Marlin 336: are older ones better or not?


November 8, 2006, 02:30 AM
OK, this thread is going to be ripe for opinion and argument.
(Gee, that rarely happens on THR... :rolleyes: )

But I just gotta ask it.

I'm in the market for a Marlin 336 for a project.
<cough> Cowboy assault rifle ( <cough cough>

For a month or so, I've been reading lots about them, comparing various "sub models"
(e.g., A v C v W), and looking at and comparing new ones v. older used models.

I've read more than one statement similar to this:
"Don't waste time with new Marlins.
They're a piece of crap. Get an older model.
The new ones suffer from <insert problem here>..."

So, I thought it might be interesting, perhaps informative, to do a bit of research.

Offer your experiences, please: are older Marlins really better quality that the newer ones?

Please justify your answer in terms of materials, workmanship, accuracy, action, stock, forearm, etc, etc.

Reading with interest.


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November 8, 2006, 03:25 AM
Never post a new thread on election night,
because it gets buried.

Rifles are way more important than Demopublicans or Republicrats.


November 8, 2006, 07:50 AM
I voted equal, but an older one would be broken in already. Trouble is I can't seem to find a nice older one around here.


November 8, 2006, 08:17 AM
My 336 is 1975 vintage, and is really nice. I have a 1996 vintage 1894C, and it is really nice. I have a 2004 vintage 39A, and it is really nice.

I have seen newer 336's in gun stores, and they look really nice.

(I guess that Marlin has a history of making really nice firearms.)

November 8, 2006, 09:48 AM
I really do not like the push button safety on the newer Marlins. The first thing I do when I get a new Marlin is remove it and replace it with one the looks like a screw, but doesn't function as a safety. That leaves me with the half cock on the hammer which has served me well enough for the last 15 years or so. Some folks really like this feature, so to each his own.

Quality wise I would say they are same/same. I currently have eight Marlins, 1/3 newer types, 2/3 older ones.

Good luck with your project.

November 8, 2006, 12:53 PM
I own 3, but the oldest is only about 7 years old and the newest is less than a year old. They are all the same quality in my opinion (which is great and I've never had a problem with one). I can't tell you about rifles older than that.
And Nematocyst, you seriously just need to go buy a dang Marlin already! I see your posts in every lever action thread and now you're starting even more! Go buy the gun!
-just teasin ya!

November 8, 2006, 04:20 PM
And Nematocyst, you seriously just need to go buy a dang Marlin already! I see your posts in every lever action thread and now you're starting even more! Go buy the gun!LOL! :D

TexAg, I hear ya. ;)

I took cash with me to a local gun show last weekend. Had I found a good used 336 for a reasonable price ($250 or less), I'd have walked out with it. I was committed.

I found only three. Two were not a "good price", and one was ... well, just too beat.

Having not found one, I took the $250 and bought a washing machine. Yeah, I know, that's lame. Who would buy a washing machine instead of a new Marlin. :scrutiny: :rolleyes:

But money is tight for me right now, and I've been putting off that washing machine for ... well, years.

I've gotten advice on Marlins from several THR members that I really trust who've said, "Don't buy a new one, especially for this project." (I'm going to be cutting the barrel down to 18" or so, and will probably change out the stock for a Wild Dog synthetic eventually... soon as they start making Marlin stocks.)

So their reasoning is, it'd be a shame to modify a brand new gun, even a 336W. Get an older beater.

AND, they argue - probably correctly - that a used one is going to be $50 to $100 less than a new one, and the quality will be at least as good since Marlins are built so well.

Trouble is,

1) if it's a classic, then even if it's an older beater, it seems almost just as ... um, immoral (?) :rolleyes: to cut up a classic as to cut up a new one.

2) older beaters are hard to come by in my region right now. (We're in the middle of deer season, like elsewhere.) My THR friends are advising me to wait until after deer season to look. In spring, after the season, some will be selling their 336's, so more will be available.

I'm still considering that.

But, while I wait, I decided to do this bit of research on old v. new rifles. Best to keep ones options open.

This is informative. It's interesting to note that at this point in the poll, "older is better" and "older & newer are equivalent" are tied.

Very interesting. I'm wondering why there's so much discrepency. :scrutiny:

Let's see how this plays out.

Thanks, everyone.


November 8, 2006, 04:30 PM
If the Wild Dog stocks aren't out yet anyway, what's the rush to buy before the end of deer season? Wait until Joe Smith pawns his rifle for beer money, and go pick it up cheap.

Like an idiot, I bought a 30-30 one week before deer season here in TX (and I bought it for pigs, which are year-round), and it was still $175 for a 1961 Marlin. Just needs new buttplate, and I spent $50 on WGRS sights for it.

Unless you're convinced that Ted Kennedy will ban your 30-30 before deer season ends, or unless you're totally unarmed now, I see no problem w/ saving up, or buying your parts piecemeal on sale, until the end of deer season and influx of "3 rounds a year" Marlins.


