336 Marlin VS Win 94


September 5, 2004, 10:17 AM
First of all, every time I see a "this" vs "that" thread I kind of cringe knowing that many times they end up in a war. I don't want that to happen here.

I would like to know from people who have owned both of these rifles, or who own both currently, what they liked or disliked about each.

And scope mounting is not an issue here. What ever one I end up with will be fitted with a rear apeture of one style or another.

And if it matters, my caliber choice will probably be 30-30. Just because.
Thanks guys.

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Mr. Chitlin
September 5, 2004, 10:20 AM
The thing that sold me on the 336 over the 94 was the 336 had the pistol grip, while the 94 had the straight grip. I liked the feel of the 336 better. I also liked the flat top of the 336 for scope mounting, but that is not an issue with you.

September 5, 2004, 10:42 AM
You can't go wrong with either one. I think it really comes down to aesthetics and handling. Since the Marlin's primarily have a pistol-gripped style buttstock versus the Winchester's more traditional, straight stock, you pick the one you like the best. Also, Marlin's are side eject where Winchester's are top eject.

I like both and own (have owned) both. Right now, my favorite is my newly acquired 94 Trapper in 44 Magnum.

September 5, 2004, 12:23 PM
knzn : I have owned both, and I prefer the Marlins. They just feel better to me, and in my opinion they are more ridgid, stronger and more accurate. I have had several Marlins that were over 50 years old, and they were all very accurate and reliable.

Wichever you choose, you can't go far wrong with a .30-30, an underrated, accurate and versatile cartridge.

Good luck...It would be interesting to know your eventual choice.


PS I eventually had to buy and use a 94 just to see what they were like. They are cheap enough that you can own one of each.

September 5, 2004, 12:52 PM
I have had both in the past. I liked the Win 94, but it really was nostalgia related and not because it was a better rifle.

My Marlin 336 I picked up fro a song, I think I bought the rifle, a reloading press, dies, and a bucket of brass for $65.00. I shot it a lot and sold it for a really nice profit, and decision I have regreted my times. It was more accurate than the Win 94, and made better. Both of these rifles were circa 1975 ish or a little older, so it was during the bad winchester years and it was just a post 64 Win lever. The other Win 94 I had was beautiful, a 44 Mag with a manzanita stock, that very quickly developed a big crack, I was not impressed.

But if I was going to go get another lever, there are really only three that would interest me.

1. Marlin
2. Belgium Browning BLR
3. Savage 99

But in fairness a 38-55 Winchester would have to hit that list.

I know Win has done some fixing on the new 94s, and I really can't comment on the changes or improvements. But the 336 in a 30-30 is a very fine rifle. If you go that route, and are planning on not scoping it, look into putting a peep rear sight on it, this is one of the best 100 yd deer rifles your likely to get your hands on, everything is just right in that package, light, quick handling, accurate for its purpose, and rugged.

R.H. Lee
September 5, 2004, 02:41 PM
I have one of each and prefer the Marlin. It's stronger, heavier, better looking and more accurate. But then the Winchester I have was made in 1906.

September 5, 2004, 03:02 PM
Marlin. It's considered to be stronger, due to the solid upper receiver. Its also (IMO) a much better bang for the buck. I also like the pistol grip better than a straight-grip stock.

September 5, 2004, 04:07 PM
I just started deer hunting last year (good excuse to get another rifle), bought a well used but functional Mod 94 with a 6x scope, shot three deer with it but missed three. Shooting from a climbing stand off hand 30' up a tree on my blind side was not as easy as I thought. I traded the 94 in on a 336 and have been practicing, is much easier for me to handle, scope is in line with gun instead of side mounted, trigger is much better and there is a functional safety instead of the lever one. I missed at least two deer because of not positioning of my hand to squeeze the lever up and to also have a good trigger pull. With the 336 the safety is either on or off instead of the process of one or the other. The 336 also seems to be more robust in the lever action and more ruggedly built overall.


Vern Humphrey
September 5, 2004, 04:31 PM
When we moved onto the ranch in 1956, my Dad opined he was going to get a .30-30. In my 14-year old wisdom, I told him, "The Marlin is better than the Winchester." If you knew Dad, you'd know that was the WRONG thing to say.

Somehow, that 94 Winchester became mine by adverse possession, and rode in my saddle boot every day. I killed a pile of deer with it, along with coyotes, feral dogs and many another varmit.

