Marlin 336BL (courtesy rifleshootermag.com)

We haven’t heard much from Marlin since The Freedom Group screwed the pooch. More specifically, they moved production without moving the employees that built their firearms. The result: guns whose quality—or a distinct lack thereof—sullied the storied firearms manufacturer’s reputation. Our test gun’s stock broke in half before we fired a shot. Our favorite Marlin customizer shared horrific tales of a plethora of post-Freedom Group guns gone bad. At some point, Marlin stopped producing Marlins. And now they’re back. rifleshootermag.com offers readers a review of the Marlin 336BL (“Big Loop”) that could help rehabilitate the brand’s rep. Stan Trzoniec’s only bitch about the .30-30-only lever gun: “the horrendous trigger pull.” Otherwise, nine out of 10. Then again, has any member of the Guns & Ammo family every panned a product? TTAG will secure a modern Marlin and report back. Meanwhile, what’s the word on Marlin in your neck of the woods?

65 Responses to Model 336BL Proves Marlin’s Back! In Theory . . .

  1. I handled a new in box Marlin 336 at my LGS last month.The stock looked like imitation wood,the loop had sharp square edges which immediately scratched my right hand,and the trigger felt like a Glock NY2.Racking the action was like prying a rusted lug nut off an axle.

    In short,it should have come with a legal waiver mandating any purchaser to immediately take the piece to a gunsmith for final assembly.

    • That’s odd. I handled one at my local Academy Sporting Goods this weekend. Fit & finish were very good, wood stock was nice (for this price point). Action was smooth, though stiff (new, supposed to be stiff).

  2. I was actually looking at the Marlin big bore 45 / 70. For $600 it is cheap cost wise, and with the money savings I can do a trigger job.
    The more I look at the 30 30, or 308 or 45 /70 Marlin I got a ittchin to get one.

    • Have you considered .444 Marlin or are you leaning 45/70 since it seems the chambering has made a comeback?

      I had a .444 a coupla decades back, and out to 200ish yards it was as powerful as anything.

  3. Eve if they are ‘back’, now I have to wait 2 years for supply (& reasonable prices) to catch up with pent-up demand.

    See you in 2015.

  4. Do ANY of the gun mags EVER say anything bad about ANY gun? More TTAG gun reviews please!!!! I have a laundry list of toys I’d like to see you guys beat the crap out of!

    • I used to work at a magazine in a different industry. Here’s the deal: The writers were not allowed write a bad review, because it hurt ad sales. The magazines make nearly all of their money selling ads to the people they are reviewing, and one bad review will destroy that relationship. Further, ad deals were exchanged for reviews. In short, no magazine that sells ads has any credibility. Never trust a review in a gun rag.

        • Every gun is joy to shoot, a pleasure to shoot, a dream to shoot . . . The guy who writes those reviews, whose name I won’t mention even though I like him, has a blast with the guns. Get it?

        • Oh, I get it, but I think the “dream to shoot” thing predates him by a couple dozen years, back to the days when dead-tree media meant something.

      • The reviews are often coded, so you can tell what the reviewer didn’t like. Look at the penultimate paragraph. That will often be a summary of things to beware. Then they come back in the final paragraph with “But those issues are more than balanced by the gun’s solid packaging, clear labeling, and snappy marketing campaign” to give it a good send-off.

      • There were some gents who got fed up and started their own subscription service. (This in the days before much of anything on the web.) They did it up right, bought the test guns out of pocket and wrote some very honest reviews.

        I wish I could remember the name, or what ever happened to them.

        Edit: I think they turned into “gun-tests”…

      • About 30 years ago they had a Mag called Pistolero (spelling?) That took no ads, so as not to be swayed. Would be nice to have something like that around again

      • @ TV: Amen to that! Every gun review and every car review seems to rave about the product being reviewed being the best ever, a must have etc. no matter how much of a piece of rubbish it actually is.

        I bought a 1895 Guide gun a few years ago, still with JM markings,and have been mostly happy with it except for the lever catching on the receiver when you close the action (the little tab that slide up into the receiver will require some stoning of the metal to taper it and remove the point of binding). I don’t really view this as a reasonable problem to have on a new gun, but otherwise the fit, finish and accuracy is impeccable.

