Sunday, March 28, 2010

Grimmest Economic News Yet!

In more news that the economy is going south farther than in 1929-1940, the Marlin Firearms company is closing it's doors next year. This is a company that started in 1870, survived the great depression, as well as several of the big financial panics of the late 19th Century and is still (but not for long) making the oldest continuously produced shoulder arm in the world, the Marlin 39A. This little rifle, alas, is beyond the means of most .22 shooters, having been developed back when rifles were built with lots of hand fitting.

Marlin, today is built mainly around the old fashioned shootin' irons, lot's of neat little .22 rifles and, in centerfire, lever actions. The post Obama election gun boom has mainly been in handguns and autoloading rifles, especially the AR-15 clones. Unfortunately few people today know that one can shoot a good lever action apractice and who take the time to aim.

The rise of Cowboy Action Shooting had given Marlin a new lease on life for a few years, until the Italian clones of the 1866 and 1873 Winchesters became more popular. These rifles are not nearly so strong as the Marlin, or the '92 Winchester clones, due to their design they can't really take pressures much higher than the black powder levels of the 1880s but, due to the "short stroke" kits that SASS allows, they are faster to operate. Nobody in the Cowboy Action Matches much cares about the added weight and low power of these rifles. Most of us who use the rifles for competition, hunting and as a long arm for defense, choose a different gun, either the various Winchester 1892 clones or one model or other of the Marlin 1894.

I have a special fondness for the Marlin 1894 Carbines, as opposed to their rifles with the octagonal barrels, I like the light weight and effortless balance. My little 1894C Carbine is only thirty-six inches long and weighs six pounds. It holds nine .357 Magnum rounds or ten .38 Specials. It is the perfect companion for the person who wears a .357 or .38 revolver. The same is true for the 1894 in .44 for those who like the bigger hole in the barrel.

The 1894 Cowboy rifles are half a pound heavier, other than that they are just as nice. They also come in .45 Colt which the regular 1894s do not come in.

Also going, alas, are the 336 models in .30-30 and .35 Remington. These were the major competition for the Winchester 94 in .30-30, .32 Special and .25-35, which is also defunct.

The demise of Marlin also means that H&R will be gone as they were swallowed up by Marlin some time back, there goes the inexpensive break open single shot rifles and shotguns.

It's pretty sad, more and more, the gun industry, which we once lead, is now moving to Italy and China.

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