The Marauder: Marlin's short-barreled cowboy gun

  1. Editor
    While no one ever accused the Marlin 30 series lever action rifle of being too long in the field, the company has from time to time flirted with chopping it down even further. One of the shortest of these was the briefly made 336 Marauder.

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    Isn't it cute?

    The basic platform

    Way back in 1893 one LL Hepburn, a gunsmith at Marlin, was issued patent number 502,489 for a new locking bolt system with a two-piece firing pin and rectangular bolt that could be actuated by an under-rifle lever action. The new Hepburn action absolutely forced the head of cartridge against the front of the carrier and into the chamber, while barring the entrance to the magazine, theoretically preventing failure to feeds, or ejects which lever actions were known for. Further, a positive safety button pushed through the action, locking it when activated.

    This action, coupled with the single-piece, milled and forged receiver design of the Marlin company's old Model 1889 rifle (also designed by Hepburn), led to a new gun known as the Marlin Safety Repeating Model 1893. This gun featured a solid frame and top with side ejection. This was something that none of the Browning Winchester's had. It was cleaner, with less moving parts and therefore less likely to bind up or have debris fall into the action while it was working. The Model 1893 was made in quantity for several years, with production running into the early 1930s.

    Then in 1936, the old Model '93 was upgraded with a curved pistol grip stock with a hard rubber butt plate instead of a strait stock with a steel one, improved forearm, and sights. This cosmetically different gun was renamed the all-new and improved Model 1936. Over time, this moniker changed to the simpler Model 36, then finally Model 336 in 1948. The only thing changed in the action of this final incantation was a rounded alloy steel bolt with chrome plating was substituted for Hepburn's original rectangular one. This massive bolt is firmly supported in the receiver and engages in a broad, deep locking surface in the breech bolt, giving it a strong breech.

    The new Marlin lever gun was fresh from the 1890s with a few tweaks. The basic model came drilled and tapped for Lyman style receiver sights, could accept an over-receiver scope (more about this later), take 7-rounds of .30-.30 in its tubular magazine (although other calibers were available) and had an overall length of 38-inches. Tipping the scales at 6.5-pounds, it was a very handy and capable brush gun for the introductory price of $61 in 1948.

    However, around 1953 the company thought the gun could go shorter.

    Enter the Texan

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    (The 18.5-inch barreled Texan)

    By shaving 1.5 inches off the barrel, the company introduced the 336 Texan that came very close to dropping under 6-pounds with its 18.5-inch overall barrel. Chambered in .30-30 and 35 Remington, the gun was also offered in .44 Magnum for a brief period in the 60s. A TS version came in a Model 39-style straight stock rather than the standard pistol grip. Still, Marlin thought they could go shorter...

    Marauder, is that you?


    As established by the National Firearms Act of 1934, rifles in the U.S. have to have a barrel of at least 16.1-inches overall in order to stay away from the bugaboo of a $200 tax stamp and registration as an SBR. With that in mind, the new 336 Marauder, debuted in 1963, had a 16.25-inch barrel and an overall length of just 34.5-inches with their straight grip stock. This handy little popgun is downright cute, even though it has a heck of a muzzle flash and a 4-shot magazine capacity due to its shorter tube.

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    Marketed in both .30-.30 and .35 Remington, they debuted in 1963 but by the next year, production had been halted.

    Getting your own

    While the 18.5-inch Texan remained around in one form or another on the assembly line until 1987, and a 336Y youth gun (with a 16.25 inch Marauder style barrel and 12.5 inch length of pull short stock) was made, the Marauder was the much-desired saddle gun of lore and as such was a collector's dream.

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    (The 1980s LTS reboot)

    Marlin made a LTS model (which was the Marauder with a more politically correct name and a cross-bolt safety) in the 80s, but it just isn't the same. Nice "W, X, Y, Z" serial prefixed true Marauders are very hard to find and usually have well-worn or broken wood, placing nice examples in the $1500 realm for avid collectors. Beaten guns with abused wood and poor finishes, but still capable of clocking in as a truck gun or freezer filler go for closer to $600.

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    Beware of Texans masquerading as Marauders as both have the same 'RC' marked barrels. Break out the measuring tape and look for the 'WXYZ' to make sure you have the real McCoy. If in doubt, consult a firearms appraiser familiar with Marlins to be sure.

    So with that in mind, be on the lookout for a nice 336 at the gun show and your local shop that seems much shorter than normal... you may just have an outlaw on your hands.

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