Marlin Firearms Co. Model 1881 Variation 2 28″ .40-60 Lever Rifle, Antique

SOLD FOR: $1,275.00

WOA#: WY240323WM010

Make: Marlin

Model: 1881, Heavy Receiver, Second Variation

Serial Number: 2974

Year of Manufacture: The receiver was most likely made ca. 1881-1882. These rifles were not assembled or shipped in serial order.

Caliber: .40-60

Action Type: Lever Action Rifle, Tubular Magazine Fed

Markings: The barrel is marked “MARLIN FIRE-ARMS CO. NEW HAVEN CT. U.S.A. / PAT’D FEB 7 65JAN 7 73 SEPT 14 75 NOV 19 & 26 ‘78 JUNE 3 79 DEC 3 79 NOV 3 80 RE-ISSUE NOV 9 1880” and “40CAL”. The serial number is found on the underside of the frame.

Barrel Length: 28″, Octagonal

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a brass blade in a slotted base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel; the elevator is missing. The rear sight is not original to the gun. The top tang is factory drilled and tapped with a folding tang sight installed, adjustable for elevation. Note, the bolt will contact the tang sight when the action is operated if it is not folded out of the way first.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with a capped forearm, straight grip, straight comb, and a smooth steel buttplate. The stocks have scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. There are a few more notable dings, most notable to the left of the top tang. There are a few cracks around the front edges of the wrist and a small loss at the bottom-front of the wrist on the right. The forend has a crack at the right-rear toward the bottom. There are some areas of thinning finish and discoloration. The buttstock has minor play to the frame. The LOP measures 13 1/8″ from the front of the trigger to back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a moderate-dark patina with scattered surface oxidation. The stocks rate in Good overall condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Blue

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with well defined rifling. There is scattered light erosion, some light pitting, and stubborn fouling in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 or 6 out of 10.

Overall Condition: This gun retains about 3% of its metal finish. There is infrequent scattered finish in well protected areas. Most surfaces have worn to white or gone to a light-moderate patina. There are evenly scattered spots of light surface oxidation. There is some scattered minor surface erosion. There are some nicks and scratches. There are tool marks around some screw heads. It appears that the stock mounting screws may have been modified, they do not have slots. The other screw heads range from tool marked with strong slots to disfigured with questionably usable slots. The markings range from clear to slightly obscured by erosion. Overall, this rifle is in Good-Very Good condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We did not fire this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment: As stated by the National Firearms Museum, “In 1881, the Marlin Firearms Company was incorporated, and production of Ballard rifles continued under the Marlin banner until they were eventually discontinued circa 1891 due to the rising popularity of repeating rifles. Marlin-Ballard rifles were and are well-known for their accuracy and workmanship, and fancy-grade long-range rifles are eagerly sought after by modern collectors. Marlin continued to expand his product line, introducing his Model 1881 lever-action tubular magazine repeating rifle in that year. Many key features had been patented by Andrew Burgess and others, but John Marlin incorporated these into a single functional firearm. This rifle was available in a variety of calibers ranging from .32-40 to 45-70 Government, a feature that would not be duplicated by competing Winchesters for several more years.”

This example of the Model 1881 is chambered for the .40-60 cartridge. Interestingly, William Brophy notes in his book that the Model 1881 serial numbers began in the 4,000 range, while this one has serial 2794. The Marlin Fire Arms Company has seen these sort of serial quirks in many of their models, frequently not assembling or shipping guns in anything like serial-order. The gun shows its age, but retains strong mechanics and a fair bore. This would be a terrific addition to a Marlin collection, especially one lacking their earliest repeating rifle. Please see our photos and good luck!

Marlin Firearms Co. Model 1881 Variation 2 28" .40-60 Lever Rifle, Antique
Marlin Firearms Co. Model 1881 Variation 2 28″ .40-60 Lever Rifle, Antique