First date with the 1894C.
In case I haven’t said so anywhere else, let me declare my very deep affection for Marlin lever-action rifles.
I know they have their fans and their detractors and that there are plenty of other very good lever-actions out there, but there’s something about Marlins which I just like.
I didn’t originally. There was the oddly square-looking lever itself and some people moaned about sloppy triggers and jiggly action. When I first got into shooting, I was more enamoured by the idea of a Winchester. Winchesters were the archetypal cowboy rifle (and the only lever-action that I’d heard of that point).
But it was in conversation with a much more experienced shooter at my club that I learned how simple Marlins were to take to bits and clean. And, in the meantime, I’d had the odd red-hot case drop down the front of my shirt from the club Rossi.
I started to rethink things. I ummed and ahhed for ages while saving up for a lever and, in the end, decided to jump in and try a Marlin.
I got an 1894C in 357 Magnum and pretty much cut my reloading teeth on this calibre for the next 18 months. I got into casting my own bullets for my Marlin and developed an absolutely magic load incorporating a 167 gr flat- nosed projectile backed up by 11.5 gr of H110. I’d been given half a tub of this powder by somebody who just couldn’t get it to work for them and, through careful experimentation, came across this combination. In my rifle, it produced incredible groupings (1.5″ or less) at 50 yards with the rifle’s iron sights.
Time passed by, my hobby expanded and expanded and then I got to the point where I set up JD Reloading. I imported and sold reloading machinery and tools for people. As this developed, it became apparent that some companies overseas were cagey about dealing with us as we weren’t a registered firearms dealership. It had to be done.
Setting up a dealership in the UK is expensive and I was running a bit low on funds and unfortunately my Marlin had to be sacrificed. It was very, very reluctantly that I gave this rifle up in part exchange for some of the work on my new RFD.
The work was worth it but I did pine for my old Marlin!
I always promised myself that if I ever did get another Marlin, I would go up in size and get a 44 Magnum. It’s a somewhat easier cartridge to cater for than 357 Mag, due in part to the additional case volume which just makes everything simpler. And it’s the same calibre as my long barrelled revolver. An ideal candidate for the Dillon, then, once we develop a reliable load.
The other day, I was delighted to finally come across an as-new example at a very reasonable price. Brand-new ones are changing hands at something approaching £1000; not the kind of loose change I generally carry! This one had been marked down, as part of a major sell-off, from someone looking to purchase a very expensive high-end target rifle.
It arrives in a few days time, so I’ll post up more about it then…
By the way, there was a happy ending for my original rifle. It’s in excellent hands and is being very well looked after by its new owner. I even see my “old flame” from time to time at the club.