Return of the Timeless 30-30 Win. Lever Action:  The Marlin Model 336 Classic

The “new” Marlin Firearms is now officially back as a top manufacturer of lever actions with the Marlin 336 Classic. Officially back to me, that is.

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 shown with ammunition boxes
Marlin returns to the .30-30 Win. with the new Model 336 Classic.

To others, Marlin’s return came last year when it launched the Model 1895 SBL chambered in .45-70 Govt. This was after a manufacturing hiatus of a few years, which saw Marlin bought up by Ruger when the Remington Outdoor Companies went into bankruptcy and sold off the various pieces of the larger corporation. One such piece was Marlin Firearms, which Sturm, Ruger and Company scooped up in 2020.

The 1895 was and is a fine rifle, one I reviewed for GunsAmerica Digest in May 2022. You can read that review here. It was later joined by the 1895 Trapper and the 1895 Guide Gun, both also chambered in .45-70 Govt.

For myself, though, the very word “Marlin” has always meant a lever action chambered in that workhorse, short-to-mid range caliber, the .30-30 Winchester. And that rifle is now available in the form of the Marlin Model 336 Classic.

Stock of the Marlin Model 336 in 30-30
A Black Walnut stock is almost an endangered species, but when you are a Classic…

The new rifle is a classic in all the ways the name applies to a lever. It sports an American Black Walnut stock and forend, open sights, and a good but, frankly, not great trigger (which will get better with use), in a handy rifle able to take down deer-sized game out to 150 yards–and maybe a bit further for the better shooters.

I was fortunate enough to receive one of the first-run Model 336 Classics. I loved the way it looked and felt right out of the box: the solid wood, the nice balance and the just-right weight.

Marlin 336 – Classic Features

The receiver, lever, and trigger guard plate on the 336 Classic were all CNC machined from alloy steel forgings. The 20.25-inch barrel was cold hammer-forged. The receiver and barrel were blued with a satin finish. A soft rubber butt pad helped displace the already-manageable .30-30 Win. recoil.

Front site of the Marlin Model 336
Hooded brass bead pops nicely in this photo, but McCombie had trouble locating it at the range.

At my outdoor range, I shot the 336 Classic with open sights first. Truthfully, the sights didn’t match up very well with my eyes, which, admittedly are 63 years old and require help in the form of glasses. The hooded front post made it difficult for me to see the front post’s brass bead. The semi-buckhorn rear sight, I felt, would have benefitted from a deeper, slightly wider U-shaped notch, too.

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The front sight hood will tap off, and maybe I should’ve done that to see if my sight picture would have improved. But the 336 Classic was a test rifle, not my rifle. I’ve “tapped” off such items before and scratched up firearms in the process, and I didn’t want to risk damaging this rifle.

Still, I was able to shoot three- and four-shot groups right around 2.0-inches, and a few better, with different brands of .30-30 Win. Ammunition and firing the Model 336 from a rest. The top groups included:

–Four shots at 1.4-inches with Remington Core-Lokt and its 150-grain soft-point bullet;

–Three shots at 1.8-inches using LEVERevolution from Hornady launching a 160-grain FTX bullet:

–And, three shots with Winchester Super-X loaded with a 170-grain PowerPoint bullet, which twice pegged in at 2.0-inches.

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 being held by hunter in camo
Trijicon’s Credo HX 1-8 scope proved a huge benefit in testing the 336 Classic for accuracy.

To really see what kind of accuracy the 336 Classic was capable of, I mounted a Trijicon Credo HX 1-8×28 scope onto the 336 Classic. Which first required me to mount a Midwest Industries, Marlin 1895 Scope Rail on the 336’s receiver. Yes, this scope rail fits the Model 336 Classic’s drilled-and-tapped receiver perfectly, even though the name and product description on the packaging only refer to the 1895 rifle.

I’d used the Credo HX 1-8 on a couple of different hunts and for another rifle review and knew it would be a great compliment to the 336 Classic. The Credo HX produces clear, sharp-edged images, the controls are very precise, and the scope’s light transmission is awesome. In the field, the magnification range allows a hunter to effectively shoot out to 300 yards, and maybe more, while the lower magnifications are perfect for closer hunting in thickly wooded or brush-heavy locations.

Back at my range, I first zeroed the rifle at 50 yards and then moved to a 100-yard lane. For this testing, I used three different brands of .30-30 ammunition: Browning BXR Rapid Expansion loaded with a 155-grain matrix tip bullet: Federal Premium Vital-Shok and its 150-grain Trophy Copper bullet; and Winchester Super-X launching a 150-grain PowerCore lead-free bullet.

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 show with target group
At 100 yards, the 336 Classic and Browning’s BRX .30-30 produced this 1.2″ group.