        HOWEVER most recently looked at perhaps 6-8 1895s and 336s at a local auction here this weekend…new in box. If I was the manufacturer I would be embarrassed to throw them in the scrap heap for melting. Poor quality finish on both wood and metal, horrendous wood to metal fit, machining marks on everything, and pressed checkering that was actually smeared out like the stock had slipped while it was being pressed… ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. I’m not sure the production date of these guns so they may have been a bit older production, but I will forever remember them for their hideously bad quality.

        Honestly I had always though these complaints about Marlin quality issues to be the over-stated delusions of drama queens, but I stand corrected. Rubbish..

        Shame on TFG for running out beloved Marlin Firearms Co into the dirt. The shooing community would have been better off if it has been sold to the Chinese and production moved overseas.

    • you need to get gun test magazine to suplement your TTAG. they don’t do anything else and take no advertising. they will trash any that deserve it.

  5. I got a 336W from Dick’s a few years back. I didn’t like the parkerizing or the generic hardwood stock so I traded it, but the gun was flawless as a shooter and cycled like butter. Fit and finish was excellent, and this was for their bottom of the line model.

    I was pretty impressed. I wound up with a Marlin from a few years before the merger and the barrel is not on straight so the sites don’t line up, I have to use a scope with it. Shoots good but bothers me always.

    I would not hesitate to buy another ReMarlin.

    • Dunno about the Marlin .22 leverguns, as I haven’t fired one since about 1986, but I have a Marlin Model 60, and it’s a sweet shooter. Handles well and is as accurate as you can ask any off-the-rack .22 to be; I’ve heard in several places that they’re inherently more accurate than Ruger 10/22’s, and I believe it. Mine is more accurate than I am. And they’re about half the price of the Rugers. Bottom line, a Marlin model 60 will give you a whole lot of bang for your buck. They’re great little guns.

      • Model 39 is a keeper, the older one’s shoot so well and that take-down feature is a blessing. I have a couple of model 60 .22′ much shot and abused by teenagers with zip for cleaning except when they locked up from powder residue. Proper cleaning and getting the lead residue out of the bore changed these into real shooters. Fake birch stock crap, trigger pull crap, finish gone but they will still shoot to point of aim at 50 yards these were cheap low cost entry guns BUT: all were built to last. I’m on my second Marlin Papoose (stainless this time) the takedown feature is great at it is acceptably accurate with a 4x Tasco scope. I also have a .444 and a .450 stainless both very accurate and smooth so let’s hope Marlin is back.

    • 39A?
      Why that gun is 122 years old so it must be ok if people keep buying them.
      Found my Golden Mountie in 1979 on a flat roof garage my employer rented next his studio
      The face down side was rusty and the stock on the sun side up was bleached. I refinished the stock, a smith reblued the metal. (must have been well oiled because the action was fine)
      That and my Single Six make a nice pair.

      One disadvantage of the Model 60 compaired to the 10/22 is the tube magazine. Otherwise those two are always the .22 auto standard

    • For accuracy, my model 60 and the model 795 are the best low price 22 autos I own. Outshoot my Ruger 10/22 or my Remington all day long. At my gun club, a couple of buddies who have custom built their Rugers, shoot better with the model 60. My favorite? Model 795. I like the magazines, accurate, no worry field gun. Academy sporting goods in my area sell the 795 for $139.

    • The Model 60 was the gun that proved the American gun buying public can be duped into buying anything if it is sold cheaply enough.

      • Por que you no likey Model 60? I’ve got 3 (mid-late 70s) that have at least 60K rounds collectively, with nary a hiccup.

        I know the post ’85 models have been ‘built to a price-point’, (plastic triggers anyone?) but I’m curious as to what issues you have seen with older models. I’ve found them to be about as reliable as a stone-axe.

        If I was going to the Arctic Circle, I’d take my Nylon 66. Everywhere else, a Glenfield tags along.

    • My 60 is great to shoot but it is from the late 80’s. They can be found used for around $100 and will still be accurate and as reliable as a .22 can be.

