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Which .444?

2685 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Jim Badham
After a few years without anything approaching big bore status, I am once again intrigued with using a large bore rifle for hunting.  My departed youth led me down the path of high velocity, "long range" rifles.  Then I realized I hadn't shot a game animal at over 200 yards in years.  This year, I'll be getting a .444 again to replace the old Marlin that was foolishly sold.  Which one do you recommend?  The Marlin 444 Outfitter or the Winchester?  The load results with your 330 grain bullets out of the Outfitter are impressive to say the least.  Any rifle preferences you'd care to share?  Thanks, Ed.
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My vote goes to the Outfitter. I like the straight stock better than the Winchesters pistol grip, and it already comes ported! Plus it is nice and short (I like to hunt in really thick stuff) and mine was dead on right out of the box. Just my &#36.02.

Ray C.
I second the notion about the Marlin Outfitter. I have both the Guide Gun in 45-70 and the Outfitter in .444 and they are wonderful guns. Winchesters are O.K. but the Marlin is much better. You can't go wrong with any Marlin. If you have a .44 caliber handgun they make a great companion piece. Good Luck and God Bless

The triple 4 is a very good hunting caliber. I had the opportunity to pick up one of the early saddlestocked ones with the 24 inch barrel back in the late sixties. Over the years it has served me well.  A couple of my old hunting partners picked themselves up the same gun, only a later model which had the pistol grip stock and sported a 22 inch tube. Back then you were pretty limited  in the reloading department, the 240 grain soft point being the only bullet available. The advent of Hornadys 265 grainer was a leap forward for the caliber. Today their are a vast assortment of bullets that are on the market which make the 444 shine. I've never felt hindered by the length of by barrel in the woods, it has always been easy to tote around. Mine sports a lyman peep sight and the added barrel length adds to the sighting radius that makes those longer shots seem easier.  As to which rifle I'd choose, I guess I'd stay with my Marlin model, although I've seen and handled the Winchesters and find them very appealable. I'am not sure if the Marlins still come with the Micro Groove barrel, but I'am sure that the Winchesters is cut rifleing. I believe that the cut rifleing would be a plus when considering cast bullets. Which ever one you choose I'm sure the you will find yourself grabbing it first when you head for the woods. Have fun.
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Just like Chris, we have both the Guide Gun (mine) and the Outfitter (my son's) and we like them a lot. They are easy to carry, keep factory loads in a 2" circle at 100 yds. (I know that isn't great, but we haven't really invested any effort into accuracy yet), and as someone else pointed out, they are already ported, the fit and finish is very good. My Guide Gun wouldn't feed when I first got it. I called the factory, then sent it back. They worked on 3 or 4 things in the 2 days they had it, and sent it back within the week. It feeds and works like magic now. I am thinking of buying a couple of more Marlins, probably a .22 and a .44 in the next couple of years.

Big Ed,

I wholeheartedly agree with the other replys to your message. The Marlin in either standard or Outfitter guise is a superior firearm to the Winchester 94BB.

My own Outfitter is capable of 1" three-shot groups at 50 yards with the factory barrel sights. I haven't done it yet, since we're into the last month of goose season, but will add a Lyman tang or receiver sight to greatly increase accuracy beyond 50 paces. My home state of Pennsylvania will have a limited elk hunt this November and this will be my arm of choice if fortunate enough to draw a tag.

I personally like the short overall length, although as one respondent said the standard 24" rifle isn't difficult to wield either. I had a .45-70 1895S so I know that's true. It's just that the Outfitter is a bit handier. I could do without the porting, especially the holes pointing to either side. I don't see much use for them except annoying those beside you on the firing line.
Big Ed,

We had a thread on the Marlin vs. Winchester back in November on our old forum.   I went back and copied a couple of posts that I think you might find interesting.   They are copied exactly as they were originally posted.  The dates are included in case you want to go to that thread.  

God Bless,

Marshall S.
Re: Marlin or Winchester
Mon Nov 27 09:42:50 2000


Yes, you are correct in that I do have a preference for the Marlin lever guns! It's not a reflection on the Winchester quality or serviceability... it's just my personal bias.

I prefer the simplicity of the Marlin action, and the ease of field stripping... one screw, and the bolt comes out for cleaning. Try that with a Winchester!

Also, I've never had a Marlin that didn't shoot well! Not one! I've had several Winchesters that were marginal performers at best, but perhaps that is because I really wasn't motivated to MAKE them shoot.

Lastly, and probably the only substantial reason beyond preference and bias, is that the stock design of the Marlin transfers recoil differently than the Winchester, making them more pleasant to shoot when pumping heavy loads through these light little carbines.

