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I'm looking at possibly getting a new lever gun in .444 Marlin, .450 Marlin, or .45-70 for black bear hunting in the east. Lots of brush. I've shot a .45-70 rolling block or falling block (can't remember which) at the range, and really enjoyed it, but I've never shot the .444 or .450. Just wanted to get some feedback on the velocity, accuracy, stopping power, recoil, and muzzle blast of each of these three rounds, as well as the ammo availability and cost of each. Thanks.
 

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All good choices. Do you reload? It makes some difference, as these are not the most common rounds. Much of the versatility comes with reloading.

Ported or non ported barrels and barrel length probably make more difference for muzzle blast that the cartridge selection.
 

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Piney Woods Moderator
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I have both a 444 and a 45-70 Marlin. I like the 444 because it uses the same bullets as my 44 mag and 44 special which makes it economical to reload for. The 45-70 shoots a little larger bullet if you are going after heavier game and the ammo is a lot more available than the 444 or 450 if you don't reload. Any of the guns you have listed will take anything on the N American continent.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Marshall has some good articles on the .444. It may be more difficult to find ammo for, but is going to have a bit less recoil than the .450, or heavy .45-70.

All good. I would go with whichever one is easiest to get components for. Enjoy!
 

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I follow the theorem that if you can't make up your mind acquire them ALL! Which I have......love the singularity of the short barrelled guide gun in 450 and the diversity of the 45-70(powder puff to magnum loads) and the timelessness of the 444........especialy when teamed with the 444 lever round from hornady.....DO NOT forget the 1894 in 44 and 41 calibers....definte bear stoppers with the chance to throw 50 to 100% more lead out there prior to reloading over the trabitional big bore 3 you are considering.....also 44 mag ammo is readily available and you can buy 50 rounds for less than the price of one box of 450/444/45-70 ammo.........and don't leave out the 35 rem....most underappreciated cartidge out there.......get some Buffalo Bore ammo and your eyes will be opened....all will stop a black bear post haste.....but if in the range of the brown/grizzly I will pack my 450 Marlin.....3 rounds of 350 gr FP followed by 2 rounds of Buffalo Bore Hard cast rounds......then a prayer
 

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Da Three

I own a 1895(45-70) and a Marlin Outfitter(444Marlin) I have never owned a 450.

These are some of my thoughts on the three.

A 45-70 puts out the same power as a 450 if hand loaded. Think of a 450 as a belted 45-70 and more web in the case. If you hand load you can easily bring the 45-70 up to the power levels of the 450. You cannot find low power 450 rounds. You cannot find high power 45-70 rounds unless you pay big(huge!) money for them. If you want power and do not hand load you gotta buy a 450 unless your rich. You have a very limited number of bullet choices with factory 450 and 45-70. Factory rounds are not everywhere in 450. They are in 45-70. Hand loading either will produce more power than your shoulder will allow.

Factory loadings in 444Marlin are somewhat limited. So are the power levels. The bullet selection is somewhat dismal also. It is hard to find the 444 on shelves of the sporting goods stores,also most gun shops will "order it for you" at best. If being hand loaded to the higher power levels,and using the right bullets,the 444 will kill the majority of the largest game on earth. It will certainly take,elk,moose,caribou,black bear,zebra,and the like.

All three that you mentioned above are great rounds. The 450 being an answer to a problem that was never asked. My choice would be the 45-70 and hand loading. it's a real thumper. ----pruhdlr
 

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I own all three; an 1895/45-70, a Marlin .444S and a BLR/.450. All are nice rifles and I hunt with them all. A couple of points not yet made that might be worth a mention. If you get a new Marlin in either 45-70 or .444, you'll also get the hammer block safety on it. It's a cross-bolt type, but it blocks the hammer from striking the FP (NOT the trigger from tripping). Lots of opinions on it's merit and I'll just say that it does make the rifle a good bit safer, especially when loading and unloading. Of course that type rifle got by for 100+ years with just a half-notch (half-c0ck) safety before the hammer block was added. Either way, the gun needs to be carried at half-c0ck with a loaded chamber, to be safe, either with the hammer block on or off. Some owners detest the 2nd safety.

The BLR does not have a tubular magazine and can utilize pointed bullets in it's removeable box magazine (if you are going to reload). Loading and unloading can be done more safely, and it does not have a hammer block safety. The action is stronger than the Marlin's. It does have a safety-type half-c0ck position however, but it also can be carried safely full hammer down on a loaded chamber as well. (transfer bar type system). The BLR has a shorter throw lever and smoother action than the Marlin's. I can also promise you'll never have a "Marlin jam" with a BLR.

