The Marlin Model 60 ™
Just for the heck of it
text and rotten photography by John "Lone Gunman" Dunn, not to be taken too seriously
Technical assistance courtesy of AK Church
click on almost none of the thumbnailed pic for a larger image
First, a little history...
Marlin has reason to be proud of this sturdy rifle. Read their own story on their website. In production since the 1960s, the Model 60 is economically priced, having gone for $99.95 when I bought it at the sporting goods counter of my local retailer some three years ago. (The same retailer now sells it for $10.00 more.) It's a semi-automatic or "self loading" gun with a 14-round tubular magazine and a hold-open feature that locks the bolt open after the last shot is fired. The patented micro-groove rifling has a 1:16" right-hand twist. Marlin claims, perhaps justifiably, that it's the most popular .22 rifle in the world. I know of at least two long-time friends who cut their teeth on this gun as kids. It's also one of the lightest .22 repeaters I've ever held. Marlin's sales numbers on these are up into the millions.
Blurry miniature photo of the ventral region of the magazine tube, showing shell port and twist-in-to-lock cap
Why, Lone, did you do an article about this poor critter?
A thought occurred to me the other day: "What is the least article-worthy gun I own?" Well, first let's define "article worthy": this is presumably any gun in your collection that is an old family favorite or heirloom, one of rare or unusual make or caliber, one that saw service in our country's defense, just about any gun reminiscent of the American West, or perhaps any firearm made interesting by virtue of intriguing foreign manufacture. That's certainly not an inclusive list but it covers most of it. Problem is, I myself don't own many specimens that qualify.
So the idea struck me that since I haven't written anything for ol' Miles in a while I could probably get away with tearing off something utterly unmemorable about the most common, unremarkable, mass-produced gun I own. Hoping to rival "Professor Church's" reputation for "the cheap and weird" I thought the old Marlin #60 leaning in the dark corner of my closet would do the trick. Alongside my Ozark Mountain Arms "wildcat", which I will never part with, the Marlin Model-60 semi-auto .22 rifle is the cheapest gun I possess. I admit that it does lack the Wildcat's "weird" factor. In fact, having been disappointed with it's initial accuracy, I've thought more than once about ditching the 60 at the nearest pawn shop altogether and moving on with my life. What changed my mind?
Right-hand side showing the scope & cheap-o-rama sling
The scope. I've always had accuracy problems with this gun, if you can believe it. The Model 60 is, I'm told, among the most accurate mass-produced .22 rifles ever made. "So, Lone, what was your problem already," you ask? It was one of the rifle's few weak points: the gosh-darned factory iron sights.
Crappy view of the front sight. I had a photo of the rear sight but it was even worse.
The rear sight was so wobbly and loose that it wouldn't hold still even under feeble .22 long rifle recoil. I was told to try sighting it in to point of aim and secure the thing with some ordinary Lock-Tite. The only problem with this was that one shot would dislodge it enough to misalign it for the second shot, making it impossible to zero. Frustrated, I was prepared to unload it as I mentioned and save my pennies for a Ruger 10-22 instead. That was before AK Church, my weird and cheap partner, donated a Bushnell scope. The Bushnell rig is actually a fixed 2.5 power shotgun scope, one inch tube, 32 m/m objective lens. Parallax set for who knows what, but likely not the optimal for .22LR at 50 yards. However it works just fine in it's current venue. The rings are Weavers. It sighted in without complaint. Problem solved.
Another problem the gun has besides the factory sights is that it seems to be prone to jam. The more you shoot it--obviously--the more dirty and grimy its innards get. Without regular cleaning I've seen it jam every six or seven shots with a spent .22 long rifle case crunched up in the action. Regular maintenance will belay this problem, though I found out the hard way that you have to be careful with cleaning solvent (I was using my favorite, Hoppe's #9) as it will eat the "finish" off the receiver.
As for other accessories, as Miles is always telling me, "don't put lipstick on a pig." (No offense to my fellow Model 60 owners out there.) With this in mind, I procured a cheap rifle sling and asked Miles to drill sling studs in it for me since I lack the proper tools. Unfortunately we found out that the wood on the end of the forearm is too thin to install a swivel mount. Drilling it in there would risk puncturing the magazine tube. See what I mean in the second-rate photo below:
Lousy photo has nothing to show for scale. I promise, the wood is quite thin.
So rather than go to the expense of getting a magazine clamp to affix a sling to, I merely put a shotgun sling around it. Miles was kind enough to install the other mount into the butt-stock for me. Interestingly, I noticed a more recent production model of the Marlin Model 60 in a local retailer's gun rack yesterday and forearm was made with thicker wood. Maybe Marlin heard the pleas of other #60 owners and fixed this? Who knows.
Next, I needed a case of some sort. Determined to make this project as ridiculous as possible, I chose the most horrendously unattractive gun sleeve I could find: the butt-ugly specimen pictured below.
This monstrosity was procured for the princely sum of $6.95 + tax, American. It was actually bought at the same pawn shop my Savage 24 came from. It's old, lumpy and cracked, and is about 3 or 4 inches too long. The store proprietor was eager to unload it so he marked it down from the original staggering price of $9.95. I needed something to stow my new Savage in as I left the pawn shop on my way to work, so I took it. The Savage now lives in a more respectable gun sock unless it's reposing in my metal gun cabinet.
So, how does it shoot already?
