Your grandfather or maybe great granddaddy’s generation was introduced to some of the best deer hunting rifles ever made.
These classic deer rifles have a blend of form and functionality. The power and reliability of rifles like the Winchester Model 70 or the German-made Mauser M98 are hard to beat even by today’s standards. If you ever had a chance to handle one through the woods and taken down your game, you’ll understand what we mean. (more to it than reading about it)
These rifles are quite simply the best hunting guns ever put out on the market.
And if your grandpa owned one of these guns, and passed it down to you, consider yourself lucky. While these rifles may not all be worth a lot today, they’re still good to have around in case you decide to take down some game.
Have a look at these timeless classic deer rifles:
- Winchester Model 70
The Winchester Model 70 has bee a favorite of hunters and sport shooters since it was first introduced back in 1936.
The original Model 70 had a Mauser-style extractor that allowed a reliable feed – a feature that’s important to big game hunters. Another key components of the Model 70 iis the 3-way wing tip safety and highly accurate. This rifle timeless design is just as effective now in the hands of deer hunters as it was when it was first released over 70 years ago.
- Winchester Model 1894
This rifle is commonly referred to as the Model 94 and is one of the most popular deer hunting rifles of all time.
Historians also called it, “The Ultimate Lever Action Gun.”
This rifle was light, comfortable, fast-shooting and very effective at short distances. Though, this rifle is not an ideal fit for all deer hunters, with some serious loads. This rifle can still be a powerful weapon for those who chase game in dense forests.
- Mauser Model 98
The German-made Mauser Model 98 was an awesome bolt-action rifle on the battlefields of WWI and WWII. American soldiers who fired captured Mauser M98’s quickly realized the rifle’s accuracy and reliability meant it was worth having for hunting.
When we talk about durability and reliability, this rifle can sure take a beating and shoot straight in just about any condition.
- Marlin Model 336
The 336 is one of the most reliable and accurate lever-action sporting rifles ever made. Since its introduction in 1948, more than 6 million Model 336’s have been produced.
The rifle has been chambered in many variations, but it’s most commonly chambered for .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington cartridges. The 336 is still the go-to rifle for many hardcore whitetail hunters.
- Savage Model 99
This rifle is considered a classic deer hunting rifle since its released in 1899. This lever-action rifle had amazing long-range accuracy, form and functionality. The Model 99 was chambered for the .250/3000 Savage cartridge.
Posted in Hunting Tagged with: Marlin, winchester
The Marlin 336 has always been one of the top lever-action guns.
First conceived by Marlin Firearms in 1948, the Marlin 336 is one of the most popular lever-action rifles ever.
The Marlin being reasonably priced, very reliable and easy-to-use rifle makes it very popular among the hunters and gun enthusiasts.
This Marlin Model 336 ranks up there with other big boys like the Winchester Model 1894, the Winchester Model 70 and the Remington Model 700.
Which is why hunters have taken countless deer, elk, bear and feral hogs with this great little rifle over the years.
Have a look at these Marlins and learn more about this popular hunting rifle.
Marlin 336 Models
Here’s the current Model 336:
336BL The BL stands for “big loop” and this model features a larger-than-normal loop in the lever that makes it easier for a shooter wearing gloves to operate this rifle. The 336BL has a pistol grip stock, a 18.5-inch blued barrel, and is chambered in .30-30 Winchester.
336C The Marlin Model 336C is available in either .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington and has a pistol grip stock and 20-inch blued barrel.
336SS The Marlin Model 336SS has a stainless steel receiver, a pistol grip, a 20-inch stainless steel barrel, and is chambered in .30-30 Winchester.
336TDL Known as the “Texan Deluxe,” the Marlin Model 336TDL is available in .30-30 Winchester, has a blued receiver, a 20-inch blued barrel, and a B-grade walnut stock.
336W This model is identical to the 336C, except the Model 336W has a walnut-finished stock and a rubber butt plate instead of a recoil pad.
