More than 100 years old and still going strong, the Marlin Model Golden 39A delivers outstanding accuracy for hunters, plinkers, and even sharpshooters like Annie Oakley. It can also be taken apart quickly for cleaning, storage and transport.
The very first gun I ever owned, a gift from my dad, was a lever-action Marlin Golden 39A. This .22 LR rifle, however, was no kid-sized gun, but an adult rifle with a rich history. The Model 39 has been in continuous production (a record) in its current form since it was named the Model 1897. It was the first solid-top-receiver lever-action rifle with side ejection and was extremely popular with exhibition shooters at the time, including Annie Oakley.
The innovation and quality of Marlin Firearms is well established. This company started operation in 1870, founded by John Marlin, who had been previously employed by Colt during the Civil War and was an experienced tool and die maker. The company started out making revolvers and derringers before venturing into rifles.
My old Model 39A is long gone, but I was very eager to test out a newly manufactured version, the Model Golden 39A, to compare it and see how it stacked up to my old rifle. This easy takedown, lever-action rifle features a tubular magazine, blued-steel construction and an American black walnut stock. The tubular magazine is made from stamped steel and extends almost the full length of the barrel for maximum magazine capacity. Inside the magazine tube is a spring-loaded brass inner tube that forces any rounds down into the receiver for proper feeding. The rounds actually ride inside this brass tube, and a red polymer tip seals in the internal spring. The design of this rifle allows the user to load .22 Short, .22 Long or .22 LR ammunition, and the magazine capacity adjusts accordingly, from 26 rounds for the .22 Short ammo to 21 rounds of .22 Long and 19 rounds of .22 LR.
Loading is a very simple matter. The top of the inner brass tube has a knurled locking end knob that unlocks by pressing down, turning it out of the locking tab and lifting it up. It is not necessary to completely remove the inner tube to load, as there is a cartridge-shaped opening about 6 inches from the top. With the rifle oriented upwards, simply drop the desired number of rounds in one at a time and push the inner tube down and lock it. The tube will not close or lock if the maximum number of rounds has been exceeded. To unload, the action should be cycled until the rifle is empty. There is also a viewing port on the left side of the receiver. Through this port one can see if there are rounds present, and if the rifle is empty, the shooter should be able to see the red polymer magazine-tube follower. With the magazine in place, you can also see the brass coloring of the inner tube outlining the image of a cartridge case at the loading port.