Marlin 1984 vs. Henry Big Boy


June 3, 2008, 07:15 PM
Which is a better 45LC lever gun, the Henry Big Boy or the Malin 1894? They are both about the same price so that doesn't matter. I have been wanting a 45LC for a while because of the versatility and I plan on getting a revolver to go with it. I really like lever guns and I have pretty much narrowed it down to these two. Other suggestions are welcome.

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June 3, 2008, 07:23 PM
The Henry is a LOT heavier. Defeats the purpose of a pistol caliber lever gun, for me.

I don't shoot CAS, so it wouldn't live in a range rack.:)

June 3, 2008, 07:28 PM
I don't shoot CAS either. I just want it for a fun gun and mabey a camping/hiking gun. So was that a vote for the Marlin?

June 3, 2008, 07:31 PM
I just checked and the Marlin is about 2lbs lighter than the Henry. I am most interested in which shoots best, most accurate, smoothest action. If the Henry is better in those categories then I am willing to pack around the extra 2lbs.

June 3, 2008, 07:41 PM
I'd take the Henry all day long. I have a Henry Golden Boy in .22 Mag and two Marlins, one in .45-70 and one in .444 Marlin. The fit and finish on the Henry is far superior and the action on the Golden Boy is the smoothest I've ever felt.


June 3, 2008, 07:47 PM
The action is my biggest concern. I plan on getting the Marlin in 45-70 eventually but I want a 45LC pretty bad. I have held the Golden Boy and liked it but I have not had the chance with the Big Boy or the Marlin. I think the local gun store might have the Henry in stock so when I go to pick up my CZ Friday I'll try it out but I have heard a lot of good things about the Marlin as well. Anyone personally own either of these rifles (or both) that can give me a run down on performance?

June 3, 2008, 08:33 PM
isnt it an 1894?

or is there a marlin i dont know about?

June 3, 2008, 09:08 PM
When psoed with the same dilema, I decided on the Marlin. I have a Stainless .44 mag and I am waiting for a stainless .357 mag.

Yes the Henry while nice looking weigh's more.

I'll also get a 39a too to round out the calibers.

June 3, 2008, 09:10 PM
Yes, it is the 1894, my mistake.

June 3, 2008, 11:03 PM
Anyone able to testify to the smoothness of the action on either rifle?

June 4, 2008, 01:36 AM
If I remember correctly, the Marlin has a loading gate on the side. The Henry has to be loaded by removing the tube.

I prefer the loading gate of the Marlin.


June 4, 2008, 02:17 AM
I don't doubt the Henry is a fine rifle. No one seems to have one to fill you in on the good and bad of it.

On the other hand, there are maybe a million 1894 Marlin's out there.

My Marlin 1894 is the 'cp' model which is no longer made. 16" barrel with factory comp, a lot like the guide guns, and mine is in 357mag/38spl.

Put XS ghost ring sights on it.

Probably the rifle I enjoy shooting more than any other.

With WWB 38spl's it's like shooting a BB gun.

With Buffalo Bore's hot 357's it approaches the ballistics of the 30-30, and in the 125gr load surpasses the 30-30 energy levels.

I would advise for the Marlin.

Or better yet, get both.

Good luck, and good shooting.


June 4, 2008, 09:37 AM
If pbhome71 is right, then that is one huge advantage to the Marlin.

June 4, 2008, 10:22 AM
I have owned a Marlin 1894 in .44 Rem.mag for about 35 years. It does load via a loading gate on the right side of the receiver. It feeds everything smoothly except semi-wadcutters. I dont have any experience with the Henry but I do hear good things.

June 4, 2008, 10:32 AM
No question in my mind. The Marlin 336/1895 action (.30/30, .35, .444, .45-70, etc.) does NOT compare to the 1894 action (.357, .44, .45 LC). While it may not be as slick and smooth as other pistol-caliber carbines, it is robust and can be smoothed up nicely with a little care.

As a bonus, there are all kinds of things you can do to the Marlin. Scout-scout, XS sights, regular-ol' Williams sights.

Can you tell I like my Marlin 1894? Mine is a .44 Magnum with the pistol-grip stock. While I have other rifles that may be more suited to specific tasks, for one to grab-and-go, this is it. Stoke it with .44 Specials and I'd be perfectly happy using as a house gun in leiu of an AR or shotty.

Harve Curry
June 4, 2008, 10:36 AM
MARLIN 1894, a time proven design.

Oh yea, I shot both.

June 4, 2008, 12:09 PM
I think they are both great. I voted for the Henry because I believe it is a little better made. I would love to own either one.

