My take is they're both fine cartridges and ballistically similar when the 45-70 is loaded to its full potential in a strong, modern action. But... you get a lot more in the way of choices with the 45-70, in terms of ammunition, components and rifles.
Scout- I chose the 45-70. You can buy factory ammo practically anywhere, components (if you reload) are readily available, and theres no end to the loading data available. 45-70 brass is much cheaper and more available than .450. The only advantage to 450 is that it's factory ammo comes already hotrodded. I don't believe I've ever bought factory ammo for my 45-70 anyway. My factory is in my basement.
I have the .450 Marlin and like it very much. If you don't reload, I suggest you by the .450 Marlin for reasonably priced performance ammo. If you do reload, by whichever gun you can buy the cheapest, because thy are ballistic equivalents.
45-70, for the history if nothing else. It is true that the only load for the 450 marlin is hotrodded some but what if you want a trapdoor level load to play with? What about cowboy action shooting, you are sol with the 450.
With the 45-70 you can buy factory loads that run the gambit from mild to wild. Handloaders can duplicate the same levels and do away with some of the expense.
I have Marlin's 1895 45-70 with the 22" barrel. I've been running Rem 405 gr sp's at 1980 fps over a stiff charge of RE7. The more I play with it the more I like it.
I bought a .450, and figured it might end up staying in the gun cabinet, and just be nice to say I have one. I have however been having a ball with it. It shoots wonderful. My buddy has another hunting partner who has the gun in the 45-70, and he says the recoil is pretty stiff. As everyone has said they are about balistically equal. The suprise came when we started putting the first factory loads through it. I found the recoil to be suprisingly light, then my buddy shot it and said the same thing. He says I have to shoot the 45-70 his other buddy has and see the difference my self. The 45-70 is a marlin also but not ported. The ported barrel keeps the gun from climbing and I think it's great. I bought enough brass to last a lifetime, and started working up loads. I have a cast bullet load with a 405 gr cast bullet and 16.5 grains of unique, that hardly recoils at all, and like I said, have been plinking rabbits and coyotes to prepare for big game. I want to Chrono the load to see what velocity I'm getting but I am having fun. My buddy talked me into scoping it, with a 1.5-5 power simmons whitetail classic, really helps in the dark timber. enjoy
45/70 HANDS DOWN, YES 450 CASE CAN HOLD MORE PRESSURE, BUT 45/70 CAN HOLD MORE POWDER, MORE CASE CAP. LESS PRESSURE WITH SAME POWDER CHARGE / BULLET COMBOS. 450 MARLIN LOADS ARE ALL COMPRESSED .450 MARLIN AND 45/70 MARLIN ARE BOTH THE SAME IN TERMS OF STRENGTH , DONT GO ABOVE 40000 PSI
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