The “tacticalization” of lever-action rifles continues, with the new Marlin Dark Series hitting the market. The new Dark Series will have three rifles based on the three lever-actions sold under the Marlin name. At this point, the Model 1895 in .45-70 Government is the only example currently available, but Dark Series rifles based on the Model 1894 in .44 Magnum are coming, along with a model based on the Model 336 in .30-30.
Marlin @ TFB:
The Dark Series rifles don’t look like your granddaddy’s walnut-and-blued-steel cowboy rifle. They come with black nylon-reinforced polymer stocks, but their appearance isn’t as oddball as some of the other tactical lever-actions on the market. There’s no skeletonized telescopic design here, although they do have an adjustable cheek riser – raise it when using an optic, and drop the riser when shooting with iron sights. In stock configuration, the rifle has a fiber-optic front sight and a tritium rear ring installed for better low-light shooting.
The stock has a beefy recoil pad as well, and M-LOK attachment slots to allow you to easily install accessories. The anodized aluminum forend also comes with M-LOK slots and QD sockets. The 16.7-inch barrel comes with 11/16″-24 threads to install a muzzle device; from the factory, you get a radial muzzle brake, but Marlin also includes a muzzle protector if that’s what you want to run.
Marlins have long been favored by rifle shooters who wanted a lever-action with easy optics installation. The Dark Series rifles come with a Picatinny rail pre-installed, stretching from the back of the receiver to about half-way down the barrel. If you want to install a red dot and a magnifier, that sort of madness is absolutely doable.
Mag capacity is 5+1 for the Model 1895; Marlin says the rifle weighs 7 pounds, with a 35.5-inch overall length.
Of course, the Dark Series is actually built by Ruger, the latest owner of the Marlin brand. After generations of manufacturing in New England, with a brief stint at Remington’s plant in New York, these rifles are now built in North Carolina, where Ruger has built a new production line (more on that here). The new made-by-Ruger Marlins have price tags that are considerably higher than the old Connecticut-built rifles, and the Dark Series will continue that trend. The Model 1895 version has a $1,379 MSRP in the U.S., and Marlin says it has “Limited Availability.” Translation: You might not find one of these rifles very easily, and if you do, it’s probably going to cost you.
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