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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been wondering about this for a long time now. There seems to be those who believe the Marlin is stronger due to it's solid top receiver but others (Paco Kelly comes immediately to mind) claim the 94 is stronger. I think his argument has to do with the high pressure cartridges that are chambered for the 94...and loaded that way from the factory, such as the 307. I'll buy either argument but unless they happen to be equally strong someone is wrong.

So what's your opinions? I lean towards the solid top Marlin theory myself but that my be more due to my preference for the Marlin's look and feel.
 

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They've both been chambered in .356 and .307, so it seems they can each handle 50K at least. Of course, the '94 had to be beefed up to do so. I think the difference is academic. They'll both do what they're supposed to.

IDShooter
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree with your line of reasoning but then you hear Paco say something like "by far the 444 Winchester Big Bore will sustain 50,000 psi over the Marlin’s 40,000 psi limits...." from "RELOADING THE 444 & 375...." and "I like the 444 Marlin cartridge. I like it in the Marlin leverguns...but the new Winchester in this chambering is on the Big Bore leveraction designed ‘94....and that means extra strength which means higher velocity with careful reloading" from " FAVORITE CAST LOADS...", and you start to wonder what the difference really is. Granted he's talking about the 444 but I think the action of the Big Bore is independent of chambering. And I doubt that the Marlin has had any structural changes made to it since he wrote some of this stuff.

There are other instances of quotes like this but I don't recall exactly what/where they are.
 

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From what I understand, Paco is not well known for having reliable lab data to back up what he says. He's a kind of "try it and see if it works" kind of guy, it seems. That's not a bad thing; I like guys who base opinions on their own experiences. But I would consider it opinion, and not fact.

And that's all I have to say about THAT!

ID
 

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The question that comes to mind is how or where does a lever action fail. The only blown up one I can think of is one that is in Ackley's books. It was a Winchester and the barrel split and blew out of the receiver. He said the rest of the action parts were fine and were reassembled in a new receiver.

In that case the barrel shank was apparently the weak link and it may be the reason that Winchester used a larger barrel shank on the Big Bores. Standard 94 has about a .805" dia. shank and the Big Bore has .875" dia. I don't remember what the Marlin shank measures and I suppose they also use a larger shank for the larger cases. Anyone know?

Another factor may be the amount of metal between the barrel hole and the magazine tube hole in the receiver. I have read that the Marlin has a wider spacing so that may give it the edge in this area.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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First, they're both remarkably strong guns, considering when the designs were made. Think about it... they (or their immediate predecessor) came out before the '98 Mauser (which is the basis for nearly all of our 'modern' bolt guns), in fact mostly before smokeless powder was commonly used, and yet hold up well to this day. Frankly I'd guess an older design, the 1886, is probably stronger than either of the two!

An argument could be made for one or the other.... but I sure would hate to live on the difference.

OK, now consider the issue of a gun failing. There are multiple ways that a gun can fail, and this quite often gets ignored in the debate over action strength. The big variable is, does the case fail and dump gas into the action before the barrel ruptures? And yes it does make a huge difference. Do a little research on the problems with brittle 1903 Springfield receivers and you'll find that some of the receivers were so brittle that they would shatter if tapped by a hammer, but would not fail when used with proof loads until a case ruptured and dumped gas back into the action! So there you have an example of two very different qualities to action strength.

There is a timely article on either the Precision Shooting or Accurate Rifle web site, I forget which one, that goes into a lot of detail on the Springfield receiver problems and is good reading for anyone interested in the subject.

Anyway.... picking up a single example of a gun failure isn't enough analysis, you have got to sort through multiple types of failures, at known pressure levels, before being able to draw a conclusion. Even then, you might find out that one design was more prone to fail if gas was dumped into the action, and yet the other design could have less strength in a different area, just as an example of the possibilities.

It is probably a question that can't be answered without a lot of lab analysis and expensive testing. We will probably never know. In fact, I bet the factories don't even know - why? Because they only have to ensure that the guns will pass proof loads, they don't have to discover the max pressure levels (in all conditions) in order to sell them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
There's no doubt that Paco pushes the limits of what the experts claim is sane. But the fact that he has done it and isn't afraid to report it lends some credence to his writings, esp in this day of lawyers. There isn't any evidence that what he says has been proven by an independent. However, he is much more of an expert on this sort of thing than I since he has at least done it (eg launch a 235 gr bullet at nearly 2400 fps in a BB 375).

You'll never get anyone, in an official capacity at least, from Winchester or Marlin admit that one or the other firearms is weaker. And if staying within the SAAMI specs it doesn't really matter as long as they withstand that spec with 100% reliability. This is just one of those things that a lot of people lean strongly one way or another on, and was wondering why?

