2023 Rifle Of The Year: Marlin 1895 SBL

American Rifleman is pleased to announce the 2023 Rifle Of The Year Award goes to Marlin.

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posted on April 21, 2023
2023 Rifle Of The Year: Marlin 1895 SBL

American Rifleman is pleased to announce the 2023 Rifle Of The Year Award goes to Marlin.

“The NRA Golden Bullseye Awards epitomize what NRA members seek in their shooting and hunting equipment—outstanding performance, innovation and value,” said Doug Hamlin, executive director of NRA Publications. “These are the best new products, truly worthy of NRA members' attention, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all this year’s winners.”

When Ruger bought the intellectual property and hard assets to Marlin at auction back in 2020, it was a calculated risk. The brand is still beloved by many lever-gun connoisseurs, but its reputation had taken a beating in recent years, and Ruger was betting on the belief that it could right the ship and return the Marlin name to a place of standing within the industry. If the first Ruger-made Marlin rifle is any indication, that bet has paid off big.

magazine centerfold Mayodan Marlins man hunting outdoors oryx animal harvest gun review accuracy ballistics mechanical engineering technical writing screenshot of magazine article

"While my successful hunt had already proven that Ruger’s Marlin was accurate enough for its intended application as a short-range hunting rifle, the process of dialing-in the Leupold scope had also hinted at an accuracy potential that was far more than just adequate," wrote American Rifleman's Kelly Young.

According to Senior Executive Editor Kelly Young in his feature “In The Field And On The Range With Mayodan Marlins,” the 1895 SBL re-introduced last year is not a radical departure from the previous design, but it does incorporate a number of internal and external improvements that make a big difference, performance-wise. Some of these include improved thread timing of the barrel with the receiver, a nickel-plated and spiral-fluted bolt and a threaded muzzle. It also proved to be quite a shooter: “The accuracy of the Ruger-made Marlin wasn’t just good for a lever-action—it shot well for a rifle of any kind,” Young said.

While filming American Rifleman’s 'Gun Of The Week' video series with the updated lever-action rifle, staff noted that, “. . .  the action performed flawlessly. The generous section of Picatinny rail is a handy feature from the factory and the rear adjustable sight aperture, with adjustability, blends well with the HIVIZ post front unit that contains tritium for enhanced low-light performance. It is important to note that the included Picatinny rail ranges beyond the stainless-steel receiver, extending onto the barrel to allow for scout-type optic arrangements.”

man holding firing lever-action marlin 1895 sbl rifle indoors white gun range

Young recounted his field use with the Mayodan-made Marlin noting its success. “Loaded up with Hornady’s 325-grain LEVERevolution ammunition, the first shot from the sticks knocked the bull to the ground, where he stayed for close to 30 seconds before surprising us by springing up and running for the hills, and a second hit grounded the hearty creature for good. The 1895’s action had been so smooth in readying that important follow-up shot that I hadn’t even been consciously aware of it until the excitement was over and the oryx was down.”

For resurrecting the Marlin lever-gun, and for doing it so well, American Rifleman award the Model 1895 SBL Rifle Of The Year. For more information, visit marlinfirearms.com.

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