All three rounds produced three-shot groups of 2.0-inches or less. The best groups included:

–Three shots of the Browning at both 1.2-inches and 1.8-inches;

–Federal, which twice drilled three-shot groups at 1.3-inches, and a four shot group at 1.8-inches.

–Winchester Super- X held up its end too, punching several groups at 1.9 to 2.2-inches.

For the hunter, those are groups to bring down deer or hogs all day long.

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 with target shot by Federal ammo
Federal’s Vital-Shok does the job nicely at 100 yards.

My Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge put the 336 Classic’s pull at 3.0 pounds to 3.0 pounds, 2 ounces. That pull was heavier and noticeably stiffer right out of the box, but the trigger definitely loosed up and the pull smoothed out as I used the rifle. A good thing.

The 336’s lever worked fine throughout my shooting, moving back the nickel-plated bolt without a hitch and chambering rounds firmly, and then locked back into position under the lower tang with a firm click. Much like the trigger, the 336’s lever smoothed out nicely after approximately 75 rounds.

Bolt of the Marlin Model 336 in 30-30
A nickel-plated bolt made for smooth operation of the 336’s lever action.

Ammunition fed into the loading port easily, even when loading up the last couple of rounds of the tubular magazine’s six-round capacity. Used brass was flung out of the ejection port positively, ending up two to three feet from the rifle.

The rifle’s American Black Walnut showed off a really handsome grain, enhanced by a triple-coating of polyurethane. The laser checkering along the grip and forend was sharp enough to keep the rifle steady but not uncomfortably so. Sling studs were located at the barrel band and near the end of the butt.

The finishing touch: the grip cap and Marlin’s trademark horse-and-rider medallion.

Safety of the Marlin Model 336 in 30-30
The rifle’s cross-bolt safety in the FIRE position.

The rifle sports a manual cross-bolt safety which shows red on the left side of the receiver when the rifle is ready to fire. Plus, the 336’s hammer can also be kept in the traditional half-cock position, from which the rifle cannot be fired even when the manual safety is in the firing position.

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 Hammer close up
The 336’s hammer is nicely grooved for good traction.

To me, the Model 336 Classic is the rifle you take out on opening day of deer season when hunting the big woods and the edges of thick swamps, where 100-yard and under shots are the norm. The carbine length also makes this a fine choice for a truck gun for the rancher who needs a firearm that is quick to deploy and can take down everything from a coyote to a big boar hog. In both cases, the 336 Classic can provide fast follow-up shots of the sturdy .30-30 Win.

Expect other variations of the Model 336 to drop in the near future. There’s a reason this one was designated “Classic,” after all.   

All in all, the Model 336 Classic is a fine addition to the growing Marlin line. Yes, Marlin is back!

Marlin Model 336 in 30-30 pistol grip showing cowboy on horse
Marlin, back in the .30-30 saddle with the Model 336 Classic.

Specifications:  Marlin Model 336 Classic

Model Number: 70504

Caliber: .30-30 Win

Capacity: 6+1

Barrel: 20.25,” Cold Hammer-Forged Alloy Steel

Twist/Rifling: 1:12” RH, 6 Groove Rifling

Receiver Material: Alloy Steel

Barrel and Receiver Finish: Satin Blued

Front Sight: Brass Bead with Hood

Rear Sight: Semi-Buckhorn

Stock: American Black Walnut

Weight: 7.5 lb.

Overall Length: 38.625”

Length of Pull: 13.38”

MISC: Receiver Drilled/Tapped for Optics; Sling Swivel Studs; Offset Hammer Spur inc.

MSRP:  $1,239.00

Marlin Firearms

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

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  • Stefan Kahl March 31, 2023, 5:54 am

    Poor fit and finish from Ruger. See pictures. And for near $1000. No thanks.

  • Maine 30-30 March 27, 2023, 10:51 pm

    looks like your shooting with iron sights was better than with the scope. good shooting Tex!

  • Jeremy March 27, 2023, 9:28 pm

    The 336 Marlin is my first bought rifle when i became of age to buy it myself at 18yrs of age in 1984. Paid $199. I shot about a 100 rounds thru it in all, sighting in iron sights good to 100 yards. And then some. Nice piece in my collection, still have it. The stock cracked with the grain of the wood over the years. But still in perfect condition. She is a beauty and fun to shoot.

  • Michael Stevens March 27, 2023, 3:45 pm

    The 444 Marlin is my go to lever and it never ever disappoints. It doesn’t say bang it says meat. Mine had the barrel shortened to fit a scabbard which also is handy in tight quarters such as in a blind. The remaining barrel is stout making it lively but steady in the off hand. Thankfully it was made before the addition of the cross bolt safety which I feel is unnecessary. This is high praise coming from a bolt man.

