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Thread: 475 Alaskan

  1. #1

    Default 475 Alaskan

    On another thread we were talking about .475 leverguns, and it got me thinking- has anybody ever done a 475 Alaskan? It would be a 475-348... in other words, same thing as a 50 Alaskan, but in .475.
    I happen to prefer .475 over .50, myself. I think this would be the ultimate lever cartridge.

  2. #2
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure it's been done. There is also a 475-70, ie the 45-70 blown out straight, but I've heard they have feeding problems. The 475-348 would be a dandy.

  3. #3

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    Gary Reeder calls the 475-70 a "475 GNR" I hadn't heard about feeding problems... can anybody confirm that? I may be interested in that cartridge on an 1895, so if there are issues w/it I'd rather know now. It would be easier to form than a 475-348... but I'll suck it up and use the 348 case if there really are feeding concerns.

  4. #4

    Default Gary's response

    I shot Gary Reeder an email, asking about the 475-70 feeding issues. This was his response:

    We developed the 475 GNR in 1987 and have been building guns for it ever since. We started building rifles for it in 2000 and have never had any problems with feeding. I think that was a rumor started by a gunsmith who couldn't figure out how to make one feed right.
    Gary Reeder

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I don't know who built the rifle, but there was a guy at Rabbit Creek that had one and he said he had feeding problems with it. There are lots of .475 cast bullets with various nose profiles and varying distances from the canalure to the meplat, which could have caused the problems.

    Hmm, looking at the balistics it's about perfect, 430 gr @ 2000 fps, I'd be happy with 400's @ 2000, or say 450 @ 1800. There is something to be said for a simple conversion and cheap brass!

  6. #6

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    yeah, attractive isn't it? A light, short, brush levergun that sends 430 gr. .475 caliber bullets @ 2000 fps.

    And like you said, it wouldn't need to be loaded anywhere near that. Didn't somebody exit the far shoulder of a bison with a 410 gr. bullet @ 1100 fps out of a 480 Ruger? The same bullet, at the same velocity, out of a 475-70 levergun, would do the same thing... and in the levergun you'd hardly feel it!

    The more I think about it, the more I like it. Your story about feeding issues is the only thing that bothers me... but if Gary Reeder has made that many guns for it, and never had an issue... I'm probably safe assuming that your friend's issue was an isolated one. I hope...?

  7. #7

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    I've got one of the first 450 Alaskans built on a 71 Winchester, plus a recent 95 in a 45/70 wildcat. You'll be happy with either, I'm sure. Big dif you will notice is in bulk and weight of the 71 needed to handle the 348 case. As for reliability of function in the 95, cartridge OAL will be a big factor. Simply can't be too long or short, and therefore a canelure or crimping grove in just the right spot is mandatory.

    Lots more case capacity for the 348 too, so if you feel the bullet needs lots of geewhiz, might be better to use the 71/348 combo to push it at moderate pressures, rather than testing the metalurgy on a 95 with astronomic pressures. Lots easier on brass, as well as that custom gun you put so much love and money into.

  8. #8

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    Brownbear,

    What 45-70 wildcat do you have in the 95? Is it 475? Are you saying that OAL has to be just right with any 45-70 wildcat to avoid feeding issues?

    Also, you mentioned the bulk of the 71 needed to "handle the 348 case." Are you referring to recoil? Do you think a 475-348 would kick much harder than a 475-70?

    Another thing- you mentioned more "gee-whiz" using the 348 case. How do you think the ballistics would compare between the 475-70 and 475-348?

    Finally, you said that you have a 450 Alaskan- what is involved in forming brass for that? Since you have that cartridge, you can probably answer this- How much harder would it be to form brass for a "475 Alaskan" than for a 475-70?

    Thanks!

  9. #9

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    My wildcat is a 45/70 blown out to remove most of the taper and necked down to .429. Think of it as a "super" 444 Marlin, capable of holding significantly more slow burning powder for extra velocity with heavy bullets. It's a dandy cartridge for lots of reasons, but OAL limits of the Marlin action have to be respected. I'd double check that your proposed wildcat is not too long when a 475 bullet is seated to the cannelure or crimping grove. If it is, you may need to shorten cases slightly to remain within OAL restrictions imposed by the action.

    The 348 case is quite a bit larger than the 45/70, both in length and base diameter. I doubt it would work in the smaller Marlin 95 action, even if you could find a smith to attempt the work.

