The .45-70 cartridge was the result of a quest by the Government to find a better cartridge that would reach out and touch the enemy. They decided that a .45 caliber bullet would provide increased range, and shoot flatter than the larger .50 caliber cartridge they had been using since 1866. The result commonly called the ".45 Government" cartridge it was originally called the .45-70-405 cartridge due to the fact that in the beginning it was loaded with a .45 caliber bullet, that weighed .405 grains, backed by 70 grains of Black powder. It stayed the principal cartridge until 1893 when the US Army adopted the .30-40 Krag, but is still used then even today in the form of the CARTRIDGE CALIBER .45, LINE THROWING, M32, a blank cartridge used in a number of line throwing guns by the Navy, and Coast Guard.
Primarily used in single shot rifles when it was developed it is today most commonly associated with the lever action used by hunters all over the world. I however have a single shot rifle that I love to shoot. So I am going to return to the roots of the cartridge in my reloading, and tailor a load towards a single shot rifle.
Now many think that a single shot has a disadvantage when it comes to hunting, but I see it another way. I feel that a single shot rifle makes you shoot better, and the ability to used a larger range of bullets better performance. So I decided to work up some loads just for my little Handi- Rifle.
Seeing that this a load for a single shot rifle, and I don't have to worry about the use of pointed bullets in a tube magazine I decided to use the Barnes .300 grain SSP that is part of their original bullet line.
The reason for this selection is that with a pointed more aero dynamic profile I will get better flight, and accuracy at a longer distance. This bullet has a sectional density of .204, and more important a ballistic coefficient of .291 which tells me that this is going to be the bullet for my load.
I looked through my pot of brass to see what I had to use, and nothing was worth the cleaning so I contacted Starline brass to get me some new brass. The quality on this brass was really good, and the company was very easy to work with in this project. The brass was far easier to work with then some of the other brands I have loaded with in the past. I have a great deal of trouble with Federal brass(good brass my press doesn't like it much), and Winchester never seems to last too long.
Now for the primer I went to my favorite, and the only one I use for large rifle loads - Winchester large rifle magnum. In previous tests I always get better velocities, and dependable ignition. Next to the Federal Match the Winchester is the best I have used, and they are a part of all my large rifle loads.
Now I am at the decision of what powder to use in this load. I usually use either Reloader 7, or IMR 3031 which are great powders, but for this one I wanted a little less recoil so I am going to look at some other powders. After looking through several books, and also taking into consideration what I have on the shelf to work with on this project. I went with a powder that is recommended by Barnes in their 3rd manual IMR - 4064. This powder has a little slower burn rate than Varget which should give me more of a push than a pop against the arm.
I had to work with the charge because the only data in this book for this bullet is for the Ruger #1, and that means these loads are meant to be a little stout for the Handi-Rifle not that the little rifle won't take it, but I have never tried that heavy a load in the rifle, and the Ruger weighs more than my little rifle so again need to watch recoil.
Now I have the components picked I set out to work with the load to see what worked best, and adjust as need. The final load is below and it is what shot best in my rifle for accuracy, recoil, and power. I have also included a target pic, and pics of the finished loads.
Barnes .300 grain S.S.P.
53.7 grains IMR-4064
Winchester Large Rifle Magnum Primer
C.O.A.L. - 2.640" (No Crimp)