Marlin Model 60 .22 Rifles

By Chuck Hawks and Jack Seeling

Marlin Model 60
Model 60. Illustration courtesy of the Marlin Firearms Co.

The Marlin Model 60 is the world's most popular .22 rifle with, according to Marlin, well over 11 million produced. Introduced in 1960, it is still going strong today. Model 60 variations have also been stamped with private label names and sold by mass merchandisers such as J.C. Penny, Western Auto, and Montgomery Ward. ("Revelation" was the Western Auto brand, for example.)

The 2006 Marlin catalog lists 6 variations of the Model 60. All are blowback operated .22 autoloading rifles. These include the base Model 60 with a walnut finished laminated hardwood stock, the deluxe Model 60DL with a Walnutone stock finish that simulates exhibition grade walnut, the Model 60C with a Mossy Oak Breakup camouflage pattern hardwood stock, the Model 60SSK with a stainless steel metal finish and checkered black fiberglass-filled synthetic stock, the Model 60SS stainless with a two-tone black/gray laminated stock, and the Model 60SB stainless with a walnut finished laminated hardwood stock. 2006 list prices range from $195 (Model 60) to $312 (Model 60SS).

In addition to the above, there are the Marlin "70" series .22 rifles. These are the Models 7000, 795, 795SS, and 70PSS synthetic stocked rifles. These are based on a Model 60 action that is fed from a removable clip magazine rather than the standard (and generally superior) tubular magazine. All regular Model 60 series rifles use the traditional 14-shot brass tubular magazine with a Marlin patented closure system.

One of the "secrets" of the Model 60's success is its streamlined, timeless styling. Marlin 60 rifles are, and always have been, among the most handsome .22's on the market. Accuracy, reliability, and low price complete the package.

Features that all current Model 60 rifles have in common, besides the 14-shot tubular magazine, include being chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, Monte Carlo pistol grip stock design, anodized aluminum receiver, 19" Micro-Groove barrel, 1:16" right hand twist rifling, iron sights, receivers grooved for tip-off scope mounts, automatic last shot bolt hold-open (the bolt release lever is at the right front of the trigger guard), cross-bolt safety located in the rear of the trigger guard, and an overall length of 37.5".

All versions weigh 5.5 pounds except the Model 60SSK, whose synthetic stock makes it 1/2 pound lighter. The SSK and SS come with nickel-plated sling swivel studs, and the SS has a rubber rifle butt pad. The impressed checkering found on wood-stocked models in previous years has been dropped.

Jack's first .22 rifle was a Model 60, purchased soon after the type was introduced. That old Model 60 was pretty much like the contemporary version, but came with a 22" barrel. It held its own against the other .22 autos of its time, including the Remington Nylon 66 (see the article "Remington Nylon .22 rifles" on the Collector's Corner page) and the Winchester Model 77 owned by other members of our little crew in the fantastic, flamed-out days of our youth. The Marlin 60 outlived them all, a tribute to its sound design and construction.

Any Model 60 cycles fast, as fast as you can pull the trigger. And, given good ammunition, it is quite reliable. (Defective .22 rimfire cartridges are far more common than defective centerfire ammo and are the cause of most failures with .22 autoloading rifles.)

For small game hunting stick to copper-plated, High Speed hollow point fodder. CCI Mini-Mag, Winchester Super-X, and Remington Golden Bullets served Jack's Model 60 well. For plinking and informal target shooting the solid point RN versions of those same loads have always worked nicely. All rifles are individuals, so you will have to do your own ammo testing to find your Model 60's preferred ammunition. When you do, sub 1" groups from a bench rest at 50 yards become common.

Given ammunition it prefers the average Model 60 is, in our experience, as accurate as any of its competitors. It is a deadly rabbit and squirrel rifle, particularly when equipped with a decent telescopic sight.

Marlin is the Number One manufacturer of .22 rimfire rifles in the world, and the Model 60 is their most popular model. An achievement for which neither the Model 60 nor Marlin has received as much credit as they deserve. But millions of satisfied customers know how good these .22 rifles really are, and in the end that is what matters most.

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