Best 44 Mag Lever Gun?


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bluetopper
December 12, 2010, 02:57 PM
I'm in the market for a 44 Mag lever action rifle to go along with my 44 revolvers. Accuracy is the main deciding factor for me.
I've been told the Marlins have oversize bores and you have to use .432" bullets for them to shoot good.
Any one have experience with the 44 levers?
All info appreciated.

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rcmodel
December 12, 2010, 03:04 PM
Marlin 1894 hands down.
The older ones used Micro-Groove rifling and could be problematic with lead bullets.
All the new ones use normal cut-rifling, and shoot just peachy keen.

Your only other options are Italian and Brazil import 92 Winchester clones, and real Winchester 94's built on the longer 30-30 action length.

Browning did make some Japenese 92 Winchester 44 Mag's a few years ago, and they are great rifles worth looking for on the used gun market.

rc

jkingrph
December 12, 2010, 03:07 PM
Marlin 1892 hands down.

Mine is a Marlin 1894, Cowboy model, 24" octagon barrel and Marbles tang sight.

rcmodel
December 12, 2010, 03:11 PM
I meant to type Marlin 1894, but I didn't!! :o

Too many 1892 & 1894's floating around in that post to keep track of!!

I have a Marlin 1894P Guide Gun and it is a honey!!

rc

SlamFire1
December 12, 2010, 03:11 PM
What you heard about oversized in Marlins is correct.

I owned a 44 Mag M1894 since the early 80's. This had a microgroove barrel and was not very accurate. You could push a patch in the microgroove barrel and feel tight spots as you went to the muzzle. I am not impressed with the quality of microgroove barrels. I think the best use for them is to support tomatoes in the garden. In 1999 I found out that Marlin was making new “Ballard” barrels. I called up the factory and discussed replacing the microgroove barrel with a Ballard barrel. The gentleman at the factory told me that it would cost $130.00 to get this rifle rebarreled. When I mentioned that I was firing .429 cast bullets, the gunsmith informed me that the rifle barrels were made to SAAMI specs which called out for rifles a barrel interior dimension of .431”. Marlin claimed that their specifications for the barrels were 0.431 +- .001”.

Marlin had not changed the 1:38” twist from the microgroove barrels nor was the groove depth significantly deeper than the microgroove barrel. In my opinion the difference between a Ballard barrel and a microgroove is a reduction in a bunch of lands. This is a mistake in my opinion as my Ruger pistol barrels had much quicker barrel twists and were much deeper grooved, and shoot cast bullets very well. The Marlin twist works with 240's, but not with my 290 LSWC's.

The factory guys were very positive about the quality of these late 90’s era barrels. I asked the gunsmith to find me a good barrel made to the minimum dimension because cast bullets are sized .429". The gun smith air gaged a number of barrels and claimed that none were on the low end, I got the basic understanding that the barrels were all .431 with very little dimensional variation. Even though that was not what I wanted, it shows that production processes had improved in 18 years.

The Ballard barrel shot my cast bullets better than the microgroove, jacketed bullets shot reasonable . About what you can expect is 4 inch or less groups at 100 yards.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Rifles%20various/M1894FullLength.jpg

Still, after examining the long and tedious take down instructions on Winchester M1892's, the Marlin is the only way to go.

GJW1911
December 12, 2010, 03:12 PM
Last year I bought a Marlin 1894 in 44mag, added an XS forward scope mount and a fixed EER four power scope.
This combo for me is great, with my hand loads it will shot a sub 1 inch group at 50 yards and at 100 will shot about 1.5 inch group.(with a good rest) Mine does not have Microgroove rifling.
I do not know about the over sized bores, but I have tried Oregon trail 200 and 240 gn LRN bullets and various 240 gn JHP and JSP bullets all with great accuracy.

