Having some fun reloading with Trail Boss powder in my 45-70

Chris.Wood

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Reloading my 45-70 with Trail Boss Powder.

I was looking for a way to practice my field shooting with my 45-70 cheaply and decided to give some Trail Boss powder a go, I have used it quite successfully before in my .222 so I had a good idea of how it performed. First off was to determine a safe starting load which was listed in the ADI loading Manual in the single action section. If you have a cartridge that is not listed in the manual simply email ADI and they will send you the information you need. Trail Boss is a bulk density powder and is shaped like small doughnuts it takes up a lot of case space at a small charge weight, which is perfect for reduced loads.


ADI Trail Boss Powder.


The shape of the powder flakes aids in taking up case volume.

I also had a couple of hundred 350 grain cast projectiles from the Hawksbury River Bullet Company so these would be perfect for practice loads. First off I weighed each projectile and sorted them into 3 different weights, cast projectiles can vary a bit in weight and you need to know what you are loading. Another thing I have found is dont try and push a cast projectile too fast without using gas checks, they dont like it!!. I do not use gas checks so keep my cast projectile velocities to around 1200fps to try and maintain accuracy and minimize lead fouling.


Projectiles sorted into 3 different weight groups.

I was also fortunate enough to come across a guy selling bulk brass at a very reasonable price on a web forum and purchased 100 Starline cases from him. Very little was needed in the way of case preparation with only a couple of cases needing deburing. With the cost of 45-70GOVT brass these days the light loads I will be producing should ensure a very long case life. In fact I still have some brass that is over 20 years old and still usable so this batch of cases should last equally as long.


New Starline Brass Cases.

So with all the ingredients in place I set about loading a batch of light practice loads, now by light I mean in the muzzle blast and recoil sense. My normal hunting load is a 405 grain Woodleigh soft point projectile pushed along at 1900fps and anyone that has fired a 405grn projectile at the top end of a 45-70's velocity range will tell you, it comes back with a fair bit of authority. As one of my friends puts it the recoil is Manly!!! and when shot in a Marlin lever action I put it pretty close to that of a well balanced .458 Winchester. So a session at the range with a box of full power loads can become quite an unpleasant experience and not what is needed when wanting to practice a lot of quick offhand shooting at short range. I am not particularly recoil sensitive but I see no reason to punish yourself at the range, in the field hunting I very rarely notice any recoil at all and do not fire that many shots that it even becomes a factor.


The finished product, a nicely crimped 45-70 round ready to be tested.

Now that I had a batch of Ammunition loaded it was off to the range to see how they performed. First off I fired a couple over the bench to test the accuracy at 50 meters, it was not the most accurate load producing a group measuring 3 inches by 3 inches and landing 1 inch below center but it was acceptable for what I wanted. The pleasant surprise was the almost total lack of recoil, this was going to make longer range sessions a lot of fun. I practice a lot shooting off sticks and this load was great to shoot off sticks and over the bench, offhand it had hardly any felt recoil at all.


My standard 405 grain hunting load on the left and the 350 grain practice load on the right for comparison.

One of my favorite things to practice is shooting Clay Pigeons placed in the ground at 50 meters, I usually place them in groups of 4. I take a purposeful aimed shot at the first one then 3 quick follow up shots at the remainder. I find this is great practice for the actual field conditions encountered when hunting Sambar Deer in Victoria or Pigs in the Western NSW Lignum swamps.

My Rifle set up.

My rifle is a Marlin model 1895 in 45-70govt, I have replaced the factory plastic but cap with a quality Pachmayr recoil pad. I have fitted a picatinny rail and scope mounts and have mounted a 2-7X33 VX-1 Leupold scope on it. Set on 2 power this scope has a massive field of view and is incredible for fast running shots, set at 7 power it is better suited to a single aimed shot out to 150 meters though I have used it out to 200 with about 10 inches of hold over.

My hunting load consists of a 405 grain Woodleigh projectile over a charge of Benchmark 1 for a velocity of around 1900fps.

It is sighted to shoot my hunting load 3 inches high at 100 meters for a 130 meter zero and a 4 inch drop at 160 meters.


My Marlin Model 1895.

The picatinny rail I have fitted is a cut out type that allows the use of the factory iron sights once the scope has been removed, I set it up this way to allow me to remove the scope should it become damaged in the field, while allowing me to continue hunting confident that I can still use the Iron sights. As you can see in the photograph below the cut out allows a perfect view of the iron sights once the scope is removed, I carry a Torx head wrench in my wallet along with my hunting licences for this purpose when in the bush.


Close up of the cut out on the Picitinny rail allowing use of open sights after removing the scope.