Later on, in college, I got a Marlin -- and never liked it. It seemed too clubby, and didn't have the trigger the Winchester had. I eventually got rid of it.

When I graduated from Officer Candidate School, I walked into the PX at Fort Sill, Oklahoma with my first paycheck and bought a Model 94, put a Williams 5-D receiver sight on it (in those days, they actually cost $5.00) and I still have it.

September 5, 2004, 04:34 PM

Were both those Winchester's pre 64 Models?

September 5, 2004, 04:50 PM
Had a Marlin.. I gave it away. Eventually I'll get around to replacing it with a Winchester '94.

The Marlin isn't a bad gun by any means -- just too heavy and clunky for what it is. To my mind, a .30-30 should be a sleek little carbine, and the Marlin was just overbuilt for the job. That, and I couldn't shoot the one I had worth a darn.. don't know if it was a lemon rifle or it just didn't fit me right, but I couldn't get a lick of accuracy out of the darn thing compared to other rifles I had. From others here, I'm sure it's not a company-wide problem.

The Winchesters I've played with feel much better to me, though I dislike the little extra safety that forces you to squeeze the lever closed. I presume those can be deactivated, yes?


September 5, 2004, 05:01 PM
Marlin made a straight stocked version called the 336T (Texan) that was my first ever deer rifle.

Only "bad" points about the Winchester, aside from the "extra" squeeze (blah) is the lever seems to have more side to side play than any Marlin I've ever handled.

Marlin's extractor can wear down over time, I've seen three 1895 models and one 336 with that problem.

The Winchester is lighter, and I like the saddle ring on some models.

Both shoot just fine, but the extra metal in the barrel of the Marlin makes it more rigid, and 'should be' more accurate.

Vern Humphrey
September 5, 2004, 05:01 PM
Were both those Winchester's pre 64 Models?

The first one was, the second one wasn't. Frankly, unless you do a side-by-side comparison, you can't tell the difference. In terms of trigger, accuracy, reliability and so on, the second was fully the equal of the first.

What Winchester (or Marlin, for that matter) is selling these days, I can't personally vouch for.

September 5, 2004, 08:30 PM
I have a Marlin 336 with a receiver aperture sight. It is a great rifle for target shooting and plinking. Williams makes good receiver mounted aperture sights for the Marlin and Winchester lever action rifles.

September 5, 2004, 09:43 PM
.... and so just how is current Winchester quality control anyway? Other than some QC issues I have heard recently which I cannot personally attest too, I do know the Marlin is heavier and the Winchester just "seems" like the right gun, it is light, handy, and conjurs up images of the Duke and the rifleman. On buying your Winchester you will certainly be happy, on shooting it and using it (if you hunt deer) you might not be so happy. I used to be a big fan of light carbine length guns, that was until I learned that they were not all that steady when shooting off hand. At my stage in life hitting what I shoot at seems more important than other factors.....I too love the feel of the winchester, the nostalgia and images it conjures up in ones mind, but I hunt and kill deer with a Marlin......jimmyp

September 9, 2004, 02:25 PM
Have been shooting both since the early 70s and still own at least one of each. I prefer the Marlin, mostly because it's a snap to clean from the breech.

I agree that the Marlin stocks are fatter than the Winchester. I don't have to tuck it into a scabbard and carry it around on a horse, so that hasn't bothered me. :D

Honestly, you're unlikely to regret either purchase.

September 9, 2004, 02:58 PM
I had a 336 in .30-30 and a 94 Trapper in .44 Magnum. I traded both of the off awhile back. Here are my thoughts...

The 336 is a more "solid" feeling rifle.
This particular gun was an older, straight stocked version with a nasty varnish finish. I stripped it down and lo and behold it was very pretty Walnut beneath. I thinned the forestock down while I was at it and you would not believe how much this improved the handling. I little wood removal goes a long way. Anyway, after putting about 25-30 coats of BLO on it, it looked like a champ. I ended up selling (for a nice profit, I might add...) it because after careful consideration, I found that I did not need a .30-30. It was a good gun though.

The 94 was MUCH lighter and handier.
Given, this was a 16" Trapper model, but every other 94 I've handled was lighter and handier than the Marlin. THis was a newer model with the push-button lawyer protection on the side. I did not like that feature. It shot well up to just over 100 yards, then it started "patterning" like a shotgun. Again, this was NOT a .30-30, but a .44 Magnum.

