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Best 44 Mag Lever Gun?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by bluetopper, Dec 12, 2010.

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  1. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

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    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.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    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
     
  3. jkingrph

    jkingrph Member

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

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I meant to type Marlin 1894, but I didn't!! :eek:

    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
     
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    Still, after examining the long and tedious take down instructions on Winchester M1892's, the Marlin is the only way to go.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2010
  6. GJW1911

    GJW1911 Member

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    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.
     
  7. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    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.
     
  8. 336A

    336A Member

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    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/
     
  9. CaliCoastie

    CaliCoastie Member

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    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.
     
  10. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    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.
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    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.
     
  12. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    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.
     
  13. Hanzerik

    Hanzerik Member

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    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.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. sappyg

    sappyg Member

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    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.
     
  15. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

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    Isn't Puma and Rossi one and the same, all owned/made by Taurus?

    Some listed on gunbroker make me think so.
     
  16. Hanzerik

    Hanzerik Member

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    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.
     
  17. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    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.
    I would do a search over there.
     
  18. Rifleman 173

    Rifleman 173 Member

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    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.
     
  19. jyo

    jyo Member

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    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.
     
  20. evan price

    evan price Member

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    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.
     
  21. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    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.
     
  22. kpolivier101

    kpolivier101 Member

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    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.
     
  23. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    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.
     
  24. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    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!
     
  25. Black Frog

    Black Frog Member

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    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.
     
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