Marlin Classic Model 1895 Mini Review

Marlin 45-70 right side

When it comes to big bore rifles for North American game, there’s 1 rifle that stands out as the biggest practical bore to use for short range game busting, the Marlin 1895. Chambered in the ancient 45-70, the 1895 can fire uploaded rounds to stoutly knock down deer, bear, elk, and anything else in North America.

45-70 for Hunting

To put it simply, 45-70 is not super convenient for hunting. There are 3 power levels (original, lever, and falling block) that complicate the already meager ammo offerings at the local gun shop. And if you’re hunting with your 1895, you want the powered up lever action loads because they make a big difference in the effective range of this round. Hornady’s LEVERevolution product helps extend range and is made for lever action rifles and is the plain choice for extended range factory loaded ammunition for this rifle. Depending on your shop, you may find some heavy duty stuff, but it’s certainly not wide-spread. Once you get into reloading, there are some really good options out there.

Reloading the 45-70 for Hunting

Again, not incredibly convenient. There are 45 caliber bullets for 45 ACP and 45 Colt that can confuse reloading for the 45-70. That, and Hornady’s FTX bullets that they use in their Leverevolution line does not work with regular length 45-70 cases, they need a much more trimmed down case that’s practically proprietary to Hornady. So you have to make a choice, run with Hornady’s cases and bullets for reloading or go with the standard length cases and bullets. If you want maximum extended range, Hornady is the clear solution. Their FTX bullets are at least somewhat streamlined and they offer ballistic co-efficients that are much better than regular 45-70 fare. If you want wicked short range power and penetration, there are some big bad lead bullets in the 300-500 grain range that can provide crushing power without making a big mess on the inside of whatever you shoot. I chose to load this particular 45-70 up with factory length cases and 405 grain flat nose lead bullets. The recoil is jarring, but it offers a lot of energy for short range shots.

Marlin 1895 sight radius and rear sights

Marlin’s 1895 in 45-70

Have you played around with Marlin 336’s? If you have, you already have a very good idea of what’s in store with the 1895. Side eject, side loading tube magazine, decent ergonomics with the pistol grip stock. There is a straight grip stock available and I can’t say I’d recommend it. It forces my wrist and elbow to jut out at an awkward angle, while the grip offered in this one is alright. I found the checkering on my model to be sharp and grippy. One big knock I have for this rifle is the included buckhorn rear sights. They’re just terrible for accurate work and they’re not any faster than a plain blade rear sight. Nostalgic, maybe. . .but this is a hunting rifle. If you choose this rifle, budget for a value rear peep or pricier rear peep sight or a robust red dot like the Vortex SPARC. If you do choose to mount a riflescope, you’ll need to add on the hammer extension. Keep with low/fixed/simple zooms, because this rifle really shines with close action, it is not a ridge sniper.

Quality on this particular model was OK, but a few things weren’t all that great. One was the blued finish. On the receiver, the finish was pretty thin and the condensation from coming in after a cold morning hunt caused light surface rust by the afternoon. I take care of my guns, but that kind of fragility wasn’t very confidence-inspiring. I now keep the receiver with a thin coat of oil on it to prevent further rust.

Overall, this is a pretty cool gun because of the chambering and cost. As a secondary rifle to take into the bush when close shots are assured and quick follow up shots may be needed, a lever action rifle can be quite handy. If elk, moose, or bear are on the menu, this is a better choice than a 30-30 and will be quicker to reload than a magnum bolt action rifle. If you’re looking for a bear buster, this is it.

  • Chris Miller

    Some of the newer Marlin 1895’s will not chamber the FTX bullets reliably, like the one I got. The shape of the bullet and overall length prevent loading from the magazine.

    Federal Fusion makes a 300gr hunting round that works well, but reloading is your best bet.

    The Leverevolution work great in 44 Mag, 30-30, and others, but don’t bother with the 45/70.

    A Williams 5D Peep sight works wonders on this rifle. It is less than $50 and uses the scope base holes for easy mounting.

    Shooting the Fusion rounds produced a good push on the shoulder. Shooting handloads near maximum was painful. I nice compromise was 46gr of IMR 4198 behind a Hornady 300gr jacketed hollow point.

    Accuracy was better than expected. Shooting 5 round groups at 100 yards, standing unsupported, I was able to keep the groups down to 3 or 4 inches. I give most of the credit to the peep sight for those groups.

    I can’t wait to carry this rifle for Moose this year.

  • Is the Fusion a level 1 load? From their website, it looks like it’s doing about 1850 fps at the muzzle compared to most of the lever action strength loads doing 2300-2400 with a 300 grain bullet (at full power.) Thanks for the tip on the Williams Peep, I’ll add it into the article. Have fun with the Moose this year, you’ve got a great short range Bullwinkle Buster.

  • Chris Miller

    The Fusion load is not a full load, they are quite pleasant to shoot compared to my full loads.

    Inside of 100 yards, I don’t think the Moose will worry about the difference between 1850 and 2300 fps 🙂

    I’m trying to find a better factory load, but most of the available ammo is in the 1850-1880 range.

    At $50 a box, hand loading makes the most sense.

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