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Old 08-12-2018, 04:02 PM   #1
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Qestion for Charlie or Walt

Why did the Winchester 94 become so much more popular than the Marlin 36/336? With Marlin's side ejection and ability to mount a scope inline with the barrel I consider it a much better rifle.
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:25 PM   #2
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Question for Charlie.

His sagacity far exceeds mine...

But I would guess better marketing and a more rapid saturation of the marketplace.
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:44 PM   #3
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WINCHESTER! That's why.

Oliver Winchester had been competing with John Marlin's products for years. Marlin would come out with stronger action rifles while Winchester was still in toggle-link mode and Winchester would outsell Marlin.
Winchester himself had been a shirt manufacturer and Lt. Governor of the State of Connecticut prior to making rifles. He really didn't know much about making rifles, and depended on Benjamin Tyler Henry and Nelson King to improve an earlier design from Smith & Wesson and Volcanic, and later would improve his products with John M. Browning designs, of which the 1894 was one.
But one thing Mr. Winchester was golly gee whiz GOOD at was :
MARKETING!
He was very very good at it, and very aggressive. This is why it was the Winchester that WON THE WEST, not Marlin, not the Kennedy repeater, the 1883 Colt Burgess, or the Spencer repeater.
John Marlin sat around pulling out his hair when he thought about Winchester.
Having what is supposedly the best .... or better .... design is not necessarily what makes the winner. I have a Uberti repro of the 1883 Colt Burgess carbine, designed by Andrew Burgess and marketed by Colt. It was supposed to compete with the Winchester 1873 carbine/rifle.
The Burgess has a smaller, more efficient receiver, and is a bit lighter and very pointable. In a lot of ways superior to the Win. 1873 (of which I also own a Uberti saddle ring carbine repro), but the Winchester won out, bigtime; very few of the Burgess lever guns were made, and why is a story in itself, but it goes to the fact that Winchester's ' prowess in marketing was well known and much feared in the marketplace of the time.

Last edited by TommyGunn; 08-12-2018 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:26 AM   #4
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... and no one made a movie starring James Stewart titled "Marlin '73"...
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:30 AM   #5
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... and no one made a movie starring James Stewart titled "Marlin '73"...
Well, yea ... that too.

(But I really like the Jimmy Stewart movie they did make .... )
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:13 AM   #6
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While we're waiting for Charlie to reply, let me ask a related question: How's the current quality of Marlin lever guns?

I'm really tempted by some of their current offerings, particularly in .45-70, but their financial difficulties have me hesitating. Anyone have any experience with their recent production?
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:40 AM   #7
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I'd be sure to check The particular rifle I would take home if I were to buy one. Marlin's had a bad rep because they were taken over by a new company, and lost the old employees who knew how to use ancient worn equipment to make decent rifles.
The results were .... predictable.
But they've improved their product.
Still, check...keep your eyes open.


Mossberg makes what is basically an uprated Winchester 1894 that is reportedly pretty good. It isn't .45-45-670 though.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:05 PM   #8
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While we're waiting for Charlie to reply, let me ask a related question: How's the current quality of Marlin lever guns?
I have a .308 Marlin Express which I believe you have used to shock and awe some liters of orange soda.

I've only put a couple of dozen rounds through it but no issues thus far.

It needs a scout scope of some sort; I'm mulling that purchase even now.
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Old 08-14-2018, 08:20 AM   #9
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Our daughter has a Marlin that came with a scope. She removed it and put a set of Skinner sights on it, which is also easy to do compared to a Winchester. It is pretty accurate and the action is smooth if you work it hard.
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Old 08-14-2018, 09:03 AM   #10
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I hate those "why" questions because the people who could really answer them are long gone.

The short answer to Winchester v Marlin is that Winchester absolutely OWNED the lever action market for almost all of the 20th century and while scope mounting is a good point scopes were not nearly as popular as they are now.

As far as Marlin's products today are concerned I have had mixed results with two Camp carbines and another 9mm carbine. All had function and accuracy issues
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Old 08-14-2018, 10:32 AM   #11
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Charlie Petty,

I suspect that ONE reason is that MOST of the hunters who scoped rifles in my youth of well over a 1/2 century ago did NOT pick a LA for that task. = BA & pumps got scopes. LA's mostly were used with open sights & at hunting rangers of 100M or often much less.

just my opinion, sw
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:46 AM   #12
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I recall Jack O'Conner once noting that back in the 1940's he was in a deer camp with a bunch of guys. There were two guys from California who were the talk of the camp. One was Clark Gable, the other guy had a scope on his rifle.

The Camp Carbine was a decent idea very poorly implemented. My younger son picked up one maybe ten years ago and it broke stocks. Then it flat broke. I didn't manage to get it up and running until Ron Power started making some replacement parts. I also had to modify the factory new bolt catch to get it work as intended. The ejection is reminiscent of an HK G3-it really flings the brass, I expect the ejector design is responsible. The guys responsible for the fun of field stripping and re-assembling one need to be staked out on an ant hill. When it runs, it's accurate enough for it's intended use and decently reliable.


I've never owned any lever gun, but the Marlin is obviously a better design. Winchester had, back when, a reasonable product with a reputation. There's a slew of extinct (gun) companies that built a better product a bit later than whoever developed the market in the first place. I can't recall the source, but I once read that the gun that really won the west was the Spencer. Ollie just had better marketing flaks-and I think Spencer had financial problems. It's hard to sell a new product at full price when Uncle Sam was selling the same product used for a lot less as military surplus.

Last edited by William R. Moore; 08-15-2018 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:00 AM   #13
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Don't hold back... tell us what you really think.

You forgot to mention that each time you fired a shot you got a faceful of hot gas and powder residue

I agree that it was a good idea--- which is why I bought two of them... but neither one stuck around very long.
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