.45-70 Government for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, – Foundry Outdoors
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.45-70 Government for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunt

Is the .45-70 Government a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for grizzly or brown bear hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .45-70 Government is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear.

As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the grizzly or brown bear, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the grizzly or brown bear in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on.

What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a grizzly or brown bear in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically.

Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .45-70 Government within the ideal range of suitable calibers for grizzly or brown bear hunting?” our answer is:

No, the .45-70 Government is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.

Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table.

Assumption Value
Caliber .45-70 Government
Animal Species Grizzly Or Brown Bear
Muzzle Energy 2270 foot-pounds
Animal Weight 595 lbs
Shot Distance 200 yards

What is the average muzzle energy for a .45-70 Government? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .45-70 Government round is approximately 2270 foot-pounds.

What is the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear is approximately 595 lbs.

What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in grizzly or brown bear hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for grizzly or brown bear to be approximately 200 yards.

What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .45-70 Government. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the grizzly or brown bear being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.

Various calibers

A common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions.

Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .45-70 Government is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear - and to this question, the response again is no, the .45-70 Government is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting.

This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting grizzly or brown bear to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.

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Rick - Oct 19, 2021

Totally agree. 45/70 can drop a griz.

Matthew Good - Oct 19, 2021

45-70 has been used for years to hunt Grizzly, Buffalo and now with the modern ammo can be used to hunt large African game. It shoots flat and is a great brush rifle!

Jacques Franke - Oct 19, 2021

It was an entertaining read until you mention a baby chipmunk VS 50bmg. Lots of big bears are taken with simple sticks and strings.

Those who hunt with a 45-70 are aware of its limitations and for the most part a 45/70 is rarely used past 50 yards on big bears.
Also an interesting side note which should been mentioned is the tens of thousands of North American bison taken with the 45-70-405 from long range.

The 45-70 is an extremely effective caliber for any North American game but there is better.

Chaz Spaulding - Jun 02, 2022

This article to me seems like it’s written by somebody who just doesn’t like 4570, the information in the article is anecdotal; and does not address the actual question except to say that the cartridge is under kill. It mentions things of ethics and shot placement, as if most hunters don’t know this. I’m sure Teddy Roosevelt, and my grandfather and his grandfather would disagree, 4570 is a fine round for taking Grizzly. Men far greater than us were taking grizzly bears with Blackpowder muzzleloader’s way before the smokeless 4570. Keep in mind that the 4570 was capable of taking grizzly bear in the 1800s when it was only loaded with black powder in a 500 Green soft lead pointed bullet, Or a round nose 405 grain bullet over 70 grains of black powder.

JohnKeeter - Jun 02, 2022

It is a historical fact that the majority of the buffalo were killed from around 100 yds, when they were down in so-called buffalo wallows. Theses old wallows can still be seen, and used by beef cattle to this day. The Boss Cow, would be identified first, and always by true buffalo hunters, and killed on the spot first. The rest of the herd would gather round the dead cow, and be shot, and killed at will. There are a lot of false myths perpetrated by Hollywood, and pulp fiction.

Paul E Davis - Jun 02, 2022

I have not shot a bear with the 45/70 but I feel 350 grain Hornady leverlution ammo works just fine on anything

Kurtis Tegman - Jun 23, 2022

I’m not looking to hunt bear, BUT…it would be nice to have a gun strong enough to defend against a bear, if I were to happen upon one and have to defend myself. So basically, I’m looking for a minimum power to cover all my bases in a SHTF situation.

Lee W - Jul 08, 2022

The meat and potatoes of this article base a conclusion on simple numbers and a perceived benchmark. That’s an easy conclusion to come to when your knowledge of stopping or killing power come from the internet.
Grizzlies don’t live in the internet, or on a sheet of paper with those arbitrary numbers. Only fantasies do.
Grizzlies live in the wild. They can be tough as hell. But if you put a 350 to 400 plus grain, 458 caliber bullet into the heart/lungs or central nervous system, it will die. If that bullet has slowed down to 1200 fps, it’s still a very large delivery truck bringing death along with it. I’ve killed a good number of huge furry beasts with the 45/70 and tried many different loads. In recent years, I have used the factory Remington 405 grain slow pokes because I had confidence (based on loads of past experiences with it) that those loads will still do the job within sensible ranges (my judgment set my limit to 150 yards or under). One big bull elk five years ago and one big bull moose quartering away at 120 yards. Both dropped within a few steps. Recovered the bullet under the hide on the moose after it had busted the far shoulder.

I wouldn’t feel under gunned for one second even on Kodiak Island even if all I had were the soft Remington 405 loads. I’d never recommend the 300 grain for anything bigger than elk.
My favorite loads though, are my hand loads of 350 grain Hornady Round Nose cruising at 2150 fps. Hornady designed those for a North American 458 WM load, so they hold up pretty good.

I hope the author of this article gets to go hunting someday and enjoy what’s really going on out there.

Kirk Williams - Aug 02, 2022

Total BS. 45/70 with the correct ammo will kill a grizzly all day long. At close range.

C Hiscock - Aug 02, 2022

Shot many large game in Northern Canada. I will tell you unequivocally that my 45-70 with the Hornady 300 g will stop anything North America has to offer.

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