.444 vs. .45-70 - Pistolsmith
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Old 03-03-2005, 02:08 PM   #1
brl
 
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.444 vs. .45-70

.444 Marlin vs. .45-70, who likes what and why?

Thanks
 
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:38 AM   #2
 
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I prefer the .45-70 for a couple of related reasons, both having to do with the fact the .45-70 is available in a wider variety of rifles than the .444 Marlin. Even Marlin builds several lever action versions of the .45-70, while to my knowledge, there's only one factory built rifle chambered for the .444 Marlin. That's the Model 444 Marlin itself. I purchased a Model 444 Marlin a few years back intending to shoot heavy, 300-grain cast bullets through it. These are the same bullets I use in .44 Magnum revolvers. I quickly discovered the 300-grain cast bullets could not be seated deep enough in the cartridge cases so as to not exceed maximum overall cartridge length. The loaded ammo was too long to work in the Marlin. But .45-70 cartridge cases are shorter to begin with, and cast bullets up to 400-grains work just fine in the various Marlin lever actions chambered for the .45-70. Besides, there are a number of other manufacturers, building both lever action and single shot .45-70s, that will handle the heavy bullets I like to use.

In the above paragraph I stated only why I personally prefer the .45-70. I doubt there's any practical difference in using either a .444 Marlin or a .45-70 Government for hunting most North American big game. I just prefer using bigger, heavier bullets.

One thing more - the recoil of either cartridge, when fired from a lever action Marlin, makes my Model 70, .300 Winchester Magnum seem almost pleasant.
 
Old 03-23-2005, 11:46 AM   #3
brl
 
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Good post. Thanks for your input. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Thanks again!
 
 
Old 03-23-2005, 05:01 PM   #4
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Agreed, the 45/70 has a huge selection of bullets to do most any job from 200gr to 600 gr. The 444 does not.



 
Old 03-24-2005, 11:05 AM   #5
 
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Well, I just cant sit quietly and not atleast say something good about the triple 4 in this thread.
Yes there are more factory available offerings for the 45-70, and it is a fine cartridge.
I prefer to shoot the 444 because I am a reloader, and to me there are endless options for this caliber. It shares the same bullets as my 44 mag, which is very convenient. I can load 180 gr. XTPs which are very explosive, for varmints up to 400 gr. hardcast for anything else. I have found that a hardcast bullet of around 300 gr. will do anything I need though, and in my opinion has less recoil than the 45-70.
The 444 isnt right for everyone, specially if you dont reload, but I sure have fun with it.
 
Old 03-24-2005, 11:25 AM   #6
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Sorry, you are correct, there are a number of .44 caliber bullets. I needed to be more specific. My problem with the 444 is that most of bullets available are pistol bullets and don't hold up well in the kind of game the 444 would be typically used for.

On the other hand...the 45/70 can used the wealth of 45 pistol bullets from both the 45ACP and the 45 Colt plus all the 45/70 and 458 Win Mag bullets as well. Bullets used dependant on what kind of gun they are going into and ojive and bullet shape needed for safe feeding.

Pistol bullets are good for plinking and varmits but anything past a Texas white tail I prefer a better constructed rifle bullet built to take the velocity a rifle length barrel will generate.

Thanks for bringing that up.



 
Old 03-24-2005, 12:34 PM   #7
 
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Nothing wrong with the 444 round since they changed the original loadings which used a lightly constructed pistol bullet and really made it a useless piece, though one reknowned and still technically unaccounted for Recce Tm Ldr in Vietnam was reputed to have carried one as a "bunker buster wpn).

Saw a 444 used on a piglet up in SC a few weeks ago out of the Winchester platform with a 285 hard cast lead SWC if I remember correctly. A tad of overkill there, but the shooter was pretty much a one gun man, liked the Win 94 platform, and used what he was accustomed to. Hard to argue with that rationale.

Still there are many more options for both reloaders and for those who use factory ammo for the grand old 45/70. Plus the 45/70 comes in more rifle options---from the Marlin 444, to the magnificent old Winchester 86 and it's contemporary clones by Browning and Winchester, to the handy little Ruger 1S falling block and a vast variety of variants of the Sharps and 73 Springfield, etc, etc, etc.

Plus, it's hard to resist the charm of continuing to use the lovely old historic military round that performs even better in 2005 than it did in 1873 with all the different options in projectiles and rifles.

