Marlin 1894 Rifle Lever-Gun Makeover, The Perfect Brush Gun – VIDEO

Rev talks about a reviving the life of a classic Marlin 1894 rifle in this lever-gun makeover project. Could this be the perfect brush gun?

Marlin 1894 Rifle
Marlin 1894 Rifle Lever-Gun Makeover

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- This past December found me carrying an M1-A through the woods in search of furry critters. Though I grew up hunting, I couldn’t in good conscience call myself a hunter presently. Sometime around the end of high school and the beginning of college, my Grandpa retired and moved to a suburb of Nashville. He sold his farm in the mountains of WV. He was more than entitled to do so. It was his land. He had worked for it, and when he retired, he chose to move. I’m proud to come from stock that built the kind of life that allowed for those options in his latter years.

Nonetheless, I found myself without access to the piece of land that had been home to almost every hunting experience I’d had.

With my revamped Marlin 1894 rifle I found myself without access to the piece of land that had been home to almost every hunting experience.
With my revamped Marlin 1894 rifle I found myself without access to the piece of land that had been home to almost every hunting experience.

I was at a point inlife were I wasn’t especially interested in hunting at the time. I was more interested in shooting. Truth be told, I didn’t value what I had and didn’t even recognize what I’d lost. When I finally got through college, married, and began to consider hunting again, finding a place loomed ominous. I was short on time, focused on other things, and chose to pursue other (more accessible) outdoor and shooting activities.

Then I started having children and the weight of heritage began to feel noticeably present. The value of things that had been handed to me took on new meaning. I began to evaluate my ability to pass down these same skills effectively. Perhaps, there would be elements of shooting that I’d be more prepared to pass down, maybe some other outdoor skills as well, but when it came to gathering food, I was ill-prepared.

Then I started having children and the weight of heritage began to feel noticeably present.
Then I started having children and the weight of heritage began to feel noticeably present.

I’ve been slowly but surely learning the game lands most available to me. I’ve picked the bow back up, and I’ve begun the process of re-acclimatizing myself to the stillness and activity of the woods. It’s been very valuable for me personally. I can’t believe I almost lost it, willingly.

I can’t believe I almost robbed my children of the opportunity to experience what I had. Stewardship, in my current view, requires that I hand them the opportunities this heritage has handed me.

So this past December, I found myself lugging a scoped M1-A through the woods. I don’t have any rifles that are specifically hunting in orientation anymore. I’m sure I will, but at present, I didn’t, so I used what I had. Beyond that, I like the idea of taking a deer or hog with my ol’ trusty M1-A. Still, even my Scout Squad that has the forward optic mount removed and a traditional scope mount over the receiver isn’t exactly light and handy in the field. It’s absolutely doable but far from ideal.

My scoped M1-A rifle. It is no lightweight.
My scoped M1-A rifle. It is no lightweight.

Marlin 1894 Rifle Rebuild

I turned one of my polymer framed handguns in for a dirty 1970s model Marlin 1894 chambered in .44 Magnum. I like the .44 Magnum round and think it will be a handy gun to use in the brush of the NC mountains up to 100 feet or so. The example that I got my hands on was functional but dirty and rough. I took it down and cleaned it out. Noticing that the loading gate was especially loose and that modern loads like Hornady LEVERevolution didn’t want to feed and cycle very readily, I tightened the spring of the loading gate. It helped but was far from optimal. I sent off for TCE degreaser, Chem-Pak gunstock finish, a gun blue touch up pen, XS Lever rail with sights, and some Black Hills ammo from Brownells. I selected some upgraded components from Ranger Point Precision. These included: Loading Gate Spring, Aluminum Magazine Followers, 1894 Feed Issue Extractor Claw, Large Loop Lever, and Lever takedown screw. Lastly, I ordered custom leather goods from Brass Stacker and some potential optics from Styrka, Holosun, and Bushnell.

