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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realize that there is a liability factor with a question like this but hoping someone will answer or direct me to a source (book, video etc.) that can guide me through the process of decreasing the tigger pull on my 336. I am mechanically inclined and have a ton of tools etc. but when I read on a forum site to "stone" the sear, I don't know where I am supposed to remove and polish material. There are a lot of machining marks on all three aspects of this assembly---tigger, sear and hammer. I know I have the ability to do this----I just need some education. Like a member said previously, the worst I can do is screw it up and than end up ordering a Wild West outfit. Just want to learn a new skill and save myself some $. I have got 8 Marlins and 3 Winchesters. Replacing the tiggers on all with an after market assembly could get real expensive. Let me know if you can help. (I have already done a search on this forum and beartooth site with nothing that really helped) Thanks JOHN

Premium Member
14,841 Posts

You sound like you are mechanically inclined. Since you have never worked over a trigger or seer before, my suggestion is to work on the trigger rather than the seer. If you mess up the trigger you can still get one from Wild West but if you mess up the seer it will be a real hassle for you to get another one. Put the seer and trigger together and look at them making sure you mate the trigger with the seer at the full cock and not the half cock. Go slowly and decrease the angle on the trigger ever so slightly and then reassemble and try it out. You will most likely have to do the several times and you will become very proficient with the dissassembly and reassembly process. Get a set of small diamond files for polishing everything. You can use a very fine stone to decrease the trigger angle. I use the small files and do the seer.


When I get home I will access my home computer and copy and paste some material for you to read about this.


Premium Member
14,841 Posts

This is a lot of info below that you can copy and paste into Word. Also go to the Reference Material Forum on this site and there are lots of links etc for you to use.