336XLR Produced in .30-30 Winchester, the Marlin Model 336XLR has a stainless steel receiver, a 24-inch stainless steel barrel, a laminated hardwood stock, and a pistol grip.
336Y Chambered in .30-30 Winchester, the youth model of the Marlin Model 336 has a blued receiver and a 16.25-inch blued barrel.
Most of these except the 336W and 336Y come with a recoil pad.
The 336XLR and the 336Y have a tubular magazine that can hold up to five cartridges. All others can hold up to six cartridges.
Most are chambered in .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington.
Scoped Marlin 336
The Marlin 336 comes standard with iron sights such as a folding rear sight and a ramp front sight and there are several types of after market peep or ghost ring sights available.
One thing that separates the Marlin 336 apart from other is that it has a solid top receiver and utilizes side ejection instead of ejecting spent cartridges from the top of the receiver, very rare on a .30-30 rifle.
This is why many hunters choose to use a scope on their Marlin 336. Marlin rifles has a reversible hammer spur which aids with the use of a scope.
Marlin Model 1895
If you wanted a Marlin with a big-bore chambered in .45-70 for close encounters with bears or moose – take a look at the Model 1895.
All 1895 models sports a short 18.5-inch barrel. Extremely wanted from hunters in Alaska.
Why have a Marlin 336? Well, its often lightweight, easy to carry and great for quick-pointing. As an all-around woods gun its great for the fast, short-range shot on big game animal. Yes, its not the long range rifle, but still useful at ranges up to 250 yards on feral hogs, elk and black bears.
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: 30-30, Marlin, Remington
Whether original Marlin or “Remlin”, there are some easy upgrades that can be made:
While I do like using iron sights on this particular rifle, I admit: The original buckhorn sights aren’t awesome. They’ve worked alright for hunting wild boar at close ranges, but shots past 100 yards get tricky. I worked up a table for my 3 primary hunting loads on this rifle as to where their point of impact is at what range on what rear sight elevation setting. Despite this, I don’t ever want to be fumbling with the rear sight elevator during a hunt. Back when I was testing out their new extractor claw, Ranger Point Precision was also nice enough to send me one of their front and rear sight assemblies to try out.
barrel with sights
The RPP rear sight assembly is adjustable for windage and elevation. (MSRP: $72.00 for front and rear sight assembly). Elevation adjustments are made via a hex screw that puts tension on the top of the barrel and moves the main body of the rear sight assembly up and down. The windage adjustments are made by loosening the aperture and drifting it to the appropriate location. Once windage is set, the windage screw can be fully tightened to lock everything into place. The front sight does not need to be drifted for adjustment. Once locked into place via hex-screw, there are two distinct quick aiming points one can use for quick shots at different ranges.
Top view of the RPP Rear sight. Note hex screws. Front is for elevation, rear for windage
Marlin 1894 sights are pretty easy to remove. Once the rear sight elevator is removed, the rear sight can usually be drifted out right to left via finger pressure. The front sight assembly took a few hits with a brass punch to drift out. The new sights slid right into place and locked down easily with the hex screws. In direct sunlight, I found the two aiming points easy to use and the sights bright. It should be considered: if one anticipates frequent use in low-light or at night, there’s no substitute for putting on a red dot sight.
Rear sight assembly, not dovetail for windage adjustment
Front sight; note gap under sight
Something to note: These sights are CNC machined from 7075 aluminum and black anodized. They should therefore be rust-free. However, there is somewhat of a gap under the front and rear sight assembly above the barrel. The barrel underneath this gap should be cleaned and inspected for rust periodically. Check and clean these areas for rust immediately if one is using one’s rifle in humid or icy conditions frequently.