Ranger Point Precision: Loading Gate Spring, Aluminum Magazine Followers, 1894 Feed Issue Extractor Claw, Large Loop Lever, and Lever takedown screw.
Ranger Point Precision: Loading Gate Spring, Aluminum Magazine Followers, 1894 Feed Issue Extractor Claw, Large Loop Lever, and Lever takedown screw.
A dirty 1970s model Marlin 1894 chambered in .44 Magnum
A dirty 1970s model Marlin 1894 chambered in .44 Magnum
Cleaning the 1970s model Marlin 1894 Rifle
Cleaning the 1970s model Marlin 1894 Rifle

I took down the Marlin 1894 rifle, degreased, sanded and refinished the stocks and installed the new components from Ranger Point Precision. Next, I refitted the stocks, touched up the blueing, removed the stock sights, installed the XS rail with sights, and fitted Brass Stacker’s supple custom leather. The carbine looking back at me was now far more than the sum of her parts. It was classic but handy and incredibly functional. Taking her into the field was and is a joy. Ten rounds in such an easy to handle package with light recoil and fast follow up shots is remarkable. Would I trade in my AR for her in a defensive scenario? No, but neither would I feel especially under-gunned in most foreseeable defensive situations.

Marlin 1894 Rifle with new components from Ranger Point Precision.
Marlin 1894 Rifle with new components from Ranger Point Precision.

Though the Marlin 1894 Rifle is now back together but let’s not pass over the parts that got me here. The Ranger Precision components made a marked improvement as advertised. Most notable to me are the loading gate spring, aluminum follower, and upgraded extractor. Loading, feeding, and cycling is so notably enhanced – even with modern ammo like the LEVERevolution that these components are undoubtedly worth their weight in gold. The lever and take down pin are great too, but they didn’t resolve a problem; they just enhance the overall experience.

 XS rail and corresponding ghost ring sight.
XS rail and corresponding ghost ring sight.

The XS rail and corresponding ghost ring sight have produced a marked improvement. The leather no-drill sling, cartridge bandolier, GAW leather wrap, and over-the-back rifle scabbard from Brass Stacker are each like individual works of art. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way they turned out.

GAW leather wrap, and over-the-back rifle scabbard from Brass Stacker
GAW leather wrap, and over-the-back rifle scabbard from Brass Stacker

Forty-four magnum and 30-30 lever-action rifles are called brush guns for a reason. Unlike the Spitzer tipped bullets in my .308, they fire slow-moving projectiles. The high-velocity Spitzer bullets are far more likely to deflect when moving through the brush. The relatively slow moving .44 mag stays on course, hence, a brush gun. This characteristic isn’t merely anecdotal but can be measurably demonstrated.

Suffice it to say, I’m quite happy with this handy Marlin 1894 rifle brush gun project, and I hope to take deer with it in seasons to come. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy it at the range and in the field. I hope some of you find some parts here that you can use to upgrade your 44 Marlin rifles. Keep on hunting.

Ranger Precision Quick Takedown Knob
Ranger Precision Quick Takedown Knob

 


 

Marlin 1894 Rifle Video Summary:

 

 


About Brian (Rev) Norris:Brian (Rev) Norris

Brian (Rev) Norris, in addition to writing and talking guns and gear via video, is a pastor (hence the “Rev”) who specializes in mentoring young men in the urban context. If he catches a moment of free time, you’ll likely find him enjoying his family or heading to the range on his motorcycle. Brian has enjoyed the shooting sports since his father introduced them to him as a child. He’s an outdoorsman who enjoys life to the full.

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Norm Preston
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Norm Preston

I too am an ordained minister here in Bitish Columbia. My favourite riffle is my Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. Got a nice 3 point mule east of Whistler in November. Bought it for Elk but did not get an opportunity.
I also enjoy shooting vintage fire arms from my collection of 303 British and 30’06

Norm
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Norm

I too am an ordained minister here in Bitish Columbia. My favourite riffle is my Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. Got a nice 3 point mule east of Whistler in November. Bought it for Elk but did not get an opportunity.
I also enjoy shooting vintage fire arms from my collection of 303 British and 30’06

Pete
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Pete

I also own two marlin rifles in 44 mag.and 357 mag.and like you I enjoy each of them for hunting also.plus I love Hunting with my Winchester m1 carbine rifle,I taped out the open sites on it and replaced it with a scope mount and enjoy hunting with it to.like you I’ve been wanting to replace the levers on my Marlins with big loops.not just for looks but for getting my hands in the the lever a little better,my arthritis in my hands makes it a little difficult to ejected a shell with the stock ones.i wish you all the… Read more »

foot in the forest
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foot in the forest

Colorado brush gun. Winchester model 1886 chambered in 45/90 WCF. 325 grain Hornady polymer tipped slug at 2300 fps. Definitely packs a wallop.

