Lever Guns - Marlin 1895G Guide GunBack in August of 2019, I wrote a review of a Marlin lever action rifle in .30-30 Winchester, titled Lever Guns - "Remlins". In that article, I promised future reviews of a classic Marlin 1895G Guide Gun in .45-70 Gov't, and a nice little Henry Octagon Frontier in .22 Short/Long/Long Rifle.
Well, my plans have changed a bit. A couple of months ago, I sold that .45-70 to an acquaintance before I could get around to writing a full review of it. As a result, I have no usable pictures of it that would truly do justice to how beautiful of a rifle it was, and I can only briefly describe here what I did to it, and my overall impression of the gun. A "Remlin" version of the rifle can be viewed HERE, and superficially, it resembles mine. But the Marlins produced by Remington are not of the same quality as the ones produced by the old Marlin factory in New Haven, Connecticut before Remington acquired them. If you ever want to know if the Marlin you're handling is an old one or a Remlin, look for the "JM" stamp on the barrel (image on the right). All JM stamped Marlins are made in the old factory by the old company, according to the exacting standards of old-world craftsmanship. JM stamped rifles were all made up to 2006. Remington took ownership of Marlin and moved the manufacturing line to its own factory in 2007, and the rifles made since just don't compare to the old ones.
I loved this Marlin rifle, but I couldn't shoot it worth a cup of warm spit. It's not the rifle's fault, it's my own. The recoil impulse it generated was such a slobber-knocker that it was painful to shoot. I'm no spring chicken, and I have the Arthur-itus and all them other itus brothers. The first time I ever shot it, I fired 5 rounds...exactly what I had loaded into the gun...and my shoulder joint hurt for a week. It wasn't bruised, so much as it was wrenched. And that was firing from the standing off-hand. It should have been easier on me than shooting it off a bench would be....
....and it was. The second time I shot it, I took it to a public range that requires rifles to be shot sitting at a shooting bench. I wanted to zero the rifle with the new sights I'd bought for it, and to chronograph some different loads and test them for accuracy. Long story short, I neither got the rifle zeroed, nor did I chronograph any of the loads or test them for accuracy. After shooting maybe a dozen rounds or less, the rifle beat me up so badly that I simply couldn't bear to pull the trigger any longer. I have fired .30 caliber magnum rifles in a couple of different chamberings, and in addition to my .30-30 "Remlin", I own 3 other rifles in .308 Winchester, and I have never thought of myself as recoil sensitive. But the 45-70 cartridge is a real beast, capable of bringing down any animal on the North or South American continents, and maybe even a few large dangerous African game animals, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm simply not up to it. The image on the right will give one an idea of the relative size of the cartridge. The one on the left is a 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington. The cartridge on the right is a 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester. The "torpedo" in the middle is a .45-70.
Here are the nominal ballistic values for a 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, and a .45-70 Gov't:
|5.56 NATO||7.62 NATO||.45-70 Gov't|
|Muzzle Velocity||3,260 FPS||2,800 FPS||2,150 FPS|
|Muzzle Energy||1,294 ft/lbs||2,559 ft/lbs||3,591 ft/lbs|
Look at the difference in the muzzle energy of the .45-70 compared to the 7.62 NATO. It's nearly as big a jump as the one from 5.56 to 7.62, and 7.62 NATO is considered to be a "high powered" cartridge, capable of taking most North American game animals. The .45-70 cartridge is a real thumper.
The changes I made to my rifle were limited to a fiberoptic front sight, and a Williams rear peep sight. The OEM sights are functional, but I I had trouble with them due to "aging eyes syndrome". I had difficulty picking up the OEM brass bead in the notch of the original buckhorn rear sight. Adding a fiberoptic front sight made it stand out much more against the background, and the rear peep sight made it easier to line the two sights up. Plus the Williams rear sight makes elevation and windage adjustments easier and more precise. Too bad the rifle beat me up before I could take advantage of those features.
The gentleman who bought the rifle from me is considerably younger than I am, and he has a private range at which to do his load development and zeroing. He sent me a message not to long ago, letting me know how much he was enjoying his new rifle. I wish I were still a young man. I'd have never let that rifle go.
If you're looking for a do-all rifle that will take a polar bear, Hogzilla, or a T-Rex, a rifle chambered in .45-70 is for you. Marlin/Remlin still makes them, and really nice examples are offered by both Henry and Winchester. Just be advised that this cartridge will likely loosen your fillings.... but you'll have a lot of fun doing it,