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Thread: 45-70 for competition?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    45-70 for competition?

    I've wanted a sharps for as long as I could remember, but I never broke down and got one...until now.

    It's a pedersoli 1874 sharps imported by Navy Arms, with double set triggers and 28" Heavy (with a capital H) octagonal barrel chambered in 45/70.

    I'm thinking about trying out the 700 yard silhouette (funny word to spell) matches that the River Bend gun club puts on. Eventually I'd like to go to 1000 yards. The question is, will 45/70 get me there, or do I need to have it reamed out to something like 45/90 or 45/110? Some say 45/70 wins matches. Others say it's iffy past 500. I haven't bought any dies or brass yet.

    I've been reading up here and on the bpcr.net forums. Here's what I'm getting so far. You guys tell me if I'm way off base:

    -GG bullets are out in the 45/70. In order to get enough black powder in the case to get the velocities required, I'll need to use soft bullets patched to bore diameter and seated long. That is unless this rifle turns out to have freebore, in which case I'd be better off reaming it to a longer cartridge to get rid of that, as it does more harm than good.

    -a cupped base bullet with a twisted tail will be best for a bore dia. pp because it will upset more readily.

    Am I on the right track, or am I way off? Do I have enough barrel at 28"?

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    River bend as in the river bend in dawsonville Georgia? Flat base bullets will bump up just fine. Most competitors that I know of (myself included) are shooting flat based bore diameter bullets and are using the Hyde method for the base which means the paper is basically just folded over the base. Your rifle will Likely have some freebore. You may be best suited with a dual diameter pp bullet. I have absolutely 0
    Experience with that but there are some in here that do.


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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    Yes, that river bend.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Are you going to the shoot this month? I have never heard of them having a 700 yard silly wet match. I know they have the standard nra bpcr silly wet and a mid range paper match that goes out to 600. I am planning on going. This will kick off my 2019 bpcr silhouette season.


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  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    Grease groove bullets in a 45-70 can shoot to 1000 yards, but past 800 there are better cartridges.
    Going with paper patch is a good thing, but the twisted tails will likely kill any serious accuracy, and cupped base bullets are a real pain to cast and get and keep good bases.
    For your silhouette shooting something like the .446 525 money bullet cast from 16-1 will work just fine, and it might even do fair as far as 1000.
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian45662 View Post
    Are you going to the shoot this month? I have never heard of them having a 700 yard silly wet match. I know they have the standard nra bpcr silly wet and a mid range paper match that goes out to 600. I am planning on going. This will kick off my 2019 bpcr silhouette season.


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    I might. I'll have to see what my schedule looks like. Dawsonville is a long way from here.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don McDowell View Post
    Grease groove bullets in a 45-70 can shoot to 1000 yards, but past 800 there are better cartridges.
    Going with paper patch is a good thing, but the twisted tails will likely kill any serious accuracy, and cupped base bullets are a real pain to cast and get and keep good bases.
    For your silhouette shooting something like the .446 525 money bullet cast from 16-1 will work just fine, and it might even do fair as far as 1000.
    That is another thing. I don't know if I want to cast or swage. I can get corbin R-series dies for my rockchucker for not much more than a good custom mold.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    I hear ya. Itís about a 7 hour drive for me. Iíll tell ya a good greaser load that the pedersoli I had liked. It seemed to shoot its best groups with the saeco 881 bullet. Itís a copy of the 500 grain govt bullet. I seated it out far enough so the front driving band was touching the lands. That would leave a lube groove showing. The powder charge was 72 grains of goex 2F. I canít remember if it was a .03 or .06 veggie wad. The bullet was cast from 20:1 and the primer was cci br2. The cases were fireformed and no neck tension at all was used.


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  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I guess one thing I need to do is revisit my copy of Paul A. Matthews' book "40 years with the 45/70". A lot of it is dedicated to bpcr competition loads IIRC.

    Now that I think of it, I think there's weight limit. The rifle might be too heavy, and I'll have to rebarrel it anyway. That begs the question, what's a good 1000 yard caliber that doesn't use $20 a piece brass?

    You were right, Ian. The silhouette goes to 500.
    Last edited by Thundermaker; 01-05-2019 at 11:50 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thundermaker View Post
    That is another thing. I don't know if I want to cast or swage. I can get corbin R-series dies for my rockchucker for not much more than a good custom mold.
    Those swaging dies won't do a hard slug that is needed for accurate shooting for competition.
    Buy a quality mould and a supply of 16-1 alloy.
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I would recommend Loading and Shooting the Paper Patched Bullet, A Beginners Guide by Wright. Its very good and very informative.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    There are a few people who are doing quite well shooting a .45-70 for long range with grease grooved bullets so don't count it out entirely. A good bullet with reduced driving bands and Swiss FFFg is what you'd want to look at. Not necessary for silhouette though.

    Chris.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    It takes a little more effort in wrapping but I have found with my brooks cup base PP bullet no tail is best for accuracy. In 45 caliber I leave about .180 overhang on of the patch to the base. Wrap tight and fold over hang under. this leaves a small circle of lead showing and a very flat even base. Patches look and hold very good. I also noticed that the flat patches were recovered closer to the muzzle than the same bullet with tail by about 5 feet.

