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Barrel lengths?

2225 Views 17 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  marlinman93
Two of us pretty much looked at ever Marlin this past weekend at the Sierra show in Reno, saw several typical brown guns, but my buddy scored an 1893 "sleeping" behind a bunch of other guns in the rack, that may be one of the nicest guns in his small collection. A 38 55 on top of all that! The guy always seems to find the rose in the mierda, and out did himself this time. ;D

All original, perhaps 90% barrel and wood finish, and similar stock finish. Typical silvery mottled receiver and perfect bore which he intends to shoot ASAP.

Now what seems unusual, (to us) and he did not even notice till we really got to looking, is the barrel is dead nuts at 25" from the breech face. Front sight is 3/4" to center of dovetail, while most of our other Marlins are 1" We did find a couple of others at the show, with the 3/4" figure, but all in even numbers overall, I.E. 24/26 etc. We looked up the serail number, it was 98 or 99, cant recall which.

Thoughts on odd number barrel lengths?
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Most of my early marlins, the front sight is 15/16" to center, that said yours being made in 1898 or 99 you can check the records as they do go up to around 1906 around 355000. Marlin listed them in catalogs with even numbers, but they also list them in extras as $1.00 an in. for longer barrels. I have a 1895 with a 29" barrel that letters. So there are odd ones, but not many. Go the Marlin collectors site with the whole ser# and they may look it up for you. In the early years they would make almost anything you wanted. In Brophys book he lists a few short length 81s and 88s with odd lengths.

Thanks, it weird that someone would pay a buck for an extra inch of barrel, maybe he read it would give him an extra edge on accuracy or some such? ;D

As far as the front sight, I can for see a 1/16 or even maybe an eighth, even in a standard run, a worker in a hurry to leave for lunch or what ever could easily set on up with a bit of variation in that degree. Or maybe even do all on his rack, then use a different tool, and do the next batch different.

I thought this was "the marlin collectors site"? I have seen it mentioned once or twice, thanks, Ron

This is the link go into Guns Q&A,then Guest, they can help with the ser#

I'd have reservations about a Marlin in a 25" barrel, and even more so if it was exactly 25", and not around 25.25"-25.30" or there abouts. Regardless of barrel length I've never seen a Marlin that was exact to the inch in length.
No clue from experience here my friend. I measured that sucker several times, to the actual face of the breech with the bolt open. Came out 25 exact, well not perhaps to the tenth of a thousandth, but at least to cabinet maker specs it was 25" :)

Course that was sitting in a chair at a gun show, and the "great" light always found. I can look at the gun again tomorrow, and check once again in a more relaxed place and better light.

Ya got me wondering if I misread it now. ;) I guess the distance on the front sight made me wonder too, I guess they could have lopped off a quarter of an inch on the front, but then it still would have been a 25.25, instead of a 26 with the standard one inch front sight, correct?

See what I am getting at? :) As said, I am on a long learning curve on these guns, I am always open to previous wisdom on them.

As well, this gun had a 3/4 tube, octagon barrel. Standard rocky rear, and nickle silver front.

BTW, thanks for the link, appreciate it. Ron
I am ALWAYS suspect of barrels shorter than 26". Especially an odd numbered (21", 23". 25" etc.) length barrel. While apparently Marlin did do barrels in odd lengths, it had to be darn rare. I've been actively collecting antique Marlins for nearly 20 years, and have never run across one.
And now the revelation that this rifle wears a 3/4 length mag tube. I have also never seen a factory 3/4 mag tube on a Marlin rifle. I've seen full, half, and button (and on 32" bbls. the 30" mag tubes).
It just seems funny to me that every time a odd numbered length barrel comes along, it has a 3/4 length mag tube. It's too convienent to cut an inch or so off the barrel (thus cutting off the mag tube dovetail), and shortening the mag tube to 3/4 length.
For my money I walk away from that rifle if originality is what I want, unless it has a letter from Cody, Wyoming stating the weird lengths.

I would look at the crown closely too. The old Marlins were flat crowned with no
marks & no blue. If a gunsmith did recrown or shorten the barrel there would be
marks on the crown. I always check the crowns on old Marlins.
Its what a Win guy would call a 3/4 tube. Somewhere I seem to recall that the definition on tube length is different with Marlin versus Win.

As far as the length, I would state again, If it had been recrowned lets say even 1/8 of an inch, then that would make it 25 and 1/8 originally, and that would be odd too I would believe.

It has a flat crown, but any marks or not would depend on who cut what ever gun is alleged to have been cut. IF and I say IF it was cut off, it was done professionally, and the sight was set back within reasonable specs. There are no typical pipe wrench marks, etc.

The gun for sure is original finish over all.

