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Marlin Levermatics

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http://sigforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/630601935/m/9800017674

November 17, 2020, 01:33 AM
92fstech
Marlin Levermatics
The other day I was in the LGS and saw a gun I'd never heard of on the shelf. It was a Marlin 57 lever-action in .22LR. It looked pretty clean, and I'm a sucker for a nice Marlin, but I'd never heard of this one before. They were only asking $300 for it, but I was already in the process of an unplanned Ruger MkII purchase when I saw it, and knew that I was already going to be on thin ice when I got home, so being unfamiliar with the model I left it there (if it had been a 39m, it would have come home with me, consequences be damned, lol).

I did a little lurking tonight over on the Marlin forum (not a member there), and from what I see, the 57 is a member of the Marlin Levermatic family, which were offered in .22LR, .22 Mag, .30 Carbine, and .256 Win Mag. In .22LR the gun was offered in a tube mag configuration as the model 57, or with a box mag as the model 56. Like many Marlins, these guns were also sold with different model designations under store brand names. Supposedly the bolt has a very short throw, but the design is more complicated than the more traditional leverguns.

The one-piece stock design looks to me like it would lend itself well to adding a scope, which is something I typically shy away from on a traditional levergun, but in this case if the platform is mechanically sound, I think it would make a nifty little scoped hunting rifle.

There seems to be a small cult following for these things over on the Marlin forum, but not being a member there I can't post to ask about them. Additionally, I've found that while die-hard collectors are great for technical info about their particular firearm interest, they're not always the best ones to look to for unbiased opinions about whether on not one should consider purchasing one. So I turn to my trusted friends here at Sigforum for a well-rounded opinion...is the Levermatic something worth picking up if it's still there when I go back, or if I ever come across another one? Or should I stick to my simpler, more traditional lever-actions and forget I ever saw the thing?
November 17, 2020, 06:42 AM
Micropterus
I've never owned one, but it's a Marlin classic. If it's reasonably priced, buy it. I would. No way I've pass it up if it's priced right and in good condition. That'd be an impulse buy for me.

And if you like Marlins, or any guns, that's a good forum. One of only three currently I participate on.


_____________
"I enter a swamp as a sacred place—a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength—the marrow of Nature." - Henry David Thoreau
November 17, 2020, 01:50 PM
92fstech
Yeah, I almost just grabbed it, but I knew my wife was not going to be thrilled with the other gun purchase...2 might have pushed her over the edge. And I'd already done my research on the Ruger...I didn't know anything about the Marlin. I'll probably kick myself later for not grabbing it, too, but I have no regrets about getting the Ruger.

From the thread on the Marlin forum, I saw some comments about bad triggers with limited potential for improvement, broken firing pins, and worn out hammer springs. And I gather that with a discontinued product of this vintage, replacement parts are hard to find. I don't mind a little project here and there, but I don't want to end up with something that doesn't work that I can't get parts to fix.

I have no doubt that the Marlin forum folks are good people...but this is my place, I feel at home here, and I don't have an established presence anywhere else. Sigforum's membership can always be counted on to have a broad range of experience, and I figured I could find an unbiased opinion here. I think if we wait long enough, somebody will come along here who's owned one of these and be able to give us the scoop Smile.
November 17, 2020, 03:59 PM
jhe888
I have a vague memory of those, but I have never fired or handled one.

The .30 carbine model seems especially interesting. Or the .256, if the cartridge wasn't such an oddball.




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November 17, 2020, 05:05 PM
barryinpa
I have a 57M, don't shoot it much anymore as I have lots of small centerfire rifles I load for, but for a 22 mag it shoots well. that is a fair price for any 57 in decent shape.
Barry
November 17, 2020, 06:11 PM
92fstech
Barry, any reliability issues? How is the trigger?
November 17, 2020, 06:53 PM
Rolan_Kraps
We need to see pictures!




