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Frustrated .45/70 shooter

2172 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  hotrod53

Within the last year I have acquired two .45/70 rifles, a Browning High Wall (not bpcr) and a Ruger #1.  Load development has been frustrating.  I am an experienced handloader, however, this has been my debut into cast lead bullets in rifles.  Both rifles have demonstrated superb accuracy with my jacketed handloads and with factory jacketed fodder.  With cast lead, however, I have tried many combinations of three different brands of bullets in weights ranging from 300 to 530 grains, including bevel-base, plain-base and gas checked, with five different powders.  Sizing has ranged from .4565 to .459.  Both magnum and standard primers have been investigated as recommended by the books.  All loads have been within published parameters.  


1.  Plain and bevel base bullets prefer less than 1300 fps in all cases.

2.  With all but the gas-checked bullets, severe leading has occurred at all tried velocities, (1200 to 1800 fps)

3.  With all but the gas-checked bullets, splattering of lead down the outside of the brass has occurred, most of which has adhered to the brass, requiring alot of scraping.

I am hoping that someone out there has seen similar symptoms.  I am at the steep end of the learning curve and appreciate your advice.

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The experience you describe is all too familiar!  I hear these complaints nearly on a daily basis.   The fault lies not in the rifles, or your loads particularly, but in the bullets employed.

Before we get to the issue of bullets, your bore condition is of primary concern:  EVERY trace of jacket fouling must be removed from the bore prior to shooting alloy bullets for gratifying results.  The jacket fouling increases the exetent of leading in any bore.  Consider this scenario:  When making a wiped soldered joint in copper tubing used for plumbing, we burnish and clean the copper tubing, then apply a grease/wax based flux, then add heat and a tin/lead solder to solder the joint together.   Now, apply this to your barrel:  we have a copper washed bore (jacket fouling), which is burnished clean by the abrasion of a cast bullet (tin/lead alloy, aka solder) in the bore, which is lubricated by a wax based bullet lube (flux), creating great amounts of friction in the barrel (read heat).   What we have is a recipe for a well soldered bore!   Enough dissertaion... just clean the bore spotless before shooting lead bullets!

Now, concerning bullets:   Most bullets are too small in diameter for the majority of .45-70 barrels and chamber throats.   The other two factors in bullets are bullet hardness and bullet lubricant quality.

For 95+% of all .45-70's of modern production, a bullet of .460" diameter will shoot the best.   Gas checked designs are a must if velocities are much above 1500 fps.  

Beartooth's .460"-405g LFNGC and .460"-450g LFNGC are superb shooting bullets in all .45-70's tested, delivering MOA or sub-MOA groups on demand.  Don't take just my word for it however, below are excerpts from the May 2001 edition of Guns Magazine, from an article titled:  "Ruger's Big Bores:  The 99/44 Deerfield & .45-70 No.1" by John Taffin:

Take heart!  There is hope for your .45-70's and cast bullets!

God Bless,

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Marshall has it right on the money. Clean your barrel, then clean it again. I in the past, I would drive a rubber cork in the muzzle and fill the barrel with Shooter's Choice and leave it over night, to remove copper fouling. Then it dawned on me that there was nothing that a jacketed bullet could do, in a 45-70, that a cast bullet could not do.  I have 300 Remington, Speer 405 jacketed slugs in the loading room that I bought in the 70s and have no reason to use.
Once I stopped shooting jacketed slugs, my accuracy has remained constant. There's just no reason to shoot the jacketed stuff.

First:  Thank you for your quick responses and sound advice.  

Second:  Thank you for providing and moderating this forum.  I have looked into several online forums and have been disappointed by most, and even disturbed by a few.  It is readily apparent that this forum is moderated and frequented by intelligent, articulate men whose experience I find very valuable.  I prefer not to reinvent the wheel.

