In my opinion what it really comes down to is : Which do you LIKE best!
Cause at cowboy distances there isnt goingt to be much difference im performance
Some feel the short barrel swings target to target faster.
Some like the extra sight radius and added muzzle weight for stability
I just like the LOOKS of the 24" barre, how's that for scientific reasoning? :-D
You took the words right out of my mouth. The shorter barrel make be a little quicker, but that longer barrel just LOOKS better. Lots of practice with either one is what's needed from a middle of the pack shooter like me.
Since I don't ever look good doing anything I guess I won't make a response to that.
On the subject at hand, I have found it makes a difference because of caliber. I'm 6'3". That makes a difference too. I first got a Marlin in 44 mag, 20". Worked fine. Changed calibers to 38 so I got a 24" '66. Loved it. Was a little heavy on the front end because of the little hole in that long barrel. Didn't notice until my wife shot it and said something. So I got a 19" '73 carbine. Better but, did I mention I'm 6'3"? I had to bend down a little more to pick it up. Not a big deal but did I mention I weigh about 350? Decided to quit so I sold all of the above. Then I thought, even if I don't shoot matches I still like shooting these types of guns so I got a '73 rifle 24" in 45. Has some weight but I shoot, well not hot but not weak either, cowboy loads (never shoot hot loads in a toggle-link action rifle). Has a little kick so the weight helps but it's not as front heavy as the 357 long barrels. My wife hits steel all day long offhand at 100 yards with it. It's fun cause our 100 yard target sits in the shadows all day. Got to find it first!
In summary, it depends on caliber and shooter. I say long octagons for big holes and carbines for shorter guys or smaller calibers. Short guys should not suffer from barrel envy. The short rifle (20" ocatgon) is a great compromise. Really sucks the recoil out of 38s if you are shooting in a hurry. Then again, it's all in what you like. I always carried a carbine on my saddle but I was younger, more limber and didn't have to bend over to pick it up from where it was staged. Mounted shooters know this too.
If you are planning to shoot black power you might want to try the shorter barrel. A couple of pards with the 24 inch barrel were having fowling trouble in the last couple of inches of barrel. This could be a loading problem, but I thought I would mention it.
I just picked up my Marlin Cowboy Limited in .45 cal, with the 20 inch octagon barrel. While I have not fired it yet, I have shouldered it numerous times. The pointability is quick, and the balance of the rifle seems to favor the muzzel. I like the feel of a muzzel heavy gun because it seems to drop on target and stay there....when I am doing my part. Does anyone know if the octagon barrel weighs more than the standard round barrel? I think it does but I am not sure.
Thr longer barrels seem to stay on target better. That said I shoot a 20 in. 92 in .45. in CAS. Sometimes I borrow a '73 in 32-20 . It is the long barrel rifle model & it hangs better for me. If I ever can afford one I will add it to the rest .
Thanks for all the input. Decided to go with a 24" oct barrel Marlin 1894 in .45LC There is a good selection on the gun auction houses for this configuration. Most are in the $500 bracket, give or take a bit.
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