The weekend before last I was browsing the used gun racks at my local Cabela's and ran across a Marlin Model 99 M1. The price tag originally said $109, but that was marked out and it was priced at $90. Any gun under a hundred bucks catches my eye, so I looked a little closer. But, the tag also had "feed problems" written on it. So I looked closer still...the only thing visible was that it was missing the front screw of the trigger guard. My thought at the time was that since that's right under the action, it could be contributing to the problem.
I carried it into the Gun Library and the Cabela's guy looked up and started this conversation:
Him: The problem with that gun is it doesn't like to feed.
Me: Did the previous owner report that, or...?
Him: I cycled some dummy rounds through it yesterday, and it didn't like to feed.
Me: So it doesn't feed at all?
Him: It doesn't like
to feed. Here, I've got some dummy rounds in my desk.
He then manages to find all of two dummy rounds, which he loads in the tube. He cycles the action and the first feeds without issue. He cycles it again and the first ejects and the second feeds without issue.
Him: We're selling this thing at cost. Well, I think we're making $15 on it.
Me: Would you like to make a little less?
Him: Okay, I'll sell it to you at cost. $75.
Me: I'll take it.
Him: You can't return it.
So I took it home and filled the tube and manually cycled it over and over. It had no misfeeds during that process. Two days later I finally had the chance to pull it apart and give it a good cleaning and inspection. It was during this process that I decided that my original thought of the missing screw was incorrect, since that screw seems to only hold the trigger guard to the stock. (I've ordered a replacement screw and nut from Numrich already; it should be here today. Who doesn't replace missing parts on a gun?) After the cleaning, I cycled it many times still with no failures.
A couple of days later I was able to get to the range. My goal was to simply put as many rounds through it as I could, and I was on a tight schedule. I first fed it a box of Remington "Golden Bullet" ammo. It did have a couple of jams, but I would categorize them more as ejection issues than feed issues, since the spent casing failed to clear, causing the jam.
I then fed it a box of Blazer ammo and it seemed to like it better than the Remington, with only one jam (out of 50). I then moved to a box of CCI Standard Velocity, and it immediately started puking. There were more ejection failures, and a couple of rounds that wouldn't even come up out of the feedthroat. The CCI rounds were noticeably lacking the pop of the Blazer and Remington, feeling like a much weaker round.
So my conclusion is that this isn't a bad little gun, if fed what it likes. I've left it dirty for the moment, wanting to get some more Blazer and see if it will pick up where it left off, just to make sure it's not just a matter of having problems once it gets a little dirty. I don't think so, because the change was sudden, as soon as I switched ammo and, again, the CCI just felt and sounded weak.
In my searching I've seen some comments to the effect of replacing the springs and feedthroat to clear up some of these problems with this model. I've also concluded that since mine has the rear sight, it may have been a particularly good deal.
But, I'd love to know what you all think? First, did I actually get a good deal? I always hear of them, but they never seem to happen to me.
And second, I'd love any advice on spring replacement, etc. that could help this become a truly reliable shooter.