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Old August 15, 2011, 04:52 PM   #1
cptmclark
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Marlin 1894 rebarrel question

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but before I throw away this beautiful example of the rifle, has there been or is there any hope in achieving any kind of accuracy with this rifle in 44 caliber?

I have enjoyed more hours that I admit tinkering with rifle and loads, and it is still a three MOA rifle on it's worst days and 2.5 on it's best days with the most accurate ammo I can find or make. 2 MOA would be wonderful, but for 5 shots. I hate to call that accurate, but I would really like to keep her, and as it is I'm so disappointed that it's no fun. In a 2MOA unit, I would enjoy using it for critters at short ranges.
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Old August 22, 2011, 12:56 PM   #2
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Well you didn't say what caliber it was, or what ammo you are shooting in it, but maybe I can help. I had a similar situation with both a 38-55 Win. & a 32 Win. Special. I quit using jacketed bullets and went to lead bullets which typically run a few thousands of an inch larger in diameter. That seemed to make the difference for me with the tired rifling in the barrel. It could grip the larger diameter lead bullet better than the smaller diameter copper jacket. Give it a try if you reload.
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Old August 22, 2011, 01:41 PM   #3
cptmclark
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Thanks for the reply Duchman. The caliber is 44 mag/sp. Most accurate loads are the Sierra 210 and 240 HC over 25.5 and 25 gr H110. Next best is the 265 Hornady (444 bullet) over I forget how much H110. 110 gave both best speed and accuracy. Other loads included the Speer 240SP and several factory loads including the spiffy new pointy one from Hornday. I do handload, but wouldn't want to get into lead bullets unless I were to take that up as a hobby.

This is a repeat of stuff written elswhere a long time ago, but this time hoping for maybe a smithy type solution. Best accuracy consistently to take to the bank is about three MOA. On a good day, 2.5, but I can't predict a good day. First and second shots often are not close, so I don't think heating is the problem. So I wondered if their barrels are just bad. Marlin did once rebarrel it when I complained, but it can only do what it can do. The 45/70 lever guns shoot so well that I had hoped for similar. In another thread I asked about chambering the latter for the 460 S&W, but no replies yet. Answer to obvious question is that Indiana Hunting laws are designed to give tinkerers and gunmakers something to do. Case length and bullet diameter are the criteria. Still, it's fun to find the best you can do in a pistol cal rifle, if you have a chance of success at it.

I see Shooting Times this month has a bragging new Marlin 1894 on the cover, but in the fine print you'll see that the loads which strggled to be slightly under 2 inches were shot at 50 yards. There's been a lot written in 1894 threads so I don't mean to beat a dead horse. I just wanted to grasp for a solution one more time before moving it on. Very pretty unit with a nice trigger job. Too bad it won't shoot. If I were shooting up close it would be a fun novelty, but I don't.
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Old August 22, 2011, 03:04 PM   #4
g.willikers
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For the kind of accuracy you desire, the lever actions ain't it.
It might be possible to do it with a 30-30, but they were never designed with critical accuracy in mind.
Fast shooting, with decent accuracy, at close and less than medium distances, are where they shine.
(Didn't you ever watch "The Rifleman" show)?
They are great as intended, but expecting long range accuracy from them, like a bolt action, is about like expecting to have a four door sedan run with a Corvette.
By the way, "The Rifleman" is running on the Retro Channel, this month.
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Old August 22, 2011, 03:24 PM   #5
Dave P
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Accuracy

FYI: I tested my Marlin 1894C in 44m for accuracy this afternoon. Benched, at about 60 yards. .430 lead, 180 gr, in front of 14 gr AA#7 (if I remember right). Skinner peep.

Shot a 1/2 dozen rounds into 3" or so. Thought it would do a bit better, but like willi said ...

Its a wonderful lever gun - i Love it! Lots of firepower in a compact package.
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Old August 22, 2011, 04:29 PM   #6
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IMHO, they're not target rifles, and it's an unreasonable expectation, to think they should "group" like one.

Also, since I've not seen many game animals in the last 1/3 century stick around long enough after the 1st shot for the shooter/hunter to shoot a tight group, I'd be rather more satisfied if my rifle(s) will put the 1st shot from a cold bore (clean/dirty - your choice) directly "on target", than I would from any grouping ability.

.
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Old August 22, 2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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As PetahW said, expecting a factory-stock lever action carbine to shoot MOA is not realistic. Realistically, 3"-4" is not all that bad from a traditional lever action carbine (does not include the BLR and similar "modern" lever action rifles).

