Beartooth Mercantile

A Few Tips for New Hunters Interested In Fair-Chase Big Game

A Few Tips for New Hunters Interested In Fair-Chase Big Game

Most experienced hunters have gained their skills from an older relative that took them hunting for the first time as a young person. Many of the skills and practices have been passed down through the generations and are considered traditional. As young hunters mature, they learn from mistakes, develop skills and become stronger  hunters as well as people. At a certain point their knowledge has developed enough on the subject to begin mentoring others and to continue to pass on the tradition. 

There are many people that have never had the opportunity to learn the skills needed to hunt. Whether it is due to a family background with negative views on hunting or the lack of a knowledgeable mentor, they have missed out on the positive aspects of pursuing game in the wild. They have also missed out on the unique outdoor experience that hunting wild game offers outdoorsmen. A person that has significant experience in the outdoors, but has never hunted will likely gain a new respect for wildlife after being hunting.

Regardless of the reason that attracts people to the hunting, it is important that they exercise strong ethics while in the field. A sportsman needs to maintain a high level of integrity because hunting can be easily scrutinized by critics. Practicing integrity is not only to preserve the activity of big game hunting, but also the conservation efforts that it supports.

The term "Hunting" is a broad concept in general that applies to many different species of game and styles of hunt. The subject matter of this article is meant to apply to North American big game hunts; More specifically to "fair chase" hunts on public land or wilderness. Although many game animals are taken ethically on private land with relative ease, the material in this text aims to offer suggestions for those who are working toward more challenging experiences. 

The following suggestions are not a complete guide to big game hunting; they are simply some guidelines to begin with and build upon. These tips don't scratch the surface of the amount of knowledge that a person needs to become a safe and effective hunter. The pursuit of big game and the outdoors in general offer new experiences with each outing and the sportsman can continue to learn for a lifetime. It is beyond the breadth of one short article to comprehensively teach all the baseline skills needed for a big game hunt. It is also beyond the ability of any individual to absorb enough information from text alone to be a proficient hunter. Hard work, repetition and experience in the field are the only ways to develop the skill set to be an expert big game hunter.


An Introduction to Hunting is Required

Before a new hunter embarks on their first big game hunt it would benefit them immensely to experience harvesting game on a smaller scale. There is a vast amount of practical sense that can be gained just by fishing, small game or bird hunting.

A new big game hunter will be overwhelmed if their first experience harvesting game is an intense elk or sheep hunt. It is important that a person introduces themself to the challenge of harvesting game by starting with a relatively “easy” hunt. Instead of trying to stalk elk, mule deer or sheep high in the peaks, try going after pronghorn in the plains, whitetails in a river bottom or Mule Deer in the foothills rather than in difficult "high-country".

This allows a new sportsman to experience fair-chase game hunting while having a high chance for success. In the event of a successful hunt, the rookie hunter will gain an introduction to the level of work required to field dress and pack out big game. This is one aspect of hunting where the inexperienced tend to underestimate the level of effort required. Downed game can be cumbersome and difficult to handle and a hunter needs to be able to successfully harvest all of the usable portions of the game animal. If a person takes their first big game animal in remote terrain while on foot, there is a strong possibility they will waste much of the animal due to the effort it takes to pack-out wild game. Wasting game is illegal and unethical and should always be avoided.


Shadow an Experienced Hunter

Observing and reacting to the behavior of wildlife is an important part of pursuing big game. It is necessary for hunters to gain skills on predicting the movement and instincts of the game they are pursuing. There are many learned and traditional aspects to the skill of hunting that cannot be easily communicated verbally or in writing. These skills are absorbed from experience and are more easily recognized by those who have spent considerable time in pursuit of game.

A new hunter should go on as many outings as possible with seasoned hunters. Pay attention to how they use their surroundings and animal sign as part of their hunting strategy. Whether be the ability to identify tracks or scat or staying downwind of the game; these are important skills to learn. Shadowing a knowledgeable hunter will be the best way to learn how to mimic a hunter's behavior. If a friend or a relative is not a well versed hunter, use heavy discretion and consider hiring a reputable guide.


