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Dusty Boots

45-70 vs 45-90?

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Posted (edited)

I have been looking at some Sharps 45-70s. Came across a 45-90 for sale. I am sure there is more recoil from a 45-90 than a 45-70. Is it proportional to the increase in powder, roughly 22% more, all other things being equal?  And in an 11 lb gun is that enough to be significant? I am not overly sensitive to recoil but if one is shooting a string of 40 rounds is the cumulative effect going to be significant?  And if it is, can you shoot reduced loads or lighter bullets without affecting accuracy in a 45-90?

 


 

Thanks to all for the information and thoughts. I decided on a Sharps 45-70, based on a lot of available components, wealth of load data, factory loads till I can start casting, getting needed reloading equipment and some concern over recoil ( I assume it takes a lot of shooting to dial one in).

Again thanks, I am lot more comfortable with my decision after reading everyone comments. 
DB

Edited by Dusty Boots
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There are plenty here, I am sure, who can answer your specific question.

 

My point is if you don't already own a 45/70 Sharps then buy that calibre. There is a huge amt of data for the 45/70 and it is easier, and cheaper, to get the makings for your rounds and enough load data available to get the one that works for your gun.

 

Once you have mastered the 45/70 (good luck) then move on to the other derivatives if you must.

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The .45-90 is an express cartridge intended to use lighter bullets in the 330 grain range.  Great for putting the hurt on something up close, but as the ranges are extended the poorer balistics can't keep up with the 405 grain or 500 grain loadings in the .45-70.

 

I built a .45-90 with a barrel set up for heavy bullets in an old 1886 and that would flat rattle your teeth.

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Most people, I believe, who shoot a 45-90 are black powder shooters, where the case can be loaded up.  With smokeless powder, there is a lot of empty space in the case.  For most folks, the 45-70 is the better cartridge as there is much more loading data for it and the cost of the brass is significantly less than the 45-90.  The case length of a 45-70 is 2.105 in. vs 2.40 in for the 45-90.  The 45-70 can be fired in the '90 but it is not a recommended practice.  

 

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Like shooting .38 specials in a .357 magnum chamber, it is acceptable to shoot 45/70 cartridges in the 45/90 chamber.  Also, it is a simple thing to download the 45/90.  Not to disagree with J.M., but around here, the 45/90 is desirable as a 1000 yard cartridge -- with 500+ grain bullets, of course.

 

A 45/70 will put a lot of hurt on you too!  The fit and weight of the rifle is important if comfort is the goal.  And, proper shooting position makes a big difference in just how much of your body ends up black and blue after a session with either cartridge -- in my clumsy experience.

 

I agree that the 45/70 is a better all-round choice.  But, if 1,000 yard is in your future, the 45/90 will do a better job of getting you there.

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I have both calibers.

My Shiloh #1 w/30" hvy bbl in .45-90,  is my favorite. 

There's a number of slip on recoil pads you can use.

OLG 

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May I suggest a .40-65 ??? 

Less Recoil with plenty of reach ...

 

Jabez Cowboy 

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I have 3 45/70s and one 45/90. If I could only have one it would be the 45/90. You can use it as an express rifle or load it up with powder and a heavier bullet and shoot very LR with it. From what I understand the express usage of the 45/90 was mainly in the lever rifles with a lighter bullet.

kR

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Tex is spot on shooting a 45-70 in a 45-90 barrel.  But it’s great way to wear out the leade (throat) of the barrel and then wonder why the groups stink

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My first 1874 was a 45-90.  I did not reload yet and found the 45-90 quite expensive for me to shoot.  I discovered the ammunition for the 1874 45-70 was far cheaper.  Plus, I started reloading for the 45-70.  Five 1874s in 45-70 later I discovered the 1885 in 45-70.  Then, I picked up a couple 1885s in 38-55 and that is now my go-to caliber of choice.

 

I didn't notice any difference in the recoil.  Of course, the 45-90 having a 32 inch bull barrel may have helped with that.

