We’ve been waiting with bated breath for a peek at Ruger’s very first Marlin rifle build. While photos leaked out here and there, along with a few sample guns, we were waiting on a production gun to run some .45-70 Government rounds. Everyone was asking the same questions: What changed? What remains the same? Should we be excited about this new Marlin era? And has Ruger really saved/improved the Marlin brand? 

Meet the Ruger-Built Marlin 1895 SBL

Polished stainless steel meets pepper-gray laminate to make the new Marlin 1895 SBL rifle a looker, which is enhanced even more by the nickel-plated bolt with spiral flutes. But its features are practical, too. The receiver, lever, and trigger-guard plate are CNC machined from 416 stainless forgings, and there’s a large loop lever. 

The ghost-ring rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation while the tritium-fiber front offers quick acquisition both during the day and in low light. The extended Picatinny top rail opens the door for standard optics, red dots, and scout scopes. Checkered grip panels retain that nod to older Marlins with the large diamond. Still, things turn modern at the end, and not just because of the tritium. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
While we're certainly fans of classic wood furniture, the stainless metal and laminate stock make this rifle pop. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

The 19-inch cold-hammer-forged stainless barrel is threaded at 11/16-24 TPI and fitted with a matching thread protector. The tubular magazine holds 6+1 rounds, and the gun measures 37.25 inches overall with a 13.38-inch length of pull. The weight comes in at 7.3 pounds empty.  

In the past, it was customary to say that real-world pricing would be lower than MSRP, but those days are sadly in the rearview mirror – at least for a time. In fact, demand for the new Marlin 1895 SBL remains so high that guns are selling for as much as a grand over retail. Madness, I know, but at the same time, it’s nice to see that firearms like this one – an old-school lever gun – are still so highly valued on the modern market. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
In a nice nod to the growing trend of suppressors, the new 1895 also hosts 11/16-24 TPI threads. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

The Newest Marlin: 1895 Trapper

New: Marlin 1895 Trapper .45-70 by Ruger
The trapper offers a smaller, handier package that takes one round from the gun but makes it a bit more wieldy. (Photo: Ruger)

New for 2022 and coming off its fresh introduction at NRAAM in Houston, Texas, is the Marlin 1895 Trapper. This model marks the second official Marlin made under Ruger production. Like other lever-driven Trapper styles, the Marlin 1895 Trapper wears a shorter 16-inch barrel and lesser 5+1 capacity. A few other features set it apart from the 1895 SBL, including a bead-blasted satin-stainless finish and adjustable rear peep sight from Skinner Sights in place of the rail and ghost ring combination.

Ruger-Specific Features?


Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
The old bullseye stock inset now hosts some Ruger red. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

If you were wondering whether your .45-70 Marlin lever gun was made by Ruger or pre-bankruptcy Remington-Marlin, here are some of the unique features we’ve found from the ones coming off Ruger’s Mayodan line. While the gun is not – I repeat, not – marked as a Ruger, there are some giveaways to Marlin’s new owner. 

Remember that trademark black and white bullseye stock inset that was made famous on early Marlins? It’s still there – thank you, Ruger – but it’s now red and white in a tip of the hat to Ruger red. Likewise, there’s barrel stamping from Ruger’s Mayodan, North Carolina, plant. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
Yes, you do have to deal with the obligatory safety markings. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)
Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
But Ruger did toss in a nice laser-engraved Marlin horse-and-rider logo. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Love it, or more likely hate it, the same lawyer-proof “Read Instruction Manual Before Using Firearm” has made its way to the barrel of the Marlin. In addition, there’s an “RP” proof mark stamped on the left side of the barrel where we’re accustomed to scanning for the “JM” mark of early originals. Ruger also added a laser-engraved Marlin horse-and-rider logo at the base of the grip. Lastly, and most easy to tell, Ruger-made Marlin rifles begin with the “RM” serial-number prefix. 

While the initial launch came significantly later than expected, it became clear that Ruger had some major work to do on the worn machinery it inherited from Remington. The end, according to Marlin’s own website, is “an improved manufacturing process that creates tight tolerances, resulting in a reliable, attractive rifle. Multi-layered quality control procedures, including daily function and accuracy audits and multiple inspections, result in a high-quality product.”

