Phoenix Weaponry Debuts AR-Based .45-70 Auto Rifle

The .45-70 Auto concept is so elegant it’s surprising no one’s done it before Phoenix Weaponry, but we’re glad they did. (Photo: P.W.)

Phoenix Weaponry, operating out of Longmont, Colorado, is launching a new semi-automatic rifle series chambered for .45-70 Auto, a modified .45-70 Government cartridge. The rifles use turned-down rimless cartridges loaded to high-pressure “strong-action” or “Ruger-only” levels.

“This gun started out as a personal project that has been languishing on the back burner for several years,” said company owner Aaron Cayce. “This year we had the opportunity to bring my idea to fruition, and we are very excited with the results.”

“We appreciate you all for showing the same excitement,” he added. “This project was made possible by my team at the shop.”

To make .45-70 Auto, Phoenix Weaponry turns down .45-70 Government brass on a lathe. It’s that simple. The company will sell both brass components as well as form cutters for anyone with the tools at home to modify their own cases. Phoenix ships 50 .45-70 Auto cases with each rifle.

“This case, once rebated, can be reloaded easily using existing load information for the .45-70, based on Ruger No.1 loads, and the reloader can use standard .45-70 die sets with the exception of using a .308 shell holder.”

The modified .45-70 cases’ rebated rims work with standard .308 Winchester bolts and bolt carriers. The rifles feed using converted Magpul magazines. The old Government cartridge takes up a lot of space — a modified 10-round .308 magazine only holds 6 rounds of .45-70.

Everything about these rifles is big. The standard P-Christine model weighs just shy of 10 pounds unloaded with its 18-inch barrel and beefy muzzle brake. It’s a Douglas barrel with a rifle-length gas system and a custom profile. The brake is an in-house 2-baffle design with large chevron cutouts.

Phoenix Weaponry also designed and builds the receivers. They CNC-machine the receivers from 7075-T7 billet alloy aluminum. The upper receiver is clean and slick-sided without a forward assist or shell deflector. The lower has an enlarged, flared and grooved magwell and an integral trigger guard.

The receivers are completed with a match-grade trigger set at 3 pounds and come standard with Magpul furniture. Each rifle comes with a Cerakote flat dark earth finish and matching furniture with other colors available on request.

See Also: Marlin’s .45-70 1895 Lever-Action Powerhouse: Full Review

The base model, bottom, and a custom suppressed model with wood furniture and accents, top. (Photo: P.W.)

The handguard is another Phoenix Weaponry design. Using a proprietary barrel nut, the handguard mounts using a screw locking system for added stability. The handguard is modular and accepts accessories at any 45-degree position.

Accessories include Picatinny rail segments, quick-detach sling points, sling studs and handstops. The handguard also accepts full-length rails for a continuous flat top rail.

Phoenix Weaponry is asking $4,800 for the base model .45-70 Auto rifles. Of course, other configurations are entirely possible. It may cost more, but anything’s possible for custom orders. For more information visit the Phoenix Arms website.

Originally a black powder cartridge, hunters and handloaders have a history loading .45-70 with higher-pressure smokeless powder. With modern rifles and components, these over-pressure .45-70 loads are more than adequate for all North American game.

{ 61 comments… add one }
  • Greg Buchel February 23, 2018, 7:55 am

    Try Big Horn Armory’s AR500 in 500 Auto Max. It is a rimless 500 S&W producing up to 4600 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Starline has available brass. Buffalo Bore has factory ammunition. And the gun is $1999. Less than half the price. more power, factory ammo and brass available. No brainer!

  • Carroll Towns December 29, 2017, 11:00 am

    I’ll stick with my .450 Bushmaster, thanks just the same…

  • Lee December 28, 2017, 10:27 am

    Why not just go 45 raptor?

  • Norm Fishler December 24, 2017, 7:34 pm

    Thanx for thinking of us big bore fans, but my Brno in .458 can do most everything your Phoenix can do plus I can load black for it. Try that with an auto-loader. The only thing the Phoenix can do that my Brno can’t is talk a bit faster, but I’m not too worried about that. I had to laugh when I stopped to consider just how limited their market is. First off one has to be able to afford the basic rifle. How about an extra magazine or three? And brass? You know they’re gonna give that away don’t ya? Can you imagine the expense of trying to feed one of them with factory ammo? I can’t. Thanx but no thanx . . . I’ll pass.

