Poor wood on new Marlin Lever guns


July 20, 2007, 08:37 PM
Been looking to get a Marlin 1894c (357) for several months now. I've managed to come across 4-5 new ones in that period. It seems like every one I've come across has had just AWFUL wood. I don't expect these guns to have the wood to metal fit they did decades ago, but some of these guns looked like the stock was hand-fitted by a family of beavers!! I'm talking ragged edges that look like they were cut with dull machinery/not sanded and gaps that rival those of my truck's spark plugs! I've even seen one with significant wood chipped out around the sling swivel stud.

Am I the only one encountering this?? It's not that I have anything against Marlins. I've always preferred them over Winchesters and Rossi/Puma/etc. I just don't understand how wood that looks this poor is leaving the factory. Are the more expensive "cowboy" models showing a little more attention to detail in the wood department??

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July 20, 2007, 09:53 PM
The quality of the wood seems to depend on the type of store you buy the gun in. Big Five, for one, seems to only stock 1894s with beech furniture, rather than the walnut listed in the Marlin catalog.

July 20, 2007, 10:03 PM
The ones I've looked at have all been the checkered walnut stocks. I've also seen similar poor wood/metal fit on some 1895's I've looked at. I'd complain to Marlin directly, but they don't even have an e-mail contact on their website.

July 20, 2007, 10:16 PM
Of all things, getting wood to fit tightly shouldn't be a problem for Marlin. Ever the optimist, I'm just going to assume that the gaps actually expansion joints that allow the stock to swell when wet and not split. See, it's a feature not a bug :rolleyes:.

July 21, 2007, 04:11 AM
I got a new marlin 39A recently. I admit the fitting isn't spectacular and there are ragged edges. There are also 2 or 3 defects in the checkering.

The fluting on the comb is terrible. One side is cut deeper than the other and it's at a sharper angle. Perhaps it's supposed to be asymmetrical, I don't know. Didn't notice that until I got it home. :banghead:

It is however, a decent shooter and it works as advertised. I plan to use it for hunting.

I don't think Marlin has cornered the market on badly fitted wood, I've seen many guns from other makers with rough finishes, uneven checkering, etc. Guns aren't made like they're used to. Just make sure you take a very close look at any gun you buy.

July 21, 2007, 04:19 AM
That is sad to hear. My old 336 has some beautiful wood on it. I was actually quite amazed.

July 21, 2007, 04:58 AM
My 1895 has some pretty good wood and I just bought it about 3 months ago. Maybe less. It is not spectacularly good but pretty nice.

The wood on my 336 is pretty bland looking as far as grain and texture but there is nothing wrong with the fit or finish.

July 21, 2007, 06:04 AM
I've noticed this as well, especially on the 1894c at my local Big 5.

July 21, 2007, 09:07 AM
I noticed my FILs Marlin had "pallet wood" on his, when he bought it a coupls of years ago.

He also had to send it back to Marlin twice to get a sight on it that would shoot POA at 100 yards. Malrin's rep had the nerve to tell my FIL (who is not the most upto date person on firearms) that the sights were regulated at 500yards!! For a lever actions 30/30!! I got on the line and it wasn't pretty. Finally got someone who knew what they were talking about and got the rifle in and fixed.

I'm thinking when Marlin bought out H&R/NEF they took their service department with them!


Landlocked Pirate
July 21, 2007, 09:21 AM
I'm a big Marlin fan (own 7), but on the 336W I just bought the forearm and stock are different colors. The forearm is dark brown and the stock is almost orange. This doesn't really bother me as I bought this gun for a utility rifle, but it does make me wonder how it was allowed to leave the factory that way.

July 21, 2007, 09:36 AM
Marlin has a phone number ontheir site, I've called and gotten humans that speak English. I'm looking at the laminate stock for my next Marlin.

July 21, 2007, 10:10 AM
The Big 5 guns are a special run with crappy stocks. That's acceptable for a field gun. They're also cheaper than even the Rossis, BTW.

The new 39A I bought a month or two ago has gorgeous wood, especially for a stock production gun. It's well-fitted, with great checkering. The grain is what Remington would sell as "semi-fancy" on an upgraded gun like a Classic Trap.

July 21, 2007, 10:23 AM
I ordered a 1894 357 and am still waiting, and have to say, it made me nervous, but I never seem to see used ones for sale of those. I agree that an awful lot of Marlin's I see these days are pretty sketchy, and asked my dealer to check it out if possible before taking it--he sometimes drives to the distributors to pick them up. I particularly mentioned to look at the inletting around the tang and make sure it was even and not all chipped up, as I see alot like that. The actions also don't seem as smooth as they did on the old ones *sigh*. While I was there he said he didn't want to scare me but another guy had ordered a 336 recently and when it came in the guy went to work the action whenhe picked it up and the lever came off in his hand! Seems they forgot to put in the lever screw from the factory. Unreal.

Come on, Marlin! It's getting so you don't dare order any gun sight unseen, which sucks because where I live the dealers tend to be small and not have much inventory

July 21, 2007, 12:19 PM
Marlins around here all have beatiful wood!! Mine is a recent vinatge 1894c with stunning wood........Something smells funny here:scrutiny:

Big Daddy K
July 21, 2007, 12:50 PM
I have decided to get a 336 Thursday. Unless I find a better deal between now and then I'm gonna get a new one at Acadamy. I want good wood but it will be a hunting rifle so its not gonna be a deal breaker. Some one said Rossi wood is better than the new Marlin 336 from one of the Big 5s. Dang o Dang man that aint good.:banghead:

I hope its a good shooter.

July 21, 2007, 01:31 PM
No, nothing funny going on. I'm just inquiring as to whether I'm the only one who has had bad luck with finding a new Marlin. I own a few others (336, 1894 (44), 2-39's). All are 10 years old or older. The wood to metal fit is fine on all of them. The recent examples I have seen have all had ragged edges around the tang and some significant gaps. I can understand a large gap, but the ragged edges make me think that their equipment to make stocks is getting old/dull and they are just too lazy to fix it.

I'd be happy to just order one, but as a previous poster mentioned, I'm afraid of what will show up. I'd think about picking up an older/used one, but most of those have the micro-groove barrel.

I guess I could pick up an aftermarket stock and fit it myself, but I hate to get $600-$700 tied up in a standard 1894C. Guess that's why I'm asking if the 1894 Cowboy comes with a better wood/metal fit.

July 21, 2007, 02:01 PM
I just bought a 1894 SS in .44mag and the picture sent showed perfect checkering and a Dark Walnut stock with nice grain. I paid $550 and hope to have it in the next two weeks.

July 21, 2007, 02:50 PM
well, like I said, mine's on order, so I guess we'll see--I have my fingers crossed

July 21, 2007, 02:59 PM
oh, and 45guy--that's one gorgeous rifle you have there! The old ones are the best ones IMO

July 21, 2007, 03:29 PM
I don't know about Academy, but the Big 5 guns are 1894H (not in Marlin's current catlog) and 336A models.

The '94H has uncheckered stained beech or birch or something, like a base-model 10/22. The 336A is a checkered stained hardwood, sold as a budget hunting gun. They sometimes sell each of them for $375. That works for me, as a field gun. That's what these models are intended for.

However, and I just got back from the store -- NOT Big5 -- where I handled some new Marlins, if you spring for the walnut on the 1894, 94SS, 94C, 39A, 336C, 336SS, Guide Guns, etc., you will get some nice wood. At least all the ones I've seen are really nice, and the 39A I got is nice. I was really excited when I pulled it out of the box and saw what I was getting!

July 21, 2007, 03:30 PM
The Big 5 guns are a special run with crappy stocks.

Makes me want to run out and buy those special editions right now..... HAHA

July 21, 2007, 08:52 PM
I don't know about Academy, but the Big 5 guns are 1894H (not in Marlin's current catlog) and 336A models.

At the Big 5 I was at, I'm sure it was an 1894C.

July 21, 2007, 11:58 PM
The catalog 1894C has a walnut stock with a rubber buttpad and cut checkering.

Maybe 1894CH, or maybe they didn't re-mark the barrels for the Big 5 run.

I just know what I've seen at every Big 5 I've checked.

