Big Bore Lever Action Rifles?

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
I like my Marlin a lot, but have taken only one mule deer doe with the 45-70 rifle. It was about a 70 yard shot, through both shoulders and broke the spine. The 405 gr Remington handloaded to about 1650 fps exited.

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I'd like to hear about experiences with the 45-70, 450 Marlin, 444 Marlin on larger game such as elk, moose, bear and particularly on the great bears, the grizzlies... In my mind, a well handled big bore lever action seems like a great choice for such game, particularly if the range is modest.

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Thanks, Guy
 

Rednek rampager

Beginner
Oct 4, 2020
108
4
Not quite what you’re asking about, but the closest thing I have to a big bore lever gun is my M-71 Winchester in .348.

It’s a early model, 1st or 2nd year production, and it’s taken its share of Elk, whitetail & hogs.

Funnest day I’ve spent afield with it was the day I was part of a wild hog kill fest on a friends ranch in east Texas. Lots and lots of running head shots with that rifle put the hogs in the dirt.


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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
Very cool. Always admired that 348 Win cartridge and the famous Winchester 71. :)

Ya, experiences with the 348 and the various 35 & 375 cal lever actions are worthwhile too.

Guy
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,443
2,199
I've used my .356 and .358 to take big game. This is a sampling of some of the game I've taken with a lever gun. Couldn't find pictures of the elk and/or mule deer I've taken.

Grizzly w .356 Win

IwQhevO.jpg


Small black bear w .358 Win

w8izTaW.jpg


Bison w .358 Win

JZUHwAK.jpg


Small by some criteria, but they do work.
 

gerry

Ammo Smith
Mar 1, 2007
6,113
11
Hey that BLR 358 Win looks familiar. This bear was taken using the 200 gr Sierra RN which performed well.

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Rednek rampager

Beginner
Oct 4, 2020
108
4
DrMike":237it620 said:
I've used my .356 and .358 to take big game. This is a sampling of some of the game I've taken with a lever gun. Couldn't find pictures of the elk and/or mule deer I've taken.

Grizzly w .356 Win

IwQhevO.jpg


Small black bear w .358 Win

w8izTaW.jpg


Bison w .358 Win

JZUHwAK.jpg


Small by some criteria, but they do work.

You my friend, have had some fun times with your lever guns.

How big was that griz pilgrim?


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
29
I bought my 1895 45/70 three years ago for a bear hunt. I took a white tail with it. Love shooting it. I used the 300 gn Barnes on the bear and a 300 gn federal power point on the deer.
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The bear was pretty cool. 20 yard shot. Double lung offside leg, he ran a little circle. He basically stopped at the base of my tree.. I could hear the gurgle, then the death moan followed by the death roar, and he never took another breathe. Very fast end. I took my time coming down the tree..

I’ll try to add the deer picture. The bear went 300. Not huge but around us, it’s a good one.


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Blkram

Handloader
Nov 25, 2013
1,977
525
Have only used medium bore lever actions on big game over the past 25 years; haven't used one over 375 cal to harvest any big game yet. (looking forward to using the 41 Rem Mag on black bear, and the 356 Win for moose and elk (both Marlins).
358 Win in BLR used on several elk, moose and black bears from 60 to 140 yards; 220 gr Speer Hot Cor.
375 Win in Marlin 375S on several moose and black bears and a caribou from 5 to 100 yards, except one bull moose at 225 yards; 200 gr Winchester Power Points and 220 gr Hdy FP's.
Nogt only effective on big game at reasonable ranges, but also a lot of fun to carry, hunt with and shoot!
 

HodgemanAK

Beginner
Oct 23, 2020
210
110
The 45-70 is very popular here for bear protection, generally loaded with significantly more powerful ammunition that the old cartridge as issued back in the day.

A buddy of mine hit a large black bear with one of the stout loaded 45-70s and the bear launched into a dead run and made it 20' before hitting a huge spruce head on, splitting its skull. The internal damage from the round was extensive. That bear bled out on his feet in the time it took him to spring 2 bounds.

I know a few people who use it for moose, but most hunters here want something with more range than the 45-70 offers in any guise.
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
Love that description of the bear making it about 20' - ya - I've been taking mine along on my camping trips as bear defense.

HodgemanAK - what's the preferred ammo for bear defense up your way? You have bigger, meaner bears than most of them down here, though we do see the occasional grizz.

Guy
 

HodgemanAK

Beginner
Oct 23, 2020
210
110
Guy Miner":3n873cmw said:
HodgemanAK - what's the preferred ammo for bear defense up your way? You have bigger, meaner bears than most of them down here, though we do see the occasional grizz.

