45-70 vs 450/400 3" (why the 450/400 3" is similar but superior)

matt85

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i realize the topic of the 45-70 gets brought up a lot but I got in a debate with a coworker earlier today and I felt like posting about it since my coworker made some valid points. his argument was that the 45-70 could produce near identical velocities to the 450/400 3" with the same bullet weight which yielded about the same muzzle energy.

it goes like this:

-45-70 (hot load) = 400gr bullet at 2000 fps, 3553 ft/lb muzzle energy

-450/400 3" (factory load) = 400gr bullet at 2030 fps, 3660 ft/lb muzzle energy

pretty much the same right? at first I couldn't come up with a counter to his argument as it seemed solid at first glance. however, after a little thought and research i found the secret to the effectiveness of the 450/400 3" and why it brings down large animals in a way that the 45-70 cannot match. the simple answer is sectional density! here is a comparison between two bullets:

swift A-frame .458 400gr: SD 0.272 BC 0.258

swift A-frame .410 400gr: SD 0.339 BC 0.367

the 400gr .458" bullet suffers from a serious problem, its short and wide. these are not ideal traits for a bullet you need to penetrate heavy hide, bone, and meat. a proper SD for thick skinned dangerous game has long been considered 0.3+ and for the .458" bullet to reach this it must be at least 450gr. unfortunately the 45-70 is not able to push the 450gr bullet fast enough to achieve the ideal muzzle energy for dangerous game. (according to hornady's ballistic calculator, you would need to push the 450gr bullet at 1900fps to achieve a proper muzzle energy)

i didn't make this thread to argue whether or not the 45-70 was suitable for DG but rather to discuss what at first seemed like it might be a valid argument.

thanks for reading
-Matt
 

Red Leg

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The .577/450 Martini Henry was a very similar round both in black powder guise and later cordite (a "hotter" version). It was found in single shot and cape gun form all over Southern and East Africa, and it had a well deserved reputation as a notorious wounder of dangerous game. Any number of farmers were squashed are bitten when it was turned against buffalo or a marauding lion. It worked fine, however, knocking over lunch or the occasional marauding band of Zulu.
 

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Not only does the SD help a lot, but also the much higher BC helps a bit too, resulting in higher retained energy downrange.

I don't know how hot the factory 450/400 load you refer to is as I know to little about the cartridge, but in general I would avoid hot loads in hot hunting conditions that you very much can experience when hunting African DGs.
This is one of the reasons I don't buy much into the hot (or even VERY hot) loads people refer to when they try to make the 45-70 a decent DG cartridge.

Based on your numbers I know for sure what I would choose if those cartridges had been the only options on a DG hunt.
 

Doubleriflejack

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Norwegianwoods----"I don't know how hot the factory 450/400 load you refer to is as I know to little about the cartridge, but in general I would avoid hot loads in hot hunting conditions that you very much can experience when hunting African DGs.
This is one of the reasons I don't buy much into the hot (or even VERY hot) loads people refer to when they try to make the 45-70 a decent DG cartridge."
______________________________
That is one of the very good reasons, exactly why the British, a good long time ago, thought about in developing such huge cartridge cases for their big bore cartridges, such as the aforementioned .400 Jeffrey on up, so they would have most ideal low pressure for their double rifles, which are not suitable for intense ammunition, and, at the same time, in the intense heat of Africa, the large cartridge cases would not produce intense breech pressures that could cause problems. On the other hand, Winchester, when they developed the .458, didn't take this into consideration, made cartridge case simply too small, creating pressure problems in such intense African heat. Winchester and supporters at the time, said that the large British cartridges were too large, were inefficient. Winchester was wrong; the old British gunmakers were correct.
 

