Marlin lovers and owners are often subject to the head-scratching dilemma that not all Marlins are marked as being made by Marlin. For nearly three decades, there existed an odd doppelganger, the unrecognized but nonetheless identical twin separated at birth and raised by different parents with a different name. That name and these often-besmirched guns are known as the Glenfields.
Why were these made?
For decades, Marlin firearms sold their guns mail order, by traveling salesmen, or through stocking dealers in hardware stores and gun stores across the country. By the late 1950s, with the automobile changing the way that America traveled and shopped, large retail stores that stocked a little bit of everything became a facet of small town life-- and they wanted to sell Marlin guns and sell them cheap. To keep their network of loyal (but small) dealers that could not afford to cut their prices happy, Marlin created a line of simpler guns to satisfy the 'big boys.' These guns, duplicating their most popular models and calibers, were marked as being from the Glenfield line so as not to compete with the little dealer's 'genuine' Marlins.
Who sold them?
The Glenfields were not made for any one particular store. Stores such as K-Mart, Montgomery Wards, Sears, Roebuck and Company, TG&Y, Western Auto, and others all sold Glenfield products. Later even Wal-Mart Sometimes they even sold them next to Marlins of less common makes or calibers.
(Many Glenfield marked rifles will also mention that they are affiliated with Marlin, such as on the .35 Remington caliber Model 30 lever gun made in the 1970s.)
As Glenfields were produced in large lots for these mass-market buys, and sold slightly cheaper than their Marlin counterparts at Mr. Jim's hardware store a block over, the company used many small cost-saving measures on these guns. Whereas standard Marlin models had walnuts stocks with cut-checkering, Glenfields had hardwood stocks that was stained a walnut color and press-checkered by a machine. Some of the minor Marlin embellishments like gold triggers, medallions inlaid in the stock, white line spacers between the buttplate and stock, and others were likewise left off Glenfield guns. Some models used less elaborate fixed sights rather than adjustable sights. The Marlin 'bull's-eye' mark and usually the word 'Marlin' are not found on these guns.
(Unlike some very plain Glenfields, a few guns like this classic Glenfield squirrel rifle are richly engraved and sought after by collectors)
Internally, however, the parts are the same and almost universally interchangeable.
Overtime the same retailers who wanted the 'special' deals stopped selling guns (as in the case of Montgomery Wards), went out of business (Western Auto), or wanted to offer true name brands at lower costs because they already put Mr. Jim's hardware store out of business (Wal-Mart) and the reason behind the Glenfield line ceased to exist. The line was phased out in the early 1980s although retailers kept selling new guns from old stocks for years afterwards.
Still, one man's Glenfield is just another man's Marlin.