The Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 lever action rifle is a gun for the ages. But it fits in pretty darned nicely in today’s world of firearms.
“The .30-30 Winchester carbine is light, short, easily worked through dense forest areas and, when carried over arduous trails, lends itself well to canoe, packhorse, and dog-team travel. Also, it is vested with the crowning glory—the open hammer and the lever action, which symbolize the outdoors as do the pattern of a snowshoe or a canoe.” — Calvin Rustrum, The New Way of the Wilderness, 1958
Rustrum had it right suggesting that lever-action rifles symbolize, in part, the outdoors. It’s an iconic firearm platform rich in history, especially American, and is woven into the fabric of our American heritage. Even as a Gen-X’er, I spent countless hours in front of our rabbit-eared TV screen as a boy, enthralled with the lever-action shooting prowess of The Rifleman’s Lucas McCain—although, in hindsight, I still wonder how he got his hands on a Winchester Model 92…in 1881.
Given that influence, my first rifle purchase was Marlin’s Model 336 CS, chambered in .30-30 Winchester. So, when asked to review Marlin’s latest Model 336 Classic .30-30 lever action, I jumped at the chance.
Marlin’s History with the Model 336
Marlin Firearms planted roots in Northaven, Connecticut, and officially opened its doors in 1870. The Model 1893 proved to be Marlin’s hinge to success against the likes of Winchester. Produced from 1893 to 1936, the Model 1893 morphed into the 336 in 1948. With few changes—most notably, an open ejection port, integral pistol grip and, later, a round bolt—the Model 336 draws a direct line through 130 years of American firearm history.
While Marlin was purchased by Remington Arms Company in late 2007, and was purchased once more by Sturm, Ruger & Co, Inc. in late 2020, Marlin lever-action rifles have been in continuous production, although manufacturing of the Model 336 was paused. Fortunately, Ruger resurrected Marlin, and the revered Model 336 Classic is now back in the saddle!
About the Gun
Not much at all has changed aesthetically for the Model 336 Classic.
True to its predecessors, the Marlin Model 336 Classic boasts a rich American black walnut stock and forend. The stock retains the integral pistol-grip styling complete with Marlin’s iconic horse-and-rider grip cap, and a rubber butt pad for enhanced comfort. The forend remains slim and is attached at the front by a barrel band. Stock and forend also retain the 336’s classic laser-engraved checkering, which certainly looks good. But its true purpose is to provide a positive grip, and it accomplishes this task nicely.
In addition, the barrel and receiver are still finished in rich satin bluing, the Model 336 Classic’s trigger is still done in Marlin’s recognizable gold, the semi-buckhorn back and hooded front sights still top the rifle, and Marlin’s familiar bullseye remains embedded in the stock. The reintroduced 336 is an heirloom-quality rifle worthy of the horse-and-rider grip cap.
At The Shooting Range
Initial shooting with open sights was a tad lackluster, perhaps because of my own problem vision. For me, the brass bead was hard to acquire under its hood. As a result, I installed a picatinny rail and mounted a Japanese-made Sightmark Pinnacle 1-6×24 FFP scope.
Using Hornady’s American Whitetail 150-grain ammunition, and shooting at 100 yards, I averaged several five-shot groups under two inches, one group under 1.7 inches, and a three-shot group just under 1.5 inches. Muzzle velocity edged over 2,275 feet-per-second, and recoil, at just under 11 foot-pounds, is quite comfortable (approximately half that of a .30-06).
Admittedly, initial cycling and trigger-pull were a bit stiff, yet both loosened with use. Trigger-pull lightened to an average of 3.2 pounds. Overall, shooting was comfortable, and accuracy was impressive for a down-and-dirty close- to mid-range hunting rig perfect for deer, hogs, and the like.
In all my years of gun writing, firearm building, collecting, and shooting, the only centerfire rifle I ever regretted selling was my Marlin 336 CS. The reintroduced Marlin 336 Classic quickly reminded me of why the regret. I need this rifle in my life again. I’m glad to see it back!
SPECS: Marlin Model 336 Classic
- ACTION: Lever
- CHAMBERING: .30-30 Winchester
- RECEIVER: CNC-Machined Alloy Steel
- STOCK: American Black Walnut
- BARREL TYPE: Cold Hammer-Forged Alloy Steel, 1:12 twist
- BARRREL LENGTH: 20.25 in.
- MAGAZINE: Tube (6 Round Capacity)
- TRIGGER: Marlin Classic Gold-Color, 3.2 lbs. (Average) Pull
- SIGHTS: Semi-Buckhorn Rear, Hooded Brass Bead Front
- WEIGHT: 7.5 lbs.
- LENGTH: 38.625 in.
- ACCESSORIES: Swivel Sling Studs, Offset Hammer Spur, Cable Lock
- MSRP: $1,239.00
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