The History of the Marlin Model 1895
by Scott Crawford - April 22, 2020
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.
Quality was a huge issue between 2012 & 2017 albeit getting better each year as time went by. Now almost ten years later the product that Marlin is currently delivering is back to top notch for a production lever action rifle. If you have the extra dollars to spend, their custom shop produces brilliant craftsmanship not seen for years. Marlin has also stepped up their design efforts producing more & more new styled model 1895’s.
Stepping back to 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 is still produced today 22 years later. 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.
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.
Author's Starline Brass 45-70 hand loads / Model 1895G
IN THIS ARTICLE
Marlin Firearms Davidson's Firearms Remington Firearms Marlin Owners Forum William S. Brophy's Marlin Firearms History Talo Distributors Starline Brass
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
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!!