I would like to believe you are correct, however I recall handling a brand new one of these within the last year or so at a Sportsman’s Warehouse. Upon looking it over, the finish on wood and metal was definitely much nicer than the current production standard Marlin 1894, but one of the screws on the forearm mounting band had a broken off head. I pointed this out to the sales guy, thanked him for letting me handle it, and we both shook our heads before he called over another sales guy to discuss the situation.I’ll agree with you on Remlins. I did buy a 1894 cowboy limited edition in 45LC. I think the fact that it was a limited edition made the quality better. Everything on it is top notch. I consider it the winning magazinebucks ticket.
While I understand there will likely be issues with a certain % of any mass produced item, I was disappointed there wasn’t a final QC inspection that caught this fairly obvious flaw.
That said, as an owner of both 5 JM stamped Marlin levers, and 2 (one currently) newer production 1894s, I have noted a difference. To be fair, most of the older ones I have handled and own have been fired and cycled a decent amount, so the action was worked in. The newer ones are stiffer and not as smooth. And the 1894 CST needed a little work to load the magazine tube (detailed in another thread here last fall), but I have been happy with it since.
I had an 1894 45 colt that I purchased new 2-3 years ago that was a good rifle, with no issues. While not as nice as the older JM stamped rifles I have owned and handled, I was pleased with it for the cost. I only sold it as I intend to replace it with a 45 Colt cowboy model at some point when the right one comes along.