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Warden Callaway

Why your Marlin 1898 shotgun is dangerous.. the video

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I've ran across these old Marlin pump shotguns at gun shows and gunshops and invariably,  the one trying to sale it will tell you "they use these in cowboy action shooting.  It's came up here on the Wire why are these guns not allowed in cowboy action shooting.   This video explains the safety issues with this gun and why they are not safe to shoot.

 

 

Also, he explains the forcing cone issues with firing modern ammo in any old shotgun. 

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Sounds to me that as long as all parts are working, it is safe to shoot....probably just don't want to shoot it repeatedly in sporting events rather than hunting.

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Those shotguns are not legal for SASS matches.

 

TB

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Thanks for the video.  I knew that the ‘98 Marlin was a potential bomb but until now never knew why!  Push it out of battery unknowingly with your thumb and it will still fire?  And evidently can’t be reset without working the action again?

 

That thing is really a bomb waiting to go off.  Thanks SASS for making it illegal!

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1 minute ago, Cypress Sam, SASS #10915 said:

Thanks for the video.  I knew that the ‘98 Marlin was a potential bomb but until now never knew why!  Push it out of battery unknowingly with your thumb and it will still fire?  And evidently can’t be reset without working the action again?

 

That thing is really a bomb waiting to go off.  Thanks SASS for making it illegal!

Yeap, since SASS shooters are  so caught up in "speed", rather than concentrating on keeping the thumb where it should be, certainly should not be allowed in CAS matches. Just because it is a bomb waiting to go off in certain hands from certain irresponsible techniques doesn't mean it is really a bad shotgun. Handloading is more dangerous than that thing is!! Of course, in the hands of the wrong shooter........

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I shot one of these in competition for several years, until they were banned.  It was a safe, dependable shotgun and I would STILL be shooting it if I were allowed to!  I have handled and seen several '97s that were blown up because of malfunctions or improper handling or worse, bad gun smithing.  There were OTHER issues involved at the time this ban was instituted that I won't go into again.  The gun got a bad reputation and that's all that needs to be said.  The very first version of the Marlin 1898 shotgun had a safety issue that Marlin corrected, much the same as Winchester did with the 1897 that replaced their 1893!!  Most folks don't know that there are checks one should go through before using a '97, similar to those demonstrated in this video!!

 

 A good shooter will know what to check and will do so before every match, on every gun!! 

 

Excellent video!!  It not only shows the proper safety checks, but it explains the whys and the mechanics involved.  Knowledge is power.  Knowing what and why things do what they do let’s us make informed decisions and decide for ourselves.

Edited by Blackwater 53393
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I bought one years ago and shot it a few times. After I found out that Marlin condemned them and doing more research,  I traided it off.

 

When you understand how the action works, you can imagine if the interruptor spring is broken or the disconnect switch is stuck, or you just have your thumb on the button or it's stuck in,  there could be a real dangerous failure. 

 

The reason I posted this is I have had vendors tell me they use these in cowboy action shooting.  Of course,  they are not allowed.  But those unsuspecting may buy one and then be screwed. 

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Much has been argued about this gun.   The various safety issues do require caution, but I do believe they can be addressed.   Assuming that the issues are properly addressed.  Assuming that the gun is in proper working order, and that you are using either short black powder shells, or have lengthened the chamber to allow for the use of modern length ones, but still loaded with black powder, it should be safe to fire.   Just like  an original 87, a Spencer, a Burgess, or even, gasp, a 93.  That being said, yes, there is a lot more to consider than just the length of the chamber.  I did see one once at a localgun shop once, and it failed all the safety checks, so I passed on it.  I saw another one at a nearby Cabelas, a "newer" one that was in riot gun configuration.  It looked to be in pretty good shape, but the store would not take off the trigger guard to allow me to do the safety checks.  Nor would the clerks take it out back and perform the checks themselves.   Needless to say, I passed on it.   I regretted letting that one go as it looked really neat, but there was no way I was gonna get it without checking to see if it was in proper working order.