Third:  Congratulations on the excellent results found by Mr. Taffin of GUNS magazine.  I imagine that bit of publicity will dramatically boost sales.  There is no substitute for excellence.  I'll get my order in soon.

Fourth:    What are the criteria for determining the need to lap a barrel?  Upon close examination of the Ruger's freshly cleaned bore, I see far more machining marks than I am used to seeing.  Does this condition affect the accuracy of cast bullets more than jacketed?

Thank you again,

Many thanks for the kind words, and you are right about there being an incredibly blessed think tank of articulate minds and great depth of experience represented by those who frequent this forum... a real tribute to the quality people who actively engage in the shooting sports!

Now, about lapping.... yes those machining marks are bothersome, but the most detrimental aspect of your barrel is the constrictions that you will probably find in the bore.   The fire-lapping process will remove those constrictions and leave a bore of very precise, uniform dimensions, thus enhancing its lead handling propencity immensely.   Take a look at our FAQ pages and you'll find instructions for slugging the bore.  When you slug it, you'll feel those constrictions I elude to... those are the culprits that most adversely affect cast bullet performance.   Also, if you have trouble finding the oval egg sinkers to slug your gun, we now stock them since so many folks asked us to do so, many brands out there are made from reclaimed lead alloys that are too hard for barrel slugging purposes.   They are available on our shopping cart under slugging supplies.

Slug that bore and let us know what you find!

God Bless,

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As usual, you were right on the money.  There were two distinct constrictions in the Ruger, under the barrel band and under the front sight.  In the high wall, there was one tight spot about 2/3 the way through.  The Ruger was the worst; upon squeezing through the constricted areas the rest of the bore seemed almost loose.  The groove diameter at the constrictions measured .458 in both guns.

I suppose I'll be ordering the lapping kit.  

In speaking to several local shooters, those who have lapped rifle barrels have seen either no effect or a detrimental effect on accuracy.  It is noteworthy, however, that the number of different techniques matches the number of shooters.  The common denominator, interestingly enough, is that they all used full power loads with jacketed bullets.  That makes no sense to me.  There is logic in your system and I am willing to try it.


This is funny, I was just looking at this old post last night as I remembered that you also spoke of lead "flashing" appearing on the outside neck areas of your brass after firing. I'm experiencing this myself now and am trying different measures to counter act it.

Having dealt with the good gents over at the cast bullet board, I've come to at least one possibility.

One that is quite obvious now is to use some form of M type expanding die or belling the case to prevent any lead shaving during seating. I didn't have one for my 35 Wildcat at the time of the first loadings.

My theory is that if you don't do this you actually shave lead off the side of the bullet while seating and those shavings deposit themselves into the lube grooves with the lube. We now have chips of "solder" in a nice "flux" material. Upon firing, these chips fly into every nook and cranny including some in the area between case and chamber wall before it fully closes up due to full pressure.

I'm going to test this theory soon and I'll letcha know what I come up with.

I'll see if I'm barking up the wrong tree here.


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That is one of the possibilities presented to me by another bullet manufacturer.  I tried varying degrees of casemouth expansion, with no change in the amount of "flashing".  I even pulled a bullet after seating to see if I could see any free lead, and didn't.  

It may be a symptom of a combination of causes, but the problem was practically solved when I used a larger diameter plain-based bullet, in my case, .459 or .460, (the problem was most pronounced with bevel-based bullets).  It disappeared altogether when I used larger sized gas-checked bullets.

I had also contacted the manufacturer of the bullets and he mentioned that the lot I had purchased was considerably softer than advertised.  Also, I was naive enough to trust the sizing data on the label.  the .458s were actually .4565.  Just like the old computer axiom, Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Needless to say, I've ordered some Beartooths.  Until they arrive, I'll probably just shoot jacketed loads.

Best of luck,

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Interesting discussion!

One suggestion.  Try a 1/16" polyethylene wad under your bullets.  It will seal the base of the bullet and accuracy, and leading will almost always improve, sometimes dramatically!

