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Grizzly Custom Guns is a one-man operation: Lew Bonitz. Mr. Bonitz has made me two lever guns and they’re prize possessions, worth every penny. And they were a LOT of pennies. Now that he’s raised his prices on custom work and cleared his backlog, GCG’s offering an “affordable” lever gun: the Outback Guide Stainless Scout.

Mr. B tells TTAG that the Scout doesn’t require the same level of modifications as his entirely breathed-upon Marlin variants. Hence the lower price and quicker turnaround. So quick in fact that he’s sending one to TTAG for review.

If the price scares you, check out the work performed (below). To paraphrase Patek Phillipe’s advice, you don’t own this gun. You merely look after it for the next generation. But please God shoot it! Here’s the inside dope for those who share my incurable lever fever:

The Grizzly Custom Outback Guide Stainless Scout rifle is a full-power, stainless steel .45-70 Government rifle featuring a full-length 6-round magazine tube. The rifle is capable of firing all .45-70 loads, up to and including the devastating Garrett 540 grain Hog Stompers.

The rifle features laminated grey/black stocks with a basket weave Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad to lessen felt recoil, which is recontoured to facilitate easier mounting & dismounting. A set of rugged XS ghost ring sights are included for fast target acquisition, in addition to a Scout rail for optics.

The action has been completely massaged to eliminate any and all feeding or ejection issues, and to provide the smoothest operation possible. The trigger is reworked to give a clean break at approximately 3 pounds.

The sharp edges on the factory big loop lever have been dehorned for blood-free operation. The same applies to any sharp areas on the outside of the receiver as well, all dehorned and blended.

One of the weakest points of the Marlin lever action rifles is the receiver to butt stock connection, one pinch bolt at the rear of the tangs squeezing the stock. This weakness has been overcome by the installation of Grizzly’s through-bolt stock retention system, similar to that used in a Remington 870. The stock and forend are bedded to the rifle as well.

The final product is sighted-in at 50 yards prior to delivery. If optional optics are ordered, they are sighted-in as well. The completed rifle weighs in at 7 pounds 4 ounces, has a length-of-pull of 13½”, and is 36½” long.

The Outback Guide Stainless Scout includes the following:

– Marlin 1895 Chambered in .45-70 Government
– Barrel length 18.5 inches
– Barrel recrowned w/11° target crown
– 6-round, full-length magazine tube
– Laminated stock, grey & black
– Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, contoured for easier mounting & dismounting
– Extensive action tuning to feed everything up to & including Garrett 540 grain Super – Hard Cast loads
– Trigger job on factory components
– Dehorned factory large lever loop
– Complete action dehorning
– XS Sights ghost-ring rear sight
– XS Sights ramped front sight with high visibility insert
– XS Sights Scout scope rail
– Stainless steel, finished in matte or factory style
– Modified loading gate for easier loading
– Extensive action smoothing
– Bed stocks
– Through-bolt stock retention system
– Test fired & sighted-in

The introductory price of $1,995 includes the rifle, and requires delivery to your FFL for transfer to you.

Add $400 for the optional Leupold 2.5x FX-II Scout scope & 1″ QRW rings, mounted & sighted-in. Add $700 for the optional Leupold 1.5-5x VX-R Scout scope & 30mm QRW rings, mounted & sighted-in. Shipping, handling, hard case and insurance will be $125.

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  1. I don’t have any particular need for this gun but I don’t see the price as “scary”. It’s not exactly in the same league as a $4800 .357 revolver covered in pic rail.

  2. My but that is an absolutely luscious device. And on the caliber that makes me want to bust something. Sigh.

    • “And on the caliber that makes me want to bust something.”

      Like the head of an enraged bear that wants *me* for lunch.

      My opinion hasn’t changed on the one RF bought earlier that Tom took on Safari to Africa – If I had it, I’d name it ‘Thumper’.

      A Stainless lever-action, gate loaded, and in .45-70.

