21 November 2023

Marlin's 1894 Classic - Finally in 357 Magnum


Marlin 1894 Classic in .357 Magnum from the Marlin website

If you haven't figured out that I'm a big fan of Marlin rifles and the .357 Magnum cartridge you haven't read enough of my stuff. You should fix that right now then come back and finish reading this.

Today, Marlin announced that they have finally released the 1894 chambered in .357 Magnum and its gorgeous. I know the .44 Magnum version had already come out earlier this year. That made sense to get the bigger caliber out for the 2023 deer season given many people like the bigger caliber for whitetail. Well, I feel the .357 Magnum is just right when you have the right load and shouldn't be over looked. My first whitetail for the 2023 was taken with a .357 Mag Marlin 1894 CST.

Generally, .357 Magnum is easier to find on the shelves though I can't say it's easier to get good hunting loads. The Cabela's / Bass Pro offerings are meager and I don't trust any of the loads they have on their website for whitetail at this point.  It pairs so nicely with revolvers that can be sized for concealed carry or with a large frame for outdoors use. Yes you can do that with the .44 mag but the recoil from a revolver is stout. The .357 mag is much more manageable. 

The 18 inch barrel will push that bullet to velocities that make the useable distance a lot longer than people realize. I calculated the Remington 158 grain HTP can still expand reliably around 175 or so yards from a rifle. That was a 16 inch. I don't know how much more you'd get from a 18 inch. 

9 rounds of .357 Magnum in the magazine is on the low side for what we can do today but for most casual reasons you'll find it should suffice. I field my rifle as a General Purpose or Farm Rifle and it suits me nicely.

The price tags on these new Marlins is steep. The base MSRP for all the Classic's is $1,239. They are currently made in limited quantities so the street prices can be much higher than that. I am seeing the .44 Mag versions available from many retails so prices will start coming down. 

I fully recommend a lever action rifle for fun and hunting. If you haven't tried one out, fix that immediately. Full power loads for defense and hunting with light .38 Special for fun and target is a hard combo to beat and one that I maintain is under appreciated. Pair it up with a Smith and Wesson Model 19 Classic and you have a perfect Classic Combo.

So, finally the end question, will I run out an buy one of these? No. I've said it too many times, Marlin should release a Classic threaded so us (very few) folks who suppress all the things. I still want to replace my Winchester 94 in .30-30. The 336 Classic with it's checkered wood and blued steel a top choice for a dedicated hunting rifle for me. Marlin hasn't done a 336 Classic with 5/8x24 threads yet so I haven't bought one. It will take time as they did release the Dark series again and those do have threads but they have 16 inch barrels. I want the 20 inch. Until then, my .357 Mag Marlin 1894 CST is my favorite rifle I have and I totally recommend which ever version of the Marlin rifles tickles your fancy.

Update: I retract my statement. I want one pretty bad. I've been thinking over how this version would fit into my line up. Whether I would build one out or leave it as is and I'm pretty torn on it. I like the idea of just enjoying the rifle as it is with nothing but leather goods but also I like the idea of building into a dedicated hunting rifle. Academy had a .44 Mag version in stock the other day for under $1000 which is a really good indicator. If the pricing is the same, I think the Classic .357 will be a good addition even if I just used it as is. 

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