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Browning 1886 Carbine or Marlin 1885?

17992 Views 23 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  biggun
O'kay fellow sportsmen, here we go. Which of the following two rifles would you rather have and why: Browning 1886 carbine in 45-70 or the Marlin 1885 (Guide Gun or Sporter) in 45-70? What is your opinion about their general accuracy, handling quality, ability to handle stiff loads, and ability to cycle loads with longer bullets.

Kindest Regards,
Timberwolf :eek:
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Timberwolf, I have one of Browning's rerun of a Winchester 1886 SRC in 45-70. It weighs 7.2 pounds and I like how it balances. Like you I wanted a 45-70 lever action and I narrowed my dicision down to the 1886 carbine and Marlin's 1995. I chose the 1886 for the following reasons: It has a full length magazine and can hold twice as many rounds, I liked the slimmer forearm of the 1886, the action is long enough that I could rechamber it to 45-90 for more power and I have always prefered the cosmetic looks of Winchesters. The down side was 1886's cost almost 2X as much and alittle more is involved in putting an aperture sight on it. Oh well, this is my dream rifle and I decided the extra cost I earned. Now the fun part. I put an Ashley aperture on the receiver right behind the bolt lugs, it looks good and just seems to blend into the receiver. Because of the stout recoil from heavy reloads I found it imperative to replace the original butt stock, you know the one with that curved hard steel butt plate. My perception is only a masochist would want to shoot this rifle with that stock under full power loads. Maybe someone feels that I just need a good higher level of testosterone. Oh well, call me sissy but I actually enjoy shooting my rifle now! The load I have settled on is Beartooth's 405 gr. cast at .460 diameter behind 58gr. of H322 and CCI's 250 primer. This gives 2055 fps and a 3 shot cloverleaf, all touching, at 50 yards. At 100 yards the groups open up to 3-31/2 inches, probably more because of my eyes than the rifle. I had shot several rounds with 59gr. of H322 for over 2100 fps but accuracy started to drop off. There were no signs of high pressure with these loads IN MY GUN. After 3 rounds through the same cases my primer pockets are still tight although I did have to trim my cases back after the first loading. I have decided that there is no need for me to rechamber my rifle to 45-90 as I have all the power and then some that I could ever need or handle. With 8 rounds of these loads and the accuracy I'm getting I fear not in the wilds! I must mention that there are several bullets made for Marlin's 1995 that will not chamber as well in the 1886, Cast Performances 440 gr. is one of them. I can live with what I got, besides I just received Marshal's new 425gr. slug the other day and will start playing with it. Marshal says they will chamber in the 1886 and I have absolutely no reason to doubt him. Hey, this project has been alot of fun and I have what I always wanted and then some. Hope this helps.
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Thanks DocRob. If you don't mind, I would like to know what kind of butt stock you put on your rifle? Was the installation difficult, and what type of recoil pad do you have?

Happy holidays,
Timberwolf :)
Timberwolf, I ordered the butt stock from the Great American Gunstock Company ( I had them install a Pachymayr decelerator on it and had the length of pull increased from the factory original 13 inches to 13.5 inches. The stock was 100% inletted and about 98% finished. I believe the total cost for a select plain piece of wood was $140.00 It took me a few hours of sanding to get to where I wanted it. I also glass bedded the tang areas with some acraglas gel. I added some brown dye and some wood dust from sanding. This made the glass bedding job pretty much unnoticable. I used Casey Birchwood's Tru oil to finish it. I was extremely pleased with the stock from Great American Gunstock. I am a budding neophyte when it comes to gun smithing and stock work so most anybody else can do the same work in twice the time.
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Beyond the question of increased cost, I personally feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with buying a gun manufactured in a country like Japan that is actively and vocally fighting in the UN for a worldwide ban on privately owned firearms.
Given the criteria you list, I think they're a wash. The differences between those 2 rifles are in areas different from what you list as important.

If you're more sentimental, the Brownchester is nice, and well finished, too, if not totally authentic. The Marlin is more the hunting machine (IMHO) because of the number and the ease adding sights, tuning kits and gadgets available.

If you lay the 2 side by side on the counter, you'll figure out whether your heart or brain win out.

I had the same question with a 1892 vs. 1894; I chose the 92 (an excellent carbine), but I still have an itch for the Marlin. I know if I chose the Marlin, I'd still want the Brownchester. Very annoying.