November 8, 2006, 04:36 PM

That's basically my strategy now. I've spent my discretionary funds for the next few months on the washer (dang, being poor sucks :( ), and am probably going to have to wait until after January (my next influx of significant cash) to purchase a rifle.

(BTW, there's no assurance that WildDog is going to produce the stock soon. They've only said, "yes, it will happen", but it's not in their production schedule yet to my knowledge... so they aren't saying when.)

So, I'm just doing this research about old v. new now out of curiousity, mostly because there does seem to be different views on this issue. I thought it'd be useful to do a poll and gather opinions here in one THR thread about this issue specifically rather than have the opinions strewn around in so many threads.


November 8, 2006, 04:39 PM
While I wouldn't add "assault" to the title, I'm looking to do the same. I have about 7 marlins now, and will be buying my first "new" one to cut down and restock. Both new and old are great.

The issues that old ones might have are the same issues the new one might have (the Marlin jam-easy fix). But an older one would deffinitely have a slicker action from being used.

The safety is one aspect you might have a preference, the only one for me is price. Don't need a neat stock (synthetic going on), any aftermarket sights (going red dot or halo), and finish can be poor (going to cermacoat or other home cured coating), trigger will be a sweet WWG version and if a straight stock0- it will be converted to a curved lever setup.

Might even want to look at the "off brand" levers that Marlin made and other stores put their names on (Western Auto, Sears, etc..) I found a pretty beat up WA version and made an offer of $150. Waiting to hear back, but that is what the gun is actually worth in it's condition. Will save me $150 over buying a hardwood Big 5 version for $300 on sale. That $150 will go towards the machinework and materials. :)

My problem is I can't decide if I will do *just* one in 30-30 or three (a second in .357 for sure!) :D

Maybe post this question to the great folks over at or


November 8, 2006, 04:40 PM
Good deal. Why 18"?

Seems like a lot of effort to save 2". For what it would cost to cut and recrown, would it be better just to find a 16" 336 in the first place? I almost wish that I'd picked up a Spikehorn youth Marlin while they were making those. (EDIT: some guys have had cut/recrown for $40, that's not too pricey)

Ah well, I look at it this way: if I don't buy all the random little toys that appeal to me, I'll be able to save up plenty of money to buy the things that I really want. I could buy 3 random toys "just in case the price goes up", or save my money and get one really nice thing that I actually want.

Maybe keep an eye out for barely-used Spikehorns on GunBroker and AuctionArms right after deer season?


November 8, 2006, 04:48 PM
I don't have a huge amount of experience using a lot of different rifles, but I've handled quite a few over the years. I use my pre-lawyer 336 as a brush/back-up rifle but my nephew uses a new one as his only rifle. They both kill deer, but I think the finish on my older one is better overall.

I personally detest a safety on a lever gun. Besides being completely unnecessary, they add more moving parts to mess up and two more holes in the reciever to let gunk in.

Around here, used washing machines go for about $50.00. Rocks in the river are free.:neener:

If you are going to chop and re-stock it anyway, one with poor exterior finish sounds like a better deal. I've seen several of those that were mechanically almost new go cheap. The advice to wait untill later in the winter is excellent. Around tax time it is common to find some bargains. Put the word out in the right circles and you may have quite a selection to choose from.

Jody Johnson
November 8, 2006, 05:50 PM

In the late eighties, I think...Marlin made a straight-stock 336 ( similiar to the old 336 Texan ) for a while that had an 18 or 18-1/2" barrel. I had one for several years...that I had bought used. Gave it to a young man about a year ago as his first centerfire.

I paid about $200 for that one.

My current Marlin is actually marked "Glenfield", and is a half-magazine carbine. It's probably forty years or so old b/c the Glenfield generally had a hardwood stock, but this one is walnut. I paid $150 for it...and it, too, has an 18-1/2" barrel...

Look, be patient and you'll find what you want, probably at your price.

November 8, 2006, 06:19 PM
I have an old 63's Marauder 16" .35 Rem straight gripthat is very nicely machined and put together with gorgeous wood. It is worth $1000 so I've heard:D
The 1958 336SC .219 Zipper is equally well finished and valuable.
My1961 Golden 39A IS better finished than todays guns! It is better finished than the 1973 39M Octagon mountie I also own.
The 1911 1893 32-40 half octagon sporter is an exquisit piece of work, however the "special smokeless steel" is not as hard as post WW2 guns, which counts for me!
My 1973 1895 prefix BO straight stock seems better finished than my 1982 1895 which inturn has less machine marks than my 1895 Guide gun (the only cross bolt saftey Marlin I own:neener: )
Everyone is allways trying to buy my 1981 1894C 18.5" .357 with no safety for some odd reason! I ain't selling!

