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Thread: 444 Marlin vs 45-70, opinions? Experiences? Looking for some help...

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    Default 444 Marlin vs 45-70, opinions? Experiences? Looking for some help...

    Hi allÖ new guy here.
    Like the title says, Iím looking for input on the differences and a comparison of the 444 Marlin and 45-70Ö Iíve got an opportunity to pick up a Winchester 94 AE Big Bore in 444 Marlin, but I was originally looking for a 45-70.
    Any input on the pros and cons of both rounds? Purpose is a utility/bear/short range moose gun. Iím tired of lugging around the 12ga, and Iíve always liked lever guns. I've never had one of these big bore guns before, so its new territory for me...
    Iíve read the web hype, at least, what I could find, but havenít found much in objective comparisons from experienced shooters.
    Iím hoping to find that here.
    Thanks in advance
    Dan

  2. #2

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    More than likely the 45-70 shooters are going to give you the low down on why the 45-70 trumps the 444 Marlin. Rather than going that route I simply going to tell you that as a short range protection gun against bears and a gun that is very capable for moose the 444 Marlin will fill the bill. Since you are looking at it as a replacement gun for your 12 ga then I say go for it. I would choose a 444 Marlin with a good 300 grain bullet over a 12 ga with slugs every time.

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    Sorry to disappoint you but seriously doubt if you can find anyone here who has actually shot more than a couple of big animals in Alaska using both calibers.
    If I had to pick one over the other would choose the 45-70 just because ammo is easier to find.

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    Kind of what I was thinking, and my original thought was to get a 45-70 Guide Gun, but the 94AE popped up on the local classified site here and I figured I'd check into it. After talking to the guy, it has the 20" barrel and 1x38" twist, so I'm not sure its the best choice. He also owns both calibers, and said in his exerience they are pretty comparable at short range, with the right loads. Ford, Chevy, GMC etc...
    There's also a Rem 742 in 30-06 that I might opt for instead, to take care of the longer range business. I'm not going to be out hunting grizzlies, that I know of, so a 30-06 will be enough gun for anything I'll be after. I had a 7600 30-06 pump as a kid, it was a great rifle.
    I'd love to find a 375 H&H for sale cheap down here, but they're not real popular in these parts, I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by proffett View Post
    Hi allÖ new guy here.
    Like the title says, Iím looking for input on the differences and a comparison of the 444 Marlin and 45-70Ö Iíve got an opportunity to pick up a Winchester 94 AE Big Bore in 444 Marlin, but I was originally looking for a 45-70.
    Any input on the pros and cons of both rounds? Purpose is a utility/bear/short range moose gun.

    Iím hoping to find that here.
    Thanks in advance
    Dan
    Both are great rounds and suitable for all manner of NA big game, if loaded properly. My experience with the .444 is minimal, but I've used the 45/70 a good bit. There's nothing wrong with the .444 and if you're a handloader then it can do most anything you ask of a big bore lever-action rifle. However, the 45/70 has a wealth of available factory ammo and can do anything the .444 does and then some.

    If I'm buying a new rifle then the 45/70 is the only thing that makes sense IMO, but if you find a deal on a used rifle the .444 is certainly worth considering.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

  6. #6

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    The only thing that makes me a little twitchy about that AE is the 1:38 twist. It might not be happy with bullets as heavy as 300 grains, or a little heavier like some of the cast that are available. I've dinged game with both 444 and 45-70, and I think the 444 comes up a little short till you get to the 300 grain. But with a 300 grain built right (and not a pistol bullet- I prefer Hawks with .035 jackets) I might go out on a limb and say the 444 is at least as good. If you put any store in sectional density and penetration, the .429 300-grain bullet will penetrate a little better than a 300-grain .458, all else being equal.

    IF YOU DRIVE BOTH AT THE SAME VELOCITY. And that's the catch. Lotta guys get into stratospheric pressures with both rounds, and I'm a conservative when it comes to pressures. You just can't drive the 444 as fast as the 45-70 at what I consider realistic pressures. The 444 has a smaller case, and dat's dat.

    I've gone "one step beyond" what most guys do in comparing the two. I had a wildcat put together on a Marlin, necking the 45-70 down to .429 and blowing out the shoulder to form a neck. Think of it as a scaled down 450 Alaskan. It comes in with a little more powder capacity than a 45-70, but not enough to matter in my testing without a pressure barrel and multimillion dollar ballistics lab. But it's real easy to match the 45-70 blow for blow with 300 grain bullets in both. I'm getting around 200 fps more than "book" for 444 while not exceeding "book" charges for the 45-70 with 300 grain bullets. Could I go higher? Probably. Don't feel the need.

    Long as I'm spouting, here's another difference. I never drove a 300 grain Speer or Hornady pistol bullets fast enough to come apart in game with the 444, but the first deer I shot with a Speer from my wildcat sent me scurrying to Hawk for tougher bullets. Ugly.

    With the 444 or my wildcat (and the reason behind my choice of the wildcat) is the option of using cheaper pistol bullets for practice if you don't cast your own bullets.

