Lever Fever! Question of the Day: Marlin or Winchester?

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Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

18 Responses to Lever Fever! Question of the Day: Marlin or Winchester?

  1. avatarJoshua says:

    Marlin. I don’t always like having a scope. I do like always having the option of a scope (or rails). But I still want one of each.

  2. avatarTerry4Strokes says:

    If I really need to choose, I guess Marlin would the best answer. As the video points out they are easier disassemble and assemble. As for the side v. top eject debate, I have a big mental hurdle about putting glass on a lever gun – spoils the cowboy mystic.

    I own several, and in truth, I love them all. I feel like John Freaking Wayne every time I have one in my hands (that includes my Rossi 92, my BLR and the little Henry)

  3. avatarRyan Finn says:

    Marlin. I’m a side eject kind of guy and I’m so in love with my CAR it’s unnatural. I don’t think I could make the switch to Winchester.

  4. avatarMagoo says:

    The Winchester is technically interesting and has the historical cachet, but the Marlin is the better piece for shooting, really. IMO.

  5. avatarZealot says:

    Put me down for the Marlin. I prefer the simpler mechanics both in terms of disasembly/reasembly/cleaning and in terms of fewer moving parts means less to potentially go wrong (not that I fear for a Winchester’s reliability per se). Factor in the drilled and tapped receiver and side eject and the fact that the Marlin can generally be had for a little less $$$ and the choice gets even easier.

    My biggest gripe would be that if you want the older models with a slimmer forend, no checkering and no cross bolt safety, you also have to accept the micro-groove rifling. Not a big deal but does limit your ammo options (no store-bought, non-jacketed bullets) unless you roll your own and make the necessary adjustments (hard cast, slightly enlarged diameter). Not a deal breaker, but a straw on the camel’s back none the less.

  6. avatarmiforest says:

    tough choice, but owning both, I find the Winchester 94 handier and a little quicker than the marlin 336. overall you can’t go wrong with either, especially with the new premium ammo. I like the 35 remington a lot more than the 30/30 for hunting.

  7. avatarMike V99 says:

    What century do you guys live in? Since the early 1980′s, all Model 94′s have had angle eject and are drilled and tapped for low center-line scope mounts. Enough of the side ejection advantage for Marlin (which I do like). It has not existed in any Model 94′s made for the last 30 years. Of course, if you want a REAL lever action, the Savage 99 is the true path and light and way. Heal thyself you John Wayne wannabes!

  8. avatarCRS says:

    Both (and the Savage, Henry, and Browning, etc) are great rifles for their intended purposes and you should choose the one(s) that best suits you and your need/wants.
    Personally, I chose the big bore Miroku made Winchester replicas for very specific reasons:
    -1895 Winchetser in .405 WCF; the factory 300 grain aHornady ammo can take any North American big game and it can be handloaded for anything from 210 to 400+ grain bullets for everything from plinking to hunting prairie dogs to elephant.
    -1886 Winchester .45-90 with 26″ octagon barrel can use bullets from less that 300 hundred to 450 grains and take any critter on the planet with the right bullets. If needed it also uses factory or handloaded .45-70 ammo and shoots it quite well.
    With these two objectives, there were not many levergun options from which to choose.

  9. Marlin. I don’t like how loose Winchesters get when you open the action. I know they were designed that way on purpose, but it feels flimsy to me. By comparison, Marlin’s actions are very crisp and solid feeling.

  10. avatarVigilantis says:

    The Marlin has always felt better to me than the Winchester, so sign me up for one.

  11. avatarJim Farmer says:

    I took my first legal deer almost 30 years ago in Klamath County, Oregon with a
    Winchester Model 94 .30-30 lever action carbine: post 1964. Too, I remember
    when the Oregon State Police and Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem had the
    same gun/caliber combination. Not so anymore of course. I’m sure both have
    long since converted to Colt AR-15′s, Ruger Mini-14′s, or whatever. However,
    aside from being the classic “deer rifle” either the Winchester Model 94 or Marlin
    336 (formerly the Model 1893 until revamped in 1948) remains perhaps all the
    homeland security/self defense rifle the average citizen needs. Of course, the venerable .30-30 can be supplemented with both handgun and rifle. My point
    is this: a private citizen doesn’t need an arsenal to protect themselves and their
    turf, even today. The classic firearms are still in vogue, useful, and practical despite
    being over a century old in design.

  12. avatarJake F. says:

    I’ve never shot either but after handling them I like the Marlin better.

  13. avatarAuricTech says:

    With apologies to Paul Simon:

    “There must be fifty ways to love your lever.” ;-)

    With that out of the way, having handled neither rifle, I would think that authenticity would be a key attribute, so whichever rifle most closely matches the period when lever-action rifles ruled the roost would be the one I would pick.

  14. avatarJim Outhier says:

    I prefer the marlin, have a .444Marlin and a .450Marlin

  15. avatarChris Dumm says:

    One of my worst “shouldn’t have sold that” regrets is that I let go of a wonderful Marlin Model 36. In my own defense, I recall that it had one of the worst triggers I’ve encountered on a non-surplus rifle.

    It was solid, accurate (3″) and abso-freaking-lutely reliable. I want another one, but possibly in a pistol caliber; a .45 Long Colt hits like a sledgehammer (and a .357 absolutely sizzles) from an 18″ or 20″ barrel.

  16. Buy a used Marlin, and do it soon. Remington just closed the factory and hasn’t announced where the “new” Marlins will be made.

    In light of the quality issues that Remington has experienced lately, I fear what will happen to the Marlin brand.

    Ditto for Bushmaster, another closure by Remington/Cerberus planning.

  17. Excelente información; que opinas de Manzanillo como opción para la pesca del Marlin?

  18. avataranimalspooker says:

    Is this a serious question. I am SHOCKED how many of you have chosen Marlin. I would not give you any of my Winchesters for two of your Marlins…and I’m a gun dealer.

    By the way AuricTech…that was one of the best posts I’ve seen in a long time!

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