Offering benefits in hearing protection, increased accuracy, and adding a great advantage to your hunting experience, more than 27,000 legal sound suppressors are sold every year in the United States. With lever action Marlin rifles among the most popular rifles in the country, it is only logical that these two concepts should meet for a little quiet introspection.
Why would you do this?
Rifles, just like pistols can be suppressed under some circumstances. The best firearms for suppressing are those that have a contained action, so that the gasses of the round being fired do not escape at the moment of firing. In other words, a lever action rifle is quieter than a semi-auto one as it traps more of those gasses inside the chamber of the gun. Another problem with suppressing a rifle is that many modern high-powered rifle cartridges of today are just too fast to effectively suppress.
(Suppressors are rapidly gaining acceptance for hunting across the United States and lever guns like the Marlin 336 and 1895, with their large subsonic rounds, make great suppressed hunting rifles)
You see rounds like the .223 Remington, .30-06, and .308 Winchester travel at well over the speed of sound, creating sonic boom milliseconds after leaving the muzzle. However the old, fat, round-nosed rounds used by a lever action rifle due to its tubular magazine, are usually subsonic. This means a modern M4 carbine shooting military grade 5.56mm is very hard to suppress, while a 100-year old Marlin in .35 Remington can be made to participate in quiet time for a few hundred dollars.
(TR\'s .30-.30 with Maxim Silencer circa 1908)
No less a sharpshooter and hunter than President Teddy Roosevelt had a lever action .30-.30 with a shortened magazine, threaded barrel and commercially made Maxim Silencer suppressor. He used the quiet little popgun around his home in Sagamore Hill, New York on the North Shore of Long Island to zap varmints and get some target practice in without disturbing the neighbors. Seeing that his neighbors were people like the Tiffany\'s and the Vanderbilt\'s, you can see why it would come in handy.
What kind of suppressor?
First off, you have to find a suppressor maker who can shoot .35 Remington, or .30-30, or .45-70, or whatever caliber your Marlin lever gun is. That\'s the tricky part as most manufactures stick to common pistol calibers (.22, 9mm.45ACP) and rifle calibers (.300 Whisper, .223, etc). Fortunately, although marketed as one caliber only, many suppressors can be used for several different chamberings as long as the diameter of the bullet is no more and the pressure of the load is comparable to the spec. For instance, many 9mm suppressors can handle a lever rifle chambered in .38/.357. For clarity (and your own safety) consult with your local Class III dealer or the various suppressor makers themselves about what you are planning to do and what they recommend.
Some of the makers you may want to consult include AAC, SWR, YHM, Gemtec, Surefire, Griffith, and Thompson Machine. They can also help navigate you through the one-time $200 BATFE tax stamp and Form 4 paperwork.
A Wild West Guns tuned Marlin 1894 with Thompson Machine Isis-2 9mm suppressor, modified by J&G.
Once you decide on your suppressor, you need to make sure it can marry up to your rifle. Speaking of which, you need to get it threaded.
Unfortunately, as far as we can tell Remington-Marlin only sells its Model XT22 with a factory-threaded barrel. This .22LR bolt-action rifle just is not what we are wanting here. While we here at Marlin Forums have done a suppressed XT22 build, the capabilities of a low-noise signature lever action rifle in a large caliber are epic. Nevertheless, since Marlin hasn\'t caught on to this yet, you have to get your rifle threaded.
The good news is that with over half a million legal suppressors out there in the public\'s hands, most good sized areas in states that allow these cans to be owned will have a local gunsmith that is handy with threading a barrel. Its simple millwork for a trained and experienced machinist to perform. You just have to know what thread size you want (1/2x 28, 5/8 x 24TPI, etc.). This is where picking out that suppressor beforehand will help you out. Most threading jobs run $50-$100 as long as no other work has to be done to the rifle. While your suppressor paperwork is being processed, there is no better time to get your rifle threaded.
Once this is done, a thread protector or a muzzle flash hider/muzzle break should be installed over the threads whenever the suppressor is not attached. Be sure your optics choice is going to marry up to your suppressor choice as the diameter of the can may occlude your front sight or scope. You may also need the magazine tube shortened to accommodate the additional diameter of the suppressor, which of course can mean cutting into the mag capacity, and extra work by the gunsmith to be paid for.
A Marlin 336 .30-30 w/ AAC Cyclone Suppressor being fired. Note the difference between the sound volume before and after the Cyclone is screwed on.
There are many working lever action suppressor jobs out there already. The guys over at AAC, one of the largest suppressor builders around, made a great set up out of a Marlin 1894C in .38SPL, threaded the barrel and attached one of their Ti-Rant 9mm suppressors to it. The French firm of S.A. STOPSON TFM married a M1894 in .45-70 (yes, that\'s right) to a custom-made suppressor for undefined \'military\' applications. Over at Accurate Ordanance the oompa loompas there took another M1894 in .38 and machined the barrel with 0.5x28 threads so the customer could use his Silencerco Osprey suppressor with it.
In short, if you do your homework, almost anything is possible.