Marlin Model 1894 Rifles

By Chuck Hawks

Marlin 1894C
Illustration courtesy of Marlin Firearms Co.

The original lever action Marlin Model 1894 was a typical Marlin lever action design for the time with a square bolt, solid top action, and color case finish on the receiver. Rifle, musket, and carbine versions of the Model 1894 were produced.

The Model 1894 was a short action chambered for the combination rifle/pistol cartridges of the day. By 1934 the demand for rifles shooting pistol cartridges had shrunk to the vanishing point, and the old Model 1894 was discontinued.

The advent of powerful magnum revolver cartridges, first the .357 Magnum and later the .44 Magnum, renewed interest in the concept, and the folks at Marlin realized that there was once again money to be made selling rifles for pistol cartridges. Rather than design a new action, they wisely put their excellent Model 1894 back into production. The new rifles came with blued rather than color cased actions and were made of superior modern steel, but otherwise were similar to the original Model 1894.

As I write these words in 2003, there are four variations of the standard Model 1894 centerfire rifles. These are the 1894PG (.44 Rem. Mag./.44 Spec.), 1894FG (.41 Rem. Mag.), 1894SS (.44 Rem. Mag/.44 Spec.), and 1894C (.357 Mag./.38 Spec.).

All of these standard Model 1894's are made with solid top receivers (drilled and tapped for scope mounts) and forged, machined steel parts. All come with genuine black walnut stocks that feature fluted combs, cut checkering and Marlin's Mar-Shield stock finish.

The Model 1894SS is similar to the 1894PG, but features a stainless steel barreled action and a straight grip stock. It is 37.5" long and weighs 6 pounds.

The 1894C is the carbine version, only available in .357 Magnum. It comes with blued steel metal parts, a straight grip stock, and an 18.5" barrel with a carbine type barrel band rather than a fore-end cap.

In addition to the standard Model 1894 rifles and carbines there are also special "Cowboy" variations. These are designed, no surprises here, primarily for the sport of cowboy action shooting. All Cowboy models come with tapered octagon, rather than round, barrels.

The standard Model 1894 Cowboy calibers are .45 Colt (24" barrel), .357 Mag./.38 Spec. (20" barrel), and .44 Mag./.44 Spec. (20" barrel). In the Magnum calibers and equipped with a low power scope these make perfectly adequate short range hunting rifles.

Perhaps the biggest advantage possessed by all of the Marlin 1894 lever action rifles is their solid top receivers, which allows a telescopic sight to be mounted low and overbore using a conventional one piece base on top of the receiver. Other desirable features of the 1894 rifles include fast repeat shot capability, ambidextrous operation, and the flat action without a bolt handle sticking out of the side makes them easy to carry.

The Marlin Model 1894 is a fine rifle, accurate and reliable. Its short action, designed for pistol cartridges form the beginning, makes it the best choice among the rifles so chambered today.

Note: Full length reviews of Marlin Model 1894 rifles in .357 Mag and .44 Mag. can be found on the Product Reviews

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Copyright 2003, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.