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What the Modern 45-70 Can Take Down in Africa [PICS]

All Images by Joe Riekers

The 45-70 has always taken big game, and is probably most famous for the American bison it was used on. Modern 45-70 rifles and cartridges have their place in Africa too.

Joe Riekers

The original black powder 45-70 shot heavy lead bullets at moderate velocities. This combination worked well and continues to be useful over a century later. Modern metallurgy and advancements in bullets and powders have taken the 45-70 to a new level.

Now, a hunter can get better trajectories due to higher velocities. Bullet performance has come a long way and some lighter bullets can both expand and penetrate in a deadly combination. Solid bullets, primarily for use on dangerous game, have also progressed due to research and development.

Most of the modern rifles for 45-70, including the Marlin 1895 and clones, Winchester 1886 and clones and the Ruger #1 rifle, can handle cartridges that operate at pressures that were virtually unheard of in the black powder era. While there is always interesting debates as to whether or not there really is an advantage to more velocity or modern bullets, the proof is in the pudding.

As an industry insider I had the privilege of using the modern 45-70 rifle with modern cartridges for over five years on hunts throughout the world.

Be advised that some countries in Africa prohibit the use of the 45-70 by law while others restrict the use of lever-action rifles. Right now, the most lenient of the popular hunting countries in Africa is South Africa.

The modern 45-70 really can do it all. Check out the slideshow to see what it is capable of taking down. 

Buffalo 540-grain Hammerhead and 300-grain Nosler from Leopard

A "solid" lead bullet doesn't stay that way when it contacts a Cape buffalo, as this 540-grain Hammerhead shows. The 300-grain Nosler Partition came out of a leopard.

Bullets from Africa

Starting from the top: 430-grain PUNCH bullet from an elephant brain; 405-grain Kodiak from Cape buffalo; 540-grain Hammerhead from buffalo; 450-grain Kodiak full metal jacket from elephant; 300-grain Nosler Partition from leopard.

Bullets from Africa

These "solid" bullets are actually jackets filled with lead. The Kodiak on the left mushroomed on an elephant while the brass-jacketed PUNCH bullet on the right remained intact.

Bullets from Africa

These bullet were recovered from various plains game animals.

Bullets from Africa

These bullets were recovered from various plains game animals.


This eland weighed nearly 2,000 pounds. It dropped after one shot to the shoulder at 60 yards with a 405-grain Kodiak bullet going 2,000 feet per second. The rifle was an 1886 Winchester with 22-inch barrel.


This blesbok was shot with a 350-grain Swift A-Frame at a muzzle velocity of 2,200 feet per second. The range was 150 yards.


This gemsbok was exactly 174 yards away, according to the rangefinder, when the 405-grain Kodiak bullet knocked it over.


This waterbuck was just over 100 yards away and was shot with a Winchester 1886 extra-light rifle.


A wildebeest was 80 yards away when a 405-grain Kodiak bullet crashed through both shoulders and dropped it in its tracks.


Here is a zebra that was shot with a 405-grain Kodiak bullet.


As you can see, the modern 45-70 definitely does its job, even with serious game in Africa.

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What the Modern 45-70 Can Take Down in Africa [PICS]