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From the year 1895 to 2022 - you've come a long way baby!

Marlin Firearms Timeline

The History of the Marlin Model 1895

by Scott Crawford - April 22, 2020 (updated July 2022)

When somebody tells me that they prefer a Marlin 45-70 my mind immediately goes to a place with about 25 pictures of the various models and wonders, which one do they like – there are so many to choose from. The modern day model 1895 manufactured by Marlin Firearms began in 1972, twelve years before Marlin introduced the Cross Bolt Safety (CBS) which many folks dislike. But that is the modern Marlin 1895, capable of hot loads just below what a Ruger No. 1 can handle. Definitely not something you would want to attempt to shoot in an earlier Marlin model 1895.

But let's start at the beginning. The first Marlin model 1895’s were manufactured and initially listed in their catalog in 1896. The lowest model 1895 serial number was 131,180 – built Nov. 27, 1895. The first rifles were chambered in .38-56, .40-65, .40-82, .45-70 & the .45-90. In 1897 the .40-70 WCF cartridge and in 1912 the .33 WCF cartridge were added to the model 1895 list of calibers. The rifle was available as a carbine, round barrel rifle, half-octagon or full octagon rifle, and a lightweight rifle. The rifles were available in straight-grip or pistol grip and takedown styles. Weights varied between 7 & 9-1/4 lbs.

The standard 1895 rifle was fitted with a rifle butt plate. A rubber butt plate would be furnished at the same price as the steel type. With a rubber butt plate, the rifle weighed one-eighth pound less. The standard receiver finish of the carbines and rifles was case hardened. If special ordered, the receiver would be furnished with a blued finish at no additional cost. Through those early years the barrel lengths made available were 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, & 15 inches. Additional length barrels were available at $1.00 per inch. It's also important to note that all pre 1972 1895's utilized the closed bolt like today's model 1894's. The standard carbine had a sling ring on the left side of the receiver. In 1903, two holes for the Hepburn receiver sight were drilled & tapped into the top of the receiver.

In 1912, Marlin introduced their first smokeless cartridge in .33 high power. All of these new rifle barrels were so marked special smokeless steel on the left side. They were priced at $18.50 or $22 for the takedown model. The final Marlin model 1895 was manufactured in 1917 with a gap until 1972 when the rifle was re-introduced as the New Model 1895. The 1st models in 1972 sold for $185 U.S.

  • Model 1895 available from 1972 - 1980 (Straight Stocked with squared lever)

  • Model 1895S available from 1981 - 1984 (The 1895S included a pistol grip stock with a rounded lever)

  • Model 1895SS available from 1984 - 1988 (The 1895SS started in 1984 when the CBS was added, all other features remained the same as the 1895S)
In 1998, Marlin introduced the 1st factory produced Guide Gun, the model 1895G. This was their 1st model that was available with a factory ported barrel. This model will likely be produced again by Ruger as they offer more models. It is a straight stocked, 18-1/2” barreled five shot model 45-70, perfect for quick repeat shots in tight quarters capable of downing the most dangerous of game animals on the planet. In 2000, Marlin introduced their 450 Marlin belted cartridge in two models. The model 1895M Guide Gun variant & the 1895MR which was the rifle variant with 22" barrel. Then around 2007 Marlin released their 450 in an 1895MXLR stainless with 24" barrel. The number of different model 1895’s has escaped me however I’m attempting to capture the majority below.

There were also many 1895 configurations made by Marlin and sold by Davidson's which I've noted in bold font below.

1895 LTD I-V

1895LTD I .45-70 Blued, ballard rifling, 24" half octagon/half round barrel. Straight grip Non-Checkered walnut stocks. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons 1001 made, made in 1997.

1895LTD II .45-70 Blued, ballard rifling, 24" Full octagon barrel. Pistol grip, Checkered walnut stocks. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons 1001 made, made in 1998.

1895LTD III .45-70 Blued, ballard rifling 18.5" Full octagon barrel. Straight grip walnut stocks. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons 1001 made, made in 1999.

1895LTD IV .45-70 Blued ballard rifling 24" Full octagon barrel. Straight grip walnut stocks. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons 1001 made, made in 2000.

1895LTD V .45-70 Blued ballard rifling 24" half octagon, half round barrel. Pistol grip Checkered walnut stocks. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons 1001 made, made in 2001.

Stainless 1895 models

1895SDT LTD .45-70 "Trapper model" Stainless steel, 16.25" barrel. Grey laminate straight grip stocks. 4+1 round cartridge capacity. Serial #'s read 95SDT000-95SDT500, 501 produced. Made in 2008. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons.