    • I bought a new Model 60 last year, mainly because I liked the look of it more than the 10/22. It’s great, shoots 2 MOA with tech sights, shoots everything I can find (not much right now) with no problems. I’m going to buy a 10/22 takedown soon, but the Model 60 is still great.

  6. A friend and I secured a Marlin .22 Model 60 rifle recently. We had numerous issues with the thing (FTF, FTE, stovepipes into the bolt) although a lack of pre-firing breakdown and cleaning may have contributed.

    The design is also a HUGE pain in the ass if it gets a jam – you have to clear the tube “magazine”, and then shake the round out of the chamber. We were cursing Marlin and the rifle by the time we left and it has definitely left an indelible mark on my memory as to who to avoid in future purchases…

    • “you have to clear the tube “magazine”,”

      No, you don’t. Just lock the bolt open by pulling it as far back as you can and then pushing the charging handle in towards the body of the rifle.

      • forgot to mention the ejector wasn’t pulling the round out of the chamber and I believe we had issues locking the bolt back as well – When you pulled the bolt back it was trying to strip a new round off as it tried to go forward into the round already in the chamber. All in all just disappointing in every respect.

    • The Model 60 is such a horrible design that when I see one come in the door, I’m sorely tempted to take the owner aside and say “Allow me to buy you a real .22 rifle. This… this… this thing you have here is a piece of extruded cow pie posing as a .22 rifle…”

      Any gun writer who is worth their salt should have panned the Model 60 when it first came out, and they should have installed a “this thing is a piece of crap” button on their computer to generate a template review until such time as it was removed from the market.

      That gun writers continue to write that the Model 60 is an acceptable substitute for a .22 rifle is proof positive of the oleaginous mendacity that passes for critical review in gun rags.

      They claim they’re accurate. They might be. I have different standards of accuracy. They claim they’re reliable. I have different standards for that too. It is when you pull the barreled action out of the stock that a true gun aficionado should recoil in horror … and shame, if they were duped into buying one.

      • If you want a reliable 22 rifle that eats any ammo then buy the Savage Mk II bolt gun. Nothing beats a bold action rifle for reliability and accuracy.

      • The action is nasty but I can shoot less than 3 MOA with only a 4x scope. And I have a shorter Glenfield 75C, made in the 70s. I rebuilt the action after losing a bunch of parts. Regardless, it works just fine.

      • I guess you can call me a fake gun aficionado, then — although I think when you say aficionado, you actually mean connoisseur. Which I’m not. I’m more like an enthusiast.

        I dunno what your accuracy standards are, and I’m far from a pro, but if I do my job right I can plug pop cans right in the Pepsi logo at 75+ yards, and I’m pretty sure my crappy little model 60 could do even better if I had a scope and better technique (or at least better eyeglasses).

        So it’s cheaply made and cheaply sold, and apparently makes gunsmiths tear their hair out. Despite that, it works very well. For the budget-minded (i.e., poor) shooting enthusiast who needs to optimize the cost-to-fun ratio or the beginner who needs a low-risk, high-capability starter gun, it could be just the thing.

  7. Bought an 1895 Guide Gun new for my dad back in December. The damn thing wouldn’t feed factory ammo. Took it to the local warranty authorized shop, they said “Yeah, these usually come back in, but they just need some adjustment. Nothing’s ever terribly wrong.” Had it back a week later. It feeds ammo now, and otherwise seems to be working well. So yeah, Marlin fit and finish still kinda sucks, but a stock breaking is still the most catastrophic thing I’ve heard of happening. Hopefully they’re on an upswing.

  8. I bought a Marlin XT-22M .22 mag. last year, and it is a very nice gun. Shoots 1/2″ groups at 50 or more yards with a 4X scope.

  9. I bought a 2 year old Marlin as a gift for one of my inlaws. I actually like my Inlaws but the gun was definitely saying I didn’t. I went to work to correct the horrendous high point of impact by adding front sights made for aftermarket peep sights. I then polished the internals to help with the feel and trigger. All in all it was far from the Marlin I bought 6 years ago. Exact same 336C but clearly not the same fit and finish.

