Monday, June 28, 2010
45-70 Leverevolution Ammo For Bear?
My backup rifle for both of us is the Ruger Hawkeye .350 Rem mag and it wears a Burris 1.5X4.5XX32 scope with an illuminated reticle and will be stuffed with Nosler 225 grain partitions if it comes into play.
The 45-70 is a tough one for me, perhaps because it shoots so many loads well. The Leverevolution loads are absolute tack drivers, way out beyond the range that is practical for a baited bear hunt. The 45-70 wears a Bushnell Elite 3200 in 1.5X4.5X32 persuasion with firefly and is an ideal scope for a 45-70 lever action.
I had done previous "water jug" testing of different loads for the 45-70, including Buffalo Bore's 405 grain JFN and their most impressive 350 grain JFN nick named the "penetrator". In previous water jug testing ( see blog posts on 11/12/2009 ), the 405 grain only penetrated 4 water jugs and landed in the bottom of the 5th. To top it off, there was complete separation of the core and jacket in two different tests. In emails from Tim Sundles, he indicates this is still his load of choice for baited black bear and is more than up to the task. My problem is that personally I have lost confidence in that load for a BIG bear. Confidence is at least 75% of the program for me, and I think for a lot of others. I KNOW that dozens and dozens of big black bears have been taken with this load, however I still keep seeing that separated bullet and the four water jugs.
The 350 grain JFN penetrator load from BB on the other hand blew up 5 jugs and landed in the bottom of the 10th with jacket and core intact, perfectly mushroomed. I am leaning towards an entrance and an exit hole and for that reason am leaning very strongly back in the 350 grain JFN camp. It is ACCURATE enough, hits like a freight train, and penetrates and expands and hold together.
Back to the Leverevolution load. As mentioned accuracy is definitely it's strong point. It will end up being my load of choice for deer hunting with a 45-70 and most other game. For bear hunting, I was a little disappointed in the water jug results at the gun club this morning. This load blew up (4) jugs and landed on the 2X4's between the 4 and 5th jug. It did NOT penetrate one side of the 5th jug or even cause a rupture. On the positive side, it did mushroom nicely and held together with NO core and jacket separation as experienced with the 405 grain load.
I know, I know, lots of bears have already met their demise with the Leverevolution ammo in 45-70, however given a choice, (IF I WERE LEAVING TODAY) I might likely OPT for the BB 350 grainer for the trip. If I was assured of a perfect angle and could precisely place the 325 grain Hornady flex tip load in the heart/lung area, I am convinced it would be more than adequate. Presented with a quartering on shoulder shot as my only shot, my mind would keep saying to me, ................." Remember the 4 jugs. Does it have the ooomph to break the shoulder, hold together and penetrate?....Will it leave an exit hole from any angle ? etc."
(SINCE this post was written) update 7/9/2010, I DID read about such a shot where an individual had a shot on a 300 pound plus black bear, that was quartering towards him. He hit the near shoulder with the Leverevolution load, and the bullet ended up exiting the rear of the bear leaving a golf ball sized exit would. the bear was recovered in short order).
I may have to RE-think my strategy. I just heard from my outfitter today and rifle set ups on baited bear at our camp will be from 20-50 yards. Since I can hit a quarter at 50 yards with the 325 grain FTX bullet, I might very possibly take this load with me and leave the 350 grain JFN BB bullet at home.
I would really like to settle on ONE load for the Marlin 1895 for everything except perhaps an opportunity at interior grizzly or coastal Alaskan brown bear hunting, in which case I would definitely carry the BB 350 grain JFN or even one of the Garrett Hammerhead loads.
I always say that half the fun is planning the trip. Dan