Marlin founded his firearms company in 1863 (officially 1870),
initially producing rimfire single-shot pistols before beginning
to manufacture single-shot rifles in 1875. In 1881, Marlin
introduced their first lever-action rifle, setting their sights
on a market dominated by the Winchester lever-action repeating
rifles; the Marlin rifles were superb in both design and
manufacture, proving to be at least the equal of the great John
Browning-designed Winchesters. For a more detailed early history
of the Marlin Firearms Company, I refer the reader to Glenn
Fryxell's excellent article on the subject, posted on Paco
Kelly's great resource, Leverguns.com.
2007 Marlin was acquired by Remington, which was in turn
swallowed up by a huge private investment company. It soon
became apparent that the new management was concerned more with
profit than quality, as shooters nationwide began to notice
deficiencies with the new Marlin rifles. Although the Marlins
produced during that time were good, they lacked the
refinement and craftsmanship of the original rifles, and customer
service was lacking; this created a thriving collector
market for rifles produced by the former Marlin company.
result of tumultuous political and financial times, in 2020 the
parent company was forced to seek protection from the Bankruptcy
courts. While the vultures picked clean the bones of such
historic companies as Remington and Marlin, the firearms world
could do little but watch the carnage and hope for the best. The
dust has yet to settle for some of Marlin's sister companies,
and for a time it looked like it was all over for Marlin.
Sturm, Ruger & Co.
September of 2020, Ruger confirmed rumors that had been swirling
and announced its purchase of Marlin. The opportunity to
resurrect a storied 150-year-old name, along with a product line
that dovetailed perfectly with Ruger's own
history and philosophy, was too much to resist, and Ruger
was able to place a successful bid with the Federal bankruptcy
court. This was only the beginning, as the following year was
spent perfecting designs, moving equipment, installing new CNC
machines, handling personnel, redesigning and building fixtures,
and setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at
Ruger's Mayodan, North Carolina plant. In December 2021, Ruger introduced their
rifle, the Model 1895 SBL (Stainless Big Loop), chambered in
45-70 Government. The 1895 SBL has already
proven to be very successful, and hard to find - I was not able
to get one!
Ruger has introduced a new, and to me, even more attractive
variant of the Model 1895: the Model 1895 Trapper. The 1895
Trapper is likewise chambered in 45-70, which is perhaps my
favorite centerfire rifle cartridge. Developed in 1873 as a
black powder rifle cartridge, the 45-70 remains very useful in
today's modern world of smokeless powders and lightweight,
jacketed, flat-shooting projectiles. The 45-70's large-diameter,
heavy bullet flies straight and true, and is a wonderful
long-range big game or target cartridge for those who are
accustomed to its rainbow-like trajectory. The 45-70 is a
legitimate 1000-yard cartridge, and its big heavy bullet remains
effective at these longer ranges. Recoil is not for the faint of
heart, but it is by no means unmanageable, and Ruger could
not have made a better choice than the 1895 for the introduction
of their first Marlin rifle.
primary difference between the Model 1895 SBL and the Model 1895
Trapper is barrel length: while the SBL wears a 19-inch barrel,
the Trapper sports a barrel length of 16.1 inches. The shorter
barrel does not detract from the 45-70's ballistic efficiency,
but it does make the Trapper a joy to handle: the Trapper's
balance is perfect.
the SBL, the Trapper is made from 416 stainless steel forgings,
and finished in a very attractive satin finish. Fitting of all
metal parts is superb; the bolt is nickel-plated and
spiral-fluted for smoothness of operation, and the Trapper runs
like a sewing machine. The lever features a "Big Loop"
design for ease of use with gloves, but not too large to get in
the way visually or operationally. The stainless hammer and
trigger are finished in a nicely-contrasting bright polish, as
is the cross-bolt push-button manual safety. As an additional
safety feature, the hammer is of the traditional half-cock
like the SBL, the Trapper's stock is excellent, made from
gray-colored laminated wood for dimensional stability. The stock
inletting is precise and clean, and wood to metal fit is
excellent. Stock and forend are boldly and sharply checkered,
making it easy for the shooter to affect the only kind of
"gun control" that should be at issue. The forend is
wonderfully profiled: not quite as large as those traditionally
used by Marlin, but not so slim as on a Winchester, fitting the
shooter's hand perfectly. The stock sports a generous rubber
butt pad to very effectively help counter the 45-70's recoil,
and both buttstock and stainless steel forend cap feature
installed sling swivel studs.