  • James larose December 24, 2017, 7:16 am

    Only the wealthy can afford this gun

  • Lonnie Bell December 23, 2017, 11:43 pm

    I would say $4800 is a joke. I have one of marlins first lever action 45/70’s and ammo is very easy to obtain. I think because it have taken years to bring this idea to reality is because there was not a lot of action to stop automatic weapons until the past few years. And because a lot of people are buying them now before they actually might pass a law outlawing them, all of a sudden this new one appears with a rediculus price of $4800. I would rather buy a good used truck.

    • Scotty Gunn February 23, 2018, 5:31 pm

      Or just build a 450 bushmaster or 458 socom for way less.

  • John December 23, 2017, 8:28 pm

    That’s INSANE…. I Love It…!!!
    G_d Bless America….

  • Archangel December 23, 2017, 7:51 pm

    358 Winchester?
    Seen it, I believe Satern barrels makes one.
    Swap in the 358 barrel for the 308 in your AR-10 and shoot it!

  • Gary Stelter December 23, 2017, 3:08 pm

    I wouldn’t pre-judge this gun until I have had a chance to fire it.

  • Silverbullet December 23, 2017, 2:55 pm

    It’s just another ploy to sell the guns , the prices are what they want sure there are fools out there that will buy a few , but it’ll go like the prices the shot out 1911 the dcm thinks is worthy of a grand to start.
    So yes a fool and his money will be departed. As for me I’d buy marlin or Henry in 45-70 or both and still save over half of there prices.
    Better hurry up and order there flying off the shelf all three of them.

    • Dan December 24, 2017, 1:40 pm

      Exact round the 338 federal was designed after 308 case and heavy long range bullet.

  • Glenn61 December 22, 2017, 9:00 pm

    .45-70 is or was a Black Powder cartridge. It was the Buffalo killer back in the 1870s, In the Sharp’s rifle….. Who the hell wants an AR rifle in that round…?,, DUMB, JUST DUMB.

  • CJ December 22, 2017, 4:55 pm

    45/70 Auto. Isn’t that what a 450 Marlin is?

    • dennis penning December 22, 2017, 11:09 pm

      DAAAA 450 marlin is way better. So why have to grind down the case on a 45-70 when marlin has them ready to go,, even a belted case to boot. What a bunch of sculls full of mush as Limba would say. What air are they breathing any way? This is going to be a big fat money pit flop.

      • dennis penning December 22, 2017, 11:16 pm

        PS. The gun will make a real conversation piece,,,if you don’t mind your pride getting stepped on for getting suckered into buying one of these.

  • Torn December 22, 2017, 3:47 pm

    River #1 loads in 45-70 are right on bottom end of .458 Win. Mag.not the same ax .450 Raptor

  • Bill McGraw December 22, 2017, 3:36 pm

    I noticed one fired cartridge had a pressure “belt” above the rebated rim, certainly a problem with the brass or chamber.

  • D Day Dog December 22, 2017, 2:41 pm

    Too rich for my blood. For what it is, it shouldn’t cost that much. Always seems like the “new” rifle producers want huge money when they have – or think they have – something new to provide nowadays. “It’s only $4000-$5000” … wow. Get over it. If you want a 45-70 buy a lever action. If you want to shoot 45-70 really fast, buy this gun if you can afford it. Not for me.

    • Scotty Gunn December 23, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Or just buy a 458 socom, which is very similar in ballistics.

  • Harold December 22, 2017, 1:52 pm

    part of the fun of shooting a 45/70 is that it is one of the few original rounds, you could load with 70 grain of black powder if you want, this is a a neat .45 something, that would be a kick to shoot.

  • Bruce Hargin December 22, 2017, 1:14 pm

    Someone had to much wild turkey for lunch when they dreamed up this one.

  • Eric Tower December 22, 2017, 12:41 pm

    I much rather have a 458 Win Mag converted BAR for $3,100!!!

    • Bill McGraw December 22, 2017, 3:42 pm

      I have a 458 Win Mag on a Mauser 98, shoots just fine with a light 500 gr cast bullet subsonic load, fired one shot with 500 gr cast bullet at 1500 fps and that was enough for me. Fun rifle.

