45-70 vs 30-06: Which One Is Better and Why?

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Video 30-06 vs 45-70 stopping power
45 70 vs 30 06

The ongoing battle between 45-70 vs 30-06 is distinguished with slim margins considering they are both quality cartridges.

These two black powder cartridges were originally designed for war and are now mainly used as hunting calibers. We’ll look at the best performer between 45-70 vs 30-60 to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn in the following article:

  • The most powerful ammunition
  • Which bullet has a higher velocity
  • What are the most significant differences between 45-70 and 30-06
  • Dynamics of the two cartridges
  • Which is ideal for deer hunting

Let’s get into it!

A Quick Comparison Between 45-70 and 30-06

In-Depth Analysis Between 45 70 vs 30 06

The 45-70 and 30-06 are powerful ammunition initially designed for the American civil war and are now popular among modern-day hunters.

Their unique attributes, especially their penetrative ability and velocity, are perhaps their most distinguishing features.

Let’s take a look at a quick comparison analysis:

The two bullets can perform ideally for most shooting purposes but go for the lighter recoil variation if you have a standard rifle.

Therefore, how lever action rifles in use handle recoil matters. Take this as a safety measure for those around you if you operate in hunting groups.

In-Depth Analysis Between 45 70 vs 30 06

In-Depth Analysis Between 45 70 vs 30 06

You’ll be pleased to know that the two quality cartridges are ideal for big-game shooting and only have small differences. The differences are easily tracked to the cons of either cartridge, recoil being one of the major distinguishing factors.

Gascho et al., (2019), in their research, further investigates their differences in terms of their characteristics at different energy levels.

Which Cartridge has the Better Velocity?

The 30-06 is a popular cartridge for its velocity, where its maximum flow speed is at 2820 fps. When targeting moving objects, the hunting cartridge comes in handy, bringing down mobile prey accurately.

When using a 150-grain 30-06, it bolts at a full velocity of 1,030 fps and increases significantly after 300 yards by 1,193 fps. This variety is a typical 325-grain ammunition with an average of 2,050 fps of muzzle energy.

On the other hand, the 45-70 Government rounds travel at 1680 fps. It, however, covers up for the compromised flow speed with excellent energy.

From 150 yards, the 45-70 Government performs effectively as one of the centerfire rifle cartridges, but its kinetic energy goes low at about double the distance.

So, ballistic performance comparisons are best made within 150-300 yards. Within the distance, the 45-70 bullet travels at 1,225 mph, which means the 30-06 is nearly twice as fast. It is outshined due to its heavier projectile and less powder charge.

You are lucky if you use marlin rifles for target shooting or participate in other activities utilizing similar ranges.

Also, when using a quality lever action rifle, you can achieve relatively more velocity from good muzzle power.

Muzzle Energy Comparisons Between 45-70 vs 30-06

The 45-70 round is a powerful cartridge for lever action rifles and is readily accessible. It has a shorter case length and features a straight-walled design.

Additionally, it has a larger bullet diameter and is heavier than other rounds, giving it more stopping power.

According to Hrdlicka (2003), when comparing stopping power, it’s obvious the 45-70 version works in your favor. However, the 30-06 caliber energy leads the two with 127-foot pounds out of the muzzle than the Government bullet.

Because the heavier slug loses velocity rapidly, this competitive edge rises to 543 ft. lbs. after 100 yards.

Research from Sanchez et al. (2016) adds that, at 300 yards, the 30-06 Springfield moves 865 ft. pounds faster than the 45-70, which is a significant difference.

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As a result, the shorter and narrower 30-06 outperforms the government variety with more than twice the pressure.

The Availability of the Bullets

We found out that the 45-70 ammunition requires more material and has a larger dimension. This explains why this cartridge is expensive.

Additionally, these loads were crafted for use with lever-action firearms. The Marlin guide gun, since 1895, is one of the best guide guns for the 45-70.

Meanwhile, the 30-06 cartridges give you additional sure variations to select from compared to the government version. The 30-06 were military options, making them reliable for most uses, and their lower price point is a plus.

Moreover, they offer better variety in bullet weight categories (100gr-220gr) for small to big games.

Which has Better Trajectory

The trajectory of a bullet as it travels downrange is quantified in inches of bullet drop, impacting your ability to hit a target.

Due to its energy drop, the heavy bullet, 45-70 variety fails to match up well on long distances, but it gives back exceptional performance over short ranges. Here is the reason why:

Because these projectile models are less aerodynamic than a boat-tail Spitzer characteristic, they hemorrhage muzzle velocity at an astonishing rate.

As the ammo loses speed in flight, the gravitational pull has more opportunity to pull them toward the ground.

