Marlin has long been the king of lever action rifles, and without a doubt the .444 Marlin has been one of the most popular heavy rounds of the last half century, which could mean that the briefly made Outfitter model with its abbreviated barrel is the compact king of the woods.
The Design of the .444 Marlin Round
Taking a fat, wide-necked 57mm long case (almost as long as a 7mm Mauser's); the Marlin Company mashed a .429" round on top to create a moose of a cartridge. It was longer by almost an inch than the .44 magnum, but overall nearly the same length as a 30.30 Winchester, but without a neck. It looks like an all brass shotgun shell or a throwback to the Kynoch elephant gun rounds of the 19th century, but it is brutally effective. Mounting bullets of 240-300 grains, it has the same 'throw weight' as the old .45-70 while being able to feed in a lever action carbine.
When compared side by side, the legacy .45-70 shot a 300-grain lead slug at 1600/fps with 1700-ft./lbs. of energy while the .444 Marlin, using the same 300-gran bullet would sling it 2000/fps and impart 1600-ft./lbs. of energy.
Better yet the .444 offered a better trajectory over the .45-70's rainbow of inches over yards traveled. Out to 200-yards, the stout round is more accurate than stock .45-70s while still having more takes down power than a .44-Magnum revolver at the muzzle. It's rated and proven to be able to take any game in North America.
The original classic .444 chambered rifle was the (wait for it) Marlin Model 444. Introduced in 1965, the Model 444 was a standard Marlin 336 with a strengthened and enlarged action to handle the bruiser of a round.
Contrast this 22-inch model with its pistol grip stock with the rifle shown above and below.
With a straight-grip Monte Carlo stock of uncheckered walnut, it often looks more like the 1895 and is often mistaken for such (although the 1895 was later offered in .444, which further confuses things). With a 24-inch barrel, the 5+1 shot lever gun came in at 42-inches overall and still weighed at a clean 7-pounds. In and out of production since 1965 in a number of variants, it is the primary .444 Marlin shooter out there.
One of its little-know variants (pun intended) was the short-barreled Outfitter model.
Introduced as one of the last gasps of old Connecticut Marlin, the Outfitter was debuted in 1999. While the standard 444 was marketed in a 24-inch barrel, and a more handy "Sporter" model was made with a 22 (now standard) , the Outfitter ran a 18.5-inch ported barrel with a 1:20 Ballard Twist. This gave the gun an overall length of just 37-inches and a weight that has been described as running between 6.5-6.75 pounds.
Note the difference in the barrels and stocks when compared with the 22-inch model shown above.
Using a straight English style grip rather than the more commonly encountered pistol grip on the checkered walnut stock gives the gun a snappy draw from a saddle scabbard if mounted on horseback and gives the rifle the overall similarity to the 1895 Guide Gun series. In fact, this gun came out before that one, which means the 1895GGs followed in the Outfitter's footsteps.
All 444Ps will be clearly marked and are true JM guns
And have ported barrels with near full-length magazine tubes that hold 5 rounds
Sadly, this super handy carbine was put to pasture in 2003.
While many gun guides list the value of the 444P at $400-$475, good luck getting one for that amount as they typically run closer to $600.