No matter your age, geographic location, or mission, there is a definite utility in a quality lever action rifle. Typically a blend of blued steel and wood, a lever gun has a comfortable feel, classic lines, and a sort of historic presence that everyone can love. It inspires confidence, safety, and the ability to provide. Sure we can debate caliber selections – everything from .22LR up to .45-70 Gov’t – but a lever action rifle has maintained most of its original usefulness over the past 150+ years of common use. Today we are going to talk about the return of a classic: the Ruger Marlin 1895 Guide Gun. This is a capable rifle that can be used for hunting, backcountry protection or for just owning a little piece of America.
Ruger/Marlin @ TFB:
- TFB Review: A Closer Look at the New Ruger LC Carbine
- Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun Reintroduced by Ruger
- The Marlin Model 1895 Trapper Lever-Action is Back from Ruger
- Ruger Completes Acquisition of Marlin Assets; Lever Actions In 2021
Our planet Earth rotates, orbits the sun, and is tilted on a polar axis. It is the combination of these three characteristics that create the Earth’s seasonal changes. Climates change in three-month increments and are more extreme as a position moves away from the equator and towards either of the poles. While each of the four seasons has its place, fall is hands down my favorite, signaling an end to the growing period, a time of harvest and celebration, marked by a display of natural color in the changing of the leaves.
Autumn in Maine: Reviving the Ruger Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in .45-70 Govt
Poetic rambling aside, fall is a beautiful time for shooting, hiking, hunting, and exploring. A few days before I was to spend a week in coastal Maine, Ruger/Marlin released the new Guide Gun and was nice enough to expedite one in time to make the trip. Perfect.
For those of you with some additional trips around the sun under your belt, you probably remember both the glory of the original Marlin products and the agony of the post-Remington acquisition days. I never purchased a Remington-made Marlin, but if the guns were as hit-and-miss as the reports and the other Remington guns of the time, the criticism was deserved.
Ruger purchased Marlin during Remington’s bankruptcy a few years ago and they have taken a slow and steady approach to releasing the classics. They know that they have one chance to regain customer trust in the Marlin brand and they are taking their time. And it shows.
The 2022 Marlin 1895 Guide Gun is evidence that real craftsmanship and excellence in manufacturing still exist in America. This is a classic utilitarian gun finished with precision and class. Metal-on-metal and metal-on-wood mating surfaces are perfect. The bluing is even and deep. The action is silky. And the trigger has a dry twig snap that will bring back some early hunting memories. The process of bringing new Marlins to market may not be as quick as customers like, but the quality shows that it is worth the wait.
The .45-70 Gov’t cartridge doesn’t have that same overall utility as the rural king .30-30 chambering. But with the right load behind the right bullet, it is well-rounded enough for all medium and large game in North America. The .45-70 is a hefty cartridge, so expect to make a 7.4-pound rifle even heavier with every push through the loading gate and into the tube.
Personally, I’ve never owned a lever-action rifle with an optic. A low power variable optic (LPVO) like a 1-6x or 1-8x would be a handy addition for hunters as I wouldn’t expect to stretch a .45 caliber bullet much past a few hundred yards (I don’t personally have the skills to make a longer shot ethically). I have a soft spot for the proven Trijicon Accupoint 1-4X with the green chevron and post, but Vortex Optics and SIG have some more modern options as well.
A welcome addition for me, your resident silencer lover, is the addition of a threaded barrel. Ruger/Marlin made the addition more palatable for traditionalists by finishing it in a barrel-matching deep gloss bluing. The pitch (11/16 x 24) is one I was previously unfamiliar with and had to buy and expedite a new mount for the Dead Air Primal suppressor. Thanks to Quiet Riot Firearms for providing affordable overnight shipping. I would have preferred a 5/8 x 24 thread pitch, but I understand that Marlin is preventing the unintended use of .30 bore attachments that are in wide use by most suppressor owners.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun
Formerly known as an “1895 GBL” (Guide Big Loop), this model is Ruger’s first reintroduction in the Guide Gun family of rifles and Ruger’s first introduction of an alloy steel Marlin rifle with a blued finish.
Improved manufacturing processes create tight tolerances, resulting in a reliable, attractive rifle. Multi-layered quality control procedures, including daily function and accuracy audits and multiple inspections, result in a high-quality product.
- Suggested Retail: $1,149.00
- Manufacturer’s Page: https://www.marlinfirearms.com/s/model_1895guide/
- User Manual: https://www.marlinfirearms.com/assets/pdfs/RM-Marlin-1895.pdf
- Purchase: Brownells, Sportsmans
- Model: #70456
- Caliber: 45-70 Govt
- Capacity 6+1
- Stock: Brown Laminate
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Finish: Satin Blued
- Front Sight: Brass Bead with Hood
- Rear Sight: Semi-Buckhorn
- Weight: 7.4 lb.
- Overall Length: 37.25″
- Length of Pull: 13.38″
- Barrel Length: 19.10″
- Thread Pattern: 11/16″-24
- Thread Cap: Match-Polished
- Barrel: Cold Hammer-Forged Alloy Steel
- Twist: 1:20″ RH
- Grooves: 6
- UPC: 7-36676-70456-7
The joy of the Guide Gun comes in ownership, appreciation, and holding something that is well made, not necessarily in pulling the trigger. Shooting a .45-70 is not necessarily a pleasurable experience, although the thick rubber butt pad and a suppressor will take much of the bite out of the recoil.
I shot a few different loadings from Federal (Power-Shok), Hornady (FTX), and a subsonic hard cast lead round from I.Q. Munitions. I can confirm that each one is minute-of-small-sugar-pumpkin from about 75 yards using a tree trunk hold. (That is about the most New England statement you can make without using hockey, Dunks, or a swear word in the same sentence).
I have two suppressors that can handle the .45-70 Gov’t cartridge – the Dead Air Primal and the SilencerCo Hybrid 46M. Both are top-notch cans, but I had to choose the Primal for the Guide Gun because it was the only mount option available in a short amount of time. Just to play fair, you’ll see the Hybrid 46M later in the ‘Autumn in Maine’ series.
Dead Air Primal Suppressor
- MSRP: $899
- Manufacturer’s Page: https://deadairsilencers.com/silencers/primal/
- Owners Manual: Click Here
- Purchase: Silencer Shop
- Caliber Rating: .458 caliber with energies up to .338 Lapua
- Energy Rating: 5100 ft lbs
- Bore Diameter: .458 caliber
- Length: 7.9 inches
- Diameter: 1.618 inches
- Weight: 16.4 ounces
- Materials: 17-4 PH Stainless Steel
- Finish: Black Cerakote® body, Nitride attachments
- Usage: The perfect “do-all” silencer that will withstand years of heavy use.
- Barrel Restrictions: None
- Full Auto Rated: Yes
- Part Number: PRIMAL
The resurrection of this big bore lever action rifle is a welcome pause to the more modern releases that we will see over the next few months leading up to our SHOT Show 2023 coverage in January. Even if you are a do-or-die AR-15 shooter, have no plans on hunting large game, or have previously sworn off anything that isn’t polymer or coated in Cerakote, the new Marlin 1895 Guide Gun is a legitimate purchase. First, Marlin did an excellent job reintroducing a classic rifle. Second, it is threaded for a suppressor or other muzzle devices. And lastly, it handles and shoots beautifully.
Thanks for reading TFB.
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