Were you one of those kids who grew up watching John Wayne movies on TV? Of course, kids these days (I sound old just typing that phrase) don’t remember the thrill of seeing a good guy and a bad guy fighting it out with the necessary gun fight to make it especially exciting.
And if that gun fight was going to be an old west gun fight, someone was going to have a lever-action rifle.
If you’re someone who grew up watching those movies and shows on television, then, maybe you’ve always wanted a lever-action rifle, and if that’s you, a company has released what one reviewer is calling “the best lever-action in the company’s history.” No joke. John B. Snow writes,
The Marlin 1895 SBL in .45/70 Gov’t is the first rifle out of the gates since Marlin was acquired by Ruger, and after using one for the last several weeks and taking it hunting, I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Ruger has done right by the beloved brand. And not only has Ruger rescued Marlin from the wreckage of the Remington bankruptcy but based on what I’ve seen so far, it is making the best lever-actions in Marlin’s history. Put simply, Ruger has successfully reincarnated Marlin as a modern gun company.
Marlin’s engineers have completed the company’s transition from an old-time rifle maker to a thoroughly modern manufacturer, and the quality of these rifles reflects that.
For example, when Marlin now cuts the chambers on the Model 1895, it does so in just two passes. Previously, chambering these lever guns required several machining cuts. This is significant, because every time you make a cut you introduce a certain amount of tolerance slop. The more passes, the more those tolerances can stack, potentially degrading accuracy and performance. These new chambers are much more precise.
For the first time, Marlin is cutting some parts via wire EDM. This advanced type of machining uses a thin electrically charged wire that makes exact and smooth cuts. The notches on the hammer that engage the sear are EDM cut, resulting in a very crisp trigger break with none of the grit, creep and overtravel that is often found on lever-action rifles.
Marlin is also heat treating the forged stainless-steel receivers before machining them. It is cheaper to machine the pieces and heat treat them after—it is easier to cut the metal prior to the process—but heat treating relieves stress on the metal potentially causing it to alter shape. If the dimensions change after you’ve machined the metal, you can get warping and tolerance stacking again. By heat treating first, Marlin can hold these guns to much tighter specs.
You get the idea. Snow believes that this rifle is very clearly a cut above anything that Marlin has released in the past.
So, if you’re in the market for a lever-action rifle (or just something a little out of the ordinary in today’s world), the Marlin 1895 SBL may be one to consider.