1 8 9 5 G U N N E R.C O M




Review of Ruger Built Marlin 1895 Trapper SBL Lever Action

Review of a Ruger-Built Marlin 1895 Trapper SBL Lever Action
(Stainless Big Loop)

by Scott Crawford - June 27, 2022


This is one of the first Ruger-made Marlin Trappers from the Mayodan, NC factory and as reported by others, it is just as nice as could be expected. Excellent wood to metal fit and the finish on the stainless steel is amazing for a production unit. Right out of the box I was very pleased with the overall look of this rifle. The slimed down forearm and cut checkering were a nice update for the fresh new Marlin. And that spiral fluted, nickel platted bolt - just amazingly smooth on cycling. This is the second Marlin I've received from the Mayodan, North Carolina plant and like the first (1895 SBL), this Marlin makes a huge statement that they are back in a big way. And the great news is that there are more 45-70 models coming!

The Ruger built Marlin 1895 Trapper Has Arrived
The Ruger-built Marlin Model 1895 Trapper SBL

---- Find a Range Near You ----

Find a Range Near You

So let’s get down to business. The model 1895 Trapper is available today in the venerable 45-70 Government. The cartridge that is one hundred and forty nine years old. A century and a half and this is the second Marlin branded rifle that Sturm Ruger releases in a row in this caliber!

The Ruger built Marlin 1895 Trapper spiral fluted, nickel platted bolt
The Ruger-built Marlin 1895 Trapper Nickel Platted, Spiral Fluted Bolt

The Ruger-built 1895 Trapper is indeed a re-release of a previous Marlin design that was hugely popular, especially for folks making the trek where big furry animals wander. It was also hugely popular because it was a great looking product that met many needs of today's big game hunter. Sturm Ruger just elevated the design & functionality to meet even further needs of today's lever action hunters. From the factory threaded barrel in 11/16 x 24 threads that will accommodate several available suppressors & muzzle brakes to the more aggressive checkering and slimmed down forearm, and even the incorporation of Ruger's hammer-forged rifling, this rifle means business. This particular rifle is in the 6,000 serial number range and represents what we should all expect moving forward that will be coming off their production line.

Beyond functional improvements Ruger has added some design enhancements that just take the looks of the rifle to a new level. These include the updated bullseye in the stock to include the Ruger red color and the inclusion of the laser engraved Marlin logo in the bottom of the pistol grip. There is no mistaking this version of the rifle with any previous versions when one handles it.

Additional changes made by Ruger include the spiral fluted, nickel platted bolt, and the even shorter barrel at 16.10". There are however unseen changes inside the Ruger made Marlin such as improved thread timing of the barrel with the receiver, ensuring proper alignment of front and rear sights, better machined hammer notches providing a more consistent engagement with the sear and a crisper, lighter trigger pull. They have also improved the chamber design requiring fewer machining operations. This is a big deal - if you've ever talked with a gunsmith that has worked on "JM" or Remington built Marlin chambers you'd know the that the chambers were sometimes rough to say the very least. Not the case any longer with Ruger's approach!

The Ruger-built Marlin 1895 Trapper Matching Satin-Stainless Loading Gate
The Ruger-built Marlin 1895 Trapper Matching Satin-Stainless Loading Gate

The engineering team at Ruger/Marlin have really improved the already great Marlin firearms design & functionality and this second model released proves that they are performing at an elevated level. I'm impressed with the fit and finish and the overall quality of the rifles they are shipping from a "production" line.

The Cross Bolt SafetyThe Cross Bolt Safety
Pictured above you can see the Cross Bolt Safety in the safe and firing position.

Lever action rifles were designed with a hammer safety or otherwise known as at rest, halfcocked and fully cocked positions. These three positions are noted below as in the Marlin safety manual that is published on their website. This is what a true lever action fanatic grew up with back in the day and what so many buyers still want today. The “add on” safety such as the Cross Bolt Safety (CBS) satisfies corporate lawyers but make many lever action lovers crazy. I'll note that the Cross Bolt Safety has been part of the Marlin rifle design since introduction back in 1984, not a new design by Ruger!

The Marlin Hammer Safety

These three hammer safety positions should be practiced without a live round in the chamber until you are very practiced in the use of the firearm.

On with the details. The Marlin 1895 Trapper holds five rounds of 45-70 Govt. in the magazine tube which should get about anything you need done. The side loading gate is very easy to depress (burr free) to load the rounds. I found this loading gate to be more user friendly than any other factory gate I've ever loaded / unloaded. Kudos to the Ruger engineering team on this detail on their first two model releases!

