On our site we offer both brass and stainless steel followers and people often want to know which is better. The two materials offer similar performance as magazine followers in a lever actions with some minor differences.
Brass on a steel magazine tube does have less friction and slides more easily than a stainless follower. There is not a significant amount of movement taking place between the follower and magazine tube during typical use of a lever action rifle, but over time the parts do wear. Brass has a slight advantage over stainless steel followers since the brass is softer than the steel of the magazine tube; therefore, the brass follower will wear out before the magazine tube rather than wearing on the rifle itself. This will only be an issue over the very long term and after cycling many rounds of ammunition, but it is better to replace a follower than a magazine tube. Adequate lubrication will prevent excessive wear.
A brass follower looks similar to a cartridge and can make it difficult to determine if the magazine is empty without looking closely.
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 wear and over time likely will need replaced.
The reliability of the Marlin lever guns should not be undermined by a cheap plastic follower. Whether a person chooses brass or stainless, replacing the plastic follower or upgrading from a carbon steel one will add to the overall performance and dependability of the firearm.
Follower sizes for 1894 and 1895 Marlin Lever action rifles.