.357/.38 Lever Action


Lord Bodak
January 9, 2005, 06:22 PM
I'm thinking about a Lever-Action in .357 Magnum/.38 Special. The common choices seem to be the Marlin 1894C and the various Winchester 1894s. I'm leaning towards a Marlin 1894C or the Winchester Trail's End or Trapper.

In my revolver I usually shoot Georgia Arms .38 Special LSWC, and would like to be able to use the same in whatever I buy, although I will shoot Magnums as well.

Some people say the Marlin's Ballard rifling is bad for lead bullets, others say it's fine, and some people report feeding problems with SWC in both Marlins and Winchesters.

Any information would be appreciated.


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January 9, 2005, 06:42 PM
Most people say the Ballard is much better for Lead than the Micro groove. I have one w the Micro and haven't shot any lead yet but really like it


January 9, 2005, 07:02 PM
I've got a Winchester Legacy (24" barrel). Before buying I had heard that the Winchesters aren't real reliable feeding 38 Specials. When I got mine, I found out that was true. It feeds the Mags without a hitch, but the specials don't always get under the extractor on the first try.

January 9, 2005, 07:21 PM
I would stick with jacketed bullets in the Marlin Rifle . Just no reason to load cast in 357 or to use 38 specials.

My load is Bullet--- 125 grain Jacketed Hollow Points (Rem)
Powder- WW296 20 grains
Primer-- CCI 550 magnum pistol primers

Velocity is about 2100 feet per second and shoots fairly flat to 150 yards

January 9, 2005, 07:32 PM
I'm a big fan of the 1866 and 1873. They are simple actions designed for low pressures -- which means they're smooooth (especially the 1866). The 1866 is .38 special only. Both my 1866 and 1873 are sensitive to OAL w/r/t feeding.

For pistol calibers I think the 1894 has a lot of unnecessary clunkiness due to its stronger action.

Smoke Rizen
January 9, 2005, 09:32 PM
I shoot a Win. 94 Trails End in CAS and have been pleased with it's functioning. However it is in .45LC. I have heard alot of critics of the .38-357 models as they tend to misfeed regularly. Cost wise the Marlin is a better buy, and whichever you you choose you can do a little slicking up of either.

January 9, 2005, 10:25 PM
I've owned several brands.
I now only have Marlins. An 1894 CP (.357/.38 16"ported, no longer made) and an 1894 CBC .38 competition 20".
The only hitches I've had was with Blazer aluminum not feeding on the first stroke.
Most Marlins are now made with Ballard (traditional land and groove) that shoot lead bullets just fine. Microgroove rifling was used in .357's untill people complained about poor cast bullet performance.
I get very good accuracy with .38 lrn rounds in both of mine but even better accuracy with Winchester jacketed soft points (125 grain).
If you can find one a .38 special only competition model might be ideal if you plan on shooting .38's only.

January 9, 2005, 10:30 PM
Another option is the Puma range from Brazil, based on the Winchester '92 action. They're imported by Legacy Sports (http://www.legacysports.com/product/index.htm).

January 9, 2005, 10:54 PM
Like Preacherman said, the Puma (Win 1892 clone) is a good one. I owned one for a while but I did have some problems with feeding .38's.
They are very strong and smooth, mabey the best short action lever design ever (J. M. Browning).
Anyway it looks like Marlin still makes the competition model. It is really sweet.

January 10, 2005, 12:36 PM
I do not have any experience with Winchesters, but I love my Marlin.

I have not had any problems with feeding .38 specials. My rifle was purchased last year and has the ballard rifling. It shoots .38 LSWC very well.

I don't think you can go wrong with a Marlin. BTW, I paid $299 + tax. I am sure there may even better deals out there but that gives you an ideal on price.

Lord Bodak
January 10, 2005, 05:37 PM
What's the opinion on the "Marlin Jam" fix (http://www.marauder13.homestead.com/files/Marlin94Fix.html)? Worth doing with a new gun?

January 10, 2005, 05:59 PM
From what I've read, you only need to do the Marlin 'jam' thing if you have problems.
After many many rounds, I've never had trouble. If your going to have trouble, you'll have trouble sooner rather than later.
Mabey Mr. Williams can chime in on this point.
I grease my 'snail' (boy, that sounds bad) with lithium paste. This is not an area for one of those do it all products like CLP or FP-10. You need real lube there. If you can't find lithium, use a good automotive grease, preferably synthetic.
FYI, Marlin .357's just seem to love 180 grain magnums like Win. Partition Gold or Rem, JSP's. I get 3" groups at 100 yards with a rest and a red dot sight.
Good Luck.

Brian Williams
January 10, 2005, 08:46 PM
The Marlin jam fix is just smoothing the bottom of the lever to prevent problems in the function of your gun. Well worth the time to do for any Marlin along with the tune up tips. My Marlin has even fed empty 38 spec cases. I also use a little lithium or automobile moly grease on my 1894. http://www.gunpix.com/gallery/Rifles/Lever_Actions/357s2.jpg

Lee F
January 10, 2005, 10:09 PM
Get the Marlin. The Winchester will not feed 38 Specials.

January 10, 2005, 11:27 PM
Yep: "FYI, Marlin .357's just seem to love 180 grain magnums like Win. Partition Gold or Rem, JSP's. I get 3" groups at 100 yards with a rest and a red dot sight.
Good Luck."

I have a Lyman sighted pre warning and saftey .357 1894. I like to shoot 158grain Remimngton scallop points .357 at dog size animal under 100 pounds and the 180's over that. Mine is micro groove and shoots a gas checked 173 grain flat point over 14 grains of 2400 into under 2" at 50 yards(just under 1800fps!). Got to clean the barrel well though after THAT load! ;)

January 10, 2005, 11:37 PM
How long can you shoot lead bullets with the Micro groove rifling Gordon?

January 11, 2005, 08:19 AM
I'd recommend a Marlin 1894C to anyone.

January 11, 2005, 04:23 PM
Don't have a Marlin 94, but do have both a Rossi 92 and an IMI Timberwolf in .357. Both will feed any .38 Spl except WCs 100%.

I may be wrong, but IMO the main reason that Winchester 94s would have trouble feeding 'Spls', .38, .44, or whatever is that the action is designed for a cartridge that's much longer than even the 'Magnum' versions of those cartridges.

AFAIK, the current Ballard-style rifling is superior to Microgroove with lead projectiles when velocities exceed those of the .22 LRHV, roughly 1250 f/s. The only non-.22LR Marlin with Microgroove that I have used cast bullets in extensively is an old 336 in .35 Remington. In order to avoid heavy leading it was necessary to cast the Lyman 358429 from alloy at least as 'hard' as linotype and exercise care in choice of powder and charge level. As chrono gear was rare and expensive at the time, I had to extrapolate from published data and do a lot of experimenting. Even when cast hard, loads which exceeded an estimated 1300 f/s would show marked deterioration in accuracy after as few as ten rounds.

Going to gas checked bullets allowed velocities estimated at about 1500 f/s, but I never could get quite the accuracy with them that I could with the Keith bullet at around 1100 f/s. As my main use for these loads (aside from plinking) was small game and the occasional predator at modest ranges I went with that as a standard.

Lord Bodak
January 14, 2005, 05:01 PM
Nobody local has either the Winchester Trail's End or the Marlin 1894C in stock-- so I'm going to have to special order. I think I'm going to go with the Marlin... just need to find the best deal!

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