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Browning’s SA-22 Challenge A variation on a well established theme

Yesterday, the morning was spent digging up and pulling out a pear tree by its roots with the tractor’s backhoe. Deceptively large root system for a less than massive tree. Working outside feels really good, even if the result is only being muscle sore or taking a nap. Love this time of year in Maine….

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Marlin’s New Model 1895 Trapper A terrific firearm returns to production

I’m itchy. Spring has sprung and the woods are emerald green. So I have been tilling compost into the garden and topping the lawn, while attracting the smallest insects that leave the biggest welts. Today, I got a break. It is drizzling now, but heavy rain is in the forecast, so I can gather my notes and finish writing about the new Marlin Model 1895 Trapper.

The right company culture making the right firearm

Ruger did more than bring continuity to the Marlin brand, they restored the brand’s reputation.

Between the Marlin Company’s 2000-2008 production, and production following Remington’s acquisition of Marlin, it had become common for new guns to be delivered with handling scratches, tweaked screw heads, compression spots on checkering, and ill-fitting stocks.

Now, when I open a box containing a Ruger-produced Marlin, the product inside is pristine, the manuals are of good quality and pride of ownership is packaged with the purchase. Credit given where credit is due.

The return of the Trapper

December 2021 brought the Model 1895 SBL and the first Marlin production under the stewardship of Ruger. May 2022 brings us the Model 1895 Trapper’s return to production, with Ruger now leading with two powerful 45-70 lever action rifles.

Marlin 1895 Trapper

Origin Mayodan, NC
Manufacturer Marlin
Model # 70450
Type Lever Action
Caliber 45-70 Government
Magazine Capacity 5+1
Barrel 16.10″ – 11/16″x24 Threads
Rifling 1:20″
Nominal Weight 7.1 Lbs
Overall Length 34.25″
Stock Black Laminate Hardwood
Hardware Satin Stainless
Length of Pull 13.38″
Drop at comb 1.25″
Drop at heel 2.00″
Sights Adjustable Skinner
Optical Sight Mount
Drilled & Tapped
Trigger Pull 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $1349.00

If you are not familiar with the Trapper version of the Model 1895, it is shorter, lighter and less superfluously accessorized and embellished than the SBL. Both models provide the same 45-70 thumper power.

Both SBL and Trapper are smooth operating lever action rifles but, personally, I like the Trapper’s satin finish stainless aesthetics and the omission of the Picatinny rail as an accommodation for New England woodland and brush hunting.

The Ruger manufactured Marlin 1895 Trapper is nicely done. Ruger’s choice of a quality black laminate stock and resilient recoil pad, versus Remington’s years past choice of a hardwood stock with textured black, rat rod paint job. The overall quality of current production speaks volumes to Ruger’s commitment to the brand.

And the improvements are not limited to the visible surfaces. This is the first time in years I didn’t get a cut thumb when trying to push rounds through an unfinished, sharp edged loading gate.

Checking off the list of features

The fluted bolt is nickel plated. Fluting prevents build up on bearing surfaces so operation remains slick and nickel is a great barrier to corrosion. The receiver sides and trigger guard plate are fashioned from 416 Stainless, CNC machined from forgings. The barrel is 410 Stainless and cold hammer forged.

Safety features abound… Yes, you read that correctly, “abound”. The rear firing pin is blocked from forward travel until the lever moved the forged locking bolt into position in the bolt notch. For traditionalists who need to hear the right number of clicks, the Marlin 1895 retains a half cocked position… which is, of course, redundant for deer hunters coming in from the city. Half cocked position is old school safe, but the cross bolt is double and welcome assurance.

The large loop lever allows the use of heavy gloves without deterring operation. Nice way to keep your fingers on your hands when temps drop well below zero. The trigger disconnector renders the trigger inoperable until the lever closes, closes the breech and depresses the disconnector. The cross bolt safety mechanically blocks the hammer from falling to the firing pin. The forearm is slimmed down compared to other companies attempts at making the Model 1895. Very nice.

Sight accommodations

Both front and rear sights are Skinner pieces. The rifle ships with an 0.096″ rear aperture, but there are other sizes available from Skinner. Maybe they will end up in the Ruger Store. Aperture sizes are Fine 0.040″, Medium 0.070″, Standard 0.096″, Large 0.125, X-Large 0.155″. The front sight is 0.560″ tall, 0.080″ wide and secured with two 6-48 fasteners on 1″ hole spacing.


