New to me Marlin 39A

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by ColdSpring, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    Got bitten by the lever bug a few years back, but had yet to pick up one in .22. Wanted an older 39A from the start but, well... $$$. Just looking for a mechanically sound shooter, nothing mint. The few I'd seen around were priced crazy high. Can't really say "overpriced" because they did sell fast.
    Did my monthly check at a local fun store that specializes in things you won't find at a big box store (or most gun shops period); racks full of walnut & steel long guns, & cases full of classic autoloaders, revolvers & Contenders. Love to browse there, but have only bought from them a few times- they're fairly proud of their wares. Not a knock on them, most of what's there isn't being made anymore, and the market is what it is. The business model has kept them around as lots of other smaller gun shops went the way of the dodo.
    See this one tucked away in the least visible spot on the racks (maybe why it was still there???), & take a closer look. It has cosmetic issues to be sure, but seems in good working condition. Serial number dates it to 1956 (no "space age" materials in this pre-Sputnik rifle :)). Slip in a drywall anchor for a snap cap to test the trigger & to my surprise, it's fantastic. Crisp like a tater that spent all day in the deep fryer, and measured at 1lb 14oz when I got it home. Bore is excellent.
    And best of all, price is what you'd expect for a base 10/22 with a low end scope. Yes, please.
    Certainly some reasons for the (relatively) low price. Stock has plenty of dings, a few scratches on the receiver, some buggered screws. Front sight hood & the Marlin bullseye insert are missing. Barrel has a patina all around (actually, I really dig that). Four little filler screws on the left side of the barrel just forward of the receiver- this may actually be factory, apparently some 39A's were factory drilled & tapped in that location for some sort of scope mount, only from 1954-1956 & only for rifles that were sold through Sears. Those rifles also allegedly shipped without sling studs as well, & this one doesn't have them. Not well versed enough in Marlin history to judge whether or not this is all 100% accurate, but the holes are well done whether by the factory, a smith, or a previous owner. Regardless, I do think their presence played a role in the pricing.
    The weirdest (to me) things are the hammer, lever, bolt & fore end cap. At first I thought they'd lost or been stripped of their blue, but now pretty sure they've been nickeled or chromed. Not a nickel/chrome guy, but in this case it isn't even close to a deal breaker.
    Took everything apart to clean when I got home, and the innards are in good shape. Almost certain the trigger has been smithed to be that good, but it was well done & the rifle is bump safe. Took a little while to clean the action out, but it was mostly old lubricant, very little else. Greased everything that rubs, and headed to the range.
    No time today for a real accuracy test, though I shot it well enough offhand to think it's going to be pretty good. Functioned perfectly through a decade old box of CCI Blazers and a dozen CCI SV, feeding & extraction were flawless, & it spits out empties with vigor. Pin strikes nice & deep.
    I now get why those who have them love them. What a joy to shoot!

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  2. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Have had a half dozen since the mid fifties. Reliable, slick, smooth, and "reasonably" accurate. Triggers, heavy. Ergonomics wonderful. Resale, out of this world. I remember the days of $45 model 39s at gun shows. Younger son has my last one and won't consider my 1 MOA 10-22 match even up.
     
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  3. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I have a 39A I bought from a Pawn Shop many years ago(25+) and it is a 1989 IIRC. It has the MG barrel and is so friggin' accurate it is criminal not to scope it. It will shoot the center out of a 1" bullseye at 50 yards when I use a scope. And its so much fun to load up 25 or so 22 shorts and just rack them off. And I made my very best ever shot with that gun when shooting at a squirrel.

    He was high in an Oak Tree and I had his head square in my crosshairs. Just as I squeezed the trigger another squirrel ran down a limb and at the exact instant I fired there heads were lined up one behind the other. The bullet went through the first squirrels head and on through the second squirrels head. Both dropped about 2 foot apart. Thankfully I had 3 witnesses to the shot. And it was not my shooting. Just a very lucky fluke.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021
  4. George P

    George P member

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    Had one in the 80s - sold it when it kept breaking firing ins all the time. With shorts or subsonics it was quiet, but the aggravation of constantly replacing firing ins was not worth the hassle
     
  5. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    The Matlin 39A is probably about as durable, dependable, and solid a .22 manual repeating rifle as can be had or could be had.

    Ruger has already stated they will not be bringing out the 39A which is a terrible shame.
     
