When you think Marlin, most people have a .22 rifle or lever-action cowboy gun spring to mind. Then of course the company also (briefly) made shotguns and revolvers as well as bolt action centerfires. Wait, what was that last part again? Oh you mean you never heard of the Model 322? Well, pull up a chair.
(This 322 is a nice example that has had its original peep sight removed and a scope added. Be aware of changes like this when looking at a 322)
In the far away land of Finland lies the Sako arms works. This fine company cut their teeth making the best Mosin-Nagant pattern rifles you have ever seen and later moved on the hunting rifles. Their actions are world famous for custom rifle makers. One of their early ones was the L-46 miniature Mauser receiver action.
Sako sold these actions both to large and small gun makers around the world in the 1950s and 60s, which led to some big players like Sears (who sold guns under their JC Higgins brand) and Colt to marry up these actions to US-made barrels and stocks to make a complete gun.
This is the same thing that Marlin did. The Marlin Model 322 used the Finnish Sako L46 action with a domestic stock and barrel. Some refer to it as a Sako Riihimaki rifle due to the markings on the receiver.
(look for these Sako Riihimaki markings!)
These bolt action gems had a three-shot detachable magazine that fit into a checkered American made walnut stock. Wight overall was under 7.5-pounds with a 42-inch overall length. The gun was fitted with a two position rear peep sight that was very effective when coupled with the hooded front sight over the 24-inch microgroove barrel.
Getting your own
These guns are highly sought after not only by Marlin collectors but by Sako collectors as well because of the Finnish made L-46/L-469 clip-fed action. They are the trifecta of bolt guns being that they are smooth, accurate, and above all, rare. Nice Sako rifles start at about $1K and go up very fast from there which makes these Marlin-Sako\'s an excellent find if you can get them in complete, shootable condition for less than that.
Marlin only made 5859 Model 322\'s from 1954-1958, making these guns instant collector\'s pieces. The magazine are expensive as are the original Lyman peep sights for these rifles, both going for $100 or more on the collectors market, so getting a complete rifle is everything.
(The peep sight)
The barrel in the 322\'s can get shot out easily due to the micro-groove rifling in the bore contrasted to the .222 round, so be sure to check your rifling on one of these old guns if you come across one. According to Brophy, these guns can be shot out in as little as 500-rounds of service, so be sure that you are aware of this. Marlin took some 354 of these actions they had left and added a stainless steel barrel to them to create the uber-rare Model 422 Varmint King (but that is another article). The 422, unlike the 322, used a contoured light \"sporter\' style stainless barrel with old-school Ballard rifling.
The markings on this model will include \"Cal. 222 Rem., Model 322, Microgroove, Marlin Firearms.\" Also look for A&M roll marks on the barrel as absence of these could mean the rifle was rebarreled.
Model 322s are listed in the gun values books ranging from $350-525, although this is probably an understatement. Still, if you have one under that magic $1K mark, and its complete, and it\'s nice, you could have a solid investment.