Lever-Action Perfection: Marlin Model 336 Curly Maple

Marlin Model 336 lever-action rifle on a camo hunting vest with multiple boxes of .30-30 ammunition

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.

Classic Choices

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.

Marlin Model 336 lever-action rifle with a curly maple stock
Marlin broke with tradition with its Model 336C fitted the Curly Maple stock.

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.

Skinner sight on a Marlin lever-action rifle
The brass express sight from Skinner Sights enhances both the looks and the utility of the author’s Marlin 336 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.

Marlin Maintenance

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.

Do you have a favorite lever-action from the past? One you wish a manufacturer would bring back? Share your favorites in the comment section.

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (20)

  1. I have a marlin 22 and a 3030. I built a shooting range in the back 40.On our 10 acres. When we moved out here no one lived here now i have people all around us.We live in Athol Idaho. but yes people shoot all the time.Yes I like the 3030 I had my eyes redone no glasses now so I shoot with open sights. but with our 130 yard range I do have a 270 magnum That i do use a scope.And my wife of 54 years has her own guns.

  2. Mine is a 1981 Winchester Mod. 94 in 30-30. First year the employees took over and it became USRA, last year of true top eject. One before that was late 70’s Winchester that I bleached/blonded the walnut stock on… always liked the look of a light colored stock on them, maple would’ve been great. My brother has a 1986 Marlin 336W in 30-30 I set up for him with a Leupold 32mm 3×12 optic. Nothing wrong at all with the Marlin, accurate, smooth… but to me it always felt a bit wide and heavy, that’s why I’ve always preferred the Winchesters. I have to say that curly maple looks nice but as someone else said, they’re asking too much for them. Much like how “Winchesters” are now. I’m not spending that much on something to take in the woods to get banged around. My 1981 with camo furniture suits me just fine.
    Nice looking lever though, Mr. Freeman.

  3. First rifle I ever purchased was a Marlin 336C in 1972. Over the years I killed many deer with it (including my first). Just pulled it ou a few months ago after several years of dormancy and it still shoots great. Nothing like a lever gun to bring out your “Old West” persona.

  4. That. Is. A. Beautiful. Rifle. Why has no one done this before? My dad bought me Marlin 336C in a .35Rem for my 12th birthday for whitetail hunting that fall. Killed my first buck with it before sunlight on opening day that year. It is a great rifle and by far the most comfortable rifle I’ve ever hunted with. It got a whitetail ever year until I moved away with that beauty. I now live and hunt in the mountains so a longer rifle is required so I use the 300 yard guns. But Marlin 336C is and always will be my first love. I might have to get that 30-30 model just because it is so pretty. Thank you for sharing this great article.

  5. I have a Marlin Model 336C I bought in 1964. It is chambered in 44mag. (the first year available in that caliber). Though I ordered it as a 336C, it is marked 44mag. I, later, found out the model designation is now that officially. Back then 44mag. ammo was not easily available so I bought a Lee hand loading kit, one I refer to as a pound-em-and pray, as often I would ignite the primers when seating same. A hand priming tool cured this. I still have some of the original components that I used, Rem 240 yr flat nose soft points, Rem large pistol primers, and a can of 2400. Though I now reload dozens of calibers through my Dillon press, I still remember the pride of making my own. The rifle shoots just as well as the day I got it. The only problem is that I lost the front sight hood in thick cover and the new replacement needs fitting (I’ll get around to that some day).

  6. I love lever action rifles, and while I have a pretty nice stable of Winchesters and clones, I have three Marlins that I love. I have a Golden 39A .22, and a 336 .30-30 which were purchased in the early ’60s. My main competition rifle in SASS (Cowboy Action Shooting) is a Marlin 1894 Cowboy in .45 lc. I purchased it in the mid ’90s and have run thousands of rounds through it (both smokeless and black powder) with no problems at all. Great rifles!!!

  7. Shooting a lever action rifle is like nothing else, it’s a unique class all its own that has a special satisfaction. Not taking away from anything else, bolt action is it’s own kind of karma and pump action is too. Some days a lever action is just what you need.

  8. I did not see anyone mention the S&W 50 cal. revolver. It can fire a 440 grain bullet that almost equals a 12 ga slug. It is just like carrying a hand held shotgun. It is ported in such a way that it kicks less than a 357.

  9. I’d much rather Marlin concentrate n producing existing models n stead of introducing new ones. The 1895SBL has been back in production for quite some time now, but if you can find one, it’s jacked WAY over MSRP because they’re producing such low volumes that retailers are basically scalloping them.

  10. Sirs. Lever actions and revolvers in like calibers were and still are smart combinations to have.
    Cowboys of old knew what worked to keep them employed and alive.
    I have several and my favorite is my Rossie Puma in .480 Ruger.
    Wish Ruger would build a new Marlin in that caliber! I’d buy one instantly.
    It would be great with my Super RedHawk and custom Super Blackhawk

  11. My previous comment should have said 336C Model not CC3C or whatever I typed there. my rifle is a Marlin 336C Centennial Model with 1870-1970 plaque on stock. Sorry for the mistake on previous comment.

  12. When I came home from the Army in 1971 my wife bought a Marlin 30-30 CC3C Centennial Model for me at Christmas 71. Very different from the M-16 I carried in Vietnam, but still have it today, only issue I have with it is when you lever a shell into the chamber it is cocked and ready to fire with no safety. For that reason I do not allow anyone else to hunt with it. I consider it more of a brush gun for 100 yards or under but probably has good knockdown at 200 yards, have a scope on it now, still love the gun but usually hunt with a 270 caliber I won in a raffle as it is a lighter weight rifle.

  13. I have a marlin in.35 cal I understand that they stopped making this caliber. Can you please lend me some advice to get ammunition.

  14. I have full size Remington + found best way to carry concealed is in shoulder holster being of slim build carry on hip keep pulling my pants down!! also like Kimber my officer modal for pocket or belt carry being smaller + less weight!! Depending on my activity of the day!!
    I think U might have another John Herrick on file, I know of 5 in New England tha are not related to me at all!!

  15. I have full size Remington + found best way to carry concealed is in shoulder holster being of slim build carry on hip keep pulling my pants down!! also like Kimber my officer modal for pocket or belt carry being smaller + less weight!! Depending on my activity of the day!!

  16. I have two Marlins, pre-cross bolt safety, which I hate, and pre Remington..
    Mine are an 1894 in .357 Magnum and a Mod. 39A in 22LR.
    They both are great guns, well made, fun to shoot.
    Taught my daughter how to shoot long gun with both starting at age seven.
    It has been thirty years since she has learned, now she has her own guns.
    Both of the rifles are still going strong as if new.
    I have two pre 64 Winchesters in 30/30, the Marlins are a better gun all the way around.
    I worked as a tool and die maker, made the powder tools and die sets,
    that were used to cheapen up the Winchesters, post 64 guns are junk IMHO.

  17. The pictured “curly maple” Marlin 336 looks like a Red Ryder.

    At the prices Ruger slaps on their “Marlin” lever actions, I doubt they will sell many.

    In my world, a 336 is a $300 rifle.

  18. I have a Browning BL 22 i received for my 15th birthday in ’73. It has ALWAYS been a squirrel getter. I’ve lost count on how many.
    Love it !!
    Also have a 336 that was my brother’s.
    A very well assembled piece of art.
    Great article.
    Thanks !!

  19. I have a Browning BL 22 i received for my 12th birthday in ’73. It has ALWAYS been a squirrel getter. I’ve lost count on how many.
    Love it !!
    Also have a 336 that was my brother’s.
    A very well assembled piece of art.
    Great article.
    Thanks !!

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