The Classic Marlin 39 Lever
The Marlin 39 would be the only lever action 22 long rifle manufactured for most of the 1950s. I consider them a true classic 22 caliber rifle of the 1950s. Would be interesting to know how many Marlin 39’s were sold as Christmas presents in the 1950’s. Many smiles and shouts for joy when those boxes were opened.
The 39’s would be wonderful rifles for young shooters to start out with. They were light and very easy to quickly site and shoot. And do it with good accuracy. They would also accept a scope that could be mounted nice and low. A young shooter could use this rifle without many issues.
But because they were well used they can be difficult to find in great condition. Would be interesting to know how many young hunters got their first rabbit with a Marlin 39A. It is also a good bet that most of those young shooters would not get rid of those rifles when they moved out on their own. Many would also hand the rifle down to their own children. Or they kept their Marlin 39 and got a new one for their children at Christmas.
If you still have your Model 39 you could certainly start to collect some of the many variations that the Marlin 39A had to offer from the 50’s and 60’s. A great Classic Firearm to Collect and enjoy.
In the 1954 advertisements for the Marlin model 39, there would be two models advertised. One would be the standard model 39A that would weigh about 6 3/4 pounds and had a list price of $60.00.
The other model would be the Marlin 39A, called the Mountie. This model would have a straight pistol grip stock. It would weigh 6 1/4 pounds and would retail for $60. This was the first year that the Mountie model would be offered.
The Mountie model is more desirable to the Marlin collectors because of the sleek style and smaller numbers made. They are a nice Marlin 22 caliber rifle.
The marlin-lever-action-rifles in the model 39 would be very popular in the 1950s and 60s. Many of these firearms were manufactured and can be found in fair numbers today. But finding them in excellent condition can be a problem as they were popular for hunting and shooting.
The Marlin 39 in excellent condition can be a great addition to any gun collection.
As a gunsmiths in the 1970s, 80s and 90s I was able to work on many of these classic Marlin lever action rifles. Some of the issues I would have with these firearms would be bad firing pins, weak extractors, weak hammers springs, and some issues with feeding. They were an easy firearm to work on and I always enjoyed working on them.
Because they were a popular firearm they would be one of those rifles that would be heavily used. They would come in for repairs that would be caused from neglect and poor maintenance. Usually both. I have mentioned many times in this website how cleaning of the 22 long rifle firearm is essential to keeping them in good and reliable shooting condition. 22’s will leave a lot of residue from the powder and if over oiled can create a heavy build up in the areas around the chamber and action.
I recommend the new type lubricants like Remoil and others for inside the actions of any 22 LR firearms. You do not need to over do it with those lubricants either. Using the Old style gun oils on the outside is fine and will not cost you a lot. If the Marlin 39 or any 22 rifles are seriously dirty you may need a gunsmith to strip and clean it. Keeping it clean would then be much easier to do and you would have a better shooting firearm. This would also help with keeping the value up if you do decide to sell it.
This is another one of those firearms that I would reblue quit a few of. Because many of them were sold and used a lot they would naturally show more wear. This is one rifle that I always ended up with great results from the bluing process. If you have someone reblue your Marlin 39A (especially older ones) make sure he is qualified. Most rebluing jobs are over polished. (For Classic Firearms) This is an area that I will give more details about in a separate article on this site.
It is interesting to note that I would be hired by the new Marlin firearms owners that moved the Marlin Gun Company to the Remington plant in Ilion, New York. I would be the first new employee to start assembling the Marlin model 39 in the Remington plant.
This is the only model that is still manufactured pretty much the same way that it was made and assembled in the 1950s. I really enjoyed working on the Marlin 39A and as a gunsmith enjoyed learning the manufacturing and assembly aspect of the Marlin lever action rifle.
I would have to leave the Remington and Marlin firearms facilities because of health problems and could not continue in the assembly line type environment.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time and experiences at the Remington Arms Company.
This is one firearm that still has a significant amount of parts available, along with its great design and ease of repairs. You can buy this firearm and be assured that parts and repairs will not be a problem in the years ahead. Many of the Marlin 39A parts can be interchanged with the guns of the 1950s.
They did manufacture many of these firearms but the ones with collector interest must be an excellent condition. If you can find the ones in great condition, I would give them a good rating.
Notes on Marlin model 39 (1950s era)
• Standard Model 39A : Mostly 3rd Variation (Ballard
rifling 1946-53), (Micro-Grove rifling started in 1954)
• Golden 39A : (Started 1957)
• 39 Mountie : ( 1953-72) 24 in. barrel is rare
• Look for rifles in excellent condition. (Watch for
Note: Primary focus is the 1950s and 60s.