The trigger on my early-00’s Marlin was just adequate. It was very floppy, had quite a bit of creep, and the re was a rough hitch before breaking at 6lbs. The flop of the trigger was also rattly and loud when trying to stalk in on wild boar in the rough lava rock country that I usually hunt them in. I’ve experienced Wild West Guns’ triggers before, as I have one of their Alaskan Co-Pilots in .45-70. Knowing their triggers to be excellent, I ordered one of their “Trigger Happy Kits” (MSRP $100.00). This trigger is a precision CNC-machined 2-piece unit consisting of the trigger and sear held together with a hollow pin. The trigger can be had in either blued or stainless, depending on the look one is going for.
While actually replacement of the trigger is easy, getting to the trigger assembly in one’s Marlin is a bit of a chore. There’s no quick way of getting at it, being that to do it properly, it requires removing the stock, bolt, and hammer assembly. Once done, one can remove the trigger and sear of the stock unit and install the new Trigger Happy Kit. This is also a good opportunity to do a detailed cleaning and oiling of one’s Marlin. Make sure to test proper safety, trigger, sear, and bolt function before finishing reassembly, as some later model Marlins may have troublesome interactions with the fit of the new sear, requiring minor fitting.
Trigger inserted into triggerguard plate
Improvement was immediately apparent. The flop and rattle was gone, replaced by a trigger that broke consistently at 2.75lbs, lower than the average advertised 4lbs. Not only was the pull weight reduced by half, but the new precision made trigger has a very crisp, clean break.
new trigger installed
the fit and finish on the WWG trigger was excellent
A new Follower:
The original Marlin 1894s have magazine tube followers that are made out of Zytel. While they are ok, mine started to hang up in the tube and the edges on the back of the hollow follower started to degrade somewhat over time. To alleviate this issue in the future, Wild West Guns’ CNC machined, anodized aluminum follower (MSRP $25.00) seemed like a good upgrade to add instead of replacing it with another Zytel or plastic follower.
Left: aluminum follower
Right: Happy Trigger Kit
To install the new follower is pretty simple, just remove the end cap of one’s magazine tube, remove the magazine spring, and the old follower will drop out (if one has removed the appropriate magazine tube/barrel band screws depending on exact model). It’s also a good opportunity to clean and lightly lubricate one’s magazine tube assembly.
Testing after reassembly showed a definite improvement in loading the magazine tube and cycling flat point, hollow point, and Hornady Leverevolution polymer-tipped ammunition. Not only was loading the tube far smoother, it was also much quieter, eliminating the creak and squeak of the old follower.
Upgraded with these three new improvements, I took my Marlin to the range to try things out. The much-improved trigger shone both in static shooting and for quickly ringing steel. There were no light strikes, malfunctions, or binding issues. The pull weight stayed consistent after live fire testing.
The new follower kept the cartridges coming as fast as I could cycle the action, and loading the rifle was markedly easier than in the past. I had no issues with any kind of ammunition hanging up or cycling improperly.
The new sights were nice, though the red on the front sight was somewhat hard to see under shade while shooting off the bench. I think that in the future, these sights could be aided by a triangular fiber optic insert at the top for more light collection. The sights were super simple to adjust, and stayed put once set. There is no separate screw to keep the adjustment in place, and that could be a good future improvement to make. They held up to more than 50 rounds of .44 Magnum without moving. To be sure they don’t budge while being rattled around in a side by side or saddle scabbard, some clear nail polish or preferred color of loctite should keep them in place.
The aiming line and medium aperture of the RPP rear sight
The two parts of the front sight aiming triangle
Overall, my shooting experience with this rifle was much improved. Loading and cycling were easier, and the groups tightened up at 50 and 100 yards with the new sights and much improved new trigger. My best group was .6″@50y, shot seated with the fore-end supported. The best group at 100y was 1.76″. I was not able to manage this kind of precision with the factory sights and trigger. Using the tip of the sight as my 50y zeroed aiming point and the line for my 100y point yielded an average POI at 100 1.5″ high of center with the American Eagle 240gr JSP load. The 2nd aiming point in my opinion is good for quick shots at these different ranges with the .44 magnum. Results will vary with different cartridges, barrel lengths and loads. As always, it’s best to test these things at the range before heading to the field.