In have had this set up for the past 26 years and it has served me well, accounting for many big Boar pigs a few goats and a couple of Sambar Deer. The only thing that ever let me down was a poor quality scope that lost its seal in the rain and fogged up in the middle of a Sambar hunt, fortunately I was able to remove the scope and continue hunting. So that's about it for my 45-70 Trail Boss experiment and needless to say I will be practicing a lot more often for longer sessions now, and if you see me at the range come and have a chat I would be more than happy to let you try it for yourself.
 

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MS Hitman

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Thanks for sharing. I am doing the same thing with my .416 Rigby and .458 Win Mag.
 

Chris.Wood

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Interesting!! make sure you let us know the results.
 

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The 1895 is a great rifle. Glad your having fun reloading for yours.
Mine is a hog killing deer slaying machine!
image.jpg
 

MS Hitman

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MS Hitman

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Interesting!! make sure you let us know the results.
Chris,

They recoil like a .30-30 is the best I can describe it. Accuracy is rather good for iron sights. I have to use the 200 yard leaf on the .416 for an 85 yard zero with the 350 grain cast bullets.
 

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I have been loading the Hornady 350 grain soft nose they brought out for the 450 Marlin, using H322 powder. This bullet shoots well from my 1895. I use mainly 300 JHPs in my 14" Contender.
 

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@Chris.Wood - I'm interested in switching from metallic to hard cast for my guide gun.

Is there a particular book you would recommend (I'm looking at Lyman).

I'm trying to see if I can replicate what Garret Cartridges are doing, at least with the 420 gr hardcast lead they're offering. If there's anyone else out there making 540 gr hardcast in .458, I can't seem to find them.

Of all of my rifles, my 1895 is my favorite to shoot (though least favorite to clean), so I'm looking for a couple things - the 2nd (after trying to replicate and test on hogs what Garret claims to be doing) and to do it a little cheaper than I've been doing with Hornady and Nosler bullets.
 

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I did this when I first got my .375 H&H to get used to it. Now I use it to load rounds for the boys to shoot out of it- they get a kick out of shooting the "big gun". Also using it to load subsonic for the .375- why? Just because I can! Found some new low velocity, rapid expansion bullets- paired with the new suppressor it will make some awesome special purpose whisper rounds
 

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@Chris.Wood - I'm interested in switching from metallic to hard cast for my guide gun.

Is there a particular book you would recommend (I'm looking at Lyman).

I'm trying to see if I can replicate what Garret Cartridges are doing, at least with the 420 gr hardcast lead they're offering. If there's anyone else out there making 540 gr hardcast in .458, I can't seem to find them.

Of all of my rifles, my 1895 is my favorite to shoot (though least favorite to clean), so I'm looking for a couple things - the 2nd (after trying to replicate and test on hogs what Garret claims to be doing) and to do it a little cheaper than I've been doing with Hornady and Nosler bullets.


Have you tried the Piledriver and Piledriver Jr from Beartooth Bullets?
 

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probably out of line here but in my 45-70 contender i like the 405 gr cor-bon penetrator solid,he didnt.

mypictures026-1.jpg
 
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ChrisG

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Just did this with my .416 Ruger. 375 grain Beartooth bullets sized to .417. 22grains of trailboss filled the case to the bottom of the bullet. I just have to get to the range now and try them!
IMAG0332.jpg
IMAG0335.jpg
IMAG0336.jpg
 

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@Chris.Wood - I'm interested in switching from metallic to hard cast for my guide gun.

Is there a particular book you would recommend (I'm looking at Lyman).

I'm trying to see if I can replicate what Garret Cartridges are doing, at least with the 420 gr hardcast lead they're offering. If there's anyone else out there making 540 gr hardcast in .458, I can't seem to find them.

Of all of my rifles, my 1895 is my favorite to shoot (though least favorite to clean), so I'm looking for a couple things - the 2nd (after trying to replicate and test on hogs what Garret claims to be doing) and to do it a little cheaper than I've been doing with Hornady and Nosler bullets.
I think the Lyman book is a great choice. The other one you might look into are the Lee caliber specific manuals. They have every load you could potentially want and they are cheap.

The nice thing about cast is that they can be driven to a higher velocity for the same powder charge. I don't think there's anything magical about Garret's loads. He uses a hard cast, gas checked bullet(probably about BHN 18-20) and pushes them with a heavy, albeit safe powder charge. You definitely don't want bullets that are too hard, as they may not obturate and also shatter on impact. Lead is a natural lubricant (which is partly why it was in gasoline) so it's a little more forgiving. .45/70 is a good one for cast because of the low pressures and velocities. Stay under 2500 FPS (not hard with a guide gun) and you won't have any issues if the bullet fits the barrel. Also I can wholeheartedly recommend Beartooth Bullets. Their selection and quality is second to none. The only downside is that there is often a lead time of several months.
 

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@ChrisG - my lyman's 49th edition arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, I think the heaviest they go for data for 1895 is 405 grains.