I would, however, bet that the factories do know what their products will handle. But as you say, as long as they meet spec if doesn't matter to them and they don't have to prove anything else.
 

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Another consideration, besides which gun will blow up first (very unlikely in either case), is which gun will show excessive headspace and wear first. I honestly don't know. Old '94's are apparently notorious for developing excess headspace. I don't know this because I have measured a bunch, I have simply read it a number of times, so take that for what it's worth. Also, the information I've read referred specifically to pre-war '94's, so I don't know how applicable it is to modern guns.

I'd love to have the time and money to test this stuff for you!
But I'm just a po' Idaho boy!

IDShooter
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I agree...it would be fun to have the time and cash to experiment with this. Who knows, maybe you'd end up with Paco loads before things got ugly. I'm sure you're like me though, my guns are too important to me to stress to that degree just to answer this question. A few extra fps isn't worth the worry anyway.

I suspect that the steels used in these rifles are comparable in strength, at least in recent production arms, so the answer probably lies in the lockup mechanism strength. But as Trailblazer points out there are other components that could fail as well.

Trying to get a real answer to this question is probably fruitless. It just bothers me a little to read stuff written by someone with Paco's reputation making statements like this, especially since I have also read the reverse opinion from other writers ... just don't recall who they were. I expected a "270 vs 30-06" debate on this topic but apparently nobody around here is all that convinced that one is superior to the other in strength, or at least not enough to try making a point.

No matter, you've got to love these rifles!
 

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Hello Fellas. With my limited experience, I agree with you on the point that it makes little difference as to which action is stronger...both do their job as intended. I am a Winchester owner so I am probably biased in putting out these tidbits, but just to liven the debate....here goes.

Slim Iorg recently did a rechamber of both a Winchester 94 and Marlin 336 from standard 30/30 to 30/30 Ackley Improved. Pretty sure I've got that right. In reaming out the chambers, he noted that the Winchester was much harder to ream out. He had a good bit more difficulty cutting the steel from the 94. The steel in the 94 came out really fine and the Marlin was more coarse. So, is the Winchester Steel used in the barrel harder? I know my Winchester Big Bore has a Chrome Moly Barrel so perhaps this has something to do with hardness factor...not sure if it is used in standard 94's. Also, slight differences in chamber sizes might account for some of the difficulty in reaming. But, we are talking about action strength here so I'll drop that.

I am fairly sure that the Winchester action in the Big Bore is fairly stout(no doubt the Marlin is on equal footing here based on the cartridges it is chambered for).. I have read that the action of the Big Bore 94 was heat treated to be extremely hard, and the thickened receiver walls make it stronger still. From an uneducated point of view(I have never owned a Marlin and have only glanced at the action lockup), I like the idea of a solid bar of steel covering the entire rear of the bolt, as is the case with the 94, rather than a portion of it. It makes sense that it would be as strong, or stronger than the 336. I could be wrong on this, but my mind thinks it so. But, never heard about or saw either action fail, even in older guns. So, perhaps unless you are hot rodding it makes little difference. As long as the Marlin design can fire a round like the 450, I'd say it's strong enough!

Just my two cents. :rolleyes:
 

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Chris,
You remember correctly about what we "felt" as we re-chambered our rilfes. Within the manufacturers design limits certainly both the Marlin and Winchester are adequatly strong. Real Guns web site has an interesting and informative discussion on the strength of the Marlin action. It is the best place to start reading. There is a picture of a recent manufacture Marlin 335 that failed posted somewhere. I'll look for it and post a link.
With the .30-30AI we have found that the Winchester will handle slightly higher pressure. We believe this is due to the locking of the bolt. the bolt on the Winchester is completly covered where the Marlins lock bolt eneters a notch in the round bolt. I want to say here that within our pressure ring stop point of .422" for the .30-30AI both the Marlin 336 and the Winchester M-94AE seemed exactly equal. If you load an Improved cartridge to the point that you experiance sticky extraction you are way over where you should be pressure wise.
 

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2400fps+ in BB375 Win

Bartmasterson;

I find it impossible that Paco did what he claims in a Win M94 or Marlin M336(2400fps+ with 235gr).If I understood your post correctly,at which i assumed BB375Win meant Win Big Bore as the 375Win is not a Big Bore.
Why do i say this? Because after many years of handloading I've gotten just over 2300fps with 235gr Speer.That was with the help of far superior rifles to the Win M94 and Marlin M336.The Ruger #3 and Savage M99A.

To get those velocities, I got about 2325fps.

I exceeded COL that the Win M94 or Marlin M336 can accept 2.56.