- Charlie
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I have a Marlin 1895 I bought new in 1978.
One thing to consider: should you slip and fall during hunting, and put a dent in the stock, you'll wince at doing that to the Marlin.
But you'll AGONIZE doing that to a Winchester or Browning.
The Marlin is made for hunting. The Winchester is made for collecting, showing off (not necessarily a bad thing) and careful hunting, in my opinion.
For hunting, I'll take the Marlin. For showing up at the range to cultivate "gee whiz" ... I'll take the Winchester.
Good points fellows...keep um comin'!

Timberwolf ;)
Timberwolf, I go along with Gatofeo on the Marlin.
Iam on my 4th 1895, the previous 3 were old style without the crossbolt safty and the Mirco Grove bbl. I have one of the new ones with the crossbolt safty and ballard rifleing. The new Marlin is much friendlyer towards cast bullets than the old ones. I had mine ported and added an old shotgun recoil pad I had (about 1" thick) and added the Ashley ghost ring sights. If iam out hunting or shooting and get a scratch or ding in it, then it happens. My boss has 2 of the new japanchesters (1886s)with matching serial numbers, one is a take down. These were a anniversary gift from his wife. He got one and had to wait on a list for a year to get the other. He bought brass and bullets for them and I wound up with the brass and bullets because he dint want to take a chance on scratching his guns. He now keeps them on display in the shop. He has about $2500.00 in display guns. If I buy a gun Iam gonna shoot it:p.
Price is another factor for the marlin over the Winchester. Which ever you decide on enjoy shooting it. :D

Gun Runner
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There are some very interesting posts on this subject. I don't understand the controversy over hunting with Winchester '86s. I own several and HUNT with them all. Some have been dropped, banged up by horses, etc. These guns were made to be used, not hung on a wall. If I owned a MINT condition original 1886, it would most likely not be used. These rifles are very rare and command 5 and 6 figure prices. The average good condition shooter guns are very available at reasonable cost. I guess that reasonable for some is unreasonable to others. The '86 I bought last year is an 1890 vintage 38-56WCF with perfect bore, good average wood, and about 60% finish on the metal. At $850. it was a good buy. Two hogs have fallen to it, so far.
I do not own any Marlins, so have no comparison to make. Marlin has an excellent reputation of producing extremely accurate and durable products. They are quite a bit less expensive than the Miroku 1886s, too. I don't know why USRA placed such a big tag on their guns. I snagged one when they first came out a couple of years ago. It cost me a lot less than the suggested retail price, though. It is a nicely made gun, but definitely not a collectors item. These are also made to shoot, not grace a wall. They have a super smooth action and can handle the heaviest loads with ease. It's too bad that my shoulder can't do the same.
Best regards to all, Mike
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Yah. I hunt my '92, too. People collect Brownchesters (dunno why -- they're jap replicas.), They hold their value because they are well designed (JMB) and made I suppose, but they won't appreciate like a 'real' Winchester. I got it because it's a truly beautiful design and I don't feel uncomfortable modifying a replica.

Anyway, I'll be stripping the plastic coating off of mine to get to the wood sometime this winter. I also have an AO peep to tap on.
I've never understood the reasoning behind not hunting with a gun because it has good wood on it. Most of my rifles have exceptionally fine pieces of timber on them and do get used. I'd much rather have a nice piece of walnut on my rifle than I had beech. It is a hunting rifle, use it for what it is. Admire the wood, but hunt with it.

I also disagree the Japanese made Winchester. The Miroku made Winchester's are excellent firearms. I do believe the 1895 Miroku made Winchester I have is one of the highest quality production firearms made right now. As bad as I hate to admit, Miroku went to great pains to ensure a butter smooth action and excellent wood to metal fit, much better than Ruger is detailing their No.1's these days. We have no trade embargo with Japan, as a matter of fact, many U.S. businesses exist to export their products to Japan. It was the Japanese that brought Deming, Juran and Crosby's Quality Management methods to the forefront, ensuring customer satisfaction above the bottom line of the company. Point being, why buy the hideous cross-bolted safety Winchesters that were being shoved down our throat, or the key locking Remington's when they have competitors out there (our allies) that are producing exactly what we want without compromise? If you buy American products faithfully, the American companies have no reason to continually improve. It is only through competition that advancement occurs. Right now, Ruger, Remington and Winchester are starting to see encroachment onto their turf by CZ, Beretta, Miroku, and other high quality manufacturers, and hopefully we will start getting what we, as customers, are asking for, instead of what is being forced on us by the manufacturers.
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Charlie, is that AO a bolt mounted peep? Mine has a Williams FP that seems to work just fine. There's an old Winchester bolt peep in somewhere in my boxes of gun stuff that could also be on the Miroku. I do agree, Alyeska, that it is a fine piece of machinery that I'm darned pyoud to own. 'Sides, it gives the 1912 vintage 45-70 LW a break.
Timberwolf, I have owned a Marlin 1895 LTD-IV for several years. The LTD series are special runs made up for Davidson's Distributors in Arizona and are a little nicer than the average Marlin. My gun looks just like a Marlin Cowboy version, except mine has a 24" barrel instead of the standard 26" barrel. I prefer the ballard style rifling that the LTD series uses, as I only load lead bullets and I didn't want Microgroove rifling. I don't consider mine a "collectors gun" in spite of the limited run and it is hunted with and has been modified. I added a Lyman 66LA receiver sight and a Williams .375 height, "wide" width, 1/16" gold bead front sight (Brownells #962-161-372) - fits barrel slot. I changed the front sight because the factory supplied sight was too high for the receiver sight and the bead was too large (covered my targets at 100 yards.) I am very pleased with the rifle now, the Marlin is light enough for comfortable carrying, but recoil is manageable for hunting. Odessa
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Odessa, thanks for your post. Do you have any idea how much the Marlin 45-70 Limited editions are going for on the used market? Say one that's 80-95 per cent.