  • Glen Healey December 22, 2017, 12:05 pm

    Great idea nice gun as I have a sickness in that I love recoil. However at that price point I will never own one. Now what I would love to see is a after market AR 10 barrel in .358 winchester now that would be a great hog and deer round.

  • Zupglick December 22, 2017, 11:55 am

    Won’t be happy until I get 40mm AA to use on these pesky drones.
    Seriously, I Bought a BN36 from Noreen Firearms. In 30-06, it works on anything from North America and Europe and most things from Africa and India. Paid $1300 with extra mags. Nuff said.

  • Tim December 22, 2017, 11:01 am

    They already make this. It’s called the 45 raptor ar10 platform with .452 bullets. Pretty impressive. And not 4800 bucks

    • Terry December 22, 2017, 12:06 pm

      Yep I think I paid $230 for the barrel from Satern barrels. 2 mags and a muzzle break from a guy out of Arizona for I think $175 and 250 rounds of Starline brass for $235 from Arne Brennan the designer. They also make a 375 Raptor that you can modify. 308 case which will save you a ton on brass price

  • Don December 22, 2017, 10:41 am

    I don’t understand from the article why the .308 Magpul mags need to be converted. Aren’t there already off-the-shelf .308 AR mags? If all they are actually doing is re-barreling a standard .308 AR to .45-70 Auto, the gun should be able to be sold for a profit with a much lower asking price. If they just want to sell a few of these at a very high price to recoup their money so they can have fun messing with more cool firearms – I say go for it and good luck!

  • Marc Sperry December 22, 2017, 10:21 am

    This has already been done
    It’s called the 458 SOCOM.

    • Tony December 22, 2017, 10:32 am

      Or the .50 Beowulf, or the .450 Bushmaster. Not a new concept at all.

      • Dave Hicks December 22, 2017, 10:45 am

        Tony You said it before I could = 450 Bushmaster. Anyway ,who’s the buyer for a offbeat caliber ? If you want a 45/70 get a lever action or a single shot. I have an AR 15 !

        • Terry December 22, 2017, 12:10 pm

          Y’all need to do a little more research. Key word (chamber pressure)

        • Dan December 24, 2017, 1:43 pm

          My exact thought, 450 bushmaster very similar power level off the shelf ammo and ar15 size over ar10

    • LJ December 22, 2017, 3:41 pm

      As others have asked … why? What’s the purpose? And $4800? DAMN! Especially when there are several current .458 and .452 caliber cartridges available that will work on an AR style platform and perform equally as well on anything that roams the North American continent — at half the cost! And it’s doubtful you’ll ever see factory loadings available, much less the brass. I’m all for wildcat rounds, but this one just doesn’t make sense. At least in my mind.

      Don’t misunderstand me, I love the 45.70, but for me it’s out of my Guide gun or one of my two T/C Contender barrels. I’ve been hand loading it to max recommended pressures for those guns for over 30 years. But if I need multi-round big-bore firepower I’ll swap out for the SOCOM and not give it another thought! And save $4800!

  • Burl Gleave December 22, 2017, 10:09 am

    Check out Accuracy Systems in Colorado will supply a barrel and bolt for the 450 Marlin. Bought one 2 years ago, off the shelf ammo and a lot of fun!

  • Stan December 22, 2017, 10:00 am

    Why not just go with a .45Mag version. They used to make 1911-style pistols in that caliber. Loaded ammo may still be out there.

  • kerry purcell December 22, 2017, 9:52 am

    cant think what it would do in my world that an 1895 wont do,,,,,unless you can flock shoot a herd ofa buffalo in yellowstone park,,,,,

  • Stan December 22, 2017, 9:50 am

    I asked a gunsmith about converting a BAR to .45-70gvt. Turned-out to be impractical.
    Reading this article, I wanted one…. until I saw the price. Ouch.

  • bill williams December 22, 2017, 9:08 am

    way too high priced. guess y’all gotta get R&D back but 4800 is way more than i would pay. drop it to under 1000 and you’ll sell a bunch more

    • Stan December 22, 2017, 9:51 am

      While reading the article, I guessed that the price would be around $2K. $4.8K—- Sorry.

