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Marlin Model 60: One of America's Favorite Semi-Auto Rimfire Guns

Marlin Model 60
Travis Smola

The Marlin Model 60 is a classic rimfire rifle.

When it comes to iconic firearms chambered in .22 long rifle, the Marlin Model 60 is one many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts know well. First introduced back in 1960, Marlin Firearms has pumped out more than 10 million of these semi-automatic long guns over the years. For good reason too, it is a reliable and fun to shoot option for plinking and small game hunting.

The company has made subtle changes and improvements to the semi-auto over the years, most notably introducing synthetic stocks and stainless steel barrel options. However, the majority of the design remains relatively unchanged. And why not? It is a proven firearm that simply works.

Today we will attempt to answer some of the Internet's most burning questions about this classic gun. We will try to determine if the Model 60 is still worth your time and hard-earned money well into the 21st century.

Is the Marlin Model 60 a good gun?

Marlin Model 60
Travis Smola

Speaking from my own personal experience with this rifle, a hand-me-down from my grandfather, the Model 60 is a great little gun. Let us get more into the specs before I break down how it shoots though. This rifle uses a straight blowback action, side ejection, and feeds rounds from a 14-round tubular magazine. The rifle has a bolt hold-open design that leaves it open after the last shot has been fired. If you run across a model that does not have this feature, that likely means it is an older model prior to the 1980s.

This rifle has a cross-bolt safety behind the trigger guard that is easy even for novice shooters to operate. That coupled with practically no recoil, and the easy charging handle, makes this an excellent rifle to train someone in the basics of firearms operation. Barrel length varies depending on the year and model. Marlin currently builds rifles with 18, 19, and 22-inch barrels. Speaking of the barrel, they normally have either a 1:9 or 1:16 twist rate. Some Model 60s have what the company calls "micro-groove rifling." This is simply smaller, finer grooves that helps a little bit more with accuracy, and is one of the signature features of this rifle.

Marlin offers a few different stock configurations with this rifle. My gun is a classic blued finish with a hardwood stock made of walnut, but they also offer finished Monte Carlo laminate, and a fiberglass-filled synthetic with pistol grip for something that will not scratch quite as easily. The stock is fitted with swivel studs standard. The Model 60 is usually built with either an adjustable semi-buckhorn, or adjustable open rear sight, and a ramp front sight. The receiver also has a scope mount. Even though I was also given a scope when the rifle was passed down to me, I have never mounted it. Mostly because the iron sights are plenty accurate enough for what I use the rifle for. Your mileage on that may vary.

Marlin Model 60
Travis Smola

As for how it shoots, the Model 60 is a true joy at the range. Although it can sometimes be finicky about ammo. This seems to be a shared experience based on what I have read online. I can tell you with certainty that my Model 60, which was built in the 90s, hates 40 grain Remington Thunderbolts. For some reason, this ammo seems to always give me stovepipe failures, even when freshly cleaned. At first, I thought it was simply a lead ammo thing, but the rifle cycles 40 grain Winchester white box Wildcats just fine. I have found my rifle does extremely well with copper-plated hollow points like Federal 36-grain bulk ammunition. It loves stuff like 36-grain Remington 22 Viper truncated cone bullets. Most users report good success with higher-quality stuff like CCI Stingers. The faster the round, the more the 60 seems to like it. You may want to experiment to find out exactly what your rifle likes.

Honestly, you should expect some issues with any type of rimfire firearm, handgun, or rifle. It is just the nature of how it functions. Once I found what my rifled liked, it was nothing but fun at the range. The one downside is that the tubular magazine does take a little bit longer to reload than a standard mag. However, there are speed loaders on the market for anyone looking for faster action.

The Model 60 has served me extremely well over the years as a pest control gun, taking out plenty of little nuisance critters that were damaging my property. It is also a solid small game hunting rifle. When my 60 was gifted to me, it had spent years sitting in a closet uncased gathering dust. A quick wipe down and barrel swab later and it was ready to go. If you are looking for a first firearm or something that is ready to go straight out of the box, it is hard to go wrong with a Model 60.

Can you shoot 22 shorts in a Marlin Model 60?

This is a common question for this firearm, and the answer is both yes and no. I have not tried it myself, but many users report it is possible. However, to pull it off, you need to open the bolt and insert the round into the chamber manually. It should be noted that this sort of thing is not recommended by the owner's manual, so proceed with caution. The thing is, when using a Model 60 to fire shorts, the gun will not cycle the rounds correctly. You must move the charging handle to clear the casing, effectively turning the gun into a bolt action. To us, this kind of defeats the purpose of wanting to use the rounds in the first place.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of the Marlin Model 60?

Aside from the occasional picky ammo issues and inability to shoot .22 shorts, one of the main drawbacks is a lack of customization options. Unlike something like the Ruger 10/22, which has a bevy of aftermarket parts available to improve the firearm, there are few, if any for the Model 60. If you like to customize your firearms, this may not be the gun for you. However, if you are looking for a simple, reliable, and accurate out of the box gun. The Marlin is an excellent choice.

I already mentioned how the tubular magazines are a little more difficult to load quickly, but honestly, that is a small complaint. I mostly have no issues with the Model 60 at all. It is perfect for a casual rimfire shooter or someone who just wants something simple for pest control problems on their farm or ranch.

What is the difference between a Model 60 and a "Glenfield" Model 60?

You may hear some shooters talk about a "Glenfield" version of the Model 60 from time to time. This simply refers to an older design of this firearm. According to Marlin Forum, these older Glenfield models are basically the same thing as other older Marlins. Only they were mass-produced and used many small design tweaks to make them cheaper to produce for big box chain stores. Because this line was phased out sometime in the early 80s, many of these Model 60s will feature slight differences from the more modern models.

Most notably there are differences in the feeding system. Most do not have the hold open design on the bolt for the last shot. These rifles may also have a higher 18-round capacity. From what we have been able to piece together, the Glenfields are not much more desirable or rare than a regular Model 60. I did a quick search online and the highest-priced one I saw was just a shade under $300 in an auction. We suppose you would have to be a Marlin die-hard fan to seek out a Glenfield. Most users seem to be just fine with one of the standard models.

What does a Marlin Model 60 cost?

Marlin Model 60
Travis Smola

This is probably the best part about this rifle. It is extremely affordable on just about any budget. Most new Model 60s, which will now be made by Ruger after Marlin's acquisition from Remington, start around the $180 mark. There are very few firearms on the modern market that have such a storied history and a reputation for reliability at that price. That makes it a safe bet for introducing a new hunter or shooter. Even if the person does not take to either in the long run, the investment is minimal and one of these guns is reliable for life. My Model 60 was built back in the early 90s and still handles like a dream. When it comes to great rimfire rifles, the Model 60 is set to forever be an all-time classic.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

NEXT: THE 5 BEST HOME DEFENSE SHOTGUNS

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Marlin Model 60: One of America's Favorite Semi-Auto Rimfire Guns