

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I have always been told that the 45-70 is marginal beyond the 200 yard limit, but understand that the effective range is
between somewhere 300-400 yards on game such as elk, black bear, and moose. Especially, when one considers the higher velocities that can be obtained when using 400-500 grain bullets. Any insight?
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Old 08-03-2005, 11:23 AM
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There was a time when the 45-70 was THE cartridge for 1000 yard target matches. You'd need to know the arc of the bullet's flight path to be on target....... dang, have to burn powder practicing.

When used by the military, they'd volley fire on a target...... get 100 troops to shoot at the same target at the same time, so it was raining 45-70 slugs on the target (aka 'The Bad Guy'). According to the information I've read, a 405 grain bullet can be expected to penetrate a 6 inch thick oak board at 1000 yards.

So, the question is, at what range can you put the bullet on target?

Lobo in West Virginia
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Old 08-03-2005, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Jefferson Parish (via N.O.)
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Originally Posted by El Lobo

There was a time when the 45-70 was THE cartridge for 1000 yard target matches. You'd need to know the arc of the bullet's flight path to be on target....... dang, have to burn powder practicing.

When used by the military, they'd volley fire on a target...... get 100 troops to shoot at the same target at the same time, so it was raining 45-70 slugs on the target (aka 'The Bad Guy'). According to the information I've read, a 405 grain bullet can be expected to penetrate a 6 inch thick oak board at 1000 yards.

So, the question is, at what range can you put the bullet on target?

Lobo in West Virginia
On a dead quiet day, can do very good work with a .22LR out to 200 or 300yards...but it doesn't make the .22 a 200yard varmint caliber.

On the same days, with your yardage pre-prefigured and the known number of "clicks" to get on target, can do some very good work with the 45-70 out to 600 -1000 yards. Has the power, but the drop is in the order of 450 inches at 600yards (100yard zero, 500gr. RN bullet). Anyway you look at it, nearly 38 FEET of drop is a whole bunch. Doesn't take too much error in range estimation to miss a barn door.
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Old 08-03-2005, 09:42 PM
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Makes a differance in rifles . A single shot vs the 18" guide made by Marlin.
I was impressed by the killing power of the Marlin at short range . Set 3" high @ 1oo yards . Past 200 forget it.
Then also impressed with the 17 LB single shot at the range.It would shoot .
Two worlds apart.
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Old 08-10-2005, 03:03 PM
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Range is pretty much dictated by the shooter's ability.

