Marlin Firearms

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Marlin Firearms Company
IndustryArms industry
Founder(s)John Mahlon Marlin
HeadquartersMadison, North Carolina, United States
ProductsFirearms, weapons
ParentFreedom Group
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Marlin Firearms Company
IndustryArms industry
Founder(s)John Mahlon Marlin
HeadquartersMadison, North Carolina, United States
ProductsFirearms, weapons
ParentFreedom Group

Marlin Firearms Co., formerly of North Haven, Connecticut, was a manufacturer of high power, center fire, lever action, and .22 caliber rimfire rifles. In the past, the company made shotguns, derringers and revolvers. Marlin owned the firearm manufacturer H & R Firearms, and more recently was owned by Remington Arms, part of the Freedom Group.[1][2]



Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifle manufactured in 1982
Marlin Model 1894C — .357 Magnum carbine
Marlin Model 25N .22 LR rifle with aftermarket sling and scope

Major models of Marlin rifles include:

Significant variations of many of these rifles have usually also been manufactured. For example, there are 6 distinctly different variations manufactured for the Marlin Model 60.

Marlin has been making lever action rifles since 1881, and in 2008, they produced their 30 millionth lever action rifle, which was donated to the National Rifle Association.[3]

MicroGroove Rifling

In 1953 Marlin Firearms was issued U.S. Patent 3,100,358 for what was named MicroGroove Rifling, which was a departure from the standard "Ballard," or cut rifling. One purpose of Microgroove rifling was to increase the speed of producing rifle barrels. Microgroove rifling is described in the patent as having 5 grooves for every 1/10 of an inch bore diameter, and that the driving side of each land would be "tangentially disposed" to prevent accumulating fouling in use.

Marlin introduced Microgroove rifling in their .22 rimfire barrels in July 1953, with 16 grooves that were .014" wide, and nominally .0015" deep. Ballard rifled barrels have grooves generally in the range of .069-.090" wide, and .0015-.003" deep. This change was marketed in the 1954 Marlin catalog, as having numerous advantages that this new form of rifling had, including better accuracy, ease of cleaning, elimination of gas leakage, higher velocities and lower chamber pressures. The catalog also claimed that Microgroove rifling did not distort the bullet jacket as deeply as Ballard rifling hence improving accuracy with jacketed bullets at standard velocity.

Designed for factory loaded ammunition, Microgroove barrels have a reputation for accuracy problems with centerfire ammunition handloaded with cast lead bullets due to the increased bore diameter generated by the shallow grooves. Use of oversized cast bullets has great effect on solving this problem, restoring accuracy with cast bullet handloads to levels seen from Ballard rifled barrels.[4] Early Marlin .30-30 microgroove barrels had a twist rate of 1 turn in 10 inches optimized for factory ammunition with jacketed bullets; later Marlin .30-30 microgroove barrels show a twist rate of 1 turn in 10.5 inches which improves accuracy with cartridges loaded to lower velocity than standard.

Micro-Groove rifling


Early history

John M. Marlin was born in Connecticut in 1836, and served his apprenticeship as a tool and die maker. During the Civil War, he worked at the Colt plant in Hartford, and in 1870 hung out his sign on State Street, New Haven, to start manufacturing his own line of revolvers and derringers. The outstanding team of inventors he was able to attract developed breakthrough and enduring models, such as the Model 1891 and 1893 rifles. Updated as Models 39 and 336 respectively, they are the oldest sporting shoulder arm models still in current production by their original maker. The lever action 22 repeater (now Model 39) was the favorite of many exhibition shooters, including Annie Oakley. When John Marlin died in 1901, his two sons took over the business and began a diversification program. In 1915 during World War I, a New York syndicate bought the company and renamed it the Marlin Rockwell Corporation. Marlin became one of the largest machine gun producers in the world for the US and its Allies, building the M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun and a later variant called the "Marlin gun". In 1917 Marlin Rockwell bought out the Hopkins & Allen Arms Company to promote an expanded line of firearms and improve the image of the Marlin company as makers of "sporting arms".[5] The sporting firearms part of the business became a new corporation, which staggered until 1923, when it went on the auction block.