November 8, 2006, 06:22 PM
My oldest Marlin 336 is a 1949 model. My newest was made in 2004. They shoot about the same, which is to say, pretty darn good.
Now the older rifles I have, the 1949, a 1954, and the newest one, a 1957, all have much smoother actions then my newer rifles do. This might be the result of many many rounds through them.

George Hill
November 8, 2006, 06:47 PM
I suggest finding a pawnshop special. Look for a rifle with a good receiver and bore/rifling... everything else is going to be replaced.
The firing pin, lever, trigger, stocks... all that will be getting replaced.
.30-30 is awesome. .35 Remington is a touch heavier, but would make an awesome CAR. And of course .45-70 for sear brutality.

November 8, 2006, 08:26 PM
Other than the safety the rifles are pretty much the same.

I've never seen a 336 that had wood I'd consider "nice" but they work well.

Hardest to find is the 336T, a short barreled carbine with a straight stock.\\

I HATE that safety, half-cock is just fine.

November 8, 2006, 09:57 PM
I have one of the 336T's, and the action is very smooth. Personally, I can't really see a difference between older and newer 336 Marlins. Mine cost me $200 OTD at a pawn shop two years ago.


November 8, 2006, 11:27 PM
Not wise to correct the moderator BUT:The 336T was made in significant numbers from 1954-1983. The 336 TS with safety was made 1984-87. Now the 336DT " Deluxe Texan" had a select walnut stock with a long horn carved on one side and a map of the Holy State on the other and was made in 1962-63 and is "hardest to find":D
The even shorter squared lever and 16" 336 Marauder was made 1963-64 with less than 1000 in .35 Remington. :)
Finally the 336 SC.219 Zipper which has a pistol grip, 20" barrel and 2/3 magazine was made 1955-1960 with only 3,230 produced.Mine has spectacular grain structure.:)
And YES you find even NEW marlins with exhibition grade wood, although in the last 20 years or so the factory got wise and usually reserves it for special editions;)

November 9, 2006, 02:17 AM
I agree with the earlier posts that the older Marlins just, well, "feel" better. Thats the best I can explain it. Although, I do have an affinity towards older rifles. I have owned many new guns, but I always seem to sell them and revert back to older, used. Why? Because the "feel" better.

November 9, 2006, 03:15 AM
And speaking of fine older rifles, I'll put in a plug here for a nice 336 that Jackal has for sale (

Had I learned about it a day earlier, I might well have bought it instead of a washing machine.

Even more tempting now that he's dropped the price a bit.

But alas, splish splash, that washing machine makes its sound, and I just gotta wait a while longer.

This just in: poll results now at 57% (older & newer of equal quality) v. 37% (older are better quality).

We're anticipating a vote recount among Virginia THR members, so that could change. Stay tuned.... :p

November 9, 2006, 08:34 AM
Why 18"?Same as the 870P.

18" just feels right.

Biga bada boom.

November 9, 2006, 09:27 AM
FWIW - the early Marlin receivers (pre-1976 and pre-crossbolt safety models) were forged. Check with your gunsmith to be sure. These receivers are very hard and durable. They can be rebuilt into a rifle shooting a higher pressure cartridge. Mine is in .308 Winchester, with a 26" octagon-shaped barrel. Hits the same ragged hole downrange with each shot. Whether you want to go that route or another, I like the forged receiver to build around.

November 9, 2006, 09:36 AM
articdog, welcome to THR.

You've got the first first post in this thread.

Octogonal 26", eh?
Ragged holes.

I still want an 18" barrel,
but ragged holes are good.

And forged receivers.

Anybody else know anything about forged receivers?

November 9, 2006, 07:19 PM
Marlin's sell cheap down this way Used excellent condition ones can be had for $200 beaters go for $125.00.

Winchester 94s are about the same price, except for the beaters, I've bought several for $100 each.

November 9, 2006, 07:35 PM
I might suggest running an ad in the local free ad's if you have them. Earlier this year I was looking for a first rifle for a kid and reckoned that a 30-30 with a 16" barrel would work and if he decided (as he did) that he wanted something else, well I would have a shooter. I had a guy call me and offer a Win. 94 Trapper saddle ring AE pre safety with a 4x burris mini and 3 boxes of ammo and sling for $250. Bought that one pretty quick. Then another guy answered the ad with an older Marlin (pre safety) 336 that had a cracked stock, worn blueing in places, though still usable and I got that for $130 and put on a Ramline on it for $45 delivered. They are out there but sometimes you have to dig. I am debating whether I am going to keep the older 336 given I now have 4 16" barrel leverguns (1894 ss ltd editions in 357 and 44 mags, the WWG ss 1895 45-70 and the Winchester 94 trapper). Until we get the reloading setup it probably wont get used much. I have shot 3 boxes of the leverevolution stuff out of it and it is pretty happy with that ammo though. Good luck in the search and I hope you stumble on the extra funds...


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