Inspired by a Sporting Rifle carried by Custer, a black powder enthusiast rebuilds his model.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY MIKE NESBITT
Remington’s No. 1 Sporting Rifle was introduced around 1868. That was a rather quiet introduction and this sporter was not identified or named as such until 1874. The No. 1 Sporting Rifles were last shown in a Remington catalog in 1889 with a total production of under an estimated 13,000 rifles. Remington was simply concentrating a lot more on filling military orders from several countries, and making sporting rifles was secondary.
When the Remington sporting rifles first appeared, they were made using military receivers which had “round tops.”
The top of the receiver ring was not “octagoned” like the later No. 1 Sporting Rifles, which were appearing around 1873 at about serial number 1400. These figures, taken from Roy Marcot’s book, Remington Rolling Block Sporting & Target Rifles, are educated guesses because Remington’s records for these changes simply do not exist.
But with only about 1,400 of the round-top sporting rifles made, you can guess how interested I was when I found one at a very reasonable price. The price was reasonable because this gun had mismatched serial numbers. In other words, this rifle had been reassembled from pieces and parts long after it had left the factory. Also, the barrel had been shortened from the breech end by about 4 inches, and then lined and chambered to a non-black powder caliber.
The old rifle itself was little better than just a parts gun. However, the parts were actually in pretty good shape. And while the numbers on those parts didn’t match, they were all of the right ones. This old rebuilt rifle was certainly an outstanding candidate for restoring. The idea of restoring it put me on a path of research to help me decide what to restore it to, which caliber and such. ONE MEMORABLE CUSTOMER Remington had in the early 1870s was General George A. Custer, and he got his rifle through civilian channels instead of as a military order. Custer’s rifle was a .50-70, which was the military rifle cartridge at the time when he got his gun, in early 1873. This rifle was a Sporting Rifle and Custer carried it with him on each of the field maneuvers or expeditions he went on, including (we must guess) to the Battle of the Little Bighorn. We have to guess about Custer’s last battle because the rifle was not found and hasn’t resurfaced since.
Remington liked Custer, and the general wrote letters back to the company telling great stories about how much he enjoyed using his rolling block, along with the fantastic shots he was making with it. At least one of those letters was reprinted in Remington’s catalog in 1876. Having very positive notes from an outspoken general like Custer was very good advertising.
That led me on a trail to find out more about Custer’s rolling block .50-70. The trail quickly led to the book General Custer and his Sporting Rifles by C. Vance Haynes, Jr. This is also a very good book that includes information on Custer’s sporterized Springfield trapdoor and on his .50-70 rolling block.
There is no purchase order available for Custer’s .50-70 “roller” and no notes describing the details of the rifle. But there are several photographs where the rifle is included. Haynes used those old photographs to look at every detail that he could and came up with some excellent information. According to Haynes, Custer’s rifle had a 28-inch barrel, combination open and peep rear sight, single set trigger, Beach front sight, half-circle “cheek” or receiver extension on the forearm, and it did have the round-top receiver.
One tiny detail that could not be determined was which fore-end cap the Custer rifle had. In the photos where his gun is shown, the fore-end cap is hidden either under fringe from Custer’s jacket or with a cartridge belt. However, going back to the Marcot book, it is shown that the usual steel nose-cap was typically in use on rifles serial numbered 700 and higher. With that, we can assume Custer’s rifle had the standard steel nose-cap.
THAT INFORMATION SET the course for me; I would have my parts gun rebarreled and chambered for the .50-70. To do so meant having a barrel made and specially contoured to fit this rifle’s receiver and forearm because I didn’t want the forearm “gouged out” to fit a heavier barrel.
And I wanted the barrel to be 28 inches long, to make my rifle
similar to the Custer rifle. The stock shouldn’t need any more work, according to my ideas, but the barrel would require bluing and I wanted the receiver case-hardened again. For this work, the gun was quickly sent to a shop that specializes in restoring
Remington rolling blocks, C. Sharps Arms Company (csharpsarms.com).
There, a Green Mountain .50-caliber barrel blank was cut to 28
inches and contoured with a taper to fit the gun. A Rough & Ready
rear sight from Montana Vintage Arms was installed on the barrel
just forward of the receiver and the original Beach front sight was put in a slot cut near the front of the barrel.
(New Beach front sights are also available from MVA; I have one on
another rolling block.) The barrel was blued quite nicely and the receiver was given a pack hardening, which looks very good. The only pictures I have of this rifle were taken after the restoration work was done and I hope you agree with me, this old
restored .50-70 roller is a looker!
In fact, this restored roller looks so good to me that I thought about not shooting it and keeping it as a showoff piece instead.
But oh no, it will be fired and probably shot quite a bit. My first shots with this restored rifle were taken with loads using 425-grain paper-patched bullets, cast from a KAL mold, over 65 grains of Olde Eynsford 2F black powder. The 425-grain paper-patched bullets were used in the old .50-70 Sporting loads and my loads are quite comfortable to shoot, and this rolling block is a
light 8½-pound rifle.
My first target was posted at just 50 yards to see what this rifle would do. The peep sight was used, set at its lowest setting. Even so, when holding the top of the front sight at 6 o’clock, the bullets hit at the top of the black.
But the five-shot group was pleasing. You might ask if the rifle hits in the same place when the front sight is flipped from the blade to the circled bead? Yes, it does; the five shot group held three shots with the blade sight and two more with the bead on the post inside the ring. I can’t complain about that.
Then my friend Jerry Mayo tried the rifle, shooting offhand at a paper plate that was set out at 100 yards. Jerry squeezed off his shot, which hit the plate very nicely, turned to me and exclaimed, “That’s a huntin’ gun!” He might have the right idea.