 

Pick what you want and go have fun.

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.45-90 compared to .45-70 jus loses the race

 

The way I would compare the two is to consider the opportunities to use both of them for the same shooting distances in the same matches.  
 

For what we do, there’s probably nothing the .45-90 is good for, that the .45-70 will not do as well as or better.  Plus, the .45-70 has more info available and the components are cheaper.  


The .45-90, today, is what I’d consider a “niche” round, with little or no CAS, general shooting, or sporting (hunting) value.  Personally I don’t think I need a .45-90.

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1 hour ago, Cat Brules said:

.45-90 compared to .45-70 jus loses the race

 

The way I would compare the two is to consider the opportunities to use both of them for the same shooting distances in the same matches.  
 

For what we do, there’s probably nothing the .45-90 is good for, that the .45-70 will not do as well as or better.  Plus, the .45-70 has more info available and the components are cheaper.  


The .45-90, today, is what I’d consider a “niche” round, with little or no CAS, general shooting, or sporting (hunting) value.  Personally I don’t think I need a .45-90.

 

I did compare at 600yds and farther.  :huh:

Why I chose the '90 from Shiloh. ;)

Respectfully,  what SASS calls 'long range'-it really ain't -_-

OLG 

 

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I have both, a 45-70, and 45-90.  I like both.  I can always choose to load my 45-90 down, and use a filler in the case.  The 45-90 brass is available, but as you know, the 45-70 brass is very available, and in fact, the 45-70 is more popular now than in the 19th century.  I am sure glad about that.  It is a terrific caliber.  But, as I said, I really like the 45-90 as well.  I would hate to have to choose one or the other.  If you could get a quality rifle, in 45-90, at a descent price, I'd do that, since they may be more scarce to find, at a good price, than a 45-70.  You can always obtain a 45-70 at some point. 

 

My Two Bits.

W.K.

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9 hours ago, Dusty Boots said:

I have been looking at some Sharps 45-70s. Came across a 45-90 for sale. I am sure there is more recoil from a 45-90 than a 45-70. Is it proportional to the increase in powder, roughly 22% more, all other things being equal?  And in an 11 lb gun is that enough to be significant? I am not overly sensitive to recoil but if one is shooting a string of 40 rounds is the cumulative effect going to be significant?  And if it is, can you shoot reduced loads or lighter bullets without affecting accuracy in a 45-90?

 

 

40 shot strings?  You must be shooting something other than a SASS Long Range Match.  If your concerned about recoil, get yourself a strap on shoulder pad.  Most completive BPCR wear one.  Buffalo Arms Co.  has several to choose from.

 

I have Shiloh Sharps in both the 45-70 and the 2.4" calibers (Winchester coined the 45-90 for express rifles).  Are you going to shoot smokeless or black powder?  If its only smokeless, then you’re better off with the 45-70. 

 

But, getting back to the 40 shot strings, it sounds like you might be shooting BPCR or BPTR matches which require black powder.  When BP is required, my "go to" rifle is my 2.4.  It can do everything the 45-70 can do and a whole lot more.  A larger round can shoot shorter ranges just as good as a smaller round.  But when target distances go out past 700 yards, where the wind is always blowing, you just can't beat a big heavy fast 45 caliber bullet shot from the 2.4. 

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When getting started in bptr I recommend the 45/70.  Since you’re using BP the recoil is more of a push.  Match rules are 10 shots plus 0-4 sighters at each range.  The regional championship is 20 at each range. To be honest I’ve never felt the recoil of the 45/70 until the next day.  Lots of experimentation will be required to get competitive at all the distances hence why I would go with the 45/70 due to the amount of data available as well as components.  You’ll more than likely end up casting your own.  Your quality control will exceed any of the manufactured bullets. 

