Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game

Many people still use the .45-70 for hunting deer and other species of big game with excellent results. Here are a few great brands of .45-70 ammo that should serve you well next time you hit the woods.

Though it was originally loaded with black powder and introduced in the 1870s, the .45-70 Government is still a relevant and heavy hitting rifle cartridge. In fact, due to advances in powder and bullet technology, the .45-70 ammo is now even more effective for hunting than it ever has been. Known for its bone crushing power and excellent terminal performance on virtually every species of North American big game at short to medium range, hunters all over the United States still utilize the .45-70 for deer hunting in thick conditions and it’s also quite effective on black bear, feral hogs, moose, and grizzly bears.

While it can be a very effective cartridge on many species of African game, make sure you read the article below if you’re thinking about using the .45-70 for hunting cape buffalo.

Read This Before Hunting Cape Buffalo With The .45-70 Government

Fortunately, the major ammunition manufactures currently offer multiple varieties of .45-70 ammo factory loads specifically designed for hunting big game. For that reason, regardless of whether you’re using a Marlin 1895, a single-shot Trapdoor Springfield, a converted Siamese Mauser, or a Thompson Center Contender, there is something for everyone on the list below of the best .45-70 Government ammunition for hunting.

In today’s post, I’m going to show you the best .45-70 ammo for hunting and go over the pros and cons of each load

Note: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.

Update July 2021: Ammo supplies finally look like they’re starting to recover. We still have a long way to go and selection is still nowhere near where it was back in 2019, but things are a lot better now than they were even 6 months ago.

Click the link below if you just want to quickly check what ammo is in-stock and ready to ship so you can hit the range and get ready for hunting season.



Barnes VOR-TX 300gr TSX

Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game buffalo barnes

Just like you’d expect with such a popular cartridge, Barnes produces .45-70 ammo featuring their legendary copper X-Bullet. Optimized for rapid expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration, this is an outstanding choice of .45-70 ammo for hunting black bear, moose, whitetail deer, feral hogs, and elk. It’s also 100% copper, which makes the VOR-TX an ideal brand of lead free .45-70 hunting ammo for use in states like California that that don’t permit the use of lead bullets.

  • Bullet Type: Triple Shok X Flat Nose (TSX FN)
  • Bullet Weight: 300 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,925 feet per second


Barnes VOR-TX ammo also made cut for my 2019 holiday gift recommendations. To see what other stuff is on the list, check out the following article:

101 Best Gifts For Hunters In 2019

Hornady LEVERevolution

Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game

Similar to the .35 Remington and .30-30 Winchester, the .45-70 Government is relatively popular in lever action rifles. Many of these rifles (like the Marlin 1895 and Winchester 1886) have tubular magazines where the bullets are stacked tip to primer. For that reason, most .45-70 ammo uses flat or round nosed bullets to prevent recoil from causing the tip of one cartridge from detonating the primer of a cartridge stacked on top of it. The downside of that is those bullets aren’t very aerodynamic.

Hornady developed their LEVERevolution line of rifle ammo to solve that problem. This ammunition uses bullets with a flexible polymer tip that increases their ballistic coefficient. However, they remain safe to use in a tubular magazine.

Loaded with either a 325 grain FTX bullet or a 250 grain MonoFlex bullet, .45-70 LEVERevolution ammunition has a flatter trajectory and carries more energy down range than traditional .45-70 Government factory ammunition loaded with round nosed bullets. This doesn’t turn the .45-70 Government into a flat shooting or long range cartridge, but it does noticeably improve the ballistics. This is excellent ammunition you plan on using your .45-70 for deer hunting.

The MonoFlex bullets are also made of a 100% copper alloy, which makes them a great choice if you’re a California resident and need lead free .45-70 ammo for hunting.

Before going hunting with this ammo though, make sure you spend some time at the range with it to ensure it functions reliably and shoots accurately in your rifle. If it does shoot well in your rifle, then this may well be the best .45-70 ammo for hunting deer, black and grizzly bear, feral hogs, and moose.

  • Bullet Type: Hornady Flex Tip Expanding (FTX) or MonoFlex
  • Bullet Weight: 325 grains or 250 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,050 feet per second (325gr FTX) or 2,025 feet per second (250gr MonoFlex)


Also Available At: Brownells (FTX and MonoFlex) and Cabela’s

Remington Core-Lokt 405gr SP

Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game buffalo remington

Standard Remington Core Lokt .45-70 ammo is loaded to the original .45-70 Government specifications of a 405 grain bullet at just under 1,350 feet per second. For that reason, Remington advertises that it’s safe to use in all .45-70 rifles in good condition. Don’t let the performance of this load on paper fool you into thinking that this is an anemic load though: hunters used the original black powder .45-70 cartridge to kill thousands of buffalo in the 1870s. There are better .45-70 ammo choices these days for that task than this particular load, but that example does illustrate the capability of the .45-70 in the right hands.

It’s no barn burning load by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still quite dependable and capable. So if you’re a “meat and potatoes” sort of person who wants some quality ammunition to use in your .45-70 for hunting deer, feral hogs, black bear, and maybe even something bigger, then the Remington 405 grain Core Lokt will probably work really well for you.

