A Brief History of Marlin Firearms
Marlin’s history dates back to the early 1860s, when the company’s founder left his Connecticut tool and die business to start making firearms for the Union army during the Civil War. After spending several years at Samuel Colt’s plant in Hartford, John M. Marlin decided to venture out on his own. In 1870, he founded the Marlin Firearms Company, based out of New Haven, Connecticut, and began manufacturing a variety of small-caliber pistols.
Over the years, Marlin shifted his focus to producing single-shot and lever-action rifles—the latter of which remains a popular element of the company’s product line today. Marlin ownership has changed hands several times over the past 140 years, with its last acquisition occurring under its present owner, the Remington Outdoor Company, in 2007.
Marlin offered his first trademark “levergun” over a century ago, with the introduction of the Model 1881 repeater. The Marlin Model 1881 was one of the first lever-action rifles offered in a variety of calibers (from .32-40 to .45-70). The company later released the Marlin Model 1889, which featured an ejection port on the side, rather than the top, of the receiver. Top-ejecting leverguns were the industry standard for the period but had a nasty habit of flinging hot brass in the shooter’s face with each round fired. This innovation, unsurprisingly, made Model 1889 a well-liked rifle. Marlin has produced a variety of lever-action firearms, including a few shotguns, based upon its original design. Additionally, the company also currently produces three lines of rimfire rifles that are popular among recreational shooters and small game hunters alike.
Popular Marlin Rifles
Although no longer in production, one of the most famous firearms that Marlin ever produced was the Model 1881 lever-action repeater. Despite competing against the iconic 1873 Winchester, “the Gun that Won the West,” the Model 1881 established Marlin as a reputable levergun manufacturer and cemented the company’s place in history. The weapon, like other repeaters of the period, featured a tubular magazine that fed into a top-ejecting receiver. Unlike other leverguns, however, the hearty Marlin was capable of handling big bore cartridges, like the beefy .45-70 Government, which made it “the New Buffalo Gun” of the late nineteenth-century. The range of calibers made the Marlin 1881 popular among many Americans of the period with approximately 16,000 of the leverguns finding their way into the hands of ranchers, farmers, and other frontier folk across the Great Plains.
Another great Marlin levergun is the Model 1894, which is still in production today. Besides being an all-around awesome repeater, the Marlin Model 1894 bears some historical significance in that it is, according to Marlin, “The very first flat-top, side eject receiver ever produced.” Like the 1881, the Model 1894 is an iconic levergun of the Old West and is offered in multiple calibers. It’s also available with a range of walnut stocks and finishes, which make it popular among a diverse variety of hunters and shooters.
The Marlin Model 39A started out as the lever-action Model 1891 and is recognized for being “the oldest continuously produced cartridge rifle in the world.” Marlin temporarily halted the rifle’s production during WWI. Since its reintroduction in 1922, however, the 39A Marlin has sold a staggering 3 million units and laid claim to the title of “the Cadillac of .22s.” As a rimfire rifle, the Model 39A is primarily popular among recreational shooters and small game hunters. Marlin presently offers a 39A Fancy model that comes packed with great features like a hand-finished walnut stock and custom trigger job.
Two relatively recent additions to the Marlin family include the Model 336 lever-action deer rifle (pictured) and the Model 60 semiautomatic rimfire rifle. The first, while based on an 1893 design, was originally developed in 1948. The Marlin Model 60 came about a little over a decade later, receiving its name from the year in which it was first produced, 1960. The Model 336 is an excellent hunting rifle, available in two calibers (.30-30 Win and .35 Rem). The Model 60, on the other hand, is only available in .22 rimfire. Both weapons, however, come in a variety of finishes and are set in some excellent stocks. The Model 336 is ideal for hunting deer and elk, while the Model 60 a great choice for plinking, target shooting, or bagging small game.
Upgrading your Marlin Rifle Stocks
Any of the above production-rifles are fine as is but there’s always room for improvement. At Boyds, we pride ourselves in offering a variety of custom hardwood stocks
and forends that improve the look, feel, and accuracy of virtually any rifle. We have, for example, 1894 cap-style forends
available in 16 styles of hardwood, from handsome walnut to a striking royal jacaranda laminate. Also included in our long list of top selling lever-action products is the Marlin 336 Pistol Grip Stock
, which enhances the appearance and comfort of an already great levergun.
While we’ve mentioned a few quality firearms here, we’ve only scratched the surface of all that Boyds and Marlin has to offer. Our RVT Marlin 60 Rimfire Varmint Thumbhole Stock is a popular upgrade for the famous autoloader, for example. But we also offer a similar line of outstanding products for Marlin’s other rimfire rifles, including their great XT series
of guns and the Model 795. Just go online and take a look at our At-One Marlin 795 Clip Feed FBC Stock
, available in a gorgeous nutmeg laminate finish, or any one of our beautiful XT series of similar stocks. Regardless of which Marlin rifle you own, you can’t go wrong with a Boyds custom hardwood gunstock.