Hey Shooters, this is Todd Woodard, editor of Gun Tests Magazine.
In the May 2021 issue, Contributing Editor Robert Sadowski and his team of shooters tested three lever-action rifles chambered in 45-70 Government, a cartridge designed in 1873.
Our first gun a Taylor’s & Company Model 1886/71 45-70 Gov’t, a clone of the fabled Winchester Model 71, which itself was based on Winchester’s Model 1886.
The next rifle was a Henry All-Weather Lever Action H010AW 45-70 Gov’t. It was easy to tote and fast to shoulder, and its stainless-and-polymer construction make it suitable for hunting in any and “all weather.”
The third rifle was Marlin’s 1895SBL 45-70 Gov’t, which cost $1108. “SBL” stands for Stainless Black Laminate.
Out of the box, the 1895SBL was a sharp, modern-looking rifle sporting an oversized lever loop and a two-piece black/gray laminated wood stock.
It has a clean-cut diamond-pattern checkering on the semi beavertail forend and a polymer-capped pistol grip.
The butt is nicely fitted with a soft 0.75-inch-thick Pachmayr Decelerator pad.
The 1895SBL has an 18.5-inch-long barrel topped with an XS Systems Ghost Ring rear sight mounted on a long XS Systems Lever Rail optics platform.
The front sight is black with a white line along the face. It was fast to acquire and get on target.
The 11.25-inch Weaver-style base offers a lot of flexibility in mounting an optic from the traditional spot on top of the receiver to a forward-mount scout-rifle-style placement.
The natural stainless metal has a soft satiny luster. The stock also features sling swivel studs, which we appreciate in a hunting rifle.
The stainless-steel barrel is rifled with deep-cut Ballard-type rifling, so it will shoot cast bullets as well as jacketed bullets. In hand, the 1895SBL offers quick handling and great balance.
The slight drop at the comb of the pistol-grip stock was very comfortable and offered a good cheek weld.
Loading the large 45-70 cartridges was not a chore with the Marlin. It has a magazine capacity of six rounds, and cycling the oversized loop was smooth and very comfortable, with plenty of room for a gloved hand.
Empty brass is flung to the right of the user.
There are many other features on this rifle. Check out the May 2021 issue of Gun Tests to learn more about it.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about this rifle or the 45-70 cartridge in the comments section below.