View Full Version : Alternative Optics on Marlin Guide Gun
02-13-2007, 10:18 AM
There is something altogether fascinating about shooting and hunting with a lever-action rifle. Others on this board have said as much.
In recent years, Iíve TRIED to put together such a rifle for my own use. Most recently, I purchased and set up a Winchester 1886 Extra Light 45-70. Iíve also looked at various Winchester M94s.
But, I keep coming to the same depressing conclusion Ė I can no longer shoot iron sights, or even aperture (peep) sights, very well given my aging eyes. There was a time when I could, but no more. From what I gather, I am not alone.
So, because Iím not yet ready to throw in the lever-action towel, I am looking for advice on the matter of alternative optical sights on lever-action rifles.
Here are my thoughts at this point.
Rifle - Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in 45-70, because its short and compact nature seems in keeping with how I envision a lever-action rifle should handle and carry, because I like that big old cartridge, and because the Marlin is good-to-go for top-mounted optics (whereas the Winchesters are mostly not).
Sights - Some sort of alternative small and compact optical sight. Maybe a red-dot. Maybe a short, light, low-power scope, like Leupoldís 2.5x20mm Ultralight scope. Or maybe Leupoldís brand-new 1x14mm Tactical Prismatic Sight (reportedly delivering the fast target acquisition and accuracy of a non-magnifying red dot sight, with a rugged, flexible glass-etched reticle you can use with or without illumination or batteries).
So, am I on the right track? Can a lever-action rifle still be fun, and romantic, and carry well with a minimalist optical sight aboard?
What are your thoughts on, or experiences with, a lever-action rifle with alternative optical sight for old eyes?
02-13-2007, 10:32 AM
I have a peep sight on my Guide gun and a forward rail for a Leupold 2x Scout scope (still need to get the scope...Kifaru or Leupold???Kifaru or Leupold???:) It does very well with a peep sight. You may want to try one of those before you move on to a scope (1st round hit at 550 yards on a rock with a Garrett Hammerhead:).
02-13-2007, 11:17 AM
Timberline, I have a Marlin guide gun 45/70. Mine is set up with a 2.5 power forward mounted removable scope and a peep sight. It was easy to mount and sight in. Having said that I got it about 6 months ago and haven't hunted with it yet so I can't really tell you how I like it. I also have a Winchester (like a 94 but I think they give it different number) in 45LC. It is set up with a forward mounted Leupold red dot sight. This red dot is an old style that I don't think they make any longer. It is about 3/4" in diameter. I think the newer ones are a bigger body and I think they would be better. I love my set up. Both eyes open easy target pick up and fairly accurate. However, I find that anything much over 150 yards the red dot covers a lot of the target. I never use it for anything over about 100 so it works good for me.
02-13-2007, 02:48 PM
I have used a red dot on my Marlin 1895 and it worked well, before the dot died. That was an early Tasco PDP-1. They fixed it once and then the next time they had gone out of business... So I put a tang sight on the rifle and an Ashley Ghost ring on the GG. Tang sight works really well for me and I haven't shot the GG yet.
02-14-2007, 05:10 AM
Timberline: Thanks for another helpful post. I also have a Marlin or two one in .35 rem and another in 45/70 that I have been meaning to do the same thing as you described. I too eliminated the traditional iron sights and the apeture or "ghost ring" setups for a variety of reasons. Actually I can still see well enough to use all of these under 100 yards, but I have a hankering to try the best alternative to get a bit more distance out of a lever rifle setup then my eyes can manage with irons. I have tried a scout scope setup and I just don't cotton to it. It doesn't give me much more distance as compared to everything else that weighs less. I have been considered that Leupold 2.5 X 20 that only weighs 6 ozs but I am wonder if there is something better more like the Trijicon millitary optics. I wasn't aware of that leupold prismatic sight. I'm going to have to look into that as well. Any information posted here about these new fangled red dot, prism, works without a battery type scopes is appreciated.
02-14-2007, 11:57 AM
Timberline- I don't have a 45-70 but do have a Marlin in 44 mag and have a red dot sight on it. The non magnification may limit its range, though not any less than iron sights, but they are great for speed and short range accuracy. I would think that one would do just what you want it to as it has aided my "old" eyes greatly.
02-14-2007, 01:06 PM
I love my guide gun. Ghost ring and fiber optic with a scout mounted 2-7x scope and QR rings, seems to have my bases covered.
02-14-2007, 02:06 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Baloo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I love my guide gun. Ghost ring and fiber optic with a scout mounted 2-7x scope and QR rings, seems to have my bases covered. </div></div>
So you can shoot with either the scope or the peep anytime?