How to use the RPP sights
Photo Credit: Ranger Point Precision
front sight color options
Photo credit: Ranger Point Precision
I look forward to continue using this Marlin with these enhancements as an excellent game-getter when hunting with friends and relatives in less permissive locales. Whether one has a nice old Marlin that needs some TLC, or a “Remlin” with some areas that could be improved, these all could be a positive enhancement. Sometimes it’s nice to update an old gun with some nicer features. Done right, it can greatly change one’s shooting experience for the better.
For more information, visit Ranger Point Precision or Wild West Guns
Thanks to Ranger Point Precision for the sights
Posted in Product Reviews, Rifles Tagged with: 1894, Guns & Gear, Marlin, Other Gear & Gadgets, Ranger Point Precision, Reviews, Rifles, RPP, Wild West Guns, WWG
There are many guns designed and marketed to the hunting folks that are really good guns and are recognized as such.
However, on the other side there are also a number of highly overrated guns that do not live up to their reputations.
They used to be great but are now just trucking along on their past reputation or living off their fans nostalgia.
Here are the guns for hunting that we see as not measuring up to the media hype due to poor performances.
- Weatherby Magnum Cartridge
Weatherby has some fine high velocity magnum cartridges such as: .270, .300, .378 and .460 magnum.
The most popular among hunters were .257 Weatherby, .300 and .30-378 Weatherby. These cartridges provide a flat shooting cartridge that can still hit hard at long range. A necessary cartridge for hunting elk, mule deer, sheep and mountain goats.
However, it is also true that the gap in performance between the Weatherby magnums and their closest competitors is often overstated.
For instances, the .300 Weatherby Magnum shoots a 180gr bullet about 300 feet per second faster than the .300 Winchester Magnum. Yes, it shoots a little bit flatter and hit a little bit harder, but no elk will be able to tell the difference and I’ll bet that there isn’t much you can do with the .300 Weatherby that you can’t do with the .300 Win Mag.
- Post-2007 Marlin 1895
This Marlin is a big bore gun commonly used by hunters going after large tough game in North America. This gun is also known as the “guide gun”, used to defend against an angry bear at close range is ideal.
That reputation helped Marlin sell guns in the market. However, since 2007 Marlin was acquired by Remington. The quality assurance declined, complaints of wood on the stock and feeding malfunctions reports begin pouring in.
If you’re looking to still get a lever action 1895 Marlin, get it before the 2007 production.
- Holland & Holland Double Rifle
Double barreled firearms first became widespread during the days of the muzzleloader.
The ability to fire two shots quickly without the lengthy reloading process required by a muzzleloader is a great advantage for hunters.
Breech loading double rifles, chambered in big bore cartridges like the .450/400 and .577 Black Powder and Nitro Express rounds were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s among hunters in India and Africa hunting large species of dangerous game like tiger, buffalo, and elephant.
These rifles were a big deal to have and proved their worth during these close range encounters.
Holland & Holland rifles were (and still are) regarded as the the cream of the crop among double rifles. They were advertised as fully hand made by master gun makers that put in 850 man-hours of work that were put into each rifle.
One of the custom feature on their double rifles was the custom built size specifications this allowed the rifle to fit the shooter and points perfectly. Thus, this rifle became known as the most reliable and best “feeling” rifles available.
First downside to this rifle is its small magazine capacity.
A competent shooter with a bolt action can get off two shots no problem plus modern bolt-action rifle can hold up to 5 big bore cartridges in the magazine.
Second downside is that being a great equalizer at close range, its not that great at 50 plus yards whereas a different rifle can do a better job.
Third downside is the weight of this beast comes in at 13 pound. The heaviness was great for reducing the recoil, but when you have to lug it for 10-20 miles through the woods, its not likely for most hunters.
Last downside is the price unless you’re Bill Gates. Holland double rifle goes for $100,000 and every year the price keeps going up.
There you have it, a few overpriced hunting guns. What other overpriced hunting guns have you come across?
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: Marlin, Weatherby