One of the most popular rifles of the World War 2 era was the M-1 carbine. The short and handy little .30 caliber rifle, with its short length of pull, one-piece wooden stock, and abbreviated barrel, was standard issue to thousands of troops across Europe and the Pacific. Marlin capitalized on the mystique of this popular rifle when it came out with its own version in .22LR, the 99M1.
What was the M1 Carbine?
Formally, the "United States Carbine, Caliber .30, M1," but commonly just referred to as the M1, the gun was a popular and well-liked little rifle. Designed just before World War Two, the gas-operated, rotating bolt carbine was designed to be a gun that could arm truck drivers, cooks, radio operators, and paratroopers who, by nature of having to climb out of vehicles, jump out of planes, and carry large amounts of sensitive equipment on their backs, needed a more compact rifle for self-defense than the full-sized 9-pound Garand rifle with its 30.06-caliber rounds. At just 5.3-pounds, the gun had an 18-inch barrel and a 36-inch overall length. A 15-shot box magazine was fitted and two more could be carried in a pouch on the butt of the gun.
Adopted in 1941, more than 6-million of these handy little carbines were made and it remained in US service until the 1970s.
Most American GIs of the 1945-73 timeframe (remember there was a peacetime draft then, so that is a pool of literally tens of millions of young men) at one time or another shot a M1 carbine. It was an easy gun to shoot and was widely issued for a variety of purposes.
Model 99 roots
In 1959, Marlin developed a semi-automatic rimfire rifle. Dubbed the Model 99, this short-barreled little plinker had an underbarrel tubular magazine that held 18-shots of .22LR ammo and could be fired as fast as you could pull the trigger. It had open rear sights, a hooded ramp front sight, and an uncheckered walnut stock that left about half of the 22-inch barrel open. A very light gun, it was some 42-inches overall and weighed 5.5-pounds. The model was redesigned in 1962 to which a gold trigger and groove for a set of tip-off scope rings was added to the receiver while a Glenfield model (99G), with a plainer stock and simple bead sights was brought out for the big box stores.
With millions of American shooters familiar with the M1 carbine from their military service, and the basic size of the M99 so similar, Marlin had a stroke of genius for the next version.
Starting in 1964, Marlin produced a modified variant of their popular Model 99 rimfire rifle, stylized to look and feel like the WWII- M1 Carbine. They took the standard 22-inch barrel of the design and cut it down to 18, the same length as the M1. This also produced an overall length of 37-inches, within a bullet's length of the original. Since the Marlin was a .22LR and not a .30 carbine, the action and barrel were lighter, at 4.75-pounds. Forgoing the detachable box magazine of the M1, Marlin kept the under barrel tube mag but shortened it to hold just 10-rounds to keep the profile of the gun similar. A stock redesign and military style ramp sights completed the transformation.
The 99M1 was popular and remained a good seller for the company. It was a regular catalog item until 1978 and new old stocks of the gun were still sold for years afterwards. According to Brophy, some 160,000 were manufactured during this time and retailed for $49-$73. Today the current Modern Gun Values lists them as "$150 in Good condition, $200 in VGood, and $225 in excellent". An informal scope around the internet seems that, when available in shootable condition, these guns tend to go for closer to the $250-$300 mark.
Seems like people do indeed like the concept of a .22LR M1 carbine.
Perhaps Marlin should look around and see if they still have the plans somewhere.