Marlin Firearms Model 1881 Short Rifle, .40-60 Win W.A. Fish Marked 24″ Octagon, Set-Trigger, 1885

SOLD FOR: $1,360.00

Make: Marlin Fire-Arms Co.

Model: 1881

Serial Number: 11286

Year of Manufacture: 1885 (Cody Firearms Records Office records search)

Caliber: .40-60 Winchester

Action Type: Lever Action Rifle with Full-Length Tubular Magazine & Double Set-Triggers

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “MARLIN FIRE-ARMS CO. NEW-HAVEN, CT., U.S.A. / PAT’D FEB. 7.65. JAN. 7.73. SEP’T. 14.75. NOV. 19.&26.78. JUNE 3.79. DEC. 9,79. NOV. 9.80. REISSUE NOV. 9,1880.” and near the receiver with “40 CAL.” over-stamped with “W. A. FISH”, the left shoulder of the barrel is also marked “W. A. FISH” toward the rear. The bottom front of the receiver, side of the extractor, inside of the buttplate, underside of the bolt and mortise cover, left of each tang are each marked with the serial number “11286”, and the front face of the stock’s wrist is marked “2213”. We were unable to remove the forend to inspect the forend and barrel for serial markings.

Barrel Length: 24”, Octagonal

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a steel blade with an inlaid brass bead in a notched base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notched semi-buckhorn leaf and elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. The top tang is drilled, tapped and filled for a peep sight (none included).

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with steel-capped forend, straight grip and shotgun-style smooth steel buttplate. The forend has a few scattered light compressions and scuffs with a small, round, deep compression or hole at the bottom-front, possibly a pilot hole for a sling stud? Each side of the forend at the front is slightly shy to the top-rear corner of the nosecap, otherwise being generally proud to the metal. The buttstock has a short, thin crack at the top-right-front of the wrist with several scattered light compressions, drag lines, scratches and scuffs with a few more notable marks and some light marring at the toe. The buttstock is generally well fit to the metal with the exception of the toe, it is unclear if it is shy at the toe due to being fit to another plate, refinish after a chip loss or or simple wear and shrinkage. Otherwise there are no chips and no cracks. The LOP measures 13 1/2” and 12 1/2″ from the fronts of the triggers to the back of the buttplate. The buttplate has worn to white with scattered light surface erosion, a light-moderate patina and wear at the heel and toe, in about Good-plus condition as Antique. The stocks rate in about Good-Very Good condition as Antique and at least partially not original to the gun.

Type of Finish: Blued

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is gray, the rifling shows moderate wear. There is light erosion throughout the bore with some scattered spots of light pitting.

Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 3% of its metal finish. Finish remains only in protected areas such as at the radiused edges at the front and rear of the receiver flats and on the bottom tang. Otherwise, the metal surfaces are worn to white. There is scattered discoloration from oxidation, light surface erosion, nicks and dings, some scratches at screw-heads and some light marring at the edges of the loading gate. Screw heads range from tool marked with strong slots to disfigured with useable slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The lever has play when the hammer is cocked, allowing the lever to fall slightly and the bolt to move back approximately 1/4″. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The hammer has a half-cock safety. The trigger is crisp and when set is very light. We did not fire this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment: The Marlin Model 1881 was John Marlin’s first lever action rifle, and although patents from Andrew Burgess and others were used, John Marlin was primarily responsible for the overall design and assembly of the rifle. Besides being Marlin’s first lever action rifle, it was the first successful large-caliber lever action repeating rifle, beating Winchesters Model 1886 by several years. This model was made from 1881 to 1892, with a little over 20,000 produced. This example is a Model 1881 Short Rifle with set-trigger, according to the Cody Firearms Records Office the chambering, barrel length and set-trigger are original and the rifle shipped in December of 1885. The rifle has “W. A. FISH” marked on the barrel in two locations, possibly being a Washington Fish & Game rifle for a professional hunter. The numbered parts we were able to inspect are all matching with the exception of the buttstock which is not matching. Any Marlin 1881 with special order features would be a rare rifle, perfect for adding to a Marlin collection, and its W. A. Fish marking would make for a fun research project. A rifle with this story would be a fine addition to any collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable: This Antique rifle can be transferred/sold in California.

Marlin Firearms Model 1881 Short Rifle, .40-60 Win W.A. Fish Marked 24" Octagon, Set-Trigger, 1885
Marlin Firearms Model 1881 Short Rifle, .40-60 Win
W.A. Fish Marked 24″ Octagon, Set-Trigger, 1885