Rolan Kraps
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Gainesville, Georgia.
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November 18, 2020, 05:04 PM
barryinpa
quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
Barry, any reliability issues? How is the trigger?

never had any issues with feeding or ejection or anything else. as far as the trigger, not too bad, but not like a nice bolt action or anything. these were made back when people cared about what they built for the most part. I really should dig it out now I am retired, but having a couple of 25-20's, a hornet and a 218 bee, I just like to shoot so I can reload some more.
Barry
November 18, 2020, 07:14 PM
P220 Smudge
quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
The .30 carbine model seems especially interesting.


Yeah, that really caught my attention. That would be a neat cartridge in a levergun. It would have made more sense back then with the surplus ammo situation being what it was, but I can see the appeal of such a rifle or carbine even today.


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November 19, 2020, 12:47 AM
92fstech
quote:
Originally posted by P220 Smudge:
quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
The .30 carbine model seems especially interesting.


Yeah, that really caught my attention. That would be a neat cartridge in a levergun. It would have made more sense back then with the surplus ammo situation being what it was, but I can see the appeal of such a rifle or carbine even today.


The one I saw was 22lr, but I agree, its a pretty interesting concept. As a reloader, even the .256 would be an interesting round. It seems it can be easily produced from .357 Mag brass. That would sure make a handy little woods gun.
November 19, 2020, 05:18 AM
gearhounds
That is a pretty good price for a Levermatic. I have a weakness for JM marked, pre-Remington made guns. My hopes are high that Ruger will jumpstart the return to better QC than the idiots at Remarlington.




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November 19, 2020, 06:03 AM
Oz_Shadow
Looks like someone converted a 60 to a lever gun. Never had an issue with any Marlin.
November 19, 2020, 07:32 AM
92fstech
quote:
Originally posted by Oz_Shadow:
Looks like someone converted a 60 to a lever gun. Never had an issue with any Marlin.


Funny you should say that....it kinda does. But the 60 is the only Marlin I've ever had unresolvable problems with (mine was an absolute jammomatic...couldn't get through a full mag), and the only one I've ever sold.
January 13, 2021, 02:51 PM
92fstech
Well, this story took an interesting turn today, and kind of came to a conclusion so far as I am concerned. I was at a different LGS, and saw another one of these on the rack. It was a model 56...the box magazine fed .22LR variant. This is the one that really intrigued me, so I got excited when I saw it. They wanted $329 for it, which seemed fair.

I actually picked it up, handled it, and worked the lever this time. Sadly, I was unimpressed. The gun is quite a bit heavier and feels more bulky than my 39a. It lacks the simple handiness that I love about lever-actions. The lever throw, while short (probably about 30-45 degrees), is stiff and mushy. It starts out fine...at the beginning of the stroke it unlocks the bolt crisply, and then begins to travel just like any other lever action. Then about halfway through the stroke it begins to get gradually stiffer until it stops under what feels like spring tension. There's no positive tactile stop, or the crisp, mechanical feel of the more traditional lever-actions. It's hard to judge by feel when the bolt is fully-open, and seems like it would be easy to short-stroke.

After handling it, I realized that the only real reason I would consider buying it would be to add it to my Marlin collection...it wouldn't see any significant range time as long as I still own a 39. In a perfect world, that would be enough, but as things are I can't justify owning a gun that won't get shot.
January 13, 2021, 08:56 PM
YooperSigs
I would not try to alter your decision to pass up the gun. But, I have often found that used guns, especially .22LRs, are filthy to the point of being nearly inoperable. Once I cleaned them up, they worked like new. Given the age of the Levermatic, I would guess that this may be the case.
A little intergoogling says the Model 56 was in production from 1955 to 1964 and its design internally is probably not really easy to take down and clean.
65 years of gunk in it!


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Upper Peninsula: 4 Miles
January 14, 2021, 02:40 PM
92fstech
That's a good point, and I'm not sure what the internals looked like. Just the weight and balance by itself, though, even if the feel of the action cleans up somewhat, is off enough that I just don't see it competing with the 39 for range time. It is an interesting gun, though...if I sit here and think about it long enough who knows what might happen!