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Norwegianwoods----"I don't know how hot the factory 450/400 load you refer to is as I know to little about the cartridge, but in general I would avoid hot loads in hot hunting conditions that you very much can experience when hunting African DGs.
This is one of the reasons I don't buy much into the hot (or even VERY hot) loads people refer to when they try to make the 45-70 a decent DG cartridge."
______________________________
That is one of the very good reasons, exactly why the British, a good long time ago, thought about in developing such huge cartridge cases for their big bore cartridges, such as the aforementioned .400 Jeffrey on up, so they would have most ideal low pressure for their double rifles, which are not suitable for intense ammunition, and, at the same time, in the intense heat of Africa, the large cartridge cases would not produce intense breech pressures that could cause problems. On the other hand, Winchester, when they developed the .458, didn't take this into consideration, made cartridge case simply too small, creating pressure problems in such intense African heat. Winchester and supporters at the time, said that the large British cartridges were too large, were inefficient. Winchester was wrong; the old British gunmakers were correct.

Right on jack! Just put a .45-70 alongside a 450-400 and you see which one is better suited to big power and low pressure.
 

enysse

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450/400 will win every time!
 

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I have pushed a 515gr 45/70 to 1780fps, very painful, but with Hodgdon Extreme powders, the velocity has very little difference between summer and winter, here in NM winter temps can be in the 40s F, and summer, they may hit 110 F in the shade. I would much rather shoot my 375 Ruger, recoil is much better in my 8.5# 375 than in my 7# 45/70. My 45/70 is a Ruger #1, I stopped trying for more velocity when the recoil became pretty much unbearable.
 

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crs

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Enysse,
That is one beauty of my 1895 .405 WCF as it shoots .411 bullets from 210 grain on up through 400 grains. The buff in the pic to the left was shot with a 400 grain Woodleigh at 2100 fps (sound a bit like the 450/400? ). So does my Simpson - Suhl .405 DR:
56534_600x400.jpg
 

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As staunch a defender of classic British cartridges as anyone here--but I don't know if I agree. I think that out of a modern rifle (especially a single shot), the .45-70 is practically as effective as the .450-400. Yes, sectional density is higher with the smaller diameter--but the .45-70 can be loaded with bullets ranging up to (and exceeding) 500 grains. Velocity of a .45-70 loaded with (for instance) a good, modern 350gr bullet is well above 2000fps and gives you a trajectory plenty flat enough for 250+ yard shots. Plus, you have bullet and brass availability, ease of handloading, and a zillion factory loads to choose from with the .45-70.

These are wide-ranging generalizations, though. The question would be how each cartridge, in specific configurations, would be best suited for different situations--such as plains game out to 300 yards, thick-skinned game at moderate distances, dangerous game at close range, or any combination of these variables (and more). Although I love the mystique of the 1899 British cartridge, I would never discount the effectiveness and flexibility of the Old U.S. Army Warhorse.

In any case, this is all quite moot because the .375 H&H beats both by a country mile. ;-)
 
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crs

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All,
Please do not forget the importance of the bullet when evaluating rifles and loads.
One simple example from our preparation for a bullet testing Safari in Africa should suffice:
We anticipated having to shoot an elephant and chose bullets that might be adequate for frontal brain shots. A steel 5/8 inch thick plate was hung in the target area and shots were taken from 50 yards away. We used the Winchester 1886 .45-70 with two types of bullets loaded to around an easy 1900 fps. We did not use the .45-90 that easily generated 2150 fps for 450 grain solids because we chose to err on the safe side. If the little guy can do it , so can the big guy. The results confirmed our original thoughts:
The 450 grain Punch bullets PUNCHed round daylight holes in the plate and went on into the dirt backstop.
The 450 grain North Fork bullets did almost as well, tearing a ragged hole in the plate.

None of the other dozen or so bullets came close to penetrating the plate and some just flattened on it..

In Africa, both the Punch and North Fork bullets shot through the head and on into the ele body, DRT.

How much MORE effective would another caliber be? In fact, with this performance, WHO CARES?

IMHO, it is much more constructive to work to solve a challenge/problem than it is to criticize various options. You might want to keep this in mind the next time a hunter wants to use his .45-70 in Africa -- he/she may just know what they are doing and some may have done it before.
 