is another, admittedly minuscule, feature that I find really
cool relating to the buttstock, and that is the traditional
Marlin "bullseye" inlay: the inlay is there as one would
expect, but the traditional black-in-white bullseye is now
red-in-white, indicating that this is a Ruger-made Marlin. Other
details that distinguish the Ruger-made Model 1895 from the
earlier versions are a "RP" proof mark located on the
port side of the barrel; "Marlin - Mayodan, NC - USA"
barrel marking; "RM" serial number prefix; and a
laser-engraved Marlin "Horse and Rider" on the grip.
sights on the 1895 Trapper are wonderful, consisting of a
blued-steel white-strip blade front sight manufactured by Skinner
Sights in Montana, and a Skinner Sights stainless steel rear
base with aperture "peep" sight and screw-in
blued-steel insert. I consider peep sights to be perfect on a
rifle like the 1895, offering quick acquisition, ease of use,
and precision. If you have never fired a lever gun with a peep
sight, do yourself a favor and give it a try: to use a peep
sight, one simply peeps through the rear sight aperture to focus
on the front sight. This is a very quick and precise
arrangement, and works wonderfully for aging eyes such as mine.
Peep sights have been around for over a century, and my friend
Andy Larsson at Skinner Sights meticulously machines his
sights from solid bar stock; Skinner Sights are precise and
rugged, and I congratulate Ruger on including them with the 1895
those who prefer to mount a scope, the Trapper's receiver and
barrel are drilled and tapped for a scope base such as the Hi-Viz
Sight Rail offered for sale on ShopRuger.com.
To further aid in using a scope, a hammer spur is included to
allow the hammer to be operated underneath the scope's objective
Specifications - Marlin® Model 1895 Trapper 45-70 Lever-Action Rifle
Stainless Steel, Satin Finish
Hammer-Forged Stainless Steel, 16.1 Inches, Satin
Finish, 1:20" 6-Groove RH Twist, Muzzle Threaded
11/16"-24 with Stainless Steel Thread Cap
Stainless Steel, Satin Finish, "Big-Loop"
design for use with gloves
|Stock / Forend
Laminate, Checkered, Soft Rubber Butt Pad, Sling Swivel
|Length of Pull
Manual Safety, Half-Cock Hammer
||3 Pounds, 9.9
Sights™ Adjustable Aperture
Threaded for Scope Mount
Spur for Scope Mounting
|MSRP as of
Shooting the 1895 Trapper was as expected, as
I have long owned both full-length Marlin 1895s and the shorter
1895 Guide Gun. The Trapper operates every bit as smoothly as my
pre-Remington Marlins, but there is noticeably less
"slop" and lateral movement in the Ruger version.
These Ruger-made Marlins are built TIGHT, but not so tight that
function is affected.
Since, as I mentioned, I have long been a fan
and owner of Marlin firearms, I was expecting good accuracy from
the Trapper. Experience led me to expect 1-1/2" to 2"
groups at 50 yards, but what I got was far better: seated at a
bench rest, using the Skinner open sights, it was easy to
achieve five-shot groups ranging from 3/4" to 1" using
Double Tap Ammo's
405-grain lead flat-point load. The group pictured measured
3/4" for four shots, with a fifth-shot flyer that was the
shooter's fault opening the group to 1-3/4". This Marlin
Model 1895 Trapper is accurate, powerful, rugged, and
When I first became aware that Ruger was
taking the reins at Marlin, I was excited because I knew Ruger
would take their time and do it RIGHT. The folks at Ruger are
"gun guys"; they appreciate the history and Freedom
associated with fine firearms, and they take pride in what they
do. Pairing an established innovator such as Ruger with an
historic and legendary product line like Marlin's was simply a
match made in Heaven. I knew it would work, and the folks at
Ruger have not let me down. Thanks to Ruger, Marlin is entering
a new Golden Age, and we are fortunate to be here to see it
Marlin Firearms: www.marlinfirearms.com.
To Order Marlin Products Online, Click on the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns:
To Find a Marlin Dealer Near You, Click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's:
Skinner Sights: www.skinnersights.com.
Buy Scope Mounts and Accessories for Ruger and Marlin Firearms at ShopRuger:
Lyman Products: www.lymanproducts.com
Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge
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