Take a Hunters' Safety Course and Do Your Homework

Many states require new hunters to take a "Hunter's Safety" course by law prior to purchasing a hunting license. Fish and Wildlife agencies began requiring these courses prior to purchasing a hunting license years ago to reduce the number of common mistakes made by new hunters.

Hunter's safety courses cover the basic skills of big game hunting, from fundamental firearm safety to field dressing game. They often examine the difference between safe shooting conditions and those that should not be taken. Many course curriculum cover the nuances of local game laws which can vary among states. Hunter's Safety courses are usually carried out in a classroom environment during a few evenings and they effectively provide some baseline practical knowledge to new hunters.

In addition to hunter's safety consider archery, survival and firearm courses among others. Useful knowledge can also be gained from a book or magazine to read about what the "experts" are trying to teach in print. A recently published book that is a thorough literary introduction to hunting is Steven Rinella's "The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game". Steve is an experienced outdoorsman that does a great job providing valuable information for those new to hunting.


Fair Chase Hunters Should Be in Great Physical Shape

During a big game hunt, a human is trying to pursue and kill an animal on its home turf. These creatures endure a day to day struggle in a harsh, unforgiving  environment where everyday is a challenge to survive. A human is not physically adept to dominate this terrain like native wild game; especially not a person that is accustomed to all the comforts of the modern world.

Although it is the human brain that allows humans to hunt instead of scavenge, there is still value in conditioning the body. Hunting big game in a fair-chase environment is very physically demanding and fitness can give another small advantage to the hunter. Man is only a fraction of the physical being that wild animals are and with all his tools and technology, he still needs every edge he can generate.

Imposing all the physical demands of a big game hunt literally on the back of a man is a lot to expect of the human body. One needs to consider their physical conditioning and whether or not it is adequate to complete the challenges they will face on their hunt. If it is not, steps should be taken to improve their condition or plan to subsidize it with preparation, pack animals, or the help of others.


Coming Home Empty Handed is Not a Failure

The seasoned hunter that strives to practice high level ethics knows that an unsuccessful hunt is not a failure. A day in the wild without an opportunity to take a shot at game should not be viewed as a failure and should be enjoyed as a another chance to experience the outdoors. On the other hand, a hunt which results in a wounded animal should weigh heavily on a hunter's conscience and every precaution should be taken to prevent it. All hunters should know the limits of their shooting ability and not exceed their skills while in the field. A hunter needs to exercise self control when taking a shot at an animal and only attempt it if they are completely confident in their ability to accurately place the shot.

It is the hunter's responsibility to develop the skills needed to effectively harvest a big game animal. A hunter should put in enough time practicing with their weapon to make sure they can humanely kill game. A misplaced shot on an animal is a direct result of a hunter's poor decisions and it will cause unnecessary suffering and waste. The responsible hunter shall always take every precaution possible to avoid wounding game. 


Exercise Patience and Make Safety the Top Priority

It will take considerable practice and patience for a new hunter to successfully harvest a big game animal in a fair-chase, public land environment for the first time. The journey will be challenging, but rewarding when the goals are finally realized. The hard work will eventually pay off with patience and persistence, but don't jeopardize the chance for reaching a long term goal in the outdoors with unsafe or unethical behavior. Plan thoroughly and exercise common sense in every aspect of the hunt. Before a hunter learns how to harvest game effectively, he has to learn to hunt effectively.  A new hunter needs to be mature and patient enough to not make exceptions to safety and ethics in the wild. All the hunts where a license goes unfilled will lead up to the one where the first successful harvest is finally achieved.

Written by Honus Titcomb — November 08, 2015

Fishing Yellowstone Lake

With summer approaching, I can’t help but think about an experience on Yellowstone Lake fishing for trout a couple summers ago. Although hunting in Yellowstone is not allowed, fishing is under certain regulations. An angler may fish at many locations in the park if they have a Yellowstone Park specific fishing license, and use either artificial flies or lures.

