Marlin if actually planning to "hunt regularly" and if on. lower budget of any sort. OTOH, Browning if as just. "Wanna have a classic .45-70" for general enjoyment and heirloom passdown.
The Browning '86--made in the Miroku, Japan plant (and importantly no longer made) same place and probably much of the tooling as the current/recent Winchester levers but without all the lawyering safety and rebound "stuff" of the newer Win's--reeks of history, is very true to the original Browning/Winchester, and is a classic in its own right. Famous for its smooth, stout action and slim lines. Highly sought after, you'll be looking over $1000 for any of its configurations in any kind of shape, much over if pristine. My favorite, the 22" carbine, is much lighter and more carryable for daily tromping. The 26" (?) octgonal rifle--heavier and less wieldable as you might guess, also better for stationary shooting, that same heavy barrel helps steady the not-insignificant muzzle rise and overall mass moderates the kick. The octagonal also has the traditional "rifle"-sharp crescent butt, versus the carbine's more gentle curve, also traditional for oriiginal 86 as well as 66-73-92-94 carbines. The Brownings come (came) in two primary forms High grade--with a fair amount of engraving/figuring nd polish, and standard, with prices commensurate to their levels of finish. The standard grade is no slouch with a high polish stock. Browning finishes aren't loved by all, as this era's guns are topped off with a poly coat. They're good lookers regardless and not.a bother to me--for now--but many with the patience and skills have stripped it and given it a good ol' oil finish. It's mostly an up close/tactile thing for those who've decided to do that. My take: if someone skilled in refinishes wanted to volunteer to re-do mine as a gift, I'd say sure! Otherwise, not for now.
The Marlins are about 1/2 the Browning (standard, not High Grade) price and also are fine guns stoutly made and, most importantly for that "regular hunting" role- scope-able. They're also known to be easier to clean. I don't know what the current "Remlin" crop looks like but there've been many derogatory comments lately about Marlin in general since the Remington take-over. That would suggest perhaps looking at guns older than three years back, but maybe the .45-70s are another matter and the current ones fine.
Got the money and only very occasionally hunt and want mostly a show/fondling piece? - try the Browning. Otherwise - the Marlin will do you well.
Last edited by gak; January 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM.