Marlin 39A .22LR cut & crowned?


November 29, 2006, 04:51 AM
For several reasons (not the least of which is my goal to buy a Marlin 336 in .30-30 as my main centerfire rifle, and a desire to have a few guns in my main tool kit with similar actions), I've taken a liking to a Marlin 39A rifle (

I'm actually considering selling my CZ 452 bolt to buy a 39A.

There's one big problem: I don't want a gun that long (24" barrel, 40" overall).

Because of the dense forest I hunt in, I want a short carbine length rifle. (Yes, I understand I'll lose a bit in accuracy at longer ranges, but most of my shots with this gun will be fairly close. Squirrels, rabbits, etc...)

So, if I get one, I'd like to have it cut and crowned to no longer than 20", preferably 18.5".

Can this be easily done by a skilled smith? How much accuracy loss at 50 yards?




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Seven High
November 29, 2006, 07:29 AM
Have you considered a used carbine version of the Marlin 39. I have a 39M which is very handy in the woods. A skilled gunsmith should be able to trim back the barrel without too much trouble.

November 29, 2006, 09:26 AM
Hmm --- have to trim back the magazine, and re-figure the spring length.

Jim Watson
November 29, 2006, 09:41 AM
These days having a tube magazine rifle shortened would be an expensive proposition. Cut and crown the barrel, reset the front sight, reset the magazine hanger. Cut the magazine tube, notch for the latch, cut and reassemble the inner tube; trim the magazine spring. Phew. Then figure out how many rounds you could load, because you could not just fill it up to the slot.

Hit the stores, shows, and www sites.
My first Marlin was a Mountie; 20" barrel, straight grip. There have been several other short variations over the years.

Brian Williams
November 29, 2006, 10:15 AM
Go for a Mountie and have a pair. I have my pair as a 39M and a 1894C and they are both about the same length.

Father Knows Best
November 29, 2006, 11:49 AM
The shorter barrel won't cause an accurary loss in and of itself. In fact, shorter barrels are inherently more accurate than longer barrels, especially in .22's. Optimum length for a .22LR barrel is about 16.5".

The only downside to the shorter barrel is the reduced sight radius if you are using irons. Still, for hunting and plinking, it's a worthwhile tradeoff. If you still want the longer sight radius, you can get it back by using a tang-mounted flip-up, or receiver mounted, peep sight for a rear instead of the barrel mounted rear.

Look for a carbine length. They're out there and will be much less expensive in the long run than having a rifle length 39A chopped.

November 29, 2006, 11:56 AM
This is all good advice, folks. Thanks a bunch.

I'll start looking around for 39M's.


November 29, 2006, 12:00 PM
PS: I just found a couple of used ones on line. I noticed both are straight stocks.

Was the 39M ever made with pistol grip stock (which I prefer) like the current versions of 39A?

November 29, 2006, 01:43 PM
There were a number of carbine versions of the Marlin 39-A. Many were limited production models with features like octagon barrels or half-length magazines.

The two most common versions are:

The standard model was the 39-M "Mountie", which has a 20" barrel and a straight stock and lever.
The forearm has a typical carbine type band retention.

The other carbine was the less common Marlin 39-D. This is essentially a rifle type rear with a pistol grip stock and lever, but the barrel and front end of the "M".

I think the carbine version had lighter barrels than the 39-A rifles.
I have seen 39-A rifles cut to shorter lengths, and these are fantastic shooters, with the heavier barrel balancing better than the carbine versions.

Accuracy out of any Marlin is astounding, with one reviewer claiming to get 1" groups at 100 yards with a rifle.
Quality is sky-high, and other then the new cross-bolt safety and rebounding hammer on the new 39-AS, they're still made pretty much the same way they were 100 years ago: from solid forged and milled steel, and American walnut.

I'll go out on a study limb by claiming that the Marlin 39 is the finest lever action .22 ever made, or will ever be made, now that forged steel is becoming a thing of the past.
These are true heirloom rifles of a type we'll never see again.

November 29, 2006, 01:57 PM
If your gonna go 18.5, why not just cut down to a 16"?

November 29, 2006, 05:26 PM
dfaris, thanks for that great overview. Much appreciated.

Jackal, reasonable question.

My reasoning for an 18 or 18.5" barrel is this: my 870 has that length barrel, and I'm very comfortable with it. I hope to have a 336 cut to that same length, so would prefer to stay with the same length for all three of my main long guns. That length of barrel is short enough for the type of terrain (brushy, heavy forest): it'll carry well on a sling without getting hung up on overhanging branches (or dragging the muzzle in the dirt when carrying "African style").

I understand that an inch or two here or there will not making much difference in terms of ballistics, especially for shorter ranges that I'm interested in. But I just don't feel the need to go all the way to 16" with it.

Plus, as dfariswheel points out, having a little heavier barrel will improve the handling. An extra couple of inches is only a few grams, but everybit helps.

Finally, it's always easier to take more off at a later time than put some back on ... :)

Brian Williams
November 29, 2006, 09:38 PM
Nem, a 20" Mountie is the same length as a 18.5 1894, and the 336 is an even longer receiver. So a 16" 336 would probably be the same length as a 20" marlin 39m.
From the Marlin web sight
Marlin 336 20" is 38.35" overall
Marlin 39a 24" is 40" overall

Marlin 1894c with a 18.5 barrel is 36"

November 30, 2006, 12:54 AM
on the website, Guns America for $460. It looks worth it to me and you should buy that before I pawn my spouse in order to buy it for myself. :)

November 30, 2006, 05:04 AM
I'm actually considering selling my CZ 452 bolt to buy a 39A.

:what: I think that's why they invented gun safes. So you can have both.

you should buy that before I pawn my spouse in order to buy it for myself.

:) You can do that?

November 30, 2006, 05:11 AM
I think that's why they invented gun safes. So you can have both.CZGuy, I'm only interested in one.

My lifestyle (relatively nomadic) and my practice time (limited) with my main guns motivates me to have one gun of a few categories (one shotgun, one centerfire rifle, one rimfire rifle, one pistol, one revolver) with which I can become relatively proficient for a variety of needs.

YMMV. If you've got the time, go for multiples. Enjoy.

But I have neither need nor desire for multiple guns in any category.
I find multiples to be a detiment to my skills with any of them.

January 19, 2007, 05:33 PM
So, I thought I'd update this heretical thread with some interesting news.

I just called "THE" local gunsmith. In my little city, everyone (bar none) says he's the one to do the work, especially when it comes to cut and crowning rifle barrels.

Very nice guy, informative, funny. But that's beside the point.

The good news is, when I told him I'm considering cutting and crowning a 39A, including cutting down the magazine and resetting the front sight, and asked how much, he said, "About $50 to $75."

$75? Based on some earlier posts in this thread, I was expecting $150 or $200.

$75 is chump change for such a project. I'm delighted! :D

Yes, I've heard and considered all the great advice about mounties. Brian, I have been listening to your suggestions, and understand their similarity to the 1894C that would shoot .357 ammo (same as a planned revolver).

But after a LOT of reading :what: and a lot of fondling rifles, I've learned two things:

1) Even though it's almost a given now that I'll be getting a .357 mag revolver, and it would be cool to have a rifle that could shoot the same ammo, I'm just not quite convinced that a .357 carbine is what I'm wanting. I still think that, even though it means hauling around another ammo type, I'm going to be better off with a .30-30 than a .357 for the rifle. (Even though I know that most of my shots will be less than 100 m, I want the ability to take those 150 m shots, and with Hornady LE, 200 m.) For me, that spells one thing: 336.

2) I just can't warm up to straight stocks. I'm a pistol grip guy. Every long gun I've ever owned (except for an 1865 .58 muzzle loader) has had a pistol grip stock. It's just a comfortable, familiar feeling to me.

I put a high value on having both rifles with similar build, feeling and action. The fact that I want a 336 (almost certainly a 336A) suggests the perfect match to be a 39A (since the 39M has a straight stock).

PLUS, I only today snapped to the fact that the 39A is a takedown! Yes, yes, it's right there on the Marlin web site description, but somehow I overlooked that fact (or maybe didn't fully understand what it meant).

This is VERY important to me since the ability to take down a .22 rifle to fit into a backpack is quite important for me. (Why is another story.) For a full lenght 39A, the two pieces resulting from takedown are of unequal length, and the longer of the two would be more difficult to get into my medium-sized day pack. Cutting down the barrel would solve that easily.

So, no final decision has been made yet. (And even if I had, the money isn't here yet. :uhoh: )

But I'm now leaning very strongly towards a 39A, cut and crowned.

Ah, life is good. :)


PS: Thanks again for all your help with this. Please continue discussion if you'd like.

Mal H
January 19, 2007, 05:44 PM

That is amazing. I also thought it would be much more. Not because of the barrel cutting and crowning, but because of what would need to be done to the tubular magazine. How is he going to deal with the mag insert tube (for lack of a better name)?

January 19, 2007, 05:55 PM
Thanks for pressing this, Mal.

I didn't really press him on the issue when I spoke with him by phone. He sounded quite familiar with the 39A, and he explicitly said, "Well, the magazine will have to be cut, too", so I took him at his word that he knows the challenge, and any complexities that it would involve. (Word on the street is, this guy's been a gunsmith for life, and he's clearly an older man from the sound of his voice.)

He didn't even hesitate before he said $75.

Maybe others will chime in. It'd be great if someone on THR has actually had it done so they could tell us what it cost them. (Some posted above that they'd seen 39A's that had been cut down, but no one mentioned actually having it done).

This purchase is still likely a ways off yet, so once I get some more details from folks and understand the complexities of the magazine better, then perhaps I'll give him another call, or go by his shop and press a little further to make sure he's not grossly underestimating the job.


January 19, 2007, 07:33 PM
Chopping a 39-A rifle to a shorter length is composed of:

Shortening the barrel and re-crowning the muzzle.
Shortening the magazine tube.
Shortening the magazine spring.
Shortening the outer magazine tube. (usually from the rear end so as not to have to re-do the magazine locking system).
Resetting the magazine tube band, which requires machining a new dovetail.
Resetting the front sight by drilling and tapping two holes.

The only major part is re-setting the magazine tube band, which does require milling a new dovetail.
I think that if he's going to do this, AND do it right, then his pricing is excellent.

January 19, 2007, 07:50 PM
Dfariswheel, thanks. As always, your information is very helpful.

I'll copy that list and take it with me when I visit him, which I'll do before actually buying the gun just to double check the process and price.

I'll keep this thread posted of any developments.

In the mean time, if anyone knows of anyone who's had this done before, please ask them what price they paid (maybe when, too; $75 in 1968 was different from now), and let me know.

I may also try to get a second estimate from another smith, just for comparison.


Brian Williams
January 19, 2007, 07:56 PM
even with a Mountie and a 20" barrel it does not match up. you would have to take it right down to 16" or less to truely match up.

January 19, 2007, 08:17 PM
Good point, Brian.

I wasn't completely clear there. What I'm mainly interested in "matching up" are the stocks and grips (and actions, of course), more so than total length. I want them to feel about the same, even if one ends up being an inch or two longer. (Like I've said before though, a 24" barrel just feels too long.)

On the other hand, I'm learning here and elsewhere that optimal barrel length for a .22 LR is 16". If I understand correctly, there's no significant improvement in accuracy and less energy with longer barrels.

(That's led me to wonder about Marlin's motivation for a 24" barrel. That just seems extreme in any case. Am I missing something?)

So the only reason not to just cut it to 16" as someone above suggested would be the loss of another two or three rnds in the magazine.

I'll just have to see how that trade off balances out.

January 19, 2007, 08:32 PM

It's obvious that you haven't been told about the Marlin 39TDS, or Take Down System. It's already cut down, 16.5" barrel. Now then, buy two Marlin 39's. One 39A and one TDS, mate the two & you'll have the pistol grip and the short barrel without invoking screams of "heresy!!" from the uber-faithful Marlin camp.

I don't know of anybody who's done this, mind you. And the 'spare' parts put together would best be described as a morphadite :eek: . But you'd fer sure, fer sure, have the only two in existance.

:D 900F

January 19, 2007, 09:18 PM
900F, actually I have investigated the TDS.

Interesting concept, both in the original and in your plan. But here's the rub:
Now then, buy two Marlin 39's. One 39A and one TDS...Um, let me give Donald Trump a ring and see if he'll spot me on that one. :rolleyes:


Neat idea, but I may let you have the honor of being the first to own one.


January 19, 2007, 09:53 PM
Cool There is a very, very nice Mountie for sale
on the website, Guns America for $460. It looks worth it to me and you should buy that before I pawn my spouse in order to buy it for myself.
Make sure you post pictures of her in the Trading Post section before you pawn her. You'll likely get a better offer. ;) :D

January 19, 2007, 10:58 PM
Okay first - HERESY

There that is out of the way...

Sounds like a cool project. My grandfathers Marlin 39 was a tackdriver. He was born in 1921 and bought it new in high school (1936 maybe?) by trading a few year older octagon barreled .22 marlin lever action...

He still regrets that trade at 85, and wishes he had just bought the 39 outright. He still loves that 39 (taught all 8 kids how to shoot on it and brought a lot of enjoyment to me and my wife when out camping).

The takedown is great and SO easy to clean after running through a brick.

Good luck with your project!

January 19, 2007, 11:36 PM
Thanks, Wedge.

I'm getting more excited about this project the more I think about it.


January 20, 2007, 12:37 AM
Here's a 39A with a barrel shortened (via digital editing) to about 18".

Now that's what I call a sweet .22 carbine.


February 7, 2007, 07:31 PM
Well, last weekend I bought a new 39A.

I had to go to another city to get one (two hours rnd trip). Nary a one - used or new - to be had in about seven stores here.

The gun shop where I bought it had a used older one and this new one. New one won hands down. Why? The new ones have a much thinner fore end. I knew immediately when I picked it up that was the one.

So, I plopped down the cash and brought it home. Haven't had time to shoot it yet. But soon.

But here's the interesting news on the cut and crown. This afternoon, I took it to the gunsmith I mentioned in an earlier post.

Very interesting guy. Older fellow, has clearly been gunsmithing for a long time. Shop on the side of his house. Nearly a hundred long guns sitting against his wall. Very kind, very intelligent.

To cut (to 18" or 20") and crown the barrel (with a better crown job than it came with, he says), reset the front sight, cut down the magazine tube, reset the magazine hanger (involves cutting a new "dovetail"), and resize the inner magazine tube: $100.


After asking why I wanted to cut it down, he also said in terms of accuracy, if we cut it to 18", it'd make "no measurable difference", which is consistent with everything I've been reading.

I told him I'm think about it a bit, and shoot it and carry it some as is first, but I think I'm going to do it.

I also asked his opinion about this: since the optimum barrel length for .22 LR is closer to 16", why does Marlin make this one with 24"?

His opinion, offered without hesitation: it's driven by their sales department.

He thinks that since so many hunting guns these days are made with longer barrels, people want rifles with longer barrels. Sales dept says "do it", manufacturing department says "OK".

Interesting hypothesis.


February 7, 2007, 08:05 PM
The Marlin .22 lever action rifle has a 24" barrel because it's ALWAYS had a 24" barrel.

The predecessor to the current 39-A was the Marlin 1893, which had.... a 24" barrel.
So did the Marlin 1897, the Model 39, the Model 39-A, and the Model 39-A Golden.

It's a matter of tradition, and feel.
Many of us think the 24" heavy barrel of the Marlin just feels and balances better.

