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marlin 1895 dark series 45-70

Meet The Ultimate Hog Hunting Rifle Used On H&B’s New “Lights Out” Video Series

It’s a new day for the lever action. That iconic firearm of the American West has gone through some big changes of late, and the new Marlin Dark Series 1895 chambered in .45-70 Govt. leads the way.  

Those alterations and additions to the traditional lever are generally labeled as “tactical.” A threaded barrel for a suppressor. Picatinny rail atop the receiver. Anodized aluminum handguard with M-Lok slots. A durable, nylon-reinforced polymer stock and a sharp black-on-black finish. All totaled equal Tacticool. All of this allows a shooter to do things he or she could never have done with an Old West lever action, including mounting a thermal optic onto it for a super-solid night-hunting pig rig.

Running The Marlin Dark 1895

In many ways, the Dark 1895 operates as a basic lever action. Ammo was loaded through a side gate on the right side of the receiver and the tubular magazine, in this case, held five rounds. Working the lever chambered a round and cocked back the hammer. With the trigger squeezed, the hammer went forward and the round launched. Pushing down on the lever ejected the spent brass, and returning the lever loaded in the next round.

The Marlin Dark 1895 did all these things well. The rounds fit easily into the side gate and the magazine. The lever worked smoothly and never held up at any point in my forward-and-back action, and the trigger on our test sample broke cleanly at 2 pounds, 8 ounces.

Marlin Dark 1895
The author mounted a Pulsar Thermion Duo DXP50 thermal optic for upcoming hog hunts. The ammo performed flawlessly. Top grouping at 100 yards was 0.80 inches using Federal’s HammerDown.

Optics, Ammo & Test Results

Open sights are standard with the 1895, with an adjustable ghost ring rear and a fiber-optic front post. But that long rail atop the receiver begged for an optic. In order to match Hook & Barrel’s new “Lights Out” video series soon to be released at hookandbarrel.com, I ran Pulsar’s Thermion Duo DXP50. This new thermal riflescope is a very unique unit that combines a 640×480-powered thermal with a daytime digital optic. It zeroed quickly at my range, and I proceeded to test my pig hunter’s accuracy potential.

I ran over 150 rounds through the rifle using three brands of .45-70 Govt. ammunition: Federal Premium HammerDown, Hornady LEVERevolution, and Winchester Super X

A lot of shooters might be surprised—admittedly I was, too—but this big-bore lever is very capable of 1 MOA at 100 yards from a sandbagged rest. In preparation for a future hunt, I used hog targets and taped a large heat packet over the vitals area. The Thermion highlighted the packets nicely, revealing impressive details.

My best three-shot groups at these heated hog targets included the HammerDown and its 300-grain bullets coming in at 0.80 inches, and the Winchester, also launching a 300-grain hog killer, at 1.0 inches.  

To say my new pig rig was ready for nightlife in the field is an understatement. The question is, “Are you ready to venture into the dark side?”

Pairs Well With…

Pulsar’s Thermion Duo DXP50 thermal, with its thermal sensor and daytime digital combo. Photo- and video-capable, it has WiFi, 2-16 digital magnifications, and numerous other features for the night hunter. MSRP: $6,000. (pulsar-nv.com

Pulsar’s Thermion Duo DXP50 thermal

Specifications: Marlin Dark Series 1895 .45-70 Lever-Action Rifle

Caliber: .45-70 Govt.

Barrel: 16.17 inches

OA Length: 35.5 inches

Weight: 7 pounds (empty)

Sights: Front-fiber optic w/tritium ring; rear adjustable ghost ring

Action: Lever

Stock: Nylon-reinforced polymer

Finish: Satin black Cerakote

Capacity: 5+1

MSRP: $1,429

URL: marlinfirearms.com

Marlin Dark 1895 .45-70 Lever-Action Rifle

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