They do have data for Ruger #1 and #3 for heavier than 405 gr lead, and the lower pressures for those heavy loads are still below 28,000 CUP. The issue is one of compressed loads, or at least that's the way I read it. I don't see any way to be able to stuff those longer, heavier bullets into a 45-70 case without significant compression, but Garret and Buffalo Bore have also got to be compressing for those weights.

How do compressed loads affect chamber pressure, assuming the same jump distance for say a 350 regular load and a 500 gr compressed load? Lyman has an entry for RL7 in both the 350 and the 500 gr recipes, but the 500 grain recipe has cartridge length 0.3 longer than max for an 1895.

I'm not terribly concerned about getting any more than maybe 1600 fps out of the really heavy, hardcast bullets anyway - I do want 2k fps for my FTX 325 gr bullets, and my recipe is right at that (based on ballistics and holdover increase at 200 yds over a 100 yd zero, no chrony yet).
 

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@ChrisG - my lyman's 49th edition arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, I think the heaviest they go for data for 1895 is 405 grains.

They do have data for Ruger #1 and #3 for heavier than 405 gr lead, and the lower pressures for those heavy loads are still below 28,000 CUP. The issue is one of compressed loads, or at least that's the way I read it. I don't see any way to be able to stuff those longer, heavier bullets into a 45-70 case without significant compression, but Garret and Buffalo Bore have also got to be compressing for those weights.

How do compressed loads affect chamber pressure, assuming the same jump distance for say a 350 regular load and a 500 gr compressed load? Lyman has an entry for RL7 in both the 350 and the 500 gr recipes, but the 500 grain recipe has cartridge length 0.3 longer than max for an 1895.

I'm not terribly concerned about getting any more than maybe 1600 fps out of the really heavy, hardcast bullets anyway - I do want 2k fps for my FTX 325 gr bullets, and my recipe is right at that (based on ballistics and holdover increase at 200 yds over a 100 yd zero, no chrony yet).
Heavily compressed loads are not always a danger but that is very dependent upon powders. Some magnum rifle powders will actually burn more consistently when compressed. Lest I give you bad data, I just looked up load data for trapdoor rifles on Hodgdonreloading.com. it is showing a 485 grain cast bullet, IMR3031 starting load of 39.5 grains. This combination is showing over 1,400 fps from a 24" barrel. It's also only showing 17,000 CUP. This would absloutely be a great Marlin starting load for a 420-440 grain bullet. It really doesn't need to be going that fast. The only thing speed will do is flatten the trajectory a bit and for a .45/70 all you need to do is learn the hold over. I just watched a guy on youtube hit a steel plate with an 1860's whitworth rifle at 1,300 yard. The .45/70 doesn't have an issue with penetration. Its reputation was built on a 405-500 grain bullet chugging along a 1300FPS. Once you get above 440 grains you have met the .300 sectional density of a 300 grain .375 bullet and it should penetrate into next week unless multiple heavy bones are involved.

The main reason this gun is not recommended as a dangerous game rifle isn't because it lacks penetration (although I wouldn't even try a frontal brain shot on a charging elephant with it). It is because it just doesn't deliver the blow of some of the more suitable guns that knock the fight out of an animal. I would get it into the 1300-1400 fps range and call it good. It will go through a hog from any angle like that and a good wide meplat will ensure a quick kill. Best of luck! shooting cast is so fun and I have always found the idea of slinging a pumpkin sized chunk of lead into a target so much more appealing than expanding jacketed bullets.
 

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Those beartooth 525 gr Piledrivers are looking pretty awesome!
 

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Dr Ray

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Reloading my 45-70 with Trail Boss Powder.

I was looking for a way to practice my field shooting with my 45-70 cheaply and decided to give some Trail Boss powder a go, I have used it quite successfully before in my .222 so I had a good idea of how it performed. First off was to determine a safe starting load which was listed in the ADI loading Manual in the single action section. If you have a cartridge that is not listed in the manual simply email ADI and they will send you the information you need. Trail Boss is a bulk density powder and is shaped like small doughnuts it takes up a lot of case space at a small charge weight, which is perfect for reduced loads.


ADI Trail Boss Powder.


The shape of the powder flakes aids in taking up case volume.

I also had a couple of hundred 350 grain cast projectiles from the Hawksbury River Bullet Company so these would be perfect for practice loads. First off I weighed each projectile and sorted them into 3 different weights, cast projectiles can vary a bit in weight and you need to know what you are loading. Another thing I have found is dont try and push a cast projectile too fast without using gas checks, they dont like it!!. I do not use gas checks so keep my cast projectile velocities to around 1200fps to try and maintain accuracy and minimize lead fouling.


Projectiles sorted into 3 different weight groups.

