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· Banned
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Do any of you have any experience using Elmer Keith's 45-70 classic load of 53 grains of 3031 with a 405 grain Jacketed
I tried 51.3 grains of 3031 with a lead cast bullet 405 grains in a Marlin 1895 CB .I seemed to be getting a loss of accuracy.
The cast bullets seemed to be doing better with less powder
say 46 grains of 3031.I suspect it was my choice of bullets and gas blow by in a cast bullet without a gas check.

· Registered
471 Posts
Sometimes there is a weird curb with reloading, try working the load from min to max and look for the sweet spot, you may find the hot load brings accuracy back in to play, could have something to do with the ammo as well and how it was reloaded, noticed you using cast. I don't shoot cast, just jacketed ammo, where I hunt Jacketed ammo works well, if I were to hunt Browns or cape buffalo etc...very large animals, I would use hardcast for deep penetration on a large animal is needed, but for where I am hunting Jacketed ammo does the trick on White tail deer/Black bears up here in NH. Aim small hit small. RAMbo.

P.S. note: I noticed keith's 405 bullet is Jacketed and the one your using is cast, this may be your problem.:rolleyes:

· Inactive account
7,804 Posts
Hi, Swifty:
Rmouleart could be right. The benchresters figure accuracy can go up, down, up, down, up again as velocity increases. It depends on your barrel and a change to a faster or slower powder can change everything.

However, you could be pushing your bullet or lube past it's limits. First, modern IMR powders made by Expro of Quebec is faster than the DuPont powder of Elmer's day. Second, your bullet might be too soft for that velocity. Third, your lube might be failing. IIRC, Veral Smith was shooting a .30-06 and his own lube with no problems. He tried Alox lube on one bullet and blew the primer.


· Banned
256 Posts
swifty: I have used the 53 grain and a 54 grain IMR3031 load with Rem. 405's. Accuracy did deteriorate very slightly compared to loads from 49-51 grains (not enough that I would discontinue using it for that reason). I suspect recoil and muzzle jump are a factor at that level of load which may enter into the decline.

I believe currently produced IMR 3031 is faster than the old stuff. My chronograph and another chronograph owned by a friend recorded similar but considerably higher velocities than expected based on loading manuals published velocities.

I also tested 425 grain gas checked and ovenhardened lead bullets at 53 grains and at 53.5 grains. Velocity again was higher than anticipated and recoil was very stout from an 1886 ELR without recoil pad. 3 shot groups usually produced 2 shots very close together and one about 2 to 3 inches out from them (100 yards). Still O.K for big game but nothing to brag about Some light leading at the muzzle so expect I need a better lube for those loads.

Pressures on all these loads are getting up there but I saw no pressure signs that would prevent me from using them. Certainly they are not beyond the limits of the cartridge case as modern single shot rifles are loaded considerably heavier using the same cases. I think a lot of shooting with them would tend to shake up any old lever action design over time though. The steel in the new rifles is excellent but the designs are over 100 years old and certainly John Browning did not anticipate pressures that high in 1886. Things like pins, screws may show wear or loss first. The forend cap screws that came in my rifle stripped in short order mainly because they were a bit short and did not have enough thread engagement. That and the fact that I was holding the forend quite firmly caused them to literally be torn loose from the dovetail retainer. The replacement screws were longer and I Loc-tited them to boot.

Although I would carry those loads if I was working on a coastal salmon stream where grizzly encounters were likely I suspect they really wouldn't do much more than a somewhat lighter load other than make me feel good. I use 46 grains of IMR 3031 as a hunting carry load and less (37) for plain old range practice. Loads in this weight range shoot very accurately, are easier to control and will still shoot through nearly anything a fellow is likely to encounter on most occasions. I have used Re-7 loaded to similar levels and results were much the same in terms of accuracy and velocity.
I liked Re7 a lot but local supply is intermittent so for the most part will rely on 3031

Now that deer season has ended here and once the Christmas season is past I'll be spending more time at the range testing loads and different lubricants to see if there is a way to eliminate the leading. Perhaps those flyers may disappear too. best

CONSULT YOUR MANUALS. (I think all the guys who are regulars on this forum know that but I'm covering my butt.) BCstocker

· Banned
126 Posts
I have worked up loads with the 405 Rem bullet and 3031 ranging from 45 gr. to 60 gr. The Ruger No. 1 will tolerate all of them and 58 gr. shoots very well.

The 53 gr. load is the one I shoot in my 1886 Brownchester ELR, and it produces 1,800 fps with good accuracy for peep sights. I have seen no signs of excessive pressure and feel that the rifle would handle hotter loads. I am not sure that I care to experience them. The 53 grs will kill elk, and I don't need more in my neck of the woods. (Wyoming)

I have a 48 gr load with 405 cast bullets that is about 1,600 fps and also shoot well. It is pleasant to shoot from either rifle and will penetrate further than I have tested - a 8" piece of wood and a railroad tie.

Hope this helps.


· Inactive
251 Posts
The oft-quoted Keith load of 53 grains of IMR3031 under the 405 gr. jacketed bullet is too hot in my 1977-vintage Marlin 1895.
Cases were bulged and primers were flattened. I tried this load many years ago and backed down to 50.0 grains of IMR3031.
Each gun is an individual. What may be fine in mine may be too much in another, and vice versa.
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