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Discussion Starter #1
I guess my life will not be complete without a 45-70 rifle.
I am particularly interested in a single-shot similar to the
Sharps type. There seems to be several brands available
such as Ballard, Cabelas, Cimarron,Navy Arms, C.Sharps, etc.
Will all of these take modern ammo in +P or are they restricted to lower pressure fodder? I reload a little for a number of calibers but would like to try the 45-70.
PJ
 

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C. Sharps and Shiloh Sharps are normally considered the top of the line of the buffalo rifles being made these days. The wait for either is quite substantial, I think it is something like 2 years for a Shiloh. There are quite a few gun dealers that place quanity orders from both factories and usually have something for sale. Both are in high demand. Some online houses to check would be GunsAmerica and GunBroker. I've heard a few complaints of Ballard not delivering custom rifles as promised, though most seem to be pleased with them. Pedersoli is really making a good name for themselves at traditional shoots.

I'm not sure if any of these are ready for the Garret Hammerhead type loadings, though. I would suspect not, but others may know more.

The British Farquharson was developed sometime in the 1880's, I think, and though never originally chambered for the 45/70, the Ruger No.1 is copy (improved) of the old Farquharson. The Ruger is a very strong action type and is chambered for the 45/70. It will handle the +P loads easily. I suspect the Browning Hi Wall repro's (that are discontinued) will also handle the +P loadings, if you can find one.
http://gunbroker.com/
http://www.gunsamerica.com/
 

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Plow Jockey, most of the single shot 45/70s you can shoot off the shelf ammo. Some of the old Springfield Trap doors should be checked by your local gunsmith first. Cor-Bon and Black Hills load up some healthy loads for the 45/70 and can be tough on a replica. Are you gonna just load jacketed and cast, or are you gonna load black powder with cast? The black powder with cast is a whole new world of shooting (and dirty also) but still a lot of fun.

Gun Runner
 

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Have some reservations about using hot loads in the Sharps...some of the loading for the 45/70 are way-way up there. The repro Sharps are pretty good recreations and the Sharps was one of the strongest BP actions made, the modern steel is stronger than the steel used in the originals, but I'd pass on the real hot loads....and would consider the factory 300gr. loadings (or their handloaded equals) the top end.

Did notice that in the past, some versions of the "Sproting" and "business" rifles were offered in 30-40...pretty high pressure, but a smaller head, so the back thrust was a bit less ...still, that's a big case head woring at 40K...BUT have not seen that round advertized recently (is it becasue they can't make enough of the big BP round rifles fast enough or becasue there was a problem with rounds running at that pressure?).

It's DAMNED hard to get a 'smith to OK any old gun's actual use...from the legal stand point, you can understand why.
 

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I have Browning BPCR in 45-70. I only shoot it with black powder or low pressure smokeless loads. The manual states it can be used with higher pressure loads but it is defeating the purpose of the rifle. The rifling is 1" in 18" and is cut for softer cast bullets that are fired with blackpowder. It is superbly accurate at 500 yards and beyond with them. If you read about hunts for Buffalo with these they routinely shoot through the beasts with black powder. You don't need more than that. The sights are designed more for precision long range shooting, something the +P loads aren't the best for. I get strings of ten shots that have 5 fps or less deviation with blackpowder when they are loaded correctly.

A truly fun rifle that can be shot with accuracy, mild recoil and noise within its design.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the info. I am not yet into black powder but would use cast or jacketed bullets, whichever gave the best accuracy.
I have been mostly a high velocity guy but have enjoyed the .45 Colt (both rifle and handgun) and think I have "seen the light". I would prefer a SS 45-70 over a lever gun and it sounds as if modest pressures and velocity would work just fine for long range paper and modest range hunting. If I would use this strictly as a hunting round, perhaps the lever gun would be superior? Thanks again.
PJ
 

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Close your eyes and "see" the rifle. If you see a short barrled rifle (22-24") then go with the lever gun and smokless powder. If you see a long barrled single shot, then go with one...but be prepared to pay a bunch more $ for a Sharps or Rolling Block repro than you would a Marlin lever gun....and if you could see your way clear to get the Ruger #1, would not have to worry very much about the pressure level of published data.

