The Marlin Model 336 is the same age I am, both of us arriving in 1948. It was based upon earlier Marlin rifles, the 1893 and 1936, later renamed the Model 36. Based on the patents of L.L. Hepburn, the Model 1893 incorporated a new locking bolt system and a two-piece firing pin, which was carried forward to the Model 336. The Model 336 design improvements include an open ejection port on the side of the receiver, a stronger and simpler round-profile, chrome-plated breech bolt, redesigned cartridge carrier, improved extractor, and coil-type main and trigger springs in place of the flat springs used in earlier Marlin rifles.
In small town Mississippi where I grew up, opening day of deer season was automatically an excused absence, should you not show up for school that day. I didn’t have a deer rifle, but I hunted deer with slugs in my shotgun. Of course, I wanted a deer rifle.
The obvious choices (in my world) being a Winchester 94 or a Marlin 336. Both were out of reach financially in those days, but that didn’t keep me from dreaming. I leaned more toward the Winchester for one silly reason. All my TV and movie cowboy heroes carried straight-stocked Winchesters. The Marlin with its pistol grip stock just didn’t fit my image of the perfect rifle for a kid who rode a horse.
I’m over that now, and the Marlin 336 with the curly maple stock is about the most beautiful lever-action rifle I’ve ever seen. Never mind the fact that those cowboys never had curly maple stocks. We’ve got ’em now!
Curly Maple 336
The Curly Maple 336 is only available in .30-30 with a 20-inch barrel. The deep blue finish on the receiver and barrel contrast nicely with the light-colored, curly maple stock. The pistol grip and forearm are checkered with a deep brown color, to accent the lighter color of the stock and forearm. The trigger is gold, the butt plate is rubber, and the pistol grip end cap is shiny black plastic held on by a gold-plated screw. The black barrel band at the front end of the forearm also serves as a sling mount with a matching rear mount on the stock.
With its side ejection port, the 336 is easy to equip with a scope. It ships with an offset hammer spur and hex wrench with which to mount an optic on either side of the hammer. The top of the receiver is flat and pre-drilled for mounting optics. The sights that came on the gun consisted of a semi-buckhorn/folding leaf rear sight that was adjustable for windage and elevation. It also featured a hooded, bead front sight.
I’ve been privileged to get to know Andy Larsson of Skinner Sights and when Andy saw my Curly Maple Marlin, he reached into his bag of goodies and handed me a beautiful brass Skinner Express sight for my 336. Using that peep sight is so easy, it made me decide I don’t need a scope for this rifle.
I shoot long guns left-handed because of a strongly dominant left eye. I like shooting a lever-action rifle, because I can easily operate the lever with my left hand. If the need arises for quick follow-up shots, I’m up for it. The lever on the Marlin operates smoothly throughout its entire cycle. The trigger pull on my rifle averages just a hair over 5 pounds with a ½-inch take-up and a clean break.
Disassembly for cleaning requires a flat-bladed screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers. It’s a matter of removing the lever pivot screw, pulling the lever assembly out of the bolt, removing the bolt from the rear of the receiver, and lifting the ejector out with a pair of pliers. You can continue to remove the magazine tube and the butt stock. However, I personally have not yet seen the need to do so with the shooting we have done. You can clean the barrel from the breech, follow Marlin’s instructions for lubricating the rifle and have it back together again in a jiffy, thanks to the easy-to-follow instructions in the manual.
Marlin has the 336 in its catalog in sort of a coming soon mode. They are not picturing the Curly Maple, but my guess is that one will again be one of the available guns.