By Lionel Roach, aka JONAH
Update: 9/27/02
Editorial note: This is information only about what a few cowboys found worked for them. If you do not feel comfortable working on your gun and assuming liability, please go to a good gunsmith and let them tune your gun.
Those involved in Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) have never had it so good when it comes to firearms and related equipment. While some manufacturers were slow to climb aboard the bandwagon, others listened to what shooters wanted and responded. Marlin Firearms worked with shooters and gave us the Model 1894 and the Model 1895. An informal count of the number of Marlin Model 1894's at any CAS shoot will show how popular the Marlin has become. At shoots that I've attended, at least fifty to sixty percent of the rifles being used will be Marlins.
A sideline industry has emerged to tune and modify the firearms used in CAS, but individual owners can perform many of the tune up procedures themselves. There are some parts that are best left to the professionals or at least advanced amateurs such as working on sears and hammer notches. However, with a little bit of time and minor tools, the average owner can do a good job of smoothing up their action.
The following procedures apply to the Models 1894, 1895 and the 336. For additional instructions covering lever action rifles, Accurizing The Factory Rifle, by M. L. McPherson, is the best book I have read and I highly recommend it.
Before you attempt to do any work on your rifle, get a good set of gunsmith screwdrivers. Do not try to use your hardware store special screwdrivers. Burred screw heads will result from use of standard screwdrivers. Gunsmith screwdrivers are available from Lyman, Chapman and others. If not available locally, gunsmith screwdrivers can be ordered from Midway, Brownell's and others.
Additional equipment required will consist of a sheet each of 400 and 600 grit wet or dry paper. Nice to have would be a few small hones, but the wet or dry paper will get you by. When we begin to work on the hammer, a belt sander or bench grinder will be required for part of the procedure.
Before beginning with the actual tune up, cycle the action slowly and try to determine where in the cycle roughness is felt. The areas to pay attention to are the lever plunger that holds the lever closed, the carrier lifting up, the bolt sliding in the receiver and the bolt passing over the hammer. All of these areas will most likely require attention and will be addressed during the tune up. Unless you have been shooting your rifle a great deal, I recommend that you cycle the lever several hundred times prior to beginning any work. This will accomplish two things. First, it may smooth out any burrs that are there. Second, it will leave burnish marks on the areas that are in contact so you can identify those areas needing work. If you reload, make up several dummy rounds, without primer. Cycle these dummy rounds through the action. By doing so, you may find areas inside the action where brass has rubbed off on the parts. This will give you an excellent idea of where to spend time polishing those parts. Before disassembly, slowly open the action and observe the point at which the hammer comes to full cock. On my Marlin 1894 and 1895, the bolt depressed the hammer another 3/32" after reaching full cock. I have observed the same amount of over travel on other Marlins. We will address this when we work on the hammer.
Begin disassembly by opening the action about half way and remove the lever screw, the lever, the bolt and the ejector. Remove the rear tang screw and slide the stock of the rear off the action. Lower the hammer by depressing the trigger safety block. Hold the hammer under the thumb, depress the trigger and let the hammer go forward against the frame. Remove the hammer spring by sliding the hammer spring plate to the left side and then remove the hammer spring. Remove the hammer pivot screw and remove the hammer through the clearance slot by rotating it upward. Turn the rifle over and remove the trigger guard plate support screw from the left side of the action. Then remove the trigger guard plate screw from the bottom. This is the screw just in front of the carrier leg slot. Note that this screw is longer than the previous screw. Lift up on the lower tang and remove the trigger guard plate. Remove the locking bolt from the bottom of the action. Remove the carrier screw from the right side of the action. The carrier will now fall out of the bottom of the action. There is no need to remove the loading gate screw. The action is now dissembled as far as required for the tune up.
Inspect the lever for any burrs on the end where it bears on the carrier and bolt. Burnish marks on the end will show where it is in contact with the carrier and bolt. Lay a 2" by 2" piece of 400 grit wet or dry paper on a flat surface near the edge of your workbench. Place one side of the lever flat on the paper and polish the side. Then flip it over and polish the other side. Polish off any burrs found on the two narrow edges. Stay clear of any of the areas that will be outside of the action so that you don't remove any bluing. This is a polish only operation. Do not remove metal or change the shape of the end of the lever.
The finger lever plunger will need to be polished and the spring tension reduced. With a small punch or nail with the end ground flat, remove the plunger pin. The plunger is under tension, so be careful and don't let the plunger and spring jump out and get lost. Hold a finger over the plunger end or put a small rag over it to contain it. Using the 400 and 600-grit paper, polish the two bevels on the end of the plunger. Check the shank of the plunger and remove any burrs you may find. Place the spring back on the plunger and insert it into the hole in the lever. While looking through the pin hole, push the plunger in until the hole is clear. Continue pushing in the plunger until it is flush or nearly so. This will give you a good idea of the amount of the spring that can be removed. In my rifles, I removed two coils by cutting them off with a good pair of side cutters. I recommend that you only cut one coil at a time and then try the plunger in the lever for tension. The plunger must have enough tension to fully extend and lock the lever in the closed position. If you remove too much of the spring, you may find that the lever will unlock when you fire the rifle with heavy recoiling loads. Since your fingers are through the lever when firing, this is not a dangerous occurrence. However, it is annoying.
Unless you are experienced in working on sear surfaces, I recommend that you leave the trigger and sear alone.
Take the trigger plate in your hand and look down into it from the top side. You will see the trigger block safety spring. This spring also bears on the rear of the trigger. Using a small screwdriver under the short leg, the one bearing on top of the trigger safety block, pry up on the spring approximately 1/8". You want to bend this leg upward enough to relieve tension on the trigger safety block. Don't try to get all the bend in one try, but bend it up a little, try the trigger block safety for tension by pushing it up from the bottom behind the trigger. Continue bending and trying until you can easily move the safety block up with your finger. Leave enough tension so that the safety block always returns to it's down position.
Now look at the long leg of the spring where it bears on the rear of the trigger. Pry it up a little at a time to relieve some tension on the trigger. Be careful and don't kink the spring. You are only trying to relieve some of the tension. It is better to error on the safe side rather than having to buy a new spring.
