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Greetings!

I just got my first (really, second) lever action – a Marlin 1894 in .44, and I was wondering if someone could confirm that an issue I’m having with my 1894 is, or is not, a defect.

So, the back story: I purchased an 1894 about 2 weeks ago from a sporting goods store. It was the only 1894 they had in stock at that location, and I was warned that they likely would not get another for some time. I looked it over at the store, and the fit and finish was better than I expected. The wood fit was good, the bluing deep and consistent, and the screw heads unmolested. The action felt good. A few days later I took it to the range and lo and behold, it was shooting more than a foot right because the front sight base was mounted about five degrees or so to the left of vertical. Back it went, and the manager was able to locate another 1894 in national inventory—the only one—and had it shipped to the store. I was determined to get a Marlin lever in .44.

The fit and finish on my (now) second 1894 was sub-par, but I decided to take it because the front sight was properly mounted on the top of the barrel, and because the manager told me I could bring it back if there were any issues. I was not surprised to find that the wood was sloppily fit, the barrel band was over-tight and had scratched the barrel, about half of the bolt was not blued (but on the inside-facing parts), and there were rough machine marks on the bolt as well as on the inside of the receiver. After doing some research, that was in-line with what I expected.

I took it shooting yesterday, and it shoots straight! But I noticed something odd. If the gun is upside down, and empty, the action will get stuck with the lever just out of the locking position. It cannot be forced open. The only remedy is to close the lever and upright the gun.

What I can determine, while being new to levers, is that gravity is causing the locking block to fall back into its recess in the rear of the bolt before the bolt can fully clear alignment with the locking block. It will sometimes cycle fully open (and empty) upside down, but only if I rip the lever open hard (and I am not a 98-pound weakling). My guess is that, in that situation, the bolt travels fast enough to pass alignment with the locking block before gravity can bring the block back into engagement with the bolt. Naturally, I did not try cycling my first 1894 upside down, so I have no point of reference for this gun.

A picture of the lever locked as I describe is attached.

I would greatly appreciate it if someone could tell me if this is normal for the 1894, or if I again have a problem rifle.

Thanks!
 

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