Later history and leadership

The auction of the old Marlin Firearms operation in 1924 was attended by a lawyer named Frank Kenna. Kenna bid $100 and the properties were his – along with a $100,000 mortgage. The Marlin Firearms Company has been owned and run by the Kenna family ever since, and has seen constant change and improvements. Kenna re-introduced several of the models famous before World War I, and in 1936 established the Marlin razor blade business. His eldest son, Roger Kenna, assumed the presidency in 1947 and Marlin enjoyed steady growth until his death in 1959. When his brother, Frank Kenna, Jr. took over as President, razor blade production was gradually phased out to focus attention on sporting firearms. Frank Kenna, Jr. became Chairman in 1995, and Roger’s son, Stephen Kenna, formerly Vice President of Operations and General Counsel, became President. In 1997 he left to pursue other interests. Robert Behn assumed the presidency in May 1997. Upon Frank Kenna, Jr.’s retirement in 1999, his son, Frank Kenna, III, became Chairman.

Seeking constant improvement has been a hallmark of Marlin engineers, and that philosophy has been demonstrated throughout the 19th-21st Centuries. Beginning with the development of the first side-ejecting, solid-top receiver (called the “Marlin Safety”) in 1889, to the 1953 introduction of the Micro-Groove rifling system for improved accuracy, and through to the 2004 introduction of the T-900 Fire Control System for bolt action rimfire rifles, Marlin engineers have set many important milestones in the firearm manufacturing industry.

Marlin Firearms labored for a century as an underdog levergun maker to Winchester (also of New Haven). However, in the 1980s and 1990s, Marlin finally began to outpace its old rival. It is currently the dominant seller of lever action rifles in North America. Its use of side ejection allows for flat-topped firearms, thereby making the mounting of scopes easier than for traditional Winchesters. This helped Marlin capture more market share as American shooters came to rely more and more on optics. Marlins are larger and stronger than most of the Winchester line, allowing them to use higher powered cartridges such as the .45-70. Marlin's model 1894 lever-action rifles and carbines are available in handgun calibers, including .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .41 Magnum, making them suitable companion long guns for revolvers in those calibers.


In November 2000, Marlin purchased the assets of H&R 1871, Inc., a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of shotguns and rifles (New England Firearms branded), founded in 1871, and now located in Gardner, Massachusetts. Marketing its products under the brand names of Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms, H&R 1871 claimed to be the largest manufacturer of Single-shot shotguns and rifles in the world. In December 2007 Remington Arms Company purchased Marlin.[7] Remington announced in April 2008 that it would close the Gardner manufacturing plant by the end of 2008 affecting 200 workers.[8] In March 2010, Marlin announced that it would close its North Haven plant, and move the work to Remington plants in Ilion, New York, and Mayfield, Kentucky.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ "Remington to Acquire Marlin Firearms". 
  2. ^ S. P. Fjestad. Blue Book of Gun Values, 13th Ed.. ISBN 0-9625943-4-2. 
  3. ^ "Marlin Donates 30,000,000th Lever Action Rifle to NRA–ILA". 
  4. ^ Marlin Microgroove Barrels
  5. ^ Walter, John (2006), The Guns That Won the West: Firearms on the American Frontier, 1848-1898, pp. 206–207, ISBN 978-1-85367-692-5 
  6. ^ The History of Marlin Firearms
  7. ^ Gunmaker Remington to buy Marlin Firearms USA Today, December 27, 2007
  8. ^ Arms Manufacturer Remington Closing Gardner Plant WBZTV, April 7, 2008
  9. ^ "Marlin to close North Haven plant; 265 jobs going". 
  10. ^ "Marlin Firearms Closes In North Haven, Ending 141 Years Of Manufacturing In Connecticut". 

External links