 

As to the properness of this, and other early pump guns being not allowed in our game, well, with the very real concerns over the Marlin, I get it.  I don't understand the others being banned, or the 93/97 while we are at it, as I know of no real safety issues with them beyond the exact same ones that exist with original 87s, that is to say short chambers and black powder, and that gun is allowed, so why not the early pumps.   All of that said, I think that ultimately, safety is up to the shooter, not to the organization.   I would be willing to admit that not allowing the Marlin is a wise safety precaution, but not the others.

As far as "Marlin" saying don't shoot the gun, it has been stated here that the company that made that announcement was technically not the same one that made the guns, but I am unclear on that detail, so I'll let it go.

 

One final caveat, I have no idea if later production guns have proper length chambers and if they were made for smokeless or not.  That is why I universally assume short and black only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Blackwater 53393 said:

Most folks don't know that there are checks one should go through before using a '97, similar to those demonstrated in this video!!

 

 A good shooter will know what to check and will do so before every match, on every gun!! 

 

I would be very interested in what those checks are. 

 

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1 minute ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

I would be very interested in what those checks are. 

 

 

First: Make sure that the "FLAG" on the shell lifter is working correctly. It should rise before the shell does.  If not, seek proper repairs.

Second: Be sure that the slide release is working correctly!  The slide should NOT open if the firing sequence is not completed unless the slide release is activated.  (many amateur gunsmiths defeat the slide release! BAD JUJU!!) The slide/bolt should remain locked in battery until the hammer drops, the safety mechanism perceives recoil, or the slide release is activated. 

Third: Be sure that the hammer does NOT follow the bolt when the trigger is held.  Just like the Marlin, slowly close the bolt with the trigger depressed to a point just short of closed battery.  The hammer should remain cocked and the firing pin should be blocked anywhere short of "In Battery".

Fourth:  Be sure that the firing pin retracts fully when the bolt is open.

 

These are the checks I go through before a match.  I only have genuine Winchester '97s so I can't speak for the imports.

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30 minutes ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:



As far as "Marlin" saying don't shoot the gun, it has been stated here that the company that made that announcement was technically not the same one that made the guns, but I am unclear on that detail, so I'll let it go.

 

One final caveat, I have no idea if later production guns have proper length chambers and if they were made for smokeless or not.  That is why I universally assume short and black only.

 

The Marlin shotguns in question were produced into the late thirties and maybe into the early forties.  The Model 49 was built and many were given as gifts to stockholders who joined to re-form and refinance the company.  The Model 42 was and is considered to be the pinnacle of Marlin production for the exposed hammer, (all of these are often thrown under the '98 blanket) shotgun.  I have one of the 42s in original condition.  It is a very very NICE, well built shotgun!  My 42 and my 49 both handled modern 2 3/4" shells when I got 'em.  I HAVE had the forcing cones relieved on these as well as EVERY shotgun I've ever had!  It just makes good sense when it cane done safely!!

Edited by Blackwater 53393

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Just a question ,,,, can't you fire a '97 by holding the trigger and smartly running the slide forward ? Isn't that normal for '97's?

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3 minutes ago, Isom Dart, SASS#8096 said:

Just a question ,,,, can't you fire a '97 by holding the trigger and smartly running the slide forward ? Isn't that normal for '97's?

 

Yes, it's a design feature for Winchester '97's, Winchester Model 12's and some Ithaca model 37's.  These marlins aren't supposed to do it, so if it does, it's bad. 

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15 minutes ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

 

Yes, it's a design feature for Winchester '97's, Winchester Model 12's and some Ithaca model 37's.  These marlins aren't supposed to do it, so if it does, it's bad. 

 

NOT SO!!  When the bolt goes fully into battery, the firing sequence is exactly the same as a '97!!  My Model 19 and the Model 24 and 49 will all fire the same way!  Never tried it with the 42, but I discovered that you could put shells into the magazine on a 42 with the action open!!  It was a definite loading advantage when these shotguns were legal for SASS!!

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3 minutes ago, Blackwater 53393 said:

 

NOT SO!!  When the bolt goes fully into battery, the firing sequence is exactly the same as a '97!!  My Model 19 and the Model 24 and 49 will all fire the same way!  Never tried it with the 42, but I discovered that you could put shells into the magazine on a 42 with the action open!!  It was a definite loading advantage when these shotguns were legal for SASS!!

