Marlin 39A won't cycle ammo


August 5, 2011, 01:20 PM
A neighbor of mine passed away a little over a year ago. When he passed away, he left a Marlin 39A and a couple shotguns for his son who's 12. The family did not have a gun safe so I volunteered to store the guns in my safe and try to get them back up and running. (They had all been badly neglected as my neighbor's health declined.)

This past week, I've been working on the Marlin. I've removed the surface rust from the exterior surfaces as well as the bore. I've done what I can to restore the furniture to some of its original lustre. I cleaned years of gunk out of the receiver and action.

I took the boy out yesterday evening to shoot the gun for the first time and we ran into a problem - the rifle simply would not cycle ammo. We tried with a full mag tube, only a couple rounds in the mag tube - a couple different types of ammo. Nothing. The lever would cycle downward and then either jam in place or leave the round rattling around inside the receiver. It would not cycle the round into the chamber.

Has anyone else come across this? I have a 39A myself. So, I'll probably break it down this weekend and see if I can spot any obvious differences between the two. If someone has encountered a similar issue, though, and can give me an idea or two ... that would be great. I'd really like to get this gun up and running for this boy for sentimental as well as practical reasons.

Is this just the dreaded TMJ?


Edit: Found this archived thread and marking it for later:

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Buck Kramer
August 5, 2011, 03:34 PM
This happens every now and then to me. Normally what causes it is when you take it apart into the main two pieces and it doesnt go back together quite right. I would try to duplicate the problem but I left my guns back home. Id just take it apart and make sure it all locks together properly....

August 5, 2011, 05:55 PM
I have an old model 39 (man. app.1950) that was doing the same thing. I had my gunsmith look at it, and he said the older models had a sort of "compressed wishbone" ejector. It only opens up when you pull back the bolt far enough to kick out the spent round.
The tension tends to fatigue over time, so it doesn't have the snap to pop the casing out before you bring the bolt forward to chamber the new round.
Is the old casing staying in the receiver? Aftermarket ejectors are available; it surprised me that the repair cost was so cheap (1/2 hour labor, $2.00 part).

August 8, 2011, 04:05 PM
Thanks for the ideas, guys.

August 8, 2011, 06:06 PM
As marvinash posted, the ejector doesn't have the necessary spring to it to eject the rounds properly. I solved this problem in my 1955 39a by using two needle nosed pliers wrapped in duct tape to add a slight bend to the ejector, no problem since with several types of short, long rifle, and CB cap ammunition used.

Good luck!

August 9, 2011, 08:20 AM
I experienced similar behavior with a Model 39 I picked up. The fix for me was a new magazine spring.

August 9, 2011, 05:25 PM
If the rifle was as neglected as you mentioned, it probably needs a good cleaning. I have a 39A, and it works 100%, however, when I first got it, a few of the internals were a bit sticky, and it wouldn't feed all the time. Smoothing up the internal parts fixed everything.

So, I can well imagine that a 39 which has been neglected to the point of rusting up, is probably pretty sticky on the inside.

There's only one really critical part in feeding boolits in the 39, and that part is the cartridge carrier. It has to move freely, or cartridges won't feed reliably. You'll need to separate the halves of the receiver to check this, but it's easy to do.

To separate the halves of the receiver unscrew the take-down screw, then, with the bolt closed and hammer back, give the reciever a slap on the side opposite the take-down screw, the two halves should separate. Be careful not to ding up the mating parts as you do this, as the edges of the mating parts are a little delicate. After the halves are separated, the bolt can be removed.

Once you've opened it up, make sure the carrier is free to move. Also, make sure the magazine tubes (both inner and outer) are clean, and the follower is free to move. Also check the cartridge stop which controls the feed of the cartridges to the carrier, it could be jammed up with residue, or rusted.

Anyway, a good cleaning on the inside with some hoppies and a toothbrush, followed by a light oiling will work wonders.

That's about all there is to them.

August 9, 2011, 08:36 PM
Yeah, What "Got_Lead" said about the retainer!!!


August 10, 2011, 10:58 AM
Got_Lead ...

I cleaned years of gunk out of the receiver and action.

With that said, more cleaning couldn't hurt but it cycles freely (more freely than before the cleaning) without ammo.

I've owned a 39A Golden for nearly 33 years so I'm pretty familiar with takedown and cleaning procedures. However, I've never had to do any repairs to mine so that's where I start to run out of experience.

Carl N. Brown
August 10, 2011, 11:12 AM
The cartridge stop is a flat spring activated by the lever to release a shell from the magazine. It is attached by a screw on the left hand outside of the receiver. It is awfully easy to tighten this screw from the outside and jam the cartridge stop on the inside of the receiver. I bought a used 39A Mountie at a gun show and had some feed problems due to the stop. I adjusted mine with the gun disassembled, to be sure the stop was not jammed by tightening the screw (the stop should have a hair of clearance at the top and bottom of its cut in the receiver wall).

Plus, "short stroking" the lever can lead to misfeeds also.

There are two types of extractors: the old machined tempered steel type, and the newer "S" shaped flat steel spring. Gunsmith J.B. Wood in "Troubleshooting your rifle and shotgun" wrote that he had misgivings when Marlin switched to the "S" flat spring steel extractor (40 or 50 years ago), but it is no more likely to cause problems than the original.

August 10, 2011, 07:52 PM
My newer Marlin had extraction problems, but I re-shaped the extractor and it now is trouble-free. That wasn't the only problem with the rifle, but I won't go into that here.

August 11, 2011, 01:06 AM
Like I said, my 39 was man. approximately 1950 or earlier. My father bought it in 1950 - it could have been man. much earlier. He used to support it from behind me to teach me how to hold it and use the sights, pull the trigger, etc.
I was four years old. It's the gun I learned to shoot with. He told my mother, when he bought it, that it was 'my gun'. I do that with my own kids (and my wife): they own a number of guns that they're not the least bit interested in.
But I am. So I buy them for them with the knowledge that when my wife says, "You bought ANOTHER gun?", I can survive under that old axiom "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission"

But back to the 39: mine doesn't have a gold trigger or micro-groove rifling. The wood has a rich grain, but their is no grip or fore-end engraving. The fore-end is extraordinarily 'fat' - about two and a half to three in. thickness all around.
I still shoot it and it and it's accurate. The ejector is the only repair it's ever needed.
I'd put up some pics if I wasn't so lazy.

August 11, 2011, 01:08 AM
I'm sorry, this has nothing to do with your question.

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