I shoot the same rounds in my 629-1 and Vaquero.

jimmyraythomason
December 12, 2010, 03:13 PM
Mine was a Marlin 1894 (circa 1972) with Micro-groove rifling. It had trouble feeding lswc bullets but functioned very well with 240gr. jacketed ammo. It was very accurate at 100 yards but you did have to operate the lever with a "snap" for smooth feeding.

336A
December 12, 2010, 03:15 PM
Yup Marlin 1894. The only time you will need to worry about shooting oversize bullets is when shooting cast bullets. On avg you can expect to get about 3" groups at 100 yards with the rifles preferred ammo. Another place you may want to check out is here http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/

CaliCoastie
December 13, 2010, 01:52 PM
I like marlin's also, but they made another model in 44mag. the 336-44 back in the 60's if you can find them. Im shooting about an 1" at 50 yds with my hand loads 1.5 with factory 240s. Im still working on my load for her. kinda different and lots of fun.

CraigC
December 13, 2010, 04:43 PM
Marlins are good guns. The slow twist will work well up to 300gr, which is fine because nothing longer will function in it. My Microgroove "S" model will cut tiny little subMOA groups with the 270gr Gold Dot and do almost as well with 240's. My 20" Cowboy model will do an inch at 50yds with my gold standard cast bullet load. IMHO, the main advantage to the Marlin is that it is easily scoped.

There are also the various incarnations of the Brazillian 1892 replicas. Most are very good and have a slightly faster twist at 1-30". Been thinking about a stainless Trapper model for a couple years at least.

At the top of the food chain, quality-wise, are those from Miroku under the Browning and Winchester brands. The early Brownings had a traditional half cock action and no manual safety. The later model Winchesters have a rebounding hammer and tang safety. All are excellent and a definite step up from the rest in fit, finish and overall quality. They cost more but they are also much better rifles. They are best equipped with tang or receiver mounted peep sights. Last I checked Bud's had a great price on .44 short rifles.

MichaelK
December 13, 2010, 06:06 PM
I have one of the new Marlins, with the deeper rifling. I shoot both cast and jacketed in it, but my bore slugs out to exactly .429". Another other reason I prefer the Marlin is that the bolt can be easily removed from the rear, which means you can shove your cleaning rod in through the chamber, protecting the rifle's crown.

PT1911
December 13, 2010, 06:13 PM
I prefer the Marlin is that the bolt can be easily removed from the rear, which means you can shove your cleaning rod in through the chamber, protecting the rifle's crown.

Bore snake...:neener:

Cleaning rods are outdated... :D

I opted for a Puma 92 in 45 colt and ordered and installed a bolt mounted peep sight from Steve'sgunzs that i am VERY pleased with.

Hanzerik
December 13, 2010, 06:53 PM
I had a Marlin Cowboy Limited in .44 Mag, and a 20" Rossi/Puma in .44 Mag. For some reason I sold the Cowboy and bought another Puma with a 16" barrel. I like Marlins, but I love the 1892's.
http://home.bresnan.net/~hanzerik/pics/Puma/Right%20Side%201.JPG

sappyg
December 13, 2010, 08:55 PM
accuracy? my Marlin has never missed a shot other than on my account. mine has always done more than i asked.
Winchester '92 and '94's are nice but Marlin 94's are king of the roost IMO. accuracy has never been bad enough to warrant me slugging the bore and and .429 diameter seems fine though i am only personally familiar with their Ballard type riffling. others i have witnessed did just as well or better.
i'm not especially taken with the Rossi/ Puma offerings but i must admit i have not shot their levers. had a Browning '92 in 44 for a while. we just didn't get along. too much going on in there for my taste i guess. it was accurate.

bluetopper
December 13, 2010, 09:11 PM
Isn't Puma and Rossi one and the same, all owned/made by Taurus?

Some listed on gunbroker make me think so.

Hanzerik
December 13, 2010, 10:20 PM
Rossi (In Brazil) was making the "Puma" guns for a while. They were imported by different companies over the years. Mine were imported by LSI. Taurus and Rossi might be the same company now, but I have not personally seen a Taurus marked 1892. If I'm not mistaken, the current manufacturer of the "Puma" is Chiappa in Italy.

