.45-70 vs .30-30: Which is the Better Round?

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Shooters that are worth will swear by the lever-action .45-70 Government, despite the reported recoil that makes many see this cartridge as overkill. Though some may write it off, the .45-70 is a capable big game hunting round, much like the popular .30-30 as a comparable cartridge.

When comparing the .45-70 vs. .30-30, you have to look at ballistics, size, weapons compatibility, and hunters’ availability.

A statistical comparison also means that you must delve into each cartridge’s attributes, identifying where each round has an advantage over its counterpart. 

A Brief History of the .45-70 vs. .30-30 Rounds

A definitive cartridge, the .45-70 has been in service since the last part of the 19th century. Designed in 1873, this round was meant for use by the US army with their Springfield rifles during and after the American Civil War.  

Naming conventions for cartridges are from the bullet’s diameter and the weight of black powder grains in the cartridge. Slightly smaller than those manufactured before it, the .45-70 was the military’s answer for a more accurate round.

The new cartridge wasn’t, however, used as intended, being replaced within the first 20 years of service. A century and a half later, the round is still popular, especially as a hunting cartridge.

This popularity stems from the fact that despite the cartridge being of a large caliber, the slug fired is slower moving. Large enough to provide firepower for downing big North American game, the low velocity is vital in preserving the animal’s meat. 

The .45-70 is also favored for plowing through brush effortlessly.

Shortly after the .45-70 was designed, the .30-30 Winchester cartridge was released in 1895. This round also has a slow-moving slug that’s effective for hunting close range big game.

What stood out about the .30-30 round is that it was marketed for use with smokeless powder, the first of its kind.  There are 30 grains of the originally intended smokeless powder, as denoted by the last 30 in line with naming conventions. 

The 45-70 Government Hunters Round

Many false anecdotes and myths surround the capabilities of the .45-70 Government round, mostly fueled by misunderstandings regarding its capabilities. This has seen the decline in hunting use with this round, a far cry from its late 1800’s and early 1900s popularity. 

Still utilized by loyal hunters and a segment of shooters, the venerable .45-70 cartridge’s applications pale in comparison to other modern rounds. 

The 45-70 Government happens to be one of the earliest centerfire cartridges designed for use with black powder propellant. The performance of the round has been improved by modern loads using smokeless powder, though its ballistics remains inferior to newer options. 

In view of its anemic ballistics on paper, hunters become skeptical of the 45-70’s capabilities, despite being as American as pumpkins. In comparison to the .30-30 Winchester, the .45 Colt and .30-06 Springfield, a relatively low number of hunters still pledge loyalty to the 45-70 government.

To enable you to make an informed decision whether you should hunt with the .45-70, here’s an analysis of its capabilities.