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Thread: Ruger 45/70 success

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Nardoo's Avatar
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    Ruger 45/70 success

    This is an update on getting my Ruger #1 45/70 to shoot cast boolits accurately. I bought this little rifle as a light weight hunting rifle for sambar deer (an elk like animal) and though it shot J words well, it nearly broke my heart with cast. Adding a Limbsaver recoil pad made it fit like my shotgun and I was determined to use it for hunting.

    Initial groups with a variety of .458" cast bullets saw it shooting like a shotgun too! Patterns instead of groups. The bullets all over the place and key-holing starting at 1400 fps.

    I wanted maximum velocity and even my old Marlin would shoot 400 gn cast boolits to nearly1800 fps accurately though not comfortably. Whilst these are listed as safe loads in lever guns I found it quite alarming shooting them in that action.

    Knowledgable people from this board advised larger diameter bullets which worked to a certain degree but accuracy was not good enough at more than 1700 fps to hit a deer at 150 yards. I suspected it was the rough constrictions in the bore under the barrel band and fore sight band that I discovered when slugging the bore. I read that sometimes excess heat used when soldering these fixtures to the barrel at the factory can cause this.

    Last chance before a new barrel was fire lapping. Even though being warned it might ruin the barrel I figured it was no good anyway so had nothing to loose.
    The upside of 30 rounds of fire-lapping using a fine abrasive was the removal of the roughness and constrictions in the barrel but the downside was the removal of the start of the lands (there was never much of a throat). It sure made the bore shiney and smooth though. The question was though, would it shoot?

    Well, I loaded up some stiff loads of Beagled RCBS 405 GC boolits that run .461" and weigh 420 gns with WW plus 2% Sn and headed out to try them with no great optimism. What a surprise. As the target shows accuracy peeked at around 1940 fps which is as fast as I can load them with the powders available to me. I used AR2206 (like IMR 3031) and AR2206H (H4895) with compressed loads and although my goal of 2000 fps looks out of the question I am content with what I have.

    The three groups pictured were shot at only 55 yds and are only 3 shot groups, but I feel the 1/2" to 3/4" spreads show great promise. The recoil generated by these loads combined with the low weight of the rifle meant the damn thing was leaping like a trout off the bench anyway. After 40 odd shots the muscles in my arm were jumping too and I was lucky to hit the target.

    At this stage it looks like fire lapping has worked for me though I suspect it was a fluke and probably not repeatabe. I can not recommend anyone knowingly accelerate the wear of their barrel like this. It was a last chance option for me and was worth the gamble. I can't help thinking though what a new cast boolit dedicated barrel would be like.

    Now to try it at longer range; then to make some of Bruce's soft points, wait for the weather to cool and the hunting season to begin.

    Nardoo


    Last edited by Nardoo; 03-17-2007 at 07:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Definately on to something there, and around 1" at 100 wouldn't surprise me much. Good shooting!

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    Kewl, glad it works for you. Gianni.
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  4. #4
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    Having one of my own, I appreciate the hammering you took with those loads, and the discipline shown to manage the monster to enable those sorts of groups.

    I am reluctant to try fire-lapping in any rifle, but as for the throat in the Ruger #1 x 45-70.......any modification could only improve things. That "government ballseat" has a leade angle like a city street curb profile. I have developed good loads with my box-stock #1 using plain-based Lee 405 grainers and 1873-level velocities, and that suffices for my purposes. I shoot it a LOT, and if it develops a need for a new tube--the government ballseat WILL NOT be part of the program. That leade profile seriously limits the rifle's capabilities with castings, I believe.
    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."--Winston Churchill

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Scrounger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deputy Al View Post
    Having one of my own, I appreciate the hammering you took with those loads, and the discipline shown to manage the monster to enable those sorts of groups.