Jim Watson
February 7, 2007, 08:11 PM
I also asked his opinion about this: since the optimum barrel length for .22 LR is closer to 16", why does Marlin make this one with 24"?

His opinion, offered without hesitation: it's driven by their sales department.

Could be driven by shooters. A short takedown to carry in a pack may be useful, but if you don't need that, a longer barrel hangs better for offhand shooting and has a longer sight radius for iron sights.

The old 16" is optimum saw is for maximum velocity from the small powder charge. You don't see many 16" target rifles. Balance, sight radius, and less muzzle pressure to disturb the bullet's departure are what count there.

February 7, 2007, 08:51 PM
Many of us think the 24" heavy barrel of the Marlin just feels and balances better.I guess I'm odd man out here, because that just isn't true for me. That long barrel just doesn't feel right.

Then again, I'm not a target guy, but a woods guy. I shoot tree squirrels at less than 50 m, not targets at 100. And I grew up with a Rem Nylon 66 with a 19.5" barrel, and Marlin 336 with 20" barrel. So the 24" on this 39A just doesn't feel right for me. Blame it on what I'm used to, I guess.

If I was a target shooter, I'd probably feel different.

And, while the 39A has always had a 24", the 39M had a shorter one. So, not quite right that "the" Marlin .22 lever action rifle has always had a 24".

Of course, the 39M is no longer in production, so that may say something about shooter preferences.

Mal H
February 7, 2007, 11:13 PM
Nem, I have to disagree with your gunsmith's assessment of Marlin's reason for the longer barrel being driven by their sales department. The 39 was designed and originally put up for sale well over a century ago. A time when the sales department of most companies had very little if any say in the design of their products.

Now, it might be the current sales department that won't allow the manufacturing division to make the barrel shorter since the sale of 39/A/AS has always been very good with the 24" barrel. The fact that the 39M has been discontinued is an indication of that.

I just checked my 39AS for balance and it honestly doesn't seem like the barrel is 24" long. I guess it's because it's been "just right" for so long for me.

I was thinking that you might want to try an experiment. Walk around in the woods with it for a day or so. Check the balance as you carry it. (It balances just under the rear sight for me.) Then affix about a 1 lb weight to the rear of the stock to move the balance point to approximately where it would be when the barrel is cut. Walk around with it like that for a while and see what you think. You'll have to try to ignore the weight since it will be considerably heavier than when it is cut down, pay attention only to the balance. Might be worth a try.

You'll be giving up about 4 to 6 LR rounds in the magazine. Not a big deal since the mag holds a bunch anyway.

You might get the idea I'm trying to talk you out of cutting it down - I'm not, honest! That is strictly your option with your rifle. I just wanted to be sure you really want to do it and have weighed all the factors, so to speak.

February 7, 2007, 11:33 PM
Excellent advice, Mal.

Will do.



PS: the suggestion to "walk around in the woods ...
for a day or so" alone is worth the price of admission.
I don't do that nearly enough these days.

(Why did I think owning my own business was a good idea? :banghead: )

February 7, 2007, 11:35 PM
Nema, if your cutdown Marlin 39 turns out as good as it looks in that picture I might just have to do it to one of mine! Wow that looks GREAT!

February 7, 2007, 11:35 PM
I wouldnt own 2 Marlin 60s if the 39A had a 16-18" barrel, even moreso if it had -gasp-.....Polymer furniture.

February 7, 2007, 11:37 PM
J'Mo, I gotta agree.

That shorter 39A just looks ... well, really good.

Still, I respect Mal, so will try his suggested experiment.

February 8, 2007, 12:08 AM
I kinda want you to cut it down just to see how you like the result.

The digitally altered shorter length looks pretty good. But looks won't tell you how it handles/balances.

February 8, 2007, 12:11 AM
Tube, I agree.

Digital photo editing is easy.

But where's the digital "rifle balance" software
when you need it?


January 12, 2009, 06:09 PM
i know this is a old thread but did you ever get that gun shortened? I am about to drop mine off and have the same thing done.