The Brazilian guns could/can be had for less then $450, while the Italian guns are almost twice that price.

PO2Hammer
December 13, 2010, 10:50 PM
Right now CDNN has some very nice 'Winchester' 1892s w/tang safety probably built by Miroku of Japan, I think they're about $900.
Miroku makes some very nice stuff, I had one of their Winchester 1885 'low walls' that was superb.
I would put my money on that as being the most accurate .44 going right now.
Marlin is good, but 1892s are better IMO. The recent crop of Rossi's doesn't get great reviews over at Paco Kelly's leverguns forum. (http://www.levergunscommunity.com/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=d0319b850adeedaa88393d39de1961b8)
I would do a search over there.

Rifleman 173
December 14, 2010, 12:20 AM
Marlin, the only way to go. Great rifles! I love my .44 magnum lever action. Accurate. Thin. Easy to move around with and stash in a car or truck. Plenty of power and penetration.

jyo
December 14, 2010, 03:38 AM
In my time, I have owned several .44 Mag lever-guns---the Marlin was probably the best, but I really liked my Browning B-92 (Japan)---the Winchesters I handled and shot rattled like old cars! I currently shoot a old Ruger #3 single-shot in .44 Mag and another #3 that I had converted to .454 Casull.

evan price
December 14, 2010, 04:51 AM
Don't forget the Henry Big Boy. Uses a tube magazine you load from the muzzle end like a Marlin 60, not the gate style like a traditional lever action. Very nice rifles.

CraigC
December 14, 2010, 10:38 AM
Only the Winchester 94 rattles, not the 92, though I never understood why folks made such a big deal out of it.

The Henry also weighs a full two pounds more than a comparable Marlin or Winchester......among other things.

kpolivier101
December 14, 2010, 11:14 AM
I had a marlin 44 mag lever action rifle and used it for hunting only once. The problem i had was i shot a doe (on doe day of course) at about 55-70 yds using factory federal ammo. Of the 5 shot i hit her with only one actually went into the chest area. Upon asking the local gunsmith he told me that the standard .44 mag factory loads will burn up all their powder in the 1st 14" of barrel after that it starts to slow down. I did some velocity testing with my redhawk and my marlin with the chrono. set at 60 yds from the bench and the results were: redhawk w/ 240 gr. sp. was 1575fps. 4 round average. The marlin w/ 240gr. sp. was at 1004fps. so this confirmed what the gunsmith told me. So now its just a plinker and purchased a .444 marlin and has dropped everything i shot with it.

CraigC
December 14, 2010, 12:03 PM
That's nonsense, your gunsmith is full of beans and something's wrong with your chronograph. A .44Mag rifle will gain velocity right up to at least 20", at least 300-400fps, even with moderate loads. Even my moderate 10.0gr Unique load runs 1050-1100fps in handguns and 1450fps out of a 20" rifle. Even moreso for heavy loads with slower powders.

MichaelK
December 14, 2010, 01:19 PM
I had a marlin 44 mag lever action rifle and used it for hunting only once. The problem i had was i shot a doe (on doe day of course) at about 55-70 yds using factory federal ammo. Of the 5 shot i hit her with only one actually went into the chest area. Upon asking the local gunsmith he told me that the standard .44 mag factory loads will burn up all their powder in the 1st 14" of barrel after that it starts to slow down. I did some velocity testing with my redhawk and my marlin with the chrono. set at 60 yds from the bench and the results were: redhawk w/ 240 gr. sp. was 1575fps. 4 round average. The marlin w/ 240gr. sp. was at 1004fps. so this confirmed what the gunsmith told me. So now its just a plinker and purchased a .444 marlin and has dropped everything i shot with it.
Well, I chronographed my rifle also and my 240 grain load made with H110 came out the barrel at 1800 fps. Maybe yes, using a fast burning powder, but H110 is a standard .44 magnum powder that gives excellent performance in a longer barreled rifle!