If I had to get another .30-30, it would be an older 94. All things considered, the Marlin is overbuilt for the .30-30 cartridge. Granted, it is mush more solid feeling, but that solidity translated into weight, which is a bad thing in a brush gun. At times though, I miss that old Marlin...

September 9, 2004, 03:24 PM
TV Westerns aside, the Marlin 336 is a better-built rifle than the Winchester and can be had for less money because it is less romantic. The newer ones I have encountered have been more solid and better finished than the Winchesters. There is a reason why you hear about Pre 64 Winchesters but not Marlins.

Sure the Marlin is heavier and bulkier. But, come on, not that much. Being a Milsurper myself, I find the Marlin light and handy and the Winchester to be kinda flimsy feeling. But, romance aside, the Marlin is more solid than the Winchester.


September 9, 2004, 08:17 PM
the Marlin is overbuilt for the .30-30 cartridge


Probably true, which is why you can buy a 336 that fires the .45-70 and is plenty strong enough for .450 Marlin loads...they call it an "1895" but it is really just a 336. Darn fine rifle, too.

September 10, 2004, 09:37 AM
I have the Win 94 in 30-30. My brother-in-law has a 336 in 30-30 and a friend has a Marlin in .357mag.
The Win is lighter but has a terrible trigger(IMO). I looked into getting a trigger job but it looks like it would cost more than I paid for the rifle.
Because of the design and the popularity of the marlins in CAS there are smiths doing trigger jobs on marlins for very reasonable prices. Finding someone to tune up a Win 94 is not easy.
If you plan on having any tuning done, go with the Marlin.

Second, The new Winchester has a tang mounted safety. nice if you are left handed. Not a good idea if you were thinking of adding a tang mounted peep sight.


September 10, 2004, 01:03 PM
For new rifles, the Marlin is superior. Marlins are tougher, stronger, and better made. The modern Winchesters I've bought have not been up to serious use, and revealed major quality control problems. One 94 in .45 Colt shot four inches off POA right out of the box, at just fifty yards! To correct the problem the local service rep suggested bending the cheap rear tangent sight way over to one side. :rolleyes:

The modern production Marlins I've owned have been a different story, and have withstood the worst Alaska can offer. The only problems are the safety and the sights, and these are easy to fix with a receiver sight or scope and one of the little de-lawyer device that nullifies the safety.

September 10, 2004, 07:56 PM
I admit to haveing a few of each, Marlin 336 and Winchester '94. I have Lyman Receiver sights sights on all of them. I like the Model 66LA sights on the Marlins, and TAng sights on the Winchesters.
Is one brand better than the other? Not in my opinion . I find the Winchester a little 'handier', but the Marlin is a tad more accurate.
Toss up, in my book. Find your best deal, and enjoy.

September 10, 2004, 10:03 PM
I've owned several examples of both Winchester and Marlin lever-actions, and have standardized on the Marlin for all except one carbine at this time. There are several reasons:

1. In pistol calibers (e.g. .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, etc.) the Marlins seem to feed the shorter cartridges from the same family (e.g. .38 and .44 Specials, etc.) quite easily. I had a couple of Winchesters that were very unhappy about feeding the shorter loads.

2. The Marlin's solid-top receiver makes mounting scopes, red-dot sights, peep sights, etc. a snap. It's more difficult with the Winchester: the later, angle-eject models are easier, but there can still be problems with ejected cases "dinging" the bottom of scopes, etc. The angle-eject isn't always that much of an angle! :D

3. Cleaning: the Marlin seems to be rather easier to take down and clean than the Winchester, in my experience.

4. Operation in dirty/dusty/muddy conditions. With its enclosed action, the Marlin seemed to take an abusive environment rather better than the Winchester, which has its action exposed at the top during operation.

True, the Marlin 336's, and those based on this model, had "fatter" wood than the Winchester, and I didn't like this much: but it's amazing what a couple of hours with files and sandpaper will do to improve things! Also, one can get fore-ends, etc. from the "thinner" models, and these will often fit right onto the "fatter" stocked models, making things even easier.

That's been my experience. However, I have friends who swear by their Winchesters and at my Marlins, so I guess it's a matter of individual taste! :D

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