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pretty much the same right? at first I couldn't come up with a counter to his argument as it seemed solid at first glance. however, after a little thought and research i found the secret to the effectiveness of the 450/400 3" and why it brings down large animals in a way that the 45-70 cannot match. the simple answer is sectional density! here is a comparison between two bullets:

swift A-frame .458 400gr: SD 0.272 BC 0.258

swift A-frame .410 400gr: SD 0.339 BC 0.367
If you calculate the cross sectional area ie the size of the hole it makes, then you will see the 45 makes a roughly 25 % bigger hole area. So i would guess it needs more than 25 % more energy to get the same penetration.

The 45 will also be more likely to wobble or turn sideways due to the poor sectional density.

Lastly, velocity disappears faster than a jug of beer at a redneck picnic. So sectional density has a big effect -like you point out.
 

Forrest Halley

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This thread was seven years (c)old before it was resurrected.

What's the point here?

The 450/400 can be equalled in performance by the .45-70 firing the right bullet in a modern gun?

@crs where does your first loyalty lie? The .405 DR? The .45-70 DR? The .45-90? I know you're a classic cartridge supermod'er, but what's the go to one round forsaking all others?

I was waiting for you to come around and quash the silliness, but was confused when I saw you had resurrected the thread and thus rekindled it.
 

IvW

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I dont even see the start of a comparison......like trying to compare a fart in a perfume factory.....
 

crs

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Forrest,
My point was that it is foolish to make broad , general statements about things with which you are not very familiar. Apparently overly subtle? I have no financial interest in the .45-70 or am I infatuated with it, BUT I am not overly tolerant of people spouting off about it when they are not qualified. Goes for all cartridges, I suppose.

45-70 DR? Why did I buy it when my .405 is already superior? The widow of a recently deceased gunmaker friend needed the money and I knew it could be upgraded to 45-90 . I was going to extend the chamber to 45-90, but my DR gunsmith was booked out to next year and I decided to experiment with heavier bullets. Guess what? Big success and then Mike Brady gave me some of his favorite 350 grain NF bullets and they also shoot great. So. I will just shoot anything I want with the rifle as NF bullets will kill nearly anything. I also have NF .458 flat point solids leftover from Africa.


My first loyalty to a rifle?

My pre 64 Winchester M70 FWT .308- still sub minute of angle after all these years.


And my present fave big bore stalking rifle - my Winchester 1895 .405? It is off to Magnaport next Monday . That cartridge has already matched and exceeded 450/400 performance in my 1895 Win and my Simson .405 DR.

As I said before, who cares which rifle or cartridge is BEST- with the right bullets, they both can kill any land based creature on any continent.



And in closing, if faced with bunch of buff that all had to be killed ASAP, I would likely choose my 1886 .45-90 with its magazine full of 450 grain Punch solids at 2150 fps. However that situation is highly unlikely.





LVW- agreed on why compare. Maybe because gun writers need to have something to write about and some gun nuts need something to debate.
 

crs

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Gents,
Please excuse the funky format above. My network connection filed a couple hours ago and just now came back. Time for a nap now.
 

postoak

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The opening post states 2000 fps with 400 grain bullets in the .45-70, but is that actually doable? The highest I've read anyone getting is 1900 fps. Also, the .45-70 is usually a light rifle (mine weighed 8 1/3 pounds). Recoil isn't going to be pleasant even at 1900 fps.
 

crs

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Postoak,
Does this look like a light rifle? 9.5 pounds unloaded . Yes, 400 grainers at 2000+ fps has been done.
52608_600x400.jpg

Before you ask about the steel crescent butt plate, no if held right, it acts as a base for rotation of the heavy full octagon barrel and there is no pain or bruising. Just tuck the lower point into your arm pit and blast away. Keep both eyes open and see all as the barrel rises in recoil and then settles back down right on target.

Forrest thinks I am eccentric, but I am not crazy or self destructive.
 
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postoak

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crs - that is a nice looking rifle. I would want every one of those 9.5 pounds!
 

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