.45-70 at Two Miles

The Sandy Hook Tests of 1879 RIFLE MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 1977THE SHOOTER at the heavy bench rest squinted as he aligned his .45-70 Allin-Springfield Model 1873 Army rifle on the distant target. The rifle fore-stock and barrel was cradled in a rest; the butt was supported by his shoulder. The rear sight was flipped up to its full height, so with no stock support for his head, the rifle tester from Springfield Armory worked carefully to align high rear and low muzzle sight on the speck that was the target - a surveyed 2,500 yards distant. Holding his breath, he squeezed the 7-pound trigger. The rifle fired, and some 15 seconds later, signals from the target indicated that his shot had struck well inside the 6-foot diameter bullseye on a target well over a mile away! The Report of the Secretary of War, 1880, Volume III, under the chapter titled, "Extreme Ranges of Military Small Arms," had this to say: "The firing was done by Mr. R.T Hare of Springfield Armory who has the enviable distinction, so far as is known, of being the only person in the world who has hit the 'Bull's-Eye' six feet in diameter at 2,500 yards with three different rifles, and who has ever fired at and hit so small a target as that described in this report at 3,200 yards. In comparison with this, all other so-called 'long range firing' pales into insignificance. The gun was held under the arm, a muzzle rest only being used." The chapter on long range firing begins with a report from the Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts, May 9, 1879. It records the results of long range tests of U.S. Army Model 1873 .45-caliber rifles using 405 and 500-grain lead bullets, including variations in muzzle velocity and penetration of lead bullets through one-inch target boards and into sand. These tests were made at the request of the Chief of Ordnance. His interest had been aroused by reports of long range infantry fire, up to 1½ miles, during the1877-78 Turko-Russian War. The line age of the "trapdoor" rifles used in the tests is apparent from the separate lock plate, the massive side hammer, the milling out of a portion of barrel and fitting a breechblock hinged at the front - all clear indications that the rifles were merely breech-loading variations of the traditional muzzle-loading infantry-man's rifle. The Allin conversion of the 1861 and 1863 models Springfield muzzle-loaders came out first in .58 caliber rimfire. Later refinements resulted in the .50-70 rimmed centerfire for the 1866 model. The .45-70 cartridge was first introduced with the Model 1873 single shot Springfield. Several model changes were made from 1873 through 1889, relatively minor differences being the type of sights, modified and improved breech-blocks and changes in stock furniture. The first long range tests were made at ranges of up to 1,500 yards on the Springfield Armory test range at Long Meadow, Massachusetts. These tests compared the long distance shooting and penetration performance of the .45 caliber trapdoor Springfield and the .45 caliber Martini-Henry rifles. The Springfield rifle weighed about 9.6 pounds, had a rifle barrel 33 inches long with a bore diameter of .450-inch, three grooves and a right hand twist and groove depth of .005-inch. It fired the then standard Service round consisting of the 405-grain bullet in the rimmed straight case 2.1 inches long with 70 grains of black powder giving a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1,350 feet-per-second (fps). With the same weight of bullet and a charge of 85 grains of powder, the MV was 1,480 fps. The British Army .450-577 Martini-Henry lever-operated, drop-block action was far stronger than the Allin trapdoor breech. The Martini-Henry weighed about 9½ pounds, had a barrel 33 inches long with a right-hand twist, seven groove bore. The bore diameter was .450, and the groove diameter was .463. The .450-577 Martini-Henry cartridge was a muscular creation. It was based upon a sharply necked-down and lengthened .577-inch Snider case, loaded with a 480-grain lead bullet of .445 diameter, backed by 85 grains of black powder for a muzzle velocity of 1,253 fps. The following table gives the angles of elevation for these loads from the actual test firings at 1,000 and 1,500 yards. Accuracy firings of the rifles were made at 300, 500 and 1,000 yards.
SPRINGFIELD and MARTINI-HENRY ANGLES OF ELEVATION 1,000 yards 1,500 yards.45-85-405 Springfield Long Range 2d 40' 53" 4d 35' 34".45-70-405 Springfield Service 3d 6' 37" 5d 20' 4".45-85-480 Martini-Henry 3d 18' 36" 5d 41' 24"VERTICAL and HORIZONTAL SHOT DISPERSION AT 1,000 YARDS Mean Mean Mean Horizontal Vertical Radius Springfield 9.23" 16.8" 19.1" Martini-Henry 10.9" 14.55" 18.2"
