Latest Acquisition

So, in my quest to expand my stocks of “ban resistant” firearms, I’ve added a new piece to the stable. (click for full size)

It’s a Henry H010G in .45-70

Lever Action rifles were basically the AR-15 of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They improved rate of fire dramatically over the break action, drop block and muzzle loading firearms that were common at the time.

They have advantages and disadvantages: They can typically only use round or flat nosed bullets because the pointy tips of one round against the primer of the next round in the tube magazine can cause chain fires of all the rounds in the magazine…which is bad. That means relatively low ballistic coefficient bullets which means a more arcing trajectory and more loss of energy at range. Lever guns also aren’t as accurate as bolt action by nature just because the bolt doesn’t lock up as tightly, there’s a bit more slop in the action…but the difference is really marginal for my purposes…for a defense gun and hunting (in the areas I’ll be hunting) the max range I’ll ever need is 150 to 200 yards anyway. I can get plenty of accuracy out of a lever gun at those ranges.

Their capacity is relatively limited in the larger calibers. Pistol calibers can hold more ammo because the ammo is smaller and I thought about that, but I decided that I really wanted the extra oomph that comes from rifle calibers. Most bolt guns have a similar capacity as well so there was no real advantage there. There are a few bolt guns made that can accept removable magazines but they are expensive and the magazines are expensive. There is one manufacturer that makes lever guns that take a magazine…expensive and hard to find. So tube magazine it is.

Lever guns are faster to operate than bolt guns and as a lefty, bolt guns tend to be inconvenient for me to use unless I want to pay the premium price for a left-handed bolt. For a self defense situation, putting follow up shots on target quickly may be the difference.

So, I got it down to a lever gun, now what caliber.

I decided to go with .45-70 over .30-30 just because of power. There have probably been more deer taken in North American by .30-30 than any other caliber that exists, so no one can argue with it’s capability, but the energy that can be generated by a .45-70 with a heavy load is pretty awesome. I do lose a round of capacity by going with the larger cartridge (4 in the magazine rather than 5), but I feel that the extra power makes up the difference. If I put them on target, I shouldn’t need many to get the job done.

Plus, that big thumper is just fun to shoot. I took it to the range last weekend. After making sure the sights were on, with the stock “buckhorn” open sights I made a 4″ group in the black at 100 yards. This was with 350 grain soft nose hollow points at 1850 fps. I’m thinking about getting a 1-4x scope. I do like the “traditional” look and I enjoy shooting with open sights, but my eyes just ain’t what they used to be.

At any rate, that’s where I’m at. The only thing left that I think I might add is a pump 12Ga shotgun. I’ve got a really nice semi-auto that I love, but if they go whole hog and ban all semi-autos, it would be good to have a ban resistant alternative.

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4 thoughts on “Latest Acquisition

  1. Had a Marlin 1895 for…well, ever. It’s an older one with the Microgroove rifling (avoid that at all costs – works fine with jacketed bullets, the accuracy sucks big rocks with anything cast lead – long story available about an article in either Rifle or Handloader magazine, can’t remember which (same publisher for both) back around 1985 from a guy who tried every cast bullet configuration known to man, and only one worked and that was “marginally”).

    With the right handloads (I use Speer 400 gr soft points and *lots* of IMR 3031, measured FPS was 1880) it’s a Kenworth-equivalent on deer. Been hankering for an 1895SBL, unavailable/overpriced and no idea if Ruger will resurrect it so I’ll probably go with a Henry (I need the Ballard rifling for big heavy cast bullets). Trajectory with the 400s is a mortar, but where I hunt the woods are so thick I won’t even see anything farther out than about 125 yards.

    FYI, Jim West at Wild West Guns in Alaska makes a terrific ghost ring sight set for the Marlins, no idea if it’s available for Henrys. Leupold used to make a 4X Compact that would be perfect for an 1895, but no longer available, and my two are staying on the rifles they’re mated to. If/when I get the Henry I’ll go with a 1-4 LPVO or a 3X Primary Arms prism scope.

    RE: shotguns – hard to find and spendy now, but Remington makes an 870 Tactical, 18.5″ tube, comes with ghost rings, Picatinny rail, internally threaded muzzle so chokes are replaceable (Federal Flite Control is hard to find, so having tighter chokes for the crummier-patterning 00B ammo is handy). A red dot on the Pic rail is a natural (EOTech and Holosun both offer RDSs with the “circle of death” reticle, and Primary Arms has a very nifty 2X prism). After selling out gun owners with the uncontested payoff Remington is now a four-letter word, but….870. Mount a 6-round side saddle and tackle a few 3-Gun matches to learn how to run it.

