Marlin Firearms Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In case you haven't noticed, I am a huge fan of the Marlin 1881. Of course my 1881 is the centerpiece of my MEAGER collection so maybe I'm partial to it because I don't have enough to compare it to.

What I am hoping is that I could get as many of you as possible that also have 1881's to respond and tell a little about their rifle and what they think of the 1881, things like:

1) Strengths and weaknesses?

2) How much you shoot it?

3) When in your collecting did you get your 1881, when you started collecting or later on after you had already gotten 1893's etc....?

4) Maybe a story of where you found your 1881, gunshow or what?

I really liked mm93's story of how he found his favorite 1881 and hopefully some of you will take time to fill me in on their 1881 or in mm93's case one of his other ones.

Do you have an 1881 Cowboy Kel???

Thanks,

Geoff
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
81 Posts
Geoff - I have a least one of every Model 18_ _ that was made. I have 2 1881s. A 40-60 that I killed ( Yes killed... you harvest wheat ) a nice riverbottom buck with and a sweet 38-55 pistol grip. I think the neatest thing about 1881s is the fact they were the first lever gun chambered for the 45-70.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,243 Posts
I have five 1881 Marlins. Of course you saw my favorite, the .40-60M Flues Schuetzen rifle. The others are another straight gripped .40-60M with half magazine, and half octagon barrel, and factory Swiss butt. A .45-70 that is a standard model, but close to 85% original finish, and beautiful extra grade wood. A small frame 1881, chambered in .38-55, standard model, and finally a relic full size 1881, that was found near Wounded Knee, that a fellow forum member sent my way. Thank you!
The first one I got was the small frame, which I found at a local gun show 15 years ago! Gave $600 for it, and thought I was really stupid to pay that much at the time.
The next one was the .45-70, which I traded into, and it came from a friend who had it for sale at a gun show.
The last one is the straight gripped with Swiss butt. A friend found it last year at a local gun show, and bought it for $600. He in turn sold it to me for $800, and I am forever in his debt! He added a small addendum to the deal. I can never sell it, unless I split the profits with him! We both know what it's worth, and know he gave me a smoking deal, so I have to keep it forever! Like I would do something diffrent anyway?
I'm in full agreement with you as to the high respect I feel for the 1881! I'd easily collect nothing but 1881 Marlins, if there were enough good ones out there to collect, and I could afford to do just that!
The 1881 is not the strongest lever action made, but I do believe it was years ahead of all the competitors in it's time. It is one of the strongest of it's time though! The only other gun that could compare to it, (prior to the 1886 Win) was the Whitney-Kennedy. The two guns have many similarities, as they share patents.
One of the weaknesses in early 1881's is the shell carrier. They almost fully enclosed the cartridge, so when it was pushed forward by the bolt, the ears had to spread to drop back down. They broke on occasion, so the design was changed to a more open design, thus fixing the problem.
The loading gate was a problem also. This was a Burgess design, which was used on the Whitney and Colt Burgess rifles too, so they have the same problem; the forearm wood cracks where it is thin over the gate spring. Rare to see an 1881 that isn't cracked there.
I had a dozen various 1893 and 1894 Marlins, when I found the small frame 1881. The others came years later, with the one last year being the most recent. I haven't actively pursued the 1881's, as they seem to have gotten pretty out of hand price wise over the last 5-6 years. I've passed up a number of relics that were brown, or had little finish, in the $1200-$1500+ range! But if I was a rich man, I'd sure pursue any good ones I heard of!
As for shooting, I'm afraid I don't shoot them as much as the others in my collection. No real reason, except that I tend to shoot my single shot Ballards more often. I have taken deer with the .38-55, and also the .45-70 1881's, and of all of them, I prefer shooting the small frame .38-55 the most! It's a real tack driver, and I love the feel and light weight of that particular model. I enjoy packing it around while hunting, and even after getting my deer, I still carried it while following the rest the boys around. It just makes me happy to look at it, and I enjoy the expressions on other hunter's faces when I meet folks. You always see their eyes go straight to that 1881, as soon as they get close enough to see it. Most often I get the same, "What caliber is your Winchester" question. It used to bother me, but now I just tell them, "My MARLIN is a .38-55 Ballard cartridge." That usually draws a moment of silence, before they ask the list of questions, like: What caliber, what model, how does it shoot, have you killed anything with it, etc....
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
mm93 and CowboyKell,

Big time appreciate the replies. Really did, that is facinating reading!!!!!!!! You don't read much about 1881's so I really enjoy any information or reading about them.

Went thru the Cody Wyoming museum a year and a half ago or so and I was surprised that the only sample of an 1881 in there was incomplete like missing the forearm or something or maybe it was missing the rear sight. I was a bit dumbfounded by this as apparently Buffalo Bill had high regard for this model. I would think they could've found a better 1881 for display.