Some people feel that the floppy two-piece trigger/sear in the Marlin is undesirable. There are after market one-piece triggers available to replace the Marlin trigger. These replacement triggers are also advertised to reduce the trigger pull weight and all the comments I have seen regarding these triggers has been positive.
Check for any burrs and polish the sides and any burnished areas. Do not remove any metal or change the shape.
Place the bolt back in the action and slowly slide it back and forth. It should move smoothly through out its length. Check for any burrs on the bolt and in the receiver and polish them out if you find any. Pay attention to the slot in the side of the bolt where the ejector rides and carefully polish the slot's sides and bottom. Wrapping a small piece of the 600-grit paper around a narrow file or Popsicle stick easily does this. Carefully polish the cam on the bottom of the bolt where it rides over the hammer nose. Do not reduce the height of the cam. Polish it only.
McPherson's gives detailed instruction on how to narrow this cam to reduce the friction as the bolt rides over the hammer. This modification, in my opinion, is not for the faint of heart and should only be attempted by the advanced amateur or professional gunsmith. Bolts are not cheap should you have to replace it.
Like the objection to the two-piece trigger/sear, some object to the two-piece firing pin. Theory is that the two-piece pin requires more force from the hammer to fire the primer, especially when the hammer spring has been reduced. After market one-piece firing pins are also available. In his book, McPherson details how to modify the existing firing pin to lighten it so I will leave it at that.
Remove ¾ of a coil from each end of the hammer spring. If you use a grinder to do this, do not get the spring too hot to hold or allow the spring to change color. Go slowly and grind the cut off end flat like it was done at the factory. If you do not have a grinder, use a triangular file to file a groove in the coil and break the end off. Then file it flat. A Dremel tool with a cutoff blade will also work to remove the ¾ coil. In all three cases, do not nick the adjacent coil as this will set up a weak spot for future breakage. The hammer spring, due to its barrel shape, goes away very quickly. Should you remove too much, you will find that it will not reliably, maybe not at all, provide enough force to fire a primer. If this occurs, and you do not have a spare spring, do not despair. Locate, in your parts drawer or at the local hardware store, some small, thin washers that will just freely slip over the hammer strut. Place one on each of end of the spring and try to fire a primer in an empty case. One washer on each end will most likely provide enough power to fire a primer.
· Reduced force after market main springs are available for those who desire to purchase them rather than modifying the existing spring.
· Using the wet or dry paper, polish the hammer strut on both sides and both edges. Check and remove any burrs from the hammer pivot hole. Polish the hammer screw where the hammer pivots.
· Check the sides of the hammer for bright drag spots. A burr in the receiver rubbing against the hammer can slow the hammer fall. Remove any burrs.
Remember the 3/32" hammer over travel referred to above? Some of this can be removed by grinding the nose of the hammer down using a belt sander or fine grinding wheel. If you feel uneasy about removing metal from the hammer, skip this step. You need to remove approximately 1/32" (.031"). Filing the hammer nose is not practical due to radius and the requirement to maintain the exact contour. Carefully grind and polish the hammer nose. I do not recommend removing more than 1/32" (.031"). This will assure that the hammer is sufficiently depressed to be held at full cock. Scribe lines on both sides of the hammer nose following the same contour and remove metal to this line. A better method of assuring that you don't remove too much is to use a vernier caliper and measure from the flat on the bottom of the hammer to the nose. Go slowly, measure often and then polish the nose. Be advised that altering the hammer may void the manufacturer's warranty.
Leave the sides alone. Polish all burnished areas where the lever acts on the carrier. Look for brass colored areas where brass rubbed off and polish those areas as well. Check the screw hole for burrs and remove. Polish the screw where the carrier pivots.
Check for burrs and polish as required. Polish the cam area where the bolt pushes the ejector down into its slot in the receiver. Spring tension on the ejector can be reduced by carefully bending the spring toward the ejector. Again, an after market one piece ejector/spring is available.
Remove the magazine tube plug and remove the 10 shot plastic plug from the spring. Replace the magazine tube plug and you can now load 13 rounds in the magazine. I don't recommend that you remove any coils from the magazine spring unless it is hard to load rounds into the magazine. If you do decide to remove any coils, proceed slowly and try often for proper feeding. Be safe, leave this spring alone.
Some people find the orange magazine follower objectionable. Its good point is that it is easy to see through the loading gate to verify that the magazine does not contain any live rounds. Some feel that the plastic follower contributes to rust forming in the magazine tube. While this may be true, a more likely reason has to do with the fact that few people remove the spring and follower and clean the inside of the tube much like they would a shotgun barrel. For those individuals with a lathe, a replacement follower can be made out of aluminum bar stock. It too is easy to see through the loading gate.
Everyone complains about the safety. However, it does have a couple of good traits. One, it allows you to safely cycle rounds through the action to unload the magazine without the danger of an accidental discharge. Two, you can dry fire occasionally without danger of breaking a firing pin.
Five things can be done to the safety.
1. Leave it alone and use it when desired.
2. Replace it with an after market dummy that fills the hole and appears as a bolt.
3. Remove the stock. Turn in the safety set screw enough to lock the safety in the off position so that it can't be applied accidentally.
4. In a lathe, face off the left end of the safety so that it is flush with the left side of the receiver when in the off position. The safety can be applied by pushing on it with the end of a pencil.
5. Remove the safety, go to your friendly hardware store and purchase an "O" ring that fits the grove in the safety. After reinstalling the safety, slip the "O" ring over the left end. This will prevent the safety from being applied accidentally.
I have fired several thousand rounds through my Marlins and have never had my safety accidentally placed in the on position.
Reassemble the rifle in the reverse steps to disassembly. Put a light coat of oil on all parts prior to reassembly. Do not tighten any screw all the way until everything is back together. Then snug up all screws. Cycle the action several times to assure everything is working smoothly. On my Marlin 1894, if the trigger guard plate support screw is too tight, the action will appear sluggish. If this occurs on your rifle, back the screw off very slightly.
Every Marlin I have observed suffers from screws loosing up during heavy shooting. The most common is the carrier screw, but the hammer screw and the trigger guard plate support screw also may loosen. Keep a screwdriver close by when shooting and retighten the screws as required. A better solution is to apply a SMALL drop of blue Loctite to the threads of these screws. Loctite can be easily applied to the threads on the left side of the receiver using a toothpick. DO NOT USE RED Loctite or you may never take it apart again.
You have now tuned up your Marlin and are ready to enjoy a great rifle.
Back to the Irons Page Back to the Cowboy Page


