Looking at the synthetic stocked brand new CNC machined rifle on your gun rack with its micro-grooved barrel, you would be hard-pressed to realize that some of the legends of the Old West carried Marlin rifles. Here are a few you may have heard of:
One of the most famous of all shootists was Ms. Phoebe Ann Moses, better known by her stage name of Annie Oakley. She was a great admirer of Marlin rimfire rifles and perhaps her best-known trick was centered on one. She repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on, and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground, while using a .22 caliber rifle, at 90 feet. A special Model 1889 was made for her that she used in her act and was even filmed by Thomas Edison shooting it on camera. Her niece, the lesser-known Billie Butler, wore Ann's Stetson and shot her Aunt's Marlin in exhibitions. Annie's Model 1891, serial 431188, made in 1907, was put up for auction this year--going for $83,650.
Marlin trotted out a special commemorative Model 39A (the reincarnated 1889) to honor Oakley in 1972. In 1998, they made a special run of model 1897 lever action rifles in .22S/L/LR with an 18-inch octagon barrel and a 13.25-inch length of pull for those little buckaroos marked the Anne Oakley Little Sure Shot to commemorate the shootist's ties to the company.
Buffalo Bill Cody
Legendary soldier, scout, showman, and hunter, William F Cody, remembered today as Buffalo Bill, was one of the great champions of the Old West mythology. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor and is the inventor of the modern day rodeo. Cody was largely a revolver user in his shows and a big-bore man in his legendary taking of over 4,000 buffalo, but he was known to fire the occasional Marlin rimfire rifle. His show made extensive use of the Marlin and not only Bill but also Annie Oakley, Frank Miller, Capt. A.H. Hardy, Gus Peret, and Colonel Larson all used Marlin rifles in exhibition. Cody was well known for using smoothbore rifles (an oxymoron) firing frangible rounds to make sure that his rounds never flew far enough in demonstration shooting to injure crowds or bystanders.
Marlin made a 75th Anniversary commemorative Model 1895SS in .45/70 (one of Bill's favorite buffalo rounds) to honor the showman. Serial numbered CODY0001-200, the feature a special walnut stock with medallion, and a roll marked "Buffalo Bill Cody" stamped barrel.
The kids of the 1930s knew and loved Tom Mix as they knew no other actor of the time. He was the first Hollywood cowboy and as such was an expert shot and rider. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 western films, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Wyatt Earp, and even went on to have his own radio show and comic books.
The Tom Mix Marlin Guns Brass Target Ring, sold, awarded and given away to kids of all ages by Marlin from 1937-1950. This is one of the basis for the term, 'shooting for the brass ring.'
Mix, in an effort to help promote shooting safety, endorsed a series of small-scale plinkers in the 1930s. Dubbed the Marlin 100, it was a bolt-action take down single-shot rifle that fired 22S/L/LR. With a 24-inch barrel and a handy weight of only 4.5-pounds, Mix used one of these in his traveling acts. He shot small glass balls and other on-stage targets in seemingly impossible acts of marksmanship, wowing crowds in town after town. Marlin tied the Model 100 in heavily with Mix and in 1937 produced a limited edition 100S version marked as the Tom Mix Special and shipped with a Tom Mix Straight Shooter certificate. The 100S has the Tom Mix designation roll marked onto the barrel. The 100 was made from 1936-41 and typically sells for about $50, while the 100S can go as high as $300 if in excellent shape.
With a history spanning now three centuries, Marlin was one of the best-known rifles of the Old West. Imagine what yours can do...