I'm glad you mentioned the Burgess crack. For some reason my rifle is fine with regard to this at least as far as I can tell. I HAVE to get a digital camera so I could show you all my old rifle. It really is not much to look at but she sure can shoot. I'm still on a high after shooting a 33 out of 40 in silhouettes with it. Some day I'll shoot a deer with it, but hunting season is right in the middle of apple harvest so it makes it tough. I've just got to MAKE it happen though!

These .38-55's you guy's have in the 1881 sound extremely interesting!!! I would love to shoulder one sometime. Sometime when your Oregon collectors are having a show that you would show your 1881's I'd really try to bring mine down and join the fun. I would enjoy mine even if it didn't shoot so good but that attribute REALLY seals it! It's a love affair!!! It's like my Winchester 1892, a keeper that Lord willing will be passed on as one of my absolute favorites.

HOPE TO HEAR FROM SOME OF YOU OTHERS!! PARLEY, HOGGER, ANYONE ELSE WITH 1881'S?????????

Geoff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,591 Posts
Geoff,

Yep, I have one 1881. No story to speak of, I bought it sight unseen from Goergens in Minn in the late 70s for 300. There is a small piece of mother-of-pearl inlaid into the stock & a repair beside the upper tang that blends in nicely. It's a 40-60, straight stock single trigger pretty basic rifle. The main talking point is the pristine bore. I have fired it precisely once. SW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
579 Posts
Geoff, I have an 1881 small frame in 38-55. Lyman 24 receiver sight and Lyman ivory bead front sight. Wood sanded many years ago and a piano type finish applied. Gun is brown every where but no pits. Bore is very strong with no pits but rod wear at muzzle. I gave 850.00 for it last year. I came across it at a furniture sale in NC. My wife wanted to look for antique furniture but I wanted to set up at local gunshow. I went with her instead and without a fuss and as soon as we walked into the show, there it lay on a table. Needless to say I bought it immediately. I had 93's,94's, and a parts 95 prior to it. I am wanting one in 45-70 and one in 40-60 as soon as I find the right deals. I take mine to the range every time I go as I am still trying to find a load that will shoot in it. I now have a custom NEI 335 gr mold that throws a bullet .382" and I am shooting 45 gr Cartridge GOEX with a wad. Shoots a 6" circle at 50 yards. It is my hope to find a load and hunt with it next year. Moodyholler
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
81 Posts
Geoff - I noticed you shoot silhouettes with your 1881. Rerifler and I attend a few BPCR matches in west Dakota, east Mont. Most of these matches have side matches for lever guns. Requirements are a cast bullet and any safe powder load. You see a lot of 1894 Win.s and 336 Marlin 30-30s equipped with globe front sights and rear tangs or reciever sights. Rerifler and I both shoot 1893 Marlins in 32-40. Rerifler rebarreled, restocked, and recased his 1893...looks like a new out of the box gun and shoots just as good. He has a few belt buckles and plaques to prove it. I shoot a pistol grip take down with a Lyman 17A front and a Parts Unknown midrange tang with a Merit adjustable sight disc. The fact the shooting is all done offhand at ranges of 75 - 250 yds., comfort is a big factor and I like the way the PG fits. I also have an 1881 32-40 PG but the bore isn't as nice as the 1893. If you want accuracy with cast bullets, it really helps to have a mint bore.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hogger,

You've only shot it ONCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's a full fledged travesty!!!! You know I bought that Mossberg Chuckster a couple weeks ago, I'll trade you straight across. The local slaughter/meat packer guy uses a .22 magnum for all animals and you could probably use it on those hogs back there. Would be WAY more useful than an old 1881 thats only been shot once in the last 30 years. Heck, you probably wouldn't even miss it. HA HA!

Moodyholler,

Now if my wife reads that story of yours she's going to expect me to jump at the chance to go with her next time shopping. She loves to see what kind of deals she can get at the Goodwill, Salvation Army, and such places but I guarantee I'll never stumble onto an 1881 there while also being such a model spouse!!!!!!!!! Kindof reminded me of the most expensive gun I have ever purchased that led to the worst fight with my wife in 15 years of marriage. A few weeks later we sat down with our accountant to do the income tax stuff. I told him sheepishly about my grand purchase he surmised the situation and said "it sounds like a prudent SECURITY DEVICE to me for your business!!!!!!!!!!" Saved my life and my marriage I swear when he expensed the thing. Swerved into a bit of good luck there didn't I.

I have no experience with the .38-55 but isn't that a pretty heavy bullet you are using? I'm just wondering if the twist in your rifle is fast enough for it??

