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Favorite Caliber

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One must also remember the Govt. had several thousand Sharps percussion carbines converted to 50-70, later many were given to Texas to issue the Rangers.

Killing power between a 50 and 45 caliber would in reality be not much differeance except in ones mind.  The 50 most often used a 450-475 gr. bullet and the 45's most often a 500 gr.  the greater sectional denisty gave better penatration.  also the 45's had a somewhat flatter trajectory because of the greater sectional density and often a higher velocity.  This made hits at longer range easier.

When one goes into the study of the hunting in Montana in the 1878 to 1883 era one finds the even flater shoooting 45-70 and 45-90's held favor with many of the hunters.  Bullet placement is the most important round with any of these, a bad hit is a bad hit, there is no magic in any of them.

Also the bullet shape of the mostly roundnose 45's was better for the mythalogical "killing power" than most of the 50's with their more pointed bullets.  A good example is to examine a 50-70 Milatary round and then examine a 45 caliber Milatary round, factory ammo and most moulds of the time tended to follow the same style.

One must think that if the 50's were better "killer" than the 45's, Sharps most likely would have not dropped them from the catalog after 1876 and made them a special order only item.  0.05 inches is really not that great and does not make that much differance in the size of a hole in flesh at the velocities that these rounds carry.  Also the greater sectional density will break bones if needed much better.  Not that the Buff hunters really neaded to break bone.  A larger meplat on the nose of any of these would have improved the "killing power" on the favored lung shot of the hunter.  But the science of Terminal Ballistics was just in it's infancy.

Tommy tornado:
 ;)  I think you all have it wrong.  In Dances with Wolves in the big buffalo hunting scene the Indians and good old Dances were using .44 Henry Rimfire.  Which means that a modern buffalo hunter could go out with a .22 hornet or so and kill a buff. :P


Not that far fetched, the Natives of Alaska and NW Canada favored the 22 Hornet for many years for much of their hunting.  They killed everyting including walrus and polar bear with them.  The weight of the rounds was the reason, if you have to haul in a years supply it is a great advantage.

The late Finn Agarrd (sp)  grew up in affrica and the Hornet was a favored round and when he was a youth he stalked upon a Cape Buffalo that was sleeping and shot it in the ear killing it instantly. His father beat his butt for being stupid, but it goes to point out shot placement is more important than power.  And yes, many American Bison were killed with Henry's. ???

Tuolumne Lawman:
In his book "Buffalo Harvest" Frank Mayer (an original Buffalo Runner) states the army passed out lots of ammo free to the hunters in order to help delete the indians food supply.  I don't remember, but I think he said it was 50-70.  That couple with the number of surplused 1866 and 1868 Trapdoor 50-70s implies that the 50-70 was a major caliber.  I have an original 50-70 Rolling Block that shoots like a dream, though it has a tapered round barrel, rather than a heavy octagonal.


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