    All my yammering aside, there's another important advantage to the 45-70 that no one has mentioned yet. If you put any stock in bullet weight for a rifle to be used on bigger game, you'll move heaven and earth to find anything heavier than 300, or maybe 320, in a 444. But you can run up to 400 real easy with the 45-70. Most guys get all shiny eyed about 300's in their 45-70 Guide Guns, but peel back a layer of skin, and they love the 300's so much because the 400's and heavier kick like Hades in that little gun with full loads.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Iíd say 45-70 is a slightly better choice than 444 but ether will do just fine. Now Iíd take a 444 in a 94 Big Bore every time over a 45-70 chambered Marlin because of the gun more than the round. Thatís me though, my hand grew up wrapped around a 94 and Marlins do have many good points but to me the average 94 Big Bore is a far better gun than the average Guide Gun.
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  8. #8

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    Thanks for the inputs, guys.
    It's becoming apparent that while the 444 is a very nice rifle, and would e an adequate round for my purposes, I could do better with the 45-70, for several reasons...

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    Another side note. I have the 742 in 30-06. It is a safe queen now. They wear out and can't be fixed. The 7400 and 750's don't have that problem. I have a 750 in 35 whelen and think it is more reliable. So, if you are thinking about the old autoloader, buyer beware. Also, the 742 was never known to be a tack driver.

    I have a 444 Marlin and am happy with it only because I got it for a good deal and hand load. Other wise the 45/70 for 450 Marlin would be my choice of lever action cartridges up here because of ammo availability.

    I don't like the limited range of the lever gun for where I usually hunt. I think the scoped rifle is more versatile, and you can't find a better selection of ammo than for the 30-06. I plan to use the 444 on a bear stand or as my boat gun.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for the insight on the 742.... I was doing a little research and was finding the same thing from several forums.
    I have a little time before I head north so I'll just wait and see what else comes up.
    Looks like a 45-70 or a bolt gun is the ticket.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I have both and the 94 prefer 300gr or less in my gun where the 45/70 likes 350's and 400's. If you handload the 45/70 offers much out there but the 444 is almost right with it. If you don't handload my 444 loves the BB 300 but not the 335gr
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    I have both and the 94 prefer 300gr or less in my gun....
    That's good to know. I was looking at the twist rate and really scratching my head. When I built the wildcat I was looking for a 1:24 and settled on 1:18 when I couldn't find it. Overstabilized? Dunno. Sure can't say that by looking at paper, though it makes me wonder a little more about the "tenderness" I've found in 300's made for pistols.

    Great report, and thanks again.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    That's good to know. I was looking at the twist rate and really scratching my head. When I built the wildcat I was looking for a 1:24 and settled on 1:18 when I couldn't find it. Overstabilized? Dunno. Sure can't say that by looking at paper, though it makes me wonder a little more about the "tenderness" I've found in 300's made for pistols.

    Great report, and thanks again.
    I know Winchester states 1-38 but in truth their barrels are 1-20 average.I say average as some are 1-26 and a few of their short barreled rifles went out at 1-12. The one I have made in 91 is a 1-20
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Amazing! Maybe it's a sign of how many hands have been on the Winchester "steering wheel" in recent years.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I think they just printed what Marlin started with and left it there. The average hunter probably never thinks about twist rate and bullet length and just shoot what the store sells them.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    I've owned a couple Marlin 444 rifles, mainly the older 24" MC stocked guns and have never felt like a 45-70 would have made a big difference.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    For your stated purpose either would serve you well. The .45-70 has advantages over the .444 that many have stated. I have a 742 in .30-06 and have not been impressed with it. I also own a Marlin Guide Gun and two Model 70 Winchesters... one in .30-06 and another in .338 WM. A word of caution... if you buy a Guide Gun you may be hooked like a lot of the rest of us. I've owned mine for 5 years and haven't used my .30-06s or .338 WM for hunting since. Short, light, powerful, accurate, easy availability of a variety of ammo for any North American game animal... it's hard to beat that if most of your shots are within 200 yds.

  18. #18

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    Well, my mind is made up.
    45-70 it is...

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    bought a .444 straight stock in 1974 , I think , maybe 75 anyway shot bears and moose with handloads using the 265 Hornady , everything tipped over , worked great then it " disappeared" and I bought a .45-70 which I'ved used for 32 years . I haven't seen any difference .

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daved View Post
    Another side note. I have the 742 in 30-06. It is a safe queen now. They wear out and can't be fixed. The 7400 and 750's don't have that problem. I have a 750 in 35 whelen and think it is more reliable. So, if you are thinking about the old autoloader, buyer beware. Also, the 742 was never known to be a tack driver.

    I have a 444 Marlin and am happy with it only because I got it for a good deal and hand load. Other wise the 45/70 for 450 Marlin would be my choice of lever action cartridges up here because of ammo availability.

    I don't like the limited range of the lever gun for where I usually hunt. I think the scoped rifle is more versatile, and you can't find a better selection of ammo than for the 30-06. I plan to use the 444 on a bear stand or as my boat gun.
    Had a Rem 742 Woodsmaster in .30-06 Sprng. for a few years & shot several moose with it.
    It started to jam when the action wore loose and that's the warning with 742s that it's time to sell them off (as I was advised by a gunsmith friend) which I promptly did.
    If you see a well worn 742 on a used gun rack ..........leave it there.

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