1895SDG LTD .45-70, "Guide model" Stainless steel, 18.5" barrel. Grey laminate pistol grip stocks. 4+1 round cartridge capacity. Serial #'s read 95SDG000-95SDG500. 501 produced. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons.

1895STP LTD .45-70 "Guide model" Stainless steel 16.25" ballard rifled barrel. Grey laminate pistol grip stocks. 5+1 cartridge capacity. 501 produced. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons.

1895GS LTD .45-70 "Guide model" Stainless steel 18.5" ballard rifled barrel. Grey laminate Straight grip stocks. 5+1 cartridge capacity. Hi-Viz sights. 501 produced. Special run by Marlin for Davidsons.

Marlin produced firearms in Connecticut since 1870 when founded by John M. Marlin. They closed their plant in North Haven Connecticut in June, 2011 terminating all 265 employees. This ended the “JM” Marlin firearm. When Marlin moved to New York to be manufactured under the Remington umbrella the serial numbers all started with MR indicating a new factory, new employees, new machinery and many new problems. The catalog offering dropped from 29 lever-gun models down to 18 in 2012.

Quality was a huge issue between 2012 & 2017 albeit getting better each year as time went by. By the year 2018, Remington built Marlins started showing much better manufacturing & assembly practices for a production lever action rifle. If you had the extra dollars to spend, their custom shop produced brilliant craftsmanship not seen for years. Remington had also stepped up their design efforts producing more & more new styled model 1895’s. Just as they were getting their act together they went bankrupt resulting in Ruger buying the materials, machines and full design package in October 2020.

The period after Ruger bought Marlin was fraught with anticipation, speculation and constant ongoing discussion online in firearms forums and almost every social media platform. As time went on many people voiced their frustration as to how long it was taking to see Rugers first release. There were a few company press releases and a couple recorded messages that teased hopeful Marlin fans. I had the pleasure of talking with the Marlin Product Manager at Ruger, Mayodan North Carolina on multiple occasions and he let me know about their progress along the way. With my extensive manufacturing background I was actually very impressed how quickly they released their first rifle only 14 months after closing the purchase. Remember, they received mixed inventory in various forms of completion, old unreliable machining equipment and a technical drawing package that hadn't been updated along the way.

Ruger chose to make the Marlin 1895 SBL, 45-70 as their first release and they knocked it out of the park. They then made their second release the model 1895 TSBL, 45-70. Both of these rifles are a re-release of Marlin's earlier designs and both of them have incorporated improvements from Rugers design team. They added a threaded barrel for each of them, lighter/smaller forearms, nickel plated, spiral fluted Bolts and finishing processes that virtually eliminate any burrs or sharp edges. There are other improvements and you can read more about them in our reviews of each of these rifles.

Rugers next Marlin release will be another model 45-70, soon followed by their first model 336 and then towards the beginning of 2023 their first model 1894. As a model 1895 collector/shooter I can say I'm extremely pleased they started with the venerable 45-70's!

The Marlin model 1895, regardless of variant is without question one of the most history filled rifles of America. They have been used all across our continent to hunt deer, hog, elk, moose, buffalo, bear, coyote and even beyond to include the African dangerous six. And as I’m sure, you are aware that movies have shown them defending against dinosaurs! Chris Pratt must have known the best rifle for the job…… and I concur.

For those wanting to stay current with Marlin firearm information, a great place to reference is the Marlin Owners forum found at: https://www.marlinowners.com/. For a complete documented history of Marlin Firearms it’s recommended that you read LT. COL. William S. Brophy’s book.

Original 1895

New Model 1895






Talo Marlin Whitetail 1895GST




Ruger Made 1895SBL


Ruger Made 1895GBL



1895 Dark Rifle


Ruger Made 1895TSBL

Modern Hunter - Remington Custom Shop

Visit the Gun Room to view even more Marlin 1895's

Author's Starline Brass 45-70 hand loads / Model 1895 SBL

Marlin Firearms Davidson's Firearms Remington Firearms Marlin Owners Forum William S. Brophy's Marlin Firearms History Talo Distributors Starline Brass Ruger Firearms

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Randall says:
May 18, 2020 at 10:33 am

I'd like to see optional octagon barrel lengths up to 32 inches in 45-70 with an optional rifle twist of 1 in 18 inch twist. Thank you

Clint says:
May 18, 2020 at 08:19 pm

Great article!! I loved reading about the history of Marlin and the infamous 1895 model. It is still in my opinion one of the best leverguns made. I now have a new appreciation for my Marlins and will be hanging on to them as family heirlooms and to enjoy over the years!!


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