One odd one (and not very expensive)...the Single shot H& R (break barrel) has worked fine for all the folks I know who use it...only complaint is that they are light and kick like **** with heavy loads.
 

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As for the older type rifles I'm not sure of the strength but as already mentioned there are several on the market +p rated. I have put quite a few rounds through a ruger #1 stainless laminate open sights and was/am very impressed even with the anemic remington 405 gr factory loads. Recoil was negligible and accuracy was excellent. I have a friend that loads his Marlin lever gun to the extreme and it shoots great although recoil is immense.
 

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Ribbonstone has a good suggestion. I picked up a new Handi-rifle in 45-70 in a trade. It was one of the most accurate rifles I ever had out of the box. It worked well with any reasonable cast load I tried. I stayed away from the level 3 or very high pressure loads because of the light weight of the rifle. It was a knuckle buster with heavy loads.

If I were to buy a CHEAP no worry protection rifle for the wilds, this would be on the list. I sold it to a freind and bought a lever 45-70.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ribbontone
Therein lies the problem, I have been having visions of the
30-32 inch octagonal barrel and all that goes with it. I never should have stopped at Big Timber,Mt last summer on the way to a wedding for "just a look". It was a holiday weekend but C.Sharps was open and I picked up several of the guns in the show room. I told myself the feeling would go away but now almost 6 months later, I must have one. And of course,
they are about the same price as a small tractor. Might just have to dig out the sock from under the mattress. Wonder if my bifocals will adjust to a tang mounted peep site?
PJ
 

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yep...you're screwed...nothing is going to cure that itch but a repro. Sharps, and not only is the price a bit high, the wait is a bit long.

Understand the Sharps attraction, they are pretty rifles that are one of the few truely unique American hunting rifles. I like the Rolling Blocks for a varitiety of reasons and will stick with them, but can understand the appeal of the Sharps.

Now, going to "fuss" at you...why buy the Sharps and not shoot black powder? If you want to shoot hot smokless, get the Ruger...but if you buy a rifle designed specifically for black powder, seems like that would be the loading of choice.

Yes...old eyes adapt to tang-peep sights just fine.
 

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Yep it's over. If you have stopped at their shop and handled them your done in. Just have to get to the point where you admit it to yourself.

Enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Now I hadn't planned on doing the black powder thing until
after my Chessie ***** died but she's only eight years old
(I like to run around the hills with a shotgun, too) and because I am under the impression that blackpowder is more time consuming I thought I would wait. However, because I think all BP cartridges are a handloading propasition, would there be any GOOD reason to just get a 45-70 as opposed to a 45-90, 50-100, etc? Are there components available for other sizes or are they cost prohibitive? I see 45-70 brass available everywhere and while not particularly recoil sensitive, would the bigger stuff make me wish I had put wheels on the front end of it? Probably would have to hock my old truck to get a Sharps Boss Gun but it sure is pretty.
Guess I would settle for something a little more reasonable.
PJ
 

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Actually, the external dimentions stay the same...so as you bore a bigger hole in the barrel, the rifle tends to weigh just a tiny bit less (would make one heavy weight .22LR...and I do know of them being made in that round).

The 45-70 has the big advantage of cheap cases and standard componets. And of course, if you want to use lower pressure smokless powder, it's about as big a case as can be used without getting into some hard to solve excess volume problems.

Agree, if you can stand the price of cases, can have the 50/110 or the 45/120. And if you are certain you'll be shooting BP, they will work fine. But they will kick a bit...and the steel shooters are looking at 40-60 rounds a match, which can be a bit costly in cases, powder,etc.