Magpul Expands Into Traditional Riﬂe Stock Offerings, Including A Model For The Remington 700
REVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICHARD SHARRER
Magpul Industries has long been known for manufacturing superior riﬂe (and now pistol) magazines, as well as improved stocks for ARs. The company has now expanded into more traditional riﬂe stocks and is taking them to new levels.
I was recently sent a Magpul “Hunter” stock for the Remington 700 series riﬂes to test. Now, admittedly, I’m not much of a hunter. I choose to spend my shooting time a bit more tactically, but with that said, I really do like this stock.
The version I received was in basic black, but other available colors include ﬂat dark earth, stealth gray and olive drab green. This stock features reinforced polymer construction, and includes such unique features as a spacer adjustable length of pull with a range of adjustment from 13 to 15 inches in half-inch increments. That is a wonderful addition to any stock, in my opinion.
I think of myself as an average-sized guy (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), but I’ve yet to ﬁnd a stock that ﬁts me out of the box. The ability to simply add or remove spacers to get the gun to ﬁt me the way I like it is an excellent improvement over a “standard” stock.
Another unique addition is the ability to adjust the height of the cheek piece.
A high cheek riser kit is available that enables users to modify the height of the stock comb and allow a proper cheek weld behind a scope.
Most “hunter” stocks seem to be set for iron sight use, and adding even a low mounted scope forces the shooter to compromise a good cheek weld to use the scope.
This leads to less accuracy and a slower shot, as the shooter has to ﬁnd the eye box behind the scope. Not with this set-up. Simply mount the gun to your shoulder, get a solid cheek weld and the crosshairs are right in front of your eye. Nice!
The stock comes out of the box it set up to use both the OEM bottom metal and the blind magazine standard on the Remington 700 series riﬂes. There is, however, an option to replace that with detachable AICS-pattern magazines. A section of M-LOK compatible slots in the forend make attaching accessories easy and fast. This is a “drop-in” product. No ﬁtting or inletting is required.
The Magpul Hunter stock makes an excellent after-market addition to a Remington 700 short-action series rifle.
Here’s what others are saying bout the Magpul Hunter 700 stock from Reddit and AR15 Forum:
heathenyak: picked up an older 700 bdl the other day in .338 win mag because why not. The action is smooth as glass. I’ll be taking it out to the range next weekend or the following
nomadicbohunk: It shoots sub moa no problem. We’re actually pretty impressed with it. The only work I’ve done to it was to stiffen the stock and bed it. He wishes he’d have bought a few of them.
tomj762: Yeah I thought it was the Remington 770 that gets a lot of hate. The 700 gets accreditation for being a rifle you can buy for under $1,000 and get out of the box 1,000 yard precision.
Chowley_1: Or spend $650 for a Tikka and have a vastly superior rifle.
Isenwod: Considering it’s been the platform for every military sniper rifle since the 70s, I would say not.
morehousemusicplease: grip angle is excessive for my liking price isnt bad at 260 which puts it in line with the b&c.
The_Eternal_Badger: Admittedly no one has really handled or used the Magpul stock yet, but if it’s up to their current standards I can’t see how it wouldn’t be a better deal with equal or better performance out of the box.
THellURider: Honestly – I’ve wondered why they hadn’t released this many years ago. And then I remember that they’re more a marketing and design company than a manufacturer of anything with more than 1 moving part.
Hunting rifle: Going to be tough to beat a B&C Alaskan (I or II) or if you’re going to go spendy, McMillan Edge.
KC45: I’ve never been much of an aftermarket stock guy. I bet for 99% of shooters here a decent factory stock will do just as well and the money they save would be better spent getting some good precision shooting training/instructions and on ammo (or components). It’s the indian…not the arrow
JohnBurns: Mid-priced platform for bench shooting? Sure. That style of hunting, that guy’s set up is all wrong. Ultra light hunters want small, light, compact rifles with small, light scopes. Leupold VX6 2.5-10, McMillan Edge, on a light profile 260 rem – yes.
Lost_River: Great video quality. However it pretty much showed nothing in regards to technical information.
Bubbatheredneck: What does it offer vs the AICS? And no mountain hunter is gonna lug that beast around very long if it is as heavy as it looks..
Dash_ISpy: I like my Magpul 870 stock. Id probably get one of these as well. I wonder if itll be easier to integrate a mag. Im not excited to spend $300 extra just for a mag.
bulldog1967: it doesn’t do anything my Tikka T3 in .270 WSM doesn’t do.
Foxtrot08: That set up will be my next rifle. My current rifle is an older M700 long action, in 300WM on a B&C Alaskan II stock. Barrel has been blue printed, and bolt has been fitted. Not 100% light weight, but I haven’t needed it yet, as I only do day hunts on the western slope of Colorado.
LuvBUSHmaster: My .300 WinMag 700 BDL could use some MAGpul love but I need specs and a Long Action Model.
RePp: I don’t need another stock but for that price it will be very hard to beat. Now those magazines I will buy a shitload of. A polymer AICS mag like that will be a huge hit.
If you are looking to upgrade your Remington 700 stock, be that of your favorite deer riﬂe in .308 Win, a suppressed 700 SD in 300 Blackout or any other short- or long-action 700, you should give this option a good long look. ASJ
After a great dissatisfaction with the firearms on the market and convinced that he could make better guns, Eliphalet Remington II founded Remington in 1816. His decision had been made that year when his homemade gun was so highly admired at a shooting contest. After forging it himself, he had taken it to a gunsmith in Utica, New York to finish making it into an actual gun.
