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Browning’s BAR Mark III – Hell’s Canyon Speed and B movie carpenter ant carnage

Carpenter ants, contrary to the suggestion of their name, do not provide productive wood working services. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood. Instead, they chew it into fine sawdust and push it out behind them like a miniature bucket brigade, as they dig tunnels to hold their progeny and the royal spouse. When they dig enough tunnels, the structure they’ve invaded begins to fall apart, piece by piece, until the structure’s walls collapse, leaving the  occupant, sitting at his or her desk, staring out at the great outdoors.

I was over at the shop, typing away about the project rifle, when a large carpenter any walked across my desk, climbed over my calculator, jumped up onto my keyboard and disappeared between the keys. So I flipped the keyboard, tapped him out and squished him with the heel of my hand. Blood lust sated, I went back to clicking away when numbers 2 and 3 of the pine pinchers followed the same track and came to the same conclusions. Looking down at the floor, five or six were in view, attempting to push my roll chair away from a bare patch of plank flooring; squish, squish, squish, squish, squish… squish.

Six non-repelling foggers, eight strategically placed Boric Acid traps, two cans of ant killing foam,  three gallons of Taurus SC on foundation and outer walls, seven days of shoveling ant bodies off the floor every morning in ever diminishing quantities and, finally, I have my favorite type of ant… dead. It’s always hunting season somewhere. Speaking of hunting season and firearms.. with a little Brandi Carlile in the background…

John Browning began his excursion into an automatic rifle design in 1910 in anticipation of a coming military application. Design complete, but no immediate military procurement takers, Browning watched as Woodrow Wilson sat on his hands from 1914 and watched World War I unfolded in Europe. With U.S. participation in the war imminent, the government officially sought what Browning was selling. On February 27, 1917, the 30-06 Springfield chambered BAR was assigned the designation M1918.

The original BAR weighed 16 pounds, had a 20 round magazine capacity and cyclic rate of 480 rounds per minute. It is a long stroke gas operated, open bolt design. In various forms, in various chambers, for U.S. and various other government, new models were introduced through 1939. In production through 1945, they remained in U.S. military service throughout the Vietnam years. All totaled, over 350,000 units were produced for both military and civilian markets, with the civilian market concluding with punitive taxes and registration under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Maybe some Jackson Browne…

John Browning did design a semi automatic high power rifle, the FN 1900 High Power Rifle. A long recoil design, based on the Browning Auto 5 shotgun, it was manufactured and sold in Belgium for sales outside of the United States between 1910 and 1931 with a total run of approximately 5,000 units. The same design, under license to Remington, went into U.S. production beginning in 1905 as the Remington Auto Loading Rifle, which became the Model 8, then the Model 81. The design remained in production through 1950.

The modern semi automatic BAR… designed by John Browning descendant Bruce Browning , was introduced in 1967 into civilian markets. A short stroke gas operated, closed bolt design, it was initially available in 243 Winchester, 270 Winchester, 308 Winchester, and 30-06 Springfield. Its 7 lug, rotating bolt head contributed greatly to the gun’s strength and accuracy and the BAR was less than half the weight of its automatic name sake. In 1969, a magnum capable version was produced, which added the 300 Winchester Magnum chamber to the cartridge line up.

In 1993, the BAR received a refined gas operating system and a redesigned modular, easy to remove trigger assembly and became the BAR Mark II. Carried forward was the full selection of BAR chambers, which by then had been extended to include the 7mm Remington Magnum and 338 Winchester Magnum.

Through 1997, all Browning BAR rifles had been produced only with a steel receiver. In 1997, the BAR Mark II Lightweight was added with a receiver fashioned from aluminum, or al-lu-min-um as we British say. No, I’m not British. Second generation American of Etruscan descent, actually. I don’t know why I said I was British. I just always wanted to say “Bond. James Bond” properly… but that’s all in the past. Anyway…

The BAR Mark 3 was announced in early 2016 as a refinement to the Mark II. A slight change in receiver profile, a synthetic material trigger housing and floorplate and shims that are supplied with each BAR that facilitate adjusting stock drop and cast.  The subject rifle shares features common to all Mark IIIs and some that are unique.

