Reviewed is a recent production (RM serial number prefix) Marlin 336y
"Spikehorn," 30-30 lever action rifle. While designated a youth rifle the length of pull is only about 1" shorter than a typical 336 model, barrel is 16.25" long instead of 20 and you lose one round in the magazine to 5+1. The latest models have a checkered stock and include an optional hammer offset for mounting a scope, basic Allen nylon sling, user manual and trigger lock in the box.http://www.marlinfirearms.com/PDFs/Rele ... 010111.pdf
I picked this rifle up for a variety of reasons... first, I like short guns (it's the same length and weight as a 16" carbine/midlength AR15 shown below for reference)... I don't own a rifle with a barrel over 20"... second, I wanted something appropriate for deer that is suitable for packing a long distance and hunting in thick woods (all sub 100 yard shots). Third, I've got kids and this seems like a good first deer rifle some-day for a young shooter that, hopefully, Daddy has properly broken-in when it's their turn to carry it.
I spent a fair bit of time at the shop comparing this to a 336c model (20", 30-30) and felt the shorter barrel, while it would result in a slight loss of velocity, was faster to swing and significantly handier for the conditions I intend to take it hunting. A total of 5" shorter than a normal 20" 336 rifle though the weight is similar at 6.5 pounds. I'm 5'10" and didn't find the short stock at all uncomfortable to shoulder, when compared to my AR15 adjustable stock it's exactly the same LOP as I usually have it set in fact. I am not going to spend a great deal of time describing the Marlin 336 lever action rifle as it's been covered exhaustively elsewhere... This is a Marlin 336 with cross bolt safety, a short barrel/magazine and stock, drilled and tapped in the same locations and supporting the same aftermarket accessories as the rest of the line. I have only found one of these in the local shops I checked on the north side, there seem to be a few versions out there with or without stock checkering and either a smooth plastic or rubber recoil pad... mine is the checkered walnut stock with a smooth recoil pad.
The fit and finish was overall average, wood to metal were not perfectly aligned at the handguards where it meets the receiver (similar to the other current production Marlin/Remingtons I checked) but not functionally significant. I'd estimate the trigger is 5-6 pounds, similar to my AR, heavier than my Remington 700 in their factory configurations - but was short, clean and consistent... same as the other 336's I checked. Sights are properly lined up, certainly better than the Marlin 795 I purchased earlier in the year that looked like it was assembled by a cross eyed drunken monkey. The bluing is very dark and well applied throughout and the finish of the "walnut finish" wood including the checking is adequate but not beautiful, the stain is fairly light and looks like a quick in-out job to keep the cost down. The bolt machining was surprisingly crude in the non visible areas but does not seem to effect function, I did give the parts that interact with other metal a light once-over with some metal polish and a towel to take the factory rough off and smooth up the action a bit. The rifle comes in the usual dark/dirty looking factory lube and appears to have been test fired so I broke it down for a good cleaning and re-lube.
Off to Gander to pick up some of the 30-30 ammo they have on sale (for a change, cheaper than everyone else..) and am shopping for a replacement set of sights before I zero the rifle, I've never been a big fan of the blade/leaf style and would prefer aperture sights like the Wiliams Firesights or TruGlo set that mounts to the receiver tap-holes and add another 5-6" of sight radius. Range report to follow as soon as I can get back over to Bill's some evening.
Marlin Spikehorn 336y next to a BCM Midlength 16" upper based AR15 rifle with stock set to my normal LOP.
Stock (internet) image of a 336y "Spikehorn" above a standard 336c rifle in 30-30 with the 20" barrel.
Coming soon... sight upgrade project, additional photos (particularly of the poor bolt machining...) and a range test using Federal Fusion 150 grain, Federal Power Shok 150 grain and Remington Core Lokt 150 grain SP ammo.