Thursday, March 20, 2008

Marlin 336T .30-30

When I was a boy of but a few years I had many lusted for guns on my "list" of "to haves". Among these was the straight grip Marlin 336 sometimes known as the "Texan". Just like the normal 336C except for the straight grip in lieu of the standard pistol grip, this gun just seemed handier to me. When the time came for me to actually purchase a deer rifle, what I could find AND afford was a more standard Marlin 336 with the pistol grip and that is what I got. Oh, it was a fine shooter, but it never excited me as much as the straight grip guns and I traded it off for a Winchester post-64 M94 in .44 Mag. Hard to explain that one. In any case the desire for a straight gripped M336 stayed with me for years despite actually having other straight-gripped .30-30 leverguns in hand. So...

I got the urge and some few bucks saved up and went hunting one and found this one on an internet auction site. It must have been fated because my bid of $250 was the only bid on this gun! Lucky I was.

The gun came in and it was pretty much as described. Let's just say that it has been shot and carried a bit and a previous owner was enamoured of slings and had used the Marlin trademark bullseye as the location for the the sling swivel stud.

Let me digress a moment to unequivocally state that the Marlin trademark is NOT the location for such things. Indeed, screwing the sling swivel stud in there will usually shatter or crack the plastic bullseye and might even pull out under stress. One is then left with nothing more than a hole and possible embarassment. Don't do it. Just measure back from the toe of the stock about 1½-2¼ inches and center the sling swivel stud there. Be sure to pre-drill the hole to avoid cracking the stock.

So, back to my gun, I had this HOLE where the bullseye was supposed to be. I didn't have a replacement bullseye to hand (but you can get them from Marlin or Gun Parts Corp.) but I did have some deer antler. That seemed appropriate to me so I cut a plug that would fit the hole and epoxied the antler there and then filed and sanded it to fit the stock. I like it.

I also had to have better than the issue sights. My usual fix is to install a Williams Foolproof 94/36 and go shooting. However, I'd been reading the adventures of John Taffin and he'd recently published an article in which he'd found a Texan in .35 Remington (my knees weaken at the thought of such a find). Now Mr. Taffin had installed a Lyman 66 on his rifle and I thought that it would be a fine and different thing to do to my rifle as well so I ordered one from MidwayUSA.

The Lyman 66 is a pretty neat sight having an interesting feature not found on the Williams. That feature is that you can push a little plunger and remove the top part of the sight leaving the base and then reinstall the sight by reversing the procedure and right to zero. You can also easily adjust the sights via knobs with a coin rather than needing a screwdriver. AND you can zero the little side plate and then move the sight around as in matches from the ready reference point for that particular rifle. Pretty neat stuff except... I don't have a scope so don't switch sights. Being able to remove the top part leaving the base is more liability for me than it is benefit. Also, the screw which attaches/secures the side zero plate stripped its hole. A call and e-mail to Lyman products elicited zero product support so I epoxied the plate and screw in place. It looks right but it isn't.

The Lyman 66 does look retro, but it isn't as they are now made from aluminum, just like the Williams, and thus actually have more weaknesses than the Williams. I haven't bought another Lyman since. However, if I could get a vintage Lyman, made of steel, I'd likely buy it. All the old Lyman's I shot on other folks guns many years ago gave not one lick of trouble.

As to the rifle, a quick check of the serial number revealed that it was made in 1982. Of course this is prior to the introduction of the cross-bolt safety so we are happily lacking that homage to the ambulance chaser. That's a wonderful thing.

Wonderful too, is that this is yet another of my "sub-collection" of guns manufactured in 1982. It isn't as if I've set out to collect such. In fact, I don't check the age, or year of manufacture, until after the gun is purchased. If there is some sort of "message" in the coincidence, I can't find it, yet.

The gun performs about as well as any other Marlin 336 including my long since departed pistol-gripped 336. It easily groups into 1½-2 inches at 100 yards with all the ammo I've tried in it. The action functions smoothly but really no better or worse than other 336s or Winchesters. In short, there is nothing special or noteworthy about this gun except that I always wanted one and now I have one.

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