Got word from Dad Tuesday night (last night of the Missouri rifle season) that he got another deer down. Ironic that maybe the #1 (non-sponsored) Thompson Center Encore advocate on the web would kill 2 deer in 4 days not with an Encore (like I did ), but his Marlin 444 Big Bore Lever Action Rifle. It’s a rifle he’s had for over 10 years now and despite the fact that it has very limited range with a heavy round and just an 18.5″ carbine barrel I’m willing to bet he’s killed more deer with it than any other of his rifles.
The Marlin 444 Lever Rifle (aka the Marlin shoulder mounted cannon) is essentially a heavier version of the classic 336 model or 30 (AW, AS) series lever models that have become some of the most popular lever action rifles of all time right alongside the Winchester model 94. Dad’s 444 short 18.5″ carbine (this version is no longer available or in production) barrel is generously ported which significantly reduces the recoil and muzzle climb of the rifle, though not doing much for saving the shooters ears in the field. Several years back when Limbsaver pads were becoming the rage he got the keen idea to throw on on this beast of a rifle and boy was it a wise choice. Coupled with the muzzle brake, Dad’s 444 now purrs with recoil somewhere around that of a heavy .308.
One more spin on Dad’s Marlin 444 setup. For years it wore a cheapo Tasco 4x scope with AWFUL eye relief. The 4x scope was actually a pretty decent fit for that rifle, even at just 32mm objective width on the bell. The problem with it was that because of the recoil you could hardly shoot the thing with good discipline without the scope realigning your eyebrows. A couple years back he got creative and slapped a Nikon Omega muzzleloader scope on it. With a generous eye relief of 5″ and a bullet drop not that far off from what the Omega is set up for to begin with, it makes a surprisingly perfect partner for the lumbering 444 Marlin round. That coupled with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Software and a hand load version of Hornady’s LeveRevolution with 265 grain FTX bullets, he’s extremely confident in shots at distances that previously seemed unattainable. Case in point, the two deer he took in these past few days fell at 156 yards and 175 yards respectively.
The 444 Marlin round is basically a rifle version of the 44 Magnum handgun round. It’s heavy duty, big on power and noise, but loses energy downrange in exponential ways.
But I digress… What’s not to love about a gun that can shoot through a tree or drop hefty sized four legged critters out past 200 yards?
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