Again, for the price (sale price, anyway, and Big 5 will usually give you the "last sale price" if you ask for it with your wallet out), it's a good and functional gun. Beats a Brazilian Winchester copy for $100 more, with ugly wood.

If you're picky, get an 1894C with walnut. It's no more expensive than the Rossi, and much nicer.

July 22, 2007, 08:06 AM
What I have seen often in Marlin lever actions is a stock and forearm that are badly mismatched. Saw a 357 mag lever action with a stock that looked like it belonged on a custom rifle , incredible figure and grain - paired with a forearm that looked like some old 2x4.

But about 8 years ago I did manage to find a new 44 mag 1894 that had wood that was so perfectly matched I just had to have it! Unfortunately the thing would not feed ammo , lever locking up in the fully open position. Gun shop owner said it was because of my reloads?:confused: He proceded to fully load the tube with some of his factory ammo with a shop full of cutomers watching - locked up on him with the first round too!:D

Anyway he took it back and I gave me credit towards the purchase of another gun.

July 23, 2007, 10:19 PM
OK I don't know what is meant by "poor" or "good" wood, but here is another data point. Brand new-in-box Marlin 1894C ordered on line, sight unseen. I tried to take pictures of the areas noted in the posts above as having defects in other rifles. My new rifle has a flaw in the grain in the butt stock just in front of the sling attachment (1st photo) but it is purely cosmetic; canít be felt or seen when shouldering the weapon, so it is not an issue for me. Iím not noticing any rough edges, checkering flaws, large or uneven gaps, etc. YMMV, etc.

Another data point:


Apparently one of the non-checkered beach? birch? wood models. A search of Gunbroker.com, Gunsamerica.com, etc will yield more photos. Hope this is helpful.

July 24, 2007, 09:42 AM
All of the Marlins I've purchased in the last 3-5 years have had very nice walnut stocks (except my XLR which is a nice laminate). I was just looking at a new 308MX model the other day and it also has nice wood on it.

July 24, 2007, 10:04 AM
OK I don't know what is meant by "poor" or "good" wood,

the one from gunbroker looks like walnut to me, it's just not checkered. Yours has fairly plain wood, but from what I have seen lately a bit better than the average marlin these days. The Marlin's tend to have fairly straight, plain, unremarkable wood, and they have never really done a great job of finishing--a well sanded and finished stock will not have the fill holes that you see on marlins. OTOH, they were never super high priced guns or anything, and they are not really BADLY done. They were always fine, and by today's slipping standards they are probably better than average.

Having said all that, there ARE some really gorgeous stocks that end up on Marlin guns. It's just that the AVERAGE marlin gun has pretty plain wood. This is also true of something like your average Browning A-bolt, or your average Winchester model 70, btw--the majority will have fairly plain figure, with some occasional standouts.

July 24, 2007, 10:18 AM
I have two 1894C's, one with walnut and one a birchwood cheapie from Big 5.

Both have pretty nice lumber on them, especially the walnut.

Big Daddy K
July 24, 2007, 10:54 AM
Found a brand new in the box 336 for $316.00. Gonna buy it Thursday:D
Has nice dark wood but not shiney.
Already bought scope base and bullets.
Just need to decide on rings. Probably a low profile and one of my good tough old weaver fixed 4x.

July 24, 2007, 06:32 PM
I bought a new 336 around christmas from cabelas, wood looks very nice on it, and is seated nice and snug.

July 24, 2007, 10:08 PM
Apparently one of the non-checkered beach? birch? wood models.

That one on gunbroker is walnut, just uncheckered. The walnut stocks all have the little "bulls eye" on the bottom of the stock near the swivel stud.

March 23, 2008, 01:22 AM
It's not just the wood that's bothersome either. They can't seem to machine a receiver so that's it's even on both sides. I've looked at about a dozen 1895GS rifles, and maybe 2 of them looked like they were made by someone who had some pride in what he was doing enough to value precision and symmetry in his work. They just don't seem to be that picky over at Marlin if it shoots alright.

