Best Scope For Marlin 1895 SBL Rifle [All Options]

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In 2009 Marlin (Remington/Marlin) arms introduced a new model of their immensely popular Marlin 45-70 Govt. guide gun lever-action rifle. The new stainless “Trapper” model features an 18 1/2" barrel, full-length, 6-shot magazine, laminated stock, and the big loop lever. Marlin topped the rifle with a picatinny slotted scope rail fitted with XS Ghost ring rear sight and front sight post.

The Marlin 1895SBL is a big-bore carbine suitable for big game such as elk, moose, and bear. The deer and hog hunters will find that the Trapper delivers emphatic results as well.

Like the Marlin Guide Gun before it, the rifle was an immediate hit and quickly became a favorite of the “straight wall” hunting crowd and big bore advocates. At just 36.5 inches long, the Marlin is short, quick-handling, and makes a good brush gun. The ghost ring sights feature a high-visibility front post with a large rear ring aperture. Sight acquisition is quick and accurate.

But, what about those of us with older eyes and hunters wanting to take full advantage of the 45-70 extended-range capabilities? Have no fear; there are several excellent optics out there that match well with Marlin’s 1895 classic looks and the iconic 45-70 cartridge. Read on to discover the best scope to fit your needs.

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

BEST FOR DURABILITY

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Length: 10.5 in 
BEST FOR CRYSTAL IMAGE

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Length: 9.84 in
BEST FOR VIVID IMAGE

Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope

Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope

  • Diameter: 20mm
  • Magnification: 2.5x
  • Length: 8 in
BEST FOR BRIGHT IMAGE

Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope

Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope

  • Diameter: 44mm
  • Magnification: 3-12x
  • Length: 13.7 in
BEST FOR ACCURACY

Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm

Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Length: 12.2 in
BEST FOR BRIGHTER IMAGE

Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope

Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Magnification: 4x
  • Length: 12.3 in
BEST FOR HUNTING

Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Hunting Riflescope

Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Hunting Riflescope

  • Diameter: 24mm
  • Magnification: 1-4x
  • Length: 12.55 in
BEST FOR FLEXIBILITY

Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm

Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Length: 11.5 in

A Quick Look at the 45-70 Govt.

The 45-70 cartridge was designed in 1873 for use in the Springfield “Trapdoor” single-shot rifle. The original 45-70 Government cartridge fired a 405 grain lead bullet propelled by a powder charge of 70 grains of black powder in a brass case. Newer rifles, including the Marlin Trapper, can operate at higher chamber pressures with ammo dangerous in the older trapdoor rifles.

For safety and liability reasons, many manufacturers produce factory loads that operate at “trapdoor pressures.” However, some ammo makers make improved loads which should only be used in modern rifles in good condition. Let’s take a look at a popular 45-70 +P hunting round that can be used in the Marlin Trapper lever gun.

300 gr JHP, 2200fps MV (18 ½ inch barrel), .195 BC,1.5 in scope height

With a 165 yard zero:

RANGE

VELOCITY

ENERGY

PATH

DRIFT
5 mph


(Yards)


(FPS)


(FT-LBS)


(Inches)


(Inches)

0

2200

3224

-1.50

0

25

2110

2964

0.33

0.06

50

2015

2704

1.67

0.27

75

1923

2463

2.47

0.63

100

1834

2240

2.68

1.15

125

1747

2034

2.25

1.84

150

1664

1845

1.09

2.72

175

1584

1672

-0.85

3.79

200

1503

1505

-3.89

5.36

225

1431

1364

-7.73

6.87

250

1363

1237

-12.64

8.60

275

1299

1124

-18.73

10.57

300

1241

1026

-26.11

12.78

As you can see, the 45-70 delivers over 1000 Ft/LBS of energy out to 300 yards. However, all but the most experienced shooters should confine their shots to 225 yards or less because of the loopy trajectory of the 45-70 cartridge.

At 225 yards holding 7 inches high with “Kentucky windage” is doable, but anything farther is a non-starter for most hunters. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best scopes for the Marlin 1895SBL.

In A Hurry? Here Are Our Picks And Quick Specs.

What We Picked And Why:

  • 2-7x32mm scout scope for those who want the scope forward with long eye relief
  • A budget 3-9 illuminated tactical MIL solution
  • An ultralight fixed 2.5x scope for the real backup guide who may have to shoot in a hurry at close range
  • A classic 3-9x40mm hunting scope for the all-round hunter
  • A 4-12x44mm scope for those who just have to reach out further with the 45-70
  • A do-it-all, simple, fixed 4x riflescope for the conventional, veteran deer slayer
  • A premium low power variable optic (LPVO) for actual close in and mid-range work
  • A comparison to a discontinued favorite: The Nikon Prostaff 2-7x32mm

8 Best Scope For Marlin 1895 SBL Rifles

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm Riflescope

marlin 1895 scope

The Col. Jeff Cooper “scout rifle” description called for a long eye relief scope mounted forward of the normal scope position. Long eye relief scopes were made popular out of necessity to accommodate top ejecting guns.

