I have known Jim Brockman since the early 90s and had seen many photos of his enhanced Marlin 45-70 lever-guns, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I had an opportunity to handle an example of his work. It was a very special rifle indeed, as it was built for Vince Lupo of Tampa, Florida for exclusive use in his famous African safaris. Mr. Lupo used that rifle to take Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, hippo, white rhino, and elephant as well as 35 head of other African game. When Vince Lupo prepared to make history by being the first to take the African Big Six with the 45-70, he could have turned to any number of gunsmiths, but he turned to Jim Brockman of Gooding, Idaho. Vince could not have made a better choice.

Jim Brockman has been building his enhanced Marlin lever-guns since the 1980s. Recently Jim enhanced a stainless Marlin Guide Gun and 1895SS for me (shown in above photo), and the results far surpassed my rather considerable expectations. They quite simply changed from being meritorious, but slightly unattractive firearms, to being real things of beauty as well as exhibiting greatly improved feel and function.

The 1895SS (top) has been with me for many years and had proven itself as a very accurate rifle. However, as with all Marlin 45-70s, the forearm was overly large for my hands and the butt stock was not configured for proper head position when using a scope. Jim corrected that by restocking the gun with laminated birch, which combines unbelievable hardness with complete all-weather abilities. He also added a rough resin finish to the stock, thus making it very easy to hang on to when the weather is wet or frozen. The new stock also properly positions the head for use with a scope. The gun then received some fine-tuning of the trigger, giving it a very crisp and satisfying break. He also added an extended magazine tube, which holds seven rounds, giving the gun eight with one in the chamber. Jim also installed a Limbsaver recoil pad, the best recoil pad I have tried, and added an enlarged lever for use with cold weather gloves. With its 30mm 1.5x5 power illuminated cross-hair Leupold variable scope, it shoots either of my Hammerhead bullets into MOA.

The Guide gun was set up as an ultimate short-range weapon, mostly for use in our extremely brushy western Washington woods. The gun, like the 1895SS, sports a laminated birch stock, Limbsaver recoil pad, extended magazine, which holds six rounds, and a buttstock cartridge trap that holds an additional four rounds. The gun has also received trigger tuning and the stock also has the same rough surface for a reliable grip. All exterior metal surfaces were bead-blasted to remove the overly shiny finish that came with the gun. The sights are Brockman Generation 3 aperture sights, and are a tremendous improvement over the great majority of aperture sights available to the public. Both the front and rear sights are protected by military-style “ears.” They are also very heavily built. The front sight sports either a .125” wide post or a .080” wide (my choice) post. With these sights, I can reliably achieve less than 2-MOA. This is my idea of a perfect brush gun for everything from black bear, moose, and coastal grizzly, to Cape buffalo, elephant and white rhino.

Although new to my collection, I have managed to take a bison with the 1895SS. I will be taking many more game animals with this rifle as well as my Brockman-enhanced Guide Gun, as they are quite simply my favorite rifles. If you have a Marlin that you would like to have improved, I would strongly recommend contacting Jim Brockman at Brockman’s Rifles www.brockmansrifles.com or give him a call at 208-934-5050. His work is first class and Jim is a real gentleman.

- Randy Garrett