Marlin 336 – From Round to Octagon and more!
Here’s the story. In 1972, my then girl friend (who became my wife) bought me the first new rifle I’d ever owned. It was a Marlin 336 in 30-30. Great rifle that saw it’s full use in the deer woods of Maine. About fifteen years later, I had the rifle strapped to the front rack of my ATV as I was driving through the woods at 3:30am to get to my stand. The Marlin was in a soft case and just a bit of the stock was hanging over the edge of the front rack. At some point, a tree moved right into my travel path and I clipped the butt stock of the rifle and broke it in two. It snapped right at the wrist of the stock. I returned back to camp, and luckily all the splinters were contained within the soft case. Five minute epoxy and a bit of electrical tape and I was back hunting by 8am!
When I returned home I sanded the stock where the damage was done and painted both forend and stock with Brownell’s black grit paint. This rifle hunted a bunch more years and was responsible for it’s share of Maine deer. Always an extremely accurate rifle, it lost none of its performance.
I loved that rifle, but a few years ago I sold it off. I had moved on to bolt action and single shot rifles and the lever guns didn’t capture my fancy any longer. Last year I had an opportunity to buy a Marlin 1894 Cow Boy in 45LC and the passion for lever guns was rekindled. Leveritis struck big time! I ended up adding a number of the little beauties to my collection
Those octagon barrels really captured my heart. The Marlin 1895G in 45-70 origionaly was equiped with an 18″ round tube. Not only was it round, but it was too short for my liking. I needed a longer barrel for iron sights and 58 year old eyes.It has been converted to an octagon barrel that I found on the internet. The whole story on that conversion can be found right here in this web site.
So I decided to find my first lever action and buy it back. I called the fellow I sold it to many years ago, and he remembered he had sold it to a mutual friend. I call this fellow and he had passed it on to a member of my shooting club. A couple phone calls later and $150 and I had my Marlin 336 back! My girlfriend had paid $79.95 in 1972. I sold it the first time around for $75.
But it had a round barrel and that horrible black stock. This would not do.
I call Numrich Gun Parts in West Hurley NY. Sorry, they did not have an Octagon barrels for any centerfire caliber. It wasn’t important to me if it wasn’t a 30-30 after the transformation. Any caliber would do. (But they did have a couple of Marlin Model 39 Octagon barrels, Century Limited. Brand new stock. So I bought one of these. Now I’m on the hunt for a clapped out model 39 to put the octagon barrel on)
A few weeks ago, one of the members of Paco Kelly’s Leverguns Forum sent me an email telling me that Numrich had just received some “Zane Gray Century” octagon barrels in 30-30. A quick phone call and $83 later I had a brand new octagon barrel in 30-30.
With the barrel situation taken care of, next up was the lumber. I went on Ebay and found a brand new stock and forend for a Marlin 1895 for $75. To be sure it it would fit, I removed the stock and forend from my 1895G and tried it on the 336. Perfect!
I wanted to also convert from curved lever to straight. I just like the “Cowboy” look of the straight levers better. Once again, Ebay is my friend. One straight lever for a Marlin 336 was available and a “buy it Now” which I much prefer to the whole auction none sense.. $39.95. Should be here in a few days.
The receiver on the 336 had been sprayed with Midways Laurer two part epoxy. At the time it was the correct thing to do as the receiver was a mess from years of hard use..
This finish was all stripped off in the bead blast cabinet and for now, a cold blue was applied. The receiver and other parts will be shipped out at some point for a Case Color finish.
The old barrel was removed with zero difficulty and the new octagon barrel threaded on, indexed and headspaced perfectly! I’m two for two in this regard. Doing these conversions with an octagon barrel with dovetails already cut is a very “iffy” proposition. If it doesn’t line up, lots of lathe time and reamer rentals will be needed.
I had to remove the bottom plate from the receiver and mill out the curve. Very easily accomplished on the milling machine.
I’m going to take a motorcycle ride to Numrich on Wednesday. It’s only about 200 miles from where I live. I need to get the following:
Full Length Magazine Tube
Spring for above
Muzzle dovetail mount and screw for magazine tube
Forend cap with dovetail mount and screws
Yes, I decided I want a full length magazine tube on this rifle. I didn’t want the extra weight on the 1895, but on this rifle it won’t matter much.
And then it will be finished…………… Stay tuned for more…
I took my trip to Numrich Gun Parts and picked up a 21″ magazine tube, forend cap with a forend retaining dovetail and two screws.
Still waiting for the straight lever that I found on Ebay to make its way from Canada. But I figured I’d update you on the progress.
Here’s what we look like now:
The full length magazine tube required me to make the front dovetail hanger as Numrich did not have this part. With a file it took 20 minutes to fabricate from a piece of bar stock
Strange thing about the forend I bought on Ebay. It was reported to come from a Marlin 1895 G. I have an 1895G and this forend was about 3/16″ wider and a bit deeper. It was REAL hand filling. So I decided to put the larger one on my 1895G and use the smaller one on this rifle.
My favorite Williams Fire Sights were installed. Next best thing to a scope for old eyes!
Still waiting for the straight lever, but I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of this project. I took it to the range with some quickly made up handloads and proceeded to shoot a 2.5″ , 5 shot group with iron sights at 100yards!
My total investment is under $500 including the $150 to repurchase the Marlin 336. I could not buy a 336 Cowboy in 30-30 for anything near that amount.
The straight lever finally arrived from Ebay Canada. It was in much worse shape than I anticipated. Someone had scribed their name on the top of the loop and it was quite pitted and rusty. I sanded, sandblasted and bead blasted and applied a bit of Brownell’s cold blue. The new lever popped right in. No fitting necessary.
Looks OK until I get it sent out for case coloring.
I love the overall look of the Marlin 336 now. And it handles like a dream!
More pictures here:
www.rvbprecision.com in the photo album