The company actually started that very day with all the admirers placing orders with him to make their guns. Up to that time the available guns on the market were so bad that most people just made their own. They fashioned homemade rifle barrels by simply heating and hammering iron strips around a metal rod. The result was sufficient at best and usually very crude. The founding of Remington had been a desire birthed in him in his youth by his father.
His father worked as a blacksmith and wanted to expand his business into the rifle-making industry. After finally realizing the dream, he set up shop. It was not long before he was selling guns all across America. In 1828, he situated its final headquarters in Ilion, New York. At this time it officially became known as the Remington Arms Company.
He spent the next decades perfecting his craft and making increasingly better firearms, some of the best in the world. Remington’s market during the early to mid 1800s was particularly huge with a good many civilians commonly using guns for various reasons. Remington has had a strong hand in every American war since its existence, particularly the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
The World War I was huge for the company since it was contracted by several of the allied powers to produce their firearms. Their production demand got increasingly greater as the war progressed. This was especially the case after the U.S. entered the war effort. However, one of its biggest clients during these years was Russia who had ordered a huge amount of guns and ammunition from Remington. When Russia stopped being able to pay the money it owed after a huge political change, Remington was hit very hard. They had all these guns and ammunition made specifically for one. With the Russian contracts suddenly made void, Remington was going to be stuck with it and suffer a big loss. But the U.S. government stepped in to save the day by taking them off their hands.
After the end of the war, the began to place a focus on their hunting lines. During the 1930s, Remington bought and merged with the Peters Cartridge Company to become Remington-Peters. As in World War I, the company did extremely well throughout the entirety of World War II. The year 1940 is seen as an exceptionally successful year for Remington. They began the year with 4,500 and by its end had increased that total to 6,700. During the 1940s the company worked closely with the U.S. government to oversee ammunitions productions.
The profits in 1940 were five times greater than 1939. It was so successful that the Remington leadership decided to expand their operations. To this end, Remington bought a number of empty buildings and turned them into parts of its growing operation. So when the U.S. entered the war after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Remington was more than ready. One of the many firearms it used was a bolt-action rifle it had only just finished developing when America entered the war. It had just started producing them in mass when they had curb that production to churn out many other firearms as well for the war effort.
During these war years, Remington made firearms for all of the U.S. military branches. Although they made about 2,000 high powered rifles to the navy, they were never used. After the war and up to the present time Remington has remained having very close ties to the military, maintaining its worldwide supplies of guns and ammunitions. Throughout 50s and 60 Remington branched into many other none gun-related product areas. But the main line of expertise and products has remained guns and ammunition.
They also remain the primary producer of guns for multiple international military forces. In addition, their guns are highly respected throughout the gun industry itself and are often used as examples in manufacturing their own brands. In 1993, the inner workings of the company changed dramatically when Dupont, who had owned Remington since the 1930s, sold the company to investment firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Then in 2007 the heavily in debt Remington was sold again to Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. Remington soon became an extremely profitable company again. Remington itself began to purchase and absorb successful ammunitions and firearms companies.
In addition, it was during these successful years they returned to some earlier abandoned practices. In 2010, that Remington returned to the handgun market after leaving it several years earlier when they were strapped for cash. In 2013, they started producing air rifles again after discontinuing the practice in 1928. In 2014, it began production of a factory in Huntsville, Alabama that would be by far its most state-of-the-art to date. The factory is said to have boosted Alabama’s economy by about $87 million.
Remington’s work throughout the south is doing so well that it is predicted that Remington will soon leave its previous home in the north altogether. Remington is committed to furthering excellence and to ever striving to achieve greater developments in firearms. Among their many, many groundbreaking firearm innovations, their Model 700 and Model 870 are seen as the best guns of all time. Other guns that are almost at that status are the Versa Max, the Model 1911, and the R51. This is the type of iconic product they hope to achieve again and again. To this end, they continue to build new factories and buy and absorb new companies for over 200 years. It has also earned the title of “America’s Oldest Gunmaker.”
There is something about a stately old shotgun that lures us in and tempts us to pick it up, shoulder it and dream of where it’s been. Worn bluing and scarred walnut gives a hint of the days in a duck blind, grouse woods or a trap and skeet field.
Most of those venerable shotguns started out in factories and on gun shop racks, and hunters and shooters across America chose the ones they thought were best. Eventually, the greatest guns stood out. Here are 10 shotguns that I believe must be considered among the classics.
BROWNING AUTO FIVE
Many would consider John Moses Browning a genius, a point to which the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the Browning .50-caliber machine gun and the Colt 1911 pistol can attest. Browning also designed the Automatic Five shotgun (four in the magazine, one in the chamber) in 1898 and first took his idea to Winchester, a company he had done business with on many other projects.
Things did not work out at Winchester or Remington at the time, and Browning next landed at Fabrique National. Soon after, the Automatic Five shotgun was first made in Belgium in 1902 (hence the moniker “Belgium Browning”).
Browning later secured an agreement with Remington in 1905, and the newly rebranded Remington Model 11 became the first autoloading shotgun made in America. Many will tell you that the A5 is known for kicking like the proverbial mule. To some fans of the A5, it will always be known as the “Humpback” due to its trademark squared receiver. Most who shoot the A5 say that the gun shoulders very nicely and is quick to get on target.
The big, broad receiver gives shooters an instant sighting plane, leading to the ease of aiming.
John Browning reportedly said the A5 shotgun was his greatest achievement. Coming from a man with dozens of firearms to his name, including that little number called the Colt 1911, that says something.
