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Which lever action .44's to keep?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by msmp5, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. msmp5

    msmp5 Member

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    I'd like seek the collective wisdom and opinions of y'all, so here goes.......

    I have five lever action .44 mag rifles, all 20" bbls, all in the same relative VG-EXC condition, all have been sitting in my safe for well over 25 years. I probably last shot them when George H. W. Bush Sr. was President, so I can no longer remember how they "shot". I am taking them to the range next week, but before I do so, I'd like to know which two (or maybe 3), in the opinion of You Experts, that I should keep (assuming they all shoot equally well), and why. (Because I will likely sell 2 or 3 of them.) Here they are:

    Browning-92 (Miroku/Japan) .44 mag ser # 08698PZxxx

    Winchester Ranger marked .44 mag ser # 5401xxx

    Rossi .44 mag marked made in Brazil (but no import markings that I could see), has a saddle ring, ser # M0015xx

    Marlin Model 1894, marked .44 mag micro-groove bbl, ser # 19118xxx

    Marlin Model 1894S, marked .44 mag or .44 spl ser # 11083xxx
    (This is the only one marked both .44 mag and .44 spl)

    What's the pros and cons on these? Which two or three of these would YOU keep, assuming similar accuracy?

    Is there any significance to the Marlin Model 1894S that is marked both .44 mag and .44 spl? Does this one "handle" or feed the .44 spl better than the others that are not marked .44 spl? I rarely shoot .44 mag, even in my handguns chambered for it, so the ability to have a lever action rifle that shoots .44 spl well and accurately would be an advantage. Would the other Marlin, the Rossi, the Browning, and the Winchester all handle the .44 spl as well as the .44 mag equally well?

    Also, if anyone can give me an idea of the manufacture dates on them, that'd be great. I found one source for the Marlins, says subtract the 1st two digits from 100 and that is the year of manufacture. If so, then the 1894 was mfg in 1981 and the 1894S in 1989. Can anyone confirm this is accurate? Can't find the Winchester Ranger or the Rossi or the Browning (Miroku) date of manufacture info though.

    Thanks for any help, info, or opinions!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I am partial to Marlins and Rossi and of Marlins I am partial to pre safety models.

    So that means the 1894 and the Rossi 92.

    The fact one says 44 Spl on it means nothing other than that it is newer production.

    The Rossi is built on the bomb proof Winchester 1892 action and is very smooth when slicked up. The Marlins are dirt simple designs and just work.
     
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  3. TikkaShooter

    TikkaShooter Member

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    I'm partial to Marlins; to be accurate, old Marlins. OTOH I've only sold or trade one firearm since the 1960s; so any input I'd have is less than useless. :D:D
     
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  4. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    I guess I'd stand by the two Marlins.

    One, all things being equal - when that has actually happened - my micro-groove Marlins have outshot my Winchesters and beloved Savages.

    The Rossis don't really move me though they can be nice guns.
    A Japanese Browning, which really gives up very little to Belgian or American Brownings of the past is still, to me, a Japanese product and they just don't tweak me like U.S. or Belgian product.
    So modern a Winchester, unless A.E. holds no sway over me either.

    Todd.
     
  5. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    I say keep the Browning 1892 by Miroku. I have another fine example of this terrific longarm, also in .44 magnum. It's one of the nicest lever actions there is.
    I have others....in fact I recently obtained a Marlin 1894 COWBOY in .357 magnum. Also, leveractions in .44-40, .45 Colt, .30-30, .32-20, and .22LR.
    Only difference is .... I'm keepin' ALL of mine. ;)
     
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  6. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I'd keep the Browning. Or sell them all and get a nice custom lever.
     
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  7. Gordon
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    Gordon Contributing Member

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    Keep the B92 and the Marlin that is marked .44 spl (and Mag) . The B92 is the nicest example of the nicest lever hammer gun ever. And I have had them all. A good older JM is also a very sweet piece, I think the 1892 design as perfected by the Miroku version is the best pistol caliber design ever.
     
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  8. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    The simplest answer is don’t sell a thing! My short list would be Browning and Winchester to keep, the rest to relatives or to sell.
     
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  9. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Gordon

    I would go with those two as well.
     
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  10. msmp5

    msmp5 Member

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    Thanks guys, I'm leaning towards keeping the Browning and one of the Marlins, and maybe the Rossi, and get rid of the Winchester Ranger and the other Marlin. Seems not to be a consensus on which Marlin to keep though, the 1894 or the 1894S; I don't think either is an "old Marlin", I think they both date to the 1980's. I'd like to hear a bit more on the pros and cons of these two Marlins, if anyone cares to elaborate. Of course, the final decision on what I'll keep will wait until after I take 'em out to the range next week!

    Does anyone know how the manufacture date by serial number system works for the Marlins? I found one source that says subtract the 1st two digits from 100 and that is the year of manufacture. If so, then the 1894 was mfg in 1981 and the 1894S in 1989. Can anyone confirm this is accurate? Does anyone have info on how to date the Rossi or the Browning (Miroku) by serial number?
     
  11. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I would keep the B92 because it's a vintage and beautiful Winchester replica, and probably in demand.
    As I recall, the one that I owned was meticulously made and finished.
    I would also keep the stainless Marlin 1894S. I really liked the looks of the one I owned around 2006, and it shot well. Also, they don't make the 1894S anymore, I don't think.
    And these days, 1980s Marlins ARE vintage Marlins that are in demand.
    Sell the Ranger and the Rossi. I can't think of a reason to keep them.
    The remaining Marlin 1894 might be a keeper, but as a quality JM product, made when JM quality was still excellent, it should command a good price.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  12. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    The only one I'd keep sight unseen would be the Browning. With the rest of them, it'd come down to the individual rifle more than anything. Maybe there's one you've never shot well, one that doesn't always feed cleanly, one that has a "hitch" in the lever, etc... I'd keep what works for you and sell what doesn't. If all six of them work flawlessly, I congratulate you on your rifle-buying fortune.
     
