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Discussion Starter #1
I need advice. Sometime in the not too distant future I'll be buying a "big" bore lever-action, for use on "big" game on this continent, at all distances under 180 yds. What do you recommend the cartridge should be? Likely criteria include: Availability/variety of factory loads; availability/variety of re-loading components; availability of rifles; flatness of trajectory; ability to stop any North American big game animal with one well-placed shot out to 180 yds. None of these criteria are "all-important," except the last one. I am thinking along the lines of 45-70, 444 Marlin, and 450 Marlin. But I am still ignorant enough to listen and learn. Thanks in advance for the advice!

Tomp
 

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All three are excellent rounds, but I must admit that I am prejudice for the .45-70. Bullet weights from 250 to 540 grains, factory loads available ANYWHERE and in several different weights, and if you handload, you can taylor it to take anything, anywhere. The same can be said for the .450 except factory load availability and choice. I think the .450 gives you lots of choices, sos long as its a 350 gr. Hornady load! LIke the .450, the .444 just does not off the variety of factory loads or reloading options as does the .45-70, nor is it as readily available as the .45-70.
 

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Best Big Levergun

I expect that the .450 Marlin and .444 will be collector items and have gone the way of the .358 Winchester, .358 Norma Magnum and a host of other marketing failures. In 20 years and you won't be able to find ammo. You sure can't find them at just any crossroads hardware store now.

But the .45-70 is widely available almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere, and will probably be with us for another 100 years or so, if civilians are still allowed to own guns.

None of the other cartridges has any real ballistic advantages over the .45-70, properly loaded and used in a strong, modern firearm. The .45-70 is plentiful and familiar, so it not even a contest. Go with the .45-70.
 

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Tomp - I can't predict the future of the .450 Marlin but I do agree that the 45-70 in a guide gun or standard rifle is the way to go. There are multiple sight/scope combinations and some excellent gunsmiths to work on them to customise them anyway you'd like. The other thing going for the 45-70 is that you can almost always find ammo for it not always the case with the others. Good luck with what ever you choose. CEJ
 

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Nawth East Moderatah
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Tomp

I've got the Winchester Timber carbine in .444. It's a nice enough rifle but a bit of a thumper. I think CDNN Had the poly stock versions for a good price.

My only other "Big bore" is a Marlin 38-55, which balistically, is close to the 375 Win.

I had a Pedersoli repro of the Sharps rifle in 45-70; real pretty but too heavy to carry around the woods and I'd be heartbroken to scratch the figured walnut stock, so that one had to go....
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Yup -

Given the choice of the three mention cartridges, my pick of the litter is the versitile 45-70. All things considered, ammo availability, reloading components and accuracy, the 45-70 is the winner, hands down. Sure are a magnitude of firearms to shoot it in, too!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Gentlemen, given the weight of authority, as represented by your well-considered advice, at this point, I am strongly inclined to go with the 45-70. Plus, for plain old historical reasons, the 45-70 is just about impossible to beat. A hundred and thirty years and still going strong! Thank you all very much for helping out a beginner.

Tom
 

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got to say everyone likes 45-70 but you have to hand load or plan ahead on ammo ive never had any problem finding the more powerfull 444 ammo though either at the stores honady & remington shoots good out two 200
yrds dead is dead
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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It should be noted that the 444 will give good performance with somewhat less recoil than the other two (depending on the load), although if you're considering a big-bore rifle, you probably aren't recoil-shy.

The 444 can be very effective with bullets less than 300 grains where the .45 rifles are just geting started with 300gr. and 350gr. bullets.

I ended up with a .458 Win Mag so can't lecture too much on either versatility or how to get less recoil.... LOL....
 

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Tomp,
Have you gone into the Tech Notes on the Beartooth site and read the 3 articles on the 444?? If not you should, far as that goes everyone should. Excellent article with some good info.

DW
 

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For ultimate power numbers the 45/70 is tops and is readily available. Most guys I know load up a box of hotties for their next Cape Buffalo hunt, sight in a few, then load range and lighter deer loads for 99% of their shooting. The 45/70 has that flexibility.

The .444 does whatever the "african" .405 can do and is available in some european doubles and drillings, so you may find it as easier to find overseas.

As mentioned, all three will drill a 2" hole from stem to stern of just about anything, so pick the rifle you like and take whatever suits your fancy at the time.

Since Marlin has nearly buried Winchester in the last 30 years with the .444, I don't think it's about to go away.
 

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As a devout fan of the 45-70, I would be biased in my answer.

Marshalls excellent articles on the .444 turned my head a bit, but not enough to file for divorce.

The 45/70 is very flexible if you reload.

I would bet that if Marshall or someone else did a series similar to the .444 articles, you would find that they are both quite flexible.

The only thing that tips the scale in favor of the .444 is that you can use bullets avaliable for the .44Mag if you reload. (and have a .44Mag)

Since the bore diameter of the 45/70 is .458 and the bore diameter of my 45Colts is .452 I do not have that luxury unless I want to go to the extra work of paper patching or bumping up the bullets in size.

My personal opinion on the .450 is that it should come with a free pair of Bell Bottom Jeans. I could be wrong though, I was wrong once before ;*)

Scotty
 

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First don't let anybody sell on that the 444 isn't enough rifle for the task at hand using hard cast bullets. It will handle moose, elk and smaller bears with the proper bullets in the lever gun. However it is NOT a 45/70 the true heavy weight of the lever guns in my opinion. Thus I would opt for this caliber if wanting to bring down the big bison with a whack and thud. Not to say that the Triple 4 won't understand. I would NEVER shoot at any bear over 75 yards with either lever gun, especially a grizz type, get closer and know you placed your shot well.
 

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Don't forget the new kid on the block!!

Tomp
Though the 444, 450, 45-70 are all great cartridges -we also need to bring in the new kid the 454 Casull. as a lever gun cartridge this round will do as good as the others mentioned.
:D I will be getting my new Roosi 454 soon -not soon enough. And looking at the figures it should perform better than the 444-Sorry Marshal, and very close to the performace of the 45-70 out of a lever gun. It's new and not alot of game getting data as of yet, but in a couple of years when more of them hit the game trails we'll see just how good it will be. If it does as good as it has in revolvers it should be a excellant Lever gun cartridge. A new Bigbore is born!
 

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:rolleyes:

It's like the old Ford vs. Chevy vs. Mopar arguments when we were teenagers. Whatever particluar gun you like best should be most important. Feel, handling, pointability of the firearm is much more important than which of the three cartridges mentioned. Each of them with proper bullets is more than enough for anything on the North American continent. All are about equally versatile when handloaded. By any realistic measure of field shooting, the 444, .450, and .45-70 all have the same trajectory. The differences between them will be so minor as to be a non-issue. Whichever one you like best and can get the best price on would be my suggestion.
 

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My vote is for the 444Marlin. I have one from Marlin, model 444p. It is a dream. With the deeper cut rifling in the barrel it handles cast bullets very well. I usually "roll my own" and can put out cast rounds that would ruin ones day, load "up" jacketed rounds that will drop a buffalo in his tracks, or can use lighter cast bullets for practice.

While we big bore fans don't worry too much about recoil, the 444 seems a little lighter than the 45-70's I have shot in the past. It also seems to shoot a little flater than the others, but not enough to make a huge difference. I have 6 leverguns and a 45-70 on the way. If I could only have one it would be the trusty 444, although that doesn't mean I wont be looking for a 450 in the future!
 
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