Meet the Jurassic Rifle – Marlin 1895SBL

Story and photos by Russell Purcell (@RoadTestRuss)

The lever operated rifle mechanism has been around for over 150 years. Lever guns are efficient and offer classic looks and ease of operation; especially when the user is shooting from a mounted position – whether on a horse, quad or moving vehicle.

DVC recently added the Marlin 1895SBL (Stainless Black Laminate) to its ever-expanding lineup of rental guns and this smooth operator is well worth a test fire, as it offers a big-bore kick in a relatively stable platform.

Stopping Power

The Marlin 1895SBL is chambered in .45-70, a rifle cartridge that was originally developed for military use in 1873. Today, the 45-70 is used primarily by hunters and outdoorsmen looking for an accurate, short-range cartridge that is big enough to tame a wide range of both large and small animals.

Marlin touts the 1895 as a solid choice for hunters pursuing a wide variety of game species – including bear, moose, deer, hogs and even T-Rex. The latter may be in jest but is a nod to the fact that the hero portrayed by actor Chris Pratt in the blockbuster film Jurassic World elects to carry the 1895SBL when in the field to protect himself, and his apparently tasty cast mates, from hungry dinosaurs.

Features and Advantages of the 1895SBL

The Marlin 1895SBL benefits from an enlarged lever ring which will be appreciated by hunters who wear gloves, but it also makes it much easier to find with the hand in short order.

The diamond-checkered laminate stock enhances grip and should help your hands maintain traction under wet conditions.

Most of the gun’s major components are constructed of stainless steel – making the 1895 a great all-weather rifle.

The receiver and internal bolt design have been engineered to handle the heaviest .45-70 loads, and the deep, Ballard type cut rifling of the barrel helps deliver accurate hits with both cast and jacketed bullets.

The rifle has an 18.5-inch barrel length, tubular five round magazine, and a 4.5-pound trigger.

Target acquisition is fast, especially when using an optic like the Holosun red dot mounted to DVC’s unit, and the operator can cycle through the 5+1 rounds in rapid succession using the over-sized loop lever.

A soft recoil pad is fitted to the rifle to help preserve your shoulder from the renowned kick that comes along for the ride with the .45-70 cartridge.

Safety precautions include Marlin’s signature manual cross-bolt hammer-block safety, a two-piece firing pin, trigger block, and a half-cock hammer safety position.

The black/gray laminate stock looks sharp, and its colouration will blend well with forest environments.

Optic Friendly

The Marlin 1895SBL was designed to be a heavy-duty rifle with solid receiver and side ejection. This makes it a solid platform for running optics.

Marlin fits the 1895SBL with Ghost Ring sights mounted on an extended rail platform. The latter allows the user to mount optics either over the receiver or placed forward closer to the barrel.

Worth a Look

The big-bore, lever-action hunting rifle is making a comeback, and the Marlin 1895SBL will likely find its way into the hands of many because it is well-balanced, rugged, reliable and moderately priced.