August 19, 2022
For years, I have used Midwest Industries products with great success. While they are perhaps best known for their AR-15 parts and accessories, they have branched heavily into other iconic firearms, including the very popular Marlin 1895 lever-action and offerings for Henry rifles as well. Their lever-action offerings are intended to increase usability, modularity and to bring the beloved “old timers” firmly into the 21st Century.
In 2021 Midwest Industries sent me one of their MI-1895-GRR Marlin 1895 Ghost Ring Rail systems made for the Marlin Model 1895 rifle and carbine for Test and Evaluation. This combines a protected ghost ring rear sight with a 4-inch rail for mounting an optical sight. While they offer systems specifically made for Aimpoint’s popular Micro Red Dot sight, I chose their longer Mil Std 1913 “Picatinny” rail system. This mount is robust yet lightweight, being machined from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum. It is nicely finished and features all the quality and precision one would expect from Midwest Industries.
I became quite excited when I first found out about this "ghost ring sight system" and “optical gun sight mount” for my Marlin 1895 Guide Gun. Not only did the new rear sight give me a more familiar sight picture, but also a far superior sight radius. Being such a sucker for ghost rings, I had no qualms about removing the semi-buckhorn rear sight, even with it being somewhat of a modern collector’s piece (being a non-ported 1895 stainless guide gun with Walnut stocks). Removing the rear sight was a simple task and installing the Ghost Ring Rail System was not difficult. I have used it with great success, but only with red dots and holographic sights.
For me personally, fast target acquisition is key for my big-bore Marlin as Appalachian Mountains tend not to lend well to shots over 50 to 100 yards. This makes the rail length optimal for my use, which centers around a red dot. However, it will not be ideal for everyone. In my opinion, those wanting to run magnified optics are limited by the length of the rail. I believe one of the only downfalls of this system is there simply isn't enough real estate.
Luckily, Midwest Industries allowed me to try their newest Marlin 1895 offering, the Midwest Industries Extended Sight System. This sighting system extends far past that of a simple scope rail and introduces several styling ques from their AR pattern, "Nightfighter" free float handguard. It replaces the fore-end, utilizing the M-LOK attachment system, with M-LOK slots at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions. These allow easy mounting of accessories, such as white light and sling. The top features a full-length lightweight modified 1913 Picatinny rail for easy mounting of optical sights and accessories. This allows for not only Steyr-style scout scope mounting, but also a much more forgiving amount of rail space for magnified optics, and power multipliers for red dots or holographic sights.
Installation is easy and straightforward. Simply follow the instructions and it takes only minutes to install. For the 1895 purists out there, the semi-buckhorn rear sight must be removed from the rifle prior to rail installation. While Midwest Industries didn't include the space filler for the rear sight dovetail with this system (while unnecessary, I still would have liked to have seen it), it is well protected and shielded under the all-encompassing 6061-T6 aluminum rail. I like that Midwest Industries included torque values for all of their fasteners, this in my opinion, ensures proper and optimal installation. This in turn results in optimal accuracy potential. Packaging was well-labeled and with a nice layout. As stated, installation was simple, but does require disassembly of the rifle. This may be where users have issues and it may require a gunsmith for some. If the user is completing this task at home, it is highly advisable that proper gunsmithing tools are used and proper torque values observed.
This system is very modular and allows the user numerous options for optics, including the famed "scout scope" option, which seems to be the rage with big-bore lever guns. It also incorporates ghost ring sights, which are among my favorite for big-bore lever guns. I would also like to note the increase in sight radius by using this system as well. Using three separate optics; from a Nightforce 10x, EOTech and Trijicon MRO, each performed nicely, even with the majority of optics mounts being borrowed from AR pattern rifles. This is largely due to its similarities in design to their AR pattern rails from Midwest Industries. This results in familiarity for a broad range of users, as the AR pattern rifle really is "America's Rifle".
