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45-90 ammo

SCOUT5SCOUT5 Member Posts: 16,195 ✭✭✭✭
edited June 2019 in Ask the Experts
A friend of mine has his grandfather's ( maybe it's great grandfather's) model 1886 Winchester in 45-90. This forefather went to South Dakota in 1871 so he must have bought this rifle while there most likely about the time it was introduced. I don't have the number off of the rifle. The rifle is in good shape and I am inquiring about ammo that can be fired in it. From what I've read the standard at the time was a 400 grain bullet on top of the 90 grains of black powder.

So, is this the right load and does anyone produce a smokeless equivalent to that load that can be safely fired in rifles like this?

Comments

  • MIKE WISKEYMIKE WISKEY Member, Moderator Posts: 9,750 ******
    edited November -1
    or, you can just shoot .45/70's in it................or use .45/70 loading data. starline makes .45/90 brass
  • charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 7,346 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    In good shape the 86 is a strong action and will accommodate nitro powder loading. Loading books have the data, and there are on line places too. Much like 38 Specials in a 357 Mag you can use shorter brass with the same concerns. I would stick the mid level loading data and NEVER use the high end stuff made for like the number 1 Ruger.

    The Lyman cast bullet 330 gr hollow point 457122 is a good choice for most uses.

    added there was factory ammo for about $50 a box of 20
    Ventura Heritage 45-90 Winchester 305gr RNFP Ammo - 20 Rounds
    Ventura Heritage 45-90 Winchester 400gr RNFP Ammo - 20 Rounds

    If it was mine I would load for it and shoot it. If I had a horse I would pack it around.
  • rufesnowrufesnow Member Posts: 250 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    During the later years of the black powder era. 1886-95, it was common to use rifles, chambered for "Express Loads" These were for lighter bullets with heavier powder charges. Giving relatively higher velocity, for lighter BP bullets. Winchester made a number of these express rifles. The most common in 45 caliber.

    To make a long story short. Your rifle might have a slower twist specifically for these lighter bullets. If you do any reloading for it? And the heavier bullets aren't accurate. Try lighter bullets ( 250-350 grains). Loaded to higher BP velocities, 1400-1600 FPS.
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,320 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The .45-90 WCF was a 300 grain bullet and 90 grains of black. Twist was slow. It will surely stabilize a 330 gr bullet, a friend has one he shoots with that Gould Express bullet and it is more accurate than you would expect from an iron sighted lever action.

    There were also the .45-82-405 and .45-85-350.
    All used the same 2.4" case as the .45-90 but bullets were heavier and rifle twist rates appropriate.

    The 1886 action is strong but an early one likely has mild steel barrel. I would shoot cast bullets in it.

    Yes, you can safely fire .45-70s in a .45-90. Accuracy might not be good, but if you just wanted to say you had shot Grandpa's Gun a few times, it would get you by.
  • rufesnowrufesnow Member Posts: 250 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hawk Carse wrote:
    The .45-90 WCF was a 300 grain bullet and 90 grains of black. Twist was slow. It will surely stabilize a 330 gr bullet, a friend has one he shoots with that Gould Express bullet and it is more accurate than you would expect from an iron sighted lever action.

    There were also the .45-82-405 and .45-85-350.
    All used the same 2.4" case as the .45-90 but bullets were heavier and rifle twist rates appropriate.

    The 1886 action is strong but an early one likely has mild steel barrel. I would shoot cast bullets in it.

    Yes, you can safely fire .45-70s in a .45-90. Accuracy might not be good, but if you just wanted to say you had shot Grandpa's Gun a few times, it would get you by.

    Please be advised! That modern 45-70 ammo, might be loaded way hotter than expected. Years back I had one of the 1886 Browning replicas made in Japan. It was no problem with modern ammo. But it kicked like a mule, really unpleasant to shoot, with the original half-moon butt plate.

    If you just want to put a small number of rounds, threw grandpa's gun. Get hold of ammo made specifically for "Cowboy Action Shooting"/SASS shooters. It will be loaded with a lead bullet at no more than 1000 FPS. Way easier on the rifle and your shoulder, than modern hunting ammo.
  • mrmike08075mrmike08075 Member Posts: 11,826 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    To follow rufes remarks...

    Corbon makes .45-70 ammo...

    Their are modern made guns that will not or can not handle this load pressure spike at its peak...

    While I would bet a vintage 1886 Winchester made in USA receiver would hold - it's akin to firing modern shells through a Damascus bbl shotgun.

    You are playing Russian roulette - statistically sooner or later you will blow the gun and injure or kill yourself...

    Why do that???

    Why take the risk???

    To what end - to what purpose???

    There are loads that will cook a ruger #1 action - believe me.

    Mike
  • SCOUT5SCOUT5 Member Posts: 16,195 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I appreciate all of the replies. Monday I am going to call a couple of places that load the round and inquire about shooting their rounds through the rifle. Ventura loads a 305 gr round for it. UltraMax loaded a cowboy action load for it but their factory burned and they don't seem to be back up to loading it.

    I have already told my friend it would be best to load for it. But he doesn't load his own. Perhaps a hand loader to load a few rounds now and then is in order.

    Thanks again
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,320 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Geez, I looked at Midway and there is more overloaded .45-70 than standard. .45-70 in a .45-90 gun is a kluge anyhow.

    The only real .45-90 I can find actually in stock is Ventura which is a brand I am not familiar with.
    Kind of expensive but if he is only going to shoot on "ceremonial occasions" it won't be bad.
    https://www.venturamunitions.com/ventura-heritage-45-90-winchester-305gr-rnfp-ammo-20-rounds/
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