For the .444 and a light load:

15.0g Unique/Any Lg Rifle Primer/240g WFNPB or 250g LFNGC sized to .432" This load is very pleasant to shoot, and generates about 1300 fps. Also very accurate, except the PB bullets don't perform well in Ported Barrels, the GC bullets do great!

Forgive my "justification of opinion". Both guns are well designed and manufactured pieces of equipment... I just have a very biased preference!

God Bless,


James Gates-ex Winchester Man
My two cents!
Mon Nov 27 13:34:21 2000

Marshall is correct on all his thoughts on the Winchester vs. Marlin lever guns. I might add this.. the Winchester brings up the next cartridge on the final snap of the lever DOWN and the Marlin on the lever up stroke...much, much smoother.The Marlin bolts are supported much better in the receiver...again much smoother. It is still easier to mount scopes! The Marlin is still machined from a solid block of steel, the Wincesters are CAST. For every Winchester/U,S.Repeating Arms lever gun shipped today, Marlin ships three. Wichesters rattle so much they have been called "Chicken Callers"! The return rate on Winchesters after 1964 were, are are, higher than Marlin.
All in All...The Marlin is Better. I say this after spending many, many years with Winchester-Western.
Best Regards from Old Town Hammock, Florida....James Gates
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Mr. Stanton, thanks a bunch for finding the old posts for me.  It looks like there's an Outfitter coming as soon as I get permission.  God bless.  Ed
To my fellow big-bore lever fans-another 2 cents on Marlin vs. Win.  I've enjoyed everyones imput greatly and in that I've owned now both a Mar.'95SS in 45/70 and Win.94 Timber Carbine in 444 can share a few observations.  First, the Win. TC.  I must admit I did some modifications to the Win.- after reading in Gun Tests about the Marlin Alaskan Co-Pilot of Wild West Guns modification- ie.  trigger relocated and lightened, fiber-optic front sight with Ashley ghost ring rear, Pachmyer Decelerator pad and a Burris 2-7x w/Wayne quick detachable rings mounted on a steel mount forward the receiver- Scout style.  Using Marshall's great 330gr. DCGGC and the recommended load of H335, I was abtaining an aver. of 2020fps. from the 17.5" bbl. and it was shooting 5 shots into 15/16" @ 50yds. consistently.  In saturated phonebook penetration tests, the load was averaging 23" with some bullet deformation but excellent weight retention-95%+.  Can't wait to try the Re7 to check bullet integrity at close range for the 'dangerous' stuff!  With out scope, gun weighs 6lbs./ with scope-7lbs.13oz.  For me, it's surprisingly pleasant to shoot-50+ full bore rds.without flinching at bench- and carry all day with the hand wrapped around the receiver.  Anyway, only downside I find so far(300rds.+) is the rifling twist rate-1:38 and the fact it has to be cleaned from the muzzle end.  Marlin, on the other hand, with the removal of 4 parts is ready to clean!  Now that they've gone back to the Ballard type rifling, it's a real tack-driver with cast or jacketed bullets for a lever gun.  Personally, I'm going to have Wild West modify the Marlin to 457 Mag. with the features of the Win.TC.  Conclusion:  Some of us like the looks of the backside of a silver dollar better than the front- thing is:  Both sides can get you what you want!  Best Wishes,  Jim (H&H- Hard & Heavy)    
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Jim, I have a couple of questions about your TimberCarbine.

What type of scout base is that? I called Ashley the other day and no luck. Who do I need to call? I don't want to sacrifice the GR sights but was to plop a scope in it for load development

Also did the Pachmyer Decelerator  make much of a difference? [email protected]+ gets your attention from the short barrel (and jacketed 400s  weren't far behind recoil wise be tumbled).



Initially, the gunsmith started with a Weaver aluminum base and taper-fitted it to the barrel.  The aluminum couldn't stand up to the recoil I was subjecting it to so I had to have another one custom made out of steel.  I have absolutely no problem with it!  After all the trouble and expense, I found out at: that they make a Scout mount for mounting a 'LER' scope for both the Marlin and Winchester forward of the receiver.  (also, they make a fantastic Ghost Ring for both rifles!)    

The Pach. Decelerator pad has quite a reputation for taming recoil.  It's been used on everything- Wild West uses it on all their custom rifles such as their 50 Alaskan (fires a 450 gr. jacketed Bearclaw bullet @ 2050fps from a modified Marlin for 4200 ft.lbs.!)          

Best Wishes,

P.S.  Cal, when I get the rifle back, I'll send you a better picture.
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