Marlin Goes Tactical With New Dark Series Lever Actions

Zac K
by Zac K
Marlin Goes Tactical With New Dark Series Lever Actions

The “tacticalization” of lever-action rifles continues, with the new Marlin Dark Series hitting the market. The new Dark Series will have three rifles based on the three lever-actions sold under the Marlin name. At this point, the Model 1895 in .45-70 Government is the only example currently available, but Dark Series rifles based on the Model 1894 in .44 Magnum are coming, along with a model based on the Model 336 in .30-30.

Marlin @ TFB:

The Dark Series rifles don’t look like your granddaddy’s walnut-and-blued-steel cowboy rifle. They come with black nylon-reinforced polymer stocks, but their appearance isn’t as oddball as some of the other tactical lever-actions on the market. There’s no skeletonized telescopic design here, although they do have an adjustable cheek riser – raise it when using an optic, and drop the riser when shooting with iron sights. In stock configuration, the rifle has a fiber-optic front sight and a tritium rear ring installed for better low-light shooting.

The stock has a beefy recoil pad as well, and M-LOK attachment slots to allow you to easily install accessories. The anodized aluminum forend also comes with M-LOK slots and QD sockets. The 16.7-inch barrel comes with 11/16″-24 threads to install a muzzle device; from the factory, you get a radial muzzle brake, but Marlin also includes a muzzle protector if that’s what you want to run.

Marlins have long been favored by rifle shooters who wanted a lever-action with easy optics installation. The Dark Series rifles come with a Picatinny rail pre-installed, stretching from the back of the receiver to about half-way down the barrel. If you want to install a red dot and a magnifier, that sort of madness is absolutely doable.

Mag capacity is 5+1 for the Model 1895; Marlin says the rifle weighs 7 pounds, with a 35.5-inch overall length.

Check Prices on Marlin Dark Series Rifles

Of course, the Dark Series is actually built by Ruger, the latest owner of the Marlin brand. After generations of manufacturing in New England, with a brief stint at Remington’s plant in New York, these rifles are now built in North Carolina, where Ruger has built a new production line (more on that here). The new made-by-Ruger Marlins have price tags that are considerably higher than the old Connecticut-built rifles, and the Dark Series will continue that trend. The Model 1895 version has a $1,379 MSRP in the U.S., and Marlin says it has “Limited Availability.” Translation: You might not find one of these rifles very easily, and if you do, it’s probably going to cost you.

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Zac K
Zac K

Professional hoser with fudd-ish leanings.

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  • KsKLR KsKLR on Nov 16, 2023

    Hats off to Ruger for taking in Marlon and giving it a proper home. I had the opportunity to handle one of the new Ruger Marlon’s recently and it was one of the finest and smoothest levers I’ve ever experienced. Not into tactical lever guns but to each their own. My weakness is a 1892 takedown in .357 magnum. Ruger did right by the Marlon legacy and re-tooled the entire line. These are the best versions of Marlon’s in probably over 50 years.

  • Marlon Marlon on Nov 18, 2023

    It's been 20 years since I had any experience with Marlin rifles.

    Are they good now?

    By 'good' I should say 'usable'. They were astonishingly awful rifles back then.