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Marlin 336CS .30-30

After I got my Bronco I decided that I needed an appropriate “Truck Gun” for it.  The search began immediately and I even considered a number of suggestions.

The rifle that I finally selected was a .30-30 caliber Marlin 336CS.  This was close to the gun I wanted initially, the 336Y which has a 16 inch barrel.  Unfortunately it also has a shorter stock, so it wasn’t really able to tuck in behind it.  The 336 is a classic.  20 inch barrel, buck horn rear sight and a hooded bead front sight.  Holds 6 rounds of good old full power Thuddy Thuddy. But that will change when I get the barrel chopped.


This rifle is a good shooter, and gives outstanding practical accuracy.   This selection has proven to be a valid one.  Time to really make this rifle my own.

Phase One of my rifle project is completed.  The rifle looks very cool. The reason that I refinished the wood was that there was some damage to it.  Marlin puts a great finish on the wood, a very handsome and tough one at that.  I had to use 60 grit paper to just get it off.  The wood underneath is just gorgeous.  They do a very good job at selecting the wood to make the stocks out of.   I decided to have a little fun with this rifle and to do it a little differently.  I have painted stocks in the past and the results are never satisfactory to me after the rifle was put into the field.  Paint can flake and peel.  I wanted to refinish my rifle with a very tough finish that is going to last in the field.  I had my local ACE joint mix me up a custom colored wood stain.  Multiple coats of this stain applied under multiple coats of a clear polyurethane.   The stocks are done and the rifle cleaned, lubed, reassembled and tested for function.  Looks awesome.  I shall take some photos shortly.  One thing I noticed about the rifle was that I finished the wood a little too good.  The rifle was too slick.  So the forearm wood piece received a quick shot of the polyurethane to wet it, a sprinkle of sand to give a bit of grit, and another shot of the poly to seal it.  The result is a nice nonskid texture that you can hold on to.  I was going to do the same to buttstock, but decided that wasn’t needed.  When I lever the rifle my hand slides across some of the wood and there is little griping there to bother with, so I left it smooth.  All the gripping is done up front anyway.  


A local gunsmith was able to do some very fine work for me.  Chopped the barrel down and did an 11 degree target grown.  1 piece firing pin, action job, and a trigger job.  The gun handles super fast and slick now, super smooth.  The trigger pull is light and crisp.  About 2 pounds with no creep, stacking or grit.  Almost too light.  But combined with the target crown, Marlins natural high level of accuracy... this thing is a bloody tack driver now. 

Here you can see the crown.  This is a work of art. Polished smooth as glass, this thing can put the 170 jacketed softpoints right where I want them.

Shortening the barrel means I loose 1 round of mag capacity.  But that isn't much of an issue for a weapon of this sort.  I still have a 5+1 capacity which will do nicely.  This is a full power rifle after all and not just a Poodle Shooter which needs 30 rounds to get the job done.  You can see the shorter length makes for a very comfortable and fast handling weapon.  A weapon like this will do just fine in a home defense situation.  Getting it into and out of the Bronco is no longer a problem at all. If you look closely you can see the barrel band was moved back quite a bit and the front edge of the sight is just almost flush with the muzzle, giving the end kind of a snub nosed look.

Did I mention the trigger pull?  Yeah, it's light.  And it feels even lighter thanks to the 1 piece firing pin.  The trigger breaks at a thought.  It's a huge difference.  But the bigger difference came with the action job.  With the action slicked up, the bolt opens and the lever cycles it so fast and easy that it took me by surprise.

Overall the work combined to make this one hell of a fine lever gun.  My first two shots with it after I got it back were taken free standing, aiming at a lichen covered boulder about 100 yards away.  I aimed for the first shot, and as quickly as I could jacked the lever and fired a second shot.  Lightning fast, and the second round impacted within 4 inches.  For a fast pair with a lever like this... yeah, I'll take that.  I'll have to benchrest this rifle to check out her handwriting.


Nothing is more wickedly fun then taking over a century of lever action rifle tradition, and having your way with it. The Green Marlin, you guys remember that... is now officially “The Black Marlin”.

The butt-cuff was made for us as a prototype by Glenn of The Pickle. The leather was padded underneath as an afterthought with a mouse pad. The result is something that actually works very well. The pouch on the side holds six rounds of my favorite .30-30 ammunition. The pouch is secured with a heavy duty snap.

Everything done, the gun was easy to shoot and very accurate. Even at long range, the Marlin is extremely accurate. The gun was small and compact, but heavy. Heavier that it should have been. A lot heavier. The problem is the wood stock. Marlin uses some seriously dense walnut in their stocks.

RamLine had a Marlin option and I took it.

I'm very happy with the results. The Black Marlin is light and handy and easy to shoot. My eyes have aged unfortunately and need a bit of help. I mounted a regular rifle scope to it and I was amazed at the long range accuracy. This thing is the Black Death to rabbits and other desert creatures... All the way out to 150, I had no problem popping bunnies. And a critter that sized getting hit with a .30-30 Winchester slug looks like road kill... think of it like a red water filled, fur wrapped milk jug. The only problem with the full sized scope was that it looked retarded. The scope proved the accuracy, and the concept that I can shoot better with better sights.

I looked at a number of red dot type sights and I decided to try a unit from TruGlo. TruGlo makes sights for hunters. They are simple, rugged, and they work. And for a 75 bucks, it is a great deal. But then I had to see if it was accurate enough. Bore sighted it up, zeroed it, and I found I had only 5 rounds left. I found 5 rabbits... and killed 5 rabbits at about 60 yards. Not as long range as before, but I'm calling it accurate enough. Had I used a sight with magnification I could have probably have spotted rabbits further out.

This package is complete.

The Black Marlin is now my CAR-Thirty. Cowboy Assault Rifle. The short length allows for fast handling in tight situations, and the big diameter red dot sight allows for fast target acquisition and accurate engagement. And I'm hitting with enough power to drop an elk inside 100 yards. I'm very pleased with the project results, and the gun is now in my “KEEPER” collection.

If you have the chance to pick up a cheap lever action... get it. The total costs are not all that cheap, but neither are they very expensive. Just make



Marlin 336CS = 200

Gunsmithing and misc parts = 175

Ramline Stocks = 45

Red Dot Sight = 75

Sling = 16

Completed Package = 511

Happy & Contented Ogre = Priceless.

Instead of shooting things that explode and bleed, I need to print it on paper. When I do, I'll post the results below. I need to just build a compact collapsible target stand to hang targets on. Anyways, that's another project for another day.


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Copyright G H Hill 1999-2012

Graphic Artwork by Martin White



“I keep two magnums in my desk drawer. One is a gun that I keep loaded.  The other is a bottle and it keeps me loaded.”

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