|About the gun||Manual||Disassembly|
|About the gun||Serial Number 20077081||Assembly|
|The Case for 357 Magnum Rifle||Marlin Model 94 Cowboy Limited 357 magnum|
Marlin Firearms Model 1894C: What Once Was Old Is New
Marlin Firearms has
retooled its Model 1894C, adding to the lever action's undeniable connection to
the Old West and widespread appeal.
Say what you want about the
high-tech firearms on the market today — the tactical, the long-range tack
drivers and the semi-auto wonders laying down veritable fields of fire — the
lever action remains an American favorite.
The lever action’s
connection to the Old West is undeniable and certainly part of its appeal. But
another key reason the lever action remains popular more than 100 years after
the original Winchester Model 1894 was introduced is the pure functionality of
the rifle itself. Easy to load, accurate and extremely maneuverable, the lever
action is also a lot of fun to shoot.
My basic question: What
functions does this handgun chambering in a carbine accomplish that the handgun
Marlin Firearms recently
debuted a redesigned lever action that is sure to attract attention, the Model 1894C chambered in .357 Mag/.38
Spl. Marlin had an 1894C in this caliber combination
previously, but reintroduced it late last year after a near-complete overhaul
from an engineering standpoint. Marlin engineers kept the same basic design, but
tweaked several parts to make both calibers feed much more efficiently.
Marlin recently sent me a
new Model 1894C to test and evaluate. I was a little suspicious about the notion
of a handgun caliber in a long gun. My feeling has always been that handgun
calibers belong in … handguns. My basic question: What functions does this
handgun chambering in a carbine accomplish that the handgun does not?
After several range
sessions with the Model 1894C, my questions were answered. The long-gun
application of the handgun caliber makes the rounds more accurate and more
powerful, and therefore more useable in the field. In this case, the Model 1894C
will make a fine truck gun, is a great choice for a youth rifle, and has many
applications for hunting, plinking and even home defense.
the Model 1894C
My test Model 1894C arrived
with iron sights, and a nicely checkered wood stock and forend. I headed to my
outdoor range to see what the rifle could do, along with three different brands
of .357 Mag ammunition: Aguila with a 158-grain semi-jacketed soft point bullets; Remington Performance Wheelgun and
158-grain semi-wadcutter projectiles;
and, Winchester’s PDX1 Defender load topped
with 125-grain bonded-jacketed hollow points.
I decided my accuracy
testing would be at the 50-yard mark, given the iron sights and my
no-longer-young eyes. I had no problem pegging 1.5- to 2.0-inch five-shot groups
with the Remington and Winchester rounds. My best grouping was with the
Remington Performance Wheelgun at 1.18 inches — and four of those shots
measured just .63 inches.
The Marlin and the Aguila,
though, did not mesh. The very best I could do with this combination was a
single 2-inch group. Most groups, though, were 3 inches or larger.
Marlin Firearms Model 1894C
chambered in .357 Mag/.38 Spl. Photo: Marlin Firearms
Next, I ran 50 rounds of
various .38 Spl. rounds through the rifle — without a hitch. That’s
important. Dual-caliber levers can struggle when going from one caliber to
another, and some earlier versions of the 1894C suffered from this problem. But
not the Marlin 1894C, and that makes the .38 Spl. a nearly recoil-less practice
and plinking option. Per round, the .38 Spl. is also less expensive than .357
Mag., a small but nice selling point for those who are budget-conscious.
The lever and bolt on the
1894C worked smoothly and easily, even when the rifle was on my shoulder. In
nearly 200 rounds, I didn’t have a single hang up or feeding issue. The rifle
features a cross-bolt type safety, with a bright red “Fire” indicator on the
left side of the receiver that’s easy to see.
Rounds loaded easily into
the side port, and the spring in the tubal magazine provided consistent pressure
and clean feeding, whether I had the tube fully loaded with nine rounds or had
only a couple rounds inserted.
The checkering on the
walnut stock and forend of the Marlin 1894C was nicely done, and deep enough for
a very positive grip.
Marlin has retooled the
iconic 1894C lever-action rifle with new calibers to appeal to more consumers
for sport shooting and hunting. Photo: Kat Ainsworth
The trigger breaks at a
nice, crisp 4 pounds, 5 ounces, according to my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.
The one thing I would
change on the rifle? The sights. Now, I fully admit to having 59-year-old eyes
and that’s a real factor here. But I found the hooded front post difficult to
pick up in lower-light conditions, and felt the rear blade should have a
slightly wider notch. A white outline on that notch would be a big help, too.
All of which may not be a factor for younger shooters.
The rifle’s receiver is
drilled and tapped for a scope, and Marlin includes an easily-attached hammer
spur to make life with a scope much easier.
Performance of the Model
I measured 10 rounds of
each brand of .357 Mag ammunition using my PACT Professional-XP Chronograph from
Brownells, and the 18.5-inch barrel on the 1894C actually did produce noticeably
higher velocities, anywhere from an extra 200 to 250 fps.
For example, the Winchester
PDX1 Defender round leaves the muzzle of a 6-inch handgun barrel at 1,325 fps
and achieves 487 ft-lbs. of energy. At 25 yards, the muzzle energy is at 422
ft-lbs., and 371 ft-lbs. at 50 yards, according to two online ballistic
Dual-caliber levers can
struggle when going from one caliber to another, and some earlier versions of
the 1894C suffered from this problem. But not the Marlin 1894C.”
But, the same round through
the Marlin 1894C has a muzzle velocity of 1,516 fps, with 638 ft-lbs. of energy.
At 25 yards, the bullet is moving at 1,404 fps and delivers 547 ft-lbs. of
energy. At 50 yards, the bullet still zips along at 1,304 fps (nearly the same
velocity of a handgun at the muzzle) with 472 ft-lbs. of energy.
It’s not exactly a water
buffalo killer, but plenty of people take deer and hogs every hunting season
with .357 Mag revolvers. Using the Marlin 1894C lever action instead will boost
the .357 Magnum’s energy and range noticeably.
1894C In the Field
As a possible youth rifle
or a truck gun, the Marlin 1894C is a solid option thanks to the shorter
barrel, the maneuverability of the rifle and — even using the harder-hitting
.357 Mag — the rifle has relatively little recoil. It’s also an effective
“The 1894C in 357 is a
great varmint round and even appropriate for deer at modest ranges,” says Eric
Lundgren, marlin’s senior product manager. “And we are seeing a lot of folks
use a lever rifle as a personal protection gun. The .38 Spl. makes the rifle
into a great plinker and is popular because of the lack of recoil.”
Lundgren also noted the
rifle’s ability to use and switch between the two calibers.
“Feeding problems can
occur with rifles that take two cartridges, like the .357 Mag/.38 Spl. and .44
Mag/.44 S&S Spl.,” he says. “And, some ammunition types work well when
others don’t. At first, our engineers could get an extremely low malfunction
rate on the .38 Spl. loads, for example, but not on the .357 Mag. It took a good
while and a lot of tweaking to get them both to run very well, with a wide
variety of ammunition types.”