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A tour of the Marlin 39

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Old 02-23-2015, 08:55 AM   #1
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A tour of the Marlin 39

Since we're still well below zero, this morning, thought it might be fun for everyone to take a tour of the Marlin 39 with me. First, some history.

The Marlin 39 is the oldest and longest continuously produced shoulder fired gun still in production. It started life as the Marlin 1891, the first lever gun ever made in 22 LR. It then became the Model 1892, the Model 1897 and then became the Model 39 in the 1920s. All basically the same gun, though, with only a few minor design changes along the way.

The gun was a favored by Annie Oakley. She once used the 1891 version to put 25 shots in one hole in 27 seconds from a distance of 36 feet.

The most common version of the 39 has always been the long 24" barreled 39A. The 39A is the gun that most people visualize when you mention a Marlin 39. That long barrel gives the 39A just enough muzzle weight to make for a superb offhand shooter. For sure, the 39A has always been my favorite 22 for shooting from a standing position. The gun is just pure magic to shoot this way. Here's our 1969 made 39A.



There were other variations, though. One of the best known, but harder to find (because people tend not to sell them and fewer were made) is the 39M (Mountie). With its 20" barrel and straight grip stock, it is the best known carbine version of the 39. Here's our 39M made in 1977 (which we just found, this week). It's currently wearing a Bushnell Custom 4x scope, though I suspect it will eventually be wearing a peep.



There are some true collectible 39s, too. Here is our made for only 3 years, 39 Carbine. This is basically a 39M with a slim tapered barrel, half length magazine and trimmed down stock. Ours was made in 1964 and may just be the most cherished gun in our safe. I consider just about every gun in our safe to be replaceable, but not this one.



When I was young, Marlin advertised the Marlin 39 as the Cadillac of 22s. This was no empty marketing slogan, by the way. The 39 has always been one of the most expensive 22s to buy. Indeed, unlike some of Marlin's other lever gun lines, there never was an economy grade 39. If you bought any 39, you got an all steel and walnut gun. Period.

The secret of the Marlin 39's success and longevity is its construction quality and its accuracy. Let's take a closer look at the 39's action. Just happened to have our newly acquired 39M broken down for inspection, so took a few pics.

First, the take down screw. It's a signature feature of the 39.



Loosen the screw and the two action halves separate. Makes for easy access to the action and allows you to clean from the breech end. Note the all forged steel, heavily built parts, right down to the steel trigger which was gold plated in some years. No aluminum, no stampings, no plastic, no get by cheap parts anywhere in this action. Now you know why this gun has lasted so long and why this has always been such an expensive gun.

Butt stock side of the action with stock removed to show hammer spring.


Left side of the action with breech bolt.


I've hunted squirrels and rabbit most of my life and have owned every kind of 22 there is and that includes some very expensive bolt guns and pistols. To me, though, no other gun every felt more comfortable in the hand to carry for a day in the woods; no other 22 has ever given me the same satisfaction of owning and shooting than a Marlin 39. To me, the Marlin 39 will always belong in a category of its own.

Thanks for letting me share.

Last edited by north country gal; 02-23-2015 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:57 AM   #2
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Thank you for sharing!
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:34 AM   #3
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Wow, I bet you were an excellent teacher! Your attention to detail, without being boring always amazes me. And I speak from experience, wife was a teacher, and youngest has been a teacher for 18 years.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:15 PM   #4
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Ma'am you have once again affirmed why I prefer this forum over the others I am on. I get to enjoy your firearms. And learn what to look for and hope to find in the right place at the right time. I just wish I had your knack for finding them.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:37 PM   #5
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That 39M is what I want. On the way back from the range I asked the lgs if they ever get any in and he just laughed.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:57 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the nice comments. Sharing with folks that appreciate it is very gratifying.

303, any short barrel version of a 39 is what I call a "jump on it when you find it gun". Some versions of the longer barreled 39As are, too, but very hard to find the short barreled 39s. Felt very fortunate to find this one at our local shop. He was just getting ready to put it online to sell when I managed to talk him into selling it to me.

Very desirable vintage, too, in that it does not have the cross bolt safety that was added in the early 80s.

The gun has seen very few rounds. Bluing is at least 98%. The stock has some very shallow scratches in the finish, but not the wood. The sling swivels were added at some point, but were correctly done. Great addition to our collection.

Last edited by north country gal; 02-23-2015 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by north country gal View Post
Thank you all for the nice comments. Sharing with folks that appreciate it is very gratifying.

303, any short barrel version of a 39 is what I call a "jump on it when you find it gun". Some versions of the longer barreled 39As are, too, but very hard to find the short barreled 39s. Felt very fortunate to find this one at our local shop. He was just getting ready to put it online to sell when I managed to talk him into selling it to me.

Very desirable vintage, too, in that it does not have the cross bolt safety that was added in the early 80s.

The gun has seen very few rounds. Bluing is at least 98%. The stock has some very shallow scratches in the finish, but not the wood. The sling swivels were added at some point, but were correctly done. Great addition to our collection.
When I asked about a 39 at the lgs today he mentioned he had a Rossi reproduction. I saw it on the wall. It had the straight stock.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:10 PM   #8
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NCG, which half of the receiver is the actual serial numbered receiver?
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:27 PM   #9
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It's the butt stock half. On a Marlin lever gun, the serial number is on the tang.

Notice in the pic of the other half, though, the barreled portion, the serial number, 23XXXXX is stamped on the inside (I erased everything after the 23 for security reasons.) The two halves of the action are a very tight, very precise fit, so both parts are marked with the serial number to keep them together during assembly.

By the way, starting in 1973 with Marlin lever guns, you subtract the first two numbers of the serial number from 100 to get the year of production. 100 minus 23 on this one makes it a 1977 production gun. Good to know when you go Marlin hunting.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by north country gal View Post
It's the butt stock half. On a Marlin lever gun, the serial number is on the tang.

Notice in the pic of the other half, though, the barreled portion, the serial number, 23XXXXX is stamped on the inside (I erased everything after the 23 for security reasons.) The two halves of the action are a very tight, very precise fit, so both parts are marked with the serial number to keep them together during assembly.

By the way, starting in 1973 with Marlin lever guns, you subtract the first two numbers of the serial number from 100 to get the year of production. 100 minus 23 on this one makes it a 1977 production gun. Good to know when you go Marlin hunting.
Thanks. I'll try to remember that.
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