Doesn't detract from the 444 atall, for those who like it, but you can surely never go wrong with the 45/70 as long as you accept it's limitations--essentially common to all heavy bore rifles with heavy bullets at a moderate or even low velocity. Even the old rainbow-like trajectory can be resolved if you opt for the right load and the right sights. The 444 shares those limitations, by the way with little significant improvement in its best loads.

Personally don't much care for the 300-grain loadings, in 45/70 and certainly not lighter. Many seem taken with the 300 grains, but they seem to me to be too lightly constructed for anything much bigger than whitetail and I question anyone who opts for a 45+bore and then selects light, stubby poor sectional density bullets to increase velocity. If I want a plinker or varmint rifle, I don't use a 45, so the superlight pistol bullets are moot.

Again, hard to knock the 444, but like the 450 Marlin, one has to ask "WHY?" with the 45/70 so readily available in so many flavours of weapons and cartridge components. To a gun fancier, the answer might well be, "jes' cause" and there's surely no problem with that approach either. If I ever run across a Marlin pre-safety model at a steal price, I'd probably pick it up, "jes' cause," but I don't know when I'd opt to carry it over my 45/70's or 348's....
 
Old 04-03-2005, 09:11 PM   #8
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As I am new here, I hesitated to post on this, but feel I must. It was stated that the .45-70 could use pistol bullets. The .45-70 has a groove diameter of .458. Most pistol bullets in .45 are sized from .452 to .454. While not a safty issue for the rifle, it would be one if someone did the reverse. At best, accuracy in the rifle would be mediocre. Not trying to be a smart aleck, but I shoot both .45 Vaqueros AND a Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 so this is a matter I have some experiance with. Have ta be sure and keep my bullets separated!
 
Old 04-05-2005, 08:31 AM   #9
 
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Holiday,

Is that a SASS alias? Thought perhaps the VaqueroS, is an indicator of sorts...

Dunno about pistol bullets in the 45/70 since I've never done that myself, though a fellow by the name of PAUL D. MATTHEWS has certainly run the gamut of loads in his excellent little volume, FORTY YEARS WITH THE 45/70 and SIXTY YEARS WITH RIFLES. (Matthews was the old boy whom Jack O'Connor took to task for using a 375 H&H on Pennsylvania whitetail--using lighter than factory loads--after Matthews article in the GUN DIGEST back in the 50's/early 60's. So far as is known, O'Connor never hunted deer in PA, and Elmer Keith, who hadn't either, loved the article. Certainly, O'Connor didn't bother to take into account the velocity or the projectiles of the 375 loads that Matthews was using.)

If I remember correctly, though, Matthews moulded his own projectiles to fit bore diameter and also experimented with paper patched bullets to get the best accuracy. His books are worth reading if you like the 45/70 and/or have any interest in using the 375 H&H and 458 Win on North American game. He used hard cast pistol bullets in all three calibres.

It's all moot to me since I only shoot my 45/70's with 405-grain projectiles and don't have much interest in the stubbier bullets out of my rifles and carbines. Matter of fact, I settle on one bullet and one load for each of my rifles....and hopefully the same loads with different rifles in the same calibres. Still, it's nice to know what options exist out there and what works out of your specific pieces.

On a peripheral subject, it surely seems that the great flaw in the lovely concept of the pistol/carbine combinations in a single pistol calibre is that seldom does the same load shoot really well out of both weapons. That was especially true in past times when the 44 Mag and 357 only only came with swaged lead factory loads and JSP & JHP's were non-existent to limited. Little different today in 357 for sure, based on accuracy out of a Browning 92 using some of my 158-grain loads for my Model 27's, but then my 27's don't seem to like the heavier 165 & 180 grain projectiles which seem more useful for the carbine if used as a hunting piece. Plus, I always question, from a practical perspective, why go to the trouble of carrying a long arm with slightly enhanced pistol ballistics when for no significant increase in weight or bulk, one could use the rifle cartridge.

Cheers,
 
Old 04-05-2005, 05:29 PM   #10
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Yup, Holiday Hayes is my SASS alias. Been shooting CAS for about four years now. Pistol bullets would certainly work in a rifle. The only problem I see, as I was saying, would be poor accuracy due to the undersized bullet. However, at short ranges the accuracy loss might be minimal. Certainly paper patching the bullet would solve the undersized issue. It is a concept I have considered myself. Thanks for the information on the literature. I will have to check it out!
 
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