    Based on shooting max loads through my 450 Alaskan, as well as heavy loads in an assortment of 45/70's and my wildcat, I'd expect a 475-348 to recoil more. Some of that could be moderated with stock design, rifle weight and porting, but in the end you are torching more powder and pushing the bullet to higher velocities.

    I'm traveling and don't have access to any ballistic programs, but I bet you could forecast fairly well how much more velocity you could get with a 475-348 than with a 475-70 AT THE SAME PRESSURES. The further advantage of the 475-348's extra capacity is allowing you to use slower burning powders to achieve comparable velocities at much lower pressures than in a 475-70 (the point I made in my last post).

    For the 450 Alaskan, I simply run a 348 case into an RCBS .458 case expander, load a moderate powder charge, and seat the bullet out to kiss the rifling. Fire forming that sets the shoulder exactly right. Then I trim cases to length and use a regular sizing die set from then on. Great case life, but then again I'm not a max pressure kinda guy.

    My 429/70 wildcat couldn't be simpler to form cases, because the regular sizing die necks the case down to .429 and forms a small shoulder. I simply run it into my sizing die, load a moderate load and fireform, followed by trim-to-length and normal loading. Again, case life is good but I'm not pushing it nearly as far as many folks push their hot 45-70 loads.

    Forming your 475/70 wildcat would require you to neck up the case from .458 reminiscent of the 450 Alaskan's move from .348 to .458, but I'd seat the bullet to kiss the rifling for fireforming (most certainly requiring hand-feeding rather than cycling the action), or sizing it oversize (probably to .500) as an intermediate step, then sizing it back down to .475 in order to establish a small shoulder before fireforming. I'd try the former first in order to simplify things, but if headspace issues appeared in your new cases, I'd be prepared to go the 500 expansion first. That's what I've had to do with a couple of other wildcats (not on the 45/70 case), and it works well even if it is a hassle.

    The same would apply to the 475/348 wildcat to a degree, but case walls are thicker on the 348 than the 45/70 and based on my experience with the 450 Alaskan, I'd guess that you are less likely to develop headspace problems when fireforming directly after necking up the case, rather than having to resort to expanding oversize, then necking back down to 475 to form the shoulder.

    Is all this number tossing helpful?

  10. #10

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    thanks brownbear!

    So...sounds like the 348 case might be the way to go. But let me just get this straight:

    #1. I'm more likely to have OAL problems with a 45-70 wildcat in a 95 action, than with a 348 wildcat in a 71 action. Correct?

    #2. If so, how easy is it to find a 71 action anymore? Are there any other actions that would be easily substituted? What do people use for the 50 Alaskan?

    #3. Between a 475-348 and 475-70, the 348 case might be easier to form. Correct? Both have to be necked-up, fireformed, and trimmed... but in addition, the 45-70 case might need extra shoulder work (by necking up to .50 and back down to .475)?

    Thanks!

  11. #11
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    #1. Feeding problems with the 45-70 case in an 1895 Marlin action can be overcome. There generally aren't problems if we stay with the 45-70 overall length. If we are using a bullet that is long or has a crimp groove such as to make OAL greater than the 45-70 then we shorten the case. The GNR is made around existant 475 Linebaugh bullets and it works, so that is an advantage. I don't think there are specific feeding problems with bottle necked calibers for the 1895 action, given correct OAL, and if the gun is converted by a good smith and modified to feed what ever wildcat. If you just screw a wildcat barrel on the gun, yes there will be problems. I'd say Gary Reeder can build as good a rifle as anyone.

    #2. Model 71's are not easy to find. Sort of like chicken lips. The 450 and 50 Alaskan are made on the 348 case and for that action. The only real substitute for the action is the original model 1886 which the M71 replaced. Essentially the same action with minor differences. There are some new short run Miroku guns out there that would work fine. The 348 series of wildcats can be made on Siamese Mauser actions and so can the 45-70 and it's wild cousins. The general advantage of the lever (other than the lever fans who are accustomed to it) is that it can be reloaded while at the ready. With the rifle shouldered and the action cocked, a cartridge or two can be stuffed in the magazine.

    #3. No. One is no easier than the other. If there is a lot of trimming or such that's just work, but that's about it. And I think the 475's on either case are just tapered and not bottle necked. I haven't seen the 475 GNR in some time but I think it is just tapered. But either way it isn't hard to form as BB said a false shoulder is a good way but technically it head spaces on the rim so just shoot it and it will fit the chamber. Of course you have to get a bullet in it and the load should be a moderate load, etc. Redding does make dies for the GNR and it would be the best choice since it has the most attention.

