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Thread: Having some fun reloading for my 45-70.

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    Having some fun reloading for my 45-70.

    A Hunters Reflections

    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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