The Marlin Model 1894 CB is Perfect for Cowboy Action

Chambered in .38 Spec./.357 Mag., this is definitely a lever action that would appeal to John Wayne

Marlin 1894CB lever-action
The Marlin 1894CB lever-action has a first-class Old West feel, one of the main reasons it remains a popular choice for Cowboy Action shooters.Marlin Firearms

The Marlin 1894CB is a handy, reliable, good-looking lever-action chambered in .38 Special/.357 Mag. The “CB” stands for “cowboy,” and while it’s not a .45 Colt or .44/40, it’s a gun John Wayne could definitely have gotten behind. Modern-day Cowboy Action shooters know the secret to winning an Old West gunfight is speed, and that’s where the 1894CB really shines. Soft-recoiling .38 loads, rather than traditional calibers, equal faster stage runs. It’s just that simple: Less recoil equals faster transitions between targets—and better Cowboy Action times.

Marlin is well aware of that target buyer. The 1894CB has a first-class Old West feel—with a few touches geared for modern performance. The metal- work is excellent. The receiver and bolt are cut from solid stock, and the bluing is among the very best. Receiver, bolt, lever, magazine, and the 20-inch octagonal barrel have ele- gant matte-black bluing that matches the American black walnut forend and stock. There’s no checker- ing or high gloss anywhere on the rifle. It has a plain, utilitarian style that looks timeless—as at home on the range or in a match as it is in a saddle boot.

Customizing Marlin lever guns is a booming cottage industry, especially for those Cowboy Action games. But unless you’re a competitor, this rifle doesn’t need much. After several hundred rounds, I had zero loading, feeding, firing, or ejection issues. This Marlin just runs. It’s fast to shoulder, quick to point, and accurate. Everything I’ve put through it in .357 or .38 Special has shot 3 inches or better at 50 yards. The trigger on my test model pulled at 7.5 pounds. Lighter would be better for most shooters, but there is none of the creep or gritti- ness that has plagued some earlier 1894s.

While cowboys might want to tune their 1894s, I’m leaving this one alone. Right out of the the box, it’s perfect for deer hunt- ing, be it food-plot sitting or as a walkaround deer rifle when shots are within 100 yards or so. It’s fast, accurate, and points like a high-dollar dog. The Duke would approve. SRP: $1,158. Booth #14229. (marlinfirearms.com)