    When wrapping in this manner I use thumb and 2 fingers roll bullet with base between then and slowly fold over the base. this give very consistent creases and a very flat true base. bullet wrapped like this sit very square I the base.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    I shoot at River Bend at least once a year and sometime twice. The silhouette range is 500 meters maximum(547 yds.) The mid range has a maximum 600 yard range. There is no range there longer than that. Your 45/70 will be fine for shooting there. I shoot greasers and Ian shoots paper patch. Some of each type shooter competes at River Bend. Go there and get started and learn as you go. There are lots of folks there to give you guidance. I shot my 45/70 trapdoor in mid-range there a year ago in Woody's trapdoor challenge and beat them soundly shooting 60 grains 1 1/2F Swiss and a 535 gr. greaser bullet. It had sufficient velocity and accuracy for the task. By the way, I bought the mold from Ian.

    Some people shoot the 45/70 to 1000 yards and do well with it but they have put in the time and effort to make it work. It is not as easy to get it working at long range as the longer cases but it can be done. If it is what you've got then use it to it's potential.

    I started shooting BPCR silhouette with a 28" barreled 45/70. I have shot scores as high as 30 with that rifle in a 40 shot match. You lose a bit of velocity but probably not more than 25-30 fps than with a 30" barrel. As I said, go get started and enjoy the journey wherever it takes you.
    Last edited by Deadeye Bly; 01-06-2019 at 12:15 PM. Reason: additional info

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Last year was my first in BPTR Creedmoor and I finished 15th of 33 at 1000yds and was happy with it in the dreadful conditions. My shooting partner finished 8th at 1000. Both of us shot 45-70. You may find fouling control and a good spotter to make a big difference.

  16. #16
    Thundermaker:

    I have a 45x2.4/45-90 Shiloh Sharps "74" that I used to compete in BPC mid range, silhouette and long range gong 1000 yd. matches. mostly long range gong. And have seen the 45-70 do some good work in all those matches before I quit shooting. It has been in the safe for quite a while now and just take it out every now and then for the fun of it.

    This rifle doesn't have much of a throat and used both grease groove and paper patched. Both bullets at 550 grains ea. I patched the smooth bullet with two wraps so that it would just slide up the bore with some resistance with the powder and wad colume long enough and case sizing just enough so that the patched bullet could be seated in the case by thumb pressure only about 1/4" and not fall out. Paper just folded over the edge of the flat based bullet. The idea being to shove as much of that bullet up the bore as was possible. Shot very well that way with the PP bullet out shooting the grease groove every time. Patched to bore diameter with the real black powder of course.


    Don't sell that old 45-70 too short right now, Why not give it an honest workout for what you want to do first and see what happens. You can always have it barreled. Also, keep in mind that with more case capacity comes more recoil.

    Not trying to convince you of anything, just giving you more information to consider.

    Google Army Sandy Hook 45-70 for an interesting read if you haven't already seen it.
    Last edited by R. Dupraz; 01-06-2019 at 05:22 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Read that sandy hook article years ago. I need to revisit it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Little update. I've had a chance to look the rifle over and check the rifling twist, as the original owner couldn't tell me what it was. By my measurements, it's 1:17 3/4". So that's a good thing. As I was running the patch, I didn't feel any rough patches or tight spots. Now I just need to get a chamber and throat cast to see what bullet diameters I'll be working with. I plan to work up two loads for this rifle. One will be a heavy pp bp match load. The other will be a smokeless load with a lighter (relative terms) GG bullet for plinking (or should I say "clanging"?).

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Thundermaker,
    the .45-70 with paper patched bullets, done correctly, is THE PREMIER 1000 yds cartridge. It is also just as good at silhouette. If you need proof, it can be provided, but suffice it to say, the .45-70 with paper patches has won far more matches than any other .45 with paper patches.

    As for the swaging vs casting issue, I have done both extensively. For many years, I swaged with Richard and Dave Corbin presses and dies. Then I finally succumbed to casting and it is better, by far. Cheaper, faster (MUCH), and you won't leave a single point on the range because you chose casting. The quality of moulds today is amazing. I would recommend a specific BACO mould for your rifle, depending on what the diameter across the lands turns out to be.

    About the only thing that a .45-70 with paper patches does not do well is to shoot multiple shots rapidly, but even there, things can be done to make it better than you might think.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master



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    There is a lot of good info above from very knowledgeable people. I'm shooting a Pedersoli with PP and here is what I discovered. My first attempts with PP were terrible accuracy wise. The Pedersoli has a longer than standard chamber 2.129 instead of 2.100. With the bore size PP boolit the back of the boolit would bump up in the gap between the end of the chamber and end of standard brass cutting the back off of the PP and pushing the boolit on through. I got some 45-90 brass and cut it down to fit the chamber and Viola great accuracy.
    We have a limited number of long range matches around us but we do have one 1200yd match and I have used the 45-70 out that far and have beaten 45-90s so I don't feel handicapped by it. This is my first year shooting PP in a cartridge rifle although I have used it in my Gibbs ML for several years.
    Prior to this year I was shooting GG boolits for those matches. At 1000yd the PP boolit shoots 10 MOA flatter than the GG. I can get 76gr of Old Eynsford 2F in the case with about .180 of compression and .250 of the boolit base in the case.

    Bob
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