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October 23, 2008

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A Mighty Mini Marlin

Thumbmeganfoxfhm A number of you have asked if I have a fixation on Ms. Elisha Cuthbert. The answer is yes, but just to show that I’m not weird about it or anything, here is a photo of Ms. Megan Fox, and my thanks to Nate Matthews for finding her, as it were.

But I digress. Marlin has interesting new stuff for 09, including new walnut and laminated stocks for the wonderful, and bargain-priced, XL-7 centerfire rifle. For $300 and change (Cabela’s has sold it for below $300) this gun is beyond belief.

For you lever-gun lovers who yearned for something just a tad more powerful than the .308 Marlin, there is now a .338 Marlin Express, loaded with a 200-grain bullet at 2,565 fps. It is not the ballistic equal of the .338 Win Mag. or the new Ruger short magnum of that caliber, but it is a thumper, and a serious step up in power.

What grabbed me, though was the Marlin Model 1895SBL. The company has taken note of all the hot-rodded Guide Guns out there and decided to build one of their own. It’s .45/70, all stainless steel, laminated stock, heavy 18.5-inch barrel, an enlarged loop lever, a 5-shot half-magazine, and instead of the usual horrible factory sights, it’s been fitted with the XS Ghost Ring sight system. This consists of a big white post up front and a huge, adjustable-aperture rear. You look through it and the aperture seems to vanish. It’s very fast to use. There is a long rail mount that let you use long-eye-relief scopes or standard scopes.

I think Marlin is going to be back-ordered on these for years. It is an altogether nifty little beast, and all the gun writers rushed to grope it. The two samples they had at the range were extremely slick in operation; I don’t know if they had been tuned or not. It’s possible that, in the future, Marlin may establish its own custom shop, where you can get not only special working guns like this, but fancy ones as well. Many years ago, Marlin offered all sorts of grades with fancy wood and checkering, and engraving and inlaying. It would be nice to see that come back.


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Teak Phillips

That 1895 SBL does sound like a nice gun. I've been in the market for a lever-action brush gun, and perhaps this one is worth the wait. Did you write a review on it for the magazine?

Jim in Mo

Now your talking. No need for that rail mount, heavy woods gun it is.




I'm referring to the .45-70; Megan Fox looks sweet, too.


Hmmm....a tactical lever gun.



I hope that long rail mount isn't permanently affixed to the gun? I can't think of anything more worthless than the "scout" rifle design.


You were wrong, Dave; that Marlin isn't as cool as Sarah Palin. But it IS cool enough. If they make a takedown version, it's be America's best second rifle. Use your scoped .30-06, .270, etc. for most of your hunting, and anything they can't do, this .45-70 can. The rail might chew up a scabbard. It would seem to me that a red dot or a holosight would be what you'd want on a rifle like this, yet the reviewers (guys like you) usually mount a 4.5 x 16 so you can shoot groups with it. What do you think of holosights? I read about them but have never used one. Are they better than an Accupoint red dot (like the one on my .30-30)?


Nice! Except for that rail. Glad they left out the porting. Next comes the vacuum deposited corrosion resistant finish ....


How can I get on a list for one of these? It is on my short list this year for sure!!!!!!!!!!

Dr. Ralph

Yeah the tactical rails to me take away a little from the aesthetics. Ghost rings perform many tasks incredibly... fast target acquisition, ability to hold on a moving target and occasionally interchangeable apertures... the A-5 my dad hunted deer with in a shotgun only state has a Williams peep sight.

Invest now in Marlin XL's & XS's you know they'll be $450 soon... .308 if you believe the apocalypse is near.


Hello. My name is Edgar and I'm an editor at OpposingViews.com, the debate website. Since we both cover gun issues, I thought I'd drop you a note. I would've e-mailed you but I couldn't find an address.
See, we're currently having a discussion about whether or not formula feeding harms babies. You can see it here:
Although vetted experts are the ones doing the debating, anyone can contribute by choosing a side and posting comments about the experts' arguments.
Check it out and, if you have the time, let me know what you think at [email protected]


Its good to see a tricked out factory Marlin.
But what is the attraction of the huge hoop lever?