January 12, 2009, 08:25 PM
Oh, he's still thinking about it as far as I can tell. :D

Dave B
January 12, 2009, 09:01 PM This is a 20" 39D made in 1971. The pic of the short new one looks like it would be a great seller.

January 13, 2009, 05:17 AM
Oh, he's still thinking about it as far as I can tell. Yes, he is. ;)

As soon as the budget allows,
I'm having a smith chop off 4 - 8".

January 13, 2009, 07:56 AM
make sure to show pics afterwards.

January 13, 2009, 09:20 AM
i gottcha, mine is getting dropped off on saturday, and having the following things done.
-cut to 18"
-11 degree recessed target crown
-having weaver #29 & #16 basses installed(one on barrel and the other on receiver)
-true contoured rear dovetail filler.
-saftey taken out and a plug put in.
Since this rifle will never be shot with iron sites I figured why leave them on. I bought a weaver 3x9x32 AO scope for it also. This is going to be my only Squirrel gun, besides my ithica model 49 saddle gun. I bought the rifle used like new in box and the fellow I got it from had already gone to the trouble of installing an old style hammer and trigger and working the trigger to a nice crisp 3lb pull. That means that with the old style hammer and trigger that actually has a true half cock!!
by the way all my work is costing me 250.00 so your price was smokin unless it went up since then.

January 14, 2009, 07:52 AM
Why not just buy a 39M barrel?

Here's one from Numrich and the LINK (

January 14, 2009, 09:19 AM
My Dad had his 39a shortened a few inches back when he was a kid.. The gun will shoot the same hole.. All us kids learned how to shoot with it.. Now all my kids have learned to shoot with it.. I will get it out and take a pic tonight if I remember.. It also has a Williams peep sight on the reciever.. It is by far my most favorite gun ever

January 14, 2009, 10:43 AM
Why not just buy a 39M barrel?

Here's one from Numrich and the LINK.

That's a good idea. Does anyone know what this would entail?

January 14, 2009, 04:45 PM
Here's a 16.5 inch TDS barrel for $49.95 !

Here's the LINK (!

January 14, 2009, 05:11 PM
you'd still have to cut down the mag tube and spring right? wonder what is more cost effective?

January 15, 2009, 08:38 AM
They make replacement tube mags for both the 16.5 & the 20 inch barrel.
Even found a 20 inch octagon for about $65. Check out the Numrich site........lots of model 39 and 97 parts!

Marlin 45 carbine
January 15, 2009, 08:55 AM
my nephew has the Marlin 336 30-30 and my shooting buddy has the Marlin .357 mag, believe me with my buddys HOT .357 handloads (he has a.357 S&W also) the 30-30 just barely outclass the .357. I've shoot both several times, but have yet to load the New Hornady LeveRevolution slugs for nepehews 30-30. have high expectations for it.

January 20, 2009, 10:01 AM
droppin it off saturday. I cannot wait, the 2 months is gonna kill me.

January 20, 2009, 09:00 PM

If anybody wants to buy a model 39 magazine outer tube, I have one. I bought it for my 1964 mdl 39 & got the wrong one. But before I knew that, I'd filed the relief for the cross-pin.

Make me an offer.


June 17, 2009, 09:52 PM
So where are we at with this cut down the barrel deal?

Nematocyst, did you have yours done yet? I'm looking at purchasing a 39A and considering having it cut to 20". I wonder what the magazine capacity is reduced to at 18 and 20"?

Is the smith you got the estimates from in WA? If so can you pm his contact info?

Anybody else have pictures of their cut down 39A?


June 18, 2009, 01:54 AM
Wayne, I have not yet cut it.

I still intend to, but shortly after I hatched these plans, my business took a nose dive, then the economy went south, too. So I've been extremely poor ever since. Hanging on barely.

The smith I hope to use is in Oregon. He's in poor health now, so not sure ....

July 2, 2009, 08:26 PM
i put a dts 16 & 1/2 inch barrel on my rifle today thank heaven i have a lathe

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