I just did a similar study and made my decision to purchase a Winchester in .44 mag.

Why? I want a piece of Americana that is no longer made.

I thought about about the 45LC but chose a more flexible slightly better hunting round that also worked out of revolvers.

If I was strictly a cowboy shooter I would have gone for the .45. But I wanted to be able to use the rifle for deer if I wanted. There is a better selection of factory .44 ammo out there too.

The new Mossburg lever action has gotten good reviews as a model 94 clone. I don't know if it is available in pistol cartridges though.

Let us know what you decide. Either way, you win!

June 4, 2008, 12:46 PM
Every Henry I've ever looked at---granted I don't look at them much as I've pegged them as junk from the get go-----has been made from cheap pot metal and then painted.

NO WHERE NEAR the quality forged steel Marlin.

June 4, 2008, 12:58 PM
Every Henry I've ever looked at---granted I don't look at them much as I've pegged them as junk from the get go-----has been made from cheap pot metal and then painted.

This is the reason I won't get the little Henry .22 to go with my Marlin. I don't know if the big-bore Henry's are different, but the .22 "reciever" is an aluminum, painted cover over the action proper. It states in the manual NOT to disassemble this unit.

Luckily, the Marlins are simple simple simple. One screw to drop the lever out, and then you can remove the bolt and ejector with ease. They're even pretty straight-forward to detail strip and clean thoroughly, which reminds me... :o

June 4, 2008, 02:34 PM
I was at this same dilemma a few months back.

I put in an order for the Marlin in 45colt, and after 2 months waiting for product to get to the supplier, bought the Henry.

I was amazed at the action of the Henry.
It was slick and smooth right out of the box.:eek: Way better than any Marlin from the factory.

Yes the Henery was heavy. The weight made shooting 250gr 45colt rounds feel like shootin a BB gun. The weight helps the gun steady when shooting offhand.

Looks , the Henry's got it. The wood on my henry looked like I paid a premium for the gun. The brass action really brings out the old west feel and appeal.

But what I like most about the Henry, is the loading.
The Henry uses the gallery gun style loading, dispencing with the side load gate.
I dont know about you, but those side load gates always pinch my finger.:cuss:
With the Henry, loading is a fun, painless event.:D

The only problem with the Henry is, that once someone shoots it, they want to keep it. My wife has fallen in love with mine, and has told me that the Henry is to never be sold or traded.:)

I'd go with the Henry, you won't be sorry.

Buckeye Tim
January 27, 2009, 11:43 AM
I went through the same decision process a year back when deciding what type of .357 lever action to purchase. I already had a Winchester Ranger but wanted to get another .357 lever action with a full sized barrel. I eventually ordered a Marlin 1894 from Dick's Sporting Goods. When I inspected it at the store when it arrived, it was a real mess. The rear buckhorn sight was improperly installed. There were a couple of dings on the barrel, one protruding metallic burr, and at least one small gouge in the stock. Coming immediately after a bad experience with a Marlin bolt action, tubular magazine .22 magnum that would not feed properly, it turned me off on Marlin. (To be fair to Marlin, their customer service people were great to deal with. They replaced the troublesome rifle with a more expensive .22 magnum rifle featuring stainless steel bull barrell and a clip fed magazine, at no cost to me. And that rifle does feed properly great).

After sending the Marlin 1894 back, I ordered a .357 Henry Big Boy, and I absolutely love it. I would prefer if it did not have a tube fed magazine, but that's not that big a deal for me. It is a bit heavier than the Marlin as others have noted. However, it is not uncomfortably heavy, and the octagonal barrel makes the gun feel very steady and solid. The gun is both accurate and absolutely beautiful: much better looking than either the Marlin I had ordered or the Marlin 336 30-30 lever action I own. There were no imperfections on the rifle when I received it. It almost looks like a museum quality piece. Indeed, its almost TOO nice in that it makes me reluctant to take in out in any type of iffy weather (I still have the Winchester, and take that instead on such days) though I have no doubt that it would stand up well under any normal conditions.

Assuming that Marlin doesn't let too many rifles go out in the condition I received my .357 or my .22 magnum, I bet that you would probably be happy with an 1894. However, if you've never purchased a Henry before as I hadn't, you should seriously consider doing so. They make beautiful rifles at a reasonable price.

August 12, 2009, 05:20 PM
I don't like the Henry because it does not have a loading gate. I don't like the fact that you can't just push a round in the tube work the action and ready to go. If the Henry were configured this way it would be my choice. I really dislike tubular magazines that need to be loaded like the Henry's.

