Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin

Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin

If you're looking for a handy, powerful rifle capable of taking down elk, moose, hogs, black bear and deer, in a unique cartridge, the Model 1895–.444 Marlin just might be your gun.

Several years ago at a writer seminar, Marlin announced the return of the Marlin 444, which had been out of production since 2011. Unfortunately, during early production and testing, the company realized the rifle wasn’t ready for prime time. Now it is.

Introduced in 1965 with the .444 Marlin cartridge, the Model 444 was the most powerful lever action of its day. It originally had a 24-inch barrel, straight-grip Monte Carlo stock and double barrel band, but by 1976 those features had been changed to what we see today in what Marlin is calling the Model 1895–.444 Marlin: 22-inch barrel, pistol-grip stock and steel fore-end cap. The current version retains the maligned but easily ignored crossbolt safety that was inflicted on the rifle in 1988.

The most significant change, the one that caused the stop-and-start reintroduction, involved the Ballard rifling. Designers decided to change it to a 1:20 twist to improve accuracy with current loads.

When the straight-wall .444 Marlin round made its debut, it offered a huge advantage over the .45-70 Gov’t due to its much higher pressure ceiling. And according to William S. Brophy’s book Marlin Firearms, the firm made a big deal out of this power in the announcement for rifle and round: “The mighty Marlin .444 has a higher Knock-Out value than even the .338 Winchester Magnum at ranges beyond 100 yards! At 150 yards, its K-O score dwarfs even the .300 H&H and the .30-06.”


Whether or not you subscribe to John Taylor’s K-O values, there’s no denying the .444’s power. Using the velocities I recorded with Hornady’s 265-grain flatpoint Superformance load, I calculated 3,239 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. Hornady’s book values for this load promise 2,300 ft.-lbs. at 100 yards and 1,500 ft.-lbs. at 200 yards.


That’s serious medicine for the largest game in North America—save brown and polar bears. And it accomplishes this with relatively mild recoil. Granted, it’s not a lot of fun to shoot at the bench, but from field positions it’s actually pleasant. You get a good shove, sure, but it’s not a sharp shot to the shoulder.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Marlin-1895-444-1.jpg
The combination of the .444 Marlin’s crushing close-range power and a red dot like the Aimpoint Micro H-2 would make a great pairing for big game in heavy cover. From l.: Remington Core-Lokt, Hornady LeverEvolution, Hornady Superformance flatpoint.

I’ve used straight-grip centerfire lever actions all my life, but I found I really like the pistol-grip style, and the .444’s grip is nicely hand-filling—as is the fore-end. Both are of American black walnut and feature point checkering with a diamond in the center of the pattern. The buttstock is fitted with a thin, red rubber buttpad, which looks nice but doesn’t do much to tame recoil. The underside of the stock features the Marlin “bullseye,” and the grip is tastefully adorned with a plain black cap.

I’d intended to do the accuracy testing with the iron sights, but I discovered I simply can’t shoot semi-buckhorns anymore. I thought I’d hedged my bets correctly by ordering a Lyman 66 aperture receiver sight for the gun, but I discovered when it arrived that the .444’s receiver is not drilled and tapped for such a sight.

That surprised me, so I contacted Marlin fan Layne Simpson. He told me both of his older Marlin 444s are drilled and tapped, so apparently Marlin decided this extra machining step wasn’t worth the expense anymore. I have to disagree, but I understand the reasoning.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Marlin-1895-444-2.jpg
The rifle features a four-round half-magazine, and the fore-end is hand-filling and handsomely checkered.

I bought an EGM rail for the receiver top and mounted my trusty Nikon Monarch 3 2-8X for the accuracy test. Depending on where and how you hunt, this would be a great combo. But I was thinking about elk in dark timber, and when I was done shooting groups, I removed the scope and installed an Aimpoint Micro H-2.

