Can�t Stop Fooling with Guns

By Jim Force

Improved Marlin 336
Improved Marlin 336. Photo by Jim Force.

A while back, I wrote about buying Marlin firearms in pawnshops. One of my purchases was a pre-cross bolt safety Marlin 336 in 30-30 Winchester. It was a plain Jane closet queen with the original buckhorn sights and front bead, sling swivel studs and hard plastic butt plate. Nice walnut stock, but I just could not leave it alone.

The first improvement I made was to install a telescopic sight and mounts. Weaver has made a one-piece base for years for the 336. It fits, is easy to find and inexpensive. I next chose Leupold 1� cross-slot rings. Again, they are time tested and do not break the bank. The scope is a Sightron S-II 4x32 with a matte finish. As I never intend to shoot beyond 200 yards, I find the fixed 4x magnification of the Sightron more than adequate to produce 2� groups @100 yards using a camp stool and homemade tripod. I did make my own plywood cradle and used clamps and shims to get the rifle plumb and level for installing all the parts and used Locktite on all the threads. I ordered the parts on-line and through a single source to save on shipping.

With the scope mounted, I needed to get a hammer extension to facilitate cocking. Midway stocks the Uncle Mike's hammer extension for my model year, so I ordered one and installed it myself. "Stone grind fitting" was recommended in the instructions, but I did not know how to do this. However, I got the extension on the hammer.

Since we climb in and out of stands, I wanted a sling to carry the un-loaded rifle to the elevated seat and back down. As the sling is serving simply as a carry strap, I wanted the simplest, least intrusive one available. A one-inch, black nylon, adjustable sling is very durable and does not get in the way. Uncle Mike�s line seems as good as any and is available at the local �big box� sporting goods store. The swivels are very easy to install or remove.

While having another rifle modified, I ended up with a spare, un-used, Browning recoil pad. It fit the Marlin almost perfectly and I was able to do the install myself, after getting past the staples used at the factory for the original installation of the plastic butt plate. It looks good, gives me a longer length of pull and provides a measure of recoil relief.

After last season�s success with this gun, I decided to let a gunsmith make further minor modifications. The front barrel band was a little loose and I wondered if something could be done with the heavy trigger pull. Jimmy M. first removed the curved barrel band screw, tapped out the hole and installed a new screw. He then disassembled the receiver and replaced the main spring with a Palo Verde Gunworks reduced tension Marlin main spring kit. It made the entire receiver and lever mechanism work smoothly and while there is still loose take-up in the trigger, the actual pull is lighter and crisp. The final touch was stone grind fitting the hammer extension. My little Marlin will be perfect for next season!

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Copyright 2010, 2016 by Jim Force. All rights reserved.