  10. The only recent Freedom Group experience is my son’s 870 Remington 8 shot security model. The plastic follower on the magazine spring kept wiggling around in the tube and causing feeding issues. This was the gun he bought just for his house gun. He replaced the plastic part with a metal after market piece and the gun has run fine since. I guess new in the box means don’t trust it til you’ve had a chance to see if it’s busted or not.

    I have a pre safety Marlin .30-30. Great rifle. My son “borrowed” it from me as a brush gun for a pig hunt. Now I have to go to his place if I want to see my rifle. At least he cleans it and feeds it well. It looks happy.

  11. Last year I bought the cheapest version of the xt-17hmr heavy barrel for $240 or so. Tossed the stock because very obvious cheapness/low quality. Everything else works great and seems well put together. Now in a Boyds laminate thumbhole stock I’m confident in the guns ability to pick off walnuts or golf balls out to at least 100yrds. My ability however is less good.

  12. I have a Marlin 1895 XLR in .45-70. It has a lovely 24″ stainless barrel, grey laminate wood, and is topped with a Leupold 2-7x scope. Fit and finish are very good. I still have photos of several 3/4″ size 3 shot groups at 50 yards using 325 grain Hornady LeverEvolution. Aside from target shooting, I’ve taken three deer with the combo.

    The gun is a tank. My friend who hunts deer with me in WI purchased a Marlin Guide Gun after appreciating mine. My stepson’s Winchester Trapper feels like a rattletrap compared to my Marlin. I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about Freedom Group and their quality control, and have not determined the original of the gun.
    Regardless, I have been very impressed with the gun.

  13. I have a post merger Guide Gun. I’d call it pretty good. Action is smooth, trigger is a bit heavy, but with a crisp, clean break. I was too late to the party to get one before things went to h3ll, and it took me until this last April to find one that I at least considered acceptable. They are by NO means “back” in the sense that they just don’t build em like they used to- but at least you can find one that doesn’t need s trip back for rework now.

  14. I can’t imagine any reason to buy a gun new when it’s readily available used for less money and with better quality. I recently picked up a 1957 Marlin 336 for $300ish. Quality is impeccable.

  15. Things like burrs on parts, problems with wood:metal fit, trigger pulls, etc – are all evidence that TFG has hired a bunch of managers who view the making of guns as a mere smokestack manufacturing industry.

    “Hey, the parts fit, they’re the right color… WTF are you clowns complaining about?”

    It is because of the mendacity of the gun press that gun companies get away with this atrocious level of QC. Gun rags have been excusing the lack of fit and finish on guns since Remington starts the downward spiral of American gun quality in the 1950’s.

    People might call me snobbish for how I point to Very Nice Guns and saying “Now, that is how a gun should be made!” when I illustrate my point with the jeweled or highly polished interiors. Let me give you some insight into what can and does happen on a gunsmith’s bench: When you pull apart a modern shotgun (like, oh, a Mossberg) and you cut your fingers on the burrs left on the internal parts (eg, the action bars), and bleed all over the customer’s gun because the manufacture couldn’t be bothered to have one minimum-wage flunky take off the burrs with a hand file or a belt grinder, one learns to appreciate a gun maker who goes the last mile to take the burrs off parts your typical gun owner will never see and never handle.

    Things like the Model 60 are filled with burrs. Burrs on parts, to me, are evidence of a gun company being run by amateurs in possession of MBA credentials.

    • Perhaps limit your Model 60 exposure to ones from the 70s. I’ve got three and there was none of what you are seeing in the later production. No burrs, no flash. I took them completely down to detail them when they were new, and there just wasn’t much to do. Little feedramp buff and that was about it.

      As for tack driving, I have a different rifle that is far better than I for that.

  16. I have a Marlin 336 in .30-30 that I bought in February of this year. The fit and finish, although not perfect, are excellent at the price point. I did replace the trigger with a Trigger-Happy kit from Brownells and smoothed the action a bit. All-in-all it is one of my favorite guns to shoot. Maybe I was lucky, but I have no complaints at all.