Updated on 9/29/2002 By Our Excellent Staff Email:[email protected]
Regarding the trigger: Get yourself a new tool sharpening stone (3" x 6" x 1" thick - fine, ~$5). Find a piece of glass sheet about the same rectangular dimension of the stone. Find a mirrow big enough to lay the glass on.
The big, cheap stone cuts slowly and has enough mass to not move around much. The glass gives a smooth perpendicular surface relative to the stone (and protects your wife's mirror). The mirror reflects light up under the glass, making it easy to eyeball the cutting angle. Get yourself plenty of light.
The sear on the Marlin is a dinky piece of metal and easy to mess up, so be patient. The engagement end of the sear is cut like a chisel. If the cut angle is shallow, resulting in a long cut face, the trigger pull will be heavy with noticeable creep. If the cut angle is steep, resulting in a short cut face, the trigger pull will be very light, possibly "hair trigger". Ponder what I'm saying and make sure the relationship of the sear face and hammer hook makes sense to you before you start grinding.
Before you disassemble your rifle, watch the hammer when you pull the trigger. If the hammer is moving backwards as you pull the trigger, you are "lifting" because of too long a sear engagement surface (shallow cut angle).
You'll have to disassemble/reassemble your receiver multiple times, so I suggest that you get yourself hollow ground screwdrivers (el-cheapo mult-drivers usually come with hollow-ground bits) and a 1/16" pin punch/piano wire/nail/etc. to push out the trigger/sear pin.
Hope this helps.


I do have a spring for that rifle (part #0009 Rifle caliber). The spring itself is very easy to install, just remove the butt stock, one screw. There are instructions on the package, and you can change it in just a couple of minutes. It will help thetrigger pull, but without seeing your rifle it is hard to say if their isn't something else at play here.
The way to help the trigger spring is to remove the bottom tang (trigger assembly), once off you will be able to see the single spring that activates the trigger and trigger block stop. This is one spring with two functions. first is to set the trigger pressure and second to engage the trigger block. It's the trigger block that makes it feel hard to open and shut the lever. To weaken the spring pressure, run a very small screwdriver under the "U" portion of the spring, this will allow you to get a pair of needle nose pliers under the spring, once the pliers are in, remove the screwdriver. Bend both sides of the "U" portion of the spring up about 30 degrees. To help the trigger even more, you will need to polish the hammer, where the sear rides along it's back to engage the sear notches. Just a cleaning up of the hammer surfaces is all that is usually required.
Hope this helps, and I hope this is the area you wanted to improve, let me know if I can be of any more

