Today the AR-15 series rifles are perhaps the most popular semi-auto firearms in the country. In the early 1960s, when the AR was still unknown, the go-to rifle for medium game hunting and home defense was the M1 Carbine. With this understood, Marlin went about creating a M1-ish carbine for small game hunters and plinkers. This gun we know today as the Model 989M2.
Just what was the M1 anyway?
Formally, the "United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1," but commonly just referred to as the M1, the gun was a popular and well-liked little rifle. Designed just before World War Two, the gas-operated, rotating bolt carbine was designed to be a gun that could arm truck drivers, cooks, radio operators, and paratroopers who, by nature of having to climb out of vehicles, jump out of planes, and carry large amounts of sensitive equipment on their backs, needed a more compact rifle for self-defense than the full-sized 9-pound Garand rifle with its 30.06-caliber rounds. At just 5.3-pounds, the gun had an 18-inch barrel and a 36-inch overall length. A 15-shot box magazine was fitted and two more could be carried in a pouch on the butt of the gun.
The actual M1 Carbine
Adopted in 1941, more than 6-million of these handy little carbines were made and it remained in US service until the 1970s in one form or another, making its profile easily recognizable with men and boys alike.
Most American GIs of the 1945-73 timeframe (remember there was a peacetime draft then, so that is a pool of literally tens of millions of young men) at one time or another shot a M1 carbine. It was an easy gun to shoot and was widely issued for a variety of purposes.
Model 99M-1 roots
Starting in 1964, Marlin produced a modified variant of their popular Model 99 rimfire rifle, stylized to look and feel like the WWII- M1 Carbine which they dubbed the 99M-1. They took the standard 22-inch barrel of the design and cut it down to 18, the same length as the M1. This also produced an overall length of 37-inches, within a bullet's length of the original. Since the Marlin was a .22LR and not a .30 carbine, the action and barrel were lighter, at 4.75-pounds. Forgoing the detachable box magazine of the M1, Marlin kept the under barrel tube mag but shortened it to hold just 10-rounds to keep the profile of the gun similar. A stock redesign and military style ramp sights completed the transformation.
However, the M1, as everyone knew, was fed by a detachable box magazine, not by a brass tube that you had to pull all the way out to refill, which made the 99M-1 a little...off.
Marlin had long had a history with box-mag 22 semi-autos, going back to the pre-War Model 50 and 89. Then in 1962 came the Model 989, which basically used the same action as the 99, but swapped the awkward tube mag for a 7-shot box mag. Moving from this, it was an easy step to come up with an M-1 Carbine version of the 989.
(The two Marlin "M1 Carbines" the 989M2 top, was clip-fed, while the 99M1, bottom, was tube-fed)
Debuted in 1965, this gun was a mirror image of the 99M-1 in the respect that it mimicked the M1 Carbine's forward stock profile and band, had an 18-inch barrel, overall length of 37-inches, and a weight of just 4.75-pounds. Using the standard Marlin 7-shot .22LR mag, the rifle shipped with two of these little boxes at a retail of just $49.95.
What sets these guns apart is their very M1-ish forearm furniture. Other than that, they are primarily just a plain-ole Marlin 22 of the era.
Getting your own.
Brophy estimates that the total production of these rifles stands at about 110,000 from 1965 when introduced through 1979. While this figure sounds like a lot, when you remember that more than 11-million Model 60s have been made, it puts it into perspective of needles and haystacks among the used Marlin 22 market. If you do the basic math on that, it's likely you will have to look at a full 100 Model 60s before the first M989M2 crosses your path.
Look for the rollmarks
Parts to keep these guns running are out there but can prove confusing as there are two different trigger guard assemblies and only a few parts interchange with other, more popular Marlin 22s (such as the Model 70). The good news is the same #71900 7-shot mag that fits the pre-96 Marlins to include the Glenfield: 989G and 70, Marlin 995, 25, 880, 925, and 980 will fit these guns and they typically run about $15. This means that any aftermarket magazine that will fit these models can work on the 989.
These guns still make formidable plinkers and small game getters.
While Modern Gun Values lists these at $250 and the Blue Book puts a paltry $150 maximum on these guns, looking at the past 90-days of online classified sales for these models place the going rate at closer to $300.
Not bad for a war baby.