Though there is no direct relationship between mean radius and group size figures, a mean radius of 18 to 19 inches would probably translate into a group size of between 55 and 70 inches. Old Ordnance records show that when fired from a machine rest the .45 Springfield was expected to group all of its bullets inside a 4-inch circle at 100 yards, in a 11-inch bull's-eye at 300 yards, and inside a 27-inch circle at 500 yards. At 1,000 and 1,500 yards, as expected, the mean vertical figures are considerably larger than the mean horizontal. (See the above table.) This is the result of variations in muzzle velocity, which gives this dispersion at long range, and also the effect of the high trajectory of these rifle bullets since the target is perpendicular to the ground, while the bullet is descending at an angle. The report of October 15, 1879, covers long range firing at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This was done along the beach to make the location of the bullet strike easier to find. Also, the long beaches allowed shooting back to 3,200 and even 3,500 yards. The rifles tested included a special "long range" Springfield chambered for a 2.4-inch shell instead of the standard 2.1-inch case. The 2.4-inch case held 80 grains of black powder behind the new prototype 500-grain lead bullet. The other loads tested were the standard .45-70-405 Army load in the issue M-1873 Springfield, and the .45-85-480 load in the British Martini-Henry rifle. The report states that a leaf to the rear sight several inches long was prepared in order to obtain the necessary elevation. A combination of the V-notch slide of the regular issue sight and a screw at the bottom of the leaf afforded means of correcting for wind and drift. The target, which had been 12 feet by 12 feet square at 1,500 yards, was changed to one 44 feet long by 22 feet high. The extended wings had a height of 16 feet. Since one of the test's objectives was to gauge bullet penetration, the huge target consisted of three 1-inch thick boards, separated by 1-inch cleats. The target was supported on 6-inch spruce posts and was constructed partly of spruce and partly pine, since this was the wood at hand. In the tests at 2,500 yards, the target was hit five times in seventy rounds with the .45-70-405 service load, only once with the Martini-Henry in eighty rounds, and four times with the long range Springfield in thirty shots. When the Springfield long range cartridge was fired, the 500-grain blunt nosed lead bullets propelled by 80 grains of black powder in the 2.4-inch cases at about 1,375 fps penetrated right through the three inches of wooden target and buried themselves in the sand. One 500-grain slug pierced three inches of target and buried itself in a supporting six-inch post, giving a total penetration of a measured 5.25 inches. The Service 405-grain bullet gave a penetration of just 1.12 inches, and the Martini-Henry 480-grain bullet, 2.50 inches. Angles of rifle elevation were: Springfield service .45-70-405 - 17°08'16"; Springfield long range .45-80-500 - l0°38'21"; and Martini-Henry .45-85-480 - 13°20'18". The angle made by the shot holes with the face of the target appeared to be about 40 degrees for the service Springfield, 45 degrees for the Martini-Henry, and 50 degrees for the long range Springfield. This angle is taken from the vertical and thus the lower angular reading indicates the higher angle of descent. Various kinds of bullets were dug out of the sand within 45 feet of the target and directly behind it. This shows the great angle of trajectory at this range and how extremely difficult it was for Mr. R.T. Hare to hit a 2,500-yard target the size of the one used. The target 22 feet high by 44 feet long was then placed at 3,200 yards from the firer. The range chosen was fortunate in that it was found to be the extreme for the Martini-Henry. When the firer was instructed to increase his elevation, the range decreased. On decreasing the elevation, the range increased to a certain point. The majority of the Martini .45-85-480 balls fell from 50 to 100 yards short, while the others did not go more than 25 yards beyond. More than 300 Martini-Henry cartridges were fired, but the target was not hit. The long range Springfield's 500-grain bullets hit the target four times - twice where it was one board thick, and twice where it was two boards thick. In each case the heavy blunt nosed lead bullet punched through the wood planks and buried itself several