Marlin 1895 in 45-70 Government

Dad picked up a neat piece. It’s a Marlin 1895 in 45-70 government. Shooting Times gave it a positive review. My take on it is that it’s wildly fun to shoot.

Never heard of it? The cartridge was introduced after the American Civil War but never actually saw combat action. The cartridge was considered the ultimate sniper cartridge of the war – testing indicated that a skilled marksman could hit a 6ft by 6ft target (roughly a trench) at 3500 yards, or at a range of two miles could land a round at lethal velocities within 36 square feet. Keep in mind that telescopic sights were rare, but not unheard of. You would need either a keen eye or a spotter. The rifle was never intended to be used as a sniper rifle at these engagement ranges. The trick to the whole thing was that a company of men could roughly aim in a direction and fire as an artillery piece. This is why the rifle wasn’t wildly successful in the military – artillery quickly caught up and with explosive shells, 36 square feet for maybe killing the target wasn’t nearly as impressive as 36 square feet of hot slag from explosive ordinance.

So how does it feel to shoot a 500 (yes, five hundred, as in 1.14 oz) grain bullet?

Well, I expected it to have the kick like a 45 ACP, which shoots a 220 grain bullet, but as a rifle. In other words, I wasn’t taking it seriously and didn’t really set myself up for it. What happened was I just about flipped the gun over my shoulder and got torqued around on the bench. Subsequent shots led to a four inch group at 100 yards once I got myself figured out and started respecting the weapon. Final take is that this is a win. While the arc leaves a bit to be desired (33 inches of drop from a 100 yard zero at 200 yards – ouch!), a careful eye would make this a fantastic hunting rifle.

You too can have a load of fun – and a sore shoulder – with classic calibers.

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