  6. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Lgs (local-ish) has 3 right now. A Mountie and 2 non mounting. 699-799. May be AS models idk. Didn't bother looking. I like my 39. But I believe I like the 94-22 better. I wouldn't mind getting the mountie though
     
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  7. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Had one as a kid, horrible trigger...I sometimes lament the fact that I no longer have it.
     
  8. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    They can be bad. But can be worked on too. The bl-22 is just bad and nothing can be done about it. I love all the little lever guns though. I always thought the weight killed the 39. May as well carry a 222 or 223 or a shotgun. The 94-22, Bl-22, Ithaca 72, (or even the same gun by the name Henry) or the winchester and clone pump 22s are just so much lighter and handle quicker. And ive shot them all from the bench in a day and accuracy is pretty much the same.
     
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  9. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    Agree it's a shame Ruger won't make them, but I understand why. Making them like they used to would be so expensive they'd sell very few. Making them any other way would only hack off the target audience.

    Agree it is somewhat heavy for a 22, but hardly a boat anchor. But I'm one to avoid lightweight rifles, don't shoot them nearly as well offhand (90%+ of my shooting).

    Always heard triggers tended to be heavy, and the few others I've dropped the hammer on were stout. Somewhere along the line, somebody really liked this rifle- enough to pay for a trigger job & nickel plated parts. I'm thankful for the trigger job, not so much for the nickel. But it's all good .

    Will get either a receiver or tang peep before I do any real accuracy testing. Undecided as to which one, and whether or not I'll change the front sight. Suggestions welcome, of course!
     
  10. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    I bought mine new in 1997 and the first thing I did was to equip it with a Williams aperture sight. As much as I like the rifle for its reliability, quality of workmanship and materials, and accuracy; it has a lousy trigger. Hope yours is better.

    In any event, you have a real American classic. Every serious firearm aficionado should have one.
     
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  11. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Congrats on finding the 39. :thumbup:
     
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  12. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I bought my 39AS in the early '90s. Yep, the trigger on this rebounding hammer Marlin was crappy out of the box, and I lived with it for over a decade because I didn't shoot tiny targets with it.

    Eventually, I put on a Williams aperture and sometimes a 4x scope while trying to shoot tiny targets. That demanded some trigger work to be done and getting rid of the rebounding nature of that hammer.

    Regarding how long and muzzle heavy the 24" bull barreled versions are, I've gone back and forth on that through the last 25+ years with my Marlin. My answer was to enjoy it for what it is and get a shorter and lighter .22 for the times I want to shoot something shorter and lighter.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
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  13. DocRock

    DocRock member

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    I have a model 1892, precursor to the 39. It is remarkably accurate and with a Marbles tang sight is a great shooter at 100 yards. Extremely well made and accurate rifle. Not sure whether there would be any reason other than a cosmetic preference to take the hammer, lever and nose cap back to white metal on yours. Easy enough the blue them again.

    Congrats on a handsome and cool rifle!

    Mine below, in the family since my grandfather got it on 16th birthday in 1905:

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  14. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    Beautiful rifle, and great story behind it!

    Not planning to do too much in the way of restoration, only protection from more deterioration. Stock has been given a wash, and will rub in a coat or two of BLO to refresh the finish. Steel will get a coat of Ren Wax only- for whatever reason, I love the way that barrel looks as is. Bullseye hole will get filled, either with another bullseye or a sling stud (would have to add a one to the forestock as well). Might consider replacing the forestock cap & takedown screw with blued ones, if I found them real cheap (unlikely). The nickel has a "patina" of it's own, and bothers me less & less the more I look at it.

    Sights will definitely be changed, though nothing wrong with them- my eyes are the problem. Marble's tang on DocRock's looks great, and I really like the one on my Winchester 1873. Gonna look hard at Williams too; it's a good bit cheaper & wouldn't require drilling another hole in the tang. If accuracy continues to show good potential, would prefer something with easy & repeatable click adjustments- might do some metallic silhouette. As for the front, have a love/hate thing with brass. Love it with certain lighting conditions & target backgrounds, hate it with others. This rifle has the ramp style front, so not sure a globe will work, maybe too high? Always did well with a plain black post, especially if blacked with smoke or the spray stuff, so that's an option.

    Appreciate all the replies!
     
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  15. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    "And best of all, price is what you'd expect for a base 10/22 with a low end scope."

