Lever Action 30-30 Rifles: Marlin 336 vs. Winchester 94


Lever Action 30-30 Rifles: Marlin 336 vs. Winchester 94

In this video, Paul Harrell takes a look at a pair of classic lever action rifles that have stood the test of time, chambered for a cartridge that has seen popularity and widespread use in three different centuries. We’re talking about the Winchester Model 1894 (94) and the Marlin Model 336, and the venerable 30-30 Winchester cartridge.

The 30-30, originally known as the 30 WCF (Winchester Center Fire), is a subject unto itself and not the point of this. It’s about the two lever action rifles most often chambered for the 30-30.

Paul’s “three main differences” between the two models are as follows:

  • Stock — Winchester has a straight stock; Marlin has a pistol-grip stock.
  • Safety — Winchester requires user to squeeze the lever to deactivate the trigger-block safety; Marlin does not.
  • Receiver — Winchester has an open-top receiver and ejects out the top; Marlin had a solid-top receiver and ejects out the right side.

Tackling the age-old question about which one is better, he heads to the range to fire them side-by-side.

In the accuracy test, the Marlin provided a slightly smaller group. Moving on to a speed test in which he shoots five soda jugs as quickly as he can, he’s able to complete the course with the Marlin 336 almost one second faster than he did with the Winchester. To me, this is testimony to the Marlin’s much-slicker action (yes, I’ve owned and fired both).

In the end, Paul simply likes the Marlin better than the Winchester, and I do as well. But that doesn’t mean the Marlin is “better,” just different. Many folks prefer the Winchester 94, and that’s perfectly fine.

I like the strength, action, and feel of a Marlin, but I still love the nice trim lines and overall slimness of the Winchester.

Which is your favorite?

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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