Introduction to the .45-70 Government
The .45-70 Government cartridge, also known as .45-70-405 or simply .45-70, is a significant firearm cartridge that has shaped much of American history. Renowned for its high stopping power and long service life, the .45-70 has been in use for over a century and a half.
Invention and Purpose
The .45-70 cartridge was developed by the United States Army's Springfield Armory for use in the Springfield Model 1873, which was the first standard-issue breech-loading rifle adopted by the United States Armed Forces. The "45" in its name refers to the caliber, which is .45 inches, and the "70" refers to the grain weight of the black powder used in the original loads, which was 70 grains. The third number often associated with the name, typically 405 or 500, refers to the weight in grains of the lead bullet used.
The .45-70 was developed in 1873 for several reasons. First, the U.S. military needed a cartridge that could be used effectively in their newly adopted breach-loading rifles. Second, the .45-70 was created to replace the .50-70 Government cartridge, which was considered too heavy and unwieldy for practical military use. The .45-70, on the other hand, had a smaller diameter and was significantly lighter, making it a more versatile cartridge. By today's standards, it's still a rather large cartridge with heavy recoil.
Weapons That Used It
The .45-70 Government was first used in the Springfield Model 1873, but this was far from the only firearm to utilize this cartridge. Other rifles such as the Remington Lee Model 1879, Browning 1885 Single Shot, and Winchester Model 1886 were also chambered for the .45-70. As for handguns, the Magnum Research BFR is one notable example of a revolver that has been chambered for the .45-70.
There are a whole host of modern lever guns that fire the .45-70 Government cartridge. These include guns in current production by Winchester, Henry, Marlin, Rossi, and Uberti to name a few.
Predecessors and Successors
As mentioned before, the immediate predecessor of the .45-70 was the .50-70 Government cartridge. The .50-70 was in use by the U.S. Army from the 1860s until the .45-70's adoption in 1873.
Despite being replaced as a military service cartridge by the .30-40 Krag in the 1890s, the .45-70 has managed to remain in production to this day. Its staying power is due to its effectiveness for hunting large game, as well as its popularity among black powder shooting enthusiasts. There are no direct successors to the .45-70. Instead, it coexists with a wide variety of different cartridges used for varying purposes.
Performance-wise, the .45-70 is renowned for its power. The original 1873 loading fired a .45 caliber, 405-grain bullet at 1350 feet per second, resulting in a muzzle energy of 1593 foot-pounds of force. This made it highly effective for both hunting and military use.
Modern .45-70 ammunition has far exceeded the capabilities of the original loading. Current factory loads can fire a similar 405-grain bullet at velocities over 2000 feet per second, generating more than 3000 foot-pounds of force. This makes the .45-70 still capable of taking down nearly any game in North America.
It's worth noting that the .45-70 has a relatively steep trajectory compared to modern cartridges due to its large, heavy bullet and moderate velocity. However, this has not prevented it from being effective at reasonable ranges in the hands of an experienced shooter.
In conclusion, the .45-70 Government
The .45-70 Government cartridge is a historically significant and still practical firearm cartridge. Its development marked a major shift in U.S. military firearms, and its longevity testifies to its effectiveness and versatility.
The Marlin Owners website has a forum dedicated to the discussion of Marlin .45-70 and can be found here.
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