Marlin’s original Model 336 lever action defined generations of deer hunters. The design is now 75 years old, but the road hasn’t always been smooth. Early models have always been favored, but after John Marlin’s company changed hands numerous times over the years, the line went dead. 

Flash forward to 2023. Ruger has taken ownership and is righting the ship. On the heels of a family of recently reintroduced Marlin Model 1895s, the brand is shipping the first “new” Model 336 Classics. Could they be the greatest yet? Let’s find out. 
 

Table of Contents

Video
The New Ruger-built Marlin 336 Classic
Defining the 336 Classic
Field Notes
Range Time
What’s Next for Marlin
Customer Reviews

Video
 

 

The New Ruger-built Marlin 336 Classic

 

Older Marlin 336 with new Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
An older Marlin 336, at top, versus the new Ruger Marlin 336 Classic, below. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The firearms world went gaga when Ruger rolled out its initial go at Marlin lever guns with the stunning stainless and laminate Model 1895 SBL in .45-70 Government. Several variants – including the Trapper and Guide Gun – followed, yet fans of the venerable 336 impatiently pouted with hands on hips. Well, now those pouts can be replaced with grins. 
 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
Our test 336 Classic came chambered in .30-30 Win, but Ruger plans to add more calibers in the near future. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


We were lucky to get our hands on one of the early 336s. It wears a 20.25-inch cold-hammer-forged alloy steel barrel. Sights are the standard semi-buckhorn rear with a hooded brass bead front. Furniture is American black walnut with checkered grip panels. The rifle’s capacity is 6+1 rounds of old-school deer medicine. There’s a gold trigger and thin red rubber buttpad. The rifle weighs in at 7.5 pounds and lists with a retail price of $1,239.

At the time of this writing, the first 336s are trickling off production lines in .30-30 Win. Ruger leaked word that the .35 Remington chambering will be available in the future, though no time frame has yet been set. 
 

Related: New Ruger Marlin 336 Classic Lever Gun in .30-30
 

Defining the 336 Classic

 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
The Marlin horse and rider logo appears on the buttstock ... (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


There’s no denying that the retail cost is higher than 336s have been set in the past – though not out of line with comparable builds these days – but what do buyers get in return? Ruger has been clear that the receiver, lever, and trigger guard plate are all CNC-machined from alloy steel forgings. 

Branding is clearly exhibited throughout the build. The black grip cap medallion shows a silver horse and rider logo, which also appears on the center of the buttpad. The pad itself is pure Ruger style with the same reddish hue found on many Ruger long guns.  
 

Older Marlin 336 with new Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
... as well as on the grip cap. Note the change to the red-and-white bullseye inlay from the older black-and-white version shown at top. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


Following suit from the Model 1895, Ruger shifts gears to a red-and-white stock inlay, playing off the old standard black-and-white bullseye made famous by Marlin. If you’re still not sure whether you have a hot new 336 Classic, Ruger is stamping the barrels “made in Mayodan, NC USA,” and the serial number sees an “RM” prefix. 

Ruger brass advertises upgraded manufacturing and quality control, as “improved manufacturing processes create tight tolerances, resulting in a reliable, attractive rifle.” 
 

Related: New Marlin 1895 SBL – Meet the Highly Anticipated Ruger-Built Lever Action
 

Field Notes

 

Older Marlin 336 with new Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
The slim standard finger lever is contoured to the stock for aesthetically pleasing lines and a comfortable grip. Note the gold trigger on the new rifle. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


This 336 Classic, like earlier versions, comes out of the box feeling solid and compact, yet with its heft well-balanced. Fit and finish on this newbie is tight with clear attention to detail. The 13.38-inch length of pull gives the rifle a wieldy feel, with the 38.6-inch overall metrics offering a maneuverable firearm. To that end, the rubber buttpad is quite thin, but still adequate for managing the already tame recoil of a .30-30 Win, especially in an almost 8-pound rifle when fully dressed. Sling studs are a practical addition, as these rigs are often carried on the hunt. 

With a satin blued metalwork finish, the 336 Classic certainly appeases the contingent of traditional hunters wanting glare-free finishes partnered with hardwood. The 336 loads with Marlin’s standard receiver loading gate into the full-length tubular magazine. An offset hammer spur extension is included – a welcome addition for hunters who plan to add a riflescope. 
 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
The updated 336 uses both a crossbolt manual safety and the standby half-cock hammer. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The newbie uses both a crossbolt manual safety and the standby half-cock hammer. That crossbolt safety, located at the rear of the receiver, can be operated pretty quietly if needed should the quarry be in earshot. The receiver is drilled and tapped for standard scope bases, though some shooters may stick with the iron sights. 
 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
Sights are an old-school rear buckhorn with a hooded front to prevent snags. (Photos: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The rear buckhorn is old-style with the elevator, with a practical hood on the front to prevent snags. Upgrading to a rear peep will likely prove a popular option for some shooters as well. The slim standard finger lever follows the contour of the semi-pistol grip stock design for aesthetically pleasing lines and a comfortable grip. 
 

Range Time

 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
Solid and compact, the 336 Classic balances well and is short enough to be easily maneuvered. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


The new website indicates that the rifle “reliably feeds a wide range of .30-30 Win factory ammunition and bullet types” – a nod to issues with some lever guns feeding certain bullet types in the past. To put that claim to the test, we headed to the range with a healthy can full of varied .30-30 ammo: Hornady LeveRevolution 160-grain FTX, Federal Non Typical 150-grain SP, Hornady American Hunter 150-grain Interlock, and Winchester Super-X 170-grain

The latest 336 offers a 1:12 rifling with six grooves, which easily stabilized the full range of bullet weights and types. That style of rifling marks a direct shift away from Marlin’s micro-groove rifling of decades past. 
 

Ruger Marlin 336 Classic .30-30 Winchester Lever Action Rifle
Our test gun ran flawlessly through several types of ammo with pleasing accuracy. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/Guns.com)


We did accuracy tests from both 50 and 100 yards. At 100, the iron sights proved a bit more difficult for aging eyes, yet we came up with groups more than practical for hunting – minute of deer heart, no doubt. Certainly, adding a quality optic would tighten things up considerably. 

It is important to note that our test rifle’s trigger measured from 7.25-7.75 pounds on a Lyman digital pull gauge. There’s a tiny amount of creep at the beginning of the pull, but for the most part, we were able to get comfortable with shooting the rig after a little range time. After all, .30-30 lever guns are not precision rifles, but rather, practical close-to-mid-range hunters. 

Of particular note, the fresh 336 Classic cycled all ammunition with ease, proving the company’s claim. 
 

What’s Next for Marlin?

We already know – and are eagerly awaiting – the .35 Remington’s brush-busting addition to the Ruger-Marlin 336 Classic family after far too long. But what else might be in store from Ruger? 

We're told a revamped Model 1894 chambering revolver rounds is coming. In fact, the first are expected in summer 2023, though we wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t hit until later in the year. For now, all we know is that we’ll be enjoying the heck out of this fresh take called the 336 Classic with a bright future in American lever guns. 

Customer Reviews

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