The Ruger Irony Found in a 2004 Marlin Catalog
by Scott Crawford - September 5, 2021
To fully understand this irony one would have needed to hold a Marlin Firearms 2004 catalog and read the top of page 2. It was in a Ruger Red font color with the following title. "NEW Model 1895RL in 480 Ruger/475 Linebaugh".
It went on to say: "Short, fast and hard-hitting, our new Model 1895RL lever action carbine is chambered for two of the world's most powerful handgun cartridges, making it an ideal companion to the big revolvers. If you're heading into the heavy brush after medium to large game animals, you simply can't find a more able companion. The 7 pound Model 1895RL features an 18 1/2" barrel, a tubular magazine that holds six 480 Ruger or five of 475 Linebaugh, and a checkered pistol-grip American black walnut stock with ventilated recoil pad and swivel studs. "
To give you a better feel for what this almost was, this was a Marlin Guide Gun with a pistol grip stock and handgun cartridges. This would have made a lot of gun owners extremely happy. It was to have been available the 2nd half of 2004. I actually have the catalog and remember clearly dreaming about the possibility of owning such a rifle.
Hornady today lists their .480 Ruger 325-grain XTP load capable of medium to large game with a muzzle energy out of a 7-1/2" barrel of 1,315 ft lbs. Clearly this would have been a step up from a 44 magnum with a 975 ft lb muzzle energy with their 240-grain XTP out of the same length barrel.
The Hornady .480 Ruger x 325 grain XTP
Speculation went down two paths as to why Marlin never "pulled the trigger" on production. One was that they decided there wasn't enough interest in the cartridge or its availability in a lever gun. The other (and most likely) was that they saw pressure issues in the action or some other performance problem that made them pull their new rifle from any production line. Folks have speculated that they did build prototypes and later found issues. Whatever it was I will always wish they could have solved it and made it into production. I had spent a great deal of time following, dreaming & even talking with gun store owners about the possibility of ordering one that year.
Today you can still buy .480 Ruger from big name manufacturers. The .475 Linebaugh on the other hand is only available from specialty ammo manufactures or as custom orders. Of course if you reload you can buy components and load till your hearts content.
Some .475 Linebaugh cartridges from Buffalo Bore Ammo
While this rifle was an unrealized dream for many who held and read the catalog of 2004, it is still in the realm of possibilities, especially now that Ruger has purchased the rights to Marlin Firearms.
As mentioned previously in my articles, Ruger is working to release their first Marlin rifles and it looks like we'll start seeing Marlin lever action's again soon. Since September 2020 Henry Firearms has been enjoying almost a corner on the market with Marlin shut down and Winchester being a much more expensive alternative. I'm very much looking forward to great competition again between Marlin & Henry as the result for the consumer was pretty impressive in 2019-2020 with so many new alternative lever action designs.
So to recap, if you believe in unicorns, we may still live long enough to see a .480 Marlin lever gun.
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Marlin Firearms Ruger Firearms Hornady Buffalo Bore Ammo