The BAR’s hammer-forged barrel has a sporter contour, fluted for light weight and improved cooling, which terminates in a target crown. The chamber is chrome plated. The Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish that covers all metallic surfaces provides greater protection from the elements and wear than bluing or stainless steel.

The trigger housing and hinged floor plate are constructed of durable, all weather polymer. The magazine box and follower are steel and is removable, however, loading with the box in place is an easier proposition. The floorplate is just forward of the trigger guard, in the shape of a… trigger.

Welcome to Dustfest 2019! Oil, backwoods Maine shop… it was bound to happen. In any event, the BAR bolt head rotates and interlocks locks with lugs in the rifles barrel extension. The bolt face is recessed to provide additional case head support. The ejector is spring loaded and uniformly boots empties out of the ejector port. The bolt head locking lugs are located radially in three rows, 120° apart; two rows of two lugs and one row of three for a total of seven. The BAR’s Bolt action strength permits permits chambering for high pressure magnum cartridges.

The short stroke gas system hiding under the BAR’s forearm is straight forward. Below, top with bolt in battery, inertia piece is forward under load by the action spring. The gas piston is seated in the gas cylinder. When fired, below lower image, the gas piston is driven out, smacks the inertia piece and drives it aft by overpowering the action spring. The bolt unlocks and is driven full rearward, before returning and stripping a cartridge from the magazine, driving it home into the chamber and causing the bolt head to move into battery and rotating into the locked position. At the conclusion, the assembly will again look like the below, upper image.

The gas system is not adjustable. It is set at the factory, with one from a selection of gas regulators at the front of the gas cylinder is installed based on cartridge. Where does the excess gas go? The interior of the forearm is protected with a metal heat shield and the top of the forearm that hugs the barrel has two relief slots that vent the gas bleed. There was no factory or handload run through the BAR that didn’t function reliably in the subject rifle, so the system is quite tolerant.


Control layout is clean and appropriately placed. Of course, with the forearm in place, the bolt lock is covered with the exception of its operating handle.

Trigger group removal is straight forward; press out pins, lift out trigger. I suspect the more difficult task would be finding a legitimate reason to remove it as it stay clean in use.

The Browning BAR has a relatively long length of pull at 14 3/8″, which doesn’t feel overly long when shooting. The drop at the comb is 5/8″, the drop at the heel is 1 1/8″. What does that mean? It depends on the shooter. For my purposes, mounting a scope with a 30mm tube on a low rail, with low rings, cleared the objective bell and plopped the eyepiece centered on my eye, with my check resting on the stock’s comb. The BAR does come with 5 shims that locate the buttstock in a neutral position, comb 1/16″ up, 1/16″ down and cast off and cast on by 1/8″. Shims can not be used in multiples.

Yes, I did put it back together and subsequently shot the BAR

Ammunition Bullet Type Bullet
24″ BBL
100 YD
3 Shot
Group “
Remington Core-Lokt Soft Point Jacketed Lead
150 2820 2760 1.1
Federal Power Shok Hollow Point All Copper 150 2820 2735 0.9
Federal Big Game Poly Tip Jacketed Lead 165 2700 2552 0.9
Federal Edge/TLR Poly Tip Jacketed Lead 175 2600 2530 1.6

In live fire, there were a couple of anomalies.  The first being the substantial drop in velocity between rated and actual with Federal Big Game 165 grain ammunition , which was disproportionate to the delta with other ammunition. I went back and checked results with this ammunition and other 308 Winchester chambered firearm with the same and differing barrel lengths and found pretty much the same result. I think this is a Federal issue and not a Browning rifle issue.

The second anomaly was the shot-to-shot point of impact spread with Federal Edge TLR. The same ammunition shot an exceptional 0.3″ group in a Winchester XPR with a 20″ barrel and with the same 1:12″ twist, although Winchester has since changed the XPR twist rate of this rifle to 1:10″ to accommodate… stabilize newer, longer bullet designs.

Left to right: 175 grain Berger VLD 1.297″ long, 175 grain Federal Edge TLR 1.461″ and 180 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter 1.210″. Mostly conjecture, but I would guess the Federal Edge TLR was just a poor choice for this rifle, which didn’t seem to appreciate the Edge’s exceptionally long bullet length, low velocity and low rotational speed.