George Hill
March 23, 2008, 04:13 PM
We just got in our latest order of rifles from Marlin. Everyone of them has extremely shoddy wood on them. The fitting of wood to metal and even just the finish on the wood is something I'd expect on a Puma. Overlaps, gaps, uneven and unfinished cuts, pitting, and splintering. This is a huge departure from what I am used to seeing from Marlin. The wood its self is also disappointing. but I can deal with less than steller lumber. I mean, look at the wood CZ puts on their .22's. Rather poor, I must say (unless you spend extra for a Deluxe and its awesome) but at least the wood fits the metal.
I'm very disappointed in Marlin - which has always been one of my favorite rifle makers. To let this sort of crap out of the factory is insulting.
If my customers wanted Cheap - they'd buy a Puma. Which I have to say has been improving themselves a great deal. Nicer selections of wood and better fitting. Marlin needs to slam a Red Bull, and wake the heck up... because I've already had one customer say "Why buy the Marlin, when I could get the Puma for 200 less and it's a better looking gun?"
I had no answer to that.

March 23, 2008, 04:40 PM
have they let thier qc get lacksidaisical since they dont have to compete with winchester now?

March 23, 2008, 05:10 PM
I don't know exactly how old my 1894CB is since I bought it used but the wood and the finish looks nice to me. I don't consider it a shlock gun at all.

March 23, 2008, 05:11 PM
Is Marlin using plastic on the 39A? I saw one yesterday that I could swear wasn't really wood. The checkering looked molded, but didn't have the look of pressed wood.

March 23, 2008, 06:35 PM
My local Wally World has new 336Ws in 30-30, for $318 right now. A couple of weeks ago they were up close to $400. Looked at the one in the display and it was actually pretty slick.

March 23, 2008, 07:25 PM
Maybe the quality has gone down hill since they were bought by Remington.

March 23, 2008, 07:41 PM
I bought a 1894C 2 years ago, and there was a small flaw in the forearm stock (a splinter torn out along the top edge, don't know how else to describe it), but the butt stock is *gorgeous* with a lot of curly figuring to it. Nobody will ever see the rough spot on the forearm except me, and when I bought the gun they were scarcer than hen's teeth. Overall I'm pleased with the wood on it.

I've thought about breaking that edge on both sides with some fine sandpaper, which would make the flaw disappear, but I might just make it worse.

March 23, 2008, 08:58 PM
I bought a new 39a back in October of last year and the fit and finish seems to be top notch. Wood to metal finish is smooth and the checkering is crisp , even the wood grain is deep and rich; a handsome rifle if'n ever there was one!. My 1894c has the same detail of QC. If Marlin has been affected by the Remington takeover it is a real shame. I wonder if it is possible to pinpoint the change in terms of manufacture dates. Does it coincide with the Reminton takeover? I hope I don't have to look for older Marlins when I want to add another to my safe.

March 23, 2008, 10:15 PM
I've noticed that the stocks on the Marlins aren't what they used to be. My Dad's has a gorgeous walnut stock. I've been looking too, but all have lousy looking checkered stocks. You can find nice ones at the gun shows!

Cocked & Locked
March 23, 2008, 11:11 PM
I'm well pleased with the wood on my Marlin .45-70...



as well as the wood on my older Western Auto "Revelation" (Marlin 336) store brand rifle...


March 24, 2008, 02:36 AM
A decline in quality might have to do with the disappearance of Winchester's competition.

June 21, 2008, 09:08 PM
I have noticed for at least 10 years that their metal has dents and dings then blued over. I bought a cowboy 45 colt and it was just crap. I called marlin and told them about it and they ask if I would send it back to the factory, which I did. They sent me a new one that was worse that the first. Did it all over again and they sent me another one with a phone call from the presidents secretary saying that Mr. pres. picked this one out himself. Boy was I excited to receive that gun. When "it" arrived I was just blown away, what utter trash. The metal dents, file marks and you name it, all just blued over like it just wasn't there. I'm glad to know that all my G.I. buddies never made it home.

June 21, 2008, 09:52 PM
my 336CS has some of the nicest walnut I've ever seen on a rifle....

but it's an older on.....early 80's judging by the tapped appeture sight holes on the side of the receiver.

June 22, 2008, 03:02 AM
maybe you can try this



June 22, 2008, 03:12 AM
The price of wood has gone thru the roof in the last few years. Stuff that sold 5 years ago for a few bucks a board foot is well over 10 now. Some more then that.

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