REMINGTON MODEL 31
Remington trotted out an elegant firearm in 1931 that many would consider a gold standard for pump shotguns. The reason for this was the intricate hand fitting of parts that contributed to the smooth action of this pump gun. The Model 31 appeared in August of that year and retailed for $48.50 (roughly $750 in today’s market).
Remington aimed at pushing Winchester out of the pump shotgun market, and the company called upon a couple of in house gun designers, C.C. Loomis and John Pederson, to do it. Both men had learned from John Moses Browning. From the start, the Model 31 pump gun was known for a slick action achieved by hand-fit parts.
This system was neither fast nor cheap. In the end, the wonderful, clock like workings of the Model 31 may have been its downfall. By 1949, the Model 31 was off the market as gun makers sought out a faster and less expensive system.
Val Browning, son of John M. Browning, finished the work on his father’s last firearm. John Browning died while working on his revolutionary concept for a double barrel shotgun in 1926. The elder Browning decided to superimpose the barrels one on top of the other instead of the traditional side by side, and this configuration became known as “superposed.”
This elegant but moderately priced shotgun hit the market in 1931 with a retail price of $107.50. That was a lot of money back then, but a working man could afford one if he scrimped a little. Val Browning perfected his father’s design, and a few years later, the Superposed was equipped with a single selective trigger.
While Superposed shotguns are not known for being light, the benefits of the revolutionary and durable design far outweighed any extra weight.
H. FOX STERLINGWORTH
Recent years have seen a renewed interest in reasonably priced American-made double guns. Shotgun lovers who do not wish to venture into the world of expensive British shotguns feel they can stay domestic and collect the odd Lefever, a Winchester Model 24, maybe an L. C. Smith or a Fox Sterlingworth.
Ansley Herman Fox was well known in the shotgun world of the early 1900s. Known as a hotshot in the live pigeon and trapshooting scene, Fox went through a confusing series of gun manufacturing company ownerships in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
By 1910, Fox was producing a gun he called the Sterlingworth, an entry-level Fox shotgun and the grade most hunters chose. Like most American-made doubles of the day, the Fox Sterlingworth featured a box-lock action and the “lumpthrough” method of connecting the barrels. On a double barrel shotgun, the lump is the projection extending downward from the breech end of the barrels. In the lump-through method, a separate piece of machined steel is fitted and braised onto the barrels.
This is a durable and completely satisfactory way to make a double-barrel shotgun. However, it was just not considered quite as elegant as other more complicated and expensive methods, as it usually resulted in a wider
measurement across the breech. All classic American made doubles were made this way.
Most of these guns featured color case-hardened receivers, and this is usually the first place to show wear. The Sterlingworth was and still is known as a sturdy, dependable (and I think lovely) companion in the field.
ITHACA MODEL 37
The Ithaca Model 37 pumpgun is something of a paradox. On one hand, it has been a nimble and lightweight sporting arm carried by thousands of sportsmen. On the other, this shotgun has been a warrior. Like Winchester’s Models 97 and 12 and the Remington 31, the Ithaca saw military service from World War II through Vietnam.
If that was not enough, this dependable shotgun was adopted by many police departments in the US and abroad. Part of the Model 37’s appeal was the shotgun’s unique feature of loading and ejecting through the port at the
bottom of the receiver, making it an ambidextrous firearm. Ithaca waited until a patent owned by Remington expired in the mid-1930s and borrowed from a design by John Pederson.
Like others of that day, Ithaca sought a competitor for the Winchester Model 12. The company introduced the gun in 1937 in what may have been the worst climate possible for a new sporting arm. War was looming in Europe, and the country was still suffering in the Great Depression. Despite that, the Model 37 remains as the longest pump-action shotgun in production to date.
WINCHESTER MODEL 12
It should come as no surprise that the basis for this iconic pump shotgun came from John Browning. Little-known Winchester engineer T. C. Johnson improved on Browning’s Model 1897 and gave the world the Model 12. Winchester produced this shotgun from 1912 through 1964 with more
than 2 million being made. For many years, the Model 12 set the bar that all other pumpgun makers tried to reach. Oddly, when the first guns were produced in 1912, they were only available in 20 gauge. After a year in production, 12 and 16 gauges became available. A 28-gauge model was also produced later.
This shotgun was the darling of thousands of hunters and trap and skeet shooters for many years. When it debuted in 1912, it was the first shotgun with an internal hammer and a streamlined receiver the American public had seen. The Model 12 also had hand-fitted machined steel internal parts, interchangeable barrels, nice walnut stocks and forearms and beautiful deep bluing. The Model 12 sold strongly until the introduction of the Remington Model 870 in 1961. By then, a new age of shotguns had begun.
REMINGTON MODEL 32
Prophets are never appreciated in their own time. In many ways, the Remington Model 32 over-and-under shotgun was a herald of greater things to come. No doubt part of the incentive for this gun was to give the Browning Superposed some competition. Crawford C. Lewis was an engineer at Remington, and he brought the Model 32 to life.
In 1932, O/U shotguns were not familiar to American shooters, and the country was still clawing its way out of the Great Depression. Loomis gave the country an overand-under that shooters could buy for $75, while the competing Browning Superposed was about $107.
That was a huge factor in Depression-era America. The first machine-made O/U shotgun built in America, the Model 32 had a top-lock system and separated barrels, which allowed for better cooling and added heft and strength. The Model 32 was discontinued in 1944 with around 5,500 having been made. Soon after that, a group of Americans took the design of the Model 32 to the famous double-gun makers at Krieghoff in Germany. The company soon gave the world the Krieghoff 32, based upon Browning’s Model 32.
