.45-70 and Unique, how hot can I load it?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Lindenwood, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    Does anyone have or know where I can find load data for .45-70 and Unique powder using a 300gr bullet? I just want to know how far one can go with it. I've been searching for the last hour or so and have found a few bits here and there that suggest ~18-20gr of Unique under a 300gr bullet should give maybe 1800fps or so and maybe 30k PSI, but I'd like something a little more concrete than that.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2011
  2. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    unique is a fast buning pistol powder and its exceedingly dangerous to use in long barreled rifles. the loads your finding are for pistols like the tc contender and other such very short barreled firearms.

    using those loads in a rifle barrel will increase the pressure substantially and lead to a kaboom killing or injuring you and nearby folks.

    dont do it.
     

  3. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    I know the Lyman books list these types of loads, but I don't have any of them and was just looking for some rough information before I got into it. Longer barrels don't increase pressure, as peak pressure occurs in the first couple inches of bullet travel. In any case, I know it is actually pretty common for people to shoot these types of reduced loads in .45-70 rifles, sometimes just for reduced-recoil plinking and at other times to replicate original black powder specs. However, they usually don't push the loads that fast, and most people seem to use much heavier bullets. But I've found loads showing, off the top of my head, something like 16gr of powder giving maybe 1400fps with a 400gr bullet, with a peak pressure of 26k PSI. BTW, technically Unique was originally marketed as a reduced-load rifle powder.

    I only ask because I've been considering getting a lever action and was just curious how versatile it could be using Unique as the primary powder. The ability to push a 300gr bullet to maybe 1800fps would match a lot of factory loads and would be a good moderate load for potential defense or bench shooting, but the reduction in powder would save about $5 per 50 rounds. Of course, if I really wanted to hotrod I would naturally use more traditional powders, but Im just curious how far one can go with Unique.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  4. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    thats not true of pistol powders. they are very fast burning design to peak rapidly and drop the pressure when the bullet leaves the barrel. 20grains is a LOT of powder for unique in a very large case. you have a much longer sustained pressure curve that starts rapidly and stays there. 45-70 cases arent all that strong and the case is normally the fail point.

    you can do what ya want, just be sure your using an inert case filler to take up some of the empty space.

    i personally dont see the point of doing something risky like that.

    but you got my opinion. maybe someone else has a different one.
     
  5. lonewolf101

    lonewolf101 New Member

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    This is nout of the LYMAN MANUAL 45/70 for win 1886&marlin 300 gr.bullet dosent list that powder but list mine! varget 57.0grains what other powder you have?
     
  6. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    At the moment I only use Unique but was thinking about picking up an 1895 in .45-70 and was just wondering what could be done with it. Most of my research says fillers arent necessary or recommended with Unique.

    But, for example, this site has lots of load data and is showing 14gr of Unique under a 405gr bullet for about 1170fps, which might translate to about 1300fps or so with a 300gr bullet.
    45-70 Government Powder Weight /Velocity Data for the 405gr FPbb

    Here is a thread with a lot of good information about reduced loads.
    UNIQUE powder for 45-70 target loads?

    Like:
    The 17gr loading with a 385gr bullet is one bit of information from which I derived the 18+ with a 300gr bullet. I don't know the specific pressure on that load, though, but I haven't found any specifying peak pressures over 26k PSI. Of course, I'd look more specifically into it (get some manuals, etc) before I ever loaded anything up, but I'm just looking for some rough info. And, of course, I would still keep the denser rifle powder(s) around for the time I really want to hot-rod, but I'd imagine most loads on a given range trp would be filled with Unique rather than those rifle powders, especially if ~1800fps is possible with a 300gr bullet. I have some .30-06 loads saved somewhere that I believe show a max loading of Unique (25gr) under a 150gr bullet gives somewhere around 2400fps, compared to about 2900-3000 with a rifle powder and max load. Of course, I wouldn't want to push it that hard and, for example, would have settled for 2200-2300 if I were going for general plinking loads. But, it does show that one can get pretty decent performance with the moderately-fast powders like Unique, and if a max load of rifle powder will push a 300gr bullet to 2400fps, I don't think 1800fps at the same pressure with Unique would at all be out of the question.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  7. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I have been reloading for 30+ years. The only time I have done something disasterous was using Unique for reduced loads in .223. I blew up a Mini-14. It is very easy to double charge with Unique or any other pistol powder in a large capacity case like the 45-70.

    I understand the allure of limiting the inventory of powders, but there are limits. The fastest powder I would consider in the 45-70 is IMR-4227. It fills over 1/2 of the case capacity (in all reasonable loads) so is pretty much impossible to double charge.