try putting the lever in without the bolt so you can see where it hits. See if the top of the lug on the lever has a heavy rub mark, it might be tight in the locking block. could also remove the plunger to see if the only restriction is the width. If it is just the width remove a little from inside the trigger plate.If it is the plunger , take a stone and polish the angles on the plunger and try it, just a little change on the angles makes a big difference, so go slow.
One more thing, it really helps to polish the cut face with either a buffer wheel or 400grit emery. Also consider lightly polishing the sides of the sear to smooth things up. I don't think it hurts to make sure that the hammer hook is smooth too.
When you completely reassemble your rifle, cock the hammer and bounce the rifle on the recoil pad like a basketball - sear shouldn't disengage. If it does, it shouldn't fall past half-cock, but you'll still need to slightly lengthen the cut face.

M.L. McPherson
Monday, June 23, 2003
Such alterations either increase gun rigidity, thereby improving intrinsic accuracy or smooth the action, thereby improving useful accuracy, speed and ease of use. Here, the author addresses alterations that are generally most applicable to the Marlin but each of these represents an alteration applicable to most traditional lever-action rifles of modern production (tubular magazine models produced since about 1955).
Race Tuning the Lever-Action Rifle
Considering all that must happen when the action is cycled, tubular-magazine, lever-action rifles are a miracle of simplicity. However, due to the number of articulated parts, these designs offer significant potential for action smoothing modifications. I offer these alterations, and others, as explained in the associated links, Have McPherson Tune Your Levergun, Services Offered & Order Form, in a special gunsmithing service dedicated specifically to enhancing functionality of lever-action guns. Variations of alterations addressed in this text, as required by particular gun make and model, are applicable to most traditional lever-action rifles of recent manufacture. Many readers may be familiar with, or at least may be aware of the book, Accurizing the Factory Rifle, wherein I cover all aspects of improving the lever-action rifle.
I began tinkering with guns as a child. Within a decade, such tinkering was commonplace. Perhaps my first noteworthy overhaul was on a New Model Ruger single-action, 44 Magnum, circa 1973. After tuning that to within an inch of its life, attention turned to what was then the newly reintroduced Marlin 1894, also in 44 Magnum. Over several decades and through several iterations, work on that gun included action smoothing, barrel shortening, stock and receiver modifications (to reduce weight to less than 4.6 pounds!), stock shortening, recoil pad installation, and NP3 treatment of various action parts (to further smooth operation).
It is feasible to significantly improve most lever-action rifles, as delivered from the factory, through judicious refinements and minor modifications. Tools I use include (most are available through Brownells or at a typical hardware store):
· Properly fitting screwdrivers
· Jeweler's stones
· Dremel™ tool
· Cratex™ abrasive impregnated rubber wheels
· Jeweler's files
· RTV silicone
· Cold-bluing agent
· Various drills and bits
· Lathe
· Bedding epoxy
· Release agent
· Bench vise
· Gun vise
· Loupe (author prefers OptiVisor)
· Various other small hand tools
One major goal of such work is friction reduction, which improves functionality and ease of action manipulation. These alterations make it easier to load, cycle and accurately fire any such gun – specific degree of improvement depends upon model and production variables and is generally unpredictable, a priori. A second goal is to reduce stresses that result from imperfect tolerances between various parts. A third goal is to improve stock bedding: first, to reduce deleterious vibrations between barreled-action and the foreend and magazine tube assemblies; second, to increase rigidity between receiver and buttstock. A final goal is to alter spring rates, as necessary, to reduce required loading and manipulation force – specific alterations can depend upon intended application.
I begin these modifications by disassembling magazine tube and foreend from rifle. Production of a modest radius at rear outside perimeter of magazine tube is sometimes required to provide necessary tube-to-receiver clearance and prevent stress when the gun is assembled. Such clearance ensures that this tube does not bind between receiver and barrel hanger. Cold bluing of altered surface finishes this task.
Next, I apply Brownells' release agent, to receiver front, foreend cap (or barrel band) and to bottom and sides of barrel in the area between receiver and foreend tube hanger, as necessary to ensure ease of future disassembly. I install magazine tube into foreend orientated and positioned as when gun is assembled. I apply a bed of RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) silicone onto top of magazine tube, where it passes through foreend. This bead should be sufficient only to accommodate formation of a layer that fully interposes tube and barrel. I then apply a thin layer of RTV to foreend at sides of tube and a more robust layer to foreend at front and rear end (where foreend enters recess in action and area that will be under foreend cap or barrel band). Noted lever-action rifle guru Keith Dehart suggested this basic process to me; I have shamelessly adapted and perhaps modified it.
When I deem it useful to reduce magazine spring tension I remove coils from this spring, according to experience and the owner's intended use of the gun. In some applications, I also reduce mass of magazine tube cap and associated components. In some applications, I alter foreend band or cap and magazine band or related parts, so that magazine tube and foreend hanger and associated parts do not generate variable stresses on barrel or create sources of accuracy-destroying sympathetic vibrations.
I install foreend, foreend cap, magazine tube, cartridge follower and spring assembly onto the properly prepared barreled action. I then apply Loctite™ to all attachment screws, installing and properly tightening those into corresponding holes. I leave this assembly alone for several hours, so that RTV can partially cure. I then peel excess RTV off.
I have perfected buttstock glass bedding, to form an intimate, rigid, enduring, and correct bond between stock and receiver, which is an important accuracy tuning feature on any such rifle. This requires sophisticated preparation so that only the correct areas are in contact. It can significantly improve the gun.
For the utmost in durability and accuracy, I add a buttstock-to-receiver throughbolt. This involves modifications to buttstock, both upper and lower tang and installation of new parts. This addition may well be the single most important improvement to any such rifle; improving accuracy and buttstock durability.
On a relatively new gun, I cycle the action several hundred times, in order to establish wear patterns. This makes it possible to determine points at which various parts are rubbing and to literally see where polishing will be beneficial. Then (after epoxy and silicone have fully cured, as necessary), I disassemble buttstock, lower tang and action.
Perhaps the easiest and most important modification is the ejector system. Due to the way this piece works on a Marlin, excess ejector spring pressure and surface roughness can dramatically increase action manipulation force; due to the way this part works on a Winchester, excess ejector spring pressure can unnecessarily increase action-manipulation force.
These spring modifications achieve great benefit, as does proper polishing of ejector and corresponding bolt surface; on a Winchester, use of lighter coil spring is sometimes beneficial, as is polishing.
I polish all bolt-to-ejector contact surfaces to reduce friction on a Marlin; similarly, on a Winchester (and clones), polishing of various friction surfaces on bolt and corresponding surfaces in receiver can dramatically reduce action manipulation force. However, I make an effort to only polish away burrs and to smooth (only) tops of high spots; further polishing is counterproductive because that can dramatically increase friction, due to associated potential increase in area of contacting surface area.
I polish various surfaces on bolt and associated parts – including some internal parts – and make minor critical adjustments to certain parts. These operations have a twofold purpose:
· First, to reduce friction between bolt and receiver (and associated action parts)
· Second, to reduce friction between bolt and cartridge during chambering and extraction An important area requiring careful attention, where significant reductions in required manipulation force are feasible, is the hammer nose and the hammer-cocking ramp on the underside of the bolt.
Particularly on Marlins, but also somewhat so on Winchesters, the finger-lever is a potential source of significant friction, due to roughness of surfaces that work against various action parts. After careful study, I have determined those areas that are most significant in this regard, along with the best means of reducing such friction to the minimum feasible. Alterations of spring rates and surface contours are important here.
I debur the lower receiver opening, to prevent roughness against the finger-lever. It is sometimes difficult to determine these areas and this is one of the more delicate tasks in this work, done correctly, this will not significantly increase tolerances but will definitely improve action smoothness.
I address problems with the hammer as I do the finger-lever, in as much as I polish all areas showing wear and debur corresponding frame areas. Additionally, I polish and slightly reshape the hammer nose, where it rides under the bolt during action opening, and the corresponding cocking ramp on the bolt, to minimize cocking force.
In a gun used solely for Cowboy Action type work and casual plinking, it is often feasible to somewhat reduce hammer spring tension, which can result in a worthwhile reduction in action manipulation force. However, I will only do this in response to your specific request because any such reduction will definitely reduce the degree of assuredness that the gun will fire each time, regardless of brand, type and production lot of primers used in a particular load ,or of variations in the care and skill with which you may have seated the primer (ignition of primers not seated fully to bottom of primer pocket always requires greater hammer force).
I have developed a simple, albeit elegant, method for adjusting hammer spring tension to useful minimum for use with factory ammunition and properly prepared handloads. This is trial-and-retrial work.
With proper sear stones and other tools, I remove high spots from trigger nose and hammer sear surface. This work requires a clear understanding of function and safety characteristics of sear. (On new Winchester brand guns, with rebounding hammer, little improvement in function or let-off is feasible.)
On the Marlin, I adjust combination trigger-return and trigger-safety-lock spring. This is a touchy project; however, when done correctly, it significantly eases action manipulation.
Similarly, I carefully adjust trigger side of this spring to provide about a one-pound force pushing trigger forward, which is sufficient for safety. On guns where owner has requested a trigger let-off force greater than about 4 pounds, I usually do not alter this spring. With rare exception, I can achieve a safe and reliable let-off between about 3 and 4 pounds on the Marlin.
On a Marlin, I polish the cartridge carrier nose; on a Winchester, I polish several parts for the same general reason. Since the carrier nose must ride past any remaining cartridges in the magazine, polishing this area can significantly smooth action manipulation.
On guns not intended for use against dangerous game, I generally modify the finger-lever latch to reduce locking force. Typically, one can open the finger-lever very easily with one finger. The trick is to achieve this and still have the finger-lever stay closed against actions of normal handling and (on the Marlin) force of cartridges in magazine that push against finger lever nose.
I will not cover here the myriad modifications required to modify these actions in order to accommodate use of cartridges that are significantly longer than SAAMI maximum specified OAL. Here I will simply note that these alterations do not compromise functionality.
Marlin 336CB 38-55 Test Rifle: Required Action Manipulation Force

Average of three tests for each measurement, all measurements approximate but relatively comparable.
NOTE 1: This measurement reflects force required in overcoming cartridge carrier ratchet. Most users who manipulate finger lever with reasonable haste will not notice this point of resistance, as inertia will carry finger-lever past this spot. Once manipulation trips this mechanism, continued force drops to <2 pounds on stock gun and nearer to 1 pound on modified gun.
NOTE 2: Loading force indicated represent minimum force required to push a round that is partially inserted into loading port deeper into port – a very difficult measurement and therefore highly subjective.
As noted in opening comments, each gun is a law unto itself and these results represent only what was achieved with basic tuning package on this particular Marlin – some guns see a greater percentage improvement with superior finished smoothness; some guns do not see this much improvement and will never work this smoothly.

