I have an older Marlin 1894 in .44 mag. It's in excellent shape, and info I found online indicates a manufacture date of 1979. I didn't buy it new, but have had it for a long time.
What kind of accuracy can one normally expect from one of these? I posted about this a year or two ago, just got interested in it again. About the best it will do is 6 or 7 inch groups at 100 yards. That's from sandbags, with many different loads and bullet types. The barrel is microgroove and is clean and shiny, with a good crown.
The issue is that if I look very carefully from the breech with the rifle taken apart, I can see slight dents or wrinkling inside the bore at the same place where "Model 1894" is stamped very heavily on the outside.
Perhaps this should be in the gunsmithing section, but I wonder what it would cost to put another barrel on it, with regular rifling so I can use cast bullets in it?
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September 4, 2009, 04:49 PM
I am not going to claim that a M1894 is capable of sub MOA, or even MOA. My 1981 vintage M1894 shot jacketed bullets around 3 inches at 100 yards. With irons. It shot cast bullets minute of barn at the same distance. The original barrel had rings or shadows, Marlin replaced that one. The next was not better, and I stopped bothering on the third.
Twenty years later I had it rebarreled with a "Ballard barrel".
The Ballard barrel is smooth all the way through. Those 80's vintage barrels were awful, tight in spots.
With the Ballard barrel, the group size with jacketed bullets is about 4 MOA. Cast bullets are about the same. It is possible I don't see as well as I used to.
I did find that my handguard will move during recoil. Handguard movement will radically change POI. To reduce that I did several things. One was to peen the handguard hanger in the dovetail so it is rigid, and soft solder it into place. The other was to use two part epoxy and tightly fit the rear of the handguard into the front of the receiver. I also created "pads" on the front of the handguard which create a pressure point. My handguard moves less, but it will still move. As it moves, POI moves up or down.
I think I also bedded the stock tangs into the back of the receiver for a tight fit.
The thing kicked so hard with that original hard plastic buttplate, I installed a rubber pad. Life is much better now. :p
I read about folks with these one MOA M1894's, and I wonder. Are they shooting groups or drawing circles around clusters.
Still, I think a 44 Mag 1894 is a dynamite little carbine out to 100 yards.
Are you using factory sights? The groups with my 30-30 went down conciderably when I changed sights.
September 4, 2009, 09:09 PM
I have heard about marlin stamping the barrels so hard that it makes a tight spot in the barrel. I would send it to marlin and see if they will replace the barrel. I called them about doing this on a micro groove barreled gun I owned and they told me $150 IIRC for the job. They might do yours free of charge. I would offer to at least pay half if they would upgrade with a ballard barrel.
I sold my old gun to my friends son. he put a 4X pro-staff scope on it and with win white box it shoots less than 2" groups at a hundred. Oops. Shoulda kept it.
I used the money and bought a new 44 with the ballard barrel so I could shoot lead. It does shoot it just fine.
September 4, 2009, 10:00 PM
I've got the same Marlin in .44 mag and the groups that you described are exactly what I'm getting. I've shot a variety of factory jacketed ammo through it, all with the same results. I vote for the ballard barrel but just haven't got around to it yet.
September 5, 2009, 12:24 AM
I shoot cowboy with mine. It has the ballard barrel in in it and I shoot handloads with .429
lead bullets. I have not printed it on paper since I first got it but I seldom miss a cowboy target at their distances. When I do, it is most likely my fault. I have nothing but good things to say about mine. I think I would look into a ballard barrel however. I did own a .30-30 Marline 336 years ago. It could and probably was me, but I could not hit the inside of a barn with it. It had the Micro groove barrel.
September 5, 2009, 10:36 AM
A Marlin 1894 is most definitely capable of sub moa. Pix here:
My 1894ss wears a 2.5x Leupold FXII and I shot this from my camera bag/ammo bag for a rest. Perhaps a new OEM barrel from Numrich or a trip to the factory for a rebarrel is in order.
September 5, 2009, 04:00 PM
My Marlin 1894(circa 1971) in .44mag. would maintain 2'' groups at 100 yards with jacketed ammo(4x32 scope). I found lead semi-wadcutters fouled the action and weren't good for better than 4'' at 100 yards.
September 5, 2009, 06:49 PM
Well, I looked for an email address to inquire about a new barrel of Marlin, but all the have on their website (that I could find) is a phone# and physical address. I'll call on Monday, but I have an idea it would cost more than I can pay right now.
It sounds like a good barrel would make it quite usable, though. I'll call a gunsmith friend or mine, too, but that may end up costing more.
I would be happy with it if I could get 4" groups with ANY ammo.
September 5, 2009, 07:39 PM
I've found Marlins in the calibers I've tried (22, 30-30, 357, 44, 45 Colt, 45-70) to be very accurate. Some are more finicky than others but once the load is found, they'll put em where you want them to go.