By the way, my last deer was a one shot kill through the chest at 65 yards. The deer leaped in the air before dying about 30 feet from the impact spot. Was very disappointed though that I got 100% penetration and no recovered bullet to show off at the dinner table. The venison did still taste just as good though!

Black Frog
December 14, 2010, 03:48 PM
I'll have a little different take on this...

The Ruger 96/44 is by far my favorite 44 lever!

Solid top reciever makes for low scope mounting.
Hammerless, very nice. I don't like hammers.
Extremely short and quick lever throw, just a flick of your fingers.
Drop out mag for convenient loading/unloading. No tube! This a BIG one for me if you're in and out of vehicles for your type of hunting.

MovedWest
December 14, 2010, 04:04 PM
I was in the same position. I own several Ruger Super Blackhawks and reload. A lever action was my logical next step. I've heard good things about the Marlins and might pick one up later, but the one I decided on was the Winchester 92 in 44mag.

It's made by Miroku and the workmanship is super nice. Its more accurate than I am, and the action is slicker than snot on a doorknob. This is one of those rifles that I plan on making a family heirloom - and a mighty fine hunter as well.

Although they might require some searching to track one down, they're out there. It took almost 2 years for me to find mine, but it was well worth the wait.

-MW

Hanzerik
December 14, 2010, 06:57 PM
Upon asking the local gunsmith he told me that the standard .44 mag factory loads will burn up all their powder in the 1st 14" of barrel after that it starts to slow down. I did some velocity testing with my redhawk and my marlin with the chrono. set at 60 yds from the bench and the results were: redhawk w/ 240 gr. sp. was 1575fps. 4 round average. The marlin w/ 240gr. sp. was at 1004fps. so this confirmed what the gunsmith told me. So now its just a plinker and purchased a .444 marlin and has dropped everything i shot with it.

Maybe your Marlin suffered from an over-sized bore like a lot of them did. Not sure if an over-sized bore would make a gun lose that much velocity though. A lot of folks shoot over-sized cast bullets (.432+) because they work better then a normally sized cast bullet at .429-.430.

I just shot some Ranch Dog 265gr Gas Checked bullets yesterday and was impressed with the accuracy of the .432 bullets. All of the other cast bullets I had been shooting were .430 and leaded my barrels pretty bad, and accuracy was ok, but not what I would call nail-driving. I'm going to place an order for the RD mold when funds become available.

Most leverguns in the magnum pistol calibers gain a few hundred FPS out of a carbine/rifle length barrel, then what the do out of a pistol.

bluetopper
December 14, 2010, 11:17 PM
Aren't the oversize bore Marlins the ones with the old "microgroove" barrels?

CraigC
December 15, 2010, 02:11 AM
Definitely something weird going on there, NO .44Mag load that hits 1500fps in a sixgun is gonna lose 500fps out of a rifle. Unless the barrel is 20ft long.

Cocked & Locked
December 15, 2010, 04:51 AM
This Winchester .44 magnum is the only one I have...never owned another one. I like it with its 16" barrel and large loop lever. Shoots great with Hornady XTP bullets in reloads.

http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2169/3082611/17383006/336269241.jpg

vaupet
December 15, 2010, 09:40 AM
@ cocked and locked: very nice.
curious about the sling, looks like the one target shooters use. Do you have the make and model available?
curious about the big lever: is it original or aftermarket
curious about the saddle ring: is it original as well?

looks like my ideal lever: short barrel, straight stock, big lever, adjustable peepsight and saddle ring

TIA

Peter

Cocked & Locked
December 15, 2010, 11:06 AM
Thanks for your comments. The sling is an old worn one I bought for $5. I can't make myself drill a hole in a previously not drilled Winchester stock. Instead, I removed the butt plate and put a piece of leather under it to attach the sling and swivel to.