Make sure you purchase the standard (not “High Performance”) Core Lokt ammunition if you want to use it in a Trapdoor Springfield.

  • Bullet Type: Soft Point (SP)
  • Bullet Weight: 405 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,330 feet per second


Buffalo Bore

Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game buffalo bore

Buffalo Bore specializes in manufacturing high performance factory loaded ammunition that’s loaded right up to the maximum SAAMI specifications. Their .45-70 Magnum ammo performs exactly like you’d expect: this is hard hitting ammunition specifically designed for hunting the biggest bears and moose. Their 300 grain JHP and 405 grain JFN loads in particular are also excellent .45-70 ammo for bear defense and will flatten any bear on this planet with proper shot placement. So, if you’re looking for the best .45-70 ammunition to carry in your Marlin Guide gun for protection in grizzly country, this is the stuff you need to buy.

Note: this .45-70 ammunition is NOT safe to use in a Trapdoor Springfield.

The folks at Buffalo Bore only recommend using this ammo in the following rifles:

Marlin 1895 (1895 Marlins are all model 336 actions, chambered in 45-70) iterations made since 1972, all Browning 1885 and 1886 copies, Rossi Rio Grande, New England Arms Handi Rifle, T/C Encore, ALL falling block actions made of modern steel such as Ruger No. 1 and No. 3, Shiloh, Christian and Pedersoli Sharps, Henry Lever Action Rifles, all Winchester 1886 iterations made since 1915, CVA Centerfire Rifles and all Siamese Mauser bolt actions

  • Bullet Type: Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) or Jacketed Flat Nose (JFN)
  • Bullet Weight: 300 grains or 405 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,350 feet per second (300gr JHP) or 2,000 feet per second (405gr JFN)


HSM or Black Hills 405gr Lead Flat Point

Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game buffalo black hills

Similar to the Remington Core Lokt .45-70 Govt ammo, HSM and Black Hills both produce .45-70 Government ammunition firing 405 grain lead cast bullets loaded close to the original cartridge specifications. Both companies advertise their loads as low recoil rifle ammunition designed for Cowboy Action shooting. However, it will still work really well for hunting (particularly for thin skinned game) if you were so inclined to use it in that role. All in all this is nice factory ammo to use in your .45-70 for hunting deer, feral hogs, and black bear.

  • Bullet Type: HSM Round Nose Flat Point Hard Cast (RNFP) or Black Hills Lead Flat Point (LFP)
  • Bullet Weight: 405 grains
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,300 feet per second (HSM) or 1,250 (Black Hills


Also Available At: Lucky Gunner (Black Hills)

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31 thoughts on “Best .45-70 Ammo For Hunting Deer, Bear, Moose, & Other Big Game”

  1. I have more fun reloading and shooting my 45-70 than all my other rifles put together. Lately I’ve been messing around with some Beartooth Bullets Piledrivers and Piledriver, Juniors (525 gr and 425 gr, respectively), both at around 1600 fps. I’m getting just under 2″ at 100 yards with both. Pretty darned good for a sloppy lever gun.

      • Check a reloading manual. I use AR2207 (H4198 is similar). The best ‘plinking’ loads I have are 400gr Black Widow coated lead projectiles over 13gr of Trailboss. Shot out of my 1895 Marlin they sit at 1 inch at 100 metres all day long – that’s 0.87 MOA for the sharpshooters reading. They’re a subsonic load, too, trundling along at 1000fps but still pack a punch for medium game.

    • Hey Brian, will the 45-70 loaded with any of the 300 grain to 500 grain bullets be enough stopping power to take down a charging Kodiak Bear?

      • It depends on the exact bullets you’re using Martin, but to answer your question, yes, 300-500gr bullets should work well on a charging Kodiak Bear if you put it where it needs to go!

    • Thanks for your comment Jim. While I haven’t used it myself, the HSM Bear Load ammo looks like pretty good stuff for its intended use.

  2. I shoot a 45-70 Henry and I make up my own bear load for my 45-70 .i use a 405 gr hard cast from the bullet barn and 41 grains of IMR 4198. Comes out at approx. 1830 FPS … kill at both ends lol… great caliber … I load up it down .’same 405 gr lead and 11 gr of trail boss and it’s 930 FPS for a great bunny load .( we have big bunny’s her in BC Canada ..) and as Brian said it’s the most fun caliber t shoot as well ..and I love my Henry ( brass reciever ,22” octagon barrel . What’s not to like … Happy shooting

  3. John, would you recommend the 45-70 as a closup stopper for our buffalo and elephant is South Africa? Max ranges 50 metres and closer? I am a newly qualified PH and am thinkng of developing my own load with a standard .458winmag 400g bullet. I also have a .458winmag but the 45-70 is a much more versatile gun. I have purchased a Marlin 45-70.

    • .375H&H as a minimum and I’s upscale to 416 Rigby than downscale to .45-70, even though it is a mighty hard hiting load to flatten anything in North America and should theoretically work but why risk it in Africa. Better over insured than guess. Those Cape Buffalo are called Black death for a reason, they can even kill a lion.