At 200 yards, the smokeless powder Government drops 10.3 inches.

The light 30-06 vs 45 70 excels in this category, having a much flatter direction of travel than the 45-70. As a result, these versions are among the commonly used cartridges in lever action rifles for mid-to-long-range hunting worldwide.

Therefore, flatter shooting ammunition is preferred over long-distance shooting. This factor is so because it needs fewer adjustments to the shooter’s scopes to make up the difference for bullet drop. A flatter path also implies that a cartridge is more tolerant of ranging errors.

The Bullets’ Recoil

Regarding the level of impact in 45 70 vs 30 06, the former has more recoil and can catch you off-guard if you’re not prepared for the blast.

When using a rifle with a smokeless powder 45-70 at rest, they’ll still produce a heavy recoil, even if you’re utilizing shooting sleds or sandbags.

Also, you should expect a worse experience when firing from a standing position. Unprepared shooters are frequently knocked backward when they fire in this position.

If necessary, take a wider stance and prepare before squeezing the trigger on a 45-70.

A photo showcasing various shooting positions and stances

When comparing 45-70 vs 30 06, the former appears to be a lightweight, despite having a significant recoil. A 30-06 will also cause a shooter’s flinch, maybe not with more recoil as a 45-70.

The 30-06 has approximately 14 ft-lbs of recoil energy, whereas the 45-70 Government variety has nearly 64 ft-lbs of energy imparted into a gunman’s shoulder. That’s twice as much.

The felt recoil is often forgotten or unrealized when you have a big bull, Cape buffalo, or black bear in your sights.

Target shooting on the range lacks the adrenaline rush that the thrill of the hunt can provide.

The Most Versatile Bullet

The 45-70 is effective against large game animal hunting but is a great cartridge between 200 and 300 yards. The massive slug of the government provides stopping power to bring down whitetail deer, bears, moose, bison, and elk at a close range.

If you intend to shoot at distances greater than 300 yards, opt for the 30-06 Springfield in your bolt action rifle. The 45-70 is ideal for large game hunting because it frequently requires stalking and closing the distance.

Accuracy Features

Accuracy is contextual when comparing 45 70 vs 30 06, which is highly dependent on the shooter and the gun used. Both factory loads are excellent for big game hunting.

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The 45-70 has bone-crushing power at a short range. It is low in accuracy over long ranges due to its low velocity and less ballistic coefficient, which produce a relatively steep trajectory.

The 30-06 is a definite winner in terms of accuracy in long-range hunting due to its flatter trajectory. While using a quality bolt action rifle and scope within 300 yards, it gives exceptional accuracy per single shot.

These quality loads can maintain hypersonic speeds in a flatter trajectory for slightly more than 1000 yards before gravity and sit resistance impact it and begin to affect accuracy.

However, the contrast will become more difficult to ignore as the range increases.

Perhaps the 30-06 has a further advantage as you’ll unlikely flinch with its less recoil, while the 45-70 has a higher chance of distracting your stability/stance.

The Ballistics’ Coefficiency and Sectional Density

Simply put, the ballistic coefficient indicates a bullet’s aerodynamics. The higher the proportion, the greater your cartridge will perform in windy conditions.

Unlike the previous features, the 45-70 has a slight advantage in this situation as it is more powerful. Despite doing exceptionally well in the close and mid-range, 45-70 bullets suffer slightly in the long range.

As observed, heavier bullets typically have a higher coefficient count, but 30-06, as a lighter version, still finds a way to impress. Its aerodynamic model allows it to dominate the ballistic coefficient count even at longer distances.

Also, the bullet design plays a role in the ballistic coefficient factor. For instance, a 160 gr 30-06 will have more BC than a 325 gr 45-70 ballistic.

Social Density: Best Penetrative Power for Big Game Purposes

An ammunition’s Sectional Density (SD) determines how well it penetrates a target. This factor is critical in big hunting events because you need a bullet penetrating thick hide and bone.

Therefore, penetration is measured by comparing the mass and diameter of the projectile. The greater the SD, the further the bullet will infiltrate the target.

Consider this a simplified explanation of penetration because other factors, such as bullet expansion and velocity, are also in the picture.

The 45-70 is well renowned for its penetration, as it has been used successfully to hunt big games for bigger targets such as brown bears.

Is the 45-70 overkill? Yes, it may, but it accomplishes the task, and many buffalo hunters have successfully utilized it since the late 1800s.

When properly aimed, a large buck can get away after being hit by a 45-70 round. On the other hand, a deer will fall almost immediately if you hit it in the chest.

