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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Marlin 1894 Rifle Video Summary:
About 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.