      It has it *all*…

      • And a 16 year old ran into the woods with only a cell phone (to text) ‘being chased by a bear’. This (.45-70) would have been the perfect bear medicine.

        • The kid should have had a 10mm autoloader in a chest rig for that run.

          A Glock 20 with Buffalo Bore hard-cast would have been better than that damn phone…

  3. I could use one of these, I was planning on getting the 1895 then I started hearing about Freedom group and decide to pass. Has Marlins quality improved?

    • From what I have seen, yes. I think something made in the last two years or less should be OK. For at least 5 years it was iffy, some OK,, some terrible.

      • I examined a 1895 SBL , maybe 5 years ago the top rail was loose with a stripped screw, the magazine tube retaining band was cross threaded and the front sight was canted, pass.

        • Exactly; a Marlin from 5b years ago was a crap shoot with probably more bad ones than good ones. The most recent ones are markedly improved.

    • The last few Marlins I’ve seen recently could have come from the Kyber Pass. That said, that I know of, there has been no degradation of material quality, just thoroughly shoddy workmanship from a lack of employee retention. And some cheapo parts.

      Judging by the list of mods, and Lew’s reputation, he fixes all the issues and then some. A gorgeous piece, to be sure.

      As to a current factory Marlin? I wouldn’t give more than $100 for anything they sell under the Marlin right now, especially the lever actions, I’ve seen some recent production that was immediately returned by the FFL to the manufacturer – it was like they had sand in the action. So sad, because they were a solid company for so long.

      If you want a quality lever-gun, look at a Henry and talk to their owners. I have yet to meet an unhappy one.

      • I was a very unhappy Henry customer. Bought a lovely brass .22 mag lever gun and sold it like two days later with exactly 9 rounds down the pipe.
        The drop of the stock allows for no cheek weld to properly use the sights.
        I’m looking for a Winchester…

    • The 2007-2010 period was awful. 2011-12 slightly better but still lots of lemons. Since then the rifles are decent. I cannot say better than pre Freedom Group, no way, but decent. FWIW there are no pre Freedom Group big loop/full tube Guide Guns since they came out in 2010. The GGs made before that were 3/4 tube “regular” loop.

      I have a 2014 built SBL with some work I’ve done myself, might have to put this upgrade on my list. I especially like the bolt-through stock improvement.

      • ElDuderino, How many do you handle on a what time frame? I’m seriously curious if in fact they are getting better, and I’m just seeing/hearing about the worst, or if you are getting lucky. I know I have a talent/gift sometimes for finding the worst examples of any given product, and sometimes the opposite is true. .

        My sample is about a half-dozen low-volume FFLs, and the people at shows that I know are forthcoming, and some horrid new guns I fondled at Bass Pro, Cabela’s, Gander.

        I’d love to hear they’re pulling it together, I just haven’t seen it.

        • Gentlemen,

          Here is my personal experience. I have copied the following two updates from my web page,

          “Update June 25, 2017 – I just purchased my first new Marlin since before the Remington takeover. I was extremely hesitant to say the least. As it turns out, it was a pretty nice rifle, not perfect, but nice. I have just ordered two more 1895’s, a 336, and an 1894 to see if they are similar in form & function. I hope so. If I supply the rifle for your project and there are issues, I will fix them. If you supply the rifle, I may charge you (or not), depending on the severity of the problem, especially if the rifle was early in the Remington days of production. I will update this after I see the next few rifles.”

          “Update July 26, 2017 – I have had a chance to build the 336BL, the 1894, and the 1895GBL, as well as another 1895SBL that I purchased recently. While not perfect, they were very nice rifles. The machining quality was better than I am used to seeing on the older rifles. Just a few tweaks here and there were all that was needed. I will continue to buy new rifles for the Outback series of rifles I am building, they work very well.”

