A rifle that is brand new this year and will be ready just in time for fall is the Marlin 336 Dark .30-30 Win lever-action! At the NRA Show 2019, this past April Marlin unveiled two NEW Dark Series rifles for hunters and shooters to drool over: the 1895 Dark .45-70 Gov’t and 336 Dark .30-30 Win. Both of these rifles were the talk of the NRA Show because it blends modern ideas and styling without ruining the stalwart platform that is the lever-action. In this TFB Review, we are going to take a deep-dive look at the 336 Dark .30-30 Win to see if this rifle can satisfy the hearts of lever-action purists and those from a younger generation!
specifications: marlin 336 dark .30-30 win
With this new model of the Marlin 336 Dark, you receive the same familiar action so many of us have already trudged out into the woods with, but with a much more modern take on the idea of a lever-action. A threaded muzzle allows for a silencer or muzzle brake of your choice and a full rail over the receiver for a multitude of optics are some of the obvious highlights. The rest of the specifications as presented by Marlin can be read below:
- 5 Shot, Full-Length Tubular Magazine
- 16.25″ Barrel w/ Threaded Muzzle – 5/8″ x 24 TPI
- Parkerized Metal Finish
- XS Lever Rail w/ Ghost Ring Rear Sight
- Black Stock Painted w/ Black Webbing
- Paracord-Wrapped Big Loop Lever
- Paracord Sling
- Overall Length: 34.5″
- Approximate Weight: 7.65 Lbs.
With an MSRP of $949 it makes the Marlin 336 Dark .30-30 Win a pretty affordable option for a forward-thinking lever-action rifle. For those who might be inclined to add this lever-action to their cabinet of firearms, Marlin has these words to share to hopefully push you over the edge with a purchase:
The speed and accuracy of Marlin lever actions blacked-out and tricked out for the modern hunter. Our new Dark Series rifles feature a stealthy-tough black matte parkerized finish and a black-webbed hardwood stock, with a host of performance enhancements, including a threaded barrel, big-loop lever and XS Lever Rail with ghost ring peep that also accommodates a wide variety of optics.
first impressions: marlin 336 dark .30-30 win
My first impressions of this rifle were short-lived because the first time I saw it was at the NRA Show when it was unveiled. I unfortunately only saw the rifle in passing, but my interest was already piqued. All kinds of people in attendance and my colleagues were talking about it so I thought I gotta try this gun out!
The first thing I noticed was the threaded muzzle that looked like it was yearning to host a suppressor. Most lever-action rifles do not have threaded muzzles, and if they do you are looking at a $1K+ firearm or something very niche from a Custom Shop. So to get a standard thread of 5/8″ x 24 TPI muzzle was a big plus in my eyes.
Another element I appreciated was the XS Lever Rail with a Ghost Ring Rear Sight paired with the White-on-Black Front Post. A traditional semi-buckhorn rear sight might be more true to form for a lever-action, but in all of my experiences hunting a ghost ring rear sight is much faster and easier to shoot. The fact that it is coupled with a rail makes it that much easier to add on a red dot or riflescope of your choosing as well.
One thing I love about all Marlin lever-actions, and this rifle is no exception, is the buttery smooth action. It is not clunky in the least. From front-to-back and slow-or-fast, it is a very smooth action that not only makes it easier to manipulate the firearm but more enjoyable as well. Compared to competing lever guns, the smooth stroke of a Marlin is something to be admired.
This rifle is also outfitted with paracord strapped around the loop which I appreciated. So whether you are cycling the lever with a bare or gloved hand, it is much easier on your knuckles and fingers at the end of the day. You also get a matching paracord sling which is a nice compliment. I personally am not a sling guy; I prefer to tote my rifles around by hand and have them at the ready if they are not cased. Nonetheless, I still thought that was a nice addition to this package.
Finally, the paracord sling would be incomplete if the rifle did not have sling swivel studs on it (which it indeed did). This affords the shooter the option to utilize the paracord sling that is provided, add a bi-pod of their choosing, or any other accessory that they may like. All in all, without having shot the rifle at this point the Marlin 336 Dark has a lot of thoughtful elements to it.
range time: marlin 336 dark .30-30 win
After I finalized all of my preliminary fondling of this rifle, I dug out some old ammunition of mine and headed out to the pasture to begin shooting. When I say I brought with some old ammo, that is being pretty polite to the ammo I drug with because most of the boxes were deteriorating from old age. These were the 3 flavors I scrounged up:
- Winchester Super-X 150 Grain Power-Point
- Remington Kleanbore 170 Grain Core-Lokt
- Winchester Super-X 170 Silvertip Expanding
Once I began to shoot the rifle at roughly 50 yards there were several things that I noticed. For one, the big loop to this lever made it very fast to shoot! I love lever-actions, but it is not a platform that I personally shoot a ton. Maybe a few times a year in the fall before deer hunting and that is about it, but this rifle made me feel more proficient and quicker than I normally am.
The paracord strapped and weaved around the loop turned out to be really nice padding for my hand. The longer I shot the giddier I became; thus, the faster I wanted to shoot. So the addition of that paracord was exactly what someone would need with a rifle like this.
Finally, this rifle was very accurate with the XS Sight Front Post and Ghost Ring Rear Sight Peep. I did not bag this thing down, throw a gnarly scope on it, and measure my groups with a micrometer. To me, that is not what this gun is for. It is a modern man’s ranch gun and it should be able to hit Minute of Deer at 100 yards or less with just the iron sights. So I shot it off-hand from 50 – 100 yards and with my ancient (and somewhat suspect) ammunition I was shooting 2″ – 3″ groups all day long.
People can debate this in the Comments later, but to shoot off-hand with no support and dirty ol’ ammo I was quite happy with the results. If I am hunting and kick up a deer under 100 yards and only use the iron sights, that is guaranteed venison in the freezer! If someone outfitted this with a nice scope, sat on a bench, and used some ammunition made in the last 30 years, I would not be surprised in the least to see it shoot 1″ or better considering how well everything else on this rifle is constructed.
final thoughts: marlin 336 dark .30-30 win
After seeing the Marlin 336 Dark at the NRA Show in April, and then having the opportunity to play with one extensively, I can honestly say I am really impressed. The overall footprint of this rifle is great because of its compact size. This is something I could easily tote around on a 4-wheeler, carry around with good maneuverability in the woods, and it is plenty light to be able to pack it around all day long.
Another thing that is a big plus to me is the forward-thinking threaded muzzle for making it a great suppressor host. Maybe I have been hanging out with our Editor Pete too much, but I am love with shooting everything suppressed whenever possible. Less recoil, less muzzle flip, less noise, the positives can go on and on.
Finally, the Marlin 336 Dark is as smooth and accurate as I could have hoped for. I know some people might have a bone to pick with me because I did not do some scientific accuracy test with spreadsheet data to match, but you have to remember what this is. It is a lever-action; moreover, a small one meant to be a ranch rifle. Something you can literally buzz around your ranch all day with.
In closing, I want to say THANK YOU to Marlin for allowing TFB and myself the opportunity to try out one of their newest lever-actions! That is greatly appreciated. Also, we would like to know what all of you guys and gals think? Do you believe that the Marlin 336 Dark is finally the modern lever-action we have all been waiting for that is not too over the top yet blends in modern features we could all appreciate? Let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
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