.44 mags to choose from?


October 28, 2003, 09:09 PM
Ok I thought I had my choices all narrowed down and then I read a review of the Henry Big Boy 44 mag, while it has not yet been approved for SASS, it seems like it will be.

The parameters:

Wanted 44 magnum rifle, SASS legal holding 10 shots,also suitable for taking game at short range:

The contenders:

Marlin Model 1894 (pre push button safety) These come up used a lot, have sling swivels but do have the microgroove barrel. Side eject allows scope mounting. Same buckhorn sights I grew up shooting. Front sight hooded but removeable.

Marlin 1894 Cowboy, push button safety, no swivel studs, ballard cut rifling, smart looking octagon barrel, long and lean look.
Side eject allows scope mounting, but I doubt I'd mount a scope on a rifle like this. No front sight hood.

Winchester model 94 CW/Legacy/Trails End model. Attractive price, legacy model has curved pistol grip, both models nicely checkered. Holds 11 rounds, the legacy holds more. Drilled/tapped for mounts but top eject means forward mounting. Trails end has top mounted tang safety.. better than push button Marlin safety I hate.

Henry Big Boy 44 magnum. Not a replica, more like a beefed up Marlin 22 rifle in the way it loads from the front. Solid brass receiver is unusual, attractive but likely prone to "character building" scratches. Heavy octagon barrel, holds 10 shots, 2 pounds heavier than Winchester, so recoil is likely less. Buckhorn sights (yes!) Shiny brass = shiny in woods but could be intentionally tarnished and repolished for cowboy fun. Not drilled or tapped for scope, side ejection.

AWA Lightning (available next year in .44 mag) variety of fit/finishes available.. Thinking of the case hardened one though it means going with a round barrel instead of octagon. Top ejection, slide action 20 or 24 inch bbl, very cool looking copy of Colt lightning. made in italy, hand fitted here. Most expensive rifle on list. No provision for scope or swivels.

Which rifle would you pick?

I'm still hemming and hawing.. though I keep coming back to the Marlin or the AWA.

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Tom C.
October 28, 2003, 09:12 PM
Is this rifle to be used for SASS? The Henry was disapproved by the BOD.

I have a 24" Marlin 1894 Cowboy. The new ones have 20" barrels. Get the Marlin. It smooths up very well, is very accurate and very durable.

October 31, 2003, 01:46 PM
Ok so last night I stopped in at Rob's to pick up a Ruger 22... and Rob has a 45 LC AWA Lightning on his shelf... next to a 45 LC Marlin Cowboy... next to a Winchester 94 in 45LC.

Notes on the lightning:

For $800 and change, I certainly expected a better wood to metal fit in the reciever tang/stock area. It wasn't bad, just not as good as the fit/finish on the Marlin. The sights are... well for shooting plates, cool.. for shooting in the woods... nope, not there. The Rifle is LIGHT, dainty almost, makes me think the 44 version will kick like a mule. The slide RATTLES?? I'm told thats just how they are.. go figure. The two piece front grip looks like it can easily chip/crack along the seam (I think a re-engineered one piece would be better.. though then it would not be a copy). Having said all that. COOL AS HECK. What a neat, if specialized piece of machinery. The stock had some nicely figured wood, the bluing was THICK, like enamel all the edges were nicely buffed, overall a trick little rifle. Can't wait to see it in 44 cal.

Notes on the Marlin:

Heavier than I expected, nothing fancy about it. Put swivels on it and take in hunting. Buckhorn sights, brass bead front, the kind I grew up with. Most natural "pointing' rifle of those I handled. Nothing 'special' about it, but I know marlins and I am positive I'd get a lifetime of use out of it.

The Winchester:

LORD in that thing light.. shockingly so. I figured the AWA would be reedy-feeling but picking up the 94 was like handling a BB gun. Action had more side to side play than the Marlin, pointed fast, good serviceable sights. Price check on the 94 end of trail saddle ring version shows it to cost almost as much as a Marlin cowboy. Liked it more than I thought I would. Bluing was thin compared to the AWA, but then so was the Marlin's compared to the AWA.

This shopping stuff is getting complicated.

Need to shoot all three.

October 31, 2003, 07:46 PM
Is the Marlin 20" .44 with the octagonal barrel heavy for a defense rifle? It seems like it might be a bit more awkward and unwieldy compared to the round barrel models.

Can anyone confirm this?


October 31, 2003, 10:41 PM
My Marlin 1894S is my most productive deer rifle, with 6 now. All were one shot kills, at no more than 50 yards. That would be my choice.

October 31, 2003, 11:05 PM
I'd unhesitatingly recommend the Marlin as the strongest action and most suitable rifle for your all-round needs. The Model 1894S has a 20" round barrel, and holds 10 rounds in the magazine, which meets the SASS limitations. It's short and handy enough for brush hunting, too. The longer 24" octagonal-barrel Model 1894 Cowboy is slightly more accurate (meaning tighter groups - the heavier barrel is "stiffer" than the lighter one), and has Ballard rifling, which is far superior to Micro-Groove for use with lead bullets. (However, I'm informed that all 1894S's also have Ballard rifling now - can anyone confirm this?) The 1894 Cowboy is a bit heavier to lug around the woods, and its longer barrel makes it a bit less manoeverable in tight brush or woods, but it will be better suited to heavy competition use. I've owned and used both models, and liked both: but since my primary use for one is self-defence or brush hunting, I eventually sold the 1894 Cowboy and stayed with the lighter, handier 1894S.

Your money, your needs, your choice...

Dave Markowitz
November 1, 2003, 11:03 AM
Dr. Rob,

The Winchester 94 is an Angle Eject, so you should be able to mount a scope on top if you want.

Did you look at the Rossi replicas of the Winchester 1892s? They are imported by three companies that I know of, EMF, Navy Arms, and Legacy Sports. I have an EMF Hartford Model M1892 Short Rifle, although mine is in .357.

The fit and finish on my rifle are quite good. I've read here on THR that the EMF and Navy Arms guns are better than LSI's in that respect. I can keep all my shots on a pie plate at 50 yards offhand when shooting quickly, and with the heavy octagon barrel it hangs really well. The action is very smooth.

I did have extraction problems but EMF had me send the rifle into the gunsmith who handles their warranty service and he fixed it up good. Total time between sending the rifle via UPS and getting it back was about a week and a half. Extraction and ejection are now excellent. I put around 50 rounds through it last Saturday and it worked like a champ.

The only downside to the 92s would be that it's hard to scope one. You're looking at a side or forward mount, requiring some gunsmithing.

November 1, 2003, 05:57 PM
Mostly I plan to use it as a fun gun first, a hunter second.

The EMF etc. rifles are cool, but pricier than the Marlin. You can't get them in 44 magnum either.

Price wise these lever guns seem to get an additional $100 tacked on by having the word "cowboy" attached to them.

November 2, 2003, 07:10 PM
Dr. Rob: Have you seen these? I haven't seen or installed one yet, but it seems like a decent option if you don't like the crossbolt safety.


November 2, 2003, 07:43 PM
Atticus, thanks for the link, think I'm going to get one of those. I love the part where he says "I had to use a special tool to remove the loc-tite. I sell these tools for 50 cents plus $3.00 S&H."

$3.50 for a paperclip delivered to your door. :D

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