Marlin’s 1894 was the second-most-popular lever-action rifle in sales through the services of Gunbroker.com in 2019. The carbine is a classic—having been introduced in 1894 chambered for several revolver cartridges—and like nearly every gun with staying power on the top-performers list, options have expanded through the years.
The rifle was designed and patented by L.L. Hepburn in 1893 while he worked for Marlin. The firearm features side ejection and a tubular magazine.
In 2018 the company shook things up when it introduced two new versions—the CBSL and CST—at the SHOT Show. Both are chambered in .357 Mag./.38 Spl. and their tubular magazines have an eight-round capacity. They feature stainless steel receivers and 16 1/2-inch barrels. The CST’s, however, is threaded for muzzle devices and it ships with a thread protector.
Cosmetically, though, they are every different. The 1894 CBSL, which has an MSRP of $1,214.64, comes with an XS Lever Rail with ghost ring sights. Its stock is a striking gray laminate.
The CTS, which retails for $1,223.24, features a painted hardwood stock and XS Ghost Ring sights. Both guns, however, wear the company’s Wild-West Guns-style big loop and there’s even a .44 Mag. version with cosmetics identical to the CBSL (Model 1894 SBL).
They are a big departure from Marlin’s traditional American walnut furniture, although there’s no denying that timeless style remains a popular choice. Marlin offers the look in .357 Mag./.38 Spl., .44 Mag. and .45 Colt.
Octagonal barrels, stainless or blued metalwork, folding buckhorn sights (in a limited edition available now) and different wood finishes provide a variety of options in factory-fresh 1894 models.
Not all Marlin’s line remains cosmetically true to the Hepburn’s design, but that’s likely one of the primary reasons the rifle is popular to this day. The looks and features may change, but the gun has a history of reliability, performance and the kind of longevity enthusiasts deserve.