Its blowing 40 and maybe 50 mile gusts right now, I aint driving out to his place, but he may well come into town. I will drop a dime and tell him to bring the gun in, we can get some pics. :D

Here is the gun in question. I had my head in the dark on the tube length, its obviously not a 3/4 tube, but for exact, its 15". I did triple check the overall barrel length, and even had my buddy read the tape, its 25" exact. Front sight is 7/8 muzzle to center of dovetail. It has not been cut either, and appears totally aged with the rest, and is flat with a slight chamfer on the bore.

What is a bit different the rear sight is not a typical Marlin looking sight, but similar, and has a winchester looking elevator. But wear patterns also prove the elevator has been there for decades, if not from the shipping point. Considering the special barrel, a special order sight would not be out of the question.

He had a vintage tang sight, and has added that. Serial number is 153XXX and is a 38 55 with a perfect bore.
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RGR. Nice looking rifle.I am wondering if this rifle has the rounded lever as it appears to have. Thanks
marlin 1893 said:
RGR. Nice looking rifle.I am wondering if this rifle has the rounded lever as it appears to have. Thanks
I believe that that's the original lever with the "tail" removed. (The round levers appeared after WWI.) This modification leads me to think that this rifle was indeed shortened; the magazine tube looks long, and the bore chamfer doesn't sound right, either. Muzzles were square. I wonder if this barrel measures 24 inches from the muzzle to the face of the receiver? Front sight location was probably taken from the cut off section. Nice rifle nonetheless
First I think you will find that may be a rounded lever.It could be a replacement though.In the early
years Marlin offered many special order options.The coustmer could get about what he wanted
within reason.On page 579 of William S. Brophys book you will find a 1893 with a special-order
two-thirds magazine.I would have to see the barrel in person to comment on it.I will leave that to
An old gunsmith friend of mine has a model 1891 with a factory 23" barrel . It lettered with ,also engraved and fully nickel plated, the rifle was one sent to the Colombian Exposition in 1893. And i cant pry it out of him!! :( :( Don
Here is the deal. While both of us are somewhat new to vintage Marlins, and various details, between us, we have some 70 years of serious gun collecting background. Myself over 30, him 40, if not more. Either of us can tell the difference between a carbona, versus rust, versus caustic blue from across the room. We can tell when a gun has been monkeyed with. We can tell when sights have been replaced, when stocks have been refinished, etc etc.

Even if this barrel had been shortened 1/4" that would still make it a 25 1/4" odd number length. Not 26, not 24. I have gun smithed on a professional basis until recently for much of 30 years. My mind thinks in thousanths, I can read a tape measure, and know the difference between 24 and 25" ;D
OK, the crown does have slight chamfer, about 1/32 inch width. The gun may have been dropped, and a countersink removed the dent, that is very feasible, it does not mean the barrel has been whacked. All wear and color on the whole gun, is consistently even.

OK, its a round lever, just what purpose, did rancher John, have to remove the "tail" from the lever near 100 years ago? And maybe it was replaced, for what purpose, I have no clue. The whole gun sports 70% maybe more original finish. The bore appears literally new and perfect. If the gun was beat to dog crap, a lever might have been replaced, but again, none of the evidence hints at any need to replace the lever.

That the rear sight is not typical, also suggests a guy with some extra money to special order stuff, as the sight for sure is similar vintage, and matches the rest of the overall minute bit of patina.

I have an 1893 with 28 1/4" barrel, full length with a Kings semi buckhorn rear, and a Kings 3 bead front, both match wear and patina. Along with the special barrel, I have no doubt, the sights were ordered with the rifle.

Thanks for all the ideas, Ron
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I think if it were a factory short barrel the front sight would still be the correct distance back from the muzzle. I'd imagine they indexed that dovetail from the muzzle not the breech. The lever might have bent & the replacement was a newer rounded one perhaps? Alot of things can happen in a hundred years to a gun.
Here's a thought:
Instead of all this speculation and wondering go over to
and post the s/n in the lever action section. Regnier will kindly tell you exactly what that rifle left the factory as.

Wishbone is right; just see what Rick has to add. But to speculate a bit more; there's always the possiblity it wasn't a 26" barrel to begin with. Many old Marlins were cut down because they were special ordered with over length barrels, which owners found cumbersome later and chopped them down. Often these were 28" or 30", and so when cut they don't have the issues of a 26" cut down to 25". I had a neat 20" 1888 Marlin that was exciting considering how few were made. Everything measured correctly, and it was so cheap I couldn't pass it up. But when it lettered it turned out to be a pretty rare 28" from the factory! Pretty sad in either case to not be a real 20", and not have been left as a 28" too!
If it was done many years ago when the gun was pretty new, I doubt you could discern any foul play today.
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