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What Makes the Marlin 336 America's Most Popular Lever-Action


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First introduced in 1948, the Marlin 336 is one of the most popular lever-action rifles to ever grace the shelves at American gun stores. The Model 336 earned notoriety for a number of reasons--largely the price, power, accuracy, reliability, and ease of use--but its ability to maintain relevance all these years later is astounding. Indeed, the utilitarian rifle ranks up there with other iconic guns, such as the Winchester Model 1894, the Winchester Model 70, and the Remington Model 700, as hunters tend to rely on firearms they can trust. Countless hunters have taken countless deer, elk, bear and feral hogs with the Marlin Model 336 over the years.

Here we'll dive into what makes it such a popular hunting rifle.

Marlin 336 Models

Marlin currently produces the Model 336 in the following models:

336BL: The BL stands for "big loop," and this model features a larger-than-normal loop in the lever that makes it easier for a shooter wearing gloves to operate this rifle. The 336BL has a pistol grip stock, a 18.5-inch blued barrel, and is chambered in .30-30 Winchester.

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336C: The Marlin Model 336C is available in either .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington and has a pistol grip stock and 20-inch blued barrel.

336SS: The Marlin Model 336SS has a stainless steel receiver, a pistol grip, a 20-inch stainless steel barrel, and is chambered in .30-30 Winchester.

336TDL: Known as the "Texan Deluxe," the Marlin Model 336TDL is available in .30-30 Winchester, has a blued receiver, a 20-inch blued barrel, and a B-grade walnut stock.

336W: This model is identical to the 336C, except the Model 336W has a walnut-finished stock and a rubber butt plate instead of a recoil pad.

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336XLR: Produced in .30-30 Winchester, the Marlin Model 336XLR has a stainless steel receiver, a 24-inch stainless steel barrel, a laminated hardwood stock, and a pistol grip.

336Y: Chambered in .30-30 Winchester, the youth model of the Marlin Model 336 has a blued receiver and a 16.25-inch blued barrel.

All current production variants of the Marlin 336 have cut checkering on the stock, a hammer block safety, and feature their proprietary Micro-Groove rifling. Except for the 336W and 336Y, all variants also come with a recoil pad. The 336XLR and the 336Y have a tubular magazine that can hold up to five cartridges. All other variants can hold up to six cartridges.

Though the Marlin 336 is currently only available in .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington, Marlin has produced the 336 in a wide variety of calibers over the years. Among other cartridges, the Marlin 336 was manufactured in .219 Zipper, .32 Winchester Special, .375 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester and .44 Magnum at one time. A small number of these rifles have also been converted over to the 7-30 Waters cartridge as well.

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Scoped Marlin 336

The Marlin 336 comes standard with a folding rear sight and a ramp front sight, but the aftermarket offers a wide variety of peep or ghost ring sights that will fit it. However, solid top receiver and its side ejection action (rather than sending spent cartridges out from the top of the receiver) are what make it unique among lever-action .30-30s. And, the rare mechanism offers hunters the ability to mount a scope.

Lever-action rifles are often lightweight, easy to carry, and quick-pointing. Weighing in at only 7 pounds, the Marlin 336 is no different, although the .35 Remington and .30-30 Winchesters are truly limited in their long-range abilities. However, the 336's elite short-range prowess makes it an ideal "woods gun" for hunters who need to take fast, short-range shots on big-game animals.

It's difficult to know for sure which particular cartridge has killed the most deer in the United States over the years, but the .30-30 Winchester likely holds a top-three spot, if not No. 1 itself. Since the Marlin 336 is arguably the most popular .30-30 rifle ever, it follows that it's one of the most commonly used deer rifles North America has ever seen, dropping untold numbers of whitetails throughout history. And, the Marlin lever-action isn't just an option exclusive to deer hunters, as the .30-30 Winchester and the .35 Remington can both effectively handle the majority of North American game animals. At reasonable ranges, the Marlin 336 can effectively put feral hogs, black bears, elk, or even moose (especially when using the .35 Remington) in the freezer for the family.

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Due to the smashing success of the Model 336, Marlin has produced several similar rifles over the years. Of these, the big-bore Marlin Model 1895 chambered in .45-70 Government is the most common. Several different versions of the Model 1895 are in current production, including six "Guide Gun" models (1895CBA, 1895G, 1895GL, 1895GBL, 1895GS, and 1895SBL) that sport a short, 18.5-inch barrel. These rifles are extremely popular among hunters and outfitters in Canada and Alaska due to their effectiveness on big bears and moose at close range.

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

READ MORE: THESE ARE THE 6 BEST HANDGUNS FOR HUNTING

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