As an illustration on how well this works, I have an original '73 Winchester in .44 W.C.F. which has a groove diameter of .433" which is big.  I like the Lyman 427098 bullet for this caliber because it's the original design used by U.M.C. / Marlin.

I make my bullets out of wheelweights with 2 % tin added. They measure .429" diameter and weigh 213 grs.  If I shoot this bullet, which is .004" below groove diameter, accuracy is non exsistant with most of the bullets keyholing.

1" - 1 3/4" groups at 50 yards using 15 grs. of 2400 or 17 grs. of H4227 Extreme for 1,230 f.p.s.!!

Another option that works is polyethylene shot buffer. It does the same thing in sealing the base of the bullet. It must be compressed on top of the powder charge to hold everything in place.  Use slower burning powders - no faster than 2400 in pistol cases and  4198 and  slower in rifle cases.

About 10 years ago I was trying some cast bullets in a .22-250 at about 3,000 f.p.s.  My alloy was linotype.  As I recall, I was using 22 grs. of 4198. I was astonished to see leading on the outside of my case necks!

After thinking about this for a day or so, I determined that the cause was probably an oversized throat since the rifle had about 7,000 rounds through it.  I checked it and sure enough,  the throat measured .232"!! No wonder I was getting leading on the outside of the neck.

Since my bullet diameter was .225",  the gas was getting around the bullet in the .007" space the washed out throat provided.  I was able to fix the problem by using fired cases and seating a Hornady crimp on type g.c. which measured .233" o.d. at the lip into the case neck over a poly wad.  Then, prior to firing, I inserted a bullet into the gas check in the case neck before chambering the round.  

Success!  No more leading on the case necks and I had some decent 1 1/2" groups at 100 yards!

Anyway, food for thought!

(Edited by John Kort at 10:12 pm on June 21, 2001)
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That's what I love about this forum...


Thanks for the last post...I was intending to try the wad idea if bullet size and style were ruled out as the causes.  However, I believe I have identified the primary problem as being the bullet size and second, the barrel constrictions.  The bullets that gave me the worst leading, flashing and accuracy problems exhibited the same behavior in three different guns:  High Wall, No. 1, and a Sharps.  This, at least in my mind, indicated a problem inherent in the bullet.  That proved to be the case.  

The gun with the worst constrictions demonstrated the worst accuracy with all the cast lead bullets tried.  I'll try the wad in that gun, but I still intend to lap it and use .460s.  The throats in my two guns are relatively short, but I haven't checked the diameter.  It's worth a look.

I think Contender will find this pertinent as well.

Thanks, Gents.

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Sounds like you're inundated with great info!  <!--emo&:)--><img src="" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->

If you haven't already, you simply must order the Tech Manual from Mr. Stanton.  It DETAILS so much of what has only been briefly mentioned here.  

I've had good success with 38 grains of RL7 under plain base 405 Meister's.  1.5" at 100 yards through a William's peep  on a Marlin 1895G.  My chrono is still on order so I don't know how fast they sail.  I think it is about 1350 - 1450 judging only from a comparison of recoil to factory Remington 405's.  

I've loaded some of Marshalls LFNGC 405gr. but am waiting for the chrono.  

Please post results after you lap your bore(s).  I have not lapped my little 18.5" barrel.  The results I got from the fishing weight excersize were disappointing and inconclusive.  After a very difficult start down the muzzle, the weights seemed to practically fall the rest of the way, with only a VERY SLIGHTLY noticeable constriction at the midpoint (rear sight mount???).  This rifle seems plenty accurate to do the job I want it to at the ranges I want it to, so I've decided for now not to lap.  

It sounds like you're making progress in your research.  You'll bypass the "steep" part of that learning curve and emerge victoriously accurate, I'm sure!  <!--emo&:)--><img src="" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->

Meanwhile the rest of us are learning from it all!
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