Among the locations a person can fish at is Yellowstone Lake; the largest body of water in the park and in the state of Wyoming. The lake is actually the opening of the Yellowstone caldera and possesses a significant amount of geothermal activity. The lake is nearly 400ft deep and has about 100 miles of shoreline; it is a significant body of water, especially for a mountain lake. The lake’s surface sits at an elevation of 7,730 ft above sea level and it is the largest freshwater lake above 7000 ft in North America. The mountain environment means that severe weather including thunderstorms, strong wind and snow can be seen even in the summer months.

The lake is in a picturesque setting, surrounded by pines and mountain ranges. The area is full of wildlife including elk, bison, grizzly and black bears. It is not uncommon for a moose or bear to end up on one of the lake’s islands by traveling over the ice during the winter months.

Rocky Mountain Elk are an example of some of the wildlife that may be encountered near the shores of Yellowstone Lake. These bulls needed to cool off in the lake during a hot July day.


One can’t help but wonder what it was like when John Colter first laid eyes on Yellowstone Lake in the early 1800’s and discover such a unique and special location. Early expeditions near the lake describe catching Cutthroats as fast as a person could reel them in. With such an abundant source of food and a beautiful setting, it would seem tempting to settle in the remote location.

This map is from the Washburn, Doane and Langford expedition of 1870.


A great way to experience Yellowstone Lake is by chartering a boat and trolling for trout. Cutthroat trout are the only native trout to Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake, but Lake trout exist as an invasive species. All Lake Trout must be kept and all Cutthroats must be released. The Lake trout were estimated to be introduced around 1994 either on accident or by releasing fish caught in nearby aquatic bodies. They have been very destructive to the local ecosystem, and have demonstrated how devastating an invasive species can be. The National Park Service has gone to great lengths in recent years to try and eliminate the Lake Trout population in Yellowstone Lake. Recent efforts to gill net have had a significant impact on the eradication of Lake Trout, but there is still a large population of Lake Trout remaining. The Lake Trout feed on the Cutthroats’ eggs during spawning and the offspring. The Lake Trout also do not spawn in the tributary streams and rivers of Yellowstone Lake where many other species depend on the Cutthroats as a food source.

The Lake Trout (top) is an invasive species introduced to Yellowstone Lake causing significant harm to the population of native Cutthroats (bottom).


A trip on Yellowstone Lake normally starts near Lake Lodge on the West Thumb marina. A call to the park service and setting up a reservation is necessary to secure a boat for an hour, half day or a day. Anglers also need to purchase a fishing permit from the park service; a person can buy a 3 day, 1 week or 1 year permit at reasonable rates. A Wyoming fishing license is not honored in the park since it is under federal jurisdiction.

The park service has setup several boats and guides specifically for experiencing angling on the lake. The guide will typically take a group out for a half day or full day trip. After leaving the west Thumb Marina, an approximately 20 minute voyage is necessary to reach a good fishing location. Our guide during a recent trip took us out to the east and north sides of one of the lake’s Islands. After dropping in two trolling lines plus a third on a downrigger, it took about 5 minutes to land our first cutthroat. Soon after the first Cutthroat, we brought in a nice medium sized Lake Trout which was kept on board. Throughout the day we had regular hits on our lures with a pretty even split between Lake and Cutthroats. All the Cutthroats had an average size larger than that of the Lake Trout; which leads one to believe that the Lake Trout are reducing the population of young Cutthroats by feeding on the spawn.


This was the largest fish caught during the day on Yellowstone Lake; a very nice Cutthroat. The Cutthroats that are caught tend to be relatively large since they have the best chance of surviving against the Lake Trout. This fish was released back to the lake soon after the photo was taken.