  4. This is going to be fun! The 45-70 paired with the Marlin 1895ss got me thinking. Delaware has gone to the new pistol caliber rifle for deer hunting with straight walled cases no longer than 1.82in.

    So I had a Marlin 1895 chambered in 45-70 rechambered to 45-60 which is 1.89in. Then cut my 45-70 brass to 1.80in and used the Leverevolution 250gr monoflex bullet with 38.5gr of LiL Gun powder gives me 2,135 fps. Is the 45-70 out dated hell no, we have just started to stretch its legs. Now I would not use this on big game, but for deer, black bear and hogs it will more than do the job!

  5. The Hornady LEVERevolution is a fantastic deer load for the woods. I also have both of those Buffalo Bore loads. The 405 grain will make you feel the love. They’re fun for about 3 shots then I’m done.

  6. I have several boxes of PMC 45/70 ammo left from when they loaded this cartridge supposedly to +p+ levels with a 350gr fnsp bullet that I have used in my two different Marlin 1895’s , one of these guns have a 22″ barrel while the other one is an 18.5″ ported barrel.
    I have used each of these rifles to hunt deer with and every time that I have shot a deer with the above mentioned load , the deer literally just fell over. I also have a Marlin 1894 in 44 magnum which seems to recoil worse than either of my 1895 45/70’s , which I just can’t quite understand since the 1894 is almost identical to one of my 1895’s . I would have no worries using either of my 1895 45/70’s with the proper load for defense against big bears , but personally the 45/70 would not be my first choice to hunt Cape buffalo , but I can also think of many other cartridges that I would choose it over.

  7. I’m an Iowa deer hunter. I have taken deer with long bow, patched round ball and black powder, in line muzzle loader with 777, Foster slugs, saboted 12 gauge slugs, saboted 20 gauge slugs, and a 45-70 govt Guide gun. This year it was with a CVA Scout V2 and Hornady Leverevolution 325 FTX. I have also taken deer out of state with a Ruger No. 1 with 30-06 handloads.
    I took my big doe this year at 184 yards (measured). She dropped on the spot and was done. I love the 45-70 govt and am not handicapped in the slug or straight walled cartridge regulated Iowa gun

    • It should do just fine. Modern rifles made by companies like Henry and Marlin are pretty darn strong. It should handle run of the mill .45-70 factory ammo with no issues.

  8. Hey John thanks for the all of the information. I own a modern 1895 45/70 Govt lever action rifle and I bought some 430 bear loads for protection in the woods
    So this gun can handle these hot loads?
    I also own a Uberti 45/70 single shot Highwall (Sharps) and I was wondering if you knew what I can and can not shoot out of it
    Including hot loads thanks

    • Is your rifle a Marlin 1895? If so, then it can safely fire most factory loads from reputable manufacturers. Buffalo Bore in particular will specify which rifles their really hot loads are safe to shoot in. If they made those 430gr bear loads you’re asking about, look them up on the Buffalo Bore web site and they’ll let you know one way or another. Same thing with your Uberti rifle. They do make ammo that’s safe to shoot in it, but you just need to verify with them for sure.
      Hope this helps!

  9. I have a Marlin 1895cb 26″. The first time out I used Hornady 325 grain. My first shot numbed my arm for a few seconds. The second shot hurt so much I packed it in for the day. It’s been two weeks and the bruises are almost gone. Went out and bought a limb saver. About ready to go out and give it another try. The round actually works great in my BFR Magnum Research 45-70.

      • Hi. Really struggling with choosing between 45 70 and 30 30 when it comes to purchasing a new Side Gate Henry lever gun.
        Apples to apples the 30 30 ammo is half price.
        Also easier on the shoulder. 45 70 does have the cool factor for sure. Reloading and availability of components for my choice is also a concern. What do you think?

        • It depends on what you’re planning on doing with this rifle. If you’re primarily going to hunt game like deer and/or shoot for fun at the range, go with the .30-30. If much bigger game like moose or brown bear are on the menu, go with the .45-70.
          For what it’s worth, I have rifles in both cartridges and really like each one, but it sounds like the .30-30 might be the better choice for you.

  10. I have a Henry 45-70. I have the opportunity to purchase some 500gr. and 600gr. ammo. What are you thoughts on using this ammo. Please tell me what you think…..

    • You’re going to need to be more specific. Specifically, what kind of ammo are you talking about buying and what do you want to use it for?

  11. People in the know are an invaluable source of information. I am looking for reloading information for my modern iteration 45-70 Winchester 1885 High Wall, 28 inch barrel, (circa 2017). For a starter I want to load 350 grain hard cast bullets from the bullet barn, to become more comfortable with the rifle before giving it exercise in the field. Searching high and low for load data for the Winchester has proved to be frustrating. Shooting Winchester 300 grain factory loads are comfortable to handle in this heavy rifle, albeit expensive, and I’m not generally concerned about recoil in any case. What I need to know is two fold: what good loads are used by the folks who regularly shoot 45-70’s and what are the modern Winchester’s capabilities.


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