by Scott Crawford - October 31, 2022
This is Ruger's 3rd Marlin release since December 2021 and they are on a roll. If you appreciate lever action rifles as much as I do then you should be pretty excited for this one. Their first blued Marlin and it's a Guide Gun, my all-time favorite model since 1998 when I first picked up the original Guide Gun.
This rifle, straight from the Mayodan, NC factory was an immediate hit with Marlin fans across the globe. I've never seen so much social media discussion about a new rifle. The fact that the first two new Marlins were different versions in stainless and then this one comes out in satin blued and wood tone laminate stocks really hit home with so many.
A large majority of Marlin followers seem to want a deep blued model with actual American black walnut stocks. This one hit close and is getting everyone excited. Something Ruger did with this release was to have more available stock built up in advance ready to ship to distributors when they announced the release. This made more rifles immediately available for purchase at dealers without the price gouging many were seeing on gun auction sites for the first two model releases. Well done Ruger, well done.
The New Marlin 1895 Guide Gun
So let’s get down to business. The Guide Gun comes with fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear and a brass bead, hood covered front sight. The large loop lever is ideal for cold weather hunting with gloves and the threaded barrel, like the first two models allows for a brake or can to be installed. I prefer a brake which I added on the third day of testing. Although this model doesn't come with a fluted bolt it is nickel plated which makes for very smooth cycling action. Again the wood to metal fit is well done and all edges are tumbled smooth making for good trigger pull and lever cycling. I really think the satin bluing is something special and I'm very happy with the quality of the metal finish overall.
The Brown Laminate Stock & Satin Bluing makes a handsome rifle
When I first opened the box from the factory I noticed that they again supplied a hammer spur to be used when mounting a traditional scope on the rifle. This allows the shooter to manipulate the hammer safely. Nice to have included this so you don't have to order an aftermarket kit.
I quickly grabbed the rifle and cycled the lever to see if the action was as smooth as the previous two models. I was not disappointed, again a very smooth action and I'll attribute this to their deburring of every component prior to assembly.
They've also kept up the crisp, deep checkering of the stock and forearm which I've really become fond of. Especially in inclement weather it'll help keep your hand firmly grasping the rifle.
Lastly I'm very happy with the loading gate again. Very smooth and easy to load and unload without pinching your fingers as is common with some other brands of rifles.
The Satin Blued Finish is very Smooth & Goes Nicely with the Laminate Stock & Forearm
Ruger's engineering team has done a fine job of maintaining previously standardized parts & dimensions on earlier models from the Remington & even JM Marlin production days. Things we all take for granted such as mounting a scope base has not been impacted. This model readily accepts a Weaver # 63B base which is on every one of my JM Marlins. So, mounting a familiar scope on this new Guide Gun came without any surprises.
One feature I'm excited about with this new Guide Gun is the improved tubular magazine capacity. The original 1998 built Guide Gun had a capacity of 4 + 1 where this model is 6 + 1. Two extra rounds is a substantial increase in capacity. This is reflected in the longer, full-length magazine tube on this model.
I did find the factory recoil pad on the stock very capable of absorbing the heavy push of stiff loads in the rifle. I was able to load and shoot 100 rounds at each range session without shoulder bruising.
The factory sights on this model consist of a rear Fully Adjustable Semi-Buckhorn and a Hooded front sight with Brass Bead making for very quick target acquisition. This design is very functional and right out of the box I was on steel at fifty yards. Some hunters, like myself prefer glass on their lever gun which I added after my first range session.
The Front & Rear Sights on the Guide Gun
The stock and forearm are constructed of brown (wood tone) laminate. Sharp checkered grip panels provide superior grip in all weather conditions.
The wood to metal fit and finish on this model is very clean and well done as were the previous two models shipped from the Mayodan factory. I would rate the fitting of the stock and forearm to the metal receiver as "extremely good" or a 9 out of 10 on the fit. No large gaps or non-uniform fitting.
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 very good for a medium barreled rifle. Although I was using various factory rounds and my hand loads I felt the rifling and twist rate worked well with a variety of bullet types, diameters and weights. I used .458 - .459 diameter, off the shelf 300, 325, 350 & 405 grain bullets. I chose to shoot jacketed & solids this time and no cast. I wanted to make sure that there was no leading of the barrel as I sighted this rifle in.
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. Although I probably wouldn't install a can on my 45-70's, I did add a Ranger Point Precision Comet Muzzle brake on it during field testing.
Now let’s talk ammo. I shot four brands of factory ammo and multiple different hand loads of my own from 300 grain to 405 grain loaded on top of H4198 powder from Hodgdon Powder. I experienced similar accuracy across the full spectrum of what I sent down the tube! Very pleased with the overall accuracy of the 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 405-grain they all grouped extremely well. When I was sighting the rifle in with the scope, the grouping was one hole at 50 yards.
At 7.40 lbs., naked, this model is on the average side for a big bore lever action. At 37.25" overall length this rifle is short enough to be utilized comfortably in a ground blind or in a tree stand. This size would also make a nice "truck Gun". I'm looking forward to carrying this rifle for spot & stalk deer in November.
While the price seems high to some, the Guide Gun has an MSRP $250 less than their first released rifle, the SBL. The MSRP for this rifle is $1,149.00 and worth every penny!
I wanted to summarize what I thought of the overall package compared to other lever action models and manufacturers. This rifle is about the same overall length as most others, about average for weight however it carries one to two more rounds than most models. The wood to metal fit is better than my JM Marlin rifles and the action is much smoother right out of the box.
Overall I'd say these new Ruger-built Marlin rifles handle well (with good balance), provides very good grouping and ranks very high on wood to metal fit. I am very excited about their first blued Marlin and am very much looking forward to their next model release.
Would I buy one? I'm planning on it and I absolutely will be hunting with this in about a week for opening day of deer season.
(some parts represent other models of the 1895)
1895Gunner shooting the Marlin 1895 Guide Gun
IN THIS ARTICLE
Marlin Firearms 1895 Owners Manual Ruger Firearms Starline Brass Hodgdon Powder Winchester Ammunition Steinel Ammo Federal Ammunition Remington Ammunition Hornady Ammunition MidwayUSA Ranger Point Precision