A suitable rifle-cartridge combination is crucial for a good shooting experience. Both 45 70 and 444 Marlin are great hunting cartridges. 45 70 is the more popular of the two cartridges, but .444 Marlin has its cult following. This 444 marlin vs 45-70 comparison will help you choose the cartridge of your choice.
444 was a venture of Marlin Firearms in collaboration with Remington. In 1964, they introduced a new cartridge, an elongated version of .44 Magnum. Marlin introduced this new cartridge with 336 lever action. The 336 lever-action rifle had a 24″ barrel with a 1:38 twist rate, which was very slow. However, today, the Marlin rifles have a 1:20″ twist rate that can stabilize heavy bullets better. One popular rifle in which it is cambered is Winchester Timber Carbine.
Initially, it used a 240-grain bullet with 2400 ft. per second velocity and 3,070 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
After the Civil War, the United States looked for a new rifle-cartridge combination. It wanted to eliminate its muzzleloading rifles and paper cartridges and replace them with metallic case cartridges and breech-loading rifles. After some experimentation, the US government finally settled upon the .45 calibre cartridge with the famous Trapdoor Springfield. The US army used Springfield with a .45 calibre cartridge, 70 grain of black powder as a propellant and heavy cast bullets of 405 grain or 500-grain bullets inside the cartridge.
What’s with the name?
When the US government developed this cartridge, the common tradition was that cartridges got the name according to their calibre, followed by the load. In this case, .458 was the diameter of 45 70; it used 70 grains of black powder as a propellant and 405 or 500-grain loads. Hence, the name 45-70-405 or 45-70-500 is used depending on the load.
Commercially, the cartridge got the name .45-70 Government or 45-70 Govt.
The original 45 70 had a velocity of 1350 ft. per second and muzzle energy of 1600 ft. pounds, making it one of the most powerful cartridges. The United States Army used it in its essential wars and insurrections in the 1800s and early 1900s. The US army also used it with other rifles and Gatling guns.
The reputation that 45 70 earned in the Army led it to become popular among civilians. This popularity increased the demand for the rifles to be chambered in 45 70. As a result, manufacturers started creating single shot and lever-action rifles to be chambered in 45 70 for civilian use.
In the early 20th century, faster, lighter, and flatter shooting cartridges such as .30-06, .30-30 Win. and 7mm Mauser replaced the 45 70. The other factor that accelerated the popularity decline of 45 70 was that Trapdoor Springfield could not compete with stronger lever-action designs. These lever actions were, in turn, not as powerful as single shots. As a result, the capabilities of 45 70 were limited by action type.
Lever gun fans were not satisfied with the .30 and .35 calibre bullets offered at the time. So, that void in lever guns was filled by .444 Marlin.
Also Read: 45 70 vs 308
Both 45, 70 and 444 can hit short to medium range. The 45 70 uses a case length of 2.105 inches, and the cartridge’s overall length is 2.550 inches. The case length of a 444 Marlin is 2.225 inches and an overall length of 2.550 inches.
Moreover, the 45 70 has a bullet diameter of .458 inches and a rim diameter of .608 inches. And the 444 Marlin has a bullet diameter of .429 inches and a rim diameter of .514 inches.
444 marlin vs 45 70 ballistics
Velocity and Energy
A 265-grain 444 Marlin zeroed at 160 yards has a muzzle velocity of 2325 ft. per second and muzzle energy of 3181 ft. pounds. At 100 yards, its velocity reduces to 1,971 and energy to 2,286 pounds.
In comparison, a 45 70, zeroed at 142 yards, when used with a 325-grain bullet, has a muzzle velocity of 2,050 ft. per second and muzzle energy of 3033 pounds. At 100 yards, its velocity becomes 1,730 feet per second, and energy reduces to 2,159 pound-feet.
You can see that 444 Marlin is 300 fps faster than 45 70. It also generates more energy.
You should keep in mind that different brands of ammunition can have different figures. For example, The Buffalo Bore 45 70 has a muzzle velocity of 2000 fps and 3600 muzzle energy.
Regarding trajectory, 444 Marlin shoots flatter at longer distances. For example, the 265-grain bullet of 444 Marlin has a bullet drop of 3.5″ at 200 yards. The 325 grain 45 70 has a bullet drop of 6.5″. So, it is easier to take longer shots.
444 marlin vs 45-70 ballistics chart
Below is a tabular representation of 444 Marlin vs 45 70 ballistics.
444 marlin vs 45-70 recoil
When it comes to recoil, a 444 has less recoil than a 45 70.
A 45 70 can kill all North American big game, and a 444 Marlin can kill medium to large-sized games. Both the cartridges are suitable for up to 200 yards.
Also, a 45 70 quickly and cleanly kills a hog. It takes down deer, elk and even moose without much effort. You can also use it for defence from black and brown bears.
444 Marlin is more expensive and harder to find. It costs 35-50 cents more per round than 45-70. It is also costly compared to other rounds, such as a 308 or a 30-06.
Reloading components and factory ammunition of a 45-70 are more readily available. Therefore, you will find about three 45-70 loads for every .444.
Also, more rifles are available for 45 70 when compared to a 444 Marlin, such as the new Winchester 1886, Marlin 1895 and a variety of replicas.
Initially, shooters used heavier bullets of 350-500 grains with a 45-70. Today, we have lighter bullet weights of 250- to 300-grain.
The range of weight of 444 Marlin is 240 to 300 grains. It can also use heavier bullets up to 335 grain, but 265 and 280 grain are its most popular ones. Also, the 444 Marlin use pistol bullets and the 45 70 use rifle bullets. Many 444 rifles are limited by their twist rate.
444 vs 45 70 : Pros and Cons
What to choose?
What rifle a shooter chooses depends on their priorities. Both 45 70 and 444 Marlin are pretty accurate cartridges. With a 45 70, you can shoot everything from a 300-grain JHP to 520-grain LFP from your guide gun. It also works better with modern loads. One factor that limits the capability of a 45 70 is that few factory ammo matches its capacity due to the wide range of rifles. On the other hand, a 444 is faster, and the bullets it uses have higher BC, so it shoots flatter than the 45 70.
Although 45 70 is everybody’s favourite, 444 has its cult following. Regarding ballistics, 444 Marlin is faster than 45 70 and generates more energy. It also shoots flatter than 45-70 at longer distances.
A 45 70’s factory ammunition is more readily available and is less expensive than a 444 Marlin. Also, there are more rifles available for a 45-70.
Also Read: 450 Bushmaster VS 45-70
Which is better, 45-70 or 444 Marlin?
The factory ammunition of a 45 70 is more readily available than a 444 Marlin. Also, there are more rifles available for 45-70. However, 444 Marlin shoots flatter than 45 70 at longer distances.
How accurate is a Marlin 444?
The ballistics of 444 Marlin tells that it is a pretty accurate cartridge. Take into consideration 240 grain Remington Core Lokt Soft Points when you fire it from an in 24-inch barrel rifle. It gives a muzzle velocity of 2,350 and muzzle energy of 2,943.