  13. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    I'd keep the Marlin 1894S, for practical hunting and shooting reasons. The Winchester I would keep, as a collector value.

    As for the rest, it's a popular design, in a popular caliber, and wouldn't be in a flying rush to sell any of them, unless the price was right.
     
  14. <*(((><
    • Contributing Member

    <*(((>< Luke

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    I would probably keep the Browning, the pre-safety Marlin and the Rossi for a knockaround shooter.

    The other two I would oil up and keep at the back of the safe ;) or sell in a moment of weakness.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  15. msmp5

    msmp5 Member

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    Interesting that you'd keep the Winchester Ranger; I thought that the Ranger was a fairly recent gun (1980's?) with little collector value?? (I can't find the ser # 5401xxx in my various Winchester resources to date it.) For most that replied to this thread, it seems that it is one of the rifles of those I listed that they'd choose to sell first.
     
  16. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I have 13 levers they’re my favorite repeating rifles for sure.

    If I was faced with your conundrum, I would keep the older pre-safety Marlin, which is a great old design, and the Browning B-92, which is a very well made rifle (I’ve wanted one for ages but just can’t afford one.)

    I’m not a big fan of 1894s in pistol calibers ( I do have a 94 trapper .44) because they are often clunky feeders, and the Rossi 1892 clone (I have 2) are not in the same league as the B-92. You have one Marlin, so unless you want to keep two I’d sell the newer one.

    You’ve got good taste in rifles, I’m sure whatever you choose will work out well for you. :thumbup:
    Stay safe.
     
  17. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Browning M92's aren't rare but they don't come up for sale a lot. Most people want the 'cowboy' Marlins or at least ballard rifling (micro groove is still excellent). I'd sell the Rossi, maybe the microgroove gun as JM Marlins are still commanding a higher price.
     
  18. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    Do you need the money for something else? If so, how important is that something else? JM Marlin 1894’s go for ~$700 here in Oklahoma (a state that loves its levers but is also flooded with them).

    The gun I likely wouldn’t keep is the Rossi. They still are not known for quality. Right or wrong, they are thought more of a Savage Axis than a 700 BDL.

    Those looking for leverguns in 44 Mag don’t typically thing about Browning. That name screams “$1,000” around here and will likely be passed over. They think Winchester Trapper or Marlin 1894.

    If you don’t need the money, they aren’t costing you anything sitting in the safe.
     
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  19. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

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    Don't sell anything or we will see you posting down the road. "I'm sorry I ever sold that gun".
     
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  20. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I didn’t see you had the B92 when I first posted. Yeah I’d keep that one too. I would still keep the Rossi and pre safety Marlin too.

    If you absolutely had to get rid of all but two then the Rossi could go.
     
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  21. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    The Winchester won’t command much in price, except by name alone, because of the chambering which discourages “cowboy” shooters. What it is strong on is being a fine handling, well balanced field rifle and in your case a Plain Jane version. Sell that one if you want no return cash wise.

    While the Browning would imo net the most money, it represents the finest of your collection and deserves a place in the safe until you can no longer shoulder any rifle.

    The remaining 3 are still rather common, all very good working examples of why levers are favorable to this day. That makes them a no-hassle, easily moveable sale. Their reputation will see to a good return.

    That was the reasoning behind my suggestion.
     
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  22. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    The Winchester is a capable rifle. It won’t command a premium but it won’t lose value either. In fact I’m sure it will only gain value if only a little. I think they go for around $800 still so that is more than Marlins.

    I’m not a fan of the top eject even if it is an AE Model but i stilI think they took a step backwards chambering 44 mag in the 94 instead of the 92. It seems like only other companies besides Winchester have 44 mag 1892 style rifles.
     
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  23. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    Using the 94 action to chamber .44 mag was expeditious -- the action was being made in .30-30 and it was probably believed it was simpler and cheaper to retool the 94 action to .44 caliber than bring back the 1892 action.
    I understand 1894s in .44 were not completely reliable in feeding shorter fatter rounds. The action was certainly strong enough for the .44 magnum, but perfected for the longer centerfire rifle rounds. With the short pistol rounds ... just too much compromise.
    As for the 1894 Marlin, it was always designed for pistol size rounds. Assuring the action would handle modern magnum charges was really all Marlin had to do. The .44 magnum round is almost exactly the same overall size as the old .44-40, although the two DO NOT INTERCHANGE and the .44 magnum is whole magnitudes of power greater than the old .44-40.
     
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  24. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Exactly. A lot of Winchester's endless series of shiny plated commemoratives on the .30-30 action were in guns adapted to .44-40 using a stamped steel cartridge lifter and different cartridge guides. It was simple enough to also produce 1894 Winchesters in .44 magnum to cash in on the popularity of Marlin's 1894.
     
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  25. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    I can't see the Rossi or the Ranger as keepers.
    The Rossi is pretty common and the fit and quality on them varies from good to horrible, as does the accuracy.
    So, why hang on to one unless this one is something special?
    The Ranger is just an 1894 Winchester adapted to .44 magnum, and is neither collectible nor desirable.
    The JM Marlins date back to the 1980s when quality was very high, and probably shoot well.
    But, it depends on whether you just want to clean out the safe, or make some money as well as cleaning out the safe.
    I would hang on to the Browning and the Marlins and sell them or pass them on when you get old enough to need to.
     
    Gordon likes this.
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