  • Howard K Taylor March 27, 2023, 1:54 pm

    It is nice to see the return of the Marlin 336, but it is shocking to see the MSRP of over 1,000 dollars as the Marlin 336C normally ran in the 500–600-dollar range when produced by either Remington or Marlin. This was why this particular 30-30 was so popular as it was within the average hunter’s fiscal means to acquire. Thanks to Ruger for making a working man’s brand of firearms into a rich mans.

  • Big Al 45 March 27, 2023, 12:38 pm

    I find it interesting that you equate the 30-30 to the Marlin, when it was a Winchester cartridge and chambering first (.30 W.C.F.), and Marlin and others came up with the 30-30 designation so as not to have to use Winchesters name.

  • Marlin lover March 27, 2023, 11:30 am

    I am a Marlin fan and, while I am happy to see them in production again, I’m not very optimistic. The quality of the wood on the rifle pictured is nice, but it is lacking in fit and finish. Wood around the tang is shy and loose, areas of unstained wood exposed, and the black spacer and butt plate aren’t properly fitted. I like the addition of the pistol grip cap. It is reminiscent of the old Winchester deluxe models.
    Overall, it’s probably a solid, reliable rifle but the fit and finish is typical of Ruger. Remington started this when they began laying off workers and changing production methods. Sadly, I doubt we’ll ever again see the quality rifles Marlin once produced.

  • George March 27, 2023, 11:10 am

    Why in the world wouldn’t you use the same ammo in the scoped tests as previously with irons ?

  • Tony March 27, 2023, 10:48 am

    Used to you could go in any sporting goods store or LGS and find all kinds of .30-30 ammo on the shelf. Anymore all you find is an abundance of any pistol or rifle from 300 Whisprnfart to .800 Boominshist and any new caliber that may nose in at anytime. If there is any that show up near deer hunting season you better buy up the limited supply or go dry if you want to practice off season.
    Lucky for me I reload but havent until now started on the .30-30 round because of plenty and cheap as seems pre-pandemic times.
    I always liked the Marlin line and have a few. Seems the new Ruger line of Marlin rifles will pick up with premium expectations.
    Keep your powder dry and carry on…
    Richards out…

  • Lewis Newland March 27, 2023, 10:46 am

    Overpriced and get rid of the cross bolt I got a Henry because of it. I got my dad’s old 336 and it is great!

  • michael burrows March 27, 2023, 10:13 am

    Any “working man” can afford this. You mean to say you can’t afford to buy this and the other 49 cheaply made junk so you can brag about how many guns you have. I am personally sick of cheap junk that is being pumped out by gun manufacturers to placate the people who think they are entitled to everything for next to nothing. I would rather have a couple of great quality firearms that last a lifetime, than a bunch of junk. $1200 for a product that lasts a generation is a bargain. How much do new vehicles cost today? Houses? How on earth do you manage to pay for those? Oh wait, don’t tell me, I think I already know.

  • Mike in a Truck March 27, 2023, 9:49 am

    I want one in 35 Rem- an underrated cartridge. As far as price dont blame the manufacturers of …anything. Blame your stupid Government. Only the Government prints money only the Government causes inflation.Well that and thire dumbass energy policies.

  • MeSeaHunt March 27, 2023, 8:00 am

    I do think it is a great classic rifle and would buy one EXCEPT for the small lever loop, IF they just made a LARGE loop lever(like on the 45.70) I would have one……

    • Steve March 27, 2023, 9:23 am

      Larger lever loops available after market, easily replaceable, and reasonably priced.

      • Ron Bolin March 27, 2023, 10:04 am

        I have a model 336 with the walnut stock and forearm. It was manufactured in 1979 and I’ve been the proud owner of it since 1985. The gun is still in excellent condition and has bagged several deer. I’ve owned and still own higher caliber long range guns . But for me my trusty Marlin 336 30/30 is my go to gun for deer season.

  • Jon March 27, 2023, 7:12 am

    So much for a working Mans gun. The price point is way to high and out of reach for most people. The 336 I bought about 5 years ago from a local sporting goods store was about 400 bucks. No fancy wood stock, beech wood I believe. Rifle shoots great with or without fancy wood. These manufacturers seem to be gouging the hell out of prices. Hopefully they will put out a no frills bare bones model that folks can accually afford.

  • paul harvey March 27, 2023, 6:45 am

    the 336 is available in plastic at the big box stores for around $500….same perforrmance

  • paul harvey March 27, 2023, 6:45 am

    the 336 is available in plastic at the big box stores for around $500….same perforrmance

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