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

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.”

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.)

“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.

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.


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