August 12, 2009, 05:32 PM
I have an 1894C (.357) and I can vouch for it.

How smooth the action feels? An original 1892 is smoother. But the Marlin is far easier to clean.

Haven't shot the Henry. As I said, I have no interest in a pistol-caliber lever gun that weighs a lot more than my heavier-than-average 24" .30-06.

August 12, 2009, 06:38 PM
If I wanted a heavier rifle to shoot the same cartridge I would choose the Henry.
If I wanted a rifle with a painted on finish, I would choose the Henry.
If I wanted a tube loaded, tubular magazine vs the side gate loaded tubular magazine, I would choose the Henry.
If I wanted the rifle more difficult to clean and maintain and does not allowed the barrel to be cleaned from the breach, I would choose the Henry
If I wanted the rifle with fewer accessory's and up-grade parts available, I would choose the Henry.
If I wanted a rifle with almost 100 years of with a reputation of accuracy, success, and history, I would get the Marlin. YMMV

It's America, choose for your reasons.:banghead:

Go figure.


Semper Fi

Stupid should hurt

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 12, 2009, 06:53 PM
Hey ArmedBear, how much easier is the 1894 to clean than the 1892 and why? Thanks! Never had an 1894..... How much more does the 1894 weigh than the 1892?

I cannot comment on the centerfire Henrys, but the rimfire one I had I got rid of primarily because I didn't like the cheesy painted finish. It functioned very nicely however.

August 12, 2009, 07:02 PM
If you unscrew the pivot screw of the lever, and remove it, the bolt slides out the back of the receiver with the ejector.

You can then clean the bolt, wipe out the receiver, and clean the barrel from the breech.

Oil, put in the ejector and bolt, put in the lever, put the screw back in, and you're done with a complete cleaning.

The reason that the lever isn't as smooth as the 1892 is that the mechanism is simpler. No free lunch, I guess.:)

At 6 lbs., my 1894C doesn't weigh more than an equivalent 1892, AFAIK. Can't feel the difference, though the balance and feel of an old 1892 are different from the Marlin, kind of like a Ruger single action vs. a Colt single action, maybe.

August 12, 2009, 07:05 PM
I'll let someone else describe the Win action because I looked inside an 1892 action once but had to go lay down awhile.

November 15, 2009, 01:25 PM
I am surprised at some of the comments I have seen on this thread. It is clear some of the comments and opinions do not reflect experience with these firearms. I own both the Henry Big Boy and a Marlin 1894 limited edition in 44 Magnum.

The are both great weapons and deserving of consideration.

Henry Big Boy rifles are made of a special brass alloy that was chosen for strength. They are not "Painted". In a .22 what is wrong with an alloy receiver? My Ruger 10/22 has the same thing. The Henry .22 works great and I find it as pleasurable to own and shoot as my Browning BL-22 which also rocks and has a blued steel receiver.

The tube feed is way easier to use than the loading gate of the Marlin. If you shoot lots of rounds this is an advantage. Loading gates are a pain!

The Henry looks better to me but the limited edition Marlin with it's octagonal barrel also looks great.

The Marlin is lighter weight and faster handling but recoils a little more because it is lighter. Because I bought the limited edition Marlin it cost as much as the Henry Big Boy.

I love both guns and can recommend both without reservation. Buy American and skip the Rossi lever action!

November 15, 2009, 02:54 PM
I like the Win 1892 clones. The Marlins are good, but I think the 1892s have a smoother action and look better. I had one (Rossi 1892) years ago, switched to Marlin with a caliber change. I shot a friends 16" 1892 Rossi stainless Trapper in .45 Colt on Friday. It was an eye opener. Smooth action, better sights than Marlin, nice trigger and the feel of the 1892 action. With my eyes getting older, the flat, square notched rear blade combined with a plain post front sure help with the sight picture compared to buckhorn sights.
I'm getting a Rossi myself, a stainless Trapper in .357.

November 15, 2009, 06:52 PM
My take on it:

Weight-2 pounds is alot in a rifle. The 1894 is much handier.

Actions-marlins are tight compared to other leverguns (hence their reputation for accuracy). This can make one perceive the action to be less smooth than a winchester, henry or other. It never bothered me enough to work on them, but they can be slicked up real good with some 600 grit and a bit of time. Having owned mostly marlins, other leverguns just feel loose to me.

Durability-Marlin and Winchester have it with the forged steel receivers. You simply cannot argue that brass or some other zinc alloy is stronger than forged steel.