The scout rifle scope moves the scope forward, allowing the shooter to aim with both eyes open, increasing peripheral vision. The scope allows for quickly aimed, accurate shots without fear of recoil scope bite.

I find that aiming at or above the 4x setting on scout scopes is more difficult than a conventionally placed scope. However, many swear by their scout scopes and wouldn’t trade them.

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm Scout Riflescope is built to last, o-ring sealed, nitrogen filled, shockproof, fogproof, and rainproof. Fully multi-coated lenses provide superior light transmission in low light conditions. The V-Plex reticle is thick enough to be seen in busy backgrounds without being distracting.

The 1-inch main tube is machined from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum. All Vortex scopes are covered by their lifetime warranty. This is a durable, bright, and clear optic that comes in at a modest $150 bucks.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm

The price of Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm varies, so check the latest price at

2. UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

scope for marlin 1895

If you are on a budget and want an optic with bells and whistles and a tactical look, the UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope just might be the ticket. It won’t take up much space on top of your Marlin Trapper.

For less than a hundred bucks on the street, you get 1/10 MIL turrets, a nine dot illuminated MIL reticle, and a set of quick detach rings. Sunshade and Flip-open Lens Caps round out the deal.

Let’s just say that Leapers UTG scopes fall into the “standard” category for ruggedness, and reticle tracking may be less than perfect, but with care and a little practice, this optic will get your shots on target. Dial in elevation and windage from the same direction every time, don’t drop your rifle on the rocks, and you should be OK.

The lenses have “multi emerald” lens coatings which improve clarity. Surprisingly the .1 MIL turrets are zero settable and lockable. The side-wheel focus goes down to 3 (yes, that’s a three) yards in case there is a bug on the ground that needs busting.

Is the UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope right for the 45-70 Marlin Trapper? I say yeah, why not. Put on your camo, grab your ammo, and go bust a deer.

UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

The price of UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope varies, so check the latest price at

3. Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope

best scope for marlin 45 70

What do fixed magnification scopes have that variable power optics don’t? FEWER lenses. That means better light transmission. In general, fixed power scopes have superior brightness and clarity over their variable brethren. The Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope is no exception.

This Leupold scope features “Index Matched” lenses and “Diamond Coat” protective lens coatings. The image through this scope is so good, it almost looks artificial. It weighs in at a paltry 6.5 ounces and is barely 8 inches long. 

Leupold invented the duplex reticle, and their version is still the best for me. Pointed posts frame the target naturally, and the crosshairs are substantial without being obstructive. The Leupold crosshairs are a welcome alternative to the dainty offerings on many other scopes.

If you are a woods hunter who treks long and hard, this lightweight scope is your dream optic. In Texas, there are over 4 million acres of public hunting land. Almost none of them allow powered vehicles. You go on foot, or you don’t go. The successful hunter won’t “hunt around the edges” either. You go in deep, or you come back empty. 

The Marlin Trapper with the Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope is the setup for the diehard woods hunter where failure is not an option. At $299, it is a value that simply can’t be beat.

Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm

The price of Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm varies, so check the latest price at

4. Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope

marlin 1895 sbl scope

Bushnell has long been recognized as a manufacturer of affordable, durable riflescopes. In 2018 Bushnell introduced three new lines of rifle scopes, the top-tier Forge, mid-level Nitro, and the entry-level Prime series. Each of these lines was engineered from the ground up by Bushnell engineers in the United States.

These upper mid-range optics are made with extremely low dispersion glass in South Korea under stringent quality controls. The 30 mm main tube is machined from aircraft quality aluminum. Bushnell ultra wide-band lens coatings result in excellent light transmission and color rendition.

So how does the Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope compliment the Marlin Trapper 45-70 rifle? Shooting the 45-70 beyond 200 yards is more akin to launching artillery than shooting a high-powered rifle. At 500 yards, the ammo above requires a whopping 27.9 MOA of come up, which equates to 146.4 inches of holdover. That’s 12.2 feet of hold over folks!

The Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm just happens to have some 30 MOA of hash marks in the Deploy MOA reticle.

So, if you are into ringing steel with an 18 ½ barrel 45-70, or if you just want to push the hunting envelope past 220 yards, the Nitro 3-12 is for you. It will set you back about $400, but it has what you need for a long-range delivery.

Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope

The price of Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope varies, so check the latest price at

5. Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm

marlin 1985 sbl

Don Burris left Redfield in 1971 and started the Burris Company. The company started out with rings and sights, but soon moved into optics. Since then Burris has garnered a reputation as a first class scope maker. The Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm is a classic three-by-nine scope that fits the profile and capabilities of the Marlin 1895SBL 45-70 rifle.

