• A Model 39 Marlin restoration

  • 23 December 2014 by 0 Comments

The Marlin Model 39 was introduced following World War One in about 1922 and was a further refinement of the original Marlin .22 lever actions the models 1891 – 1892- 1897. It became one of the most popular and well known .22 rifles during the 1920’s and 30’s. It was supplanted by the later Model 39A.

1 m39   The m-39 that we are looking at was well worn but in good enough shape to be a good candidate for restoration.







2 m39    The gun was in honest original condition and was unmolested by previous bad gunsmithing, which is somewhat unusual.  Unfortunately many of these guns have seen plenty of use and abuse. But, this one was in good starting condition. The screw slots were not buggered, the wood was solid and the checkering was all there.





Here is a close up showing the checkering.  Obviously it is in good shape but it also shows that there are some overruns and unfinished checkering lines. Since restoration is a recreating of factory work , the finished gun will still show these slight checkering flaws.

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One tool that is very useful is the  ‘crossing file’  these are Swiss files and are curved on the top and bottom – but the curves are different and because the file is tapered that means you can always find a spot on the file to fit any curve or arc you need to work on. These are made by Grobett and the smooth #2 is my favorite.


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One quickie tip is that you can use the barrel -kind of as a mandrel or handle to present any angle you need for working on the action.

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One of the sure signs of careful work is the condition of screw holes and how defined the lines of the action are. Buffing wheels and sloppy work will dish out the screw holes and blur the lines of the action.

8 m39 The red arrows are pointing to screw holes with counter bores – the blue arrow is pointing to screw holes and the black arrows are pointing to the edge lines of the action- with careful work you can actually follow a line all the way around the action and it is sharp and defined.

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So above on the left is the action and lever polished and ready for metal finishing – In this case you can see on the right it was Color Case Hardened.

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The Barrel , magazine tube and some small parts were rust blued – above is a shot of the barrel with the 6th bite of solution in the rust bluing cycle.

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So above are some photos of the finished job….   Rust bluing , Color Case Hardening, Charcoal bluing and a lot of hand work……

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We can’t finish up with out taking a bit about the self contained magazine tube assembly that the M-39 uses which is much different than that on the M-39A . The obvious advantage is of course that you’re not going to lose the inner magazine tube which can happen on typical magazine tube .22’s.

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It’s use is pretty simple – push the lock button at the front of the tube and pull the outer tube forward until the loading port is exposed – filler-up and slide the outer tube back until it locks….This system was first used on the earlier .22 lever actions the m1891 , m1892, m1897 and it is a good system – unfortunately so many of these guns have been so abused and used and neglected over the years it is common to find these guns with bent and dented tubes and kinked spring….. But when you find one in good condition – they are a delight!