Marlin 1895 .45-70: Why You Need a T-Rex-Rated Rifle

I have a soft spot in my heart for firearms from the 1800s — especially those associated with the Old West and Western movies I grew up on. My first lever-action rifle was a Henry chambered in .45 Long Colt and I have added many to my collection over the years, both as individual purchases and as part of larger collections. Before long, I had a collection from Marlin, Henry, and Winchester chambered in .30-30, .22 LR, .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, and .22 Magnum. What had not joined my collection was a Marlin 1895 chambered in .45-70 Govt. Though I would still like to acquire a Winchester 1885 or 1886, the Marlin 1895 in .45-70 took precedence due to another factor.

marlin .45-70 lever
Everyone needs a good lever-action rifle in their collection, but there is only one if you are worried about a resurgence of dinosaurs: the Marlin .45-70. (Photo credit Marlin Rifles)

The Marlin 1895 in .45-70

I collect guns for many reasons and individual firearms enter my collection for a combination of reasons. These justifications vary from defensive use, hunting, vermin control, competition, looks, historical significance, range use, movie fame, or just telling me I can’t have it (looking at that (no longer with me) bump-stock purchase and the Hudson H9). The Marlin 1895 lever-action rifle definitely checked off a few of these including historical significance, looks, range use, and possible hunting. However, with the release of Jurassic World in 2015, the Marlin 1895 added movie fame. Unfortunately, once I finally decided to pick one up, Marlin, along with Remington, went through bankruptcy, and the .45-70 disappeared from primary markets while the price shot up on the secondary market. This added “telling me I couldn’t have one” to my motivations and the Marlin .45-70 went to the top of my want list.

Marlin 45-70 lever in Jurassic World
I already had several reasons to add a Marlin .45-70 Govt. lever-action to my collection, but seeing one on screen sealed the deal. (Photo Credit: Universal Pictures)

I will also admit I’m a sucker for clever marketing. The Marlin 1895, in conjunction with its use in the movie Jurassic World, had a unique animal icon added to Marlin’s webpage. At the time, Marlin’s lever-action rifles had a series of animal icons on each rifle’s webpage indicating the type of game the rifle was rated to hunt. The Marlin 1895 .45-70 prominently showed a Tyrannosaurus Rex as one of the animals it was chambered to hunt. The need to own a T-Rex-rated rifle sealed the deal on my desire to own one of these rifles. I often joke that most high-powered rifles are not needed for self-defense situations — assuming you are not being hunted by armored aliens. Though a very small chance, the chance is still not zero. You never know when you might need a rifle chambered to take down large carnivorous dinosaurs.

marlin 45-70 t-rex rated
Though no longer listed, the Marlin 1895 chambered in .45-70 Govt. was originally shown to be rated for larger game including a T-Rex. (Photo Credit Marlin Firearms)

Lever-Action Rifles

In my opinion, lever-action rifles exist between bolt-action rifles and modern semi-automatic rifles. Though they feature an internal tube-style magazine (forward or side-gate loaded), their capacity is higher than many internal magazine bolt-action rifles. Additionally, they are less robust compared to bolt-action rifles but are generally very reliable with few issues loading and ejecting when run properly. Thus, across the board, they offer moderate ammunition capacity in a reliable platform. Finally, there is something about running the action with a lever that just calls up images of the Old West.

kingsman golden circle marlin 45-70
Though most famously known for being in Jurassic World and its sequel, the Marlin 1895 has appeared in other leading men’s hands including 2017’s Kingsman: Golden Circle. (Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Another plus to lever-action rifles is the large number of potential chamberings available. Table 1 provides an overview of various rounds available in lever-actions. Capacity, muzzle velocity, and average power (foot-pounds) are all presented, including suggested animals that could be hunted with the round.

Table 1

Round (18″ barrel) Velocity (FPS) Bullet Wright (grains) Energy (ft-lbs) Capacity Hunting 
.22 LR 1366 40 166 12 Squirrel, rabbit, fox
.22 Magnum 1985 40 350 11 squirrel, rabbit, fox, coyote
.357 Magnum 2072 125 1,192 10 deer, antelope, bear
.44 Magnum 1643 240 1,438 10 deer, black bear, elk
.45 Long Colt 1482 225 1,097 10 deer, black bear, hog
.30-30 2390 150 1,902 5 elk, moose, black bear
.45-70 Govt. 1880 300 2,354 5 bear, moose, T-Rex

The Marlin 1895 Trapper

In 2020, Ruger bought Marlin and announced Marlin rifles would return to availability later in 2020 and 2021. Of course, the events of 2020 greatly slowed this process down. It wasn’t until early 2022 that Marlin found their way back into local gun stores. Though technically the one featured in Jurassic World was the longer-barreled SBL, I ended up buying the shorter-barreled Trapper model. This was mainly driven by me wanting an impressive range gun (sound and muzzle flash) over a longer distance hunting rifle (and it leaves room for still wanting to get a .45-70 Govt. rifle from Winchester).

Though nowhere near cheap to fire, there is unquestionable joy to shooting this rifle and it’s almost always in the range selection when guests are over. Additionally, it was the climax of a Western shoot we did at a local indoor range. Each person got to shoot various single-action revolvers and lever-action rifles culminating in a single round (proceeded by everyone yelling “fire in the hole”) with the Marlin .45-70 Trapper. 

marlin 45-70 in Wind River
The Marlin 1895 was also used by Jeremy Renner in the 2017 movie Wind River. (Photo Credit: Weinstein Company)

You really must shoot such a gun to get the full effect, but there is a lot to love with the Marlin 1895. The overall look and style are impressive and the side-gate loading is easy and smooth. The gun comes with a rear Skinner peep sight and the SBL version has a top-mounted rail for adding an optic. The action is easy to work and very reliable with a smooth and light trigger. A threaded barrel with 1:20 right-handed rifling completes the package. I’m glad I was finally able to add this to my collection; now, if only the price of .45-70 would come down.

Joel Nadler is the Training Director at Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis and co-owner of Tactical Training Associates.  He writes for several gun-focused publications and is an avid supporter of the right to self-sufficiency, including self-defense. Formerly a full professor, he has a Ph.D. in Psychology and now works as a senior consultant living on a horse ranch in rural Indiana.  Feel free to follow him on Instagram @TacticalPhD.

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