Timberwolf :cool:
Timberwolf, I have not seen any for sale below about 98/99% condition - they just haven't been out that long to be hard used and for sale too frequently. Davidison's started this series about six years ago, with a different version coming out each year in a "1 of 1000" edition. I guess some are being kept as collector items and not being shot, but I am sure others are being used for hunting and shooting like mine. They are just so nice that I would be hard pressed to trade mine off. I saw an LTD-II at Davi's Guns in Raleigh NC about three months ago, it was a NIB consignment gun and I believe they where asking $600.00 for it. The LTD-II had a checkered semi-pistol grip stock, and a half round/half octagon barrel (about like the LTD-V that is out right now). I saw a new LTD-V at a gunshop in Spring Lake NC (Ft. Bragg area) about two months ago, it was new and I believe they where asking $595.00 for it. The price for the LTD series seems to be about the same as for the current M1895 Cowboy Model. Another shop in this area (Ed's Gunshop in Vass NC) usually keeps some LTD's in stock and is usually about the best price at the gunshows. Odessa
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mike said:
Charlie, is that AO a bolt mounted peep? Mine has a Williams FP that seems to work just fine. There's an old Winchester bolt peep in somewhere in my boxes of gun stuff that could also be on the Miroku.
I haven't mounted it, yet. It's the same as the one for the '94 (the new of which are tapped up there for these things). Since the bolt is different on the 92 (it's like the 86), I think the AO goes on top of the small receiver flats either side of the bolt and aft of the locking bolt. It may also fit ahead of the locking bolt, but it's getting farther from the eyes there. A Williams might be easier to mount, though I think I'd have to drill and tap for that, too.
MARLIN all the way

O'kay fellow sportsmen, here we go. Which of the following two rifles would you rather have and why: Browning 1886 carbine in 45-70 or the Marlin 1885 (Guide Gun or Sporter) in 45-70? What is your opinion about their general accuracy, handling quality, ability to handle stiff loads, and ability to cycle loads with longer bullets.

Kindest Regards,
Timberwolf :eek:[/QUOTE
I have a marlin 1885 ss and it has incredible open sight accuracy......I can easily hit 2" tragets at 100 meters. The Marlin is a excellent made rifle...good luck
O'kay fellow sportsmen, here we go. Which of the following two rifles would you rather have and why: Browning 1886 carbine in 45-70 or the Marlin 1885 (Guide Gun or Sporter) in 45-70? What is your opinion about their general accuracy, handling quality, ability to handle stiff loads, and ability to cycle loads with longer bullets.

Kindest Regards,
Timberwolf :eek:
I own USRAC/Winchester 1886 rifle, Browning M71 carbine, and Marlin 1895 GS. Unless you prefer stainless steel major parts to chrome molybdenum steels, the correct answer is a question: Which weighs more, five pound of feathers or five pounds of lead?

I find my Browning High Grade M71 to be smoother to cycle off-the-shelf than the other two. I suspect the Browning's initial difference to be a reflection of the price difference -- more money invested in fitting and finishing the action.
I had a Marlin 1895SS (pistol grip) that I traded for an A.H. Fox 20 gauge. Love the Fox but want to get another 45-70. I agree that it was a little rough out of the box but after a Kick-EZE pad and AO sights it was a fine rifle. I don't like the guide guns because of the shorter barrels. Not a tackdriver but an accurate hunting rifle and it stopped anything that I shot. I went Marlin partly because of price and was not disappointed.
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