The National Park Service has gone to great lengths to try and eradicate the invasive Lake Trout and preserve the native Cutthroats and hopefully their efforts payoff. A reduction in the native species is detrimental to many other species of wildlife that depend on the Cutthroat population. Although a person might think that there would be little difference between how the two species of trout effect the Lake’s ecosystem, they do not realize the subtle differences which have major impacts. The simple fact that Lake Trout spawn in deep water and remain in the lake as opposed to the Cutthroats which migrate to neighboring streams has major impacts on animals that feed on the trout. The success of the Park’s Service efforts to eliminate the Lake Trout is a critical component to the future of the Lake. The restoration of the Cutthroat Trout population is for the benefit of both sportsman and the vitality of the local environment.

Although the Lake Trout are detrimental to Yellowstone Lake, the requirement to keep them is a bonus for lake fishermen. There is not a much better way to conclude a day of fishing than with a dinner of fresh Lake trout. Yellowstone Lake Lodge will cook a catch of Lake trout for anglers if they bring them by at dinner and have the patience to wait for preparation. During my most recent trip, the chef did an excellent job of preparing the fish. I can’t describe the ingredients used in the same language of one versed in the world of cuisine, but I have never had a better tasting dish of Trout. Although my method of wrapping trout in tinfoil and placing over an open campfire satisfies while in the backcountry, it does not parallel to the flavor created by a true professional.

If interested in scheduling a trip of your own, the marina is located near the West Thumb, a few minutes from Yellowstone Lake Lodge. Call them at 1.866.439.7375 or 307.344.7311, or visit With the weather getting nicer, I think I will be making another visit very soon.



The Guide Gun In Bear Country

Most avid sportsman can choose from a selection of handguns, shotguns or rifles before venturing into the outdoors, but which one really fits their needs? Although there are many factors to consider when deciding what to carry, the Guide Gun was designed specifically to fill this niche. During hunting season, a hunter's rifle will normally serve adequately as bear protection and as the means to bring down the game in pursuit. However, for the rest of the year there is a better alternative for outdoor protection while fishing, hiking or camping. In this article, let's look at the Marlin Guide Gun and how it fits in the role it was designed for.


A Marlin 1895G, 45-70 government Guide Gun with ghost ring sites and picatinny rail for light mount. Rifle Stock Cartridge boot made by Ringler Custom Leather. Their website is:


The Marlin guide gun is a rifle designed to be carried as protection against predators like the grizzly bear. The guide gun's 1895 action has been proven over the years as one of Marlin's most widely produced receivers. Also, its availability in the large bore 45-70 government and the .450 Marlin make it very effective for close range encounters with large predators.

Marlin 1895M, .450 Marlin Guide Gun with ghost ring sites, ported barrel, and extended magazine tube


The rifle is handy and compact making it practical as a guide's choice for protection as the name would suggest. The rugged compactness makes it easy to carry on a sling, or in a scabbard with little worry about the possibility of damage. Although one could argue that a large caliber revolver is more compact and easier to carry than a guide gun, handguns require constant practice for the shooter to be accurate. A rifle like the Guide Gun requires less time at the range to remain effective and accurate. In critical situations when every shot counts, one should give themselves every advantage possible to hit their target. 

The guide gun is very capable right out of the box, but it can be customized to improve performance and meet the user's needs. Easy upgrades include high quality followers, improved ejectors, and single point sling attachments. Most of these items are relatively inexpensive and can be added by the rifle's owner. Improved followers add longevity and reliability over the factory plastic followers. Aftermarket, “bear proof” ejectors help assure reliable cycling during moments when a person cannot afford a jam. Some people like single point slings that allow carrying the rifle in a quick-access position.


Marlin 1895G, 45-70 government custom parkerized finish Guide Gun with 16.5” barrel. Work includes big lever, ghost ring sites, thinned forearm stock, custom fitted buttstock, extended magazine tube and saddle ring for sling attachment. Rifle Stock Cartridge boot made by Ringler Custom Leather. Their website is:


Custom work that requires a little more expertise for installation includes big lever loops, and extended magazine tubes. While the big lever loop allows easier cycling and shooting with gloves on, the extended magazine tube adds the assurance of a couple extra cartridges.