Federal, and others, offer alternatives in 180 grain weight or lighter but with significantly higher velocity. They can cover 500 yards of ballistics as well as the Edge and they will reliably group near or sub MOA in the Browning BAR. An excellent performer is the Hornady 165 grain SST Superformance, but I ran out of time so it didn’t make the arts and charts. Rated 2840 fps MV, it recorded 2822 fps and it outperforms the 175 grain Federal even out at 500 yards. Preliminary 3 shot 100 yard group size was 0.8″.

What do I think? What do I think?

Browning BAR Mark III – Hell’s Canyon Speed

Manufactured Belgium/Portugal
Item # 031064218
Type Gas Operated Auto Loader
Caliber 308 Winchester
Mag Capacity 4
Barrel 22″ Fluted
Rifling 1:12″
6 Lbs 10 Oz
Overall Length 44 1/8″
Stock Composite A-TACS AU
Receiver Material
Aluminum Alloy
Barrel Material
Alloy Steel
Metallic Parts Finish
Burnt Bronze Cerakote
Length of Pull 14 3/8″
Drop at comb* 5/8″
Drop at heel* 1 1/8“
Sights None
Scope Drilled and Tapped
Trigger 3 Lbs 12 Oz.
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $1,599.99
* Adjustable with included shims

The Browning BAR is the only Browning firearm that is manufactured in Belgium and assembled in Portugal. The rifle reflects quality of fit and finish and careful handling during assembly, throughout.

The BAR is hand filling, but light and well balanced. I know, it sounds like I’m judging beer, however, I think this is a… personality unique to the BAR. Usually, lighter rifles have skinny forearms, cheek mugging combs and narrow pistol grips. The BAR is hand filling, forearm and grip for a very secure hold and the comb height and roll is spot on for scope alignment, support and comfort.

The rifle has a very natural point and it tracks an imaginary moving target well. I did not want to mention the unscathed, rapidly moving squirrels I actually use for the assessment for fear of being accused of traumatizing a tree rat. Recoil with the 308 Winchester cartridge is moderate at most and the BAR has an excellent recoil pad. For some reason, the barrel seems to remain mostly nose down, making follow on shots doable. The over molded grip surfaces provide serious traction even in wet weather, which was most of the recent weather in Maine.

I wasn’t sure about the Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish. Was it too… avant-garde for an old guy like me? Would the other kids laugh at me? I finally decided that the color was muted… subdued and looked nice and that it was the name that bugged me. I don’t think you can burn bronze without it turning black, but then I guess you can’t burn umber, either.

Trigger.. Huh… The trigger has minimal pretravel and pull was light in the context of a rifle that would be used for hunting at 3 3/4 lbs. There is no noticeable overtravel but, yes, there is a modest amount of creep. Or, I could have an overly sensitive trigger finger. For me, I believe it is the nature of semi auto rifles that almost always have long hammer travel and use an exaggerated hook arrangement to engage the sear. It is the kind of creep you only feel when you are dragging trigger pull in slow motion, checking for creep, but never when you are actually shooting. Can the creep be removed? Sure.

Good firearm, good quality and reliable function; all things we’ve come to expect from Browning.

Smith & Wesson’s X frame 460 S&W Magnum Part II Smith & Wesson's Performance Center Model 460XVR 14"

As addressed in “Smith & Wesson’s X frame 460 S&W Magnum Part I – Ronald Reagan and the S&W X Frame Magnums”, setting aside a sensationalizing gun press, the X Frame S&W 460s are just accessory accommodating, hunting handguns with appropriate length barrels and a useful capacity. If you are a medium to big game…

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Ruger American® Rifle with Vortex® Crossfire II® Riflescope A rifle with serious Fall potential

When my wife and I moved from California to Maine, it didn’t take long to figure out it was time to put some toys aside as they were not suitable for Maine roads, Maine weather or Maine parking lots. So out went the cars with German and Italian names and Japanese and American motorcycles, and…

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Ruger’s PC Carbine – Chassis Edition Nothing less could be expected

When the Ruger PC Carbine was reintroduced a pistol caliber carbine in December 2017 and Ruger aptly dubbed it… the PC Carbine, I was shocked, amazed and awestruck. In fact, I distinctly remember thought bubbling, “Huh? Wait.. What?”. Now there are fifteen models and they are popping up like Tribbles. The PC Carbines are all well made, function reliably and are a manifestation of thoughtful engineering. The PC Carbine is fun to shoot and both 9mm Luger and 40 S&W ammo are relatively inexpensive in factory or handloaded form.

