February 14th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Whether original Marlin or “Remlin”, there are some easy upgrades that can be made:

Adjust Sights:

While I do like using iron sights on this particular rifle, I admit: The original buckhorn sights aren’t awesome.  They’ve worked alright for hunting wild boar at close ranges, but shots past 100 yards get tricky.  I worked up a table for my 3 primary hunting loads on this rifle as to where their point of impact is at what range on what rear sight elevation setting.  Despite this, I don’t ever want to be fumbling with the rear sight elevator during a hunt.  Back when I was testing out their new extractor claw, Ranger Point Precision was also nice enough to send me one of their front and rear sight assemblies to try out.

barrel with sights

barrel with sights

The RPP rear sight assembly is adjustable for windage and elevation. (MSRP: $72.00 for front and rear sight assembly). Elevation adjustments are made via a hex screw that puts tension on the top of the barrel and moves the main body of the rear sight assembly up and down.  The windage adjustments are made by loosening the aperture and drifting it to the appropriate location.  Once windage is set, the windage screw can be fully tightened to lock everything into place.  The front sight does not need to be drifted for adjustment.  Once locked into place via hex-screw, there are two distinct quick aiming points one can use for quick shots at different ranges.

Top view of the RPP Rear sight. Note hex screws. Front is for elevation, rear for windage

Installation:

Marlin 1894 sights are pretty easy to remove.  Once the rear sight elevator is removed, the rear sight can usually be drifted out right to left via finger pressure.  The front sight assembly took a few hits with a brass punch to drift out.  The new sights slid right into place and locked down easily with the hex screws.  In direct sunlight, I found the two aiming points easy to use and the sights bright.  It should be considered: if one anticipates frequent use in low-light or at night, there’s no substitute for putting on a red dot sight.

rear sight alternate view

Rear sight assembly, not dovetail for windage adjustment

Front sight; note gap under sight

Something to note: These sights are CNC machined from 7075 aluminum and black anodized. They should therefore be rust-free.  However, there is somewhat of a gap under the front and rear sight assembly above the barrel.  The barrel underneath this gap should be cleaned and inspected for rust periodically.  Check and clean these areas for rust immediately if one is using one’s rifle in humid or icy conditions frequently.  

Trigger Happy:

The trigger on my early-00’s Marlin was just adequate.  It was very floppy, had quite a bit of creep, and the re was a rough hitch before breaking at 6lbs.  The flop of the trigger was also rattly and loud when trying to stalk in on wild boar in the rough lava rock country that I usually hunt them in.  I’ve experienced Wild West Guns’ triggers before, as I have one of their Alaskan Co-Pilots in .45-70.  Knowing their triggers to be excellent, I ordered one of their “Trigger Happy Kits”  (MSRP $100.00). This trigger is a precision CNC-machined 2-piece unit consisting of the trigger and sear held together with a hollow pin.  The trigger can be had in either blued or stainless, depending on the look one is going for.

Installation:

While actually replacement of the trigger is easy, getting to the trigger assembly in one’s Marlin is a bit of a chore.  There’s no quick way of getting at it, being that to do it properly, it requires removing the stock, bolt, and hammer assembly.  Once done, one can remove the trigger and sear of the stock unit and install the new Trigger Happy Kit.   This is also a good opportunity to do a detailed cleaning and oiling of one’s Marlin.  Make sure to test proper safety, trigger, sear, and bolt function before finishing reassembly, as some later model Marlins may have troublesome interactions with the fit of the new sear, requiring minor fitting.

triggerguard plate

Trigger inserted into triggerguard plate

Improvement was immediately apparent.  The flop and rattle was gone, replaced by a trigger that broke consistently at 2.75lbs, lower than the average advertised 4lbs.  Not only was the pull weight reduced by half, but the new precision made trigger has a very crisp, clean break.

WWG trigger

new trigger installed

alternate view of trigger

the fit and finish on the WWG trigger was excellent

A new Follower:

The original Marlin 1894s have magazine tube followers that are made out of Zytel. While they are ok, mine started to hang up in the tube and the edges on the back of the hollow follower started to degrade somewhat over time.  To alleviate this issue in the future, Wild West Guns’ CNC machined, anodized aluminum follower (MSRP $25.00) seemed like a good upgrade to add instead of replacing it with another Zytel or plastic follower.

