The 45-70 Government cartridge owes its origin to the Springfield Armory, which developed it for use in their single shot Model 1873 Trapdoor rifle. Its name comes from its 0.458” diameter bullet and its 70 grains of black powder. Although the original 45-70 cartridge’s projectile weighed 405 grains, newer versions of the round offer more manageable recoil courtesy of their relatively lighter bullets.

As is often the case with military ammunition, the 45-70 quickly gained a following among Army veterans who favored the familiar round for hunting. Although its popularity has waned somewhat since the 1800s, the 45-70’s indisputable power maintains its viability for use in big game hunting. Its heavy bullet is both the 45-70’s curse and its blessing, in a sense -- a big bullet equals big power, true, but the resulting slow muzzle velocity and very steep trajectory require a lot of skill to compensate for. Still, its historical significance and old-fashioned charm mean that the 45-70 is not going away any time soon.

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