WINCHESTER MODEL 59 SEMIAUTOMATIC
Anyone who hunts birds knows what a blessing a lightweight shotgun can be. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, quail and grouse hunting was much more popular with American hunters. For wildfowlers, the Winchester Model 59 was a great option.
Very little is heard about this shotgun today, despite the fact that it was so revolutionary. Not only did the Model 59 have an aluminum receiver to help with weight, but Winchester created the barrel by wrapping huge lengths of glass fiber (reportedly over 500 miles) around a thin steel liner. The fiber was then fused and bonded to the liner.
The result was a semiauto shotgun that weighed less than 6 pounds. In addition, the Model 59 had some of the first screw-in chokes available.
Eastern grouse hunters grabbed these guns up with abandon. Critics said the Model 59 kicked too hard, while others said the gun was too light on the muzzle, which made it very fast to point. Most of the hunters who liked the Model 59 just carried it and killed grouse.
“More gun for the money,” Mossberg’s company slogan, pretty well affirms what O. F. Mossberg set out to do for his customers. A Swedish immigrant who found himself unemployed at age 53, Mossberg and his two sons, Iver
and Harold, started a firearms company in 1919. Technical expertise and no-frills innovation carried the company into the early 1960s when Mossberg engineer Carl Benson developed the iconic Model 500 shotgun.
Benson used ideas from the Model 31 Remington, which had roots in earlier J.M. Browning Remington shotguns.
Early versions of the Model 500 had problems with the single-action bar sometimes bending and breaking. When the Remington patent on the twin-action bar expired in 1970, Mossberg added another bar to solve this problem (as found in the Remington 870).
Model 500 variants, including the 590 and the 590A1, have seen active service with the military and in several different branches, Special Forces included. Hunters have always liked the rugged dependability of the Mossberg 500, and the gun continues to be popular with more than 10 million sold.
History tells us that many of the European royal families in various countries were related. It is much the same in the classic shotgun world, especially with pump guns. John M. Browning designed the Remington Model 17, which influenced the Ithaca 37 and the Remington 31. Both of these shotguns swam in the gene pool of possibly the greatest pump shotgun ever made: the Remington 870. Introduced in 1961, the 870 rose from the ashes of the Model 31. Remington sought to deliver a strong, dependable, modern shotgun at a moderate price, and it’s what they did.
The original Wingmaster version of the 870, while tough, was very aesthetically pleasing, having deep bluing and glossy walnut stocks.
In 1987, Remington introduced the 870 Express line.
These shotguns featured black matte finish on the metal and hardwood laminated wood or synthetic stocks and forearms. Sales increased with the Express and, in 2009, Remington sold its 10 millionth 870, making it the bestselling shotgun in history.
Story and Photos by Larry Case
Sign Up for News Letter
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.
Some might argue that there are better guns on the market, but the G17 is built for durability and usability.
And in a survival scenario where you might not have the time to pamper your gun like you normally would, you want a dependable gun that will still shoot accurately and cycle through ammo even with some wear-and-tear.
Another good choice is the .45 ACP, as it’s an even more powerful cartridge that’s also commonly used. You can see our list of recommendations for good .45 ACP pistols and 9mm pistols.
What about Rifles?
If you’re like most modern firearms enthusiasts, you’ve probably already got an AR-15 on hand.
If not, it’s a great home-defense weapon that you should consider adding to your arsenal. You can learn more about buying your first AR-15 by checking out our AR-15 Beginner’s Guide.
Depending on what kind of shit hits the fan, you might want to have something a little more versatile (or at least harder hitting) on hand than an AR-15 – especially if you live outside of a major metropolitan area.
Some would say that a Scout Rifle fits that role, and it did…70 years ago. While a scout rifle isn’t a bad idea, there are better options.
The AR-10 is a perfect example, get one chambered in .308 Win with a variable scope and you’ve got a great rifle for taking down game, protecting yourself from two-legged threats, and keeping the whole thing light enough to hike with and giving yourself 20 rounds on tap in case things go really sideways.
The Henry Survival Rifleis a 3.5-pound .22LR rifle that’s portable, accurate, and perfect for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.
Get a Compact Backup Handgun
As the saying goes, “a .380 in your hand is better than a .45 in the glovebox.”
While I recommend keeping your .45 ACP a little closer than the glovebox (or .357 Mag, 9mm, 10mm, .44 Mag, or whatever handgun you prefer), having a backup pocket pistol on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.
The idea is to have a compact gun available that you can easily grab in a pinch. I like the .380 ACP because it’s small and lightweight, but still powerful enough to neutralize a threat at close range.
If the .380 ACP isn’t your style and you’re looking for something a bit more tried and tested in the field, you can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned .38 Special.
The Bodyguard 38 is a modern take on a law enforcement classic – the .38 snub nose.
While the Bodyguard 38 (and other .38 specials) may not be popular services pistols in today’s generation, they’ve more than proven themselves to be powerful, dependable, and more than capable of acting as a backup pistol.
Overall, the pocket pistol makes a great addition to your SHTF Kit because it’s small enough to carry on your person at all times. I recommend a .380 APC or a .38 Spl because both of them are small and lightweight, yet powerful enough to take down a threat at close range.
Ideally, the pocket pistol is something you’d only want to use as a last resort – like if your primary gun jammed or it ran out of ammo.
Storing Your Ammo Safely
The last thing you want to do is stockpile ammo for an end-of-the-world scenario, only to discover that it’s corroded and functionally obsolete when it comes time to use it.
A lot of people tend to forget that ammunition has a shelf life. However, that shelf life is completely up to you. Store it right and it will last long enough for your grandchildren to use, store it wrong and you’ll kill your stock before the next deer season.
