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Range Reports: Marlin 336M, 1894P, 1894SS

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by treeprof, May 27, 2003.

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  1. treeprof

    treeprof Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Over the past week, I've had a chance to sight in and load test a couple Marlin rifles of mine. Lever guns are a frequent topic here, so I thought I'd share my experiences. I used 8" Shoot-n-See targets for all guns. All shooting was done with the Marlin stock semi-buckhorn sights on all three rifles. Groups sizes are for 3 shot groups. Yes, I realize that 5+ shot groups are often preferrable to get a real feel for intrinsic accuracy, but I feel that 3 shot groups from a lever gun (or most hunting guns, actually) realistically reflect what one might experience in the field from general purpose rifles.

    Marlin 336M, .30-30: This stainless steel model has been renamed the 336SS. I've had it for abt 2.5 yrs, but a shoulder injury, subsequent surgery and long recovery (coupled with previously limited access to a decent range) had limited my previous experience with this gun to a rough sighting at 25 yds in shortly after I purchased it.

    I shot Win 170 gr Silvertips (ST), Win 170 gr Powerpoints (PP), Win 150 gr Powerpoint + (PP+) and Rem 170 gr Core-lokt (CL), all at 100 yds. I forgot to bring my Fed Prem 170 gr Nosler Partitions.

    After abt 12-15 shots, the gun seemed to settle in, and I had settled on a sight picture that made a figure 8, with the bead held at 6 o'clock on the bullseye. The dot subtended abt 9" ( a bit bigger than the Shoot-n-See target) at 100 yds., and holding it so that it covered the target initially seemed like a good plan, but I couldn't get any consistency.

    I was shooting mostly the 170 PP, as I had the greatest number of those, and three shot groups were running abt 3" in size. I was losing light, and decided to shoot one careful 3 shot group of each load.

    Both the ST and PP grouped right at 3", at the same POI (abt 3" high). The PP+ grouped at a nice 2 1/4", but abt 7 inches high. This lighter, faster bullet clearly is going to shoot flatter, and the 170 gr slower bullet sight alignment was really arcing it up there. For no particular reason, I've never been a big user of Rem ctrfire rifle ammo, but the one group I shot with the 170 gr CL came in at 1 1/2"! I was really impressed, and will be doing some further work with this ammo. POI was abt 1" higher than the Win 170 loads. Overall, I was quite pleased after this outing, with both myself and the 336M.

    1894P, 44 mag.: Like the 336M, I've had this 16" ported bbl rifle a while, but have shot it a limited amount, and only at 25 yds. I recently put a Pachmyr Deccelerator Pad on it, and was interested to compare its recoil to the 1894SS. Loads consisted of Georgia Arms 240 gr Gold Dot HP, Ga Arms 240 gr semi-jacketed HP, Speer 270 gr Gold Dot SP and Federal Premium Castcore 300 gr lead solids.

    My brother and I both were shooting, all shots at 50 yds. Both the 240 gr loads were consistently shooting into 1 1/2" - 2" for us both, and my last group was just a hair over 1". The 270 gr GDSP grouped similarly for my brother, abt 2", and at roughly the same POI. I had trouble getting <2" on this load.

    The Fed Castcores were a real disappointment. The best group we could get was just under 4", and on several occasions this load produced real flyers, 8-12" outside POA for one of the three shots. My brother is a pretty fair shot, and we were both getting poor groups and flyers, so I think it was the ammo/gun combo. I suspect the combination of slow twist (1 in 38") and lower velocity from the short (16") bbl may have been contributing, but I don't know for sure.

    1894SS, 44. mag: This stainless 20" bbl rifle is a newer purchase. Loads consisted of the same Georgia Arms 240 gr Gold Dot HP, Ga Arms 240 gr semi-jacketed HP, and Federal Premium Castcore 300 gr lead solids. (I didn't have any of the 270 gr GDSP with me). My brother and I were both shooting again, at both 50 and 100 yds. After we and the rifle settled in, the 240 gr loads again shot very well - 1 1/2" or less at 50 yds, and into 3" at 100. With POI 2 1/2" above POA at 50 yds, POA/POI was dead on at 100 yds. We only shot the Fed 300 gr Castcores at 50 yds, but performance was quite good - three shot groups consistently into 2". POI was about 2 1/2" below the 240 gr at this distance, right at POA. Perhaps the added 4" in the bbl made the 300 gr accuracy difference compared to thr 1894P, or maybe it was just something abt the bbl itself, but I was pretty satisfied with this load in this rifle. The meplat on the Castcores in pretty wide, and I noticed that some of them would feed a little "sticky" with this gun if it was tilted more than a few degrees to the side.

    Various receiver screws had loosened on both this gun and the 1894P, not unheard of in Marlins. Recoil in both .44's was very manageable, but the Deccelerator noticably cusioned recoil in the little 1894P.
  2. happy old sailor

    happy old sailor Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    good report treeprof. am always interested in these type tests.
  3. Jaywalker

    Jaywalker Member

    May 28, 2003

    Thanks for the breakout of performance for your Marlins. I often hear that they're "accurate," but seldom does anyone post results with the factory buckhorn sights, let alone a description of the sight picture alternatives. Also, congratulations; I'd be pleased to shoot those groups with open sights. Please post the next in the series, too, if you would,

    I purchased my 336 a few years ago after a near lifetime of bolt rifles, spent (too much) money shortening the stock, but have yet to shoot it. This encourages me to get back to basics.

    FWIW, this is my first post here; I'm yet another alumnus of TheFiringLine. THR feels similarly collegial.

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