    I only keep 5 powders on hand and I load almost everything from .32 ACP to .454 Casull and .223 to 45-70.
     
  8. lonewolf101

    lonewolf101 New Member

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    These are all the powders for the 45/70 with the 300 grain bullet.


    varget
    imr 4064
    h 4895
    h 322
    imr 3031 xmr 2015
    n 130
    rx7
    imr 4198
    xmp 5744

    so THINK BEFORE YOU ACT!
     
  9. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    I always do...

    But...
    And this is a very nice article summing up 80k rounds worth of research done on "pistol" powders in rifle cartridges:
    http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm


    It's not like I'm pulling this idea out of thin air, heh.


    *edit*

    And Robo, that is definitely true and is a very valid concern with any reduced load!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  10. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 New Member

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    The Lyman Cast Bullet handbook has several loads using Unique powder. It shows loads for all 3 actions too...1873 Springfield, the lever guns and the Ruger #1. If you are interested I will scan them and post them. ;)
     
  11. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    Aah that would be perfect! I really just want to see what the range is and, specifically, the pressures. Thank you, if you are able to do it!
     
  12. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 New Member

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    Alright then...when I get in from work in the morning I'll see what I can do.
     
  13. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 New Member

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    Was wrong about the data for a Springfield action...Unique wasn't in it. But here's the data with the lever gun and Ruger actions. Hope it helps. BTW...there is more data for the Ruger with bigger bullets too.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  14. culdee

    culdee New Member

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    safety first

    spend a few bucks and buy the (a) correct powder for the cartridge. You'll get better performance and also be a lot safer. I always try to buy a powder that will serve in a lot of calibers unless I want a specific load for extreme accuracy. Varget is good in many rifle loads. Pistol powders in large capacity rifle cases are real unstable pressure wise IMHO.

    PS: I looked at the above data and do not overlook the fact that the Unique loads call for a dacron fiber wad to hold the powder back against the primer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  15. gunnut07

    gunnut07 New Member

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    I would caution you against using a loading manual from the 1970's.

    The powders in use today are different forumlations than the ones made 40+ years ago.
     
  16. Dcomf

    Dcomf New Member

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    The OP never mentioned whether he was using cast or jacketed bullets. Unique is absolutely acceptable for cast as shown by the previous posted tables. Use it myself in a 45/70 with cast. For reference check out an article by Ed Harris concerning what he calls "the load". He uses Red Dot powder in rifle loadings, both jacketed and cast. There is precedence for using these "non-rifle" powders in rifles.
     
  17. vulture

    vulture New Member

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    I use Unique to load .45-70 rounds for my Springfield Trapdoor. I use 13 grains behind a 405 grn. lead cast slug. The recoil is extremely light, almost non existant and I have never had any difficulty with any hangfires due to displacement of a small omount of powder in such a large case. I also use Trailboss powder for the loads for the same rifle, not sure of the grns on that one have to look up my load data and it's not here with me right now. I read some time back an article about using fast burning powders in large rifle cases to make up plinking loads. The fact that it is easy to overcharge or double charge a case is true, that small amount of powder in a large case can easly lead to such a problem and one has to be very careful about this. When I load these light loads I pour the powder into the case and then move the case to a completely different load block so it's out of the way of loading the other empty cases.
     
  18. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 New Member

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  19. Lindenwood

    Lindenwood New Member

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    Never got a .45-70, but I did get a .308.

    15gr of Unique and it shoots wonderfully. I know lots of guys over on Silencertalk run ~6-8gr for subsonic loads, but I didn't have any need for that. Plus, 15gr fills about 55% of the case so I liked not having to worry about any double charges.

    17.5gr shot just about as well.

    20gr started to show sights of high pressure, but nothing excessive. it fills about 80% of the case, and is almost exactly half the density of my standard rifle powder, H335. Primers weren't terribly flat (about the same as factory hunting loads), but extraction was noticably sticker (though the cases weren't as clean is I could have gotten them). I didn't get to chrono it, but I estimate 2100fps out of my short (16.4") barrel with this load and a 147gr bullet.

    I've read that you can do 25gr in a .30-06 case, but it will be at the absolute limit (about 60k PSI), and obviously one should work up to that. That should give about 2400fps with a 150gr bullet, or about 2700fps with a 110.

    In any case, given .45-70 has about 40% more case capacity than the .308, it should be able to take at LEAST as much powder. In fact, I think a very safe general-purpose Unique load is to find the volume that will just overflow the case, and half that for a Unique load (with no heavier than middle-weight bullets). This is about 15gr with a .308, probably 16-17gr with a .30-06, and right about 20gr with a .45-70 case.

    And btw, if I'm not mistaken, Unique was originally designed for reduced rifle loads.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011