If there was ever a gun that cried out to be left
alone it would be the Marlin Model 1895G. If it could speak, and
not that I would admit to listening, it would probably explain
that for over a hundred years it has been suitable for real hunters, trappers and
assorted frontiersmen. Therefore, it should be good enough
for today's heated tree stand dwelling, stylish camo wearing,
gadget bearing tenderfoot hunters.
But the Marlin is not perfect. Case in point, the Marlin's mail
slot size finger lever.
I realized, when shooting one day, that only a
couple of my fingers were being used to actuate the Marlin's
and if I put on a pair of gloves I could only grip the lever
from the outside by grabbing the lever's bottom rail. It
seemed the problem could be remedied with the installation of a large loop
lever and, after reviewing size and fit of a few, decided on the
piece from Wild West Guns. This product's loop is enlarged and
contoured to properly fit a glove and ungloved hand,
but not so much as to trigger memories of the old TV series,
"The Rifleman"...Dun-dun, dun, dun-dun, dun.
The product packaging carries the notation "This
product should be installed by a competent gunsmith..." However,
installation is pretty straight forward for anyone with a less
than anti mechanical skills and there is always the
option of taking the gun and new lever to a gunsmith if the
installation doesn't shape up quite as anticipated.
As is the case any time firearms are being
handled when shooting is not on the agenda, open the action, check the chamber and magazine to assure
the gun is unloaded. Don't keep live ammo in the work area.
Open the lever to about the point where the gun's
hammer locks open and remove the finger lever screw and finger
lever as pictured. There is no need to disassemble the gun any
The Wild West Gun's part does not include
lever plunger components, so they must be transferred from the
factory assembly. The spring loaded notched circumference
plunger is retained in the slide by a small cross pin. A punch
is used to drive the pin (R-L) out of the lever and to
everything in place. Then, while pressing down on the plunger to
prevent it from going airborne, the punch is withdrawn and
pressure is eased off the plunger to remove the parts.
The hole size is a bit small, but a 1/16" Mayhew
steel punch, Brownells #587-475-062 works fine. The punch
measures .590" which is undersize for that fractional
designation. To install the parts in the new lever, the spring
is dropped in its plunger cavity and the plunger is started,
notch side down. The plunger pin is started from the left side
of the lever, the plunger is depressed with a handy thumb, then
the pin is tapped into place with a small brass or plastic
With the finger lever plunger moved over to the
new piece, a trial installation is a good next step. 99% of the
time the lever will go in and work without further fitting. If
there are problems, they generally will be obvious. If the aft
lever lug is too tall, the lever will not close and lock. If the
front of the aft lever lug is too long the lever won't close and
lock. In both cases, the lever will not depress the gun's
locking bolt so the gun won't fire. If the aft lever lug is way
out of spec, short, it will not lift the gun's locking bolt high
enough to align the rear firing pin with the front firing pin;
the firing pins will not drive forward on hammer strike. My
point is, if the lever closes normally and locks into
position, you're in good shape. If it does not, or if there is
noticeable roughness in movement, further fitting is required.
Chances are, if anything is required, it will be light polishing
of minor surfaces.
Now that's a
light weight lever gun....
You do not have to remove these parts from
your gun to change the finger lever. This is only an
illustration of how the parts interact with one another when
operating as an assembly and where the various contact points
The aft arrow is pointing to the aft lever lug,
engaged with the locking bolt. The locking bolt is...sort of,
keyed into the aft notch of the breech bolt. The middle arrow is
where contact between the lever and trigger guard plate occurs
and the forward arrow is where the front lever lug engages a
slot in the lower side of the breech bolt. The Wild West Guns'
lever is a little beefier than the factory piece,
so a too tight fit or roughness at the lever screw, at sides of the aft lug or
on the face of the leading lug is possible. Any of this can be cleaned
up with a decent stone, 400 grit or finer, polishing
rather than measureable material removal.
DyKem, Brownells #262-100-004 is a bright blue
0.0002" layout fluid that is excellent for tracking the sources
of scrapes and rubs and high/low spots when stoning. Prussian
Blue, #100-001-581 is a non-drying oil based product that is
used to check uniformity of contact, or area of first contact.
The first, where scratched through, shows as a bright line. The
second transfers from a surface to all contact surfaces. Sticky
this case, DyKem was placed on the forward lever lug and on the
sides of the aft lug and sides of the lever immediately
surrounding the finger lever screw. Prussian Blue was placed on
the top and front of the aft lever lug.
In all cases, the roughness stemmed from high
edges, not quite burrs and the required stoning was so little
even the finish at these points was not completely removed. No
work was required to fit lug to locking bolt or to get the lever
to close and lock. The lever was a close fitting part right out
of the box.
This is literally a ten minute job. I wanted to
play with fit so I could illustrate some of the fitting that
might be done, so the job was extended to twenty minutes. This
lever is Brownells # 981-000-006, blue steel Model 1895 Guide
Gun - straight stock. The price for the part is $149. The piece
is also available for the Model 1894, in both straight and
pistol grip versions, as well as in stainless steel - all carry
the same price. Brownells also offers a similar part, same price
and finish options from DRC Custom # 981-000-006 for anyone
wanting a slightly different lever contour at a size between the
factory and Wild West Guns size parts.
Keeping up appearances...
The Wild West Guns' part looks like it belongs on
the Marlin. The fit and finish is consistent with the factory
look, right down to the matte blue lever parked against the
factory matte black trigger guard plate.
As noted above, installation is a modest time
investment and the completed assembly does provide enhanced
function, particularly in cold hunting weather where gloves
might be worn. Aside from function, it gives an enhances look to
the little carbine.