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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Specifications: Marlin Model 336 Classic
Model Number: 70504
Caliber: .30-30 Win
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.