CowboyKell,

I wish you guys lived closer. There's about 15-20 guys around here that shoot cowboy silhouette and it is an absolute blast!!!! I know what you mean about your 1893 feeling more comfortable than the 1881. The big frame 1881 doesn't feel particularly good to me but it just astounds me the way the targets fall over when the old girl speaks! I've found that the position of my cheek/chin on the stock is essential to shooting my 1881 well since the buttstock drops off so quick. Like I said it doesn't feel too good but for some reason it sure holds steady. I don't own an 1893 yet but one in .38-55 is sure on my wish list. What length barrels do you and rerifler have on your 1893's??? Mine is a 28" on my 1881 and I think that is also a big reason it holds so steady. I'd be really interested in handling the small frame one sometime.

mm93,

I'd sure like to hear more about the relic found near Wounded Knee.

Thanks alot gentlemen,

Geoff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,591 Posts
Geoff,

Yep. Once. Shot my 1895 5 times & took the rear firing pin out so I wouldn't be tempted to shoot it again. I just don't shoot the old ones too much... Heck, I scarcely have time to shoot the new ones. Got 3 rifles for Xmas & have only shot one of 'em. I missed the shooting club meetin' where they were dealing out new range keys & I won't be able to get out there for at least another week.

Bought a M95 Steyr on Gunboards a couple weeks ago. The seller didn't bother to tell me he shipped it & my FFL guy didn't call to say it was in! :? I got some 8X56R loaded up, though & will take it out when I get in from work... I hope. SW
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
I guess you could call mine a Marlin 1881,whats left of it.Went through a fire and isn't well enough to shoot.But hey,love it regardless.In 45-70 with double set triggers.Found a set of wood but that turned out to be for the light frame gun so doesn't fit properly.Also have a fire damaged tang sight mounted on it..Still,, it am what it am...A KEEPER.modoc
Just had a thought,how about milling it out here and there as a demo?? Any thoughts??M M 93 any ideas??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
the first lever action 45/70 i ever had was an 1881; got it for 350 back in 1981, when i was in the army; it was gummed up with grease and straw [had been hidden in a barn, supposedly]; i tok it apart, cleaned it, and took it to the range; with mild smokeless loads it shot very well; currently i have one 1881, a 45/70, with excellent bore, all original, very beautiful wood, tang sight; i shoot it with hodgson 777 and it is a shooter with the 400 or 500 gr. bullets; took it bufallo hanting with my son, but buffalo did not cooperate with us; it is one of my most favorite guns in looks, nostalgia and solid perfprmance.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,243 Posts
Not much of a picture, but here are my 5 Model 1881's, from one of our display shows.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Cable,

Great to hear from anther 1881 afficianado!!! Is your tang sight original and do you use it in conjunction with the original silver blade front sight??
About what year was it made?? Was your rifle up in Alaska already or did you buy it down here then take it up. Just wondering if it went up North during the gold rush. Sounds like a NICE rifle!

mm93,

Doggone that is a beautiful bunch of rifles. If I had all of them I'd never get anything done I'd just sit around staring at them all day!!! When you have one of your shows catering to 1881's and such please let me know and I'll try to make the trip down. Thanks for sharing the picture. By the way the 1/2 magazine one I see in the picture is the one I would take elk hunting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Geoff
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,243 Posts
The half mag 1881, is the one with the 24" half octagon barrel, in caliber .40-60M. It would be my choice also, as it's the lightest large frame I own. It had the rare nickeled buttplate, but as you can see, the nickel is all worn off, and it's just brass showing. This was also a swiss buttplate, but some previous owner didn't like the prongs sticking him, so he hacked them off! Someday I'll replace the prongs, to make it right, as it numbers to the gun and the gun letters correctly.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,589 Posts
Mine left the factory in 1884 and again in 1886, letters but no info on why it got sent back. It has the 30" bull octagon barrel with double triggers, I replaced the butt stock that was split and screwed back togeather so I could shoot it, kept the old stock. Had the mag tube tack welded in a couple spots as it had a dent that hung up rounds and being rolled metal rather than a tube had to make it solid enough to put a dowel through to take out the dent. Just got email back from Turnbull end of last week for doing a full restore, looks like it will be going in shortly. Oh, took it shooting the weekend before with Tuby, Bear 45-70, and Bytor. It kicks a lot less than the one Bear had us all shoot.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
484 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sureshot,

Sounds like you have a beauty. That thought has crossed my mind as well wondering what one of these looked like brand new. Even though mine has the finish pitted in some areas I can tell the receiver was polished mirror smooth!

That is so cool that you are going to have Turnbull do a full restore on it!!!!!!!!!!! Did he say whether he has done any other 1881's before? Please keep us posted on the progress as I am VERY interested as to how it turns out. By the way, what caliber is your rifle in?

Geoff
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,243 Posts
Turnbull has definitely done 1881's before! I have a friend who had his done there. Depending on what it needs, the price varies greatly. My firend's 1881 had nice wood that needed refinishing, and the metal was smooth, but pretty bare. I believe his gun was well under $1,000. Not positive, but I think he said about $850.
Here's a picture of my 1881, in .45-70, that is about 85%.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top