As I said, I own and like all three calibers and the two types of rifles mentioned here. Personal preference accounts for a good deal in any firearm purchase. Some people like Marlins, some like BLRs. Me, I like them both just fine. I know and understand their differences and enjoy both types of rifles. Just thought you might want to know that information, before you made your choice. My opinion is that the 45-70 might be the most versatile of the three. If you do not handload then the .450 gives a significant increase in power over typical 45-70 loadings, while costing just slightly more. The .444 gets left out of a lot of big bore lever discussions and that should not be the case as it's a fine round. My .444S is as accurate as either .458, and maybe even more so. Plenty of power with either of the 265gr loads for bear, IMO.

(Have you thought about the .358/BLR or .338/Marlin ??)
 

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I'm not sure what a "Marlin Jam" is as I've never had one despite thousands of rounds through my four Marlin Big Bores. I have a 444P, 444T, 1895G (45-70), and a 1895MR (450 Marlin). I do think the 450 Marlin is a smoother feeding cartridge but none of them can compare to the 444, especially the 444T that uses a lifter on the carrier to level the cartridge before it is slid into the chamber. I also don't think the bear is going to notice any difference.
 

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TNHunter, tell me more about these Marlin Jams. Is it a common occurance with Marlins? I wonder if it's because of the large rim on the large .45-70 cases? I'd like to hear more about this.

If either of the fellas who asked about the "Marlin jam" would take a minute and slide on over to the Marlin Owners Forum, I'm sure you'll find out a good bit about it. From the reading I've done there It is a fairly common occurence, leaving a jammed lever in the open position and bullets trapped in the tube. Most of the time the easy cure is to remove the lever and bolt and the jammed carrier can be loosened bullets removed and gun put back together. The problem is that tools are required to take apart the rifle rendering it unuseable in the field, should it occur. I can assure you that I did not give this type problem this name, but rather learned of it and it's name from the forum I mentioned. Yes, I have encountered one.

http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php

here's a few of the posts there reference the "jam", simply type in "Marlin jam" in the search box there are 13 pages of entries

http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php?action=search2
 

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I have both a 444 and a 45-70 Marlin. I like the 444 because it uses the same bullets as my 44 mag and 44 special which makes it economical to reload for. The 45-70 shoots a little larger bullet if you are going after heavier game and the ammo is a lot more available than the 444 or 450 if you don't reload. Any of the guns you have listed will take anything on the N American continent.
Everything Jodum said. :)

I think you have to reload to get the most out of any of the three.

I have a Marlin 1895GS and a Ruger No 1, both .45-70s.

Andy
 

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I have owned and fired all 3 calibers. The .450 was NOT pleasant to fire. I shot it 3 times and dumped the rifle. Nothing in the East including the 500 pound black bears we have here in eastern NC requires that much power. The .444 has more power than the 45-70 and a corresponding recoil. Again more power than you need and harder to find ammo than 45-70. That boils down to 45-70. The trapdoors, rolling blocks, and falling blocks you have fired have much milder recoil in this caliber than you can expect from the lever gun, weight and stock design are the factors.
 

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I have owned and fired all 3 calibers. The .450 was NOT pleasant to fire. I shot it 3 times and dumped the rifle. Nothing in the East including the 500 pound black bears we have here in eastern NC requires that much power. The .444 has more power than the 45-70 and a corresponding recoil. Again more power than you need and harder to find ammo than 45-70. That boils down to 45-70. The trapdoors, rolling blocks, and falling blocks you have fired have much milder recoil in this caliber than you can expect from the lever gun, weight and stock design are the factors.
P.S. My favorite lever gun is a Savage 99 in .308 Win. I took a 565 pound black bear with it using a 180 gr Nosler Partition bullet.
 

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I hunt large game with my Marlin 444 and my 1895 in 45-70. Both are excelent for big game. I use bullets that I cast with my Ranch Dog molds in rifles. Never had a jam, have taken a few deer and one bear. None have complained to me about the differences.

Jerry
 

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I myself own a 1895 Guide Gun in 45-70. Have shot a .444 but not a 450marlin. My vote goes to the 45-70 with a good cast bullet, pushed at moderate speed. Boy it makes a thump when it gets there!
 
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