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Sierra Bullets
Rifle Magazine
November - December 2000
Volume 32, Number 6
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 192
On the cover...
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Product Tests
Marlin Model 1895M

Al Miller

After the success enjoyed by its Guide Gun (Model 1895G) introduced last year, you’d think the folks at Marlin would be content to enjoy the profits for awhile. Not so. The new M model’s physical specs are the same as the G model’s, but it’s chambered for a brand-new, belted round created by Hornady and dubbed the .450 Marlin.

Everyone at Hornady and Marlin is quick to point out that the .450’s belt wasn’t designed to “magnumize” the cartridge but to prevent anyone from inadvertently trying to thrust a .450 into some belted magnum’s chamber or, worse still, into an old .45-70’s. For insurance, the .450’s belt was made almost .03 inch wider than those on regular belted magnum hulls.

Its name to the contrary, the .450’s bore is .458 inch. At the moment, Hornady is the only outfit manufacturing ammunition for the caliber. In time, dies and components will undoubtedly be available from many different sources.

Only one load is being produced. It features what Hornady calls a 350-grain “flat point” (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) launched at 2,100 fps. According to the Oehler chronograph, five rounds from the test carbine averaged 2,011 fps 15 feet from the muzzle. Extreme velocity spread was only 47 fps.

Like the Guide Gun, the .450’s muzzle sports a built-in muzzle brake consisting of 14 ports, each 3/16 inch in diameter, angled to deflect escaping gases upward about 45 degrees and 90 degrees to the side.

Do they work? Probably. Recoil feels like that of a 7-pound 12 gauge shooting goose loads - impressive but not painful. When fired offhand or from a kneeling position, the .450 came straight back with its muzzle tending to arch directly upwards. On the bench, it was a different story. Not unexpectedly, the .450 turned out to be pretty lively. It was difficult for me to control. Whenever a round went, the carbine came back and simultaneously tried to torque right. A stronger man might have been able to impose his will on the little lever gun, but according to the targets, one round out of three got away from me.

Instead of a scope, a Redfield receiver sight was mounted on the Marlin. Some prefer scopes on their woods rifles, but a receiver sight weighs a lot less and, more importantly, never disturbs a gun’s balance.

At the test range, the targets were set up at 50 yards instead of the usual 100 because the wind blew constantly from the left quarter at 15 to 18 mph, according to the bookies at the weather bureau. Ambient temperatures were in the low 90s (Fahrenheit), so three-shot strings were fired to prevent the barrel from overheating.


Groups were remarkably uniform, ranging from 2.1 to 2.5 inches. That doesn’t sound too impressive at 50 yards, but in each of those groups, two of the three holes were anywhere from .5 to 1.0 inch apart. One hole always opened the group up and that, I’m convinced, was due to my inability to keep the .450 from torquing.

At the range, there’s a bush growing part way up the berm behind the 200-yard line. Distance from the firing line must be at least 225 yards, perhaps more. After discovering that holding on the top of that bush put those 350 grainers right at the bush’s base, I ripped off several rounds offhand and from the kneel. Each slug slammed into the dirt at the bush’s base. A couple of other club members tried their hands with the .450 and decided that hitting the base of the bush when firing offhand wasn’t nearly as difficult as it first appeared to be. They were impressed with the Marlin’s accuracy and agreed that its recoil was similar to that of a 12-gauge field gun.

There’s nothing painful about the .450’s noise level either. That stubby, ported barrel with the big hole in the end hinted of a ferocious muzzle blast. That never materialized. Whether much of it was dissipated by those 14 holes near the muzzle is hard to say. It’s possible, I suppose. In any event, when the Marlin was fired without benefit of ear protection to muffle the sound, the .450’s crack resembled that of a 7mm-08 Remington fired from a barrel of equal length.

An easy-carrying arm, the Marlin’s balance point is right underneath its receiver’s forward end. Since the receiver’s only 1.1 inches wide, the area between the rear of the forend and the lever’s hinge fits the carrying hand as though made for that specific purpose. Sling swivel studs are located on forend and buttstock should anyone want to add a sling.

The Marlin comes up fast too. Moreover, it’s a natural pointer, lining up on targets, even moving ones, quickly and easily. With its evenly distributed lightweight, most hunters will find the carbine extremely responsive and, with that wide, hand-filling forearm, easy to manage whenever a fast second or third shot may be required.

The .450 Marlin will make an ideal choice when hunting in dense cover. It should make a pretty effective stopping rifle too.

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