The saddle ring and large loop lever are original to the gun. I did wrap the lever. I also replaced the front sight with a gold bead one...also removed factory rear sight and filled the dovetail with a blank. The Williams receiver sight has a large diameter "Twilight aperture" in it...Large hole surrounded by a thin brass ring.

T.R.
December 15, 2010, 07:46 PM
http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c146/rushmoreman/Ruger_96.jpg

I agree that RUGER 96 is the best lever design ever for the 44 MAG.

I'll add to the previous list of reasons:

1:20 twist to stabilize heavy bullets of 300 grains and more.

- High level of accuracy with these heavy bullets.

- High level of accuracy with the slower 44 Special ammo.

Excellent trigger right from the box.

I owned a Marlin 1894 model with slo-o-o-ow twist and microgroove rifling. This carbine with its ridiculous twist 1:38 shot it's very best (just OK) with 200 grain Hornady (.430) hollow tip bullet. I killed 11 blacktail deer with it when I was stationed with USAF in northern California. My shots never exceeded 80 yards with the Hornady bullet. But this carbine shot horrible 7 inch groups at 100 yards with Remington or Winchester ammo. I sold this Marlin when the Ruger 96 came out and never looked back.

TR

http://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c146/rushmoreman/44MAG.jpg

JNewell
December 15, 2010, 08:02 PM
Browning B92 repro of the 1892. Best made, sweetest shooting .44M levergun made.

bluetopper
December 15, 2010, 10:51 PM
Anybody had any experience with the Puma/Chiappa or any other of the Italian made reproductions?

Gordon
December 15, 2010, 10:59 PM
Browning B92 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have used mine for 25 years and it never acted up in any way. I got rid of my Marlin Cowboy .44 about 5 years ago, It was rough as a cob IMHO.
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=206307715

Kernel
December 16, 2010, 01:39 AM
I can't make myself drill a hole in a previously not drilled Winchester stock. Instead, I removed the butt plate and put a piece of leather under it to attach the sling and swivel to.
That's a great idea.

Cocked & Locked
December 16, 2010, 03:59 AM
I agree that RUGER 96 is the best lever design ever for the 44 MAG.

I'll add to the previous list of reasons:

1:20 twist to stabilize heavy bullets of 300 grains and more.

- High level of accuracy with these heavy bullets.

- High level of accuracy with the slower 44 Special ammo.

That's great to hear! I wondered how the 96/44 was for accuracy. Off topic, but I had a Ruger 77/44 bolt action. It was the most inaccurate rifle I ever owned. Looked great but it was a loser.

I never could work up a accurate handload with any weight bullet for it. Winchester white box 240 grain was the most accurate ammo in...12" groups at 100 yards. Not good.

http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2169/3082611/17383006/276618283.jpg

Black Frog
December 16, 2010, 10:18 AM
That's great to hear! I wondered how the 96/44 was for accuracy.

Just a note about that... I've played with a LOT of Ruger 44's over the years.
Original 44 Carbine, 77/44, 96/44, and Deefields. And multiples of each model.

Some Rugers are shooters, others are not. Don't know why or what causes it, but be aware that sometimes you will run into a rifle that just does not group well no matter what ammo you put through it. I have several 96/44's now, and one of the guns just will not cooperate. Plenty good enough for 100yd whitetail hunting, but 6" groups outta that particular gun are common no matter what ammo weight or make I put through it. My other 96/44's behave much better.

CraigC
December 16, 2010, 11:16 AM
Unfortunately, the Ruger's magazine will be the limiting factor. There's simply not enough room to take advantage of its faster twist rate.

Cocked & Locked
December 16, 2010, 11:56 AM
Unfortunately, the Ruger's magazine will be the limiting factor. There's simply not enough room to take advantage of its faster twist rate.