  17. If we had gotten The Freedom Group to arm Assad’s government in Syria, we wouldn’t be debating whether or not to bomb Damascus. The Syrian army would have collapsed, the civil war would have ended last year, Assad would be in exile in Russia and the RINOs could go back to kissing Obama’s @ss over something else.

    • I would agree with most of that. But the very last part. No one should lower them selves to kiss that pair of cheeks..
      But best said Obamba can go frack himself with a cheap (used unwashed) rubber schlong from Used toy store. If there were such a used Sxx toy store

  18. I’ve purchased two post-Freedom Group Marlin 1894c carbines in .357 Mag. One has over a thousand rounds through it, the other has between 250-500. Both have operated flawlessly, the fit and finish are excellent on both with the exception of a small blemish on the side of one of the rear sights, which I believe occurred at the gun store.

  19. I’ve compared many new Marlins to my grandpa’s 336 Centennial from 1970. None of them come anywhere close in fit or finish,. And if Marlin’s has been steadily decreasing since the 50s as others have said, then what does that tell you about the ones pumping out now?

  20. Both of my Marlin lever actions, a 30-30 and a 22lr are all 1980s vintage or previous. They are excellent guns, and I am sad to hear the company is no longer the icon it was in my father and grandfather’s day.

  21. In Fort Worth, brand new “Remlins” languish and deteriorate on the shelves, doing little else but collecting handling marks, while pre-Freedom Group Marlins demand a bit of a premium and sell pretty quickly.

    • Just about every used Marlin levergun I’ve seen (if it’s in good shape) goes for at least the same price as a new one, often higher.

  22. The only gun I wish I had never sold,
    My 1990 Vintage 336 in 38/357mag.a fun but useless to me at the time rifle.

  23. I was looking for a pair of lever actions in .357 mag and .44 mag, so I checked on Marlin. Reports were not good from the recent past and there was zero availability. This really broke my heart as I used to own a real nice shooting 45-70 that I purchased in 2001.

    Freedom Group, are you idiots listening!? Nice or deluxe wood with a pistol grip style butt. 24″ barrel in .357 mag, .44 mag and .45 Colt. Make a quality product at a reasonable price $800(?) and you will capture the market!

  24. My hands down favorite gun is the Marlin 1894c .357. I will never get rid of it.

    I think I bought it after the FG sale, but maybe I got a good one under the wire. Never had a problem with it, and the versatility of the .38/.357 round is hard to beat.

    The finish is not that of a 60 year old rifle, but I have been amazed at the deep shine it is getting just from me handling it.

    I’m a welder and a carpenter, though, so maybe it’s like a sand and an oil in one go.

  25. Marlin is in the process of converting all their rifle production to CAD design to significantly tighten up tolerances since the move from North Haven, CT. The 336 is completed and the current new ones for sale should be of a very high quality. I know the 39A is coming soon and others are in the pipeline. I would look for more info on the roll out of this process to see how the quality improves. It should back to where we expect Marlin to be.

    • *gigglesnort*

      Remington stopped heat-treating the ammunition handling components; the carrier generally warps to the point of uselessness after about two hundred rounds. This is ongoing. The grade of steel is nowhere near that used before the sale. Look up the issues that gunsmiths and custom shops are having with Remlins.

  26. I’m so glad my first Marlin 336 (an RC model in 30-30) was made in 1968. Bit of a bargain at $300 with 100 rounds of ammo included. It’s a terrific rifle, just bloody great. I couldn’t have made a better purchase.

  27. I have a 336 that dates to 1976. It has always performed well for me and is accurate. I can get about 2″ groups at 100 yards with Remington or Federal ammo. Good enough for deer hunting.

  28. I bought a new 336W (at Walmart) last year. The stock looked just cheap and awful but I had planned on replacing it with a black polymer stock anyway which I did. Before I ever shot it, I disassembled it and polished all of the sliding surfaces and stoned the bolt. Rifle looks good and operates smooth as a baby’s bottom. Couldn’t be happier!

  29. Have been out of the loop on Marlin since they closed in Conn. Today I went over to Big R and out of curiosity checked out the 336. Laminant wood checkering was less than impressive and I cut my hand on the lever from metal burs. Reciever finish looked like matte black spray paint!

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