Marlin 1894 Lever Rifle and Carbine
Full Disassembly/Re-assembly Instructions

Written by Rusty Marlin, SASS #33284
[email protected]
Lets get the safety issue out of the way. Make absolutely sure the gun is unloaded, both the chamber and magazine before proceeding with the disassembly.
Before I tell you what you need to know about tearing apart your favorite Marlin 1894 rifle there are some items that I want to get out of the way so we are all on the same page.
1) I am not a certified gunsmith. I am an avid shooter who has taken the time and effort required to know how my guns work, all my guns, how to repair them and how to provide the preventive maintenance they require. I am very proud of the fact that I have never needed to leave a firearm with a gunsmith for a problem. While some of you may think that is like playing Russian roulette, let me give you some background. I am a degreed Mechanical Engineer, a Tool Maker, and a very patient tinkerer that is willing to admit ignorance and not afraid to ask questions of those with more knowledge and experience. My humble opinion is this: if you are incapable of recognizing your own ignorance you have no business fooling with something that could take your head off if you screw it up.
2) I am assuming if you are willing to take your gun apart, you have taken the time to know the names of most of the components in it. I may not get all the names perfectly correct but you’ll know what I mean.
3) Get a set of high quality gunsmith’s screwdrivers before you disassemble anything. They will make your life much more pleasant because you are less likely to strip a screw and put a gouge across the finish of your firearm, or your hide.
4) Work in a place that has good lighting with few shadows. Keep a small flashlight handy for those hidden areas that need a little extra light.
5) Remove distractions, pets, kids, spouse, etc. from work area. Trust me there are few things more irritating than having your dog jump on you just as you take the lid off the Hoppes, or your loving spouse yapping’ at you in the middle of a critical step.
6) Make sure your work surface is solid with plenty of area to set aside parts, tools and other materials.
7) “Forward”, “ahead” and the like is generally toward the muzzle, “Up”, “Above” and so forth are generally in the direction from the trigger to the sight plane. It doesns't matter what attitude the gun is on the bench.
Relax, this isn't brain surgery, it’s a learning experience. First, read all the instructions through to the end. You will save your self more than a few headaches if you read this whole document before you take a screwdriver to your baby.
Lower the hammer all the way to the frame, if you have a newer model with the cross bolt safety, place the safety on "fire" and lower the hammer to the frame. Looking down on the rifle remove the screw that holds the stock to the receiver. Pull the stock straight back off the receiver and set it aside.
Set the rifle on the table with the barrel to the left and the sights toward you, grasp the main-spring-retainer/hammer-strut-guide and pull it up and out of its groove. (The hammer has to be down against the frame for this step or there is too much spring force on the retainer to remove it.) Set the main spring and retainer aside.
Cock the hammer and remove the lever and bolt as for normal cleaning. Remove the ejector at this time too.
There are a couple of ways to proceed with the next step. What we need to do is depress the trigger block so the hammer can get back down against the frame before removing the hammer pivot screw. The trigger block is the two pronged part that extends out the bottom of the receiver just behind the trigger and is pushed up and out of the way by the operating lever.
The following methods all work fine:
1) Replace the operating lever and use it to depress the trigger block so that the trigger can be pulled, disengaging it from the sear ledge on the hammer so the hammer can be lowered to the frame. This is the normal operation of the firearm and is the easiest. Make sure the locking lug for the bolt is down before closing the lever.
2) Use your finger to depress the trigger block. Least desirable requires a fair amount of hand strength and decent resistance to pain.
3) Use a block of wood or a screwdriver handle to depress the trigger block. This is the fastest, as you don’t have to reassemble/re-disassemble the operating lever from the trigger plate.
With all the above methods use your right hand to depress the trigger block, your left finger to push the trigger back, and your right thumb to move the hammer forward to the frame.
With the hammer against the frame remove the hammer pivot screw. You may need to push it clear with a pin, a nail works good. The hammer will now come out through its clearance slot in the receiver tang with an up and forward rolling motion to clear the dogleg in the hammer around the frame. Set the screw and the hammer aside.
Roll the gun over so the trigger is toward you and remove the trigger plate support screw. This is the biggest screw on this side; it is forward of the trigger and just above the bottom of the receiver.
Roll the gun so the sights are down and the trigger is up; remove the screw just forward of the carrier-leg clearance slot. Pay attention to the length of the screw just removed, it is slightly longer than the side support screw. Lift up on the tang of the trigger plate and remove the trigger plate from the receiver. Pick out the locking lug with thumb and forefinger.
Roll the rifle so the trigger plate opening is away from you. Remove the shell carrier pivot screw. Don’t mistake it for the loading gate screw. (It doesn’t matter if you take the loading gate screw out too, but there is no need.) The carrier will now fall out the bottom of the receiver when the gun is rolled so the sights are up.
That’s it. The action is now totally disassembled and ready for a detailed cleaning. Get into all the crevices and hidden pockets with soft scrapers. These are easily made out of toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, the barrel of a BIC pen, a sliver of aluminum, whatever will be tough enough to scrape the powder fouling out and not scratch the internals. Liberal doses of Hoppes will help immensely. Be sure to clean the carrier, the operating lever, and the slot in the bolt where the lever rides very thoroughly. Pay particular attention to the cam surfaces on the carrier and to its lifter lug. On the older guns the lifter is a spring-return rocking toggle; the newer ones have a spring-loaded plunger. Make sure these work smoothly and that you grease them lightly before reassemble. For grease, I use Molybdenum High Temperature Brake grease. If you have never seen this stuff, it is black, gooey and a little bit goes a long, long way. In cold weather (20 degrees and below) I use plain bearing grease.
Now for the fun part, putting your rifle back together.
Place the rifle upside down with the trigger plate opening up. Lightly grease the cam surfaces of the carrier where the operating lever rubs. Don’t worry about the sides and the tang where the locking lug goes around it; nothing rubs there. Also place a little grease in the pivot hole. Place the carrier in the opening with the left hand and guide the pivot screw through the side of the receiver and the carrier pivot hole. Run it in a few threads but don’t tighten it yet. If you tighten it you will flex the sides of the receiver and won’t be able to get the trigger plate or the lock lug back in.
Now make certain that the outside sliding surfaces and the load bearing surfaces of the locking lug are spotless, lightly grease and insert this into the receiver. You can’t put it back incorrectly because it has one leg that is thicker than the other and the carrier will interfere if you try to put it in back wards.
Place the trigger plate in its opening. Start the forward most screw but don’t tighten it. Roll the gun toward you, then start the side support screw, don’t tighten it. The play is necessary to get the hammer pivot screw back in. Place a touch of grease in the hammer pivot hole and put the hammer back in its clearance slot through the receiver tang. Push the trigger against its stop with the left forefinger and hold it in position. Line up the trigger plate hole with the receiver hole, use the hammer pivot screw as a guide. Now push the hammer against the sear return spring in a forward and down direction to line up its pivot hole with the receiver and trigger plate hole. Push the screw through and snug it up. If the screw doesn’t drop through easily, you don’t have the holes all lined up. Now snug the forward most screw in the bottom of the receiver and then the side support screw. And finally tighten the carrier screw. You may want to place a speck of blue REMOVABLE lock tight in the carrier pivot screw hole with a toothpick before tightening. It has a nasty habit of coming loose. You don’t have to reef on the screws, get them tight but don’t over do it. Remember you want to clean your gun fairly often, every couple of hundred rounds or so.
This is the hard part. Make sure the hammer is against the frame; slide the main spring and the retainer onto the hammer strut with the curved leg against the receiver tang and forward. Now, the object is to press the retainer against the main spring and get the straight leg into the notch in the trigger plate. There is no easy way to do this that I know of. It may take a couple of tries, but trust me it goes there. If there are any ladies out there that are following these instructions you may want to enlist the help of a male friend; I’m not being sexist, its just that hard to get the sucker in it’s slot, or maybe I’m a wimp.
Replace the stock and tighten the stock screw. Cock the hammer in preparation for the bolt. Place the ejector in its groove.
Put a light wiping of grease on the wear surfaces of the bolt and slide it ¾ of the way into the frame. Place a little grease in the operating lever’s pivot hole and on the sliding surfaces, you can tell what these are because they are shiny. Install the lever and its screw. Go over the exterior of the gun with a soft rag and clean up any excess grease and check all the screws to be sure they are tight.
Congratulations, You’re done. Once you get comfortable with this process it shouldn’t take more than a half-hour to 45 minutes from on the bench to back in the cabinet.
I completely disassemble my '94 every 100-200 rounds. If I only shoot one match per weekend then I clean after the match. If I shoot Saturday and Sunday, I wipe the operating lever down and the clean the slot in the bolt, re-grease the parts and put it back together. Remember, as competitive shooters we put more rounds through our guns in a day than most shooters do in a lifetime. It pays big dividends to thoroughly clean and lubricate your main match guns once in a while. Not only do you know what is going on in there; you can catch minor problems before they become major problems. It also lets you communicate more effectively with your gunsmith should you have a problem you’re not comfortable fixing. If you get stuck, ASK QUESTIONS.


