John Mahlon Marlin worked for Colt during the Civil War, but in 1863, he struck out on his own and officially established Marlin Firearms in 1870. The North Haven, CN, factory wasn’t complete at the time, and gun manufacturing began there in 1872.
The company’s early focus was single-shot firearms, but in 1881, the first lever action bearing the "Marlin Fire Arms Company" stamp was produced. The firm also manufactured a few revolvers, but in 1889, it forever altered the lever-action landscape when it came out with a side-ejecting model—the first ever.
Marlin remained president of the company bearing his name until his death in 1901. By then, the manufacturer had established a reputation for quality and during World War 1, the company's expertise was pressed into service when the factory grew into one of the biggest producers of machine guns for the United States and its allies. In World War II, the plant churned out 9 mm submachine guns and M1 rifle components for America’s efforts to defeat Axis forces.
The company has never abandoned its lever-action roots, though, and the side-ejection has served it well. Unlike top-ejection models, scopes can be mounted on the company’s line. Today some are even available with a Picatinny rail pre-installed to speed optic mountain. The Model 1895 Dark Series, chambered in .45-70 Gov’t, is one of its latest introductions. Marlin also offers a fine line of .22 LR semi-autos, although they typically live in the long shadow cast by the company’s centerfire offerings.
In celebration of its 150th anniversary, Marlin is offering two special limited edition rifles and— for the first time ever—ammunition.
A .444 Marlin, in its namesake chambering, leads the trio. It comes with a 24-inch half-octagon/ half-round barrel and engraved receiver with gold inlay. The C-grade American black walnut stock and fore-end is hand fitted and features the historical checkering pattern. It comes with Skinner ladder sights, special serial number and commemorative box. MSRP is $1.899.
There’s also a Marlin’s Model 60 .22 semi-auto with a 150-year Anniversary medallion in its American walnut stock. Barrel length is 19 inches, sights are adjustable and the .22 LR has a 14-round-capacity magazine. MSRP is $399.
If you’re looking for something special to add to your cartridge collection, consider the company’s first line of cartridges. They come with special 150th anniversary packaging and headstamps and are available in .30-30 Win., .35 Rem., .444 Marlin, .45-70 Gov’t and .22 LR.
All are limited-editions items available for only a year.