Aftermarket sites like ghost ring, red dots or hologram sites can be added if the shooter wants to upgrade from the factory sites. Ghost ring sites are a solid choice for the guide gun due to their accuracy at close range and improved target acquisition ability. However, the most important aspect of a sight system is one that a shooter can use quickly and accurately. A person needs to find a sight that makes finding the target and hitting it accurately almost automatic. There might be a circumstance when one shot is all there is time for.


Ghost ring sites on a Marlin Guide Gun


The Marlin Guide Gun is a capable and useful firearm right out of the box and a shooter can customize it many different ways. Whether it is custom or not, a person should focus on being comfortable with it. A shooter needs to spend an adequate amount of time at the practice range to be certain they can operate it efficiently and accurately. As mentioned before, the use of the firearm should be automatic to give yourself every chance possible of defense when needed.

Of all the choices of firearms a person could choose, the Marlin Guide Gun provides a strong combination of power, accuracy, and functionality. All this capability is packaged in a user friendly and proven design making it one of the best choices for backcountry functionality and protection available.

Written by Honus Titcomb — October 09, 2013

Midland XTC 300 HD Camera – Best For Shooting Sports?

Midland XTC 300 stand alone (left), in waterproof case (right). Photos from

In recent years, technology has progressed to the point that 1st person cameras have become compact and affordable enough to be used by the general public. The equipment is now able to record 1st person HD digital footage in 1080p quality and improved memory cards allow hours of footage to be recorded. There are several companies that now offer waterproof, HD cameras with many mounting options. The leader in this market appears to be GoPro, with other competitors including Condor and now Midland industries. 

The Midland XTC camera has recently entered the 1st person camera market in an attempt to compete with the industry leader; GoPro. The GoPro HD Hero 3 White Series is the most direct competitor with the Midland XTC-300. Both cameras are available on the market for $199 and offer similar capabilities, each with their strengths. While both GoPro and Midland offer a wide variety of new 1st person point of view HD cameras ranging from the $99.99 Midland XTC100VP2 to the GoPro Black Series at $399.99, this review is only evaluating the Midland XTC-300 in comparison with the similarly priced GoPro White Series.


GoPro Hero 3 in waterproof case and Midland XTC 300



The Midland XTC is available in both black and camouflage making it ideal for hunters. The Midland camera has a less techy, and more stealth looking appearance than the GoPro, so it is more incognito when mounted on a helmet or used in public. The stealthy appearance is also an advantage when hunting. Although the XTC camera is larger than the GoPro, it is longer and narrower making its shape more suited for mounting on a rifle or shotgun.


GoPro (top), at 2.6 ounces and Midland XTC (bottom), at under 6 ounces size comparison. Weights are from manufacturers' websites.


Video Quality and Operation 

The XTC shoots 30 fps in 1080p which is the same as the GoPro Hero 3 White Series. Lowering the video quality to 720p allows 60 frames per second capturing for both the GoPro and Midland cameras. While both cameras capture high quality HD video, the GoPro has a small technological advantage. The GoPro has a time-lapse mode which allows periodic capturing of 5 megapixel still photographs that can be assembled into a time-lapse compilation. The GoPro can also be used as a still photograph digital camera if video is not needed. A screen shot can capture great still photographs with the high quality video both of these cameras take if needed. Sometimes taking photographs from a video screen shot is the only way to capture an action shot. This is especially true when a person is by themselves and cannot operate a camera and ride, ski, shoot, etc at the same time.



Midland XTC screen shot at 1080p



GoPro screen shot during same time, from same location as XTC shot at 1080p 

The GoPro is more suitable for consumers that want advanced video options and editing that includes time-lapse capability and remote WiFi operation. However, the XTC operates by simply flicking its single switch forward and focuses on making 1st person videos easy. The XTC's switch position also makes it easier for the operator to determine if it is recording or not. When the XTC's switch is forward, it is recording, when it is back, it is off. It cannot be determined whether the GoPro is on or off just based on feel. Being able to feel switch position is a plus when the camera is mounted on top of a person's head and is intermittently being used record video. The ease of operation that the Midland camera possesses might be an advantage to some who are not interested in the time-lapse and WiFi options offered by the GoPro. The GoPro certainly does not require a genius to operate it, but the XTC is certainly more straight forward.