  2. Thanks for the input. Valuable information.

    I got the dies to reload, but bullets and powder are a bit hard to come by right now. I placed an order for a batch of 325 grain cast gas check bullets but the people I ordered from say they’re 3 months behind so it might be awhile before I get them.

    I have a furnace, maybe I’ll get a mold and just start casting my own. I’ve done .44 cal balls for a black powder revolver before, but I’ll have to figure out the whole lube and gas check thing.

    I found a couple of places with Hornady FTX bullets in stock, but they’re pricey. I also found a place that has once fired brass available, but again pricey so I’m going to wait until I get the bullets and see if I can find anything cheaper by then.

    I bought 40 rounds of factory ammo just to start out with so I’ve at least got 40 pieces of brass to play with.

    The next thing is powder. I’ve got some H 4895 which will work, but I don’t have a lot of it. There’s a gun show this weekend I may hit to see what they have (if anything). I’ll just have to make a list of anything that I can use and see what they’ve got available.

    As far as sights, I like the idea of a ghost ring, but I still have the “old eyes” issue. I like the idea of an LPVO. Dial it down to 1x for wide field of view at short range and then start dialing up the zoom as it gets up to 75 or 100 yards. I saw a Vortex Crossfire II 1-4 on sale the other day for $199, normally $288.

    I have a red dot on my “homeland defense” AR and I love how quick target acquisition is with it. I think the 1-4 with the right reticle will have close to the same effect at 1x zoom, but with the option of dialing it up if needed.

    Shotgun. I grew up with a Remington 870 Wingmaster (My brother inherited that and still has it) so I’m familiar, but as you mentioned, Remington screwed us so I’ll have to give that some thought.

    Mossburg 500 is a viable alternative and there’s an “off the shelf” tactical model available too. My semi auto is a Mossburg 930 JM and I LOOOOOOVE it, so I’m leaning toward sticking with Mossburg for now.

    Anyway, thanks again for the input.

    If you have any advice or insight as to bullet casting for the .45-70 I’m all ears…or eyes…whatever.

  3. I tried a bunch of .458 moulds, wasn’t happy with any of them, so I “store bought” but the Microgroove thing made that unworkable. As FYI, the tester I referred to found that 14mm of driving band area on cast bullets worked “best” (and “best” does not mean “well”) with the Microgroove barrel. He never got good accuracy with cast from a Microgroove and neither did I.

    I lean toward heavier bullets because velocity may be lower but momentum is higher. .45-70 is a 150-175 yard cartridge, and, yes, I know how effective 500 grains at 1500 FPS muzzle velocity was on buffalo at 400-800 yards, but buffalo is a big, usually stationary target on open flat plains, not “Bambi in tight woods” although buffalo does speak to “momentum.”

    On deer, 300 grains is plenty, but I’ve always been impressed with how the Speer 400s perform so I have no reason to continue experimenting. If/when I get a Henry I’ll resurrect the Mad Scientist role with cast bullets. Speaking of cast, you said “furnace” I’d recommend “bottom drop pot” of at least 10 lbs, and for 350-500 grain bullets, a 20 lb pot is better. Don’t know what mould shapes are available now, but I’d look for something with the largest meplat that will feed reliably. Buy a single or a 2-gang for experimenting, then a 4-gang of that bullet for production. Steel moulds, never aluminum, aluminum cools too quickly to maintain temperature, and you’ll recycle the first 20-25 mould throws back into the pot while the mould heats up. Back when a friend and I cast EVERYTHING, especially 200 gr .452 for pistol bullseye (FYI, don’t forget a sizer with dies and lube, you want to cast .001 too large and size down) and we ran 2 10 lb pots and 3 4-gang moulds; one guy ran the moulds, the other kept the “next pot” hot (pro tip – buy a pair of good casting thermometers); once the moulds are up to temp you develop a rhythm that keeps the mould temp constant, not too cold, not overheated, and gives the lead time enough to cool so striking the sprue doesn’t smear. We’d switch jobs every hour because both are damn tiring, especially running the 3 moulds – once the moulds are up to temp there’s no time to relax, you’re running all 3 constantly. We dropped the bullets onto a layer of old towels, the “pot man” moved them into cold water after about 30 seconds. Put something soft at the bottom of the water bucket. We used a sponge glued to a wire parts basket so they could be easily removed after a couple minutes.