Truth be told, when introduced, the PC Carbine’s looks and system origins caused me to dub them a firearm platypus; a unification of high functioning systems that might, in some ways, lack aesthetic synergy. That began to change substantially when Ruger offered configurations with free-float handguards and then finished the job with this chassis system version. The platypus has evolved into a pit bull or, at the very least, a honey badger with significant attitude. There is more. The Ruger PC Carbine clearly is the nucleus of a highly configurable system, with growing support from both Ruger and third party suppliers of parts and accessories.


Ruger PC Chassis Carbine

Company Ruger
Point of Manufacturer Newport, NH
Model #
Type of Action Dead Blow = Blowback
Caliber 9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity *17
Magazine Type RugerSR9 / Glock
Barrel Length
16.12″ 1/2″- 28 Muzzle threads
Barrel Material Chrome-Moly
Barrel Finish Black Oxide
Rifling Twist Rate 1:10″ RH 6 Groove
Receiver Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Receiver Finish
Type III Hard Coat
M-Lok Free-Float
Handguard Material
Anodized Aluminum
Chassis System
Chassis Material Glass Filled Polymer
Buttstock Type Magpul MOE, Aluminum Mount
Length of Pull 10.5″ – 13.75″
Comb Above Bore ℄
Heel Above Bore ℄
Sight Accommodation
Picatinny Rail
Aux Sight Mount
Picatinny Rail
Trigger Type 10/22 Derivative
Weight – Actual
7.3 Lbs
Overall Length 32.25 – 35.50″
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $799.00


A not so quick walk-around

I think we get most of the salient controls and hardware in the above shot. The cross bolt safety is positive in actuation and it is easy to read its status. The charging handle, shipped right side, can be installed for either left or right side operation. The magazine release is supplied installed on the left side, but can be swapped to the right side. Removal of the front takedown screw and one rear top takedown screw allows the chassis to be removed.  As a takedown firearm locking the bolt back, depressing the barrel locking lever and rotating the barrel/handguard assembly counterclockwise breaks the gun down.

While it is easy to removed the barrel from the action, the lock up is tight. An adjustment knob on the barrel assures the union will remain tight and precise with heavy use and over long periods of time.

Being able to collapse the stock and break down into major components with each less than 17″ long make the PC Carbine a firearm that is easy to bring along backpacking or traveling.

A single top screw passes through the chassis and secures the grip mount with the mount adapting AR-15 type grips to the PC Carbine.

Loosening front and rear takedown screws permits the chassis and Magpul MOE stock from the carbine’s receiver, and the stock detached from the chassis.

The Ruger PC Carbine manual provides full details and illustration for detail stripping.

With the chassis removed, interchangeable magazine wells can be swapped. As shipped, the Ruger SR9 is installed and the Glock adapter is packed in the box. A third adapter is available from Ruger that takes Ruger American Pistol magazines.

Reversible control considerations…

The charging handle is easily swapped from right to left side of the receiver by removing one cap screw. The charging handle cap screw is torqued to 65 in-lbs and it is suggested torque is verified every 1,000 rounds. The magazine release swaps sides in a similar fashion.

Since we’re poking around in here…

The trigger guard assembly is removed for cleaning and maintenance by pushing out the two trigger guard retaining pins. The manuals used the term “drift” but they are lightly held and solidly retained by the stock when assembled. Trigger pull measured a crisp 4 Lbs 9 Oz.

Disassembly is straight forward. With the trigger guard assembly removed, the bolt is removed from the receiver by tugging upward on the buffer. Note on handling: Care should be taken not to depress the bolt stop with the trigger guard on its side as this may cause the bolt stop retaining pin to fall out, the bolt stop to drop down and a small spring to magically appear, roll off the bench and fall into a large box full of scopes. The spring will eventually be identified as the bolt stop spring and reinstalled after an hour of searching through scope cubbies. Certainly not my experience , but it could happen.

The Ruger PC Carbine is easy to clean and service, the manual provides exceptional step by step detail. The use of a 9.4 ounce tungsten weight recessed into the bolt body reduces required buffer spring rates and greatly dampens recoil. In fact, only a post baby boomer would think the PC Carbine has recoil… and perhaps some fancy lad engineers.

