.450 Marlin superior to .45-70

Q I own a Marlin 1895M in .450 Marlin with 457mm ported barrel and fitted with a 1-4×24 L4A Dot IR reticle. The factory and Hornady claim 2100fps and more than 3400ft-lb muzzle energy with a 350gn bullet. The rifle will land three bullets in a 1-1/2 inch circle at 100 yards. My mate has a Marlin too, but his is in .45-70 which is nowhere near as powerful as my .450 Marlin. Why can’t the .45-70 equal the .450 Marlin, since both have straight cases of about the same length and are chambered in similar leverguns? What can you tell me about the .450 Marlin? Any tips in regard to reloading? What’s a good load for sambar?

– Jason Carroll

A The .450’s belted case (on the right in the image) is stronger and can be loaded to higher pressures, hence its superiority to the .45-70 (on the left). SAAMI maximum pressure for the .45-70 is held to 28,000psi, due to so many older rifles still kicking around; the .450 Marlin is loaded to approximately 43,500psi. The.450 case holds less powder: 77gn against 83gn for the .45-70, but the .450’s thicker case base and sidewalls are suited for higher pressures than the .45-70. The belt prevents shooters from mistakenly loading it in a gun chambered for .45-70. The .45-70 can only be loaded to equal the .450 Marlin in a Ruger No.1 or a Navy Arms Siamese Mauser.

A good sambar load is the Barnes 250gn X-Bullet and 54gn of AR2207 for about 2400fps in your Marlin’s short barrel. Hold the overall length of your reloads to 2.55” as rounds much longer will not cycle reliably in the Marlin action. Use a propellant that is heavily compressed to keep the bullet from being pushed deeper in the case and then roll a slight crimp over the ogive far down where the bullet is slightly less than full bullet diameter to keep the bullet from pulling out of the case.

A short-barreled carbine is about the optimum vehicle for the .450 Marlin cartridge.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.