One of the easiest ways to extend the shelf life of your ammo is by storing it in safe, secure containers where it’s protected from dirt and moisture.
Honestly, every SHTF prepper should have at least one Ammo Can lying around. They’re cheap, easy to come across, and are worth their weight in gold if you ever are in a situation where you actually needto use your ammo stockpile.
Keeping a Silica gel packet in your ammo can will help ensure that your ammo lasts almost forever, they are cheap and easy to get – keeping one in every can is SOP for me.
What’s your take on having a good ammo can and moisture stopper?
Get a Good First Aid Kit
Ideally, every home and automobile should have a first-aid kit – especially people who’re outdoor enthusiasts. For most situations, the standard first-aid kit found in most workplaces will get the job done.
But if you’re in a situation where you really did have to use your SHTF kit, there’s a greater likelihood that you won’t have easy access to paramedics and hospitals in the event of the emergency. For this type of scenario, you’re really going to want to have a little more than a burn kit, some gauze, and antiseptic ointment.
The Grizzly Series First Aid Kitby Adventure Medical Kits is a heavy-duty kit designed specifically for the survivalist and apocalypse prepper.
Designed to meet the needs of law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day, the Echo-Sigma kit comes with all of the tools necessary to treat sprains, fractures, and cuts, as well as stabilize people who’ve experienced serious trauma from knife and gunshot wounds.
And as a bonus, it comes in a pouch that’s easy to carry around if you have to walk for extended periods of time.
We cover how to build the ultimate Range Med Kit too if you like customizing.
Heavy Metal Equipment
You’ll be surprised how much use you can get out of a good quality knife.
Not only does your survival knife act as your last line of defense, it can also be used as an important tool – especially if you’re stuck outdoors for an extended period of times.
Food prep, shelter building, making tools, and even first aid (cauterizing wounds and cutting bandages) can all be done with the help of your survival knife.
Functionally, it’s similar to the KA-BAR except that it comes with a gut hook for cleaning game, as well as a sawback – the serration on the top of the blade just past the hook. It’s made out of 1095 steel and has a 5” blade length, with an overall length of 9.26”.
And don’t forget a Whetstone for keeping your blades sharp without damaging them, like some of the other knife sharpening devices on the market.
Some other tools you might want to consider for your survivalist kit include:
If you ever find yourself away from your toolbox, each of these compact tools makes it significantly easier to set up shelter, make fires, and work on anything that needs tinkering.
Gun Equipment for Your SHTF Cache
As you already know, good gun maintenance is essential to ensuring that your gun is accurate and dependable. If you happen to find yourself in a shit-hits-the-fan moment, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need on hand.
After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will be able to trek to the nearest outdoors store and buy more equipment.
For this reason, I recommend keeping a few extra cleaning kits around. Preferably one for your SHTF Bag and another for the trunk of your car.
Our favorite M-Pro 7 kit from Best Gun Cleaning Kitsis perfect for handling most of you gun maintenance needs on the go, and it’s compact enough to be stowed away without taking up significant space.
I also recommend picking up a few packs of Break Free Weapon Wipes. They will go a long way in keeping your guns, knives, and tools clean, lubricated, and protected against corrosion – especially if you’re ever in a situation where you have to use your weapons and tools daily.
For a survival scenario, I recommend something lightweight and effective, without any of the frills. Concealment Express has a number of lightweight holsters for $35 that are durable and comfortable to carry around.
Food, Water, and Air
This really should be self-explanatory. You need food and water. You also need a way to get food and water after your stores have run out.
Getting food is where your firearms will come in handy, but water is a little more complex since you can’t just drink any water you find laying around – that is a quick way to get all kinds of nasty sicknesses.
For water purification, you need two options at least, one for you to get drinking water right now and one method for you to purify a lot of water.
Don’t forget – water isn’t just for drinking. You’ll also need it for cooking, cleaning, and treating injuries.
To get drinking water right away, I love my LifeStraw.
But when it comes to purifying larger amounts of drinking water you’ll need something like the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System.
Each of these pails is a 30-day food supply for one person. That is a lot of food! Throw in the fact that each of these only weighs 23 pounds and what you have is a fairly lightweight option for long-term food supply.
Long-term water storage is a little more complex than food, you’ll need water – obviously, but you’ll also need a water preserver.
Aside from looking cool, the Tactical Backpack has a number of extra compartments for maximizing your storage capabilities. You can load it up with survival material and store it in your trunk, garage, or closet and grab it at a moment’s notice.
Here are a few things that you want to keep in your backpack to keep you prepared for the unexpected:
When you’re building an SHTF bag, your goal should be to anticipate and prepare for any situation – not just the apocalyptical, but also the more common such as an earthquake, tornado, fire, and whatever else is possible to your local area.
Choosing good survival gear isn’t always about maximizing your firepower.
It’s also about making sure that you’ve got clean water, shelter, and enough supplies in the event that you have to gather your things and leave at a moment’s notice.
Are you a prepper? Do you have a store of SHTF gear? Let us know all about it in the comments!
Deer seasons in most of the USA doesn’t start until September – but if you’re looking to harvest some whitetail this year you’re probably already planning your hunt now.
Hopefully, you’re planning on shooting and developing your loads for upcoming hunts and maybe spending some time hiking, working out and getting ready for long days in the field and packing that hard-earned venison back to the trailhead. If you haven’t started yet, get going.
This fall some 10 million hunters will go afield in search of the whitetail buck of their dreams. On average, about 6 million deer will be harvested.
