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Marlin or Puma/Rossi Lever Gun?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DougB, Jun 2, 2003.

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  1. DougB

    DougB Member

    Jan 5, 2003
    A friend and I are considedering pistol-caliber lever actions. He wants a .357 (less expensive to plink with, and it would match his favorite revolver). I prefer a .44. We both prefer stainless. I like the Marlin 1894SS, but wish it were available with a 16-18" barrel instead of just the 20". Marlin doesn't make a .357 in stainless, so my friend's only option (that I know of) is the Rossi/Puma. He might give up stainless to get a Marlin if it's a better rifle. He wants it to feed .38s as well as .357s. I might also go with the stainless Rossi/Puma .44 if it's a good gun. I'm sure Winchesters are also good, but they aren't available in stainless, and I think they have a longer lever throw than Marlin 1984s, correct? I've also considered having an 1894SS shortend by having a few inches cut from the barrel (I think I could have it done for about $85).

    Please help us choose between the Marlin and Puma in terms of:

    - Quality
    - Reliability
    - Lever throw (shorter would be better)
    - Ease of mounting an apeture sight
    - Manual Safety design (which is less bad)
    - General feel and function

    Regarding the manual safety, I understand that it is safe and traditonal to carry these rifles with a round in the chamber and the hammer at half-cock, without using a manual safety (which I think is a recent addition prompted by legal/liability issues rather than actual need). Is this correct? If so, I would prefer to manually cock the hammer rather than get into the habit of using a manual safety that won't even be present on older rifles.

    Also, I've read here that Rossi/Puma rifles are imported by several companies (EMF, Navy Arms, etc.) - any significant differences?

    I've read a lot of previous posts about these rifles (whicih were informative), but am looking for some more specific comparative info in the areas listed above. Thanks.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2003
  2. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Plymouth Meeting, PA
    I just picked up an EMF Hartford Model 1892 short rifle in .357, with a 20" octagonal barrel. It was made by Rossi. I have not shot it yet but the action is smooth and the wood to metal fit is good. From what I've read online the Rossis work well. As a replica of the Winchester 1892, you'll have a hard time finding a smoother action.

    The Marlins are great guns as well, and probably have nicer looking wood. (My EMF/Rossi has some nondescript Brazilian hardwood on it. Functional but plain.)

    Marlin drills and taps their guns for receiver sights, while the EMF is not. OTH, the Marlin has that $%^&#! crossbolt safety, while the EMF iteration of the 1892 only has the traditional halfcock notch, the way a levergun should be, IMO.

    I realize this isn't a lot of info but it's one data point. Hope it helps a little.
  3. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Northern Indiana
    If you don't get a lot of response...

    you might post in the "Coyboy" forum. Those guys use their guns probably more than most.

    Having little experience, this is just a guess. I'd suppose that, if you just do a moderate amount of shooting, and aren't going to load hot, the Rossi would do, but I'd suspect the Winchester and Marlin may have better steel.

    I do help fill in at a gun store from time to time, and we don't get complaints on the Rossi, so I'd guess the quality is plenty adequate.

    I'd rate Marlin levers at about as good as it gets.

    (EDIT) I just read the post about "Is there a .454 in a LeverGun?"

    You may want to read it.
  4. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Kampong Cham, Cambodia
    I just got a Marlin 1894c in 357 and I was wondering if it would feed fired cartridges and lo and behold it fed a couple of them about 80% but I could only put one at a time in the mag tube.

    I really like my 94 cause it is lightweight and accurate.
  5. iamkris

    iamkris Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    My own little slice of Purgatory
    I shoot Cowboy and own a Rossi Puma 92 in 45 colt, stainless, 24" octagonal bbl.

    I bought it used for $275 and have done the following: refinished ugly black-stained stock (cost = elbow grease), slicked up action (cost = elbow grease), Bunkhouse spring set ($20), Marbles full buckhorn rear and gold beaded front blade ($25), replace ugly safety with a "plug" ($40), steel follower ($10). Total in the gun = $370

    She is accurate and reliable and now quite pretty. Well balanced. A keeper.

    I've only shot 1 Marlin lever gun and it was a fine gun.
    Pro = comes pretty nice from the factory, good sights, short lever throw, reliable, accurate
    Con = cross bolt safety, needs slicking up (what gun doesn't anymore?), pricier than a Rossi or EMF or Navy Arms

    My verdict? The 1892. I like the lines better.
  6. Atticus

    Atticus Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    "you might post in the "Coyboy" forum. Those guys use their guns probably more than most."

    Now that's funny (unintentional I'm sure).
  7. Desert Dog

    Desert Dog Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Deep East Texas
    Actually, contrary to some beliefs on this thread, the Rossi Puma 92 action is quite a bit stronger than the Winchester 94 or the Marlin 1894. The fit and finish is almost as good, and the accuracy is as good or better. The sights suck big time, and the trigger pull is crisp, if a little stiff. The action smoothes out very ncely after about 100 rounds or so.

    The key to the strength is the Browning designed Winchester 1892 action that is cloned in the Pumas. It is a smaller version of the tough as nails 1886 action that Browning designed to handle the 45/70 and 45/90 cartridges. The addition of modern steel to the formula, makes a lever action rifle that is capable of handling the .454 Casull cartridge without beating itself to death.

    The big shortfall on the weapon is the $.25 sights they put on them. But aftermarket sights are cheap, plentiful. and of excellent quality.

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