I was also fortunate enough to come across a guy selling bulk brass at a very reasonable price on a web forum and purchased 100 Starline cases from him. Very little was needed in the way of case preparation with only a couple of cases needing deburing. With the cost of 45-70GOVT brass these days the light loads I will be producing should ensure a very long case life. In fact I still have some brass that is over 20 years old and still usable so this batch of cases should last equally as long.


New Starline Brass Cases.

So with all the ingredients in place I set about loading a batch of light practice loads, now by light I mean in the muzzle blast and recoil sense. My normal hunting load is a 405 grain Woodleigh soft point projectile pushed along at 1900fps and anyone that has fired a 405grn projectile at the top end of a 45-70's velocity range will tell you, it comes back with a fair bit of authority. As one of my friends puts it the recoil is Manly!!! and when shot in a Marlin lever action I put it pretty close to that of a well balanced .458 Winchester. So a session at the range with a box of full power loads can become quite an unpleasant experience and not what is needed when wanting to practice a lot of quick offhand shooting at short range. I am not particularly recoil sensitive but I see no reason to punish yourself at the range, in the field hunting I very rarely notice any recoil at all and do not fire that many shots that it even becomes a factor.


The finished product, a nicely crimped 45-70 round ready to be tested.

Now that I had a batch of Ammunition loaded it was off to the range to see how they performed. First off I fired a couple over the bench to test the accuracy at 50 meters, it was not the most accurate load producing a group measuring 3 inches by 3 inches and landing 1 inch below center but it was acceptable for what I wanted. The pleasant surprise was the almost total lack of recoil, this was going to make longer range sessions a lot of fun. I practice a lot shooting off sticks and this load was great to shoot off sticks and over the bench, offhand it had hardly any felt recoil at all.


My standard 405 grain hunting load on the left and the 350 grain practice load on the right for comparison.

One of my favorite things to practice is shooting Clay Pigeons placed in the ground at 50 meters, I usually place them in groups of 4. I take a purposeful aimed shot at the first one then 3 quick follow up shots at the remainder. I find this is great practice for the actual field conditions encountered when hunting Sambar Deer in Victoria or Pigs in the Western NSW Lignum swamps.

My Rifle set up.

My rifle is a Marlin model 1895 in 45-70govt, I have replaced the factory plastic but cap with a quality Pachmayr recoil pad. I have fitted a picatinny rail and scope mounts and have mounted a 2-7X33 VX-1 Leupold scope on it. Set on 2 power this scope has a massive field of view and is incredible for fast running shots, set at 7 power it is better suited to a single aimed shot out to 150 meters though I have used it out to 200 with about 10 inches of hold over.

My hunting load consists of a 405 grain Woodleigh projectile over a charge of Benchmark 1 for a velocity of around 1900fps.

It is sighted to shoot my hunting load 3 inches high at 100 meters for a 130 meter zero and a 4 inch drop at 160 meters.


My Marlin Model 1895.

The picatinny rail I have fitted is a cut out type that allows the use of the factory iron sights once the scope has been removed, I set it up this way to allow me to remove the scope should it become damaged in the field, while allowing me to continue hunting confident that I can still use the Iron sights. As you can see in the photograph below the cut out allows a perfect view of the iron sights once the scope is removed, I carry a Torx head wrench in my wallet along with my hunting licences for this purpose when in the bush.


Close up of the cut out on the Picitinny rail allowing use of open sights after removing the scope.

In have had this set up for the past 26 years and it has served me well, accounting for many big Boar pigs a few goats and a couple of Sambar Deer. The only thing that ever let me down was a poor quality scope that lost its seal in the rain and fogged up in the middle of a Sambar hunt, fortunately I was able to remove the scope and continue hunting. So that's about it for my 45-70 Trail Boss experiment and needless to say I will be practicing a lot more often for longer sessions now, and if you see me at the range come and have a chat I would be more than happy to let you try it for yourself.

I have the same marlin w a 4 power Leupold scope
I used to cast my own 500 gn bullets
Great fun!
I don't get to use the marlin much these days but will do so shortly
I use a 300 gn bullet now rather than the 405
From memory the 300 gn bullet has a lot more whack than the 405
Just had the recoil pad replaced w a really nice pad
Sighted in to be one inch high at 100 yards giving me a 120 yard zero which all I need for the hunting I do
 

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the Hodgdon site has a section on it. I have tried it with 300wsm and 7mm mag for light practice loads. Feels like a 223
 

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I started loading for the 45-70 in 1975 when I bought my very first Ruger No. 1. It is on my short-list of all-time favorites!

I have a near virgin Henry in this fine caliber that needs to get some of the shine knocked off it! So far I've only loaded 300gr JHP and 350gr cast for it.

Last week added a Skinner peep. Sweet little rifle!

Glad to see the 45-70 getting some much deserved love here on AH.

Tim
 

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