As a kid I put a lot of rounds through a 1894 and it seems that the big hoop would just slow you down when cycling the action.

Jim in Mo

Damn son, when your done shootin' ya need that big lever to spin it around like Chuck Conners used to do.


I get the feeling that the big lever loop is for easy operating while wearing heavy winter gloves or if you have to grab it and cycle a round quickly. I can imagine both are important when hunting in places like Alaska, where there are cold temps early in the year and lots of cranky animals.


Thanks Dave. Now all I can think about is a lever gun from Marlin's custom shop with Ms. Fox carved on the stock and a Ms. Cuthbert inlay on the grip. Now squeeze.

Jim in Mo

I have a Marlin 336 chambered for .35 Rem. I don't know why I've always wanted one in 45-70 but I do.


I have absolutely no use for a .45/70, but, for some reason, I still really want one. Way to go, Marlin.

Dr. Ralph

Dave quit bowing to public pressure and keep Elisha as your trademark pin up model. She is well deserving of the title, and to be perfectly honest I am ashamed that you have a non-blond as a sordid substitute...

Dan R.

Jim in Mo.: glad I'm not the only one who thought of Chuck Connors when I saw that loop. Brings back good memories. No doubt that is one cool gun, but cool as Sarah Palin??? The jury's still out on that one...


For reasons that I will not boar you with I have always prefered Marlin lever guns over Winchesters. Two of the more interesting ones I have yearned to own include a friend's Model 93 which he inherited from his grandfather. It is chambered in .38-55, has a half magazine, an octagon barrel, receiver is fully engraved, and drop dead gorgeous wood with a curved steel buttplate. After careful examination I felt that it was all factory original. My friend thought his grandfather personally ordered it in the early part of the previous century. Another acquaintance has a Model 410 which is exactly that. A level action 410 shotgun with a 26 inch smoothbore barrel. We once tried shooting doves with it and as you would expect were not very successful. I am certain that these new Marlins will live up to our expectations but I sure wish you could still get one like the old guys ordered.


nice gun but i do not like the big ugly rail mount. they should have made it at least the same color as the rest of the gun, so it wouldnt stand out like a sore thumb. the one thing missing is a muzzle brake. if you have shot very many full power (1800 + fps) 400 grainers, you know what i mean. the large lever loop is a wash to me. but the aperature sight is nice. and for my money, Sarah Palin is hot! she may not be as hot as some of these 18 year old pin up girls, but once you hit 50, those little cuties are in the same age bracket as your kids. the 338 marlin sounds interesting. i will have to do some research on it. thanks dave!

VaTx Hunter

Edgar @ OpposingViews.com
No Thanks for your Spam

VaTx Hunter

I have a Marlin in 30-30 & 45-70.
Love em and Dave your articale has me sporting wood for the new 45-70 and Megan.


About eight or so years back I bought a Marlin 1895SS in .45/70 for no other reason than every American should own such a caliber. Blued, not stainless, but the 18 1/2 barrel and open sights shoot like a dream....tons of fun as well.

Dr. Ralph

VaTxHunter thanks for the spam alert, glad I didn't go there. Sporting wood? That's a new one on me but the point is certainly clear...

As far as the Marlin lever actions I have never owned one but I have three friends who are brothers and their dad got them all 336's I think, 30-30 of course with a gold trigger. This was probably late seventies early eighties and I have hunted with all three as I was the only one of our group without a centerfire rifle. Showed up in camp with an Ithaca Deerslayer and they laughed their asses off at "the Yankee with a shotgun". Anyway I have found the 336's to be superior in function and accuracy and with the ability to mount a scope. The wood on these were not what Winchester was producing nor was the fit and finish but they did the job they were designed for immaculately.

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