Four cap screws are removed at the base of the handguard, a little wiggling… the handguard, and it pulls forward and off. Underneath is a nifty fluted barrel, capped with with a 1/2″x28 threads and a thread protector that can facilitate the use of many types of muzzle devices. Vestigial traces of a front sight, in the form of mount holes, can easily find a useful purpose.

Yes, I did shoot the PC Carbine. Thank you for asking…

In retrospect, a great deal more ammunition was consumed than planned. I don’t know why, other than the testing was completed, I was still having fun, so… The Ruger P C Carbine was shot with and without a silencer in place with the effects of suppression noted on the results table. Targets were placed at 50 yards, shot from a bench  with a scope mounted on the carbine.


9mm Luger Ammunition Bullet
Rated FPS
4″ BBL
Actual FPS
50 Yard
5 Shot
Actual FPS
16.2″ BBL
50 Yard
5 Shot
American Eagle Syntech
115 1130 1271 1.5 1280
Remington HTP +P
115 1255 1403 2.4 1395
American Eagle Subsonic FMJ 124 1030 1063 1.2 1096 1.6
Remington UMC FMJ
124 1100 1217 2.4 1180
Remington Ultimate Defense
124 1100 1273 2.2 1259
Black Hills +P
1.8 1351
Grizzly +P
2.0 1193

After careful scientific consideration I can say, with confidence, that there is no correlation between barrel length and velocity, other than to say there is definitely some velocity, short or long barrel. I can also say the same for velocity and accuracy, open barrel versus suppressed. After careful consideration, I decided not to spend an additional week analyzing cause and effect and arriving at a half-ass conclusion that would be useful to no one. So what are you saying, Joe? I don’t know, let me think for a minute.


Fundamentally, the Ruger PC Carbine is more than accurate enough for useful applications. For defensive use or small game hunting, the group size is well within critical target sizes and the carbine, through ammunition selection or handloading, could be coaxed to better. Try drawing and shooting a typical 9mm auto loader pistol at a 50 yard target and the benefits of the PC Carbine become obvious.

Shooting the Ruger PC Carbine, it was easy to adjust length of pull to make any reasonable shooting position comfortable, from “John Wayne stand up and shoot” to sitting in a “Hope I don’t roll over and embarrass myself” position. The red dot I mounted had a way too big brush guard and would not find its way onto the PC Carbine if pressed into day to day service. This sight’s saving grace, and the reason it was used, is its reticle type, color selection and brightness which was great from the bench. The PC Carbine could use something more compact and lower mounting that would naturally get between the eye and the target with the shooter’s face resting on the carbine’s comb.

State and local accommodations

Ruger, understanding that some potential customers live in states that… well, never mind. In any event, there are currently three models of the Ruger PC Carbine; Model Number:19122 (The subject carbine), Model: 19124 with a 10 round magazine, Model: Model 19126 with 10 round magazine, a fixed stock and an unthreaded muzzle. Regardless the configuration, I have no doubt this is an excellent personal security product, but it is also a great recreational firearm and just an incredible amount of fun to shoot.

Marlin’s 336 Dark Series 30-30 WCF Updating the lever action rifle

Summer is at an end, fall is not being shy in its arrival and only about half of the planned projects around the house and shop were completed. It wasn’t so much poor planning or time estimating that rendered our Gantt chart and network diagram irrelevant, as much as unplanned events and less than ideal weather had to be accommodated. The thing about living in the middle of the woods is that the woods always want to reclaim whatever was taken when building. Clearing back twenty feet from the treeline to remove brush and saplings and pruning lower branches on larger trees may not seem like much, but it has occupied nearly every Saturday for months. With approximately 20,000 square feet finished, I think we can get in the last 4,000 square feet before we call it quits.

The generator needs to be leveled, the roof needs to be treated to kill algae and insecticide needs to be sprayed around the house, shop and outbuildings. We’ve got carpenter ants and carpenter bees, but we can’t seem to find a good carpenter. Painting the inside of the garage, building a work bench and hanging cabinets will have to wait until next year or it will be done under the shield of a jet heater, but we have plenty to do inside. It’s like visiting family always says, “You must love being out here in the country. It’s so tranquil. So relaxing”, just before they head for the lakes, ocean or go out to sample history in the form of a restaurant. Still, I wouldn’t trade our little place in the woods to go back to yard against yard living, ever.