 

Gringo

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18 hours ago, Tex Jones, SASS 2263 said:

Most people, I believe, who shoot a 45-90 are black powder shooters, where the case can be loaded up.  With smokeless powder, there is a lot of empty space in the case.  For most folks, the 45-70 is the better cartridge as there is much more loading data for it and the cost of the brass is significantly less than the 45-90.  The case length of a 45-70 is 2.105 in. vs 2.40 in for the 45-90.  The 45-70 can be fired in the '90 but it is not a recommended practice.  

 

Not only is there more free-bore when shooting a .45-70, .45-90, or .45-110 in the larger chambers, the cases don't have parallel walls - they're straight-walled, but taper slightly, so when shooting a .45-70 in a .45-90, 110, or 120, the bullet leaves the case at a point that is progressively larger in diameter as the case length diminishes, leading to inaccuracy, erratic velocities, and undue stretching of the brass. To illustrate the extremes, I just measured some .45-70 against .45-120, and the 120 is close to .012" larger in diameter at the point where the .45-70 ends. In shooting sports where one or two thousandths of an inch in bullet diameter can cause large differences downrange, that's a LOT.

 

A .44 mag case is .456" OD, and a .45 Colt is .480" - .014", so a .45-70 in a .45-120 chamber is close to the same fit as a .44 would be in a .45 chamber. I'm not talking about bore size at all, just how the case fits in the chamber.

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SASS does not offer 'Long Range". 60 round contests are a challene. SASS even times its short range shooting. BPCR champions use .45-90s.

 

I enjoy my C. Sharps .50-140. As an atomic and H bomb veteran, my screwed up body has a unique pain threshold which allows me to ignore the recoil. I use a 650 grain Postell with SPG lube. I use a 500 grain for the chickens.

 

As my Idaho grandma opined: "Everybody to their own taste said the old lady as she kissed the cow."

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Posted (edited)

I like 45-70 and have multiple Winchester 1886s and trapdoors in the caliber.  But 45-70 does not really take advantage of the potential of a single shot rifle.  
 

I read above that the 45-90 is designed for light express loads.  While that is true of the Winchester loading, the sharps can do a lot better.  I use a 535 grain postel bullet in my Shiloh business rifle and it shoots fine.    I use BP for the most part, though I do have a smokeless load as well.  I am 6-3 and don’t really mind the kick in my gun.  I also have a 50-70 Shiloh to go along with an 1870 trapdoor and a NY State rolling block in the same caliber  That’s a fun cartridge to shoot.

 

if you just want a sharps in the easiest caliber to deal with, buy a 45-70.  Components are all over, lots of load data is available, and you can buy loaded ammo if you have deep enough pockets to feed it that way. But, if you want take advantage of the sharps’ potential  and do more than you can do with a lever gun or trapdoor, then look at some of the other calibers.  I liked 45-90 because I can still use the good selection of 45 bullets and there is good data for it, but there are other good calibers available for a sharps.  

 

On the other hand, if you are bothered by recoil (which appears to be pretty common give the number of posts I have seen about how to download a 45-70) maybe you are just not a Sharps guy, though you could look at the 40s, the 38-55, or even a 32-40, all of which shoot quite well.  But with these calibers I would look at an 1885 winchester which is typically a lighter gun and a more refined rifle than the sharps.  
 

just my view on the matter.  

Edited by Doc Coles SASS 1188
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Sharps designed what we call the .45-90 Sharps Straight(.45-2 4/10)for a 550gn paper patched bullet.

It was conceived as a long range target cartridge. 

Winchester using the same case, loaded it with 300gn bullets for their lever action rifles like the 1886. WW called it the .45-90 Express.....

The .45-90 is very easy to learn and brass is readily available from Starline.

OLG 

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One thing nobody has mentioned when comparing the .45-70 to .45-90 is the rate of twist in the rifling.  As was stated, Winchester set the .45-90 up as an "express" round, with a slow twist that would allow somewhat higher velocities with lighter bullets than the .45-70-405/500 loads.  The problem with the slower twist (IIRC 1-in-32") versus the "standard" .45-70 twist of 1-in-22" is that the slow twist won't stabilize bullets much heavier than about 350 grains.  And 300-330 gr was deemed "standard" for the Winchester .45-90's.  But the problem with this is that the lighter bullets, even though they will start out faster (~1430 ft/sec), at longer ranges, they loose velocity more than a heavier bullet. 