Muzzle threads are 11/16″-24 for affixing brakes or silencers. The thread protector pictured is included. The Trapper was shot considerably with a SilencerCo Hybrid 46 which is rated for the short barrel. It did a great job suppressing noise and reducing recoil.

If you get one of the limited production guns with the arrows in place, let me know. The Model 1895 receiver and barrel are tapped to allow for many configurations of sights. The Skinner rear sight uses three holes, counting from the back.

A receiver length rail uses four holes. A long rail uses the receiver top mount points, the tapped hole on the barrel and the barrel dovetail. The receiver top accepts standard Model 1895 two piece mounts and the barrel details accepts many aftermarket rear open sight styles.

Setup for the range

Who in the world puts a scope and silencer on a nifty little carbine? Anyone who wants to separate eyesight from a rifles mechanical accuracy and plans on shooting a lot of full tilt ammunition from a shooting bench. Specifically, me.

Muzzle velocity with differing barrel lengths was recorded using the same ammunition, from the same production lots under very similar environmental conditions.

It is a tack driver. Just a really big tack.

 Cartridge Bullet
FPS 24″ Barrel
FPS 22.00″ Barrel
FPS 19.00″ Barrel
FPS 16.10″ Barrel
3 Shot
100 Yard
Winchester Supreme FNSP 300 1880 1712
HSM A-Frame FNSP 350 2050 2183
Buffalo Bore Magnum FNJ 350 2150 2205
Remington Core-Lokt SP 405 1330 1051
Buffalo Bore Magnum LFN 430 1925 1999
Garrett Hammerhead LFN 540 1550 1547

It is easy to shoot a little shoulder pounding carbine over a long range day, just park it in a shot bag laden shooting sled. These little lever guns are accurate, as is the factory 45-70 cartridge and quality handloads.

Loss of velocity due to the shortish barrel varies from an actual uptick in performance over longer barrel guns, to a moderate loss. For me, barrel length would not be a concern, so why not go with the lighter, compact gun?

Pros and… some more pros


Could just be me, but I like stubby powerful rifles. In this case, a rifle that is easy to haul around in the woods, accurate and convincingly powerful enough for any North American game.

Best Zero – HSM 350 Grain Bear Load
Near-Zero – yards 18 Mid Range – yards 94
Far-Zero – Yards. 162 Max Ordinate “ +3.0
Point Blank – Yards 172
Best Zero
Yards 0 50 100 150 200
Velocity – fps 2141 1918 1710 1521 1354
Energy – ft.-lbs. 3562 2859 2272 1797 1424
Momentum – lbs-sec 107 96 86 76 68
Path – in. -1.50 1.91 2.95 1.00 -4.72

Two hundred yards is a along way off in woodland hunting. In a recent impromptu survey of FedEx and UPS drivers, the consensus was that fifty yards is a long shot in most parts of Maine. The Trapper is point blank range out to 172 yards with the bullet never rising more than 3″ above line of sight. And the Trapper does it with bolt action like accuracy.

Stock fit is so nice wherever wood meets metal. No rises, no sink holes, no space to stow your lunch between the barrel and forearm. Ruger must have really put in the overtime to get this production result.

Ruger produced Marlins are manufactured in Mayodan, North Carolina. Why would I not want the good people of North Carolina to provide for themselves and their families as a reward for making an excellent product? A long time ago, it was easy to get lost in the notion of old world, gun manufacturing in foreign lands. Not any more.

Today, Western European companies may have administrative office addresses in places like Belgium, Germany and Italy, but predominately, their manufacturing for U.S. import is done in low cost labor markets like Portugal or Turkey. Many of the piece parts are actually made in China or Korea.

The Marlin 1895 Trapper is a super little lever gun. Can’t wait to see what Marlin will have for us next.