Now for the disclaimer. This information is for entertainment purposes only and not intended for non-thinking people who might try bouncing a loaded gun on the floor with the cross bolt safety off to see if the gun will discharge. Also, this information is not for people who might be tempted to file the hammer notches and ruin a perfectly good hammer, and thereby cost additional money. Also, this information is not for people who scatter parts or can not remember how to re-assemble their rifle.

95 Posts
While I am no expert, I have modified several triggers to obtain a better pull. My philosophy is to keep it simple. First, I never touch the surfaces on the hammer notch or sear that engage each other.

The first thing I do is remove any creep in the trigger pull. This is done by reducing the depth of the hammer notch so the sear doesn't have to move as far to release the hammer. Go slow. You only want to remove enough metal to get rid of the creep. If you go to far, the gun will be unsafe. In the process, this will lighten the pull as well. I also purchase after market hammer springs which also lighten the trigger pull.

The above procedure has always given me a satisfacory trigger pull. However, if after doing the above you still want to lighten the pull further, I recommend that you begin reducing the width of the sear. By width, I mean the long dimension of the sear. By reducing the width of the sear, you reduce the area in contact with the hammer and less force is needed to trip the hammer.

Notice that at no time have I talked about working on the faces of the hammer notch and sear that contact each other. The angles on these faces is very critical and should not be worked on unless you are convinced that one of the angles was manufactured wrong. I have worked on the trigger pull of eight weapons and never found a need to work on the faces of the hammer notch or sear.

While there are other procedures for working on trigger pulls, I have found the above procedures to be the easiest, and least risky, to do for the hobbiest.

Premium Member
14,841 Posts

That makes good sense. I will copy your post and use it on the next trigger I work on.

