cart SHOPPING CART You have 0 items
SELECT CURRENCY

.450 Marlin

History

 
The Marlin M1895 in .45-70, released in 1972 has without a doubt been a major success.   Nevertheless, the full potential of this combination has only been possible through hand loading. This is due to the fact that factory produced .45-70 ammunition is loaded to low pressures and velocities for older firearms.  In an effort to create a more powerful off the shelf combination for factory ammunition users, the companies Marlin and Hornady set about creating a new and more powerful factory cartridge. 
 
One design that had already served as a successful wildcat was the 2” version of the .458 Winchester Magnum, normally featuring a 2.5” case.  The design premise was sound however Marlin and Hornady did not wish to adopt this exact design as the 2” .458 posed a risk in that it could easily be chambered in another 2.5” magnum chamber- including .375 H&H chambers.  To overcome this problem, Mitch Mittelstaedt of Hornady designed the new case with a longer belt at the case head. 
 
In the year 2000, Marlin and Hornady introduced the new .450 Marlin.  The initial factory load featured the 350 grain Hornady Flat point Interlock at 2100fps from the full length 24” barreled Marlin rifle, a significant boost in energy over the traditional .45-70 factory loads.  While this combination could have been immensely successful, the high cost of factory ammunition resulted in relatively poor market acceptance. As a hand loading proposition, the .450 Marlin had slightly less powder capacity than the .45-70 due to the heavy case walls so again, sales have been limited. 
 
Presently, the .450 Marlin enjoys limited popularity, mostly enjoyed by staunch fans of Marlin lever action rifles.  To some extent is a pity that Marlin were not able to create a cartridge as powerful as the .458 Winchester Magnum.  Regardless of appeal, ultimately, it is very difficult to produce an affordable cartridge if it utilizes a large quantity of expensive raw materials as all big bore cartridges do.
 

Performance

 
Various authorities have criticized the .450 Marlin as having less power than .45-70 full capacity hand loads by 300fps and up to 500fps. In truth, these differences come about due to variations in rifle barrel length and porting rather than true case capacity.  Case capacity of Hornady .450 brass is around 7 grains water less than Winchester .45-70 brass, a difference of 9%. While 9% more powder capacity should translate into 200fps higher velocity in favor of the .45-70, internal ballistics does not correlate in this way.  In reality, when used in rifles of equal barrel length and loaded to identical pressures, the .450 lags behind the .45-70 by, on average, 100fps.  Major differences only occur when comparing data collected from full 22 to 24” barreled M1895 or Ruger No1  .45-70 rifles with the newer .450 M1895 Guide gun.  As an example, the .450 Guide gun is capable of pushing a 350 grain bullet at 2000fps as opposed to 2300fps in the Ruger No1 .45-70 or 2200fps in the Marlin M1895 with 24” barrel.
 
Facts and figures aside, the .450 Marlin is a versatile short to medium range cartridge, ideal for light through to large medium game and adequate for large heavy game with due consideration.  The .450 produces excellent hydrostatic shock and broad wounding on medium game down to velocities of 1700fps, providing of course, that suitable expanding   projectiles are used. Using 300 grain bullets at 2300fps, this translates into a fast killing range of around 110 yards, the 350 grain Hornady at 2100fps equates to 100 yards and 400 to 405 grain bullets at 1900fps give a fast killing range of around 70 yards.
 
Between the velocities 1700fps and 1500fps, the .450 is still a reasonably fast killer of light through to large medium weight game, again using a fast expanding projectile.  Animals hit solidly in the chest including the rear lungs tend to react in a drunken manner, and death almost always occurs within a few yards.  Wounds tend to be broad and fast bleeding. Penetration at these velocities is outstanding and far superior to impact velocities above 2000fps.  This translates into ranges of 175 yards for 300 grain bullets, 150 yards for the 350 grain Hornady and 125 yards with 400 grain bullets.  Beyond these ranges, shot placement becomes critical as wounding is proportionate to expanded caliber and game and game may show no sign of being hit and escape considerable distances.
 
On the largest of non-dangerous game, the .450 must be loaded with 400 grain bullets to ensure deep penetration.  This necessitates hand loading as Hornady do not produce a 400 grain Factory loading.  Hunters must be aware that like the .45-70, the .450 lacks enough velocity to produce hydrostatic shock and while kills may be clean, killing tends to be slightly delayed.  It is for these reasons that the .450 is not ideally suited for use on large dangerous game by inexperienced hunters.  Further references regarding these issues are contained within the .45-70 text.
 

Factory ammunition.

 
Hornady produce two loads for the .450 Marlin, the lightest being the 325 grain FTX Leverevolution bullet at an advertised 2225fps in 24” barrels giving on average 2100fps in 24” barreled rifles and around 1800fps in the stubby 18.5” barreled guide gun.  This is purely a light to medium weight game bullet although several hunters have used it on relatively large game. The FTX bullet is incredibly devastating at point blank range impact velocities but at normal impact velocities and ranges this bullet is a mild performer and shows no advantage over traditional designs.  The BC of the FTX bullet is no better than other .354 caliber flat nose projectiles and penetration must be regarded as poor at point blank ranges with performance increasing as ranges are extended.
 