inches into the sand. At this extreme surveyed range, the angle of fall of the Martini 480-grain lead bullets was about 65 degrees to 70 degrees judging from the holes in the moist sand. Bullets were found in the sand behind the 22-foot-high target at a distance of only 35 feet. It was evident that they struck the sand point on, as the lead noses were always found rough. In the case of the long range Springfield, the angle of the shot hole with the face of the target was about 30 degrees and the heavy bullet in punching through two one-inch boards actually penetrated a total of 2.5 inches. Those lead slugs that struck in the sand generally penetrated to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, sometimes more. In this respect the Armory's 500-grain balls surpassed the Martini's 480-grain balls, which did not penetrate more than 6 inches into sand. In trying to get the correct 3,200-yard elevation, the long range bullets were thrown over 300 yards beyond the target. These were then dug out of the beach and all were found to have struck point on. For the .45-80-500 2.4-inch case Springfield long range rifle at a MV of about 1,375 fps, the angle of elevation was 20°51'37". For the .45-85-480 Martini-Henry at 1,253 fps MV, the angle of elevation was 26°5l'. The report of November 13, 1879, lists the results of firing tests made at 3,500 yards distance with two long range Springfields. One had a rifle barrel with a l-in-18 rifling twist, the other .45-80-500 had a 19 5/8-inch twist. Two different loads were used: .45-70-500, and .45-80-500. The Martini-Henry .45-85-480 and the service .45-70-405 Springfields were again tested against a Sharps-Borchardt using the same loads as in the long range M-1873 Allin-Springfields. After firing many rounds, the service Springfield and Martini-Henry rounds failed to reach the target at 3,500 yards. In these firing experiments, two telephones provided with Blake transmitters were used for timing the bullet's flight. One was placed within a few feet of the rifle, to receive and transmit the sound of the shot. The other Blake unit was nearly two miles downrange in the shelterproof, which was located about 30 feet in front of the right edge of the target. At the instant the sound of the discharge was heard over the telephone, a watch ticking fourth-seconds was started. At the sound of the bullet striking target or sand, it was stopped. Average time of flight for the .45-70-500-grain load was 21.2 seconds, With the more powerful .45-80-500-grain cartridge the time-of-flight was 20.8 seconds. For 3,500 yards distance, angles of elevation ran from 27 degrees to 29 degrees. This varied drastically from day to day due to the effects of head and tail winds. The quicker-twist rifles required less elevation than the others at the same range. The greatest distance obtained with the .45-caliber long range, 1-in-18 twist Springfield rifle was 3,680 yards. Angle of elevation didn't exceed 32 degrees on a day when an angle of about 25 degrees placed bullets all around the target at 3,500 yards range. While these tests may be considered mere oddities today, they proved extremely useful at the time. The fact that the 500-grain bullet penetrated through the three-plank target and eight inches into sand meant that it could kill or wound enemy troops at extreme distances, even if they were partially protected and that was significant military information in a period when it was quite usual for large masses of troops to form up within view of defenders. Although no average infantryman could be expected to equal Mr. Hare's accuracy, a large number of defenders shooting from barricade rests and given the proper sight adjustments for the range could severely harass companies and larger bodies of enemy troops at previously unheard-of ranges. It may have been these tests, and this line of thinking, that caused military theoreticians to employ machine guns for indirect, high trajectory fire in the same manner as artillery during the earlier stages of World War I. Since the tests showed that the 405-grain service bullet failed to perform as well as the 500-grain, and that the 500-grain bullet showed relatively little difference when propelled by either 70 or 80 grains of black powder, the .45-70-500 load in the service 2.1-inch case was adopted as standard for rifles. Thus those little-remembered Sandy Hook tests of 1879 had a lasting impact on firearms history without them, the gun companies might have recently resurrected the .45-80. W. John Farquharson Reprinted with permission from the November/December 1977 issue of Rifle Magazine, [].