02-14-2007, 02:11 PM
Depending on the individual rifle's ballance point, a small red-dot like a JPoint would be interesting. For the Marlin you could put the little red dot one of three places, the forward or rearward scope mounting screws with a short or half scope mount, or "scout" style with one of those mounts.
In my mind, the charm of a levergun afield is ruined when you can't easily wrap your hand around the ballance point. Your post made me remember my idea from a while ago to find an old Marlin 35 Rem with the 3/4 length mag tube and have the barrel shortened and add a peep, sort of a baby guide gun, loaded with 220 grain Speers.
Check out this interesting thread (http://leverguns.sixgunner.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=26419)
02-14-2007, 08:01 PM
Timberline - - I own two stainless Marlin Guide Guns in 45-70. (Picked up the 2nd one just a couple days ago). Like you, I can't use the standard irons very well. But, I do find that the XS ghost ring rear sight and their white line front sight does work well for me. - - In my case, I'm a bit nearsighted. When I put on my shooting glasses or contact lenses to see better at longer distances, the correction tended to make the close front sight fuzzy for me. (If I leave my contacts off, I can focus on & see the front sight - but can't see the distant object as well.) This is no longer a problem with the big prominent XS white line front sight. - - I don't know the nature of your vision challenges, but something to consider is the length of the barrel on your rifle. For some, it may be easier to pick up the front sight if the barrel were longer than that of the 18.5" tube found on the Guide Gun - such as those on some other Models of the 1895. I'm also considering some scope options, but some of the reasons I like a lever gun is the clean lines & easy carrying of a 'naked' rifle. Personally, I'll try various ghost ring set-ups and barrels lengths before going the scope route. Regards, - -
02-14-2007, 08:38 PM
I personally don't put optics on leverguns so no ideas from me on that subject and you're probably twice as experienced as I am at shooting Timberline and may well be aware of this but here's a thought: You've mentioned in other posts that you're shooting style is more upright and that you're not a stock crawler. The nature of a peep sight requires the eye be very close to the opening to gain the advantage of its optimum sight picture. With hard kicking rifles, this means proper cheek weld, hand placement etc. The only disadvantage I see in using an aperature sight is one of low light conditions. A properly set up aperature sight lets me shoot out to any distance my levergun cartridges are effective to. I am slightly nearsighted and have been presbyopic now going on 10 years or more. My prescription to correct for nearsightedness blurs my front sight so I don't wear glasses when shooting (or hunting) and the slight out of focus I get on distant objects actually seems to help my shooting. I think matching the front sight type and size to your cartridge and intended target helps a lot too.
02-15-2007, 11:00 AM
Lots of excellent thoughts and ideas being presented here.
Elmbow, could you further explain what you mean and suggest by,
"I think matching the front sight type and size to your cartridge and intended target helps a lot too."
02-15-2007, 02:18 PM
Agree on the big appeture XS sights with the big white stripe on the barrell. This is easily picked up and works well with poor eyesight.
Someone mentioned the Trijicon sights, and that is a splendid idea and would be excellent. The little Zeiss electronic sight would be excellent as well. I only have the big XS sights, but cannot use electronic sights here in Idaho, so they are out of the equation. Game laws.
The electronic sights are tops, esp Trijicon, but you must have the XS white line and big appeture for backup. Its a must. They don't brake.
Caveat: I have pretty good vision which has only recently declined to 20/20 so this may not be entirely relevant. I had a Burris scout scope on my Guide Gun and found it worked quite well. One of the new Leupold FX-II versions would be even better and if I were to put another scope on a lever gun that's how I'd go. However I have no trouble seeing the Ashley (XS) sights and got rid of the scope in order to keep the rifle trim and keep the weight down. I'm using the smaller of the two apertures and it is still plenty big for fast shooting. I think the newer ones come threaded for smaller apertures so you could make things a bit better for range use and then open them up for hunting. The front sight with the broad, white bar is almost impossible to miss. The set up is not the most precise at the range, but for field work with a .45-70 I think it's tough to beat.
That new Leupold tactical 1x thingamabob looks cool but I just can't picture putting an electric sight on a traditional lever. Just my feelings. I wasn't too sure about a scope in the first place so I may be a bit backwards in that regard.
02-16-2007, 02:29 PM
I have had a .45-70 Guide gun for several years, have a Bushnell Holosite on it and it is about as slick as can be. Great accuracy at 100 yards, that is a longgg shot for me and that little rifle but it is doable. I shoot Win. factory ammo, my rifle shoots it very nicely, averages about 3.5-4.5 inches at 100 yards, some days a bit larger. I don't shoot it out at 100 much, that rifle is a fifty yard killer. Have had the XS Ghost Ring sights on it also, very fast to acquire, not as accurate as the Holosite. Also tried a couple of red-dots, like the Holosite better - just my eyes and preference.
