Want a leveraction rifle with a throw that was so short that it could be cycled while you still have he trigger indexed with your finger? Talk about handy. Well it's not a new gun, it was on Marlin's Levermatic system rifles made in the 1950s and 60s, and they are some of the most shootable and collectable Marlins out there.
Marlin firearms engineering guru Tom Robinson was issued patent number 2,823,480 Feb 18, 1956 for the Levermatic receiver, a system that he developed several years before from the Kessler Arms Company's "Lever-Matic" shotgun. What was neat about the design was that it used a 25-degree stroke (as opposed to a 90-degree) stroke of the lever to cycle the action. This meant that just moving the lever downwards about two inches would open the breech, remove a spent shell casing from the barrel, and load a fresh round from the magazine. This pattern, a lever action that worked faster than a turn bolt and nearly as fast as a semi-auto, was dubbed the Levermatic by Marlin and soon the ads started flying.
It was first introduced in the Model 56 rifle and continued in production over five variants for nearly two decades. Besides the action, the guns all shared a solid top receiver with side ejection so that center to the bore top-mounted optics could be fitted. As such, each rifle shipped drilled and tapped for Lyman and other receiver sights as well as a Weaver Tip-Off Mount.
One-piece Monte Carlo-style black walnut stocks, gold triggers, finger safeties, and Micro-Groove barrels (a concept that Robinson had also invented) came standard. The Micro-Groove used 16 shallow grooves instead of the standard 6 deep grooves seen in Ballard type rifling and was advertised as reducing bullet distortion with picking up an increase in accuracy.
Marketed for $44.95 in 1956, the Model 56 used a now-familiar 7-shot single stack detachable box magazine that could hold 22 Short, Long, or Long Rifle rounds. To this day, the same style magazine is marketed with the XT22 series rifles. Due to the beefiness of the walnut stock and the heavy action (even though in this model it was made from aluminum), these guns came in at 6.25-pounds, which was a little heavy when compared to most other carbine length 22 rimfire rifles.
In 1958 only, a variant marked as the Model 56DL and billed as the Clipper King shipped with a set of targets and an extended 12-round magazine. In all just 31,523 Model 56s were made of all variants before the line closed in 1964. Today value varies from $100-$200.
For those shooters who wanted more than just a 7-shot reserve of rounds, the Model 57 was introduced in 1957. An under barrel tube, similar to what we see on today's Model 60, held 25 Shorts, 20 Long, or 18 Long Rifle rimfire rounds.
A few years after the standard 22 model came out; Marlin upgraded the design to accept 15 22WMR rounds in the same tubular magazine, which put it firmly in the realm of a predator taker. Dubbed the 57M (for magnum), this rifle was in production until 1969 when the Levermatic series was retired. Many of these models shipped with a 4-x non-variable Marlin branded scope. Today these guns run $150 and up.
(The Marlin Model 62 was a full-sized centerfire version of the Levermatic)
Stepping up further from the 22, Magnum was the 1964-era Model 62. This box magazine fed lever gun was marketed in .22 Jet, .256-Magnum, and .357-Magnum with .30 Carbine being added later. With a 24-inch barrel in a slightly longer receiver body, the rifle came in at 43-inches overall and weighed a handy 7-pounds. Sadly, this ideal little brush gun never caught on and by 1969 had been discontinued. Today this model, the penultimate short-throw Marlin lever gun, runs over $600 when you can find them.
(Always look for your barrel markings for caliber and model number)
I vote that the current Marlin incarnation tool up to bring back the Levermatics. I would stand in line for a .357mag version.