This is an early Model 1891 2nd Type Marlin Lever Action Sporting Rifle with a pre-1898 serial number. Instead of the 24" standard barrel we usually see on these, this one has a rare factory special order 28" octagon barrel. We made a call to the Cody Firearms Museum which houses the original Marlin records and were able to confirm the configuration of this rifle. They provided the following information:
MARLIN MODEL 1891 - SERIAL NUMBER 102547
Barrel Type: Octagon
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Date Shipped: August 13, 1895
There were just 259 Model 1891's made with 28" barrels and only six rifles recorded with barrels longer than 28". Like most we've seen, this one has the standard length 24" magazine tube. The Model 1891 was designed by Lewis Hepburn and features a two-piece trigger and hammer block safety. It was manufactured from 1891-1897 with a total production of 18,642 units. The action is simple and can be field-stripped in seconds. Standard sights include the Marlin rear sight with correct Marlin elevator and Marlin Rocky Mountain front sight w/ German silver blade.
5 CALIBER Rifle: The Model 1891 came in .22 and .32 calibers. This one is in versatile .32 caliber and comes with BOTH RIMFIRE and CENTERFIRE FIRING PINS. The extra pin was usually stored under the buttplate. With both pins, this rifle could accept at least FIVE different cartridges...something the Winchester 1873 and 1890 could not do. This included the .32 rimfire short, .32 rimfire long, .32 Colt Short Center Fire, .32 Colt Long Center Fire, and the .32 Long Rifle as well as shot and blanks.The firing pins could be changed in just seconds without any tools.
MARKINGS: Upper tang is unmarked which is correct on the Model 1891 while the top of the receiver is stamped "MARLIN SAFETY". Barrel has Marlin Firearms Co. New Haven address with 1878, 1889, 1890, and 1892 patent dates. The 1892 patent date is correct for a 2nd Variation Model 1891 as these obviously shared production components with the Model 1892.
HISTORY: The 1891 and the 1892 in .32 caliber was essentially a repeater chambered for a small pistol caliber. This left the 1892 in a unique market as the only lever action that filled the gap between the Winchester .22 caliber pump and lever action rifles and larger framed rifles like the Winchester 1873 and 1892 in caliber .32-20. It provided more punch than the .22 but less than the much larger 32-20 and was good up to around 100 yards for squirrels and small game; all with ammunition that cost significantly less than the .32-20.
CONDITION: NRA Antique Fine Condition with 70% fading original blue on the barrel and magazine tube 25% with balance aged to a smooth plum brown patina. Excellent markings. Frame shows 50% thinning original blue on left side with 30% remaining on right side. Bolt has aged to brown with traces of original blue. There are some mottled shadows of the original case colors remaining on the hammer and buttplate. Very Good screws throughout. Original walnut stocks are in Very Good Plus condition retaining 90% original varnish on the stock and about 50% remaining on forend due to carry wear. The wood is solid with chips, cracks, or repairs but has picked up various small nicks, scratches, and minor bruises over the past 121 years. Nice action that still has its original screw-in left extractor (most of them failed and have been replaced with later model extractors). For a small caliber rifle made at the end of the 19th century during the black powder era, this 1891 has a good respectable bore with decent lands and grooves, no major pits, no rings or bulges. Nice example of a Marlin 1891 with a hard to find antique serial number. This would make a nice companion to go with an Colt .32 Revolver or early Smith and Wesson in .32 Rimfire.