Image Alt

Marlin Firearm

Marlin 1895 Dark Series Lever-Action Rifle Review

An classic concept is given a fresh spin in the Marlin 1895 Dark Series. The initial concept is still sound, and in my opinion, Marlin’s recent initiatives have only improved upon it.

An instrument that is uniquely American is the lever-action rifle. Although it was created and refined here, it has not enjoyed the same level of popularity elsewhere as it has done for years. The lever action rifle was a staple of hunters for many years because it was the weapon that won the West (and yes, there are debates about which one was most responsible, but we’ll skip that for now).

The returning Doughboys, who having been exposed to the bolt-action rifle during their time in The Great War, were the driving force behind the change. After then, the demand for bolt-action rifles rose, although leverguns remained popular. After World War II, returning GIs were even more eager to adopt the bolt action, but the lever action persisted. This was due in part to the perception that the lever action was a better hunting tool in dense woods and to the influence of the Westerns that dominated American cinema in the 1950s and 1960s.The lever action faded from the scene, having a strong following in areas where its strengths (and its lack of high-BC bullet options) found favor. In thick brush, or close hunting areas, oh, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, the lever action was still a strong presence in hunting camps. Inside of 100 yards you don’t need a high-BC bullet. A medium-caliber bullet, at moderate velocities, does just as well on deer, and you can get a follow-up shot a lot faster with a lever action than a bolt action rifle, before the deer crosses the ridgeline.



So, when Marlin released the 1895 in.45-70 in 1972, everything changed for the better. The entire range of.45-70 loads available from the ammunition manufacturers could be used, and even better, because the Marlin action was so much more powerful than the Trapdoor Springfield, experimenters were able to greatly increase velocity. Occasionally, too much The.45-70 fires.458-caliber bullets “diameter, thus it was a possible issue avoided and none of the.45 ACP or.45 Colt bullets would function. The twist rate was quick enough for any.458 bullet since standard, normal bullets for the.45-70 could sometimes be obtained as heavy as 500 grains “diameter.

The 1895 uses the same fundamental Marlin 336 action as the.444 Marlin did before it. This solid steel receiver has loading and ejection ports on the action’s upper and lower right sides, respectively. The Marlin ejects the empties to the side, in contrast to other iterations of the lever action. The receiver’s top is solid and closed, not open like the top of a 19th-century levergun, and a scope can be mounted there.

Marlin long ago stopped drilling and tapping the receivers for scope attachments. Hey, in 1972, nobody using a lever action rifle for hunting was considering mounting a sight on the weapon.  When I was younger a gunsmith a decade later than the 1895s introduction, I did a good volume of drill, tap and scope mount on Marlin rifles. Even after they did introduce rifles ready for scopes, there were still a bazillion Marlins out there lacking the scope mount holes.

All of the contemporary Marlins are already drilled and tapped. As we cover each section of the rifle, we’ll get into a few more specifics that they have.

The weapon is constructed of steel and has a parkerized exterior. A light or medium gray color emerges from the “park” tank after being Parkerized. Parkerizing is usually associated with trapped, oxidized oil (the many shades of green observed on WWII rifles and pistols), or dyed colors. Black dye is used for the 1895 Marlin Dark Series. The stock and forearm are made of wood and are painted black to mimic parkerized steel. If you’re used to the tiny or nonexistent recoil pad on an AR-15, the stock’s substantial recoil pad may cause discomfort. think that a generous hunk of rubber is a curiosity. Trust me, you’ll come to love it. The handguard is beefy enough to get a good hold on (a very good thing) but not so large it becomes an impediment to quick shooting.If your only experience with shooting has been with an AR-15, you’ll also need to get used to the stock’s little drop. Under no circumstances should the stock of your 1895 be merely partially contacting your shoulder with your head bolt upright. The “bazooka hold,” as I refer to it, works with an AR but will kill you the one time you attempt it with a.45-70. If you have the hammer set to Safe, you can thumb it back thanks to the substantial cocking piece that has been added to the hammer. A crossbolt on the back of the receiver serves as the safety. See Red if you only press it one way? Fire is that. Press it the other way, and not see Red? That is Safe. The safety blocks the travel of the hammer, not allowing it to contact the firing pin. There’s another safety system, inside of the bolt. The firing pin is made in two pieces. The lever both cycles the bolt back and forth, but also lifts the locking block to engage the bolt.


This is a lever gun, so the ergonomics on it are going to be a bit different than most of the guns that we usually review.

I mostly review tactical-style guns like AR-15s, Stribogs, pistols, etc. and that’s most of the guns that you guys are probably dealing with as well.


Marlin 1895 SBL Hammer Cocked Safety On

Originally, the Marlin 1895 did not have a safety attached. This was something that was added later and personally, I’m not the biggest fan of it.

It’s a crossbolt-style safety and when you have the hammer cocked back to the rear and the safety engaged, the hammer will still drop.

All it does is block the hammer from hitting the firing pin.

While that’s a vital point, it might allow you to get a little bit comfortable and the safety itself could easily be knocked off.