  • Rich December 22, 2017, 8:29 am

    My 1870’s era .45-70 rolling block with black powder loads and 400-500 grain bullets is adequate for any North American game. Don’t need to load to .458 magnum levels! After all, the .45-70 was a popular bison hunting round “back in the day”, from similar rifles.

    • Michael Gangemi December 22, 2017, 9:47 am

      I could have gotten a 45-70 336 style lever gun that holds six rounds, but instead I went with the 35 Rem. took a ten point buck
      This year, One shot dropped him like a bowling ball hit him. What more could I want ! You want Big move up to the 416 rem mag. It truly is the finger of GOD ! It just doesn’t care, as long as you hit mass , it’s Venison on the table…..

    • Nick M December 22, 2017, 11:54 am

      Without checking, I know I can get a quality lever gun at a much better price chambered in 45-70.

  • Don jr December 22, 2017, 8:14 am

    Ouch too much for almost 5k for those I use my marlin rifle 45-70 I love it I did use rental AR 308. Really cool than 223 and 556 so when I see that new AR 45-70 I really want but 5k oh please i don’t see that much over 1000k for AR 308 if sell for 1k for AR 45-70 I will take it

  • Nick M December 22, 2017, 8:13 am

    No thanks for 2 reasons. It isn’t off the shelf 45-70 and the vast majority don’t in fact reload, and the ridiculous price.

  • Dee December 22, 2017, 8:06 am

    Interesting idea about modifying the brass to be rimless. Always great to see entrepreneurs. The only trouble is it narrows their market to reloaders.
    Alternates are 458 socom and 450 BM. These are similar ballistics to 45-70. Not sure if there is more secret sauce that drives the price -like the Nemo 300 Win Mag bolt carrier re-design otherwise $4800 is a lot for a barrel, a magazine, a 308AR chassis and 50 pieces of brass.

  • mike chizmar December 22, 2017, 7:54 am

    why not just buy a 45 raptor at less than half the price or a complete upper for your ar10 for under $700 on gun broker

  • Ray Mustin December 22, 2017, 7:19 am

    I love all firearm innovation, and think this is a really neat rifle. However, the price seems really high, and I have shot a 458 SOCOM in an AR for several years. It comes really close to the 45-70, and I have full power loads using 250-400 grain bullets, and sub-sonic loads in the 400-500 grain range. All of this happens with just a new upper on your .556/223 AR lower and uses standard GI mags. It really puts it on those hogs with ATN night vision and the 500 grain sub-sonic loads.

  • Tom December 22, 2017, 7:13 am

    Isn’t that why Alexander Arms came out with the .50 Beowulf? Same ballistics as the .45-70 in an AR platform. Used by some military types as well.

  • Joel December 22, 2017, 6:33 am

    Ok, so the price might be a little steep for what you get, but you are also speaking about substantial innovation. I applaud the efforts of the design team and and love the new offering. I guess I am just too much man at heart and think big guns with big bullets are cool. I do think the best way to shoot 45-70 is in a lever rifle, but think this new rifle might be the best way to shoot 45-70 Auto.

  • Dr Motown December 22, 2017, 5:24 am

    Why? Because he can, of course…this caliber should stay as a classic lever action round, IMHO

  • Michael Christensen December 22, 2017, 4:05 am

    Why do these guns cost so much? Most pieces are standard sized. You need one custom sized item, the barrel. The rest is standard .308 AR-10 pieces. Shouldn’t cost this much.

  • BrianNH December 22, 2017, 3:15 am

    Nice idea. Awful expensive, though; much more than other new calibers. Hopefully, the cost will come down a lot. ITMT, there are many other ways to fire .45-70.

  • Sepp W December 20, 2017, 6:40 pm

    Too rich for me. I’ll stick with my Marlin 1895s.

    • jack December 22, 2017, 6:10 am

      It seems like everybody and their brother/sister are trying to jam some monster round into an AR platform, geez, when is enough, enough, what’s next, a 20 mm round turned down to fit??????

      • Mike V December 22, 2017, 9:09 am

        Turned down 20mm, now that would be a real innovation, and maybe even worth the asking price.

      • Stan December 22, 2017, 9:57 am

        20mm is already rimless; no need to turn it down.

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