Though the numbers seem astronomical, consider this. In 1900 it is estimated that less than 500,000 whitetail deer remained in the US. As of 2013, there were an estimated 32,000,000 whitetails.
A true conservation success story and one that points to the hunter as the true conservationist.
The whitetail deer is the most popular big-game species to hunt. Partly because of the sheer numbers, but also because the whitetail can be found from as far north as the Arctic Circle in Canada to Brazil and Peru in South America.
From the east coast to the west coast whitetails can be found in every state in the Lower 48.
Whitetails live in vastly different habitats. You may find them in the edges around agricultural operations such as beans, corn, and alfalfa. Some you find at high elevation in the aspens in Colorado and Wyoming. Others prefer the tight, close confines of the river bottoms.
Because of the adaptability of whitetails, where you hunt will largely determine the rifle and ammo combination needed to be successful.
The whitetail is the smallest of the deer species in North America. On average a mature buck will weigh about 150 pounds, and a doe about 100 pounds. They are thin-skinned and have a relatively dainty bone structure.
So cleanly killing a whitetail does not take a specialized or heavy rifle and cartridge. A well-placed bullet from nearly any centerfire rifle will allow you to ethically take whitetail deer.
What About The Guns?
There are a lot of options when it comes to rifle and cartridges, let’s take a look at some good choices for whitetail hunting to get you started down the path to a whitetail hunting career.
You’re kidding, right? With all the fast new and sexy cartridges out there, why do I list the .30-30 first?
In all likelihood, the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire has taken more whitetail than any other cartridge. Often packaged in a compact, light and easy to carry lever-action rifle, the .30-30 makes a lot of sense.
There are a lot of whitetail in the river bottoms and thick forest and swamps. Shots will be short. You’ll likely be on a stand or stalk hunting and catch a glimpse of a whitetail sneaking through the woods.
Traditional open sights or a peep sight are quick to acquire and quite accurate for 50-100 yard shots.
Any good bullet designed for tubular magazines will be fine. My Winchester Model 94’s prefer 150-grain flat-points.
Normally you need to use round nose or flat nose bullets in a tube magazine for safety reasons, however, Hornady now offers a tube magazine safe spitzer cartridge using their FTX bullets. Although these cost a bit more than standard .30-30 rounds, they offer better penetration, better accuracy, longer range, and more reliable feeding.
The .308 was originally designed as a military cartridge. Sportsmen quickly realized that the .308 cartridge design was very accurate and could be housed in short action rifles, making them quite handy in the field.
The .308 gives up very little performance as far as velocity and energy compared to the 30-06. What it doesn’t do is recoil very much. A .308 with good 165 – 180-grain bullets will easily handle all your whitetail hunting from very close cover to 300+ yards with good optics.
I know, ‘who hunts deer with an AR?’. Truth be told, lots of folks do.
The AR is one of, if not the fastest selling rifle platform available today. The simple fact is the AR is today’s modern sporting rifle.
Light, handy, ammo is stocked in every gun store in the nation and in all different loads, and priced so an AR-15 is within reach of nearly anyone.
However, several states require deer hunting to be done with a cartridge larger than .23cal and/or have magazine restrictions for what can be used in a hunting rifle – check your regulations before deciding on your rifle!
If it is legal and you do choose standard .223/5.56mm as your cartridge you should be aware that although possible, these cartridges limit you greatly. Choose heavy grain, soft tip ammo and keep your range within 150 yards and a standard AR-15 will serve you well.
While the above cartridges will likely serve the vast majority of whitetails hunters just fine, there are those who may wish to stretch the yardage a bit or pursue bigger game. If you want to stay in the AR platform look closely at the AR-10 platform and move into the .308 Winchester with 150 or 165-grain bullets.
Now you have a powerful cartridge in a semi-auto package capable of taking game cleanly at extended ranges. You will pay a penalty in weight and cost, but it is a viable option if you plan to hunt in areas where shots may be long.
These are the only 2 bullets I’ve recovered from game shot with a Nosler Partition.
While not at all an exhaustive list, I believe anyone looking to start big game hunting with whitetails will be well served with the above choices.
As for what rifle to buy, you have to decide. My personal experience has been mostly with bolt actions; Remington Model 700, Tikka T3 Lite, Ruger Mod 77, Ruger American Predator and semi-custom Mauser 98’s. All work well. All are accurate. All kill whitetail deer just fine if you place your shots correctly.
Now that you have a rifle in hand, what else do you need to have to be able to spend the entire day in the field hunting?
I’m a little over-the-top in what I carry. I grew in the Scouting program and I am a firm believer in Being Prepared.
Also, being from the Northwest I carry more gear than the average hunter because we have wide temperature swings, it will most likely be raining and/or snowing and I want to be sure I am 100% able to function on my own and not be a burden on my partners.
Let’s take a quick look at the very minimum I would have in my pack for a day of whitetail hunting in northeast Washington. I will not go too much into clothing since that is a regional and seasonal variable that everyone needs to deal with on hunt-by-hunt basis.
In the photo below is my gear:
Here’s a quick run-down of what you see and why. Starting in the upper left of the photo:
Space Blanket: Use it as a tarp, a ground cover or a sleeping bag.
Rangefinder and binoculars. I like the compact models. The ones shown are both Leupold brand products. You need to be able to glass at distance and in thick cover. The rangefinder is handy if you are in a more open area or are shooting cartridges or a muzzleloader with less range.
A headlamp and a flashlight. Ever boned out a deer trying to hold a flashlight with one hand? I like the Zebra Light for my headlamp. A single AA battery gives me 200 lumens at the top end and multiple lower settings. A great tool for traveling early morning and at night. I like Surefire flashlights because they always work. I use the G2 series. Relatively inexpensive and very bright and durable.
