Four Decades With The .45-70

And A Very Happy 140th Anniversary For This Legendary Government Round.

When sitting down at the computer this morning to start working on this month’s feature, the initial topic in my mind was quite different from this one. However, as I sat staring at the monitor pondering a lead sentence my mind wandered as it often does.

Somehow the thought entered that this month (October 2012) is the 40th anniversary of buying my first .45-70s and becoming a .45-70 handloader. Also worthy of mention is that when this article appears the year will be 2013, which is the 140th anniversary of the .45-70’s introduction by the US Government. So in effect I’m celebrating two anniversaries.

Forty years ago, and unusual for me, I actually had a wad of cash in my pocket upon entering a Milton, W. Va. gun store with the unusual name of Morris’ Watch Shop. Therein I found both a Harrington & Richardson replica of the US Model 1873 “trapdoor” carbine and one of the newly introduced Marlin Model 1895s. I bought both and 100 rounds of Remington factory ammo with 405-grain jacketed softpoint bullets. Back at home an order was quickly sent to Lyman for reloading dies, bullet mold 457124 (385-grain roundnose), 0.457″ lube/sizing die and top punch 374.

I was on a roll! According to my hand-jotted notes made along the way, I’ve averaged a .45-70 rifle for every one of the 40 years I’ve been shooting the caliber. And, I’ve never been without at least one .45-70 firearm during that time. My preferences in rifle types are also evident. I’ve only owned five .45-70 repeating rifles and carbines, split between vintage and new Winchester and Browning Model 1886s and vintage and new Marlins. Of 35 single-shot .45-70 rifles and carbines 23 have been vintage and reproduction Sharps Model 1874s. The other single shots have included several “trapdoor” Springfields, a few Remington rolling blocks, and a Winchester high wall or two.

At this writing, as regards .45-70s I have one original Sharps Model 1874, two reproductions of the same model from Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing and one from C. Sharps Arms. There are Model 1873 Springfield “trapdoors” in both carbine and rifle configurations and a replica rolling block from Lone Star Rifle Company. Of those seven .45-70s the four modern made ones are mostly dedicated to Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette competition. They have each been fired multiple thousands of rounds in competition and load development. The original Sharps and “trapdoors” are seldom fired but still valued items in my collection.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos By Yvonne Venturino

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