.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 (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Neck diameter .535 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Base diameter .565 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Rim diameter .660 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Rim thickness .065 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Case length 1.75 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Overall length 2.25 in (Bad rounding hereScript error mm)
Primer type Large rifle
Maximum pressure 22,500 psi (Bad rounding hereScript error MPa)
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
425 gr (Bad rounding hereScript error g) Lead SP1,448 ft/s (Bad rounding hereScript error m/s)1,979 ft·lbf (Bad rounding hereScript error J)
550 gr (Bad rounding hereScript error g) Lead FN1,375 ft/s (Bad rounding hereScript error m/s)2,310 ft·lbf (Bad rounding hereScript error J)
400 gr (Bad rounding hereScript error g) SP1,849 ft/s (Bad rounding hereScript error m/s)3,037 ft·lbf (Bad rounding hereScript error 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 (Bad rounding hereScript error g) black powder

Bullet Weight 450 grains (Bad rounding hereScript error g)[2]

Since this cartridge is no longer commercially produced, reloaders have experimented with a variety of bullet weights from 425 to 600 grains (Bad rounding hereScript error 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 (Bad rounding hereScript error g) bullet and 45 grains (Bad rounding hereScript error g) of powder.

See alsoEdit


  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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