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About to purchase my first lever action rifle. I own several bolt and auto rifles, but the 1894C has caught my eye. Have read and heard mostly positive comments regarding the rifle. But, some have questioned the accuracy in regards to the magazine tub touching the barrel or the ring is too tight, etc. This would be a new gun and used mostly for target practice fun. I need your opinions, pro or con.
 

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Well, I wouldn't choose it for bench rest competition, but for an all around fun gun it is hard to beat the 1894C. Compact and easy to carry, it leaps to the shoulder and points like your finger. The .357 magnum cartridge is plenty cheap, mild enough to shoot all day and plenty of smack for small game. Lot's of folks will hunt deer with them too, but it is just a trifle light to my way of thinking. To each his own. As for accuracy, my best handloads get 1.75 inch 5 shot groups at 50 yards using an elbows rest on a bench, the factory bead and blade sights and my tired old eyes. No reason to believe a better shot couldn't improve on that.

Get it. You won't be sorry.
 

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Pressure Point

I have a 1895GS in .45-70 that was not very accurate from new. First problem was the rear sight would move in the dovetail. This was with factory loads. Correcting this made some improvement. I then heard about the tube pressure problem. Took it apart and found that the relaxed postion of the tube was 1.25 inches from the barrel at the front end of the tube. It required a fair bit of compression to bring to it's final postion. The underside of the barrel had already been relieved at the factory. I filed the top surface of the tube from about four inches forward of the back end all the way to the back end. Right at the back end of the tube about .007" of material was removed, tapering to none at 4". This produced a 3/8 stand off in the relaxed position. Very little squeeze required to reassemble. Next trip to the range produced a ragged five shot single hole at 50yds. with the factory open sights and factory 350 gr RN jacket. I am now having trouble leaving a new 1894 Marlin on the rack at the local gun shop.
 

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I cannot comment on the Marlin, but I have a Winchester trapper in .357 and love it.

It is just plain fun to shoot, from full house magnum loads down to .38 special plinkers.

Handloads, factory, cheap imported ammo - it will feed just about anything and doesn't kick much (with .38s it kicks like a .22).
 

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A.J.

Had an 1894 .44 with the micro-groove barrel. With jacketed or extremely hard cast bullets it would shoot better than many bolt guns, usually 1 1/4" or less for 3-5 shot groups at 100 yds. Cant say this was the norm, but I am sure sorry I sold it years ago.

The Marlins are just like any other guns, some shoot and others can't be made to. Usually most problems are easy to solve.

If I were in the market for a .357 rifle, this one would be my first choice.
 

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Thanks guys. The check is in the mail to the dealer.
 

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First I think this is a FUN GUN to play around with at the range or Cowboy type shoots. I don't recommend it for deer hunting unless your using hard cast bullets. Yes, they can all be made to shoot by doing this or that to the rifle and have the patients to wait on the results. I have a 444 Marlin that would only shoot 4.5 inch groups at 80 yards with 2 different types of factory loads. It now shoots less than 1.2 inches from the bench using hard cast bullets. This is my woods deer gun and still lets me reach out across some of the fields I hunt.
 

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I jut bought one of those yesterday and took it to the range. I fired about 200 rounds of .38 special through it. i was a little disappointed that it was not more powerful. i guess i need to try the .357 in it. it was great fun to shoot, and i imagine it will be even more so one the springs loosen up and it's easier to load and work the lever. it's light, easy to shot and has a great feel to it. i bought the ported version, so it has almost no muzzle climb, but it does shoot out smoke up and to either side of the muzzle when firing. beware if you're not the one shooting it.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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.38's won't gain much speed in the rifle, if any. Fun to shoot though.

.357's ought to get a good 300fps increase, more or less, from the rifle as compared to a typical revolver. Some loads more, some less.

Hunting - it's the bullet not the gun. A good WFN (Wide Flat Nose - see www.beartoothbullets.com for pictures of various bullet styles) will make a pretty good wound channel out of a .357 revolver. I've shot a few small deer, trust me, you wouldn't want to get hit with one. What the rifle does is add range - at the point where your rifle bullet loses 300fps downrange, then it's equivalent to a bullet leaving the muzzle of a .357 revolver. Make sense?

Don't use JHPs for hunting from the rifle, they'll most likely blow to pieces. Use hard cast, or perhaps the Win - Nosler Partition handgun bullet. Speer Gold Dots are supposed to hold together well, but I haven't shot any game with them.

Gas-check bullets help with accuracy (as compared to plain based lead bullets) when velocities go up, but that's true with any gun/bullet, not just Marlins and not just .357s.

Tinkering around with cast bullets in rifles isn't for the impatient. Either you enjoy it and the chase is it's own reward, or stick with jacketed for simplicity of load development.
 

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These are the sort of speed differences I see in my 4 inch 686 vs. my 18.5 inch 1894C:

158 grain cast RNFP over 10.5 Blue Dot, 1063/1489

180 grain cast TC over 14.9 Lil' Gun, 1137/1703

158 grain Hornady FP/XTP over 18 Lil' Gun, 1203/1867

125 grain SJHP over 18.5 H110, 1161/1970.
 

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I'm a former benchrester and I agree that my Marlin 94C in .357 won't take any matches but it sure is fun to shoot. I DO NOT recommend .357 Blazer in it: I had a doggone aluminum case bend on me trying to get it thru the loading port. Had to disassemble the gun around a live bent round. I have noticed that some of my warmer cast bullet .38 loads (in the +P range) do lead quite a bit so I've gone to copper lated bullets. Overall I'm quite happy. I did replace the orig sights with Williams Firesites - I shoot mostly indoors so I can't decide yet if they helped a lot.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Wow, thos Lil'Gun loads really pick up steam in a rifle!

Contrast that with a post on another thread where the shooter was only picking up about 200fps with Alliant 2400.

Just goes to show, you have to shoot them to find out.
 

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A great little gun. It is accurate and fun. Mine doesn't like lead bullets, especially SWCs, but shoots jacketed and semi-jacketed bullets all day long without a hitch. Someone told me once that the micro-groove rifling was the reason for that, I don't know if that is true or not. The SWCs wont feed at all, RN and RNFP's feed well, but just aren't as accurate as the jacketed bullets. I also added a Williams peep sight to my rifle, which I really like.
 

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I've used one of the 1894C carbines for years.... have stacked up more than a couple truckloads of deer using it for agricultural depredation work. Great tool for lots of purposes.

Addressing the cast bullet myth in Micro-Groove barrels, bullet diameter, hardness and lube are the keys. Best accuracy most of our customers report are using cast bullets. Sizing for the Micro-Groove barrels is best when .359" to fill the slightly oversize Marlin bores. Hardness of BHN 20+ for hotter loads and best accuracy and a good high quality lube, not just some red wax dumped into the lube grooves.

Here are a couple of loads that typically shoot just ragged holes at 50-70 yards, even with factory sights.

For .38 Spcl loads:

BTB .359"-160g FNBB/6.2g AA#5/WSPP/Any Brass/Firm Crimp/1150-1175 fps out of the carbine.

For .357 Loads:

BTB .359"-185f FNGC/16.0g H110/WSPP/Rem or Starline Brass/1780-1820 fps out of the carbine.

The above listed .357 load has accounted for an incredible number of one-shot kills on everything from agricultural depredation kills on deer, to Florida Aligators, Texas Hogs and Idaho elk. It's the meanest teeth ever put through a .357 mag carbine. All with sane pressures, and surgical precision accuracy.

Hope this helps.

God Bless,

Marshall
 
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