How good is the Marlin 1894 C?


March 29, 2009, 05:04 PM
I legally own a handgun, S&W 410S cal .40 and would like to buy Marlin 1894 C. What is your experience and would you recommend this rifle. How much money do I have to invest and is this rifle legal in California.

As you all know California is not the most firearms friendliest state in the union. Sometimes I wonder if I still live in the good, old U.S.A. or in a foreign country.

Thanks in advance and may God bless America and our second Amendment!

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March 29, 2009, 05:26 PM
Marlin rifles, like every other mass-produced item, vary from poor to excellent but as the owner of 8 currently (and as many as 14) Marlin lever rifles as old as 116 years (1889 made in 1893) and 7 different calibers (32-20, 357, 44, 45, 32-40, 38-55 and 45-70) I think they are the best lever action rifles ever made.

A used Marlin 94 carbine in 357 or 44 or 336 in 30-30 may cost as much as 400 but Gunbroker has a number under that price. Not certain about CA legality but have seen many discussions that emphasized the levers are all OK there.

Marlin will repair any modern rifle (336, 39A, 94, 450 or 1895). They sometimes send parts at no charge. They will also upgrade any model to a Cowboy model for $300 (I did this to 2)

Many Marlins find their way to pawn shops. Buy one and don't look back. You won't regret it.


March 29, 2009, 08:12 PM
I kinda got a Marlin thing of my own started. First it was a 1979 39A then it was a model 60 then last fall I picked up a 1977 1894c.

The 94c is a beauty inside and out. I've run 38 specials in FMJ and semi jacketed soft points, .357s in FMJ, JHP and the Hornady Leverevolution stuff. It's been fine with all of it and I would be hard pressed to give up this little carbine. I can not get my wife warmed up to a pistol or revolver but that lever she likes. I keep it next to the 870 for an HD option.

March 30, 2009, 12:53 AM
i have a 1894 and it is one of the finest HD rifles for CA...i'm always torn between it and the SKS.

i really like the octogon barrel and the 10 round mag capacity. i have a friend who mounted a red-dot on his and it partners his .357mag wheelgun for home defense

March 30, 2009, 08:45 AM
They are difficult to find.

March 30, 2009, 10:05 AM
I am a sometime cowboy action shooter and I own a cheap ($300.00) 1894 Marlin in .44 Mag/Sp that I bought from Big 5 on sale. It has a hardwood stock rather than walnut. It is a tack driver at the ranges that I shoot. I think it is probably the best bargan in my safe. That said, I did have to rework it to cure the dreaded "Marlin Jam". This is an easy fix with a couple of parts. Total cost of the rework was about $30.00. Now it runs smooth, fast and is very accurate.

Oh did I say I liked it very much.

March 30, 2009, 10:13 AM
A nearly new 1894c will be a bargain at 500, you won't find one for under 400 unless it is beat up. Why are the prices so high? Because they are worth it.

bill in IN
March 30, 2009, 10:28 AM
I have a 81 or 82 model. I like the lack of the "safety". I wouldn't part with it, or any of my Marlins-

March 30, 2009, 12:30 PM
the "best buy" would be one from Big 5 with the hardwood stock. they go on sale pretty regularly out here.

i wanted an octogon barrel so i got mine from a dealer in FL. when it got here the rear sight blade had snapped off. i called Marlin CS and they just sent a whole rear sight assembly out and i got it in a couple of days...getting it on is another story

March 30, 2009, 12:56 PM
Everyone who shoots mine says; "It's my newest favorite rifle." and they all have big smiles. Mine feeds anything.

March 30, 2009, 01:10 PM
They will also upgrade any model to a Cowboy model for $300
What's the difference? I know next to nothing about Marlins, obviously.

March 30, 2009, 01:21 PM
The cowboy model has an octagonal barrel and full length magazine.

March 30, 2009, 01:26 PM
They will also upgrade any model to a Cowboy model for $300What's the difference? I know next to nothing about Marlins, obviously. The cowboy versions generally have longer barrel and magazines (one more round capacity), and octagonal barrels. In the late 1800ís steel was of lower quality than today, and many firearms were made with eight sided barrels to make them stiffer/stronger. IMHO the round barrel on the modern 1894s , made from modern steel, are stiffer and stronger than they need to be. There is no performance advantage of the modern octagonal barrels, just aesthetics and historical accuracy.

Anyway, add me to the 1894c owners and recommender list.

March 30, 2009, 01:27 PM

March 30, 2009, 01:51 PM
That said, I did have to rework it to cure the dreaded "Marlin Jam". This is an easy fix with a couple of parts. Total cost of the rework was about $30.00. Now it runs smooth, fast and is very accurate.

Can you elaborate on that ... particularly, what is the "dreaded Marlin jam", what causes it and what parts did you change/install to fix the problem?

I'll add that my Marlin 1894CB in .45 Colt is one of my favorite rifles. It's accurate, reliable, short and light with plenty of firepower with 10+1. It performs flawlessly with a wide range of loads both in terms of bullet weight and muzzle velocity. You can send a 250 grain cast bullet downrange at 700 fps or 1700 fps so it can be paired with a SAA or Redhawk/Blackhawk. It's fun to plink with light loads but it's also capable of devastating performance within 150 yards with heavy loads. They can be TOTALLY disassembled within 10 minutes so that you can clean every nook and cranny. Parts are readily available and upgrade parts are also readily available. I installed a Wild West trigger, Wild West "bear-proof" ejector, Long Hunter one-piece titanium firing pin and hammer spring kit, Long Hunter safety replacement screw and XS sights front/rear.

