The Marlin Model 336 is a lever-action carbine made by Marlin Firearms. It is most often chambered in .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington, though it has also been chambered in several other cartridges over the years.
The carbine’s precursor was the Model 1936 (later renamed the Model 36), which traces its development to the Marlin Model of 1893. The Model 36 was heavier than the Winchester 94, which was then the dominant lever action hunting rifle. It also featured a semi pistol grip wooden stock and solid top receiver with side-ejection, in contrast to the Winchester 94 carbine’s straight grip stock and top-ejection receiver. The 36 was updated as the 336 in 1948, continuing the main differences with the Winchester.
While most production variants of the 336 feature pistol grip stock, 20 inch barrel and full length tube magazine, other styles have been frequently offered by Marlin; for instance, a limited production of 1,000 336 “D” variants in 35 cal. with a ported 18-inch barrel, each accompanied with a certification letter from the CEO of Marlin was made circa 2000.
The solid, flat top receiver and side ejection of the 336 allowed Marlin to sell to the growing number of American hunters who preferred optical sights over the traditional iron sights. In the mid-1950s Marlin incorporated its proprietary Micro-Groove rifling system into the Model 336. Microgroove rifling with many shallow grooves was designed to work better with jacketed bullets than more traditional rifling with fewer but deeper grooves originally developed for use with lead bullets.
The 336 is credited as number two in all-time leader in U.S. high-powered rifle sales, after the Winchester Model 1894.
The design of the Marlin 336 allows the user to remove the lever pivot screw with a common screwdriver, allowing removal of the lever, bolt and ejector for maintenance. This design allows the user to clean the barrel from the breech, like a bolt action rifle, avoiding wear to the muzzle. Disassembly of the Winchester 1894 usually requires the services of a gunsmith; the ’94 user seldom disassembles the rifle and usually cleans the barrel from the muzzle.
Marlin has made “youth” versions of the 336 at times, such as the 336Y, that are considerably shorter and lighter than the basic model.
OEM Branded Models:
Marlin has also made a number of these lever-action rifles for mass marketers like Sears, Western Auto, K-Mart and Wal-Mart. These models have walnut-stained hardwood stocks (as opposed to American Walnut stocks) and were sold for significantly lower prices than standard Model 336′s. Mechanically identical to the Model 336, these rifles were sold under the names Glenfield, Glenfield Marlin or Marlin as Models 30, 30A, 30AS and 30AW. The Model 30AW package includes a gold-plated steel trigger, 3-9×32 factory-mounted scope, padded sling and offset hammer spur. It is identical to the current Marlin Model 336W.
Marlin also offers an XLR line in both 336 and 1895 size actions. The XLR designation indicates a grey and black laminate stock with a pistol grip as opposed to the traditional straight grip. The XLR models are also stainless steel with a non-gloss satin finish as opposed to the traditional blued finish.
The current Marlin Model 1894 is a short action rifle based on the design of the Model 336 which externally resembles the original Model of 1894 which was internally different. It is chambered in rimmed calibers commonly associated with revolvers such as the .38 Special/.357 Magnum, the .44 Special/.44 Magnum, and the .45 Colt. This model is popular with cowboy action shooting enthusiasts, and with ranchers in rural areas where carrying a lever gun and a revolver in the same caliber is common.
Introduced in 1972 and named in honor of the Marlin Model of 1895 (produced from 1895–1917), the current Model 1895 rifle is based on the final design of the 336 but enlarged and strengthened for more powerful, big bore cartridges. It was initially chambered in the .444 Marlin developed specifically for the new Model 1895, then in the traditional .45-70. It’s also available in the more modern .338 Marlin Express.
The .45-70 was originally a black powder cartridge and most factory ammo is loaded moderately for safety in older rifles, including the original Model of 1895. With increasing numbers of modern .45-70 rifles built with high strength actions (including the current Model 1895, the Ruger No. 1 single shot, the Browning BLR or the Siamese Mauser conversions), handloaders and specialty ammunition makers like Hornady, Buffalo Bore and Garrett produce high intensity .45-70 loadings that may equal or exceed the power of the .444 Marlin. Some approach the power of the .458 Winchester Magnum and are effective against dangerous game up to and including elephants. Use of such loadings in older .45-70 firearms is dangerous and should not be attempted; for that reason, Marlin introduced the .450 Marlin, a belted version of the .45-70 cartridge that will not chamber in older .45-70 rifles. However, many .45-70 Model 1895 owners chose to use the traditional .45-70 loads for deer-sized game with the option of using the high intensity .45-70 loads for more dangerous game. The 1895M lever-action rifle chambered in .450 Marlin was offered from 2000 until 2009 and is no longer in production.
One recent innovation growing in popularity is the “Guide Gun” concept. The name most probably originates from the types of longarms favored by Alaskan hunting and wilderness guides as a defense against attacks by bears. The Guide Gun concept consists of a handy, short-barreled (usually 16-19″) lever action in a large caliber such as .45-70 or .450 Marlin with a 3/4 length magazine tube . These guns are usually fitted with fast open sights such as ghost rings or express sights; frequently these sights make use of tritium or fiber optics. They are commonly equipped with a scout rail allowing the mounting of optics such as long-eye relief scopes or parallax-free optics such as reflex sights or holographic weapon sights. Marlin 1895 actions are popular bases for this type of firearm. Marlin itself offers the 1895G, 1895GS, and 1895SBL fitting this mold. Previously offered models such as the 1895SDT and 336SDT also fit the mold. There are gunsmiths who specialize in making guide guns from 1895 actions in different calibers than 45-70.
Aside from being a popular platform for building guide guns, the 1895 Marlin action serves as the basis for various caliber conversions. The popularity of Marlin 1895 caliber conversions and wildcat cartridges is likely due to the fact the many .45-70 owners end up reloading their own ammunition to make more powerful cartridges. After learning reloading and purchasing the necessary equipment, many shooters realize they are not limited to commonly available factory ammo. Some wildcat cartridge conversions include .450 Alaskan, .457 Wild West Magnum, .50 Alaskan, and the .510 Kodiak Express.
Of the conversions mentioned both the .450 Alaskan and the .457 Wild West Magnum do not require new barrels, but simply a chamber reaming and the required action modifications (referred to as “action lengthening”). The .510 Kodiak Express is the most powerful wildcat conversion available for the Marlin at 5,000+ ft-lbs. Both the .50 Alaskan and .510 Kodiak Express require a new barrel to be installed on the rifle.
.45-90 Sharps (also called .45-90 WCF) is a non-wildcat conversion for the Marlin 1895. The .45-90 is more than a quarter inch longer than the .45-70 allowing the powder capacity necessary to achieve muzzle energies upwards of 4,000 ft-lbs in modern firearms. These high pressure loads are referred to as “.45-90 Express” and are not safe for use in Marlin lever action rifles manufactured prior to 1948 (nor any other non-modern .45-90 firearm). The .45-90 Express is the most powerful conversion available for the .45 caliber Marlin 1895 that does not require a replacement barrel. The .45-90 conversion involves modifications to the action that increase the bolt travel and action timing (to adjust when a round is ejected, and when a new round lifts to enter the chamber), and the chamber in the barrel is reemed to .45-90 Sharps.