For caliber, my vote is for the .45-70 unless you just want a new chambering. You'll save $ on new dies, brass, etc., and factory ammo, while anemic, is readily available if ever needed. Nothing the new .450 Marlin can do that a handloaded .45-70 can't.
The Marlin 1895s are great, but I don't care for the Guide Guns due to the blast enhancers at the end of the barrels. Lots of people in agreement on that one. Better a regular 1895 cut back. My .45-70 lever gun is an older straight-stock, short barrel, 1895 Marlin without the saftey and blast enhancers, and I love it. Carried it in the off season when I lived in Alaska and it's my repel boarders weapon here at home now.
I really like the Winchester 1886 in .45-70. too. Would cut the barrel to 18 1/2" or 20" though. Maybe some day.
I know nothing about the 450, and only conversational information about the 444. I'm learning more about the 45-70 every day. I would still advocate the 45-70. If for no other reason than the choice of bullets, the gambit runs from 300gr to well over 500gr. Combine this with the various loads from mouse fart to exceeding 375 H&H Mag factory, nearing 458 Win Mag. muzzle energy. The marlin being capable of handling all of them nicely, as well as the new winchester 1886's. Now I have a question, are the new winchesters being made in a carbine length? If not older Browning 1886s can still be had in a carbine length. I think they are 22 inch barrels.
Plainsman has the correct answer. Only thing is if you only want one for now, why not try something different? As I understand it the 444p Outfitter is being discontinued by Marlin for 2003. It's compact, quick to bring to bear, and one of my personal favorites. Besides the 444 will take care of anything with teeth or claws on this continent with the right loads. In this type of arm you can't let the porting bother you. Besides I've got handgun barrels that are barely shorter and a whole lot louder. That's why we wear hearing protection.
Plainsman; I thought about it, and you were right! I ordered The 45/70 AND the 450 Marlin. The wife says when the Income tax check comes in I can get the 444 Marlin!! I have a GOOD wife!! Now the wait, I have ordered 450 Brass and dies from Midsouth.
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