Dave :)

Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey, this is good stuff. Anyone else have input please post. Thanks to those that have already taken the time to post. I have all the tools stated in the above posts except a stone. I checked a couple shops in the area and they didn't seem to think they had anything that I wanted. Brownells has a number of stones which is almost as confusing because there is so many different kinds at all different prices----Arkansas stones in diff. grit, Alumininum oxide, diamond and on and on. Some the Arkansas stones are expensive! I guess if they are the best and that is what I need ok but is that really what I need? After reading all the above, I would say I want a "fine" grit stone---right? What about the stones they sell for sharpening knives, is this the same thing? Most I have seen are Med. grit.

I have become quite comfortable disassembling my marlin and I have already polished some peices with 600 grit automotive wet sanding paper. (I have done auto body work in the past)

Sometimes the descriptions in words are difficult to visualize such as in describing what part of the trigger (the piece that engages the seer) everyone is talking about. As I look at this piece, one side of it is beveled to a certain degree and and the other ("outside of the piece") is not. As I think I understandit, if I look down on this piece I visualize the aspect of the piece that fits in the seer notch. So I want to ever so slightly decrease this width? Do I want to mess with the angle side of this piece at all? Everything else mentioned above I understand but this aspect of altering the trigger is I believe the most sensitive area to alter and so I want to make sure I comprehend exactly.

Thanks again for all your help----I am having fun with this! JOHN

95 Posts
John, I use the same soft Arkansas stone that I use to sharpen knives to shorten the hammer notch to remove creep from a trigger pull.

Because it is critical to only remove enough material to remove the creep, this is a time consuming process. I take a few strokes on the stone and then re-assemble the gun and try it. If it still has creep, I repeat the process. If you stone too much, there won't be sufficient bearing surface between the hammer and sear, increasing the likelihood that a bump or jar will cause the hanner to fall. It will also make the trigger pull too light.

Use extreme caution when reducing the depth of the hammer notch.

It has been my experience that removing the creep and going to an aftermarket hammer spring, that is not as strong as the factory spring, has given me a good trigger pull and I have not had to do any work on the sear.

99 Posts
I could be wrong but I also believe that the hammer is case hardened and taking off too much material will leave it "soft" and it will wear quickly. I would just take off any tooling marks and not go too much deeper. You will be amazed at how much better it will feel just doing this much....

158 Posts
Remember that messing with your trigger or sear by filing, stoning, etc. can leave you in the market for new parts. Neither Marlin or Brownells will sell triggers or sears to people unless they have a Federal Firearms License. Want a new hammer? Sent rifle to factory. :shock: Look over in the Big Bore side of this here establishment and you will find: "Putting Parts In Your Marlin." You can use it to change your trigger to the Wild West Guns "Happy Trigger Kit." I found that the trigger pull weight does drop and the "flop is gone. :D

1,467 Posts
I must be dense or something.

I was looking at the Marlin cross section in the reference library. And I keep hearing about three parts.


Will on the cross section, I only really see two parts. The hammer which has two notches. one for half cock and another for full cock position. I then see the trigger assembly and it goes up and directly engages into the notches in the hammer.

So what the heck is the "sear"???

Premium Member
12,094 Posts
flyingfool said:
I must be dense or something.

I was looking at the Marlin cross section in the reference library. And I keep hearing about three parts.


Will on the cross section, I only really see two parts. The hammer which has two notches. one for half cock and another for full cock position. I then see the trigger assembly and it goes up and directly engages into the notches in the hammer.

So what the heck is the "sear"???
Marlins trigger doesn't act directly on the hammer. Theres a sear pinned to it that acts on the hammer. Thats where the slop comes from.
The trigger assembly IS the trigger & sear. The earlier, 1893, 1894, 1936, 36 & a few very early 336's had one piece triggers. Before them the model 1889 had about the same setup as today. What comes around goes around eh? ;)

1,467 Posts
Leverdude; That explains it. Thanks for the clarification. I installed a WWG happy trigger so that further confuses the issue.

But I have read that the happy trigger is also two peice. Just that they machine a small spring in between somehow so that it looks like a single peice and the spring "eliminates" the flop. But really all it does is dampen it. Anyhow I believe it works great.

I sure wish someone would take a picture and lable or point with a pencil or something the exact point at which to "polish" the sear point. If I recall, it seems like it has two beveled edges. one larger and one very small, Which edge is it that I want to polish? I assume it is the face that points forward as installed on the gun according to the cross section picture.

I'm thinking of just using 600 grit sandpaper to polish the machine marks off. If I did this, would it matter which face? Would using such fine grit get me anywhere or will a more coarse grit be needed? Can I or should I do this lightly with 600 grit paper on the hammer notch too.

I want to do this lightening for my daughters 30-30. I noticed that while not really bad, my 35 Rem with teh WWG trigger is lighter. And because I installed the WWG on one gun and kept my original trigger, I have a spare in case I mess up!

Premium Member
12,094 Posts
All I'v ever done to the sear was polish the top surface on the sear that slides on the hammer notch. 600 grit is fine. All you want to do is clean up the machining marks. If you think on it thats all the WWG trigger can possibly do.
Now, several posts here on this thread have other sugestions I think worth investigateing. Especially the one regarding reducing the width of the sear to reduce friction. Makes sense in my brain & it avoids the possibility of screwing up the engagement angles.

Your right, the WWG part is 2 pieces but its pined together with a hollow pin, a sort of bushing I suppose, that the trigger pin goes thru. I never held one but I gather theres a spring in there to take up the slack. There needs to be movement between the trigger & sear for the trigger block to function properly.

1,467 Posts
Ok. At the risk of embarrising myself further :-[, here goes another stuipid question.

What is a "trigger block"? I see nothing to stop/block the trigger from moving.

I understand the cross bolt safety physically blocks the hammer from completely falling, but what "blocks" the trigger???
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