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GUNS Magazine May 2010 - Page 52
Aka .45-70 ittle did I know in 1972 upon buying my first .45-70 that 38 years L later it would be my single most fired, most reloaded and most used rifle cartridge. Also upon buying that first .45-70 little did I realize that it almost became my least used rifle cartridge. With a little money in my pockets that first fall out of college, I visited a gun store in West Virginia offering both a replica Trapdoor Springfield Model 1873 cavalry carbine as made by Harrington & Richardson and one of the then brand-new Marlin Model 1895s. Not being able to decide between the two .45-70s I bought both. Even that young I knew you had to be gentle with the trapdoor design of a rifle. They weren’t meant for the adventurous or stupid. Conversely, the new Marlins were being touted as very strong rifles and I had been reading too much Elmer Keith in those days. His often mentioned favorite .45-70 load for Winchester Model 1886s won’t be repeated here. Someone might get in trouble with it. Back then I eagerly loaded up a batch of them, but being new to .45-70s had to go one step further. I mounted a Weaver K3 scope on my Marlin. At the range upon pulling the trigger for the first shot, instantly I could not see and there was considerable pain right between my eyes. Its cause was my first and so far only scope cut. The reason I couldn’t see was the blood flowing in my eyes. The fellow with me gasped at the size of the knot forming on my forehead. He said it made me look like a unicorn. Then he also pointed out that my shoulder was bleeding through my t-shirt because the rifle’s butt had split the skin. Mike “Duke” Venturino Photos: Yvonne Venturino Duke touches off a shot with his C. Sharps Model 1874 .45-70 (above) during the 2009 NRA BPCR Silhouette National Championships. That was almost the end of my .4570 shooting. When the Shiloh Sharps reproduction Model 1874s began getting considerable notice in the early ’80s I wanted no part of .45-70s. By that time I was more inured to recoil, so that’s not the real reason I shied away from the caliber. By then I considered it mundane, ordinary, unexciting, boring even. For over 20 years I constantly fiddled with Sharps cartridges for which you couldn’t just buy off-the-shelf ammunition. I had rifles chambered for things ranging from the tiny .40-50 Sharps bottleneck to the huge .50-90 Sharps. Then with the new century also perhaps came some common sense for me. All of a sudden it dawned on me if I wanted to be a high ranked competitor in the NRA’s Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette (BPCR) game, I needed to focus on one caliber. These three rifles were very popular in .45-70 caliber back in the late 1800s. At top is US Model 1873 infantry rifle, middle is Sharps Model 1874, and bottom is Winchester Model 1886. 52 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MAY 2010