    A working 39 with some patina at the price of a 10/22? Yes all day and twice on Sunday.

    Nice gun, good luck with it!
     
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  16. Bayou52

    Bayou52 Member

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    My 39A Golden Mountie:

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    Outstanding rifle!
     
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  17. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    Imo, every rifle being used for hunting needs a sling.
     
  18. frankmako

    frankmako Member

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    the four screws on the left side of the barrel was done at the factory for mounting a scope. the 39a is one of the best 22lr made. yes some can have problems, but most are just "good shooters" without any problems. i use one in nra smallbore lever action silhouette matches.
     
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  19. Tentwing

    Tentwing Member

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    00ECB039-7A27-4DA1-92FF-E94B51579622.jpeg Congratulations on your 39a. They can become addictive :D. My first three now reside in the possession of my daughter and my two sons.Those three rifles have no exaggeration went through hundreds of thousands of rounds over the past 40+ years, and no hiccups.
    Not all 39a’s have heavy bull barrels, or even 24 inch barrels for that matter. Many from 1949 to 1961 where made with thinner tapered 20 inch barrels . This reduced the weight quite a bit despite the thicker (Perch-belly) forearms that came on them. I also have a 1975 model 39a that has a 22 inch tapered barrel. I recently picked it up a a pawn shop as I am trying to acquire enough to have one for each of my grandchildren. It showed signs of neglect, so I took straight to my gunsmith buddy to have him slick it up for me. I told him to take him time as it might be a while before my 5 month old grandson could hold it steady on the target :D.

    The above 39a is a 1952 20 inch tapered barrel with Ballard rifling. The bottom rifle is a 2002 target model 24 inch bull barrel with micro-groove rifling . Take a trip over to the Marlin Owners forum. Those guys can give you a tremendous amount of history just off the top of their heads. I say this because there were a few years that Marlin put chrome caps on their forearms for whatever reason, but I don’t know what timeframe that occurred, and in your pictures it looks like (to my tired old eyes) that your rifle has one as well? Hope you love your 39a as much as I have all of mine ……… Tentwing
     
  20. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    Thanks for that info Tentwing, first I've heard of factory chroming but I'm still in kindergarten when it comes to 39A education. Do you know if the hammer/lever/bolt were also chromed? Will definitely check out the forum you recommended.

    Beautiful rifles, by the way!

    I'm just fine with the "character" my example displays, but have to say... it amazes me how many of these from the 40's, 50's, & 60's are not only still doing the job, but are in superb condition.
     
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  21. Encoreman

    Encoreman Member

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    I'm jealous, I have always wanted a 39 as they are iconic. Somehow never ran across one when I had the extra $$$. Today's pricing tells me that the 39 and others are worth the extra $$ because plastic and low quality guns just don't do it for many.
     
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  22. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    My google-fu did produce some info regarding chromed 39A's. Marlin apparently did a limited run or two, but the barrels & receivers were also chromed. So, still appears this one was personalized after purchase.

    Got it zeroed with the factory sights yesterday while my son was breaking in his PPQ. I definitely think it's accurate enough to deserve aperture sights, did pretty well with cheap, old bulk ammo. Just have to decide which one (& maybe wait who knows how long for it to be in stock somewhere).
    Perfect function in all aspects so far through 150+ rounds.
     
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  23. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    Congratulations.

    Don't forget skinner sights as an option. I don't use appeture sights on mine currently, but wanted to remind you of them. You might find a williams or Lyman on ebay if you watch. I seen one go about 35-40 the other day. I had bid on it, but wasn't in love so let it go.
     
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  24. ColdSpring

    ColdSpring Member

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    Haven't ruled them out, had one on a rifle years ago & it was quality- rugged & reliable. They make a steel patridge type front sight as well, even if I don't go with their peep I may get the front. Leaning more toward something easier to adjust (at least for elevation).
     
  25. Tentwing

    Tentwing Member

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    7524E83F-089D-449B-AE54-2879E948B89D.jpeg Coldspring, this aperture is made by Williams. It is easily adjustable for windage and elevation. It will fit both the Marlin 39a , and the Marlin 336. I use them on my 22 levers as well as my 30-30. Go to Williamsgunsight.com to check it out . The product number is 070018. You might actually find it cheaper at a gun shop that sells Williams products? If so the vendor number will be WGRS-336. Hope this helps,………Tentwing
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
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