Once you own a lever action you'll want more of them ... many more. I have three at present and my next two Marlins will be a CB version in .45-70 and the new Guide Gun (when I can find either one).


Dark Skies
March 30, 2009, 01:53 PM
I had the 1894 CS model in .38/.357 and it was a great rifle. I immediately regretted selling it. It's tapped for a scope - if that appeals.

March 30, 2009, 02:02 PM
Buy it and enjoy, it's a great rifle.

March 30, 2009, 02:04 PM
I'm curious about the "jam" and the "cure" also.

March 30, 2009, 02:14 PM
I love mine. After my .22s it is probably the rifle I take to the range most often.
March 30, 2009, 02:40 PM
I traded my Garand for a Marlin 1894C .357.

Have not regretted it at all. Check gunbroker or gunsamerica for prices.

I saw Walmart had them too. Maybe not in California.

March 30, 2009, 03:33 PM
Here is a link to fixing the dreaded "Marlin Jam"

The operating lever cam has a rather sharp edge, and that digs into the cartridge carrier, causing mis-timing (releasing a fresh round from the magazine too soon)

I replaced the carrier on both of the 1894's that I had years back, but didn't know about radiusing the cam to permanently solve it.

Other than this one thing, there is nothing to dislike about the Marlin 1894's

March 30, 2009, 03:35 PM
The Marlin Jam is a situation that occurs when the 1894 model is subjected to a a lot of rounds and especially rapid fire as occurs in Cowboy action shooting. The problem occurs because of a burr on the lever that lifts the carrier which is a soft metal. It wears a small groove in the metal and allows a second round to release from the magazine when the action is worked. The second round jams in between the carrier and the receiver and "jams".
This situation may not occur in a rifle that is only used to hunt deer or an
occasional trip to the range, but when a high rate of fire and a lot of rounds are fired, it WILL HAPPEN over time.

There is a web page that shows pictures of it and the fix. It is the Rusty Marlin Fix and if you google in Marlin Jam Fix it should come up. If you have trouble finding it, send me an e mail and I will get you the address.

Dark Skies
March 30, 2009, 03:48 PM
There you go.

March 30, 2009, 06:19 PM
foghornl, Griff56 and Dark Skies, thanks for the links and explanation. I haven't had a problem yet but I'll take a look at my lever and make sure to radius the cam as per the instructions.


March 30, 2009, 08:16 PM
I live in California and own three Marlins and several other rifles. Other than that all firearms, including rifles and shotguns having to go through a DROS and a 10-day wait, California does not care about rifles and shotguns and they are not registered and you don't have to do anything to make them legal.

While it's not as good as other states, it's not as bad as many people make it out to be. You can buy just about anything you want here. (except 10+ round magazines, but that's not an issue with non-detachable tubular magazines) It just takes a little longer. (not that I'm happy about that...)


March 30, 2009, 09:43 PM
Thanks to you all.

March 30, 2009, 09:53 PM
Thanks to you all. There is no doubt in my my mind that I'll buy this rifle.

I really appreciate your input and I must say that I'm really happy to be a member of THR. What a great community!!!

March 30, 2009, 10:06 PM
JochenWeber, when I bought my '94 I wasn't immediately taken with it when I went to the gun shop to pick it up. I handled it and gave it a good looking over but I wondered if I'd made the right choice. Once I started shooting it, reloading for it, cleaning it, upgrading it, I soon realized that I absolutely LOVE the rifle. Oddly enough, it seems to generate more interest at the range than some of my WAAAAY more expensive rifles. There's something fundamentally pleasing about lever actions. They take us back to a time of sitting around campfires, sleeping out under the stars, a less hectic, simpler and for many, better time.

ENJOY yours when you get it.


March 31, 2009, 07:35 PM
1858, That's so true. I've been dreaming about it all my life. In 1994 my dream became true. I've had the chance to live for one year in Australia and during that time I spent 3 months in the Australian Outback with Aboriginals. What a awesome time. Hunting, fishing and sleeping under the stars. A simpler, less hectic and I believe better time. Now, I'm 51 years old and I dream about it again.

May 15, 2009, 09:59 PM
Now that I am getting into reloading I am more interested in the 38/357 version of the 1894c rifle.

What kind of 100 yd groups can people get with appropriate handloads? I know it is not a bolt action, so you lost some inherent accuracy, but I think it would be fun to develop loads for (and share with a revolver, of course)

May 15, 2009, 10:03 PM
I was putting bunches of .38 Specials at about 850 FPS through a big jagged hole at 25 in a small indoor range the other day -- offhand in low light with the stock irons.

I have gotten similar accuracy from factory ammo.

Honestly, I think you will be utterly amazed at the accuracy you can get from this rifle.

Groups like a Marlin .22 lever gun, and that's pretty good -- you'd think that a pistol-caliber carbine is kind of the AK of the cowboy gun world. But it isn't.:)

May 15, 2009, 10:43 PM
under $400? I'd love to find one under $400.... you can barely find them, and they seem to be closer to $500 when you do

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