Another pleasing aspect is, while the rail itself is produced from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, the iron sights are produced from steel. This added robustness is a noted positive for those who may count on their rifle in "Griz country", or whose rifle may see hard use and abuse. While many may find this redundant, Midwest Industries thrives on redundancy and leaves nothing to chance, especially with our good friend "Murphy" (Murphy's Law) lurking at every corner.
I also like that a sling swivel stud was included and a dedicated M-LOK sling attachment was not needed. This is not only user-friendly but also conservative thinking on Midwest Industries’ part, saving the user from unnecessary purchases, added weight and using valuable handguard space.
The M-Lok slots are located at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions, this allows for optimal mounting of accessories such as weapon-mounted flashlights, foregrips and handstops. Midwest Industries left nothing out of the kit either, including a short rail segment, traditional M-LOK mounting hardware, along with Torx head and Allen head wrenches as well as some "red" Loctite.
This made adapting a Streamlight Pro-Tac weapon light to my Marlin simple, and the full top rail allowed for easy installation of the pressure pad. While varying angled foregrips, along with a vertical Magpul MOE was tried, they simply did not fit the role of this rifle. They felt way too cumbersome and almost "bulky" on the rifle. The ZeroBravo Reversible Hand Stop, however, feels great and actually allows for great recoil control. It also aids control of the flashlight as well. If I were to use this for a guide gun in Alaska, their Reversible Hand Stop would be my number one choice for a non-optic or weapon light accessory.
The Midwest Industries rail system does add a couple of ounces to the overall rifle, and a bit more bulk as well. While minimal, ounces do add up, especially considering the main objective of this particular rifle (1895 .45-70 Government Guide Gun) is to be a quick handling “stopper”. I don't see this being such an issue on Marlin rifles/carbines chambered for Magnum handgun cartridges that may be geared for home defense or more general purpose use however.
I also noted the lack of "T" marks on the top Picatinny rail. In comparison, these are present on their Marlin 1895 Ghost Ring Rail System. I wasn't sure if this was omitted on their 1895 Extended Sight System M-LOK due to the lightweight Picatinny rail configuration they used, but I do like seeing the “T” Marked top rail, as do many other users.
While I like the sling swivel option, I think the ability to place the stud further forward would have been a great option. The placement is good, however, I believe the option to place slings further forward would be more useful on longer barrels and give the rail system a bit more modularity (as stud-mounted Harris bipods are still extremely popular amongst outdoorsmen). This is something I would love to see if a Generation 2 model is ever offered. I would also like to see the dovetail protection plug included with their 1895 Ghost Ring Rail System included with this extended rail system as well. While the dovetail is protected, I believe this would be an excellent addition for blued rifles, as the 'plug' could be used to house finish protecting oil long term, especially for those who use their rifles for fieldwork.
Overall, this system has grown on me substantially. I considered myself somewhat of a "traditionalist" at first, and did not like the look of the rail. Once installed and a hand full of rounds were placed down range, it changed my mind drastically. Not only does it have good aesthetics overall (to me, it's not as aesthetically pleasing as their ghost ring rail, but it is quite nice), it extends the usefulness of the rifle by leaps and bounds. It adds the ability to use roughly any optic a user can imagine, but also any accessory as well.
For the .45-70 Government the use of a quality M-LOK handstop is an absolute must and adds a whole new realm of comfort to the rifle in terms of shouldering, and also recoil mitigation. I like that Midwest Industries incorporated their traditional "style" from their AR pattern rails as well. Considering the extensive accessory list, front and rear replacement irons and the size of the rail; the $324.95 MSRP is quite fair. Add in the average "street price" of $299, it is no wonder that companies can't keep these things in stock. Overall, it is very nicely designed, beautifully anodized and useful piece from a trusted name in the business. Nice job Midwest.
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About the Author
Michelle Hamilton has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, is a serious student of wound ballistics, military history, small arms design and manufacturing and is a competitive shooter.