45-70 Ballistics Charts From Every Major Ammunition Manufacturer
Sam Jacobs 
Website: Ammo.com
Blog: The Resistance Library
Date: 05-29-2024
Subject: Gun Rights

The .45-70 Government cartridge, a classic, continues to be popular among sports shooters and hunters alike. Known for its substantial stopping power and versatility, this round has a history dating back to 1873.

Despite its age, the .45-70 remains a popular choice for big game hunting and historical shooting reenactments. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the ballistics of the .45-70 to provide you with a deeper understanding of its capabilities.

Our guide covers three crucial aspects of the .45-70 ballistics: velocity, energy, and effective range.

45-70 Velocity

The rate at which the bullet exits the rifle's barrel is its muzzle velocity, measured in feet per second (fps).

A longer 45-70 rifle barrel generally produces a higher muzzle velocity, as it gives igniting propellant more time to exert its energy against the projectile. When a 45-70 Govt. 300 grain bullet is launched from a lever gun with a 16.1-inch barrel (such as the Marlin 1895), its velocity will be lower than the same 300 grain bullet fired from a Henry single-shot rifle with a 22-inch barrel.

Modern 45-70 rifles firing smokeless propellant cartridges also produce higher velocities than antique rifles (such as the Springfield Model 1873) that fire black powder rounds.

Bullet weight and design significantly impact the velocity a projectile will exhibit downrange. For example, lighter bullets tend to have higher velocities than heavier ones, and jacketed hollow point projectiles tend to conserve velocity slightly more efficiently than the soft point bullets traditionally used for big game hunting with lever-action rifles.

Handloaded rounds can achieve higher velocities than factory-loaded ammo, which is one reason why reloading is popular among competitive Cowboy Action shooters. It's also an enjoyable pastime that can save you some money!

The muzzle velocity of a typical factory-loaded 45-70 cartridge ranges from about 1,150 to 2,300 fps, depending on the rifle and exact load it's firing.

45-70 Energy

A bullet's energy is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). Muzzle energy is the force a bullet possesses as it exits the rifle barrel.

Heavier bullets tend to have higher muzzle energy, although the projectile's velocity at impact plays a significant role in determining its actual striking energy.

We can expect a muzzle energy of 2,354 ft-lbs from a 300 grain polymer tip 45-70 Govt projectile, whereas a 400 grain Barnes Original has a muzzle energy of 2,613 ft-lbs.

45-70 Effective Range

My grandpa always wanted a 45-70 Govt because of the scene in Quigley Down Under where Tom Selleck fires his Sharps rifle to hit a buck at around 750 yards. But was the 45-70 actually capable of such a feat – or was that just movie magic?

In addition to magnum handguns loaded with hardcast bullets, the 45-70 is used by North American sportsmen for downing dangerous game such as moose, black bear and brown bear. It's largely favored because of its large bullet diameter and high energy at close range (200 yards or less). It can also ethically harvest large game animals (elk and moose) at longer ranges (250-300 yards).

When target shooting, the 45-70 is capable of 1,000-yard shots, though its poor trajectory makes it much more difficult than when using a 6.5 Creedmoor or other long-range cartridge.

Continue reading the full guide on 45-70 ballistics here.