          The reason I originally pursued the new Marlin rifles was to have something to compete directly with a similar “Brand X” offering. It had to be of good quality, and readily available, or it wouldn’t work. I don’t have time to search out a nice used gun for every customer that wants one. I figured that if Marlin could get me a rifle that was 90-95%, I could iron out any issues I found. It seems that Remington has finally figured things out, they are at least 95%. The machining quality is better that I have seen, even on the older rifles. The fit & finish is pretty nice, although their checkering still leaves something to be desired. I do not see the myriad issues that were present on the new rifles of even a few years ago.

          I like to think that I have succeeded in providing more “Bang for the Buck” than your other options if you are looking for a custom Marlin lever action rifle; that you can have shipped within 30 days or so, sometimes immediately. As mentioned in the second update above, they are also available in blued versions of the 336, 1894, and 1895 if you like those flavors.

          I hope the information helps.


          Lew Bonitz
          Grizzly Custom Guns, LLC

    • I bought a 336BL last year and have no complaints. Fit and finish are as good as you’d expect from any of the Remin gtons. The tr igger was a little heavy so I installed a Wild West one and that fixed it nicely.

      Seems like Henry’s QC has slipped lately, but with Marlins you’ll need to spend $100+ to get the tri gger to Henry’s level, so that runs the price up to about the same. Lately I’d feel more confident buying a new Marl in sight unseen over a new Henry. But I’m not sure I’d buy a used Marl in unless I had a 30 day money back guarantee.

      • BTW, from what I’ve heard the QC for the old Marl in was pretty bad the last few years.

  4. Nice. But on my budget I’d just stick with a Ma rlin and throw in a Wild West tri gger. Kind of prefer the guide gu n anyway, although it doesn’t come with the big loop and I don’t have tiny little fingers.

  5. Okay, so hear me out a second.

    What does this gun have over a 458 socom AR? I am pretty sure I could make one of those in the 7-8 pound range, and for probably about half what he wants for that gun.

        • Like a pump-action shottie, there are some folks dedicated to anachronisms. I do wonder how long our ‘Old West’ mythology will sell these things. They can be very good looking, to my eye, I just don’t know that will be enough in the near future.

        • Taking a semi-auto over a pump\lever action makes lots of sense but it also introduces more complexity and failure points.

          Plus, there’s just something to it. It’s like saying that your 2016 Corolla will go about as fast as a ’55 Thunderbird. I realize it’s a flawed metaphor because they’re not selling ’55 Thunderbirds new… but the 2017 Corolla will NEVER be a ’55 Thunderbird, no matter how old it gets.

        • Perhaps a better analogy would be transmissions. I still like the snick-snick of a good manual gearbox, it’s fun to drive.
          But the fact is that a manumatic is always much quicker and more accurate than any human.who has ever stirred a box.

          I get the theoretical complexity issue, I would offer a nervous boot short-stroking the pump is more likely than any modern semi-auto shottie jamming.

    • 45-70 is wickedly more powerful. But, I think a change of pace is where its at too. You can get an AR in any size and caliber these days. You could probably find someone who would chamber an AR in 45-70 if you wanted to. But what’s the thrill in owning 19 or so guns and having 17 of them be ARs? Don’t get me wrong, I love my AR. But different platforms make owning guns a more enjoyable experience.

      • This. Nothing wrong with the AR platform; it just isn’t 1/10 as sexy as this lever gun.

        Similar to why I shoot more .45 than 9mm: it isn’t just ballistics, the 9mm has no problems with ballistics.

        But lever guns, and .45, are OURS and quintessentially American. I dig that.

      • Agree.

        Also, different platforms have different uses. There’s nothing wrong with an AR platform but it doesn’t really make a great “guide gun” for dense brush the way a slick lever gun does and if you’re truly going to “guide” the AR might scare the bejesus out of the people you’re guiding where a lever gun might not.

        Also, some people just like the way a lever gun operates for certain tasks.

        • Got to agree. I carried an m16 thru some thick stuff a few decades past and it grabbed on everything.

          Tuck a marlin .30-30 up close to you and it’s almost like there isn’t a gun there. IMHO.