I shot it at 50 and 75 yards from offhand and sitting, and, man, is that the ticket. The red dot is super-fast to acquire and easy to hit with, and it doesn’t add weight. Plus, it allows me to carry the rifle in one hand, which is indispensable when maneuvering in tight cover. I can grip the rifle just at the front of the receiver, where it balances perfectly.

Even brand-new the Marlin’s lever works relatively effortlessly, although the trigger pull at five pounds, 14 ounces is heavy. That’s to be expected, but judging from the groups I got, it didn’t affect accuracy much.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/rifleshooter/content/photos/Marlin-1895-444-3.jpg
The American black walnut on Rupp’s sample showed nice grain, although no figuring. The red rubber buttpad looks good but doesn’t help much in the recoil department.

When the Marlin folks told us last year the rifle would shoot an inch at 100 yards, I was skeptical. But they weren’t blowing smoke. Yes, this particular rifle didn’t care for the Remington Core-Lokts, but both Hornady loads shot well. I had a one-inch group with Superformance and two one-inchers with LeverEvolution, and the averages were better than I expected.

If you’re looking for a handy, powerful rifle capable of taking down elk, moose, hogs, black bear and deer, in a unique cartridge, the Model 1895–.444 Marlin just might be your gun.

Recommended for You

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Hornady Hornet, .17 Mach IV, .17 Remington Fireball and .17 Remington. Reloading

.17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - June 05, 2019

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17...

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts. Accessories

Rifle Shooter Father's Day 2019 Gift Guide

J. Scott Rupp - May 07, 2019

Rifle Shooter editor Scott Rupp provides a comprehensive list of ideal Father's Day gifts.

Ruger introduced .300 PRC and 6.5 PRC chamberings for the Ruger Precision Rifle. Bolt-Action

Ruger Precision Rifle Now Chambered in .300 PRC and 6.5 PRC

Rifleshooter Digital Staff - April 27, 2019

Ruger introduced .300 PRC and 6.5 PRC chamberings for the Ruger Precision Rifle.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - BULLPUPS

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of Bullpups.

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Ruger's Matt WIlson kick off SHOT Show 2018 by taking a look at the Ruger Predator.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were offered not one but two hot new centerfire .22 cartridges. First out of the gate was the .22 Nosler, followed by the Federal .224 Valkrie. Ammo

.22 Nosler vs .224 Valkyrie

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 02, 2019

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were...

Nosler pairs its M48 action with a new Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel for a high-tech long-range rifle you can actually carry: the Nosler Model 48 Long Range Carbon. Bolt-Action

Review: Nosler Model 48 Long Range Carbon

Layne Simpson - March 13, 2019

Nosler pairs its M48 action with a new Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel for a high-tech...

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display at the Smith & Wesson Booth at the 2019 NRA Show. MSR

M&P15 SPORT II Rifle Available with CTS-103 Optic

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 23, 2019

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display...

See More Stories

More Lever-Action

Henry Repeating Arms is introducing nine new models that include engraved finishes for the Long Ranger rifle series and additional caliber options for the Single Shot rifle series. Lever-Action

New Model from Henry Repeating Arms

RifleShooter Online Staff - November 02, 2018

Henry Repeating Arms is introducing nine new models that include engraved finishes for the...

The Winchester Model 1894 is a time-honored rifle in a time-honored round makes for a fun and handy rig. Lever-Action

The Winchester Model 1894 Special .32

RifleShooter Online Staff - August 10, 2018

The Winchester Model 1894 is a time-honored rifle in a time-honored round makes for a fun and...

 A shootout between the Winchester 94, Marlin 336C and Mossberg 464 lever-action .30-.30 carbine rifles Lever-Action

Head-to-Head Review of .30-.30 Lever-Action Rifles

Joseph von Benedikt - July 10, 2017

A shootout between the Winchester 94, Marlin 336C and Mossberg 464 lever-action .30-.30...

See More Lever-Action

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.