Mounting and Accessories

Midland XTC attached to helmet with adhesive mount 

Mounting options for both cameras are sufficient to meet most individuals needs. They both have many choices for helmet and head mounts as well as suction cup and stationary mounting. The GoPro has a slight advantage in the action-sports category due to its “chesty” and wrist mounts, but offers no mounts for shooting sports. Midland offers a rifle, shotgun, picatinny and archery mount which is a huge advantage to someone involved with those sports.



Camoflauge Midland XTC using Midland's rifle sling mount (top), and shotgun mount (bottom). Shotgun mount works on single barrel, over/under, and side by side shotguns. Photos from 

Another slight mounting advantage of the XTC is that it has female threads in the base of it and its waterproof case. The threads allow easy fastening to a tripod similar to conventional cameras on the market. Threads also allow the possibility of making custom mounts since they are not specific to Midland products. A GoPro can be mounted to a tripod, but a separate attachment must be purchased that converts the GoPro style base to a threaded base.


Midland XTC with adhesive mount attached, showing threaded base 

Midland XTC in waterproof case on tripod 

The GoPro and XTC possess the ability to be mounted either inside their waterproof cases or without it. This allows protection from the elements when required and reduced weight when not. Removal of the waterproof housing also prevents glare that could be a problem while hunting. 

One notable difference between the XTC adhesive helmet mounts and the GoPro adhesive mounts is that the XTC is designed to break-away. In the unfortunate event of a crash or while snagging a camera on a tree branch, the XTC's adhesive mounts have built in Velcro that separates when pulled. This system not only might prevent damage to the equipment, but could also prevent injuries. Another advantage is that the mount can be pulled apart and rotated to change the view angle of the camera.


Midland adhesive mount's break-away Velcro system. 


The GoPro is a smaller, lighter package with more recording options that include still frame photography up to 5 megapixels. The GoPro also has a slight advantage in the action-sport market due to a few mounting choices geared for that niche. The new GoPro also has WiFi compatibility and can be remote controlled. However, if your wish is to have a versatile, user-friendly, 1st person camera right out of the box, the XTC is a good choice. It seems the XTC's strengths are in its wide variety of mounting accessories, it's stealth appearance, and it's one-switch operation. The XTC also offers the best mounting options specific to the hunting world with a rifle, shotgun, picatinny and archery specific mount.

Factory Specs

 Midland XTC:Midland XTC-300 specs from Midland literature available at



GoPro Hero 3+ White Series specs from


Installing the Marlin 1894 and 1895 Crossbolt Safety Delete With Saddle Ring

Use the proper slot head style screwdriver specific for working on firearms to avoid damaging the factory hardware.

1. Make certain the rifle is unloaded and point it in a safe direction.
2. Remove the butt stock from the rifle by removing the single stock screw.
3. Use a 5/64” allen (hex key) wrench to remove the factory screw shown:
4. The factory hardware holding the cross-bolt safety in consists of a set screw, spring and steel ball. The factory crossbolt safety will fall out if the hammer is pulled back.
5. Remove the screw cap from the saddle ring safety delete and insert the pin with ring into the left side of the receiver where the safety was removed.
6. Align the indentation in the safety delete with the hole for the factory set screw, spring and steel ball. For the safety delete to be installed correctly, the indent in the pin must be aligned with the set screw hole. Lower the hammer carefully to rest against the firing
pin. The hammer will not go all the way against the firing pin if the safety delete is not installed correctly. Note that some saddle ring safety deletes have a ring that can rotate front and back, while others rotate up and down. It depends on the orientation of the way the stud was constructed. The point is to align the dent on the stud with the hole for the set screw or factory hardware.
7. From the right side of the receiver, insert the screw cap for the safety delete saddle ring pin. Make sure it does not become cross threaded, and snug tighten it with a screwdriver.
8. Reinstall the factory hardware without the spring. If the saddle ring will not be used heavily, the factory screw tightened against the steel ball should hold the part in place securely enough to prevent it from rotating. If you plan on using the saddle ring to attach
a sling or support the rifle in anyway, you will need to tap the hole for the factory hardware with an 8-32 tap. The set screw included with the saddle ring safety delete is intended to be used if the receiver is tapped. The existing factory threads should be 8-32,
but this needs to be verified by you or a gunsmith. In most rifles, the threads for the factory hardware do not go all the way down to the safety delete. They need to be continued in order to put in one solid set screw and secure the saddle ring safety delete
in place. Please do not tap the receiver if you are not comfortable or qualified to do so; severe damage could occur to your rifle's receiver. If necessary, take it to a gunsmith to have the saddle ring installed.
9. After the safety delete with saddle ring is installed, reinstall the buttstock and buttstock screw.
For more detailed explanation of the safety delete installation please read the article I wrote HERE
Saddle ring safety deletes available on the site HERE