Also remember that Buffalo hide hunters were dropping 1500-2000lb animals at ranges of 400-700 yards (and farther) on a daily basis. Average number of rounds to drop one was 2-3 not bad considering they used open sites.
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Last edited by Guncotton; 08-10-2005 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 08-10-2005, 05:34 PM
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Great write-up! Thanks for posting it! Very interesting stuff from a century ago!

God bless,
Romans 1:16

Beartooth: A Bullet Worth Waiting For!
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Old 08-11-2005, 04:31 AM
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I'm glad you liked it I agree it is great stuff. Here is one more to enjoy.

By Mike Venturino
"How Far Will A Sharps Shoot"

Just how far will a Sharps rifle throw a bullet? Most people will not believe it when told, so let me give you some background.

Back in November 1992, Dennis Bardon, Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing's custom gunsmith, and Wolfgang Droege, former shiloh owner, and I accompanied Kirk Bryan, one of the Shiloh's present owners, to the government proving grounds at Yuma, Ariz. Shiloh had been approched by a group of froensic scientists that was going to have aseminar there. For this meeting, the scientists were going to have acess to some newly declassified radar devices that would actually track a single bullet in flight.
What the scientists specifically wanted was a .50-90 rifle because one of them had writtenin their newsletter that Billy Dixoncould not have made his famous 1,538 yard shot in 1874. That particular scientist had calculated that a Sharps couls not push . .50 caliber bullet that far.
the first load triedconsisted of a 675-grain .50 caliber bullet propelled by 90 grains of FFg. using Yuma's own gun cradle,which had been converted from a russian T-72 tank gun carrier,the Shiloh Model 1874 was elebvated to 35 degrees and a roundtouched off.I was inside, looking at the computer screens over the scientists shoulders.When the data were read they started muttering, "it couldn't be" it just couldn't be!"
You see they couldn't accept that a blackpowder-powered bulletthat left the muzzle at 1,216 feet per second (fps), could have landed 3600 yards away!
Several fellows muttered"something must not be working right. Shoot another one."
This time the bullet weighed just 650 grains (still over 90 grains of FFg)and left the muzzle at 1,301 fps. Again, with the muzzle elevatedto 35 degrees, the bullet landed 3,245 yards down range. the scientist who wrote that Billy Dixon ballistically could not have made a 1,538 yard shot got very red in the face.
From there on out, it was all fun. we elevated the muzzle to 45 degrees and fired another of the loads with 650 grain bullets. Muzzle velocity was 1,275fps. the bullet impacted out at 3,190 yards, but the amazing part was that it went 4000fps(typo?)high and was in the air a full 30 seconds.
One scientist had a laptop computer along, and after a bit of tapping on it said, "Elevate your muzzle to about 4.5 degrees and you'll get a Billy Dixon shot." We did and the bulletlanded at 1,517 yards. Wetried one light bullet loadin the .50-90.
It carried a 450-grain bullet over 100 grains of FFg. again elevated to 35 degrees, and point of impact that time was 2,585 yards. Certainly, the bullet weight does make a difference.
Next, we turned to a .45-110 loaded with 550-grain bulletsover 100 grains of FFg. Muzzlevelocity was 1,322 fps, and impact was 3,575 yardsdown range. This was with 35 degree muzzle elevation. Then we dropped the elevation to 5 degrees and fired another round.This time muzzle velocity was 1,361 fps and the bullet traveled 1,430 yards.
The last rifle we tested was a shiloh chambered for 45-70 Sharps Straight. bullet weight was 403 grains, and powder charge of 60 grains of FFg. The bullet left the muzzle at 1,333 fps, and with the muzzle elevatedto 5 degrees it hit the ground at 1,155 yards.
Keep in mind, you potentialSharps shooters, none of this is just hearsay. It was done by scientists under controlled conditions. So, when someone asks you how far a Sharps will shoot, you can safely say, "A long, long way,"
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Old 08-11-2005, 07:34 AM
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Just for fun, run the numbers through the JBM maximum range calculator. Try a ballistic coefficient of .32, and make up your own mind about the maximum height of 4000 ft. at 45°.

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Old 08-11-2005, 02:43 PM
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Nice site but it's still all about skill
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Old 08-14-2005, 11:42 PM
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I've got a winchester 1886 takedown and am wondering if it's possible to put a tang site on it with any expectation of acuracy...Given that the sight wouljd be mounted on opposite parts of a takedown gun, I have my doubts, so may have to look for better sights using the stock dovetails.

I'd feel just fine shooting the .45-70 out 300-400 yards, no problem.. The 400+ grain rounds hit like locomotives - but do drop-off drastically after 150 yds..
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Old 08-17-2005, 11:02 AM
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I have '86 lightweight takedown rifles in three different calibers. None of them have tang sights, but most have receiver sights by Lyman or Redfield. I have not noticed any difference in accuracy between them and the solid frame guns. The TD system employed by Winchester has a very positive lockup, allowing a tight fit between components.
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