Range Time


Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
Accuracy potential is more than promising. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

We headed to the range with a nice mix of .45-70 Gov’t ammunition, including Federal Premium Hammer Down, Remington High Performance Rifle, and Hornady LEVERevolution. Right out of the plain cardboard box, the SBL runs like a champ. The lever is smooth, and the stocks offer a comfortable fit. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
Included sights offer a ghost-ring rear and tritium-fiber front. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

We started with the iron sights but added an optic to really dig into the rifle’s accuracy potential. As expected, all types of ammunition cycled with ease. This piece is a shooter, plain and simple. We teetered on the edge of MOA groups at 100 yards with a low-powered Leupold optic.

With some load development, there is little doubt the groups could tighten up even further. The one issue we noticed on the range, though, was the trigger. While we certainly don’t expect a target trigger on a lever gun, our particular test gun brought us back to the trigger-pull gauge at the bench. After a half-dozen tests, we measured breaks from 6.19 to 8.06 pounds. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
The trigger, while heavy, offers fine accuracy, and the addition of a large loop lever is just part of the attention to detail that shines in the new Ruger-made guns. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

While the pull was crisp and without creep, it tended to be oddly heavy. But what’s amazing is actually shooting such nice groups with that pull. With minor work, ragged one-hole three-shot groups would be scary real. That’s almost unheard of for such guns. 

There’s always a question of recoil. Like it or loathe it, the .45-70 is a bigger-bore cartridge and has some kick. That said, it’s an incredibly manageable round, by and large. At just under 8 pounds with the optic and ammo in the tube, this Marlin has the heft to pick up some jump. The rubber recoil pad is thick for this reason, though it’s plenty stiff. We knew what we were in for when we pulled the trigger – especially in a summer t-shirt – but the end results are more than worth a little rearward push. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
The rubber recoil pad is thick but firm and helps handle the .45-70 recoil. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Field Notes

The spiral-fluted bolt may or may not improve function, but it looks darn smokin’ hot. And while we’re on that topic, the action is quite smooth. The factory rubber recoil pad is adequate on recoil. We also appreciated that the lengthy Picatinny rail came with a rear peep and ample optics mounting space. The front hosts a bright green fiber-optic sight that stands out on both targets and game. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
There's a bit of play on the rear peep, which can be remedied with Skinner Sights or an optic. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

One of our few knocks, though, centers on the rear peep. There’s a surprising amount of play, not so much in the spring-loaded section, but where the aperture meets its base. The sight does its job because shooters aren’t supposed to focus on the rear aperture. With the accuracy potential of the rifle, an upgrade to either an optic or a Skinner Sight solves that issue nicely. 

Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle
Speaking of optics, there is a generous amount of Picatinny rail waiting for one. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)

Though the company advertises a “thinner” forend when compared to the previous Remington-made iteration, we didn’t feel a major difference. Where things really stood apart, however, was the attention to detail. The spiral-fluted bolt is aesthetically pleasing but also slickly smooth. 

The greatest difference is evidenced by the wood-to-metal fitment. The stocks are proud to the metal, just as they should be, and evenly matched all the way around. Checkering is sharp and practical for a solid grip in the field. While we’ll always remain fans of fine wood grain, the laminate furniture is generally regarded as more stable and sturdier in harsh weather conditions. Besides, that pepper laminate really pops against the stainless steel. The inclusion of both stainless sling studs and a hammer extension are thoughtful and practical touches for hunters. 

Awaiting the New Marlin Era!

Whether hunting deer, bear, or any big and dangerous game, there’s little doubt this latest .45-70 is up to the task – and it will do it with looks to spare. Will this one day become as desirable as those “JM” stamped Marlins? Only time will tell, but what we know with certainty is that Ruger is off and running in the right direction. 

Not only is the new Ruger-made Marlin 1895 SBL a pleasure to behold and fire, but it also gets us excited for what’s to come from the newly invigorated company. 

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