    I am reluctant to try fire-lapping in any rifle, but as for the throat in the Ruger #1 x 45-70.......any modification could only improve things. That "government ballseat" has a leade angle like a city street curb profile. I have developed good loads with my box-stock #1 using plain-based Lee 405 grainers and 1873-level velocities, and that suffices for my purposes. I shoot it a LOT, and if it develops a need for a new tube--the government ballseat WILL NOT be part of the program. That leade profile seriously limits the rifle's capabilities with castings, I believe.
    Al, I can't help wondering about the viability of rechambering the barrel to .45-90 (Single shot guns) to correct some of the chamber problems. A hundred good .45-90 cases from Starline should last a long time, especially if loaded only to .45-70 velocities.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Art--

    That thought has crossed my mind, more than once. The rifle will do 1-1/4" groups at 100 yards, so it's not like the thing won't shoot--and 405 grains at 1300 FPS/muzzle will harvest deer just fine at the ranges appropriate for the caliber. Just a throat ream to a gently tapered leade might be all that is needed, but the desire to shoot paper-patched soft lead has to be balanced out against the hazard to known accuracy that now exists. The barrel is approaching a 3,000 round service life, so it's likely half-done now.
    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."--Winston Churchill

  7. #7
    Boolit Master TedH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nardoo View Post
    . I can not recommend anyone knowingly accelerate the wear of their barrel like this. It was a last chance option for me and was worth the gamble.
    Congratulations on your success!

    I have firelapped every gun that I shoot cast bullets out of. I have some that showed dramatic improvements in accuracy, as yours did. Some only showed modest gains. All are easier to clean, and lead fouling is all but non-existent. When done properly no harm will come of it. I am not concerned about the amount of wear incurred during lapping because being a cast bullet gun, I will never wear it out in a lifetime of shooting anyway.

  8. #8
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    Nardoo,

    Thanks for taking the trouble of writing up a textbook example of the kind of effort it sometimes takes to bring out the maximum potential in a rifle. I had to fire lap my Ruger #3 .22 Hornet to get it to group decently with any load. Before doing that, I would get close 3-4 shot groups with 1-2 flyers, weird preferences for loads which would then refuse to group except in cold or warm weather, and other evidences of crankiness and neurosis.

    I've never fire lapped a barrel when the rifle was already shooting OK, but I've never degraded the shooting of one that I have fire lapped. Each shot is, after all, just one pass of the "lap" one way. I seat the bullets out into the rifling, use light loads so they do not slug up, and clean with brush, solvent and patches every five rounds to keep any leading build-up from protecting the rough areas of the barrel. I use the fire-lap shots themselves in groups of five on a target as a rough gauge of improvement, and alternate (after thorough cleaning) with regular loadings to corroborate the fire-lap groups when they start showing promise. And I never keep going in hopes of an Official Screamer group; reasonable improvements and elimination of flyers is enough for me.

    I once had a barrel which had been rebored to a groove diameter of 0.300" and even had a similarly undersized in every dimension .30-30 chamber job at the end of it. I resolved to lap the bore out (with a rod) to the proper 0.308." Figured with all the dire warnings of how easy it was to go oversize, this shouldn't take more than a couple hours to do. A dozen lap castings later, with each casting going 40 passes each way, I measured the bore with a lead ball and got less than 0.302." (But a very shiny 0.302.") At that point, two or three evenings shot and my arms tired, I gave up and sent the barrel out to be rebored and chambered to .38-55. That experience immunized me forever from worrying about any damage I could do to a barrel by firing 50 or so fire lapping shots.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master at Heaven's Range. txpete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deputy Al View Post
    Having one of my own, I appreciate the hammering you took with those loads, and the discipline shown to manage the monster to enable those sorts of groups.

    I am reluctant to try fire-lapping in any rifle, but as for the throat in the Ruger #1 x 45-70.......any modification could only improve things. That "government ballseat" has a leade angle like a city street curb profile. I have developed good loads with my box-stock #1 using plain-based Lee 405 grainers and 1873-level velocities, and that suffices for my purposes. I shoot it a LOT, and if it develops a need for a new tube--the government ballseat WILL NOT be part of the program. That leade profile seriously limits the rifle's capabilities with castings, I believe.
    hi al
    going to load up some cast to try out in my 45/70 #1.I have some RD 350 lfngc and some lee 340 gr pb both are .458.
    any help with a load would be a great help and a time saver on the bench.
    thanks
    pete


  10. #10
    Boolit Master rvpilot76's Avatar
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    Mr. Nardoo...

