Brass or Stainless Steel Followers?
On our site we offer both brass and stainless steel followers and people often want to know which is better. The truth is that it is really a matter of personal preference. The two materials produce very similar performance in the application of a magazine follower in a Marlin lever gun.
It is true that brass on the steel magazine tube does slide more easily than a stainless follower, but the movement of the follower is small. The advantage provided due to lower friction of the brass follower is negligible compared to the stainless steel follower since there is such a little amount of movement in a magazine follower's operation. A brass follower also looks similar to a cartridge and makes it difficult to determine if you are out of ammo or not. Slightly more care might be needed for a brass follower since over time brass will tarnish while stainless holds up to corrosion very well.
There is not a large amount of friction between the follower and magazine tube created during typical use of the rifle. It is not a fast moving, excessively dynamic action, but over time and through heavy use, the parts will wear. Brass might have a slight advantage over stainless steel followers since the brass is softer than the steel of the magazine tube; therefore, the brass follower will fail before the magazine tube. This will likely only be an issue over the long term and through heavy of cycling many rounds of ammunition. Adequate lubrication in the magazine tube will also prevent excessive wear between the follower and mag tube.
I personally use brass followers in my rifles because I like the smoothest action possible. However, it is really personal preference after weighing the differences related to corrosion resistance, mechanical operation, and visibility. Either way, a brass or stainless follower far exceeds the quality and reliability of a factory plastic part. The plastic followers are subject to rapid wearing and large thermal expansion and contraction in extreme temperatures.
The high quality and reliability of the Marlin lever guns should not be undermined by a cheap plastic follower. Whether you choose brass or stainless, replacing the plastic follower or upgrading from a carbon steel one will add to the overall performance of the firearm.
Follower sizes for 1894 and 1895 Marlin Lever action rifles.