The Screaming hot Marlin 336SC Zipper of yesteryear

  1. Editor
    If you are a predator or varmint hunter, odds are the thought of a 50-ish grain .22 caliber bullet with a velocity of over 3200 feet per second would get your attention. Well the thing is, the round itself has existed for almost a century as the .219 Zipper and furthermore, there is a classic JM rifle that chambered it and it's considered one of the "holy grails" of modern Marlin lever guns.

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    What is the Zip?

    As explained by Gun Digest's Dan Sheeler, the .219 Zipper was birthed out into the world in 1936 as an aberration of the .22 Savage High Power, which in itself was but a necked-down .25-35 WCF with a smaller bullet. Regardless of the parentage, imagine a .30-30 case with a .223 bullet wedged on top and you have the general idea. This created one heck of a fast round, leaving the .22 Hornet in the dust and predating the .17HMR of today by a couple generations.

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    The round proved hyper accurate and capable of felling most varmint and predator species as well as medium sized game such as whitetail with proper shot placement. Although it sounds like it should have been used in heavy barreled bolt action and single shot varminteer pieces, only two guns chambered this round-- and both were lever actions.

    First was the Winchester 64 for a decade (Winnie helped create the cartridge) and the second was the Marlin.

    Design of the 336SC

    By 1954, the Zipper was considered a dying round. Its not that it wasn't popular. People who had the old '64s chambered in it loved it. However there was a ton of competition from new rounds like the .222 Remington, .218 Bee and others that duplicated its performance.

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    Nevertheless, Marlin breathed new life into the old round and chambered one of its 1895-actioned Model 336 guns for the sharpshooting little cartridge. This gun, the 336 Sport Carbine was a 6.75-pound rifle with a 20-inch micro-groove heavy barrel (itself a rarity in lever action cowboy guns).

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    These were very nicely produced with handsome walnut furniture, a five shot half-magazine tube, "fat" handguard, bull's-eye inserts around the sling studs and an overall length of just 38-inches.

    Getting your own

    Placed into production in 1955, the company made just 3,230 of these handy little guns before closing the line in 1960. Brophy advises that the MSRP of these guns during that time was between $73-$80, which is about $600-$650 in today's scratch. He further advises that 10 uber rare Deluxe Sport Carbine (DSC) models were made that came factory standard with high comb stocks and special attention.

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    Rare Deluxe Sport Carbine (DSC) models command just about whatever the seller wants.

    Apparently, while the round was very accurate when compared to your basic .30-.30, it didn't hit the spot with long-range predator hunters who considered it less than acceptable. Therefore, after 1956, Marlin increased the barrel diameter slightly to try to make the guns more accurate, adding a half pound to the weight. With that in mind, be aware that there are two different variations of this gun out there.

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    (All true Zippers will be marked as such)

    Moreover, hen's teeth are easier to find at a good price. While Pedersen and Fjestad mention these guns topping out at around $800 in value, good luck finding one for that price. In a study of the past six-month's online sales on popular gun classifieds sites, the going rate was closer to $100-$1300. Remember, these are Curios.

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    Finding ammo

    When the Marlin lever gun went out of production in 1961, it was the last factory Zipper shooter made. Of course, there have been conversions with some turning old .30-30s and .32- WCFs into .219s and some converting bolt-action guns, but these are all aftermarket one-off examples.

    As such, commercial production of the .219 Zipper has long ago stopped. This did not prevent the round from being turned into any number of wildcat hand loads in the 60s and 70s to include, as noted by Leverguns.com, "the Canadian 22 Varmint-R, the Ackley 22/30-30, the 22/303, and the late great Donaldson Wasp...even a bench rest cartridge called the .224 ICL Benchrester-R version."

    About the only maker of what could be called factory Zipper is Old West Scrounger who produces them in 45 and 50 grain SPs for about $2 per round.

    There is a wide array of .219 Zipper reloading die out there so shop around and get in touch with your data formulae for this very hot little load which, of course, can be made with .30-.30 or Winchester 25-35 brass.

    Still, if you are lucky enough to have a 336SC carbine, finding bullets is a great problem to have.

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