    Our club had a couple 8-gang moulds, getting the temp right and maintaining it was a PITA, so we stuck with the 3 4-gangs. We were producing 16 bullets a minute once we were rolling, one day we cast 8,000 .451 200 gr. Very damn tiring but the wheel weights were free and we were both broke back then.

    We used 100% wheelweight for target velocities (<850 FPS), 90% wheelweight/10% linotype for faster pistol bullets I used gas checks on full power .44 and .357 mag, remember the mould has to accommodate the reduced diameter base for gas checks), 50/50 worked for .45-70, never ran them faster than about 1600, and since the accuracy wasn't there I gave up early. Wheelweights today are Chinese zinc and floor scrapings, absolutely worthless, Lyman #2 is 90% lead/5% tin/5% antimony and that works well up to about 2000 FPS. You'll get bore leading above about 2200-2400 no matter what mix you use, even with gas checks, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
    RE: .45-70; take a look at IMR 3031 and 4064 if you're trying for velocity. I've found near-maximum and maximum loads in 3031 to be quite consistent on velocity. 4064 will push it faster, but not in the Marlin, you'd need a Browning or Ruger falling block action for that (I know someone who ran a few of my handloads through his Ruger #3 carbine (4.6 lbs). He fired two and called it quits.)

    Shotguns – I have both Rem and Mbrg, the Rems run smoother. A Wingmaster will spoil you – they're so smooth it's almost orgasmic. The Mbergs always seem "clunky" after running a Rem but they're real solid and they work fine. I've had 1100s (set up a 12 and a 20 for 3-GUn, ran them for several years) and I've been Jonesing for either an M4 or a 1301, but that money has been going into ammo and practice. One good lottery ticket and I'll buy both.

    I was serious about trying 3-Gun to learn running the gauge – a good stage will force reloads, some stages a lot. Figure out how you work best with a side saddle, try several different techniques to find what works best FOR YOU. Practice both reloading the mag tube AND running putting one in the chamber. I have a 6-round on my Mbergs and Rems, keep them "Cruiser Ready" with The Last Round in a clip on the slide so after I pick it up and cycle it to chamber a round I can replace it
    in the mag tube ("the street" is different from "the range" and maybe that Last Round could be important some day). The side saddle has 4 00B and 2 slugs; I've found Brenneke the most accurate and well worth the money – took a #10 can off a fencepost at 150 yards once with a Brenneke in my Model 37 with the Deerslayer barrel (collected on the bet and didn't try it twice), so buy lots of slugs and "learn the drop table" with them on your gun. Pattern everything you'll run through it out to 50 yards so you know your and the gun's limitations.

    Having a pair of slugs on tap is one of the reasons you're teaching yourself how to chamber one from the side saddle. I've considered adding a buttstock carrier for another 4-6, but haven't reserached how that would affect my "short stocking" which you need to learn for tight quarter indoor use.

    I'm running an Aimpoint PRO on the House Carbine, looking at a Trijicon 4X tritium to replace it – I''ve reached the point where the eyes need some help, been looking at the Primary Arms prisms; have their 5X on one of my 3-Gun 556 rifles and so far I like it, want to try their 3X with the ACSS reticle. Have a 1-6 and 1-8 LPVOs on my Heavy Metal AR-10s, if I could find one small and light enough I'd look at putting one on a 556.

  4. By “furnace” I mean small electric pot I bought just for making a few .44 balls for loading the cap and ball revolver; It’s not even a bottom drop, I have to dip the lead out, but for the little bit I use it, it works fine.

    If I start casting more than that, I’ll definitely have to upgrade.

    I definitely agree about the Wingmaster. It’s a sweet gun, but they ain’t cheap. The one my brother has has been in our family since before either of us was born (dad bought it in the late ’50’s after he got out of the Army) and it works just as well and the action is as smooth as ever.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck finding 3 gun competitions around where I live. There’s plenty of IDPA stuff for pistols, there are high powered rifle matches and there are even a couple of tactical shotgun matches here and there, but none of the clubs around here combine them. I’d like to give it a try and may try to work in a match on vacation someday, but it’s not something I could do regularly because I just don’t have the time or money to travel that much.

    I do what I can to stay proficient, but even just going to the closest rifle range to me is 45 minutes each way (and that’s a small one with limited lanes…the better appointed club that I’m a member of is about twice that) so I don’t get to shoot as much as I’d like. Someday I’ll live in a place where my range is in my backyard, but it’s going to be a few more years before I get there.

    Thanks again for the input and info. Very helpful.

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