Superb example of Lone Gunman's lousy marksmanship...I actually had the guts to show you this
The above target was shot using basic 36-grain copper jacketed hollow-point Federals bought from my local X~Mart. The 5-shot group was fired from the bench at the Busiek Park rifle range south of Ozark, Missouri in the 25-yard lane. The last group circled was after the final scope adjustment that provided the desired result. The other holes are there because I was running out of paper targets so I kept shooting at this one.
Emboldened, I tried it again in the 50-yard lane, as shown below.
Half-inch group or less (I didn't bother to measure it...I mean, come on) at 50 yds
I didn't get as lucky here, but this time it was most certainly my fault. If you haven't guessed by now I'm not the best shooter in the world, and in the three years or so since I bought this gun it was the first time I'd been able to seriously try zeroing it at that range. This time I was using Remington Target rounds that I'd bought at a gun show, 40-grain lubed LRNs, muzzle velocity 1150 fps or so says the box they came in.
To see how it would handle against more worthwhile targets (all at 25 yards), I tested its accuracy on an AOL disc:
Next, a walmart name tag, in effigy to a former employer:
Generously donated by my pal Tim Laking, another ex-walmart pee-on
And finally, of course, on a Mariah Carey CD, specifically, her "Music Box" album:
Satisfied with it's performance on the aforesaid annoying media, and since I was by then out of ammo, I packed it up that evening and went home.
visitors since website crashed AUG 2003
Email some abuse to the ridiculous Lone Gunman, thus:
The Marlin 60 is
the best kept secret of .22lr firearms.
Thanks Don, I'll have to try that pencil trick!
--"The Lone Gunman"
I own a model 60--one of those lipsticked pigs--my rear sight seemed to do fine. But I agree with the lipstick comment--it's just a gun. I've taken quite a few squirrels and birds with it, not to mention some free AOL cd's. My favorite 'target' was a vinyl LP of the Bee Gees 'Spirits Having Flown'. Thanks for the fun article. I enjoyed it.
John R. (email withheld by request)
Thanks John! Thanks for stopping by!
--"The Lone Gunman"
Marlin Model 60 was the first firearm I owned, given to me as a Christmas gift
when I was 14. I believe my parents paid a giant sum of $89 for it.
My experiences are basically the same as yours. Granted I've put over
30,000 rounds through the gun, but the sights are flimsy and jamming now, even
when clean is very common. Finally, the finish is all but gone from the
good ol' #9. But then I think, why am I bitching? I put 30,000
rounds through an $89 rifle and it still pretty much functions! If I could
only get that kind of reliability from my $475 Beretta 380 Auto (Cheetah) that
has developed a chronic jamming problem after only 1,000 rounds, I would be
pleased. Looks like I'll have to stick to the tried and true S&W 357.
30,000 rounds, and it still shoots! Did you hear that folks? :-) And by the way he's not kidding about the Hoppe's #9. Be very careful if you use it to clean your model 60 as it will eat the finish off of it.
Received 08 Jan 2003:
I wrote you awhile back about a model 60 that keeps jamming up. Finally fixed it. seems that the spring that contacts the lever that inserts the next shell also contacts the "bolt open" lever when empty. This spring tends to also contact the mechanism wall and drag. This slows the feed of the next shell and screws things up. I took my needle nose pliers and bent it back to where it contacted both levers but not the wall. Smooth operation. Also started using Remington golden bullets...seems to work very well.
Thanks for the reply. Those Golden Bullets from Remington also seem to cause the fewest misfeeds in my own gun, so I'd say it's a consensus. :-) Thanks again!
Lone gets some, ah, interesting emails about this article. These were posted 23 February 2003:
I replied thus:
Also posted 23 Feb 2003 and neither edited or altered in any way by the milesfortis.com management:
great artical ... i just bought a used one whent out and shot it open sights lol shot 3 or 4 ground squarls did some pritty goot groups with it . got home to get the scop and while i was ataching 4/15 tasco . i knoticed my front sight was like loooooooosss. lol love the wepon tho and also your articul helped me out a lot in my serch for info on the wepon.
He follows up in a separate email:
heheh whent back out shootin yesterday nailed 4 ground squirls hehe found out tho that my scope is messed up grrrrrrr soooo i got to buy a new one . and ill be takeing what you said in your artical to heart. thanks again
(full name & email address withheld by request)
Thanks for the email Dave, I'm glad I could help. Sounds like you had sighting-in issues with your gun too. Good shooting and take care,
Added 19 May 2003:
I have had several of these over the last 15 years and I just went to X Mart and bought a new one. I got some Federal 36 gr and these jam it up on the 1st shot then I clear the action it shoots 3to 6 times jams again. I used Rem 36gr golden hollow pts it shot well with these. Frankly I dont think there are any good 22s made these days. I had a Henry lever and it was terrible! Front sight is plastic and it shot 6 inches off center to the left and it was total junk! Time was 22s had long barrels and would shoot like tack drivers.
(Name withheld by request)
Added 10 July 2003:
I was wondering if you might know if its possible to buy a muzzle brake for the Model 60. I saw one on my brothers 10/22 and loved it! Its kinda hard to find accessories for it, but Im sure that if its possible, someone has 'em! Thanks for the excellent website!
Glad you liked the website. Thanks for visiting! No I do not believe there is such a thing as a muzzle brake for a Marlin model 60. If I understand it correctly those things are either made just for show, as I suspect the 10/22 muzzle brakes are, or for the purpose of relieving muzzle climb and/or felt recoil. Since a .22 doesn't have much of either one, and also because of the magazine tube on the 60 getting in the way, I don't think anyone makes them let alone how you'd attach one. But thanks for the suggestion. :-)