Whatever Happened To The .450 Marlin?
Q: A friend I hunt with in Wyoming owns a Marlin lever-action chambered in .450 Marlin. He's used it to successfully kill brown bear and moose with one 350gn bullet. I've been trying to locate a similar rifle for myself and may have struck it lucky. Also, I believe that Marlin has dropped the cartridge from their line-up? Why I wonder? What can you tell me about it? Also, who makes loading dies for it? Can you suggest a good load?
A: The .450 Marlin came along in 2000 as a more powerful cartridge for the Model 1895 levergun. Loaded by Hornady it fired a 350gn flat-point bullet at 2100fps for a muzzle energy of 3427fps. The cartridge and rifle proved very effective against dangerous game as your American friend found out. It was based on a short belted straight walled magnum case and hit hard at both ends. Handloaders loaded it with the Beartooth 405gn to 1560fps. Accuracywise the rifle was no slouch and proved capable of 5- shot groups at 50 yards measuring from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches.
Recoil was softened by an integral muzzle brake with two rows of porting on each side of the front sight, with 5 holes in the top row and two in the second row. A half length tubular magazine held four rounds. The .450 Marlin was basically nothing more than the .458x2" American, a wildcat developed in the early 1960s by shortening the .458 Win. Mag. case and often referred to as a belted .45-70. It was dropped after it became known that it would fit in a 7mm Rem. Mag. or .338 Win. Mag. chamber with disastrous results. Marlin got around this problem by giving its .450 a higher belt so that it wouldn't enter the chambers of other belted magnum cartridges or .45-70. No doubt the .450 was an excellent cartridge, but it didn't do much more than the .45- 70 and was soon dropped.
Loading dies present no problem. Get a 3-die set for the .45-70 and a shellholder for the .338 Win. Mag. and you're set to go. A good load uses the Hornady 350gn JFN and 58gn of AR2219 which churns up about 3050fps. Actually, the .450 has a capacity about 93 percent that of the .45-70 but has a stronger case. For reloading you can use any of the powders and loads listed for use in the Marlin 1895 .45-70 - RE-7, AR2206H, and AR2219. Bullets include Hornady's 300gn JHP and 350gn JFP and Speer's 400gn JFP. Recoil is stiff, but probably would not be noticed in a hunting situation. Shooting off a bench is something else again.