    The 348 case compared to the 45-70 case originally was a much stronger case because it was run at higher pressures. But now with all the good strong bass available in the 45-70 it is certainly as strong as the 348. The 45-70 brass is available everywhere and is good quality and relatively cheap. The marlin rifle is not as strong as the M71 and should not be treated as it is. I will say that the 95 action and the 45-70 case are more than strong enough for the shooters, the shooters shoulder is the weak link.

    Reeder can make what you want on a 95 action and make it work. I wouldn't worry about that. That is an important point that should be discussed well in advance of laying down any cash and he doesn't make any junk so I wouldn't worry about that. He isn't cheap though, he's a quality smith and builds classy arms.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  12. #12
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    If you decide to go with a 475-348, I'd start out with 50 Alaskan brass. One pass through the fl sizer and you'd be good to go.

    As nice as it would be to have the added capacity of the 348 case, the added cost of a parent rifle, if you could find one, brass and overall expense of the project would tern me off. I've gone with enough oddball parent cases to have seen the error in that plan.

    Especially if you plan to shoot cast bullets, which IMHO work best at a maximum of 2000 fps at the muzzle, the 45-70 parent case has all the powder capacity you need for upwards of 450 gr of bullet, and project is as simple as sending a guide gun to Reeder for a new barrel and perhaps some minor feeding tweaks. You will have to pay for custom dies, but other then that it's just a simple bump up in case dia to seat bullets.

  13. #13

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    Excellent and well-founded points Paul. I had originally planned to build a second 450 Alaskan to take some of the wear and tear off my old original. In the end I went with the 45/70 wildcat on a 95 for the reasons you cited. Worked great, and saved me a fair bit of money in the bargain.

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    Gents,

    The 475 Alaskan is built by Gary Reeder and it's called the 476 GNR. If you go to his website and look at the leverguns. He has one called the Master Hunter, it was built on a Browning Model 71. And the rifle is actually mine. It's even marked prototype. He will build then on a Marlin 1895.

    I'll be retiring to alaska shortly and bring it with me.

  15. #15

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    Is the 71 chambering for the round based on the 45/70 case or the 348, Dan? Whichever, some example chrono results would useful to go north and interesting to the rest of us.

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    It's based on the 348/50 alaskan cases. I personally use 50 Alaskan cases, they're cheaper and easier to size. I will post some data tomorrow when i get home from work.

    I use the 375gr GC bullets from cast performance.

  17. #17

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    Ah... so that's what the 476 GNR is. The site never said. Well, great minds think alike :-) He can build it on a 95 action though?

    How does the price of brass compare between 45-70 and 348 (or 50 AK, if that route is cheaper)?

    So, is the availability of the 71 action the main reason you guys would choose a 45-70 wildcat over a 348 wildcat?

    Also, I had another question about the 45-70 wildcat... what is minimum OAL in the 95 action? For instance, if pressure was not an issue (and it IS), could you feed 475 LB rounds into a 475-70 rifle? Or are they too short? I'm just wondering what my trimming peramiters would be.

  18. #18

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    You've stepped beyond my ken, go north. The prospect of using different length cases ala mags and specials in 44 and 357/38 is a good one if it worked, if for no other reason than being able to keep plinking and heavy loads sorted in your pocket.

    I bought a case of 348 brass so long ago I have no idea what contemporary prices are. The price on 45/70 brass is high enough now that I wish I had bought 1000 or so about ten years ago, however.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigboredan View Post
    Gents,

    The 475 Alaskan is built by Gary Reeder and it's called the 476 GNR. If you go to his website and look at the leverguns. He has one called the Master Hunter, it was built on a Browning Model 71. And the rifle is actually mine. It's even marked prototype. He will build then on a Marlin 1895.

    I'll be retiring to alaska shortly and bring it with me.
    I think Gary has a 475 GNR and a 476 GNR, The 476 is one of his short necked calibers and the 475 is just a straight 45-70, 2.1" case. It has a very slight taper, down from what would be 50 caliber, but this slight taper and standard length makes it an ideal candidate for the 1895. I don't know about the 476 with it's necked down and sharp shoulder case. It is likely at it's best in the single shot pistols.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  20. #20

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    so- 348 brass is more expensive, 71 actions are harder to come by, and the 348 case has more case capacity than I should be using anyways? I guess the 475-70 might be the way to go.

    Do you think the 475-70 brass would have to be trimmed for the 1895 action? What's 45-70... 2.105 I think... after being blown out almost straight, is that going to effect OAL?

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