Marlin lever action bullet recommendations


One of the guys at the local matches brought his Marlin lever action rifle in .44 Mag.
He is having trouble getting accurate results with lead bullets.
Yes it was quickly discovered that the rifle has the micro groove rifling.
Anyone have ideas on how to make this gun shoot better?


what do you mean shoot accurately?
was he on paper?
at what range?


How fast is he shooting those lead bullets?


He wasn’t too specific, he just wanted it to shoot the best it could, regardless of distance or load.
Checking info on the web, apparently the micro groove barrels require larger diameter bullets for lead bullets than for jacketed.
He was satisfied with the accuracy when using jacketed bullets.
Anyone know exactly how much larger the lead bullets need to be?


Best bet would be to slug the barrel and get the right number. I’ve seen lead bullets from .429 through .432, but normally use .430 or .431.


Apparently it’s the design of the rifling itself that causes the inaccuracy with lead bullets, rather than the barrel size itself.
At least that seems to be the consensus from the internet gurus.
I was hoping someone here has run into this problem and already figured it out.
Like you say, it might come down to just experimenting with different bullets.
Kind of a pain, though having to buy and probably discard all the ones that didn’t work.

Hmm, wonder how many folks who own those kinds of rifles just change to a normal barrel.
Anyone know what was the reason for Marlin choosing to use those micro groove barrels?
Does Marlin still use them now a days?
When we were playing with this rifle there was a very noticeable difference in accuracy going from jacketed to lead bullets, even at only 15 yards and definitely at 25 and 50 yards.


Sorry, wish I could help, but I don’t have a 44 Marlin, I do have a 444 Marlin, but I don’t shoot lead bullets in it.


with its very slow twist rate (1:38), he would probably be better off / get better accuracy, from lighter bullets.

I used to have the 1894 in .44 mag and never had any problems with 240 grain bullets - even out past 100 yards (no scope).

This is regardless of lead or jacketed.


Was yours a Marlin or Winchester 1894?

Yes, your solution would be the most sensible.
Forget the lead bullets and just stick to jacketed.
Easier barrel cleaning, too.
But it would be nice to have the choice.
Especially when shooting both the rifle and and a revolver in the same caliber.
A common occurrence both now and back in the day.
Thanks for the replies, y’all.



Mine was the Marlin 1894 in .44 mag.

I eventually replaced it.


regarding the micro groove rifling - they changed that a while back to:

deep-cut Ballard-type rifling

which is what they are using now for the 1894 series


g.willikers (et al):

by the way, I complained to Marlin about their slow twist rate on the 1894 in .44 mag. They said they had no problems with it (including no accuracy issues). I told them I would buy one when they get it fixed (to 1:20 twist rate). The Marlin rep said that the problems were all unique to the shooters, not the gun. (I am guessing they don’t go out on the forums to listen to their own customers!)


It’s cheaper to lie than to fix it.
Decisions like that is why Marlin is now owned by someone else.
Wonder where the guy you talked to works now.
Mowing lawns or cleaning porta johns maybe.



Right, and that might be why they don’t bother fixing it - money! I get the impression that they generally don’t like to improve existing models and instead, just introduce newer models at (much) higher prices.

They do seem to get it (having the right twist rate making the gun better), though. Their new 1894 CST in .357 mag has a 1:16 twist - ideal! Of course, the MSRP on it is $1,154 - about $400 more than the .44 mag ($789 MSRP). FYI: Here is what that new 1894 CST looks like:


With prices like that, maybe for lever action enthusiasts it’s time to look elsewhere.
Henry maybe.



unfortunately, the twist rate on the Henry .44 mag is the same as the Marlin .44 mag.

and, Henry’s are not cheap - typically more than the Marlins (exception being the newer Marlin models with special features - like the Marlin 1894 CST)

if you want a better twist rate on a .44 mag, try the Winchester .44 mag - although it goes for around $1,000 (street price, not msrp)


:+1: Thread


Nice looking gun, should be able to get it cheaper than that though. Dealer price is about $800. Good looking gun, i might sell my 444 Marlin and get this one. Appreciate you guys pointing me toward this gun.


You might look at a Ruger 96 a friend of mine has one and shoots anything from cast semi wadcutters to Hornady
xtp with no problems.



I suppose you are referring to the Marlin 1894 CST - right?

A Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in .45-70 has quite a bit more power and can be bought at a much lower cost.