I have a Burris on top of my Marlin 1895 Cowboy 26” Octagon 45-70 and I love it. The scope features index-matched “Hi-Lume” multi-coated lenses that deliver a bright, clear, distortion-free image. Finger-adjustable, low-profile turrets create a sleek profile. 

The double internal spring-tension erector system allows the scope to hold zero through shock, recoil, and vibrations. The 1” main tube is nitrogen filled and o-ring sealed to provide a water proof, fogproof, and rain proof enclosure.

The finger-adjustable ¼ MOA turrets are crisp, tactile and positive. Custom BDC turret caps are available from Burris.

The Ballistic Plex reticle has 3 hash marks and a post that will get you out to 250 yards with a simple come-up card.

All Burris scopes are coveved by the Burris Forever Warranty. You will be hard pressed to find a better scope value for the $200 street price. Put one of these on top of your Marlin Trapper and you won’t regret it.

Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm

The price of Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm varies, so check the latest price at

6. Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope

best scope for marlin 45-70 guide gun

I described the Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope as a do-it-all, simple, fixed 4x riflescope for the conventional, veteran, deer slayer. No muss, no fuss and nothing to touch. Just point and shoot.

This Swift 4 power is my “sleeper” scope in this round-up. It comes in silver to match the Marlin Trapper finish. It comes in at a wallet friendly $120 to match your budget. It also comes in a fogproof, water proof and shock proof package to match your hunting conditions.

Multi-coated hard-mounted lenses give a sight picture rivaling much more expensive scopes. The field of view is a wide 35 feet at 100 yards and it has a generous 4.0 inches of eye relief. 

Simply put, the Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope is the ideal scope for shots out to 200 yards. It matches the needs of the 45-70 Govt. cartridge perfectly. If you want to lay down a modest sum of money for a scope you will never regret buying, now is your chance.

Swift Reliant 4x40mm Riflescope

The price of Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm varies, so check the latest price at

7. Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Riflescope

best scope for marlin 1895 sbl

The Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm is a high quality low power variable optic (LPVO) which covers the ground from “both eyes open” 1x close quarters shooting, to engagements out to 200 yards plus. Trijicon is known for their mil-spec, tough-as-nails optics. This offering is another light-weight, low profile option for the already compact Marlin Trapper.

Some might consider nearly $500 a bit spendy for a 1-4x24mm scope. However with the Trijicon, there will never be any question about dependability, durability, accuracy, or clarity. This scope will stand up to harsh conditions and heavy recoil without batting an eye.

The MOA hash mark reticle is uncluttered, proven, and easy-to-use

Fully multi-coated, broadband, anti-reflective glass provides excellent light transmission, true detail and color with zero distortion. It has a fast focus eyepiece and scratch resistant coating. 

Invest in this scope and it may well be the last scope you’ll ever need for your Marlin1895SBL.

Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Riflescope

The price of Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Riflescope varies, so check the latest price at

8. Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm 

best scope for marlin 1895

We include the Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm here as a well known benchmark for the mid-to-close range needs of a rifle like the Marlin 1895 SBL. This discontinued scope has, and will continue to serve shooters and hunters well into the future.

Fully multi coated optics, high quality glass and gas purged enclosure provide a bright, crisp image. 

Compared to our round-up, I would say that the Nikon falls squarely in the middle next to the Burris.

Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm

The price of Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm varies, so check the latest price at

Shake Out On Image Quality Based On My Through-the-lens Observations:

  1. Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm Riflescope
    None of the scopes on this list can hold a candle to the stunning quality of this fixed power scope.
  2. Trijicon Huron 1-4x24mm Hunting Riflescope
    Legendary Trijicon optical clarity and durability.
  3. Bushnell Nitro 3-12x44mm Riflescope
    The new Bushnell series are a real step up from former offerings.
  4. Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm
    Burris makes many optics that surpass this budget offering. Good image and good value.
  5. Nikon PROSTAFF Rifle Scope 2-7x 32mm
    OUR BENCHMARK: Some brands were better, some were not, some were close.
  6. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32mm Scout
    I had a hard time rating this long eye relief scope against the conventional pack. Looks good from a distance.
  7. Swift Reliant 4x40mm Wide Angle Riflescope.
    Fixed power, fewer lenses good glass equals good image quality. Close to the Vortex.
  8. UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

This optic has an image commensurate with its price, profile, and build. It is a legit, useable optic worth the price. 

Now its up to you. We included eight of our favorite scopes for the Marlin Trapper, each with a particular shooter/hunter in mind. One of these picks will certainly move your Marlin 1895SBL 45-70 up to the next level of utility and precision. Click on one of our affiliate links now to explore the options and buy your next favorite scope.

References:

Featured Image CoryBaker92

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