Just as “In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States of America, the .45-70 is the only government many people trust. It is the cartridge that is so versatile and effective that people turn to it when their life is on the line.

This cartridge was introduced back in 1873, first adopted by the U.S. Army in their Springfield single-shot rifle. However, that was not the reason why the cartridge was popular. Its rise to popularity came with the Remington rolling block and Sharps carbine.

The govt round gets to sit in the big game hunting club because of its incredible stopping power at long distances. In fact, both sportsmen and women love the .45-70. Do you want to hunt deer or wild hogs? The cartridge will do the job. You can hunt in style with your brush lever gun as well. But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane and see how the .45-70 came to be.

If you live in North America and you are a hunter, you are probably familiar with this cartridge. The .45-70 Government has dropped off somewhat in recent years. While. There are still people who swear by this cartridge, many people are still skeptical about its capabilities.

The .45-70 was one of the first centerfire rifle cartridges in the history of mankind. It was originally designed to be used with black powder, although it can be had with smokeless powder nowadays. This definitely improved the performance of this venerable cartridge. It was released back in 1873 alongside the single-shot Trapdoor Springfield. Originally, this cartridge was loaded with a 405-grain bullet with a powder charge of 70 grain in a copper case.

The name of the cartridge itself came from a naming convention for black powder in common use at the time. It consisted of the caliber of the cartridge followed by the standard load of the powder in grains. In this case, our .45-70 cartridge has a .45 caliber bullet that would be propelled by 70 grains of powder. At its debut, the cartridge could push a cast lead bullet at 1,350 feet per second and could deliver up to 1,600 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. At its time, it was one of the most powerful loads money could buy, unless you roll out your cannon, load it with grapeshot, and take it out hunting. It also saw use by the Army through the Indian Wars in the late 1800s as well.

Since then, the U.S. Army continued to use different models of the rifle and cartridge, although in limited numbers, through the Spanish-American War. It also saw use in the Philippine Insurrection in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were many variations of the Trapdoor Springfield that the Army used and even the early models of the infamous Gatling Gun. This cartridge also was introduced by the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps as well.

Thanks to its reputation among the soldiers, the .45-70 Government quickly became popular. This led to a surge in demand for rifles that were chambered in the cartridge. Quickly jumping on the hype train, many major manufacturers started putting together .45-70 Govt rifles and marketed them to civilian hunters.

Soon after, hunters got access to high-quality lever-action and single-shot rifles. Since then, we saw some legendary rifles coming out such as the Remington Rolling Block, the Remington-Keene, the Sharps 1874, etc. Even when you put in simple solid lead bullets back then, the .45-70 was very effective against whitetail deer, black bear, the grizzly, moose, and bison alike.

Other than that, there are other reasons why people love this cartridge so much.

1. Buffalo Killer

Though this was a controversial period in the .45-70’s history, we need to acknowledge the facts. This cartridge was a major contributor, along with its predecessor the .50-70, to the eradication of the world American bison, or buffalo, in the west. While we need to acknowledge this tragedy, we also need to understand one indisputable fact: the cartridge has that stopping power to take down tough game. Keep in mind that, back then, people had to work with the weaker black powder loads. There is no dispute over that kind of power. This is why people sometimes refer to the .45-70 as a buffalo bore.

2. Legality

More and more states are now legalizing the .45-70 for big game hunting. For instance, Ohio allows straight wall cartridges that are specified by the ODNR. Back then, you were only allowed to work with shotgun slugs. Of course, the .45-70 cartridge is included in that list, and rightfully so.

3. A Blast from the Past

This big bore cartridge has been a constant companion for hunters and target shooters alike since the 70s. This is a very ancient cartridge that still holds up today. If you want to get a feel for what your ancestors used to work with back in the day, here is your chance.

4. Power Level

You get a lot of flexibility in terms of load as well. If you are a hand loader, you would know that custom load is not about bone-crushing recoil. You can make some light loads with cast lead balls for small game or for target practice. You can go for cowboy-style loads with a moderate amount of powder that can still chuck lead at a high speed. If you are going after large game animals, you go for the powerhouse loads. The .45-70 can do it all.

5. Projectile

For the bullet, you want something with a .458 diameter. You can either make this at home by casting from lead, or you can just go out and buy these projectiles. You get to choose the profile for your hunk of lead. Various weights are also available. If you want, you can get jacketed projectiles or modern heavy penetrating projectiles.

6. Powder

While the .45-70 was a black powder cartridge when it was introduced, smokeless powder gave it a new breath of life. That said, many shooters still prefer the old-fashioned way and use black powder. Regardless, it goes to show how flexible the cartridge can be.

7. Platform

We all have different tastes in firearms. Some of us love the old, classic aesthetics like the original 1873 Springfield Trapdoor Rifle that the .45-70 was designed for. Or, you can use the cartridge with a Remington-style Rolling Block Rifle. You are into bolt-actions such as the converted Siamese Mauser Rifles? No problem, those can handle a really heavy load. Lever action rifles such as those from Marlin or Henry also give you hard-hitting shots at the range and field alike. You can also roll with the Ruger #1 single shot that can take hot loads that will rock your world every time you pull the trigger as well. What I described above can be chambered in the .45-70 cartridge. You control the load. You control the platform. What more can you ask for?

8. Bear Defense

One seal of approval that you need to verify the effectiveness of the .45-70 is the fact that Alaskans choose a quick-firing lever action .45-70 rifle as self-defense against bears. The cartridge itself has enough power to take down any game in a flash. If it is powerful enough for them, it will do the job for you, regardless of what you plan to put on the table today.

9. Universality

When in doubt, get the .45-70. It is a classic ammo cartridge that can get you anywhere. It is readily available everywhere and it will help you take down any wild game out there. Of course, when it is in such abundance, it is also cheaper to get them as well.

10. Factory Loads

If you do not want to hand load this cartridge, there are factory loads to choose from. For instance, Hornady’s LEVERevolution FTX cartridges have flattened the curve on this traditionally curvy, rainbow-like cartridge of the .45-70. These pointed soft polymer projectiles are also safe to put in tubular magazines on lever-action rifles as well. If you want something more hard-hitting, go for the hard-cast Xtreme Penetrators from Lehigh Defense. Thanks to modern technology, you can get a muzzle velocity of 1,300 fps from traditional flat nose bullets and somewhere between 2,000-2,200 fps from jacketed hollow points, which is the kind of performance your ancestors could only dream of back in the day.

And there you have it, folks. These are some of the reasons why the .45-70 is still a very versatile and powerful cartridge. Other than that little splotch, the .45-70 has a pristine record, which is why it remains relevant to this day. Of course, I must point out that most ammo manufacturers now produce many kinds of loads for the .45-70 which gives the cartridge a much-needed upgrade in terms of ballistics. That said, not all .45-70 ammo is safe in all .45-70 rifles. So, you need to consider what kind of ammo your rifle can take before you go out and buy it. What do you think about this cartridge? Let us know in the comment section below.

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