I exceeded the pressures that the Win M94 or Marlin M336 can handle 52,000cup.

I exceeded the barrel length of the Win M94 or Marlin M336 by 2inches,for a 50fps+ increase in velocity.

I used spitzer bullets,which the Marlin and Winchester can not.

I not only find him to be a little far fetched in his story telling.But i beleive him to be dangerous to himself and surely to others that listen to him.Enforcer
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Easy partner!

Nobody is saying these numbers are golden, nor do I hear anyone talk about trying to match them. Just to clear this up let me quote Paco "This gives both my rifles just under 2400 fps and 3000+ lbs. of energy! " . Sorry if I misled you on the 2400+ fps ... that was from memory. If you want to read the whole thing go to sixgunner.com/backissues and look for the 375 Win article(s). Anyone who knows the 375 Win should at least read his stuff. He pushes the envelope for sure but considering some of the company over on that site I'd say that if he says it, he's done it...and isn't afraid to tell others. I don't know the man personally so won't defend him any further.

As for the Savage 99 and Ruger #3 being far superior to the 94 and 336, and what defines a Big Bore, that's all pretty much a personal thing. I admire your battery of 375's but the 94 and 336 have their advantages as well, if not in ballistic potential.
 

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Big Bore

I've always consider 40 caliber and above big bore,and thought most did the same.

As far as the Ruger and Savage being far superior to Win M94 and Marlin M336.I meant it from a ballistic stand point.

Heres why again.

Being able to exceed COL without getting in to rifling up to 2.90.

Longer barrels for velocity and energy gain,22in verus 20in.

Spitzer bullets for superior ballistics(ie velocity,energy) and accuracy down range.

Ability to stand 60,000psi+,beyond the reach of the Winchester or Marlin.

I have read many articles written by him and about him.I'm sure I've read the article you speak of.I'm also sure he has done what he says.But many people have spoke against him and his loading practices,as some on this post alerted you to.I would not say I have not picked up some info from him in the past.But I usally take about 50% as fact and the other 50% as BS or at the very least unwise.

But point taken as he has added his mark to the hot loaded handbook for handloading.So he must know a little something!

Enforcer
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Let's refrain from debating Paco's reloading advice (again) - been there, done that, do a search if you want to experience the debate without the trouble of creating new posts, LOL.

Suffice to say, the wise reloader always carefully works up to new loads, no matter the source. Ultimately, we're all responsible for the ammo we create.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
This thread was never intended to be a debate of Paco's loading suggestions or techniques. I only quoted him as an example of someone, of at least some note in this business, who claims the BB 94 being superior to the Marlin 336 action. As I said, there are others who claim the opposite...I just don't feel like digging up their names too...'cause I forgot them. Anyone who follows the suggestions of anyone else when it comes to reloading data is on their own and should consult reputable sources before proceeding. I DO NOT endorse his.

As for the topic at hand, it likely boils down to whether the beefed up BB receiver side panels with the full coverage afforded by it's locking bolt can withstand higher pressures than the Marlin's more rigid receiver with it's less engaging locking bolt.

In summary it doesn't really matter as I hope we will all be observing established pressure maximums. I thought there might be some fiercely loyal arguments one way or the other around here but I guess not.

Thanks for your opinions.
 

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As IDshooter said early-on, both rifles have been chambered for the very same cartridges. To debate the strength of one over the other is, I believe, an academic waste of time. Far more important to compare them for feel, trigger action, esthetics, etc.

And out of deference to my buddy Mike, I won't add my two cents on Francis Kelly...

;)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I don't think it's a waste of time to discuss otherwise I wouldn't have started the thread in the first place. Surely I can't be the only one around here who's wondered about this before.
 

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Bart,

While it may be a good idea to let this htread go away... I wanted to post these two links on it.

The first is to Realguns.com take a close look at the article on Sammi specs.

http://64.4.22.250/cgi-bin/linkrd?_lang=EN&lah=82ebb1f332df6f4ffb210e966385e814&lat=1049136033&hm___action=http://www.realguns.com/Commentary/comar52.htm


The second is to a thread on the Marlin board about a reloading accident. The originator had a Marlin come apart in his with and overload due to a powder mix up. The results would not have differed much if the rifle had been a Winchester. He has taken his pictures down unfortunalty but they were very interesting. Quite similar to the Pictures of the Winchester in Vol I of Ackley's book.


http://www.marlinfirearms.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/003252.html

I hope these links work, I am not a computer kind of guy...

The differences in lock up between the Marlin 336, Winchester M-94, and the Winchester 1886 /1892 are very interesting. Considering the age of these designs they have certainly stood the test of time!
 
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