    • Vhyrus, I really love my .458SOCOM, and it does compare in ballistics to the lower power .45-70’s from the black powder and early smokeless powder days. But there is no comparison from the top end of the .458SOCOM to the top end of the .45-70, when loaded into a firearm that can handle it. Most can’t. If you look at many reloading manuals, as well as some ammunition manufacturers, there will be a list of actions that can handle these loads. The Marlin is usually one of them. With a hard cast SWC round from a .45-70 lever gun, there is no animal on earth, including the Cape Buffalo, that you can’t take reliably and ethically from 100 yards and still expect a pass through. The SOCOM is a black bear dream, and a pig killing machine, but it pales compared to that.

    • The lever guns have such a simple action that there is almost no chance they will fail.

      Only a single shot or a double barrel would be more reliable.

    • I have a 44 Mag Marlin 1894 that I bought a year or so before they sold to freedom group. It has many of these upgrades I did on my own (XS sights, Leupold FX-II Scout Scope in Quick detach rings, etc.) The old Marlin needs no internal work and the trigger it’s quite nice.

      I find a thin lever gun to be 100 times more carry friendly than an AR. My rifle weighs about 7 pounds loaded and with no pistol grip or magazine it is extremely compact. For hunting I do not need a semi auto but I can fire a lever about as fast as I can recover from recoil: the action doesn’t slow down follow up shots.

  6. That’s a lot of money, but not a whole lot of money. But it is a whole lot of gun for not a whole lot of money.

    • Yeah – what HE said! While the price SEEMS high, when you break it down it isn’t out of line at all – think about it for a minute… For less than you’d probably have “all-in” invested in the latest bigger-than-.40-AR-based weapon, you get a firearm that will serve you (and your heirs) for decades. It’s about as gorgeous as someone can make laminated wood and stainless steel look. I’d even bet it won’t have any reliability issues, after having been breathed on by someone who knows the gun and how to make it function. And you GOTTA love someone who adds magazine capacity in such a seamless way!

      Personal note, I’ve had several 336s over the years. They’ve all functioned quite well, and they’ve all been accurate for the purpose for which they were built. I have already started juggling things in the safe to make room for one of these!

  7. Not trying to be cheap or disparage grizzly but couldnt you just buy a henry that works out of the box and supports a kick ass American company and not one that freedom group owns.

    • If all Henry’s had loading gates, nobody would buy any other lever action rifle. But they don’t.

      Loading a Henry is a PIA and you can’t top them off.

      • A while back I was browsing on G un Broker and I came across what appeared to be a revolutionary lever gu n. And of course, now I can’t remember for sure what it was exactly, but I’m thinking it was an older Rossi R92 in .454 Casull. Anywho, it had BOTH a loading g ate AND a Henry style removable mag spring tube.

  8. When I first saw a Tesla, I was shocked that what looked like a $150,000.00 car to me, “only” cost $70,000.00 or so. This rifle gave me the same reaction. As I was reading the article, and wiping the drool from my chin for this is the exact rifle I’ve been dreaming of for a while, I was envisioning at least a $3,500.00 price tag. $2k, while still out of my price range right now, seems more reasonable.

  9. I did like the “Outback” nickname. It will do anything in the outback INCLUDING Cape Buffalo. Normally buffs are the exception to most hunting calibers.

  10. MEH! I’ll stick with my Marlin 30-30. Maybe I can learn how to do what this guy does and have a blued 30-30 with all the bells and whistles he puts on these suckers! I just probably have to not account for my time. If I account for my time at even minimum wage…..this project will cost as much as my house….sheesh!!!

  11. Very nice, would like one in .44 Magnum (to complement the Redhawk) but to be honest, would prefer it not to have the Picatinny rails. Drilled & tapped for conventional scope mounts would be (at least to me anyway) ‘easier on the eye’. Must be getting old……..

    It’s a hypothetical question anyway as there is no room in the budget (or gun cabinet!!) for a new firearm 🙁


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