A TALO Exclusive Ruger GP100 Good looking gun - built like a tank

05/15/2022 – Why is it TALO and not Talo? Because TALO is an acronym. No, not a giant spider. It is a wholesale buying cooperative operating in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and the first letter of each of those states is represented in TALO. As they have since 1965, TALO commissions major firearm manufacturers to…

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Smith & Wesson’s M&P 10mm Auto Beyond self defense

05/08/2022 – Funny. You wonder why there is a picture of a tractor and I wonder why you are… wondering. My whole perspective on firearms begins with self reliance. My perspective on self reliance began with parents who believed a person should not ask others to do something they are capable of doing for themself….

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.

Stoeger’s STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto Pistol Wow... Good one

05/15/2022 – The last time my wife and I purchased a car, it was preceded by a major debate. I wanted a Ferrari 812 Superfast and Diane wanted a Ford Escape, so we compromised. We bought a Ford Escape and a Ferrari keychain. The funny thing is, it was a good decision.

The Escape had lots of advanced driver assistance and safety technology and solid turbocharged performance. It could be used for long road trips, an evening out, or hauling bags of garden mulch from Lowe’s. We did own a Ferrari at one point, a 355 Berlinetta. It left us with tingchechangphobia, it was a magnet for carjackers and spent most of its life in a dark garage attached to a battery tender. Even the sounds of a V8 winding to 8,500 RPM was not enough to justify its existence.

Yes, the Ferrari was something special, but the Escape served us every day and without a touch of temperament. See where I am going with this? Yeah, me either.

$329 MSRP as a sign of respect for customers

Firearm, and ancillary industries, generally whine and cry over being picked on by the government and, subsequently, call on consumers for political support. The same businesses have no problem using the cover of government policy-induced inflation to sharply raise consumer prices. Look at the financials for publicly traded members of this community and you will find a recent trend of tripled net income and double millions of dollars in executive compensation. So, for now, I buy what I need, rather than what I want, and comparison shopping is the norm. The Stoeger STR-9 product line remains a value.

Stoeger’s STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto Pistol

Item #s 31746 / 31736
Point of Manufacture Turkey
Imported By
Stoeger, MD – USA
Type Action
Caliber 9×19 Parabellum
Magazine Capacity 10 / 20 Rounds
4.70″* Alloy Steel
Rifling 1:10″ 5 RH
Overall Length ”
Overall Height ”
Frame Width ”
Weight Oz
27.9 With Mag
Sight Radius ”
Trigger Pull – Actual 4 Lbs. 5 Oz.
Sights Front & Rear
3 Dot Fiber Optic Green
Slide Material Alloy Steel
Frame Polymer
Safety Trigger
Magazine Disconnect No
Chamber Check Port
Barrel Hood
MSRP $599
*End of threaded muzzle to breech face
**6.6″top of front sight to bottom of inserted
, 5.8″ to bottom of mag well.

Prices for the Stoeger 9 full size striker range from an entry level, full size STR-9F at $329, to the more heavily accessorized subject firearm, the STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto at $599. There are seventeen STR-9 models; full, mid and compact sizes that fill the space within that price range.

All Stoeger ST-9 models share core features: Turkish manufacture, black nitrided alloy steel slide and barrel, three dot sight system, loaded chamber indicator, integrated trigger safety, fiberglass reinforced polymer frame with steel chassis, interchangeable backstrap, easy grip slide, and tactical rail.

Stoeger’s STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto Pistol goes on to include: 1/2×28 threaded barrel, optic ready slide inclusive of adapters, high fiber optic sights to clear muzzle devices, 9mm Luger 10 or 20 round magazines.

Information that does not fit on the table…

The ST-9 manual indicates the use of commercially manufactured new ammunition. Instructions go on to caution that the use of +P and +P+ ammunition can accelerate wear, The only “Do not use” was affixed to 9mm submachine gun ammunition which operates at 9mm Luger proof pressure levels. Usually manufacturers draw the line at +P. That is a lot of confidence in a pistol’s design.

Standard 9mm Luger pressure is 35,000 psi, +P pressure is 38,500 psi and +P+ is approximately… Do not know as they are not under a standards organization like SAAMI or CIP and vary with over pressure ammo manufacturers. +P+ is generally listed as above +P, lower than a proof load.

Multiple safeties

The only safety indicated on the table is a trigger safety, however, the STR-9 has multiple safety devices that do not need tending.There is a firing pin block that prevents the striker, firing pin, from moving forward from inertial force, unless the trigger has been depressed.