    Would you mind telling us what grit you used on your boolits for firelapping? Did you just fill the lube groove with grit, or did you coat the nose as well? Thanks, I've been contemplating doing this to my Marlin Cowboy. It MIGHT see a couple hundred J-words in its total life. Great post, by the way. Keep it comin'!

    Kevin
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Pete--

    My rifle has a definite "sweet spot" for 1873-level loads, maybe that "Government Ballseat" adapts to lead boolits at those sorts of pressures/velocities. I dunno.

    Just about any powder combo that sets the 405 Lee out at 1000-1300 FPS will shoot well. Even The Holy Black did well--Goex 2F x 55.0 grains with about 1/16" compression and a mild roll crimp gave 1.125" to 1.25" groups very consistently--and might be its best load to date. My current favorite--with about the same accuracy potential--is a duplexed load. 6.0 grains of IMR 4198 goes in first, then 46.0 grains of WC-860, giving 100% loading density.

    The 300 grain RCBS FNGC has been tough to get accuracy out of, mostly because it is undersized for my rifle's throat and bore. I need at least .459", and the RCBS mold barely gets past .457". Beagling a GC mold makes the shank too big for gas checks.

    Allen Paine
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Good on Ya' , bro.....that combo is definately not for the "Recoil Shy"

    What's the twist rate in one of those Rugers ?

    .....Cranial flatus interuptus question....

    GTC

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Nardoo's Avatar
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    rvpilot76,
    I used 400 grit, rolling the pure ww boolits in it betweeen two flat plates. The bands are imbedded and the grease grooves are full. Nasty little numbers and I can not really recommend this process as the lapping is beyond your control. You might get lucky with your Marlin barrel but you may just as easily wreck it. My old Marlin 45/70 (with micro groove barrel) shoots just about any cast boolit with great accuracy and has never been touched. I would try everything else first!



    Crossfireloops,
    I believe it is 1 in 20. It stabilises a 500 gn CBE cast bullet I have. I do not really care to go heavier. And recoil wise they are fun aren't they? Our sambar deer are extraordinarily tough so I need the velocity. I also use a .338WM and a 375 H&H on them. Sounds like overkill but they are very tough to kill. In the cover I hunt in, if an animal runs 50 yards without a blood trail you will have a tough time recovering it.
    Last edited by Nardoo; 03-24-2007 at 06:15 AM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master at Heaven's Range. txpete's Avatar
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    any one try trail boss yet in the 45/70.bought some for the 45 colt but might want to try it out with the lee 340 gr cast??.
    pete

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Four Fingers of Death's Avatar
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    Nardoo, its a wonder that you are not punch drunk after forty of those in the same session! We'll be calling you Mohammed Ali if you keep that up!

    I have a nice bubba'd M17 that I might make into a 458 Lott for Sambar, Buff and SSAA Big Game Rifle matches. The Lott will give me a lot (no pun intended) more options re powder, etc. I fancies a 45/70 in a No1, but this thing is nice and will end up costing me half of the price of a No1, even with a classy barrel.

    Would it be a better approach to flatten the highspots with a traditional rod type lap and then finish off with a firelap? That might protect the start of the lands better. Just a thought, I've done either, just piloting my arm chair here.

    Mick.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master Nardoo's Avatar
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    Mick,
    I gave a lot of thought to manual lapping but did not have the courage to try it. I agree with you that it is theoretically (and probably in practise too) the best solution. My dilemma was confining the lapping to the constricton. In my mind's eye I could see that by the time I had lapped the constriction to the correct diameter I would also have increased the diameter of the barrel to the immediate either side proportionately and so create loose spots. Not sure if that is really what would happen or not though.

    My understanding with firelapping using a bullet of the hardness of straight wheel weights is that the lap (bullet) retains its integrity and does not bump up to lap the entire bore evenly but laps the tight spots more than the loose spots. The throat is sacrificed to an extent as you say but that may be the lesser of two evils.

    I realise this is a crappy description and I sincerely hope someone can explain it more fully and scientifically. Like I said, this process is not one I would recommend as there are so many variables and the chance of stuffing the barrel is high.

    P.S. I just took possession of one of BAW's cast off 45/70 rolling blocks and I can't believe how much rifling is down that tube - and smooth too! No bloody firelaping needed here!

    Nardoo

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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GC Gas Check