 

I don't think that's what the video said.  There's a secondary sear that keeps the hammer from falling until you take pressure off of it. 

 

Or maybe I misunderstood.  I don't want to present myself as an expert after watching an 11 minute video.  As for those other models, all I know is that I've heard a number of times those were the only 3 shotguns that were designed to slam fire.  Maybe they're just the only 3 common shotguns what do it. 

 

 

 

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The secondary sear drops out when the action goes fully into battery.  The button showed at the top of the receiver, later moved to beside the trigger guard, releases the action with the hammer cocked or in the case of a failure to fire, the same way that the button on the side of a '97 does.  When the firing pin moves forward to the end of it's travel in the closed bolt, with the hammer down, it will release the action to be opened.

 

By the way!!  If you see one of these without the action release, THIS is an original Marlin 1898!!  THIS GUN I WILL NOT FIRE, nor should anyone else!  This is the original Widowmaker Marlin that had an engineering defect that gave the rest of the line a bad reputation!  Marlin offered an improved model to replace them, the same way Winchester did with the original '93s!!

 

I would like to own one of these to go with my '93s!!  I have two Winchester 1893s!  One is all original.  The other has been refurbished and I've actually used it in several matches, before the ban.  It too is safe to shoot when the proper function checks are performed and proper ammunition is used!  A good gunsmith is your friend!!  I know a few!!  They're worth the money!!!

Edited by Blackwater 53393
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BTT

 

I've seen the failure happen. It wasn't a pretty sight when the bolt came out and hit the shooter in the nose. They were banned in my "neck of the woods" before SASS banned them.

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Just a question ,,,, can't you fire a '97 by holding the trigger and smartly running the slide forward ? Isn't that normal for '97's?

 

 

 

Yes, it's a design feature for Winchester '97's, Winchester Model 12's and some Ithaca model 37's.  These marlins aren't supposed to do it, so if it does, it's bad. 

 

CONFIRMING:  This “combat firing” feature IS intentionally designed into the WIN97.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU DO THIS.  Especially if you aren’t experienced with firing a shotgun rapid fire, OR if you do not have a good understanding of the “innards” of your WIN97 and the condition of its parts.

 

Cat Brules

 

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I am another one that used these wonderful shotguns for years before they was banned by SASS.  (It was before I switched to BP, so it's been awhile)  Function check as described on Maurader's website was done every time it came out of the safe.  Best pump shotgun ever, loved that gun.  It was 10 times better than the best-operating '97 ever thought of being.  Note the "APOMO" in my signature.  Stands for "A Pi$$ed Off Marlin Owner." Anybody can do something stupid with any firearm that results in serious injury or even death.  During an ownership change, the lawyers for Marlin assumed the shooting public was a collection of morons and they disavowed all responsibility for an accident by telling everyone not to use any of them.  Problem solved as far as the lawyers were concerned.

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Banned from SASS matches.    So... just curious... do any of the non_SASS western shooting clubs around the place specifically ALLOW them?

 

 

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Sounds to me that as long as all parts are working, it is safe to shoot....probably just don't want to shoot it repeatedly in sporting events rather than hunting.

In the video he points out how the operator can unlock the action without knowing it, leading to a potential OOB.  That has nothing to dow with whether all the parts are working.

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Much has been argued about this gun.   The various safety issues do require caution, but I do believe they can be addressed.   Assuming that the issues are properly addressed.  Assuming that the gun is in proper working order, and that you are using either short black powder shells, or have lengthened the chamber to allow for the use of modern length ones, but still loaded with black powder, it should be safe to fire.   Just like  an original 87, a Spencer, a Burgess, or even, gasp, a 93.  That being said, yes, there is a lot more to consider than just the length of the chamber.  I did see one once at a localgun shop once, and it failed all the safety checks, so I passed on it.  I saw another one at a nearby Cabelas, a "newer" one that was in riot gun configuration.  It looked to be in pretty good shape, but the store would not take off the trigger guard to allow me to do the safety checks.  Nor would the clerks take it out back and perform the checks themselves.   Needless to say, I passed on it.   I regretted letting that one go as it looked really neat, but there was no way I was gonna get it without checking to see if it was in proper working order.