View of WWG parts

Left: aluminum follower
Right: Happy Trigger Kit

Installation:

To install the new follower is pretty simple, just remove the end cap of one’s magazine tube, remove the magazine spring, and the old follower will drop out (if one has removed the appropriate magazine tube/barrel band screws depending on exact model).  It’s also a good opportunity to clean and lightly lubricate one’s magazine tube assembly.

Testing after reassembly showed a definite improvement in loading the magazine tube and cycling flat point, hollow point, and Hornady Leverevolution polymer-tipped ammunition.  Not only was loading the tube far smoother, it was also much quieter, eliminating the creak and squeak of the old follower.

Range Testing:

Upgraded with these three new improvements, I took my Marlin to the range to try things out.  The much-improved trigger shone both in static shooting and for quickly ringing steel.  There were no light strikes, malfunctions, or binding issues.  The pull weight stayed consistent after live fire testing.

The new follower kept the cartridges coming as fast as I could cycle the action, and loading the rifle was markedly easier than in the past. I had no issues with any kind of ammunition hanging up or cycling improperly.

The new sights were nice, though the red on the front sight was somewhat hard to see under shade while shooting off the bench.  I think that in the future, these sights could be aided by a triangular fiber optic insert at the top for more light collection.  The sights were super simple to adjust, and stayed put once set.  There is no separate screw to keep the adjustment in place, and that could be a good future improvement to make.  They held up to more than 50 rounds of .44 Magnum without moving.  To be sure they don’t budge while being rattled around in a side by side or saddle scabbard, some clear nail polish or preferred color of loctite should keep them in place.

Rear sight picture

The aiming line and medium aperture of the RPP rear sight

The two parts of the front sight aiming triangle

Overall, my shooting experience with this rifle was much improved.  Loading and cycling were easier, and the groups tightened up at 50 and 100 yards with the new sights and much improved new trigger.  My best group was .6″@50y, shot seated with the fore-end supported.  The best group at 100y was 1.76″.  I was not able to manage this kind of precision with the factory sights and trigger.  Using the tip of the sight as my 50y zeroed aiming point and the line for my 100y point yielded an average POI at 100 1.5″ high of center with the American Eagle 240gr JSP load.  The 2nd aiming point in my opinion is good for quick shots at these different ranges with the .44 magnum.  Results will vary with different cartridges, barrel lengths and loads.  As always, it’s best to test these things at the range before heading to the field.

aiming points

How to use the RPP sights
Photo Credit: Ranger Point Precision

front sight color options

front sight color options
Photo credit: Ranger Point Precision

I look forward to continue using this Marlin with these enhancements as an excellent game-getter when hunting with friends and relatives in less permissive locales.   Whether one has a nice old Marlin that needs some TLC, or a “Remlin” with some areas that could be improved, these all could be a positive enhancement.  Sometimes it’s nice to update an old gun with some nicer features.  Done right, it can greatly change one’s shooting experience for the better.

For more information, visit Ranger Point Precision or Wild West Guns

Thanks to Ranger Point Precision for the sights

Posted in Product Reviews, Rifles Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

July 15th, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

Western Hunting & Conservation Expo Big Success

Story and photographs by Troy Taysom

 

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]he Western Hunting and Conservation Expo recently held their 9th annual convention in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City, Utah. The show has grown rapidly and become a destination event for hunters, guides, firearms manufacturers, outfitters and outdoor enthusiasts. This year was the biggest yet.

Western Hunting Expo (1)-min

“Attendance at this year’s show topped 40,000, and that is a conservative number,” said Chris Carling of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, which, along with the Mule Deer Foundation, puts on the event.

I hit the show’s final day and it was packed. Normally shows slow down at the end, so it stands to reason that the preceding days were even busier.

The Expo had something for everyone, hunters and nonhunters alike. The main corridors and lobby areas of the Salt Palace Convention Center had wall to wall displays of trophy animals bagged from around the world, like red stag deer from New Zealand, bezoar ibex from Turkey and many more.