History-If this is a concern, then Marlin and Winchester also win. The Henry's are good Replicas, but do not have the pedigree. It's like comparing a Uberti to a Colt. The Ubertis are good guns, but they're just not the real thing for so many reasons.

Up to you, and I'm sure you'd be happy with the Henry if that's what you choose. But the Marlin is simply a better rifle.

November 16, 2009, 05:08 AM
Henry Big Boy rifles are made of a special brass alloy that was chosen for strength.

If Henry was really prioritizing strength they would have made their rifles out of a good grade of steel.

November 16, 2009, 05:40 AM
i have winchester 92,s and i strip them down to clean them once a year, after i shoot them i clean the barrel and use air to blow the action out, lightly oil and am done. if you strip one apart to clean, do it on a table with good light,after you do it 2 or three times its a breeze. i have also owned marlins and rossies and they have needed to be worked on to work as i like them too. i admite i bought most of my winchesters when they were no so high priced. but if you shop around a little bit you can get a good buy, i just bought a 1892 rifle in 44-40 made in 1894 that was reblued some time ago for 700.00, it did not need reblued other than the owner at that time wanted it to look new again(no pits or rust) and it has a near new bore. i was offered 1000.00 for it not long after i got it. eastbank.

November 16, 2009, 10:00 AM
History-If this is a concern, then Marlin and Winchester also win. The Henry's are good Replicas, but do not have the pedigree. It's like comparing a Uberti to a Colt. The Ubertis are good guns, but they're just not the real thing for so many reasons

The "Henry Big Boy" is a totally new design, it is not a replica of an 1860 Henry rifle, nor does the "Henry" manufacturing company have any historical ties to the original company.

November 17, 2009, 01:06 AM
This is correct, the Henry is a totally new and modern design and not a replica like the Uberti guns. The reason a brass alloy is used is for looks (similar to the original Henry rifle).

The Henry uses the finest steel including the barrel, bolt and lug. This handles the pressure of the round. Using the right brass alloys of the correct type will give you strength similar to steel and the receiver is thick and massive as is the bull barrel (thus the weight).

I am not speaking about things I don't have experience in like some have here. I own a 1894 CB and a Big Boy in 44 magnum and if I could own only one, I would lean to the Henry. Both are great guns but the Henry is much better finished and much more heavy duty.

Both are far superior to the Rossi Puma which is almost as pricey with the octagonal barrel. I handled one at a gun shop just the other day which had a real Winchester 92 to compare to it. The Rossi finish is good but inferior to the Marlin and not is the same class as the Henry. The Winchester was much nicer but 4 times as much given it's great condition (an original).

The New Rossi's have a funny safety lever on top of the bolt which does not look right. I want a 92 and may break down and buy one but it will have to be at a gun show at the right price. An older one without the wierd safety. I saw one last month at a gun show. A browning is better but real pricey and double the price used. If only one was made in the USA. Buy American!

Check this out for those interested in learning about Henry Firearms, a TV interview with the owner:

Also Gun Test, the guys that don't take advertising dollars loved the Henry Big Boy and Golden Boy. You can read about the Big Boy on the Henry website. I wish I had kept the magazines:

November 17, 2009, 09:42 PM
My Son in law owns a Marlin (I gave it to him for Christmas), I own a Henry Big Boy .45 mag. that I bought AFTER shooting his Marlin. When it came time to buy his son his 12th birthday present we both deceided on the Henry Golden Boy. The Marlin is a fine rifle and I may get one in a caliber that Henry doesn't offer, but for a .45, .44m, 30-30, or .22 IMO it's Henry over Marlin. Plus the brass on the Henrys just looks:) awsome, as does the American Walnut.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 17, 2009, 11:33 PM
The Henry is a LOT heavier.

And, that extra weight COSTS you money - evidently Henry thinks it should run about $75 per pound for every pound its rifle has in weight "better than" the Marlin. :p

Henry Big Boy rifles are made of a special brass alloy that was chosen for strength. They are not "Painted".

The Big Boy may not be painted, but the black rimfires certainly are - the paint flakes off in largish chips over time leaving silvery aluminum alloy exposed - they certainly know how to take an apparently good design and finish it cheaply enough to make me want to never own one again. I'm sure the brass alloy ones' finish will hold up, though.

November 18, 2009, 01:28 AM
Henry Big Boy rifles are made of a special brass alloy that was chosen for strength.LOL, because everyone knows brass is stronger than wimpy chrome-moly steel. :rolleyes:

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