Monday, February 8, 2016

Ramblings of a Pre-Remington made Marlin Man

I'm sure everyone is aware that Remington bought-out Marlin and then closed the North Haven manufacturing plant after 141 years in 2011. Then they moved production to two of their existing facilities, one in New York & one in Kentucky. That has been some time ago and the reports of sublevel quality in their Marlin firearms has been jarring to read about. I actually bought a stainless model 60 about one year after the transition to Remington and have been very happy with it. That being said I've handled many, many new lever guns and have seen things that should never have left the factory.

I was a machinist for many years so I have a grasp on what proper machining practices can and will yield although I admit I'm not nor ever have been a firearms maker. I've also never had to worry about metal to wood fit. Regardless of your background if you have reasonable vision you can "see" front sights rotated left or right of Top Dead Center when looking down the barrel of a gun. You can also "see" canted rear sights and poor wood to metal fit. You can also "feel" a rough action when cycling the lever on an empty firearm and sometimes "hear" that same rough action.

Marlin has been famous for being a working mans firearm and therefore affordable so you're not buying a several thousand dollar rifle. Even stated as affordable the Marlin of old produced rifles & shotguns with great pride of workmanship. That reason alone would bring me back to buy again but when I bought true Marlins I knew exactly what to expect; a working rifle that I could count on at the bench or in the field and it looked great. Industry accepted checkering practices looked and felt good, American Black Walnut stocks & forearms with decent looks on standard offerings.

When I look at and handle the new models I see pretty good looking Walnut but I can't get use to the checkering being delivered or the finish on the walnut. I can deal with the fact that it really comes down to personal taste but I liked what I liked and they changed it. I've also noted that the bluing seems to be substandard or at least much less of a luster that Marlin was known for previously.

Of course I've mentioned before that I'm a member of the MarlinOwners forum and continue to hear good & bad feedback from buyers of the Remington made Marlins. There seems to be more and more good feedback as time passes so it may be that Remington has finally figured out how to build a lever action rifle. Their metal to wood fit is indeed improving however their checkering and wood finish still leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm a 1989-2002 year of manufacture Marlin fan because I like the factory ported Guide Guns & Outfitters. Those were the only years they were manufactured. Many if not most Marlin lovers like the pre-cross bolt safety years of anything built before 1984. That leaves a very wide range of make & models where 99.999% of the factory offerings came out as a quality firearm.

I'm looking forward to better years ahead with Marlin but I'm becoming an older man and only have so many years left. Please speed it up Remington!

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