 

As to the properness of this, and other early pump guns being not allowed in our game, well, with the very real concerns over the Marlin, I get it.  I don't understand the others being banned, or the 93/97 while we are at it, as I know of no real safety issues with them beyond the exact same ones that exist with original 87s, that is to say short chambers and black powder, and that gun is allowed, so why not the early pumps.   All of that said, I think that ultimately, safety is up to the shooter, not to the organization.   I would be willing to admit that not allowing the Marlin is a wise safety precaution, but not the others.

As far as "Marlin" saying don't shoot the gun, it has been stated here that the company that made that announcement was technically not the same one that made the guns, but I am unclear on that detail, so I'll let it go.

 

One final caveat, I have no idea if later production guns have proper length chambers and if they were made for smokeless or not.  That is why I universally assume short and black only.

 

A great video!!

 

Yes, I got the information for the web page from Rusty Marlin.

 

I used to agree with you about the Marlins.  I had one, a later version. (They made various version up to model 42 built into the 1920's).  Another SASS pard had I believe the 1919 version.

We ran all the tests and the gun worked just fine.

 

We were shooting it at the range.  A sliver of metal broke off the frame broke and shot into the shooters face, right below his right eye and stuck in his face.  A bit bloody, rather painful and definitely scary!

 

So after all our checking and testing, the gun still failed and injured the shooter.  That was enough for me.

 

The metal is not consistently good in these and many other  guns (especially prior to 1918).  Plus, as shown in the video, the safety features are often small metal pieces.  They are prone to wear and fail unpredictably.

 

As a follow-up, I was talking with my brother about it and he remembered that in the 1950's my uncle had one fail while duck hunter.  He came home with a bloody, beaten face.  Fortunately he kept his eye and my Dad's first aid saved most of his face, except for a few scars.

 

So, what is it worth?

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And to chamber lengths.  The standard was for roll-crimped cartridges as he mentioned in the video. 

All 1897 shotguns use that slightly shorter chamber even though they are marked as 2 3/4 inch

They mean 2 3/4 inch with a roll crimp so they are all at least 1/8 inch or more shorter than modern chambers.

 

England and Europe have experimented and even cut  barrels (longitudinally) to see the impact.  With the forcing cone, there IS enough room for the shell to fully open.  But you have now effectively shortened the standard forcing cone from 1/2 inch to about 1/4 inch.  So the pressures are still probably safe, but more than you would like.

Most 97's have thick enough barrels they may readily have the chamber slightly lengthened and forcing cone cut to the modern 1 1/2 inch.  But some solid frame 97's do have lighter barrels that probably should not have the cone lengthened that much.  Just not enough metal left.

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A great video!!

 

Yes, I got the information for the web page from Rusty Marlin.

 

I used to agree with you about the Marlins.  I had one, a later version. (They made various version up to model 42 built into the 1920's).  Another SASS pard had I believe the 1919 version.

We ran all the tests and the gun worked just fine.

 

We were shooting it at the range.  A sliver of metal broke off the frame broke and shot into the shooters face, right below his right eye and stuck in his face.  A bit bloody, rather painful and definitely scary!

 

So after all our checking and testing, the gun still failed and injured the shooter.  That was enough for me.

 

The metal is not consistently good in these and many other  guns (especially prior to 1918).  Plus, as shown in the video, the safety features are often small metal pieces.  They are prone to wear and fail unpredictably.

 

As a follow-up, I was talking with my brother about it and he remembered that in the 1950's my uncle had one fail while duck hunter.  He came home with a bloody, beaten face.  Fortunately he kept his eye and my Dad's first aid saved most of his face, except for a few scars.

 

So, what is it worth?

Thank you for posting this. After seeing a failure, I do not want to see another. SASS would be negligent to not declare them as not allowed after Marlin said to not shoot them. (That was a lot of "nots," but I think I got it right. ;) )

 

As they say, nuff said (or is it written :unsure: ).

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That was the first SASS Shotgun I ever bought .

I never knew it was banned or that it was unsafe .

It was sold to me as  a SASS Shotgun .

After I found out I destroyed the gun so no one else would get screwed out of their hard earnd cash or worse hurt or killed from a defective firearm  .

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