Hornady’s heaviest load is the 350 grain flat point Interlock at a true 2100fps in 24” barrels and 1800fps in the guide gun.   This Hornady bullet is a good allrounder for use on light through to large medium game. It is a fast killer and gives deep penetration along with a useful effective fast killing range.  Unfortunately, on large heavy animals, the 350 grain Interlock is prone to suffer jacket core separation and or excessive weight loss.  Even on quartering away shots, the Hornady bullet cannot handle the deflective angle of wide flat ribs resulting in severe bullet upset.  Hornady do not make a heavy game load and it is doubtful whether they ever will, just as it is doubtful that any other major manufacturer will adopt the .450 into their product lines. 
 

Hand Loading

 
With the high cost of factory ammunition, especially outside of the U.S, the .450 has become exactly what its makers had tried to avoid, a cartridge best utilized by hand loading.  These negative factors were mostly caused by the unforeseen rise in the cost of metals which occurred after the .450 was released. Put simply, without hand loading components, this cartridge would not survive.
 
The .450 is very similar to the .45-70 regarding which powders are most effective.  These include H4198, IMR4198 and ADI2207.   One unique combination is H322 loaded behind heavy 400 grain projectiles and boasts velocities of 2000fps, duplicating .45-70 full pressure, modern rifle loads. Aside from this, average achievable loads from 24” barrels include 2300fps with 300 grain bullets, 2100fps with 350 grain bullets and 1900fps with 400 grain bullets.  Like the .45-70, the .450 loses around 25fps per inch of barrel removed below 24”, in the 18.5” barreled Guide Gun this equates to a loss of around 137fps.
 
Due to the fact that the .450 Marlin closely matches the velocities of the .45-70, readers can refer to that text for a close examination of projectile performance.
 

Closing comments

 
Most hunters are fascinated by rifles capable of firing wide heavy bullets at high velocity. For dyed in the wool big bore fans, the wider and faster the better.  To this end it is a great shame that Hornady and Marlin wasted a golden opportunity to capitalize on this market.  A far superior design was the wildcat .450 Alaskan, a cartridge which already had both extensive load development behind it, no patent and maximum tolerable power for use in the Marlin rifle.  The .450 Alaskan is essentially a .458- .348 Winchester Improved, a cartridge capable of near duplicating the .458 Winchester magnum.  The .450 Alaskan also predates the .450 Marlin by several decades, as does the .50 Alaskan of the same ilk.
 
Logic aside, the .450 Marlin is a very capable and versatile close to moderate range cartridge.  With Factory ammunition, the .450 Marlin is at best a small to large medium game cartridge. While some hunters may consider the .450 to be overkill on lighter animals, it must be remembered that in brush situations where shot placement is limited, the wider bores are far more humane killers than many small bores.    Using hand loads, the .450 is adequate for larger game providing attention is given to bullet choice, shot placement and safety of the hunter.
 
The .45-70 is certainly an interesting cartridge.  Performance varies greatly depending on the velocities used and there is considerable difference between 300 grain bullets fired at 1800fps and 2500fps, a difference of 700fps. Whenever comparing information on the overall performance of the .45-70 or .45-70 projectiles, the reader is advised to keep these wide variations and possible results in mind. At low velocities, the .45-70 is truly a very mild performer, slow but clean killing and capable of deep penetration with a great many bullets.  At high velocity, the .45-70 is a spectacularly fast and emphatic killer of both small and large medium game.  Bullet choice is more critical but once matched to the situation, the .45-70 anchors game with great room for error making it particularly useful for brush hunting. 
 
On heavy dangerous game, the .45-70 has both its strengths and weaknesses. Even at its highest velocity, the .45-70 does not produce the wide wounding, fast bleeding and shock of such powerhouses as the .416 Rigby, .458 Lott and .460 Weatherby, all of which provide a margin of both safety and error.  Yet, of its strengths, the .45-70 produces far superior penetration to the magnums when using non expanding bullets due to the lower velocity creating less resistance on impact. Along with this, some staunch fans of the .45-70 have freely admitted that they choose the .45-70 for use on dangerous game purely because they do not like the excessive recoil produced by the big bore magnums.  To this end, weekly practice, prior experience on medium game, a close study of dangerous game anatomy along with suitable bullets has allowed many .45-70 users to cleanly take such animals without fuss.   
 
 
Suggested loads: .450 Marlin Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional density Ballistic coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL Hornady 325gr FTX .238 .230 2100 3182
2 HL Speer 400gr FP .272 .259 1900  
 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 50 100 150 200 225 250    
  Bt. path +2 +2.7 0 -6.8 -12.8 -18.7    
2 Yards 50 100 125 175 200 225    
  Bt. path +1.7 +1.5 0 -6.8 -11.6 -18.2    
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 150 6.3 1585.5 1813.8
2 150 6.3 1473 1926
 
 450 marlin final.jpg
 
.450 marlin Imperial Metric 
A .532 13.51
B .512 13.00
C .481 12.21
D 2.100 53.34
Max Case 2.100 53.34
Trim length 2.088 53.04
 
 
Discuss this article or ask a question on the forum here
 
Copyright © 2007-2011 Terminal Ballistics Research, Ballisticstudies.com

THE PRACTICAL GUIDES TO LONG RANGE HUNTING RIFLES  & CARTRIDGES

Achieve success with the long range hunting book series & matchgrade bedding products

ABOUT US

We are a small family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing ... read more

NATHAN FOSTER’S RESEARCH HAS BEEN USED BY:

FOUND THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL?

If you find the resources on this website to be valuable, we would be sincerely grateful if you would consider making a donation to help us cover the costs of the website and to assist us to continue our research and testing into the future.  It doesn't matter whether your donation is big or small - it makes all the difference!

ABOUT US

We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.

store