A safety is embedded in the face of the trigger and is automatically depressed under a finger squeeze. The idea is to prevent an accidental discharge in the event the pistol is dropped.

An out of battery safety disconnects the trigger bar unless the slide is forward, barrel locked in place and the breech is fully closed.

The STR-9S is optics ready and, therefore, has a mount access cover which prevents the inclusion of the pop up, loaded chamber indicator that is included with other models. The STR-9 does have a chamber view port at the the rear of the barrel hood.

A complete package…

More and more, some manufacturers are omitting useful accessories from products, often leaving only the pistol and one magazine in the retail box. The Stoeger kit includes: pistol, magazine loader, 3 magazines, three different size interchangeable backstraps, 4 optic sight mounts that cover virtually all popular model open optic sights.

Good sights with optic sight accommodation

From front to aft… The barrel muzzle threads, when a muzzle device like a silencer, brake or compensator are not installed, are protected by a thread protector. The front fiber optic sight is dovetail mounted and can be drifted for windage compensation. The small rectangular view port, toward the rear of the ejection port, permits a quick check to see whether or not a round is chambered. Aft of the port is the optic sight mount cover which is secured with two screws. The rear sight, also dovetail mounted, can be adjusted for elevation by turning the top screw on the sight, or side screw for windage.

The sights on this model are mounted approximately 0.440″ above the slide top to assure there is a clear line of sight to target when a muzzle device is in place and to permit co-witnessing when an optical sight is installed.

A quieter side…

The configuration of the pistol, as seen, makes for a good competition shooter. The overall configuration also serves my purposes of target shooting, evaluating ammunition and developing handloads. With optical sight installed, it is easy on the eyes and the silencer makes it easy on the ears.

Above, maybe a better view of the orientation of sights to slide and silencer. In this case, the AAC silencer mounts on an eccentric so the tube can be rotated down to just about the slide’s top surface plane. No, this combination would not drop into a watch pocket. I know, what a watch pocket? An owner could be reduce the STR-9S’s profile by removing the magazine well’s flared guide, using a conventional 17 round magazine and maybe going to a low profile sight set. Or purchase a version of the STR-9 that already meets that criteria.

Easy takedown and clean

Pull the mag, check for empty. Push the slide back 1/16″, push side disassembly latches down, release slide and pull the trigger. The slide moves forward and can be slipped off. Pictured above, slide assembly, captive recoil spring, frame with steel insert that provides rigidity to the frame and positions fire control pieces. The barrel spec length is 4.1″, but the threaded and rifled muzzle extended this to 4.7″.

Shooting personality

The Stoeger STR-9S is one of those pistols that encourages heavy use. Full size and with some heft, recoil and muzzle rise are modest at most. Excellent slide gripping surfaces make manual slide actuation a minor effort. Other than following normal safety procedures, there is nothing to do but aim and fire. The low profile slide stop is on the left side. The pistol ships with the magazine release on the left side, but it can easily be switched to the right.

The full size frame and grip pretty much assure a comfortable home for all fingers. Yes, there will always be those guys with catcher mitts for hands but, for the rest of us, the grip is hand filling. Lots of control and sights that would show up against any backdrop make the STR-9S an easy pistol to shoot.

Numerically, how the Stoeger STR-9S shot

Four types of ammo were shot through the STR-9. Three supersonic and one subsonic.

Cartridge Bullet
25 Yard
5 Shot
Remington HTP JHP 115 1255 1282 1.9
AE Subsonic FMJ 124 1030 1040 2.1
Remington UMC FMJ 124 1100 1119 2.4
Remington UD JHP 124 1125 1179 1.6

Someone said my range conditions lacked environmental specificity. So… Groups were shot from a rest… sand filled leather bags. Playground sand I believe. Shooting went on most of the day. It was balmy, but humid. A breeze kept lifting my comb over. Around noon I grew a bit peckish and had a light lettuce and cubed Swiss salad with red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. Oh yes, the pistol’s muzzle was 10′ from the front chronograph screen. I think that does it.

In summary

Low price, high quality, great value. The Stoeger SRT-9S was rock solid reliable and performance was consistent. Don’t need the high sights, threaded barrel, flared mag well? There are plenty of other variations of size and configuration to choose from within the STR-9 product line Nice pistol.