 

What you need to do, is determine the rate of twist in that Sharps you are considering.  If it is in the 1-in-22 to 1-in-20 range, you will be able to shoot 500+ bullets.  If you are going to shoot BP with heavy bullets, recoil will be increased, though, your tolerance will vary.  I have an original HiWall that was originally a .45-70, but someone punched the chamber out to 2.4".  But the actual twist is 1-in-19"!  So, I can shoot heavier slugs.  (In point of fact, I have generally used 385gr gas checks at around 1530 ft/sec, using smokeless powder.

 

Best of luck with your choice.  Stay well, Pard.

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52 minutes ago, Trailrider #896 said:

One thing nobody has mentioned when comparing the .45-70 to .45-90 is the rate of twist in the rifling.  As was stated, Winchester set the .45-90 up as an "express" round, with a slow twist that would allow somewhat higher velocities with lighter bullets than the .45-70-405/500 loads.  The problem with the slower twist (IIRC 1-in-32") versus the "standard" .45-70 twist of 1-in-22" is that the slow twist won't stabilize bullets much heavier than about 350 grains.  And 300-330 gr was deemed "standard" for the Winchester .45-90's.  But the problem with this is that the lighter bullets, even though they will start out faster (~1430 ft/sec), at longer ranges, they loose velocity more than a heavier bullet. 

 

What you need to do, is determine the rate of twist in that Sharps you are considering.  If it is in the 1-in-22 to 1-in-20 range, you will be able to shoot 500+ bullets.  If you are going to shoot BP with heavy bullets, recoil will be increased, though, your tolerance will vary.  I have an original HiWall that was originally a .45-70, but someone punched the chamber out to 2.4".  But the actual twist is 1-in-19"!  So, I can shoot heavier slugs.  (In point of fact, I have generally used 385gr gas checks at around 1530 ft/sec, using smokeless powder.

 

Best of luck with your choice.  Stay well, Pard.

 

Today, Shiloh- C Sharps use a 1/18 ROT in their .45 cal bbls.

IIRC- European makers use 1/20

Many serious BPCR shooter are going to 1/16.

 

OLG 

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With my very limited experience with "buffalo sized" calibers and cowboy long range shooting my observation is the weight of the rifle will definitely have an impact on felt recoil. The Marlin Cowboy 45-70 I used thumped me pretty good with recoil while the Quigley 45-110 I shot was heavy enough I don't remember feeling any recoil impulse.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

See update

Edited by Dusty Boots

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Posted (edited)
On 4/28/2020 at 2:10 PM, Dusty Boots said:

I have been looking at some Sharps 45-70s. Came across a 45-90 for sale. I am sure there is more recoil from a 45-90 than a 45-70. Is it proportional to the increase in powder, roughly 22% more, all other things being equal?  And in an 11 lb gun is that enough to be significant? I am not overly sensitive to recoil but if one is shooting a string of 40 rounds is the cumulative effect going to be significant?  And if it is, can you shoot reduced loads or lighter bullets without affecting accuracy in a 45-90?

 


 

Thanks to all for the information and thoughts. I decided on a Sharps 45-70, based on a lot of available components, wealth of load data, factory loads till I can start casting, getting needed reloading equipment and some concern over recoil ( I assume it takes a lot of shooting to dial one in).

Again thanks, I am lot more comfortable with my decision after reading everyone comments. 
DB

 

Sign up on the Shiloh Forum for great info.

The learning curve between the '70 & the '90 is about the same.

I use the same bullet a powder in both. 

Load 68gn of Old E 2f in the '70 and 85gn in the '90.

OLG 

 

Edited by The Original Lumpy Gritz

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