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GUNS Magazine September 2010 - Page 36

The Marlin 1895 SBl .45-70. n 1988 Marlin introduced the Guide Gun; a modified Model 1895 packed with features custom rifle builders had been using to trick out big-bore leverguns for several years. The Guide Gun sold well but savvy riflemen wanted a bit more, complaining about the blued steel, barrel porting, standard sights and short magazine tube. In 2001 Marlin started offering the Guide Gun in stainless steel and finally eliminated the porting. Marlin’s new 1895 SBL fixes everything else and might just be the ultimate .45-70 levergun. The 1895 SBL is similar to the 1895GS, which is the stainless version of the latest Guide Gun with several important modifications. The straight stock has been replaced with a more ergonomic, gray laminated pistol grip stock, the standard sights have been ditched in favor of the excellent XS Sight Systems’ Lever Rail, ghost ring and front sight and the magazine tube has been extended to the end of the barrel. Finally, Marlin opted for a sexy, big-loop lever. In essence, the 1895 SBL is a perfect example of 10 years of firearm evolution, taking the original Guide Gun and incorporating every modification that enhances the appealing characteristics of a short, fast handling and powerful, big-bore levergun. I can’t think of anything I would change. I Richard Mann Even though it looks like four holes, this 100-yard target represents one of the sub-1", 5-shot groups Richard fired with Remington’s 300-grain load. This is superb accuracy from a lever-action rifle. Marlin’s new 1895 SBL is the culmination of 10 years of Guide Gun evolution, incorporating all the features desirable in a fast-handling, big-bore levergun. The full-length magazine tube extends almost to the end of the 18.5" barrel. The magazine holds six rounds of .45-70 and adds some weight at the muzzle. Obviously, the stainless steel offers corrosion resistance and the laminated stock wards off the warping affect water or high humidity can have on wood. Both are a wise choice for a utilitarian, working-type rifle and as good as blued steel and walnut look together, they can’t compete with stainless steel and laminated hardwood for surviving the elements. I’ll admit, I like the looks of the straight-grip stock better and that’s what I chose for my custom, miniature version of the Guide Gun in .327 Federal. However, the straight-grip stock is not as comfortable for me or for most of the shooters I’ve queried, especially if you like to carry your levergun in one hand, by the grip. The big-loop lever makes this more comfortable allowing your hand to be at ease, carrying the rifle at your side, while glassing the dark timber with the other. Fast Enough? Most competitive cowboy-action shooters like my friend Jerry Dove are not fond of the big-loop lever. Jerry says this wastes motion and can slow down your shot string. But such fractions of fractions of a second matter a lot more on your final match score than on your hunt. Either way, I like the big loop. It’s kind of John Wayne-ish and reminds of the Mare’s 36 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2010

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