Guy,
The Buffalo Bore and Grizzly loads are pretty popular. A local concern manufactures loads featuring the Lehigh Defense bullets and seem to do pretty well. It's hard to argue with a 400gr chunk of lead moving. out of the barrel at 2000fps!
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
HodgemanAK":yu0drscf said:
Guy Miner":yu0drscf said:
HodgemanAK - what's the preferred ammo for bear defense up your way? You have bigger, meaner bears than most of them down here, though we do see the occasional grizz.

Guy,
The Buffalo Bore and Grizzly loads are pretty popular. A local concern manufactures loads featuring the Lehigh Defense bullets and seem to do pretty well. It's hard to argue with a 400gr chunk of lead moving. out of the barrel at 2000fps!

I'd imagine so - I've loaded the 45/70 to that level, but not often.

Guy
 

gbflyer

Handloader
Mar 28, 2017
910
87
Had a JM stamped guide gun. Sent to Robar for coating. It was really a nice rifle for guide work in the summer on salmon streams. Never used it on a bear but did shoot a couple blacktail with it. Someone near and dear to me decided to hotrod the hand loads. Said individual got a load off Real Guns that called for Reloder7. Genius used the same charge but in Accurate 7[emoji15]. It withstood 2 firings. On the third the receiver split in half right down the scope mount holes, launched the barrel about 12’, and the bolt went to the side. No injuries, by the Grace of God. Fessed up to Marlin, they said if we would send what was left in they’d replace it. And they did. That person is no longer allowed near the reloading equipment without extreme oversight.

That’s my big bore lever gun story.
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
:shock:

Not the first time I've read off the two "7's" being confused. I like Reloader 7 for the 45-70, and refuse to have any Accurate 7 here. 'Cause sometimes I'm not too bright!

Wow! Everybody was okay after that?

Guy
 

Rednek rampager

Beginner
Oct 4, 2020
108
4
gbflyer":2yg18qvt said:
Had a JM stamped guide gun. Sent to Robar for coating. It was really a nice rifle for guide work in the summer on salmon streams. Never used it on a bear but did shoot a couple blacktail with it. Someone near and dear to me decided to hotrod the hand loads. Said individual got a load off Real Guns that called for Reloder7. Genius used the same charge but in Accurate 7[emoji15]. It withstood 2 firings. On the third the receiver split in half right down the scope mount holes, launched the barrel about 12’, and the bolt went to the side. No injuries, by the Grace of God. Fessed up to Marlin, they said if we would send what was left in they’d replace it. And they did. That person is no longer allowed near the reloading equipment without extreme oversight.

That’s my big bore lever gun story.

By the grace of God indeed.


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gbflyer

Handloader
Mar 28, 2017
910
87
Guy Miner":2pvr4cny said:
:shock:

Not the first time I've read off the two "7's" being confused. I like Reloader 7 for the 45-70, and refuse to have any Accurate 7 here. 'Cause sometimes I'm not too bright!

Wow! Everybody was okay after that?

Guy
Yes. He was wearing a pair of leather gloves and shooting over the hood of a pickup on bags. He didn’t have a hand on the forearm, was resting the off hand on the top of the buttstock. Not across a road or anything but in a big pasture. The pickup hood collected a small dent. Not a scratch on the trigger-man. I was there and remember it vividly. One would think there would be an earth shattering explosion. Quite the contrary. There was no recoil and the report sounded similar to popping a primer without a charge of powder or bullet.


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
29
Wow! Maybe damage was done on the second shot and the third just scattered the parts...


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HAWKEYESATX

Handloader
Aug 15, 2016
1,806
59
I'm surprised Fotis hasn't dropped in to give his adventures with his Marlin .444!
I know he's taken game as small as snakes up to elk with his .444. The big game with a Hornady 265 gr, and Bear Tooth bullets up to 300 gr, I think.
I haven't had any experiences with mine yet, but when I do, I will certainly report them.


Hawk

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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,761
1,754
I think it's a doggone shame that in years of loading for, and owning one, all I've taken with the 45/70 is that one mule deer doe...

Am trying to figure out a scenario I can set up for next year where the 45/70 would be a big benefit... Often my shots are on the longish side, so I tend to go with things like the 25-06, etc... That make hits at 300 - 400 yards easier.

But... I can figure something for the 45/70 Marlin, I'm sure! Too bad we can't bait bear here in Washington...

Guy
 

salmonchaser

Handloader
Dec 13, 2013
3,556
1,044
I carry a .45/70 every day from June 1 through September 15 plus or minus a few days. Most of the time it’s for an hour in the morning and an hour at night while running the dogs. Also the rifle I choose when we have a bear in camp.
Mostly I just shoot porcupines. We’re 300 miles from a vet by float plane. I don’t give them a chance
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