I don't understand the connection between magazine and barrel twist. :o I'm guessing you're referring to overall cartridge length in the magazine when using 300 grain bullets? :scrutiny:

68wj
January 3, 2011, 05:09 PM
Now I am in the same pickle. I am wanting to trade the Winny .30-30 for a .44. Unfortunately I plan to shoot a lot of cast bullets through it and am concerned about the Marlin complaints.

OldRook
January 3, 2011, 07:02 PM
I have owned two marlin 1894's in 44 mag, reasonably accurate guns, 2" at 100 yards for what they are

have a winchester 94 AE saddle ring carbine in 44 magnum, maybe a bit better shooting rifle, but could be my wishes...

have 2 ruger 77 44 magnum stainless/synthetic rifles.. shoot about the same as the marlins...

fine gun for white tails up to 150 yards.. after that you better just watch them...

shoot hornady 240 gr XTP's and H110... can ring the metal gong at 200 regularly, but get enough flyers (some of it is the shooter i'm sure) that it would have to be a tremendously tempting target at 200..

Dr.Rob
January 3, 2011, 09:59 PM
Marlin 1894 is a hell of a rifle, but unless you reallllllllllly want that octagon barrel don't buy the cowboy limited model. Also I've found some of my handloaded 300gr xtp's that fit in my Super BlackHawk Hunter won't work in the Marlin. They are too long to operate properly.

However, Prvi factory 300 gr jsp's work just fine. And that's one heck of a bullet.

(This user has the cowboy limited model and it's fantastic, just saying that it's about $200 more than a standard model)

CraigC
January 3, 2011, 10:43 PM
I don't understand the connection between magazine and barrel twist. I'm guessing you're referring to overall cartridge length in the magazine when using 300 grain bullets?
Correct. The twist is fast enough to stabilize the heavyweights, up to and including 355gr but the magazine is too short to contain them.


This user has the cowboy limited model and it's fantastic, just saying that it's about $200 more than a standard model
That's because the octagon barrels are supplied by Badger.

chasw44
January 4, 2011, 09:31 AM
I have two Marlins, an M1894 in .44 mag and a M444 with a custom 1in24 twist Douglas barrel. The .444 is a tack driver with 300 grain cast bullets, the M1894 has the factory Ballard tube, with the 1in48 twist, which I had cut back to 18.5 inches so I could mount the front sight behind the front band, carbine style. It does OK with the short 240 grainers. Modern shooters don't usually carry their Marlin carbines in saddle scabbards, so Marlin long ago moved the front band back a few inches and put the front sight at the very end of the barrel, for more sight radius I guess.

In any event, both rifles have trouble feeding SWC bullets, so I load LBT style cast bullets instead, with a taper crimp. These have a smooth ogive all the way back to the mouth of the case and feed without a hitch. Ditto the comments about the Marlin design -simple, foolproof, easy to disassemble and clean. Detail stripping and reassembling a Winchester lever action requires 3 days of pray and fasting, or so they say. - CW

270
January 5, 2011, 09:01 PM
As about 3 other guys have said: Browning B-92 saddle ring carbine. The best gun for the handgun cartridges ever made. Quality all the way. I've looked at about all and had some others mentioned here. The Browning B-92 is the very best.

Good one for around 700 to 1000. A case where you pay more and get more.

270

FredT
January 5, 2011, 10:57 PM
That's great to hear! I wondered how the 96/44 was for accuracy. Off topic, but I had a Ruger 77/44 bolt action. It was the most inaccurate rifle I ever owned. Looked great but it was a loser.

I never could work up a accurate handload with any weight bullet for it. Winchester white box 240 grain was the most accurate ammo in...12" groups at 100 yards. Not good.

http://pic90.picturetrail.com/VOL2169/3082611/17383006/276618283.jpg
I too have one of these 77/44s, one of the most disgustingly inaccurate rifles I ever owned. I had Bullberry rebarrel it with a varmint weight barrel and now it shoots OK, not the one inch they guarantee. It is now one of the most expensive rifles I own and can not afford to sell it, but I like it now.

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