From practical to tactical
and back again
(he typed with tongue in cheek)
custom 45-70 Marlin Guide gun.html

The "Lil' Brute" .45-70 Marlin

     This little project started with a Winchester '94 in .45 Colt. I had a little 45 Colt Trapper that I fired heavy 300 grain loads in. I fired them because it was the only thing it would shoot worth a darn. This got me interested in a little gun shooting big bullets, but something a bit more accurate and more versatile.
   My plan was to find a used Marlin 1895 in 45-70 and cut it down. Make myself a small "beater" powerhouse. The only problem I ran into with this was in finding one. I could find them all right, but every time I did they were awful close to being as much money as a new Guide Gun. Finally I ran across a new ported Guide Gun in a chain store, and the manager made me a great offer, with a nice discount because it was a display model. It was too good to pass up.

   So I had my new Guide Gun. It was nice, but not quite what I was after. My original plan for the "beater" was to cut the barrel down to 16+ inches, and do the work myself.    The new gun was too nice for me to risk it, so I decided to spend some money and have the barrel cut and front sight remounted by someone setup for the job. I sent it to Clements Custom Gun as they'd done a good deal of work for me in the past.

   While the action and barrel were off getting worked on, I started working on the wood. First was to thin down the overly fat forend. This was a fairly simple task on an upright belt sander. It turned out nice and trim and a joy to handle.
   Next came the stock. New Marlin stocks are coated with a hard clear coat which can be very hard to remove. In trying to sand off this finish, I ended up removing wood from the wrist by mistake. It was now undersized in one spot and ugly. I wasn't too happy. Fortunately I found a used straight grip stock on the Internet for much less than Marlin wanted for a new one. The problem now was that the stock and the forend wood didn't match very well. I tried matching them with stain but didn't care for the end result. Next I stripped them both and tried wood bleach on them. I bleached the forend once, and the stock three times. The match was good and I liked the unusual blonde look.

   Even though I'm 6'4" tall, with arms to match, I like a short stock on guns like this. I played around with different lengths, and decided I liked the length of the factory stock with the pad removed. I purchased a very soft "Kick-eez Jr." recoil pad to replace the rather hard factory item and cut the stock to match that length. I wound up removing roughly 3/4" to 1" off the rear.
   About this time the barreled action came back and I reassembled the rifle. My 18" ported barrel was now 16 1/4 inches with no ports. I was a bit curious what the recoil would be like now without the porting. I was pleasantly surprised. With the new Kick-eez recoil pad (and no porting) the felt recoil was actually less than it was with the factory recoil pad and the porting.

   Another pleasant surprise was that the rifle was now more accurate than it was before it was shortened. I'm not sure why really; perhaps it's because of a better than factory crown? A shorter, stiffer barrel? Maybe the ports were hurting accuracy? I don't know but it sure shot better. I did my trigger and action work after this, so that wasn't an issue.

   The gun was very accurate, but it seemed to me one limiting factor was the front sight. I felt it was just a bit too wide to take advantage of how well this rifle shot. I replaced it with a Williams Firesight fiber optic front bead. Being colorblind, the red insert did nothing for me, as I couldn't really see it, but the diameter was smaller and accuracy got even better. Off the bench my "Contender load" (300 grain JHP load that I use in my 12" Contender pistol) would easily do 2" groups at 100 yards. The gun was what I'd wanted, and it shot great. The "Lil' Brute" was born. I used it that way for a while.


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