45 70 vs 308

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45 70 vs 308

A good shooting experience needs a good rifle cartridge combination. Before buying a cartridge, the shooter should know its ballistics and specification to make the right choice. The main difference between the 45 70 and 308 is the muzzle velocity. The muzzle velocity of 45 70 is half of 308 Winchester’s velocity, making the 308 faster than the 45 70.

Keep reading for a detailed comparison of the two cartridges.


45-70 is more than a 100-year-old cartridge. The US army designed 45-70 when they needed a cartridge for its Trapdoor Springfield rifles. In the beginning, they used it with black powder propellant. Later on, due to the advancements, smokeless powder was used, replacing the black powder. Due to this, the cartridge gained popularity among civilians. 

Today, shooters use a 45-70 with bolt action and a lever gun. When it comes to the AR platform, it works better with the AR-10. 

One limitation of 45-70 is that due to its case length being 2.105, you cannot use it in states such as Michigan and Indiana that have limited the case length to 1.8 inches.

308 Winchester

.308 Winchester is one of the most versatile and popular rifle cartridges. It’s a compact and powerful round that is known for its accuracy. Get a 308 if you want a multi-purpose cartridge. You can use it for competitive shooting, hunting, and defense.

45-70 vs 308: Specifications

308 Winchester45-70
Case Length2.015 inches2.105 inches
Bullet Diameter0.308 inches.458 inches
Rim Diameter.473 inches.608 inches

45 70 vs .308: Ballistic comparison 


While comparing the velocity of the two cartridges, you should keep in mind that different weights and brands of ammunition can have different velocities. But here, we will take the average velocity of the two cartridges to know which is the fastest. So, an average .308 Winchester factory ammo has a muzzle velocity of 2680 fps, and that of 45-70 factory loads is 1680 fps; that is half of 308. 

The velocity of the cartridge matters because a faster bullet has a flatter trajectory and hence less bullet drop. So, more velocity of a 308 will let you take the perfect shot.


The muzzle energy of a cartridge decides its stopping power. More muzzle energy means more stopping power for a cartridge. It is the feature that shooters consider to be the most important. We will compare the average muzzle energies of the two cartridges here. The average muzzle energy of a .308 Winchester is 2620 ft-lbs, and a 45-70 is 2270 ft-lb. The difference between the muzzle energies of the two cartridges is not considerable. So, you can say that both will have almost similar stopping power.  

Bullet Weight

150 and 165-grain bullets are the most selling .308 bullets, and its other popular bullet weights are 125 grain 150 grain, 165 grain, and 180 grain. And 45-70 offers a bullet range from 225 to 500 grain.  

Bullet Diameter

The bullet diameter of a 45 70 is 458 inches, and that of a 308 Winchester is 308 inches. It means that the frontal area of the 45 70 is twice as much as 308 Winchester. The bigger bullet of a 45 70 allows it to have more crushing power.


How much recoil a cartridge will produce does not depend on only the cartridge but many other factors—for example, the weight of the rifle and its buffering system. If we keep these factors constant and compare the two cartridges here, a 45-70 has more recoil than a 308 Winchester.

Also Read: 444 marlin vs 45 70 

45-70 vs. 308 Winchester: Pros and Cons

45-70 Pros
  • Bone crushing power
  • Rifles chambered are easy to carry
  • Ideal for hunting in thick woods
45-70 Cons
  • Steep trajectory
  • Not used for long ranges
308 Winchester Pros
  • Easy to find
  • Inexpensive
308 Cons
  • Need specific conditions for big game hunting

What are they used for? 


The bone-crushing power of the 45-70 allows it to kill almost all big game animals at a short-range. It is also effective for African Safari. More so, it is efficient for use in thick bushes. So, do not hesitate to hunt any large game animal with a 45-70. The 45 70 uses a 458″ bullet. 


The 308 Winchester is a popular cartridge for sports, law enforcement, and the military. It is capable of killing deer-sized game. When used with heavier bullets, 308 can also kill the bigger game but only under the right circumstances. Moreover, hunters can take down sheep with a 308 cleanly. Also, you can use it for home defense.

What to choose?

Now you know the ballistics, advantages, and disadvantages of both the cartridges, the one you will select will depend on your liking and disliking. A 45-70 has the power to kill most big game animals at short range, while a 308 is an ideal cartridge for a deer-sized game. Also, use a 45 70 with a lever-action rifle. When it comes to the range, the effective range of a 308 is 2x more than a 45-70, even with iron sights. So, if you want to take longer-range shots, choose a 308 Winchester.

Also Read: 450 Bushmaster VS 45-70


What is a 45-70 rifle good for?

45-70 has immense crushing power. So, it is an ideal cartridge for killing most big game animals such as deer, black bear, brown bear, moose, and hogs in short range. It is also efficient for hunting in thick woods. 

What is a 308 rifle good for?

308 is suitable for killing deer-sized game. Along with this, it can also kill big game under specific conditions.

Is a 45-70 good for elk?

45-70 has the power to kill most North American games, but it needs a short range to perform. It can easily take a moose or an elk up to 250 yards. 

Is a 45-70 overkill for deer?

Many people think that 45-70 is overkill for a deer. But 45-70 kills the deer just fine without much meat loss.

What is the effective range of a 45 70 government?

The effective range of a 45-70 is 150 yards. It can also shoot at longer ranges, but it is challenging to shoot at longer ranges with a 45-70.

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Hannah Anderson is a gun enthusiast. She developed a knack for guns and ammunition when as a teenager she started accompanying her grandfather to his hunting ventures. Now, she shares her passion and immense knowledge on the subject with the readers.

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