Military Wiki
.50-70 Government
Type Rifle
Place of origin USA
Service history
In service 1866-1873
Used by USA
Production history
Designed 1866
Case type Rimmed, straight
Bullet diameter .515 in (13.1 mm)
Neck diameter .535 in (13.6 mm)
Base diameter .565 in (14.4 mm)
Rim diameter .660 in (16.8 mm)
Rim thickness .065 in (1.7 mm)
Case length 1.75 in (44 mm)
Overall length 2.25 in (57 mm)
Primer type Large rifle
Maximum pressure 22,500 psi (155 MPa)
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
425 gr (28 g) Lead SP 1,448 ft/s (441 m/s) 1,979 ft·lbf (2,683 J)
550 gr (36 g) Lead FN 1,375 ft/s (419 m/s) 2,310 ft·lbf (3,130 J)
400 gr (26 g) SP 1,849 ft/s (564 m/s) 3,037 ft·lbf (4,118 J)
Test barrel length: 28"
Source(s): Accurate Powder [1]

The .50-70 Government cartridge was a black powder round adopted in 1866 for the Springfield Model 1866 Trapdoor Rifle. The cartridge was developed after the unsatisfactory results of the .58 rimfire cartridge for the Springfield Model 1865 Trapdoor Rifle.

The .50-70 Government cartridge became the official cartridge of the US military until replaced by the .45-70 Government in 1873. The .50-70 cartridge had a pressure limit of 22,500 PSI.[1]

The official designation of this cartridge at the time of introduction was "US Center-fire Metallic Cartridge", and the commercial designation .50-70-450, standing for :

Caliber .50

Powder Charge 70 grains (4.5 g) black powder

Bullet Weight 450 grains (29 g)[2]

Since this cartridge is no longer commercially produced, reloaders have experimented with a variety of bullet weights from 425 to 600 grains (39 g) in weight. There is evidence that a reduced load version of this cartridge was officially produced for use in Sharps carbines converted to metallic cartridge ammunition, as well as cadet rifles. This used a 430-grain (28 g) bullet and 45 grains (2.9 g) of powder.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 .50-70 Govt data from Accurate Powder
  2. Col. J.G Benton, "Springfield Breech Loading Rifle Musket, Model of 1868", United States Army, 1868

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