Original U.S. Marlin Special Order Deluxe New Safety Model 1889 Repeating .38-40 Rifle made in 1891 - Serial 58428

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. World-renowned sharpshooters Annie Oakley, a star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and Frank C. Miller, crack shot of the Irwin Bros. Cheyenne Frontier Days Wild West Show, often shot with Marlin rifles in their exhibitions.

"I gave as high as 15 exhibitions a day, shooting under all conditions, rain, wind, night, in parades in the streets," Miller said in a 1915 interview. "And late last fall, I used some of the guns on a hunting trip to Canada and Wyoming. From all this, you can see what opinion I have of Marlin guns."

Among the several Marlin firearms Oakley owned, she particularly cherished a special presentation, engraved 1889 model. The Marlin New Safety Model of 1889 was the first solid-top receiver, lever action rifle with a side ejection that threw the fired cases, or live cartridges, to the right-hand side of the rifle as opposed to being thrown straight up and out of the gun.

This incredible '89 rifle example is in the very desirable Winchester .38-40 caliber (marked .38-W over the Chamber), with a 24" octagonal barrel with much original bluing still intact. It is in "Deluxe" configuration, with a half length magazine tube, checkered forestock, and a checkered "pistol grip" rear stock. Both stocks are made of very attractive figured Walnut, with lots of curl. The receiver and lever both show traces of case hardening in places. The rest is faded to a plum patina, with some areas of light peppering. The top of the barrel engraving is clear:

PATENTED OCT. 11. 1887. APRIL. 2. 1889.

The top of the receiver is marked MARLIN SAFETY and the bottom rears serial number 58428, indicating that this rifle was manufactured in 1891. The rear sight is a very nice "semi-buckhorn" adjustable sight, with a large nickel silver blade front sight. The bore on this example is in excellent condition, with a bright finish and crisp lands and grooves. It does not show many signs of use at all, with just a few areas of light haze. The wood stocks are in great shape, with a beautiful color and finish.

Overall a great condition deluxe rifle in fully functional order. A fantastic example of a classic western gun, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1891
Caliber: .38-40 Winchester
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 24 Inches
Overall Length: 41 1/2 Inches
Action type: Lever Action Repeater
Feed System: tube magazine

Dubbed as the New Safety Repeating Rifle, the 1889 Marlin was a mid-sized, redesigned 1888 model. The most noticeable difference was the solid top with its side-ejection system. Internal upgrades included a locking lug and firing pin system that prevented discharge until the bolt was locked in place. The new model also utilized a cartridge carrier that raised automatically, closing the end of the magazine after the head of the cartridge had passed into the carrier, thus preventing the next cartridge from entering the carrier and jamming the action: an important feature, since the rifle was produced in the .32-20, .38-40 and .44-40 chamberings (only 34 made with .25-20).

The similarity between the .38-40 and the .44-40 cartridges sometimes caused confusion for shooters. If a shooter accidentally loaded a .44-40 into a .38-40, the lever would not close properly. With the '89 Marlin, he simply had to lever downward, as if the .44-40 was an empty shell, and the oversized cartridge would be thrown to the side.

Standard '89 Marlin rifles included a 24-inch octagonal or round barrel, although barrels could be ordered in intervals of two inches up to 32 inches. The 1889 was Marlin's first carbine. Standard carbines had 20-inch tubes, while around 300-plus were made with a 15-inch version, and just four were turned out with 24-inch barrels.

Rifles were fitted with "Rocky Mountain" sights made up of a German silver blade front sight and a semi-buckhorn-type rear sight, which could be elevated by a stepped elevator. The stock was straight-grained walnut with a steel-capped forearm and a crescent-style steel butt plate (carbines wore a carbine-style butt plate). Barrels and all hardware were blued, while the hammer, lever and butt plate wore the colorful Marlin case-hardening. The model also came as a short rifle, takedown model and musket.

Although somewhat revolutionary in the firearms world, the '89 still had minor drawbacks that would be eliminated from Marlin's subsequent models. The manufacturer removed the rear-locking lug, which extended down into the trigger guard and had a tendency to pinch the shooter's fingers during rapid-fire cycling. It also did away with the small spring-loaded retainer at the rear of the lower tang that held the lever in place when closed, which shooters disliked.

Nevertheless, the 1889 Marlin was well received on the frontier and nationwide. More than 55,000 guns left the factory between 1889 and 1903. In its day, the model was considered state-of-the-art. Now, 125 years later, the 1889 Marlin is an extremely collectible firearm.

Note: This gun is NOT considered obsolete calibre, so we are not able to ship to the United Kingdom. Please note that for international shipping, these MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services. International customers should always consult their country's antique gun laws prior to ordering.

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s): New Jersey

    This product is available for international shipping.
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