I had a Remington RB (an oldie...1883) done in 45-70 and am pleased with it. Second is as issued, even older..1872, that is in 50-70. Third is an older navy Arms repro, which was in .444 (and odd choice for a repro. rolling block..and the previous owner screwed up the barrel...which is good, as it made the price reasonable) and is off getting a new barrel fitted in 40/60. As I cast, there isn't much to choose from a 500gr. .460" bullet or a 500gr. .515" bullet as far as cost or avaialbility. They use the same weights of powder, so the cost is equal there as well....but 50/70 cases are on the order of $1.80-$2.00 each...and that's CHEAP in comparison to the long cases. Dies for the long cases are both hard to find and tend to be a tad expensive in compariosn to standard dies.

Yeah...I'd keep it a 45/70 as that will give you enough rifle to earn "big bore" status, but still be easy to find componets/data.
 

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Starline now makes brass for the .40-65, .45-90, .45-100, and 50-110 as well as the common .45-70.

So the brass situation is a little better than it was a few years ago.

www.starlinebrass.com
 

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Good, need more brass for the oldies...but a quick comparison showed 250 45-70 cases listed at about $88 and the same number of 50-110 cases running $210. May not sound like it to you, but getting 50-110 cases for less than $1 is a good deal (and 45/100 cases at $185 per 250 is very good).

thanks for the post...will look into ordering some cases from their new list.
 

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I have 2 Pedersoli 1874 Sharps in both 45/70 and 40/65. Both have long 32" octagonal barrels and are superbly accurate, posting about 1.5" 10 shot groups at 100 yds over a bench.
Reloading and cleaning are not the tedious chore most would have you believe. For hunting I use a duplex load of 7gn IMR4227and 49gn FFG black for a load that can go about 40 shots before cleaning. Target (BPCR silhouettes) I use 68gn Swiss FFG and clean after each 10 shots.
Cases are dumped into a jar of soapy water immediately after firing, rensed at home and dried then tumbled for perfect shiny brass every time.
Lyman make 40/65 standard dies and one pass of 45/70 cases in the FL die will form 40/65. The smaller bore certainly kicks about 40% less than the 45/70 for the recoil sensitive.
For reloading DON'T size the projectiles, just use as cast. If you buy a Pedersoli then stay with Remington brass as the head size at .498 is smaller than the .503 of Winchester brass. The Pedersoli chamber is very tight and is matched to the Rem head size.
There is a ton of fun to be had from casting, loading and firing a cartridge that you made yourself.
 

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PlowJockey, youve buried yourself by stopping at the Sharps store, you wont be able to sleep or eat right till you get one. One of my friends is a sharps collector and attends all the antique gun shows all over the country. Awhile back he handed me a FRUMES(sp) Bros. 45/70 sharps, it was one of 13 known in existance. The gun had engraving all over and a roller type cam extractor, that worked in reverse to help seat the case. As I was handling it he told me how much he paid for it at the auction, $25,000.00, thats when I just about crushed the forarm and pistol grip trying to hand it back to him. He collects a lot of the Frumes(sp) items including holsters and belts. I think he shows me these item to watch me shake. He will come by the gun shop and identify old firearms for people at no charge. If they want a typed statment then he will charge them. You may not be looking for something quite that pricie, but a sharps is gonna put a dent in the grocery money. As stated elseware if you are gonna get this type of gun why not shoot black powder and cast in it.

Gun Runner :)
 

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A few words about time. Does take a bit longer to load BP, but as you're not loading the number of rounds that...lets say a varmint hunter....a .223 shooter will need for a weekend of shooting, that really isn't a factor. Casting bullets can be...and the clean up of both the rifle and cases really doesn't take any longer than getting the jacket fouling out of a varmint rifle (and BTW...the old combination of hot water, soapy water/hot water does just fine).

Other than casting bullets (and with a modern .45 rifle and it's narmal barrel diameter, can buy them if you don't want to cast them), don't see a time problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Gentlemen-
Great info and I appreciate the tips. I had always thought that
BP cartridges were a lot more bother but I enjoy reloading- kind of a therapy for me. I wonder if I can sneak another gun past the little woman (to take poetic license). Wonder why a decent single-shot is so much more than a traditional lever gun? Suppose you get what you pay for.
One last question, a couple of you mentioned you prefer the rolling block to the traditional type sharps. Are there differences in shootability or is it just a personal preference?
Thanks,
PJ
 
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