With so many great .22 rifles out there, competition is stiff. Ruger's 10/22, Remington's Nylon and Speedmaster series, the Savage 64, and the single shot Cricket and Chipmunks are out there in numbers that in some cases run into the millions. However, the title of the most popular 22-caliber rifle in the world, with more than 11-million examples produced, goes to the Marlin Model 60. Let's look at the iconic rifle.
Design of the Model 60
In 1959 Marlin engineer Ewald Nichol took to create a simple and effective little rimfire carbine to replace the older Model 98. This new carbine was a semi-auto with a 22-inch micro groove barrel of Special Analysis Ordnance steel, which gave the rifle a weight of 5.5 pounds and an overall length of 42-inches. With an uncheckered single piece of walnut stock, the new gun fed from an 18-shot tubular under barrel magazine, which gave it a streamlined look. The rifle debuted that year as the $39.95 Model 99. The next year, under the Glenfield line, the same rifle came out with a modified sight and a less expensive birch stock as the Model 60 and was sold as such around the county by mass marketers such as Oklahoma T&S, Sears, Western Auto, and others.
The Marlin Model 60 has a multitude of variants and subvariants. Here is one with an optional aftermarket Boyd thumbhole laminate stock.
During the past five decades, the Marlin Model 60 has never been out of production. This humble little auto-loader has been manufactured in dozens of variants with magazines ranging from 14-18 shots, nickel-plated silver receivers, a restyled M1 carbine version (the 99M1), gold triggers, fiberglass stocks, stainless steel survival versions, and others. Used versions of the standard style rifles typically run under $100. The most desirable of the subvariants seem to be the stainless steel Model 60SN (with a factory-mounted 3x9 scope and black molded synthetic stock) and Model 60S-CF (with a carbon fiber stock) that tend to approach $300 in perfect condition.
The Model 60, in used versions, can often be acquired for $100 or less and can be customized as the owner likes.
Today, the rifle has been shortened with a 19-inch barrel giving an overall length of just 37.5 inches but still has a beautiful standard Monte Carlo walnut-finished laminated hardwood, full pistol grip stock with a tough Mar-Shield finish. Typical retail is about $150ish which is hard to beat for a nice semi auto 22 by any maker.
With that in mind, you can rest assured another 11-million are on the way.