Dan
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Dan

I also have an early 1970s Marlin 1894 chambered for 44 Mag that I use for brush gun in Georgia and Alabama. I installed short picatinny rail that was pre-drilled to fit the scope mount screw holes. I bought the rail from EGW. I installed an Aimpoint PRO red dot Optic on the rail (actually an AR-15 optic). At first I thought there was something wrong with the gun because I was having grouping issues but I talked to the folks at Buffalo Bore who told me that this particular mico-groove barrel chambered for 44 Mag is very sensitive to… Read more »

Danny Landrum
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Danny Landrum

Outstanding; love it. Though for me, I want a 336 in .35 Rem with a 16″ barrel for a brush gun, since there’s elk up here and I might have to shoot 150 yard across a lake. .44 mag would work, but slightly marginal.

Brian J Norris
Guest
Brian J Norris

The .35 is a cool round. That’s what my Dad talks about when he talks about picking up a lever gun.

Witold Pilecki
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Witold Pilecki

Still waiting to buy my Marlin 1894C in .38SPL/.357MAG. Unfortunately, they are manufactured out of unobtainium, so impossible to find. If I come across an older model made in North Haven, CT they go for a premium I don’t wish to pay. Therefore, I will continue to wait.

Why a Marlin and not a Winchester, Rossi, Henry, or Uberti? The Marlin has all the features I require, at a good price.

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

Gunbroker.com
Marlin 1894C .357mag 18.5″ NIB 70410
Current Bid
$590.00
21h 42m

OldProf49
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OldProf49

This sounds like a great project that produced an enviable brush gun. I would’ve enjoyed the accompanying video much more if it had included detailed photos a/o video of the various stages of refurbishment, parts installation, etc.

James Leow
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James Leow

Way too much video of somebodys legs and jacket…Show me the gun!!

Lever action guy
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Lever action guy

Henry, Rossi, Marlin and Winchester bring out lever actio rifles with detachable magazines for the following cartridges- 10mm Auto, 45 Win. mag., 50 Action.
Also bring out lever actions for 357-44 B&D, 414 Super Mag (could also use 41 Mag.), 50-95 Win.
Thanks guys.

IvantheGood
Guest
IvantheGood

Glad to see I am not the only hunting Rev. in the woods.

Wayne Renniger
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Wayne Renniger

More Power to you! Only place for me to shoot is at a range. Nothing better than an open field with a hill behind it for a real SHOOT! Go for it now before it becomes too late!

250 savage guy
Guest
250 savage guy

Marlin, Henry and Winchester, bring put your lever action rifles in 357 Maximum! Alsomake the action work using 38 Long Colt, 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 357 Maximum. This would be.good from prairie dogs and coyotes to hogs, deer and black bear.
Also, this would be a great rifle in areas that have banned semi-auto rifles and good for mone defense.
Hornady, Federal, Winchester, Speer and Remington make factory ammunition for the 357 Maximum with 158, 180 and 200 grain bullets for hunting.

Danny Landrum
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Danny Landrum

I agree. Love the .357 Max cartridge, but as it is, I’m limited to my Contenders.

John Jameson
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John Jameson

I envy you, Rev. You have the life I wish I had.

John (Buddy) Dana
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John (Buddy) Dana

Rev. Brian Norris, I have to wonder where in North Carolina you are hunting. Your experiences are exactly the same as mine. I have hunted in these mountains for nearly 45 years, and thoughts on needing a brush gun quite true. I’ve killed eleven deer and have had a 100 yard shot yet. 100 foot shot has very rare. The last deer I knocked down was a 30 foot shot shot and that came on me so suddenly that he scared the crap out of me. I live in Asheville, NC. I was living out side of Hendersonville for many… Read more »

Clifffalling
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Clifffalling

Oh man… did I love that gun as a kid. More than a couple central Arkansas deer fell to it… and i must admit, a few squirrels too. (You know the type. The ones that are angry at you for wearing orange and sitting in one of their trees) Dont recall what happen to it, but i do seem to remember a firing pin issue on the early models, prone to breaking. Might want to check on that.
I later upgraded to the 1895. Guide model with factory porting. Loved that thing too…

Jimboinwv
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Jimboinwv

Mountaineers Always Free!

Brian J Norris
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Brian J Norris

True true.