I just received a Henry Repeating Lever Action Rifle chambered in the hard-hitting .45-70 Government. But, before I show you the results of that test, I figured I’d give you a short primer on this old-time hunting round. I realize that it isn’t something that a lot of different people shoot, or have even heard of.
So, what is the .45-70? To be sure, this is a .45 caliber rifle cartridge backed by 70 grains of powder. The bullet it shoots varies in size, but the originals were over 400 grains. Today’s bullet weights range from 250-460 grains, with the original size still widely available.
Ammo is a bit on the expensive side. It starts at about the $27 mark, and goes up from there for a box of 20, depending on what you’re looking for. The bullets themselves aren’t the most aerodynamically correct projectiles out there, but they tend to get the job done at shorter distances—generally less than 200 yards. And, even at that distance a shooter needs to know how to lob the round down range, because it isn’t as easy as pointing and shooting.
The cartridge was originally developed back in the 1870s, and is still used today for hunting applications. Back when it was first developed, however, it was the Army’s go to rifle cartridge. The .45-70 has a small, cult-like following by many of today’s hunters. A lot of them swear by its heavy and slow moving projectile to kill both medium and large sized animals for the dinner table.
It offers a clean kill, with minimal destruction of meat, and often times, offers a fast and humane death to your animal of choice. Many hikers, who don’t mind the extra weight of a lever action rifle, have been known to take one along on a hike in bear country, just in case mamma gets angry.
The cartridges of today offer up better ballistics than what was offered back in the 1800s. Bullet technology has increased tremendously, and some ammo makers have even begun making the ammo with a pointed tip, claiming that it helps the trajectory stay flatter, instead of arching like it usually does.
Long gone are the days when every family would have a rifle chambered in this hard hitter. But, it has been steadily making a come back since the mid-1970s. With more rifle manufacturers than ever building them, the .45-70 seems to have a continuously bright future.
I’ve fired lever action .45-70s in the past, and it can be a bruiser. Once I get my ammunition in, I’ll be sure to record the experience for you to watch, even to the tune of the first few rounds of ammo, so you can see my reaction.