50 feet of paracord. Get real, made in the USA cord. It has a multitude of uses and always comes in handy.
The little bottle is a Nalgene with a flip-top filled with cornstarch. I use it as my wind-puffer. An easy way to keep track of the breeze and thermals as you move during the day.
Stoney Point shooting sticks. This size is perfect for sitting or kneeling shots. Any rest in the field will help make your shots more accurate.
Map and compass. Yep, I have a GPS. I never use it for navigation. The GPS will crap out at the most inopportune time. Heavy snow and thick timber will not allow a signal. Carry a topographic map of the area you are in. Get a good quality compass. LEARN HOW TO USE THEM TOGETHER! A compass does not tell you where you are. It only points North.
Meat care: the long white bag like the Kifaru Meat Baggie. These 1 ozs. bags will hold 75 pounds of boned meat. You can usually get an average whitetail in one bag. The bag holds the meat in a vertical tube to make it easier to pack out in your backpack. I use two bags for my deer hunting. All the meat that will be ground goes in one. The big cuts go in the other.
Meat Knife – Havalon Piranta: A changeable blade knife. You should be able to easily skin, bone, and process a deer with two blades. I also carry a couple pairs of nitrile gloves to keep my hands dry and a bit warmer. The nitrile also provides a better grip.
Again, this is what I have found works for me. Every area and every hunt is different, so adjust your gear accordingly. But you will find after a few trips there are some things that always get used and will go in your pack every time you go hunting.
A note on meat care: I mentioned boning your deer. I am a big proponent of quick and quality field care. I will go out on a limb here and say that most ‘gamey’ meat results from poor care of the animal in the field.
With any animal the number one enemy is heat. Get the animal broken down and cooling immediately. That means skin off, and meat off the bones. There is a tremendous amount of internal heat and the quicker the meat is separated from the bones, better.
Because nearly all of our hunting is done in the backcountry we bone our animals on spot using the ‘gutless method’. Check the link and do some research on your own. I think you will find it’s a quick, clean and easy way to care for deer.
They even have videos taking you step by step as they clean a Bull Elk!
Tips and Tactics
Because whitetails live in such vastly different habitats, tactics must be adjusted depending on the location. However, there are a few things that remain constant that will help you tag a whitetail this year.
Whitetails are creatures of habit. They stay pretty close to one area and tend to use the same trails and routes. My preferred method of hunting is to find an intersection of two or more trails in the timber or edges of food crops. I’ll then find a good place to sit, usually on the ground with a tree or log to my back.
Then I get comfortable and wait. Be sure to situate yourself so you are downwind of the prevailing winds in the area. If you have too much scent blowing across or down the trail you may alert the deer.
Stay out all day
Take another look at my pack list. Once I leave camp I intend to stay out until dark. I have my lunch, a closed-cell foam pad to sit on and appropriate clothing. Yes, I get cold. Yes, I get bored. Yes, I have sat in the pouring rain and wet snow all day.
But here’s the deal. Most hunters go back to camp in early or mid-morning. Most go back when the weather sucks. I have found that whitetails, especially in cold weather tend to get up and mosey around about 11 in the morning. They get stiff and cold too.
They will get up, eat a little, take a leak and maybe look for an area in the open if the sun is out. I have killed the majority of my whitetails mid-morning.
Use your binoculars
Whitetails like thick stuff. Human eyes are good, but not great. For the most part, we detect motion.
So if a whitetail is moving through heavy timber or brush you may notice the movement, not necessarily the deer. With binoculars, you can pick apart the timber. You see more color. You see shapes.
One of my PH’s in South Africa taught me a lot about thick cover hunting. He always said, “look through the bush.” Meaning, look beyond the stuff on the edges.
Look through the screen. Change the focus on your binoculars so you see through different layers of the cover. You will be surprised how much more is out there than if you just sit and watch.
Whitetail bucks are solitary creatures. However, if you can hunt a late season, your odds go up.
In general terms, the rut begins to crank up in mid to late-November and will run through December and January in many parts of the country. As the rut approaches, the bucks begin to wander more in search of ladies.
As such, they spend more time on the move and are a lot less wary. They are intent on breeding. Not necessarily paying attention. That said, if you are hunting a late season and you have some does or youngsters walk past your stand, get ready.
Often a buck will be following behind to determine if a suitable mate is ahead of him. Be sure you are dressed for the weather this time of year. It will be cold and often wet.
While in your sitting spot keep your rifle across your lap and at the ready.
You will often only have a couple of shooting lanes and even if the deer are just walking you only have a few seconds to make your shot.
If you have to reach for your gun and make noise or sudden movements, you will very likely not get a shot. You must be ready to quickly identify if your buck or deer is legal and then make a very quick decision to either shoot or not shoot the deer.
I shot this buck on cold November day after I had built a fire to warm up and have some coffee. It was 11 am.
How can you not? You are hunting. You are in the woods, with a rifle in your hands, a tag in your pocket and a whitetail somewhere in the neighborhood.
Yeah, you may walk miles. You may freeze on stand. You may get wet.
So what? You’ll likely be in camp or home sometime tonight. You can get dry, warm and fed when you get back.
Take a camera and shoot photos of your gear, your stand, your rifle. Shoot a pic of that pesky squirrel telling the whole basin you are under his tree.
Hunting is about making memories and enjoying your outdoor heritage. Tying your tag on a whitetail and enjoying the pure organic protein the venison provides is a bonus.
What deer have you harvested? Planning your first trip? Let us know in the comments!