When Marlin went big bore: The Original Super Goose

  1. Editor
    For just a brief but glorious time, Marlin gave the masses of water fowlers what could be considered one of the most popular bolt-action large caliber shotguns of its day-- the 34-inch barreled Model 5510. And yes, the "10" is the size of the gauge.

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    The bolt-action Marlin burners

    Today the Marlin Firearms Company is best known for its line of rimfire plinkers and lever-action hunting rifles, but they also made shotguns for nearly a solid century. Between 1903-1954 they produced no less than sixteen different models of slide-action pump guns, usually in 12-gauge.

    The Model 55 was first introduced in 1954 by Marlin, and was a novel bolt-action design for the company. Using a one-piece uncheckered American walnut stock with a pistol grip and butt pad, it looked more like a rifle than a shotgun. It used a two-round detachable box magazine that would hold standard sized 2 3/4-inch shells; it was marketed in both 12-gauge and 16-gauge with a 28" barrel and 20-gauge with a 26" barrel. The barrel had basic brass bead front sight and a rear U-grove notch. Options included an end of barrel choke that was adjusted by the turn of a wrist. Overall length was 46-48" depending on the caliber and weight was less than 8-pounds.

    With nearly 120,000 of these shotguns made from 1954-65, they were an instant hit; selling for about $30 (which is about $225 in today's folding money), they were affordable, accurate and reliable. Regular Marlin models were the M55 and the Glenfield Model 55G (and later as the Model 50) which were sold by mass marketers like Sears and Western Auto.

    Well in 1976 the company decided to bring in the heavy artillery and produced (as far as I can tell) its only 10-gauge shotgun.

    Birth of the Super Goose.

    Expanding an earlier long-barreled Model 55, the 1962-era "Goose Gun" with its 36-inch barrel and 12 gauge caliber, Marlin did one better and upsized the whole affair to create what can only be described as a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft gun.

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    With a massive 3.5-inch 10-gauge chamber, the Super Goose, as it was called, was a beast. To accommodate the extra length of the round the full-choked heavy barrel was shortened by a tad (to 34-inches). However, with the heavy walnut stock and cannon-length smoke pole, the gun tipped the scales at an impressive 10.50 pounds.

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    Coupled with a factory strap and swivels, it still had the same 2-shell magazine, which meant that even with a round in the chamber the gun was still legal for federal waterfowl hunts, which typically cap mag limits at a trio of hulls.

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    When it comes to pass shooting geese, the 10, especially in the 3.5-inch shells, reaches out much further and delivers a denser load of shot at distance.

    They are unlike any other Marlin you have ever shot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0lbU6lA3bw
    Robert Hall gives his 5510 a spin

    They went on sale in 1976 and remained on the market until 1985 with its last retail price being about $299 (pushing $650 in today's cash).

    Getting your own

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    Look for the rollmark

    With just under 21,000 of these guns produced according to Brophy, the good news is that they are out there in decent numbers. The various gun values books grade these artillery pieces out at anywhere from $120 (ha!) to $395, which is closer to the mark. In checking the last 90 days of online gun classifieds sales for 5510s, it seems to be the going price is from $400-$500 although this sad rattle can job popped up for $150

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    Some advocate not shooting steel shot in these guns due to the metallurgy of 1970s shotgun barrels but alternative loads like bismuth and tungsten seem to be a safe bet.

    However since these guns are virtually useless without the magazine, its best to pick up an extra or at least a spare spring since they are currently available. Twenty years from now, they most likely will not be and you will have a very funky bolt action single shot.

    Unless of course Marlin wants to bring them back...

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