Yes, I do remember why we are all gathered here

Marlin is working overtime on new variations on a traditional theme, by introducing modern looks and features in innovative ways. After recently wrapping up a review of the company’s truncated Marlin 1895 Trapper 45-70 Government, the Marlin 336 Dark Series approach to the 30-30 WCF was too interesting to pass up.

Marlin Model 336 Dark Series

Origin Ilion, NY
Manufacturer Remington
Order# 70497
Type Lever Action
Caliber 30-30 WCF
Magazine Capacity 5
Barrel 16.25″ – 5/8″x24 Threaded Muzzle
Rifling 1:10″ Micro Groove
Nominal Weight 7.65 lbs
Overall Length 34.5″
Stock Black Spiderweb – Hardwood
Hardware Parkerized
Length of Pull 13.25″
Drop at comb 1.25″
Drop at heel 2.00″
Sights Ghost Ring
Scope XS Rail
Trigger Pull 5 lbs. 4 oz.
Safety Cross Bolt Safety
MSRP $949

In overview, Marlin has given the Model 336 a bit more utility… maybe flexibility than the more traditional walnut stock models. Sure, some of the Dark Series differences are mostly aesthetic but, in the main, they are quite functional enhancements. As an example, in place of a walnut stock is a hardwood stock painted with a black webbing. Black is a popular firearm color these days and the black webbing makes for an all over terrific non-slip surface.

The Parkerized metal finish is durable, holds up good against wear and tear, hold oil for rust prevention, and it is non-reflective. Perhaps not as pretty as a satin or gloss black oxide finish but, in my mind at least, it has a better look than Cerakote, a finish that is seeing too much use on new, premium model firearms.

The XS Lever Rail with ghost ring sight system is a good set up. The standard Marlin semi buckhorn rear sight is surrendered, but the rail accommodates a ghost and more precision peep sight, red dot or scope. With quick detach mounts, it takes only seconds to change from one to the other and zero isn’t lost as long as the sights have not been adjusted for a different firearm. For someone who hunts only in the same environment, interchangeability may not be a huge pick up, but people who hunt in areas like the north east know that topography and climate can change significantly within one outing.

I went to the rail set up some years ago on my lever action rifles and it remains in place today. It is just too handy to pass up. For the Yosemite Sam contingency, those who feel a scope on a lever action rifle is blasphemy, times have changed. My 60+ year old Model 336C puts up 2″ – 3″ 100 yard groups, making the value in mounting a scope questionable, but the value in a fast tracking red dot is present. The subject Model 336 Dark Series put up a 3/4″ group with factory Fusion 150 grain ammo, which is enough potential to mount a scope.

The Paracord sling and wrapped big loop lever? I don’t know about the lever wrap, other than for aesthetic taste, but the wide, soft Paracord sling is very comfortable and it remains anti slip and pliable even in the coldest weather. Enlarged loop levers, within reason, are really handy for gloved shooters in cold weather and not a problem any other time. The Paracord wrap does make for a good knuckle cushion on short barrel 45-70 versions.

The Model 336 Dark Series’ muzzle has industry standard 5/8-24 threads to accept a myriad of devices.  Yes, a myriad. The supplied thread protector was removed and an AAC fast attach 90 tooth flash hider was installed so the AAC SR7 silencer could be taken on and off with minimal effort as required for specific live fire testing. Shift in point of impact resulting from the silencer presence, or lack of the same was minimal. The silencer added a slight up tick to velocity.

A brief interlude for a spontaneous I rant…

This is a silencer, it suppresses sound by managing gases under pressure as they exit the barrel. It was defined as a silencer in 1920 when Maxim filed his first patent, it has been termed a silencer by every noteworthy silencer manufacturer and it is termed a silencer by the ATF. No, it does not make a firearm silent, although it can reduce a subsonic round from a non-auto loading, closed breech firearm to a pffft. For the hunter armed with supersonic ammunition, it will reduce sound levels and sonic crack substantially. If you insist on calling them suppressors, people will think you are an engineer working in a segment of the computer industry who only recently found an interest in firearms.