Also have a 94 in .30-30 with a few gold-electroplated parts, trigger etc., some kind of commemerative. Have XS Holosite on it which made it more suited to my aging eyes. Everyone should have a .30-30 and an ice-cream pail full of handloads - real fun plinker for gophers, rocks and whitetails when season comes around. A buddy and I go to a steep valley and shoot long-bombs with our .30-30's, maybe out to 350 yards at big rocks. Very fun, we even manage to hit a few every umpteenth shot.
Both lever guns are fun and relatively accurate. More fun that anything, which I believe you are looking for.
02-16-2007, 04:34 PM
I agree with Elmbow, I won't put glass on a lever-action rifle. I use XS sights with a huge ghost ring in the rear and limit myself to close-range shooting with my Marlin's. If I need something for longer range, I take a scoped rifle.
I have the Leupold Scout Scope on a Frontier Ruger that works beautifully for me in the heavily-wooded forests of Maine. If you have to have a scope on the lever, try out the scout scope system -- it's a great way to compensate for failing eyesight.
My eyes have grown weaker over the years, too. I'm thinking of lasik surgery?
02-20-2007, 02:26 PM
Timberline, again slow to respond, been away from the 'puter. To clarify, there's front sights that suit particular purposes, i.e. globe front circle inserts that can be matched to specific bull size for target shooting and different width and coloring on both Patridge type and bead type. Also consider do you hold at 6:00 under or do you hold dead on when shooting irons? In a hunting patridge, I prefer a black serrated 45 degree ramp that splits my aperature in thirds. But I am partial to smallish gold beads for hunting when coupled with a rear aperature. I forget the aperature, my eye can focus on the bead, and I can quickly make my shot.
02-28-2007, 11:18 AM
A comment was made that scout scopes don't cut it. If all you've experienced is the earlier generation leupolds, it is very worth while trying the latest generation. I have an earlier generation on my levergun and a recent one on my bolt gun. The difference is amazing.
My levergun is one of the octagonal barrel straight stock marlins in 45/70 cut down to 16" trapper length by brockman in Idaho. I have both the ashley peep and the leupold scout scope on it. A great setup all the way around, if a bit non-traditional. I like that I can still wrap my hand around the receiver with the scout scope on. With Hornady Leverevolution ammo it will do about a minute and a half, which gets it out to 300 yards pretty handily.
I went moose hunting in Alaska with it this fall (too hot for the moose to be moving), and when I was unsucessfully trying to outmaneuver a moose in a deep alder patch, there is no rifle I would rather have been carrying (stoked with Garrett ammo, of course). When I was set up on a section of bog where I could see several hundred yards, I was wishing I had my .300 win mag with the 3x9.
03-07-2007, 03:18 PM
I've had a guide gun for about 5 years now, in 45-70. Started out with a 2X Leopold German post reticle. I've switched to a 2.5-8X variable scout scope, made by Nikon. I love it as it works great. I've had in Africa for 4 years, the last 2 with the variable scope. Works great. It is also attached with the Talley quick removal things so that I can go with open sights right away. I also carry the AccuSight laser sites with the filled out card so that I can be sure if necessary that my point of aim hasn't shifted significantly after taking the scope off. It has worked fine for me. I've killed Eland, Kudu, Red Hartebeest, Oryx, etc. from 30 yards to about 175 yards with this set-up.
03-07-2007, 05:03 PM
Stacey, I've not seen that 2.5-8x Nikon scout scope. I looked for something like that a couple of years ago, but didn't have any luck.
How does it work at the higher powers? Is it like looking through a straw, or is it pretty decent? Do you have to noticeably creep up on the scope to get a good sight picture at higher power?
03-20-2007, 10:55 AM
I feel like it works great. As with all variable scopes, now and then I forget to crank the power down to the lower end. On my Eland hunt I had about 60 head run straight at us (my guide, tracker and I) before they stopped at about 15-20 yards. With the scope at 8 power at that close range, field of view was a bit limited and it was difficult to find the big bull /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/mad.gif. Should have my butt kicked for forgetting to turn the scope down!
I have no trouble picking things up normally and for the most part it gives an excellent view of things for the scout scope configuration. I did not feel like it was looking through a straw at all. It's just like looking through a regular scope, just a lot more eye relief provided.
03-20-2007, 02:13 PM
Not related to alternatives optics, exactly...but my 70 yr old step father had laser vision correction about 2yrs ago.
He took the glass of nearly all his stuff.
03-20-2007, 05:49 PM
Good to hear from you again. Hope your healing well. I'm definitely getting the Lazik surgery. It's just hard to come up with two or three THOUSAND dollars to pay for it. Not bad for getting your vision back.
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