Build a MOA lever action rifle? It can be done. Question is do you really want to pay to have it done? Casual shooters would balk, but match shooters will not even hesitate to have several hundred dollars of custom work done to their rifles. I have built lever action carbines into "sleeper" cast bullet match rifles (Marlin 336 and Winchester 94 carbines). From the outside they look the same, but it involves replacing the barrel, and major reworking of magazine tube and forearm. You could buy another couple of rifles for the cost of doing it. So yes, it can be done. No, it is not cheap.
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Old August 22, 2011, 06:53 PM   #8
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All replies, ideas, and opinions greatly appreciate. I agree that bench rest or target is not the goal, but there should be some criteria for describing performance as "group" or "pattern".

Yea, I love the rifleman, but for the life of me can't figure out why he never chambers a round until he needs a super fast and accurate shot. Maybe the whirling rifle dazes his opponent.

First shot cold bore same place every time for a hunter, with the second not very far off would be dandy. With mine, the first shot is unpredictable where it will be in the group. This is all a sport or hobby anyway, since few of us have to kill our food if we don't want to. I like accuracy, and that definition is up to the shooter I guess. Saying wanting less than 3 MOA is wanting "target" accuracy makes me smile though. My "target" guns shoot sub 0.5 MOA. Hoping for four times that in a hunter I thought was reasonable.

Still, I've had great fun learning about the model, and how to smooth and refine it a bit. Lot's of lead downrange and data books filled. I only wanted to be sure that I can't obtain my accuracy goal, even if it seems unreasonable, before I move on. Thanks again for all the conversation. I do enjoy it.

Ps: Before I learned to enjoy the 1894, my goal was for a more accurate shooter with less recoil than our shotguns, which we have hunted with here for eons. I have shotguns that will stay in 2 MOA all the time, and I have no idea why a trombone action scattergun with rifling in the barrel would do that, but they do (if you get a good one). So I don't have to have a fun rifle to hunt with, but would prefer it. Maybe I'll get a reply for my query about the 460 S&W in a repeater

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Old August 23, 2011, 06:57 AM   #9
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Try a 99 Savage. I only ever shot one .300 that was bad and it had a defective barrel from the factory.
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Old August 27, 2011, 06:08 PM   #10
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I shot another group today with a better load, using AA #9 and 200 grains of lead. This was at 70 yards, 10 rounds. Cold barrel. Works out to about 3.6" at 100 yards.
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Old August 27, 2011, 08:14 PM   #11
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Hmm. I think it's shooting about as well as it could be expected, but have tried shooting it with glass on it? It looks like you're using a ghost ring set up now.

FWIW back when I was in high school a friend of mine had one and he and I reloaded for it and shot it extensively, but our standards were "minute of rock at 200 yards". His had some reliability issues with the Marlin "death-jam" which meant pulling the lever out to clear it.
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Old August 28, 2011, 05:04 PM   #12
g.willikers
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Just had a thought (look out).
Have you ever tried those pointy, Leverevolution bullets by Hornady in the gun?
Maybe they would fly a bit straighter, due to the improved shape.
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Old August 30, 2011, 04:07 AM   #13
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I don't own a .44 94 Marlin, but do own a 32/20 Marlin and have fired 10 cast gc rounds into 2.25" with 4X short Burris and was thrilled. Reason being in the early nineties had a 25/20 that wouldn't group with anything. Tried cast, jacketed, even bought some *gasp shudder* factory rounds with hand guard on, and off, lapped the barrel etc. my buddy bought one and had the same experience. Both of my rifles were and are modern 1894CLs. Never did find out why the 25/20 wouldn't shoot.
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Old August 30, 2011, 04:39 PM   #14
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Sorry, I don't know what you have or haven't done, but I think you want to start looking at the usual suspects.

First, if you shoot some .44 Special level loads, to they do any better? In other words, are we looking at a recoil deflection related problem?

Since lever gun barrels are famous for it, slug the bore to see if the dovetail cuts for the front side and magazine hanger have put constrictions in the bore that need to be lapped out? Also, slug it to learn the groove diameter.

Check the muzzle crown, and maybe redo it.

Take a look at the band and forestock engagements. M. L. McPherson's book, Accurizing the Factory Rifle, covers lever action and single-shot 2-part stock problems and solutions. He also covers Lever action and single-shot receivers and has miscellaneous other things of interest.
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