Silencers, with varying degrees of procedural complexities, are legal to own in 39 states and legal for hunting in 30 states. They are mandated for hunters in most western European countries as they preserve hearing and good relationships with near neighbors. They are the scorn of celebrities who have a difficult time separating fantasy from reality. For me, if there are suitable threads on a muzzle, and I have a silencer of suitable capacity, I’m a happy and hearing guy with a silencer installed. I have to applaud Marlin for doing the right thing and threading the muzzle, knowing they might take some grief. Thanks. I feel much better…. a very cathartic exercise… really.

In operation…

Loaded up, but with an empty chamber, the Marlin holds 5 rounds in its full length magazine; short rifle, short barrel, short magazine. The good news? For the hunter who takes realistic shots at game, 5 rounds is a huge excess of ammunition. The action feels like a centerfire lever action rifle; you can feel the bolt compressing springs as the hammer is cocked on the opening stroke and you can feel a round being elevated and chambered on the closing stroke. That said, the action is tight and actuation requires only light effort. Trigger pull is brief, a slight amount of creep and a little heavy. The latter can be addressed with a replacement trigger, or by making modest changes to the hammer spring adjusting plate and the hammer spring. Or… or… you can leave it alone and lean how to shoot the rifle, like people did in the olden days.

Federal Fusion 150 grain bonded Flat nose and Winchester Super X 30-30 Win 150 grain power point carried the banner for factory ammunition. They both cycled without a problem, both turned in near rated velocity even with the short Marlin barrel and both delivered excellent accuracy.

Two types of favorite handloads were assembled, pictured left, each with three types of powder. The bullets were, far left, Sierra Po Hunter 150 grain flat nose and Nosler 170 grain Partition Round Nose. Both did well in terms of velocity and accuracy with all of the powders selected.

Three shot groups were of the 100 yard variety, scope installed, from a rest… data jotted down on a white lined pad. The weather was balmy. At one point I was reminded why a check for a loose silencer should never involve bare handed touching. For a rifle intended for use with open sight and a good deal of drop at the comb and heel, its modest recoil came straight back, muzzle rise was minimal. Seemed a little… Joe Biden in the preceding narration? People tell me I don’t provide enough notes, so I am trying to make amends, even if in a random thought fashion.


Cartridge: 30-30 Winchester (42,000 PSI MAP)
Firearm Marlin 336 Dark Series
Barrel Length 16.25″
Min – Max Case Length 2.0395″ +0.0″/-0.020″
Min – Max Cartridge Overall Length 2.450″ – 2.550″
Primer CCI 200
Bullet Diameter 0.3090″ +0.000″/-0.0030″
Reloading Dies RCBS FL


Bullet Type  Bullet Weight
Net H2O
COL” Powder Type Powder Charge
Muzzle Velocity
Muzzle Energy
100 Yd
3 Shot
Sierra Pro-Hunter 150 36.4 2.520 Alliant Varmint 34.0 2371 1873 1.0
Sierra Pro-Hunter 150 36.4 2.520 CFE 223 37.5 2201 1614 1.2
Sierra Pro-Hunter 150 36.4 2.520 Norma 201 33.5 2223 1646 0.8
Nosler Partition 170 34.2 2.550 Alliant Varmint 33.0 2240 1895 1.1
Nosler Partition 170 34.2 2.550 Varget 32.5 2103 1670 0.9
Nosler Partition 170 34.2 2.550 CFE 223 35.5 2110 1681 1.0
Federal Fusion SP* 150 2338 1821 0.7
Winchester Super X* 150 2256 1696 1.1
* Factory ammunition

So what do we have?

I don’t know what the numbers suggest, but empirically speaking, the rifle / cartridge combo is more than enough for deer, black bear, hogs, and elk within 100 – 150 yards and I am sure there are folks who have done much more. Some of my best hunting successes have come with basic Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt for factory ammunition and the Nosler Partition loaded with Varget for handloads. The 30-30 WCF is a relatively low pressure cartridge that can be boosted a bit for greater velocity. My approach to a high performance 30-30 WCF is the 308 Winchester.

There is no way not to enjoy the Marlin. It is compact, moderate in weight and fast handling. Accuracy is terrific, particularly within probably shooting distances. Most important, it is not a boring firearm.

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