The Marlin Model 60 is a semi-automatic hunting rifle chambered in .22 LR. Marlin has sold more than 11 million Model 60s since its introduction in 1960 and dubs it “the most popular .22 in the world.” One explanation for that, it has always sold for a cheap price—even today it sells for less than $200—but it also shoots easy-to-find and reasonably priced ammo.
Features include a tubular magazine that’s non-detachable and runs along the barrel. Rounds are fed through the front of the tube and it chambers like a shotgun—a spring pushes the round down after the bolt chambers one. The barrel has Marlin’s “micro-grooves,” which carves 16 grooves into the bore and ideally better controls the projectile as it travels through the barrel in turn improving accuracy. On the tip of the barrel is a precision crown that improves barrel harmonics, so the barrel doesn’t vibrate too much and throw of the round’s trajectory. And, it has the patented “last-shot bolt hold open,” where the bolt stays open after the last round is fired similar to when the bolt catches on a magazine on a magazine-fed rifle.
Marlin recommends the Model 60 for hunting varmint, small game and target shooting.
|Sights:||Adjustable rear sight and ramp front sight|
|Features:||Tubular magazine; precision crown muzzle; cross bolt safety; 19" micro-grooved barrel; and patented last-shot bolt hold open|
|Scope:||Drilled and tapped for scope mounts|
|Twist:||1 in 16"|
Since the introduction of the Marlin Model 60 in 1960 it has become possibly the best-selling .22 LR semi-automatic rifle of all time. While many different variants have been produced over the last half century, nothing really substantial about the design has changed. The gun shoots as accurately as semi-automatic .22s go.
It has a fixed, tubular magazine with a capacity usually of 16 or 18 rounds (this varies among rifles sold in places with laws limiting their magazine capacity). The barrel features Marlin’s proprietary ‘Micro-Groove’ rifling and the rifle will typically be quite accurate within 50 yards or so right out of the box using the open sights.
The Model 60 is good for plinking and hunting small game. I’ve personally used it for squirrels and tin cans and in a pinch I once used mine to put down a badly-injured deer by the side of the road.
In spite of its low cost, I cannot recommend the 60 as a youth rifle. Even though it is both inexpensive and chambered for the .22 LR, the overall proportions of the Model 60 are decidedly adult.
The Model 60’s chief competition is now the Ruger 10/22. In truth, despite my own history with the Model 60, it is lacking in quality compared to the 10/22. The rifle has a cheap feel about it, from the stock screws that look like something from my old kitchen cabinets, to the rolled-up piece of sheet metal that passes for a magazine. I suppose that this is how Marlin keeps the rifle affordable, but spending a little bit more money elsewhere gets you a much nicer rifle.
The magazine is loaded by pulling a long brass tube out of the end of the magazine and dropping the cartridges in one at a time. This operation is awkward and while it technically works, it makes the gun feel even cheaper. My own Model 60 has always been fussy about what ammunition will feed properly and it has a tendency to stovepipe rounds now and then (a type of jam you’ll know when you see). Compared to other semi-automatic .22s I’ve gotten to know very well, the Model 60 has tended to jam more.
Marlin is capable of making better .22 rifles. Their Model 925 bolt action, with the same barrel as the Model 60, is an excellent rifle for the money. Rather than picking up a new Model 60, I would suggest that anyone looking for a semi-automatic .22 should consider a used Ruger 10/22 for about the same price. Even brand new, the Ruger will only cost about $40 more than the Marlin and it opens up a whole world of aftermarket parts that don’t exist for the Model 60.