Tuesday, September 8, 2009


A while back I mentioned working on a rifle that made me think of Mjöllnir. For anybody out there who had better things to do growing up than read about Norse mythology, Mjöllnir was Thor’s hammer. Depending on the version you read, Loki made a bet with some dwarves to make wonderful things, then tried to trick them and ended up with a shorter than usual handle on the hammer. It possessed some enchantments, among them that it would always return to Thor when it was thrown, and it would pretty much knock down whatever he threw it at. So what good Ol’ Thor had was a weapon that was easy to keep around, shorter than usual, and had a lot of knockdown power. I'd had something like that in mind for a while, but couldn't make up my mind on exactly what I wanted. Finally, I was inspired by a certain well spoken fictional character. It was time to put together something to make even Sam Haven proud.

What better way to start out than to get a Marlin 1895G, unported? I know some people out there like the ported version, but I’m not sure why. I’ll take recoil any day over extra muzzle blast and noise. This isn't a bench gun, something I’m going to shoot fifty times settled into a chair with no give to it. This is a rifle to be shot standing up, where my body can sway a little with the recoil. Even a heavy cartridge such as a .45-70 hurts less than any sort of rough-housing. Playing football in the park, you’re going to get hit harder on any given play without even noticing it. So my motto is “Man up and be prepared for the hordes of zombie buffalo.”

Anyway, even though the rifle was already short, handy, and stout, I still thought it could be improved. I got it partly because it’s fun and partly because you never know when you might have to put down a large angry mammal or get trampled and eaten. At least life would be a little less dull if that were the case. The first order of business when dealing with rampaging Santa Gertrudis is to hit and hit quickly. To that end I required a different sight set up. A quick trip to the Brownell’s website and I had these, from the XS sight company. Then it was time to put ‘em on. Remember your four rules, always make sure a gun is unloaded before working on it.

that white line stands out

do yourself a favor, get a good set of gunsmith screwdrivers

and the rear sight. use a dab of loc-tite on each end

The aperture I’ve got in has a wide opening and a thin rim, a true ghost ring set up of the sort to make Jeff Cooper proud. A smaller opening could probably shoot better groups, but come on. It’s an 18 inch big bore lever action. Speed and power are the goal here. The white line in the front post stands out well in low light. Actually, I had originally intended to have somebody make me a gold line front sight, but David Clements recommended the XS as being better under all light conditions.

I’d learned a few things from researching for previous adventures in Bubba-smithing, and this time I wanted to try a couple more things. A couple google searches turned up nothing but good words for the products of Wild West Guns. So, since I was taking the gun apart to slick it up anyway, I ordered a trigger and an ejector while I was ordering the sights.

for comparison. the factory pieces are on the left, wild west pieces on the right

Instructions for smoothing out lever action Marlins are all over the internet. There used to be a real good write up with pictures on www.leverguns.com, but apparently it was lost a couple years ago when they switched servers. I couldn’t find it this time around. All the write-ups I have read say pretty much the same things. Look for rough spots and burrs, then polish 'em out. Pay attention to the lever where it rides in the bolt, the groove in the reciever that the hammer fits in, and especially the locking bolt. One step I leave out is changing the hammer spring. I really want that primer to fire off every time I pull the trigger, so I don’t take any chance of slowing the hammer down. On the other hand, sanding the hammer down takes a lot of effort out of working the lever. To me the better rifle is the one with the factory hammer spring and the non-factory hammer, but your results may vary. I don’t have anything else to add, except to remind anybody who tries it to take things slow and follow the directions. Well, I have one other thing, but we’ll get to it later*.

take your time and pay attention putting things back together. this is what a rifle looks like without the locking bolt in it. hint:it won't work that way

my faithful shop audience


So here we have it, almost complete. I’m going to add a sling and butt cuff from www.levergunleather.com. Also I’ll add one of these and cut the stock down just a little to fit my own short-armed self.

1 I know that the instructions all say not to change the shape of the hammer, but I think there is a little room to play with on that. Don’t take any off where it contacts the firing pin, and don’t take too much off at the part of the curve that contacts the bolt cam when the hammer reaches full cock. That still leaves a little room to make a more gradual slope, giving the cam a little more leverage working against the hammer. The trade off is that you’re working over a longer distance. DON’T TAKE TOO MUCH OFF. A little bit goes a long way to making things better. If you have any doubts at all, DON’T DO IT. Buy a reduced power hammer spring, or snip a coil off the factory spring.


  1. Boo Yah!

    That's a gun that Sam would be prould to empty into some onrushing beastie, and then smash its head in with the butt stock. That gun will put hair on the chest of even the most slack jawed derelict.

  2. Haha, your last sentence was probably the best thing ever written on this blog.

  3. Now that, sir, is a good looking rifle. Looks like it shoots pretty good too.

    Very nice rifle and got to drive a dump truck? I'm jealous.