The lever when worked with deliberate forceful action is as smooth as any lever gun I’ve operated out of the box. As in several brands of lever actions, if you baby the lever stroke you tend to feel snags even though nothing is actually hanging up. Be deliberate and you will love how the action handles & sounds! After feeding 100 plus rounds of mixed brands to include my Starline brass hand loads into the side loading gate and ejecting the empty cases I didn’t have one loading or extraction issue, none!

The Marlin 1895 Trapper Rifle

The Marlin 1895 Trapper Rifle

These pictures show the main parts of a Marlin® Model 1895 rifle.

The factory sights on this model consist of an adjustable rear Peep sight for elevation/windage and a bright, easily identifiable, white front sight. This design is very functional and right out of the box I was on steel at fifty yards. I've mentioned previously that I prefer a scope on a lever gun however with these Skinner brand sights I'm re-thinking that. I'm really liking the immediate target acquisition with the peep sight.

The Trapper Skinner Sights
The Front & Rear Skinner Sights on the Trapper

The stock and forearm are constructed of durable, laminate wood which is finished to a beautiful color. Improved finish on the stock and forend and sharp checkered grip panels provide superior grip in all weather conditions. Something I’d be proud to tote through the woods on a deer hunt or backpacking trip. The red & white Marlin Bullseye in the stock is a nice continuation of the Marlin history with an updated color change.

The large loop & checkering

The metal fit and finish on this particular model is very crisp, clean and well done. The satin finish of the stainless is a little less flashy than the earlier SBL release however I kind of like less flashy in the field. The sights sit plumb on the barrel, not canted to one side, the hardware isn’t scratched or mangled from assembly as on some rifles that have been released by other manufacturers of late and the wood to metal fit is very nice.

The Wood to Metal FitThe Wood to Metal Fit

The rifling twist on this model is 1:20 Right Hand which works well for a heavy .45-70 load. I found the accuracy, repeatability quite good for a short barreled open sighted rifle. Although I was using various factory rounds and my hand loads which I didn’t tune specifically for this rifle I felt the rifling and new hammer-forged barrel worked well with a variety of bullet types and diameters. I used .458 - .460 diameter, off the shelf 300, 325, 350, & 405 and some custom cast 535 grain bullets. These consisted of jacketed, solid & cast bullets from Federal, Hornady, Remington, Steinel and various others from MidwayUSA.

The muzzle on this rifle is a non-typical threaded, round barrel for a suppressor or brake. This is something that more and more shooters prefer in today’s market. Well no worries folks, Ruger / Marlin has you covered on their first & now second rifle released out of the factory. Although I probably won't install a can on my 45-70's I did install the Ranger Point Precision "Comet Muzzle Brake" on both the SBL and Trapper. I found the change in both, felt recoil & muzzle jump greatly reduced on both models. Something everyone should look into.

The MuzzleThe Comet Muzzle Brake

Now let’s talk ammo. I shot four brands of factory ammo and multiple different hand loads of my own from 300 grain to 535 grain and some included new loads with "Buffalo Rifle" from Shooters World Powder and SNS Coated Cast Bullets. I experienced similar accuracy across the full spectrum of what I sent down the tube! Very impressed with the overall accuracy of the hammer-forged, six groove rifling on this big bore rifle.

While the Point of Impact varied between all types of ammo shot (as expected due to differences in weights & muzzle velocity), the shot grouping experienced with this rifle was impressive. Regardless of what rounds I fired in the rifle from 300-grain up to 535-grain they all grouped extremely well (as best I could tell on steel) while using the factory peep sights at 50 yards.

Skinner Sights

At 7.1 lbs., naked, this model is about average for a big bore Marlin rifle sporting a shorter barrel than standard rifle length of 22" or 24". At 34.25" overall length this rifle is short enough to be utilized comfortably in a ground blind or in a tree stand. The stainless steel barrel & receiver coupled with the laminated stock & forearm make this package perfect for hunts in wet weather. This size would also make a superior "truck Gun".

While some may balk at the Marlin $1,349.00 MSRP price tag, if you look back to late 2018 when Remington first introduced their version of this model it was selling for $1,132.00 and it didn't have all the features of this new version from Ruger.