With the 30-06, it relies on its high-velocity power to form its ideal social density. It is suitable for deer hunting, having the edge for mid and long distances.

The high velocity and barely any disintegration localizes the penetration in one area to influence a deeper penetration.

Price Variations: Which is the Most Affordable?

Most of our comparisons revealed a recognizable disparity between the two ammunition, and the price section follows suit. Ironically, the government cartridge seeming to perform poorly is the most pricey.

On a 45-70 ammunition, you’ll have to use around $2.75/round for regular training versions and $5/round or more for premium hunting versions.

Regular 30-06 will cost about $1.50/round, while the premium rounds cost you double that.

The Cartridges Size Differences

We have so far touched on how the bullets’ designs can impact their performance.

Their size also affects how they are chambered. As a heavier slug, the 45-70’s is normally chambered in heavy loads because its projectile diameter is 0.458 inches, compared to 30 06 at 0.308 inches.

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The cartridge length for the Government variety is 2.105 inches, while the 2.494-inch 30 06 Springfield towers over it.

Although the 45-70 ammunition is heavier, it can be holstered in a lighter rifle.

Which is Better for Hunting Deer?

Without a doubt, the two cartridges are capable of taking down various targets during a hunt. So, which provides the better all-around performance for the deer hunting purpose?

The 30-06 deer rifle is superior to a deer rifle. It is far more accurate over long distances, does not leave a large hole in the target, and is easier to shoot.

On the other hand, a 45-70 with a lower velocity and more significant expansion isn’t a great option of the two, destroying much meat with a poorly placed shot.

Unlike its competition, when traveling at over 2500 feet per second, the 30-06 does not destroy much of the target’s meat.

The 30-06 is a clear winner regarding range, accuracy, less recoil, and ammunition cost.

Meanwhile, the 45-70 does the job but is more expensive and puts a little more strain on your shoulder from its heavier recoil.

Which of the Cartridges Would You Choose for Lever Action Rifles?

The answer varies from one shooter to the other.

For the 45-7, it is still relatively popular among big game hunters in heavy cover and black-powder silhouette shooters.

Having been utilized in the Spanish-American war, we clearly understand why these cartridges are still popular with users.

In justification of their higher price as a standard cartridge, the big game heavy loads deliver bone-crushing muzzle energy, capable of hitting any target within 300 yards. If you love its output while hunting and have no issues with its cost or impact, go for the 45-70 variety.

On the other hand, if you prefer long-range hunting, we recommend the compact 30-06 to go with your bolt action rifle. These popular cartridges stopping power and long-range prowess will make your shooting purpose more dynamic in various hunting scenarios.

Also, many modern rounds cannot compete with the 30-06’s prominence and raw stopping power. They can bring down every four-legged animal in the North American region.

The 30-06 bullets are affordable; they give the total value for your money and won’t let you down in major shooting events.

Finally, the 45-70 is excellent for close-to-mid-range shooting, while the 30-08 is ideal for long-range targeting.

FAQ

Conclusion

That’s all on our tropic, 45-60 vs 30-06, with the latter emerging clear winner in terms of its smooth operation. The heavier 45-60 cartridge should be supported as a quality rifle.

So, which bullet stands out, and you’d select it for your upcoming hunting event/plan?

Comment below with your thoughts on our topic, and suggest which varieties we should analyze next.

References

  1. Sanchez, D. M., Epps, C. W., & Taylor, D. S. (2016). Estimating Lead Fragmentation from Ammunition for Muzzleloading and Black Powder Cartridge Rifles. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, 7(2), 467-479. https://doi.org/10.3996/092015-jfwm-086
  2. Daryl Hrdlicka. (2003). How hard does it hit? A revised study of atlatl and dart ballistics. The Atlatl, 16(2), 15-18. http://www.thudscave.com/npaa/articles/howhard_10-04.pdf
  3. Gascho, D., Zoelch, N., Richter, H., Buehlmann, A., Wyss, P., & Schaerli, S. (2019). Identification of Bullets Based on Their Metallic Components and X-Ray Attenuation Characteristics at Different Energy Levels on CT. American Journal of Roentgenology, 213(3), W105-W113. https://doi.org/10.2214/ajr.19.21229
  4. 30-30 vs 45-70 Which Lever Action Is Best For You? (2022, October 21). Big Game Hunting Blog. https://thebiggamehuntingblog.com/30-30-vs-45-70/
  5. Herring, G., Eagles-Smith, C. A., Wolstenholme, R., Welch, A., West, C., & Rattner, B. A. (2022). Collateral damage: Anticoagulant rodenticides pose threats to California condors. Environmental Pollution, 311, 119925. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119925
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>