Determining whether or not disabling the factory cross-bolt safety is appropriate is the responsibility of the firearm's owner or user. By purchasing this product and installing it you are assuming all responsibility and consequences that may result from altering the factory cross-bolt safety that comes with the firearm. Disabling the factory cross-bolt safety can result in an increased possibility of accidental discharge that could result in injury or worse. Additional caution and special attention should be used when using a firearm with a disabled cross-bolt safety. Always treat a firearm as if it could discharge at any moment to avoid accidents. 

Written by William Kunz — April 23, 2013

Installing the Marlin 1894 and 1895 Crossbolt Safety Replacement Pin (basic safety delete)

Use the proper slot head style screwdriver specific for working on firearms to avoid damaging the factory hardware.

  1. Make certain the rifle is unloaded and point it in a safe direction.

  2. Remove the butt stock from the rifle by removing the single stock screw.

  1. Use a 5/64” allen (hex key) wrench to remove the factory screw shown:

  1. The factory hardware holding the cross-bolt safety in consists of a set screw, spring and steel ball. The factory crossbolt safety will fall out if the hammer is pulled back.

    1. Insert the safety replacement into the right side of the receiver with the slotted end of the pin aligning with the right side of the receiver once the pin is inserted. Shown below.

    1. Align the detent in the pin with the hole that the factory hardware was removed from. Then lower the hammer carefully to rest against the firing pin. Reinstall the factory hardware. The steel ball goes first followed by the spring, then the factory set screw. The spring can be left out if chosen.

    2. Reinstall the buttstock and buttstock screw.

      For more detailed information on the safety deletes please read the article HERE

      Safety Deletes available HERE

Left side of rifle with basic safety delete installed


Determining whether or not disabling the factory cross-bolt safety is appropriate is the responsibility of the firearm's owner or user. By purchasing this product and installing it you are assuming all responsibility and consequences that may result from altering the factory cross-bolt safety that comes with the firearm. Disabling the factory cross-bolt safety can result in an increased possibility of accidental discharge that could result in injury or worse. Additional caution and special attention should be used when using a firearm with a disabled cross-bolt safety. Always treat a firearm as if it could discharge at any moment to avoid accidents. 

Written by william kunz — April 17, 2013

More on the Safety Deletes and Their Function

I just wanted to give a little more background about their use and answer a few common questions. 

Beartooth Mercantile presently offers two different styles of safety deletes available for the Marlin Lever action rifles; the regular safety deletes and safety delete with saddle ring. The regular safety delete simply replaces the factory cross-bolt safety with a piece of steel that resembles the appearance of a screw. The safety delete with saddle ring replaces the factory cross-bolt safety with a saddle ring and stud on the left side of the receiver and appears to look like a screw on the right side. 

While the regular safety delete is relatively easy to install, it also allows the factory hardware to be reused. The factory cross-bolt safety is held in place with a small set screw, spring and detent ball. The factory hardware is sufficient for holding the regular safety delete in placewhen installed correctly. 