Western Hunting Expo (6)-minThe biggest attraction was the hunting permit booth. Organizers were holding drawings for more than 200 hard-to-get permits for animals like buck deer, bull elk, pronghorn, bison, blackbear, bull moose, cougar, desert bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, goat and turkey. If the draw wasn’t for an animal tag, it was for a rare location where hunters don’t usually get to go. There were even draws for out-of-state hunters since Utah offers some of the most exciting hunts and guided tours in the US.

This expo had a very active auction, boasting a world record bid of $390,000 by Troy Lorenz of Canada to hunt the big mule deer that roam Antelope Island, located in the Great Salt Lake, a hunt that will take place this November. Other bids included a
bighorn sheep tag for $85,000, a moose permit that went for $90,000 and a statewide mule deer hunt in Arizona that went for $320,000. Most of the money goes towards conservation, and 90 percent of the money raised with the Antelope Island hunt goes into a conservation fund specifically for the island.
Western Hunting Expo (2)-min

The main sponsors, Ammo & More and Armscor Cartridge Inc., raised more than $4 million dollars for conservation overall; hosts SFW and MDF oversee the use of these funds.

Friday night featured numerous speakers and entertainers from the firearms, hunting and outdoors industry highlighted by Kristy Lee Cook, country singer, TV show host and Browning personality.

In the event hall, I visited with MG Arms, innovators in the hunting and firearms industry, and perused their custom-made rifles. Each rifle is built to order and made to the customer’s desired caliber and color pattern. I found their designs to be very unique. The owner, Kerry O’Day, had a dangerous-game rifle on display that featured Turkish walnut, Belgian carvings and took more than 200 man hours to produce. The rifle was chambered in .470 Capstick and sold for a whopping $20,000.

Western Hunting Expo (3)-min

Among the vendors at this year’s show was Jerimy West of Wild West Guns. One of the company’s featured items was the Co-Pilot, a lever-action rifle chambered in .457 Wild West Magnum. “We make big guns that shoot big bullets that kill big animals,” says West.

I had an entertaining opportunity to meet Jerimy West of Wild West Guns. I asked him what his company did, and he said, “We make big guns that shoot big bullets that kill big animals.” After this response, I knew I was dealing with quite a character. He went on to show me one of their rifles called the Co-Pilot.

“We make big guns that shoot big bullets that kill big animals.”

 

The Co-Pilot is a lever-action, chambered in .457 Wild West Magnum. This cartridge, invented by Wild West Guns, is basically a .45-70 that has been “magnumized.” Having shot the .45-70 extensively, I asked him why he felt it needed magnum power. “Because we can, and besides, why not?” he said. I can’t argue with that. I also asked if he had considered making it in a handgun. The answer was a resounding “yes,” and it had already been done.

Western Hunting Expo (4)-min

The 9th annual Western Hunting and Conservation Expo had over 40,000 attendees- as well as some of their favorite quarry, elk.

Not all exhibitors were gun makers or guide outfits. Gohunt.com is a relative newcomer to the hunting scene and offers a very unique product for Western hunters. They have a subscription-based website that provides information such as climate, terrain, location of airports, hotels, etc. But what is fantastic are the statistics it provides regarding what types of animals have been harvested and the areas where they were found. All the content is provided by hunters who have been to each specific area and the website shares these firsthand and up-to-date accounts. This intel is invaluable to a hunter.

The site also contains articles that are written by and for hunters offering advice and tips for specific hunts. Gohunt.com takes the guess work out of hunting when one is already spending thousands of dollars for the trip of a lifetime. A membership runs about $149 per year.

Western Hunting Expo (5)-min

Future cowboy and outdoorsman, Kyle Conley from northern Utah attends the 9th annual Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.

If you’ve never been to this show,  plan on attending. The atmosphere is family friendly and Utah is a beautiful state, although I’m biased. I met people at the show as old as 100, and even made a new friend, future cowboy and outdoorsman, Kyle from northern Utah who is featured on the Gun Show calendar page of this issue. His family was kind enough to let me take his picture with one of the bison on display. The young man, maybe 6, was having the time of his life in his big cowboy hat, complete with feather, cool jeans and fancy, tan, square-toed cowboy boots.

Young and old, male and female – this show really is for everyone. Next year’s will be held Feb. 11-14, and promises to be bigger than ever. For more, see huntexpo.comASJ



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