Do yourself a favor and look into a Ruger-built Marlin if you’re looking at lever action rifles. I was extremely happy at the quality of build, the level of performance and handling of the rifle.

The 1895 SBL Test Ammo

Finally, here is a video showing just how smooth this loading gate is on the new rifle. A well-tuned lever action should have a loading gate just like this. Some of my earlier "JM" Marlins are capable of this while others aren't unless I add an aftermarket gate and spring.

Parting Shots Parting Shots

I wanted to summarize what I thought of the overall package compared to my "JM" built Guide Guns which I absolutely love. This rifle is 2.4" shorter than my Guide Guns, .1 lbs. heavier, carry one additional round and offer new, innovative sights. The wood to metal fit is every bit as good if not better than my Guide Guns built between 1998 and 2002 and the action is better out of the box now (I do wish they offered the factory porting option that was available those years). I would also add that the trigger pull is now lighter and crisper and today's loading gate is a dream to load and unload.

Overall I'd say the newly released Ruger-built Marlin 1895 Trapper handles better, provides slightly better grouping and ranks now as another favorite model 1895 of mine. Marlin is back in a big way. That barrel mark "Marlin-Mayodan, NC-USA" means quality!

New Improvements

  • Tumbling of parts that interact with one another to make a smoother action and remove burrs, and they are gauged at every step to meet specs
  • Softening of the sharp edges on the lever, trigger, hammer and loading port
  • Improved machining to create a cleaner surface prior to polishing so there is less sanding and polishing of metal to remove machine marks
  • Heat-treating of all stainless-steel parts prior to machining
  • Improved thread timing on the barrel and receiver
  • Improved barrel torque process is more precise, providing for straight front and rear sights every time
  • The Skinner rear sight is adjustable for windage/elevation and Blade front Sight allows for quicker target acquisition in low light
  • Nickel-plated bolt with spiral flutes adds a distinctive, classy look and a smoother action
  • Refined stock fit and thinner forend improve aesthetics and ergonomics
  • Improved finish on the stock and forend and checkered grip panels provide superior grip in all conditions
  • Threaded barrel, with a match-polished, factory-installed thread protector, has a 11/16" x 24 pattern to accommodate a muzzle brake or other barrel accessories


  • Receiver, lever and trigger guard plate are CNC machined from 416 stainless steel forgings
  • Barrel is made of 410 stainless steel and is cold hammer-forged which results in ultra-precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy and longevity
  • Threaded barrel, with factory-installed thread protector, has a 11/16" x 24 pattern to accommodate a muzzle brake or other barrel accessories
  • Five-round, tubular magazine with a loading gate located on the receiver
  • Soft-rubber buttpad effectively absorbs recoil
  • Positive, push-button, cross bolt manual safety and traditional half-cock hammer
  • Reliably feeds a wide range of .45-70 Govt factory ammunition and bullet types
  • Durable, laminate buttstock and forend remain dimensionally stable in varying weather conditions
  • Sharp checkering provides an excellent grip in all weather conditions
  • Spiral-fluted, nickel-plated bolt aids smooth cycling
  • Oversized lever loop provides clearance for operation with heavy gloves
  • Slimmed-down forend for an attractive look and comfortable feel
  • Also includes: Sling swivel studs, offset hammer spur

Technical Specifications
  • Caliber .45-70 Govt
  • Capacity 5+1
  • Stock Black Laminate
  • Material Stainless Steel
  • Finish Satin Stainless
  • Front Sight Blade
  • Rear Sight Adjustable Skinner Peep
  • Weight 7.1 lbs.
  • Overall Length 34.25"
  • Length of Pull 13.38"
  • Barrel Length 16.10"
  • Thread Pattern 11/16" x 24
  • Thread Cap Match-Polished
  • Barrel Cold Hammer-Forged Stainless Steel
  • Twist 1:20" RH
  • Grooves 6
  • UPC: 7-36676-70450-7
  • MSRP: $1,349

Marlin Model 1895 Trapper Schematic & Parts List
Note! The Schematic reflects the 1895 SBL as the Base Model 1895

Model 1895 Schematic

Model 1895 Parts List

1895Gunner shooting the Ruger built Marlin 1895 SBL & Trapper

Marlin Firearms 1895 Owners Manual Ruger Firearms Starline Brass Shooters World Powder Winchester Ammunition Steinel Ammo Federal Ammunition Remington Ammunition Hornady Ammunition MidwayUSA Ranger Point Precision

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