Factory hardware shown with regular safety delete and allen wrench

Factory screw, spring and ball shown with allen wrench and regular safety delete

The safety delete with saddle ring offers more uses than the regular safety delete; therefore, requiring more consideration during install. if the shooter enjoys a more western-style, the saddle ring addition does add visual appeal to the rifle. However, the saddle ring is still functional and one needs to consider if the ring will be used in the field or just installed for aesthetics. The saddle ring can be used to secure the rifle into a scabbard or used to attach a single point sling. If it is used in either of these ways, the factory hardware is not adequate for installing the safety delete with saddle ring. To properly secure the safety delete in place, the factory hardware must be replaced with an 8-32 set screw sufficiently long enough to engage the length of threads in the receiver and the divet in the safety delete. The factory hardware will allow the safety delete to rotate in place if the saddle ring is twisted since the system is spring loaded. The spring, factory screw and ball must be replaced with one longer screw to eliminate possible rotation. 

In order to install a longer screw, the hole that the factory hardware is installed must have its threads continued all the way through. This can be done with an 8-32 tap. A person must take care when doing so to prevent cross threading or damaging the factory hole in the receiver. If the owner is not comfortable tapping the receiver, they should take the rifle to a qualified gunsmith. The factory hole in the receiver is in an awkward position and is not easy to access with your basic tap and handle. The hole and threads are also not perpendicular to the surface they penetrate.

If a person does not wish to use a tap on their receiver, an alternative involves using the factory hardware minus the spring. If only the steel ball and factory set screw are used, the screw can be tightened against the ball and create a reasonably secure install. This method will prevent the saddle ring and stud from rotating if it is snagged. The reuse of the factory screw and ball would be adequate for most people and their use of the rifle and it does not require modifying the rifle. If the saddle ring is subjected to heavy use, including the use as a sling attachment point, it would be best to tap the remainder of the hole and use the appropriate set screw.

Location in receiver of factory screw, spring and ball. Must be modified to securely install safety delete with saddle ring

It is ultimately up to the owner of the rifle if they want to modify their receiver to secure the safety delete with saddle ring in place to a degree that allows functional use of the ring. It is possible to install it with the factory hardware if eliminating the cross-bolt safety is the only goal. However, one must consider that it is possible to snag the saddle ring and turn the safety delete enough to prevent the rifle from firing. Rotating the safety delete will put it in a position that prevents the hammer from engaging the firing pin. Due to the fact that the regular safety delete would have to be rotated with a screwdriver after it is installed properly, using factory hardware is not normally an issue. The safety delete with saddle ring can be rotated more easily with factory hardware installed and this is why using a longer set screw instead is recommended.


Blued Safety delete with saddle ring before and after install


Determining whether or not disabling the factory cross-bolt safety is appropriate is the responsibility of the firearm's owner or user. By purchasing this product and installing it you are assuming all responsibility and consequences that may result from altering the factory cross-bolt safety that comes with the firearm. Disabling the factory cross-bolt safety can result in an increased possibility of accidental discharge that could result in injury or worse. Additional caution and special attention should be used when using a firearm with a disabled cross-bolt safety. Always treat a firearm as if it could discharge at any moment to avoid accidents. 

Written by william kunz — September 30, 2012

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.

Written by Honus Titcomb — August 23, 2012

New Site

Hi, everyone, we changed our site a little bit. Let us know if you have any questions. Email us at


Thanks for visiting Beartooth Mercantile. We specialize in accessories for Marlin Lever action rifles including 1894's, 1895's, 336's and Guide Guns. We also make other items and accessories, so please browse the site.

If you have any questions, please call 307.222.6004 or email us at Email is the preferred method of contact.

Shipping is $5 flat rate for orders less than $100 within the US. Orders over $100 receive free shipping.

Shipping to Canada is $10 USD. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks shipping to Canada. There may be a customs or import fee required by Canada Post.

Shipping to Western Europe is $10 USD via postal services. Additional import fees may apply.

Firearms shipped to USA FFL holders only.

All other international shipping is $15 USD flat rate.

Thanks for Visiting!