If by 'effective' you mean that it will have the capability to dispatch the animal, a LONG way. .45 cal holes through one's anatomy tend to cause serious health problems.
Now.... what range can you effectively place those shots? That is probably not a question that can be answered by anyone else. A big variable is how well you can see, and use, the sights. Open sights can range from excellent to pathetic, and our skills at using them, basically the same description.
Trajectory is not in your favor either BUT is not the insurmountable problem it once was, with rangefinders being quite cheap these days.
Since you mentioned the 1886, I'm assuming that you don't have a scope on it.
So, it would probably be a very good idea to find a range where you can shoot a few targets beyond 100 yards, and see what sort of groups you can get. Paper plates on a stick make a nice impromptu target, and if you can keep the bullets on the plate, you should be able to keep them in the vital zone of a big game animal.
My guess is that 100 yards will be no problem with open sights, 200 will be pretty tough especially with field conditions (no bench rest and not as good of contrast with the critter & background), and somewhere in between you'll find a limit that you are comfortable with.
I agree, with out a scope unless your eyes are good and have good sites 200 yds will be along shot. I can put all 11 shots from ny 45 LC on a paper plate at 100 yds open sited but over that I have problems-eyes are not as good as when I was younger . So I've scoped my Win 94 so I can push it out 175 yds if I want. That 45-70 still has alot of energy past 200yds for deer/bear sized animals 300 yds shots can be made with practice and a scope.
There is a big difference between shooting steel critters at known distances and shooting in the field. With an accurate range finder, a trajectroy chart taped to the stock, and a good estimate of wind, can make some hits at pretty long range....but missing a 350 yard "guess" by even 25ards can result in a miss even with a perfect hold.
I limit my HUNTING (where tha game actually moves, the range is by eyball-estimate, and the wind blows in swirls) to 150 yards. The idea being that if I can get closer, I do...if I can't, then I shouldn't be out there with a BP round.
Hot-loaded 300gr. bullets lose most of their advantage at long range...those big slow 500gr. bullets seem to do better(even if they drop like motar rounds) at long range.
HOWEVER, am not in love wioth the terminal effects of the pointed cast bullets popular in target shooting...game seems to respect blunt or flat noses even if they add to the drop problems.
Range...... Im not advocating taking real long shots, and certinally not shooting beyond your skill.Even with a scoped modern full bore 200 yards is a long way and the closer the better in my book !
I was watching and marking a guy at the range during the summer, he and his Sharps .45-70 really impressed me.It shows what even an old black powder load can do in the hands of a skilled marksmen who's fimilar with his gun and load.
He was shooting a 32 " barrelled sharp repro 500 gn cast bullet with a black pwder load i believe it was doing well under 1500 f.p.s........................1200 f.p.s ???
He was shooting with a tang sight from the 500 yard point and i was in the butts marking his target with a long stick with a triangle marker. I was amazed to see and mark 30 shots all of which were inside...... say a mans chest !..... Better still one group of 5 shots all grouped inside 5" lovely group to see appear on the paper above me ! A real pleasure to mark.
At 200 yards his groups are "Fox head shots! " size while guys further along are spraying bullets all over a 24" bull with bolt action .303's .308's .223's...............
Even at 500 yards those huge 500 gn lead bullets made a big thud ! when they slap into the sand back stop. Although he does not hunt i reckon he could easly put a bullet though the engine room of a deer at 300-400 yards..... trouble is range..... with out a lazer finder that rainbow tradjectory will lead to trouble and wounded game.
As i said be fore get as close as you can there is NO REASON to take long range shots ........But its nice to have the confidence that your weapon can shoot straight at much greater distance.........
The old Buffalo hunters liked to set up on a herd at 300 yards, so the sound of their guns wouldn't stampede the herd. They liked the heavy bullets for that business. Of course, they knew how to figure the range.
I've got an old U.M.C. , SH headstamped .45-70 here that weighs out like it's got a 500 grain bullet. C.O.L. is 2.780", a bit long for a Marlin. One reference I've got, Indian Trade Guns, says the U.M.C. headstamp wasn't used after 1902 when Remington and UMC merged and switched to the REM-UMC headstamp. SH, with the S at 9 o'clock and the H at 3 o'clock means Solid Head, stronger than the old balloon head cases.
The local BPCR boys set up a life sized plywood buffalo at 1300 yards. It took them a while, but they got hits!
In a Win 1886 or a Marlin 1895CB, 200 yds should be absolute max range shooting at a live critter. The front bead will blot out a fair sized animal at that range, plus the baseball trajectory of the heavy, slow moving .458 slug would require a lot of guesstimated holdover beyond that.
My present load for a 350 gr Hornady RN at a chronographed 2060 fps mv average is sighted in 3" hi at 100 yd, is dead on at 160 yds and 4.5" lo at 200 yds. That's in the 6" killing circle I allow for, and I have the rifle scope mounted. Anything beyond 200 yds gets a pass for next year.
I'm certainly not suggesting that we should be shooting at buffalo hunter ranges. Their results show that the big heavy bullets kill at any range, unlike the varmint calibres, that can hit at ranges they can't kill at.
It was with great intrest that I read the Sand Hook experiment a few years back. The army set up a long range test of the 45-70. What was most interesting to me was the target penetration at 3MILES and 300 some yards...4 inches of solid oak target with the bullet recovered burried 8 inches in sand behind!
Now, if we could just find some 30 foot diameter deer and bears to shoot at...
I believe that the 45/70 is a lethal round at any range, I am just not a lethal shooter out to how far she will go.
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