I’ve never liked lever action rifles. The most common types have a rear locking lug on the bolt which is lifted up by the lever. There are way more moving parts and more room for slop than my favourite action, the bolt action. I chose a H&R Buffalo Classic as my .45-70 rifle, a decent single-shot rifle. Unfortunately, Remington really messed up when they acquired H&R and they stopped making the Buffalo Classic. Mine would not even lock up properly and Remington stated they could not repair it. Thus, I was given a Marlin 1895 as a substitute. Remington had acquired Marlin and similarly messed up but apparently fixed the problems.
In appearance my Marlin is just about perfect. I saw no flaws at all in the fit and finish. Yesterday we gave it a further test, firing a variety of rounds that I created behind the Berry’s Bullets 350 RSFP. The Marlin would not seat these bullets out very far so I used a Length Over All of just 2.514 inches, much less than the SAAMI spec of 2.550 inches. That’s of no account for this bullet which is recommended for use at 1700 ft/s or less. I picked several loads from various reloading manuals and interpolated somewhat where necessary. These are the loads we tested:
|Unique||15-18||All were pleasant to shoot and grouped well at 25 yards|
|IMR4227||37||Also decent with a bit more recoil than the Unique|
|H4198||39.5||The most recoil by far|
For all combinations, the bullets held together and were stable in flight with no keyholing. We crimped none of them and observed no movement of the bullets in the magazine. Charges burned cleanly with very little smoke and no visible residue left in the barrel. We also did penetration testing. Even though these bullets are not recommended for hunting we found they will penetrate 4 inches of green poplar with some expansion. We had to put the rear sight up to its maximum height to zero at 25 yards and impact was a foot low at 100 yards even with the H4198 load. My eyes didn’t work well at all with the iron sights so I will be putting a scope on this rifle. Our rounds fed singly and from the magazine and ejected easily from the rifle.
Despite firing ~20 rounds some with stout recoil very little pain was suffered and no bruising. The recoil pad is thin and firm, not squishy at all. The trigger was very crisp and not too heavy. The lever worked smoothly. We did find that loading the last round into the magazine through the slot was difficult. Fingers or gloves like to get caught pushing the last round far enough up for the gate to close. I suppose we can get used to it but for hunting, I may just use this rifle as a single-shot. If one of these rocks won’t stop a deer nothing will.
This rifle has multiple safeties:
- half-cock on the hammer,
- cross-bolt safety blocking the hammer,
- two piece firing pin not lined up until the lug engages the bolt, and
- a trigger disconnect on the lever.
The sights and the feeding gate were the only difficulties we encountered. I think this rifle will be a great deer/bear rifle in the bush. Even though I will miss the 32 inch barrel of the Buffalo Classic this rifle will have enough range and power for the shooting I will do. We will develop a stiffer load using a strong jacketed bullet for shooting to about 250 yards.