The moment had arrived. I received a phone call that my recent purchase of a Marlin 410 Lever-Action was at my local ffl. As I entered the door I was greeted by Dan, a tall, lanky, Shooters Encyclopedia of a man, who asked me a simple question, “Before I give you this gun – do you deserve it?” This only served to heighten my anticipation. Sure enough as Dan pulled the shotgun from it’s case I was in awe. There before me was a beautiful firearm.
The Marlin .410 I purchased was a case blued model with heavily checkered furniture of Black Walnut. AT first heft I found the little .410 to be somewhat bulky. Not as comfortable at the side as my old Winchester .32 special, or 30-30. In fact, it felt, well, out of balance, but when I through that little shotgun to my shoulder I knew she was a winner. My eye instinctively fell to the fiber-optic sights which I find a bit “Loud” to my taste, but sooner or later I knew the real test would be on the range. After some small talk and the proper paperwork for Uncle Sam’s boys at ATF I left feeling pretty good about my recent purchase.
The feeling did not subside over the next several days as friends and family stopped by and saw the little .410 in my reloading room. Most guys thought it was a .358, 45-70, or some other large bore rifle. But when they found out it was a .410 the smiles and “Attaboy’s” were numerous.
I took the time to check out the Marlin before heading out to the field. This little gun showed “NO” use to speak of. The bore was clean and showed no signs of use. An initial run of a clean cloth through the bore showed that the gun had some residue – but not much. The action was smooth, the 2.5″ rounds fed well with no hang-ups typical of lever action shotguns. The safety was crisp, but quiet, without any discernible “click”. I grabbed some 2.5″ rounds, my dog Gracie, and away we went for a walk.
The Marlin carried well. It is a heavy little bugger at 7.25 pds, but well balanced. Built on the tried and true 336 frame, the Marlin .410 is 40.5″ long with a 22″ Cylinder-bored barrel. A good brush gun for New England woods walking. I thought of my youthful days chasing snowshoes with hounds in North Central New Hampshire and wished I had that little Marlin then.
After walking some distance I decided on a good spot to do some shooting and settled in. I had brought along some “Homegrown” loads of my own design. A 2.5″ Winchester hull with 17 grains of 2400 and topped with 2 .395 mini balls for muzzleloading. The wad is my own and a secret I may one day reveal, but not here. It is the wad/double shot combo that had allowed me to shoot these rounds from two other .410 cylinder bores with round on round accuracy at 30 yards. I have visions of taking some Northeast Coyotes with this particular load some day. Anyway, I found out that I have the 5 shot model which meant the capacity was 5 in the tube 1 in the chamber. Some models can only handle 4 rounds in the tube. This to me would not have been an issue since I prefer the .410 as a “shooters n anyway. That is, the .410 is for “One shot-one kill” shooters. Not your “Blast away all the day” types. I have a theory that we often take the sloppy shots because we know there can be a follow-up.
Well I set my target up in a small bowl with a good backstop and paced off 20 yards. Sure enough those fiber optic sights are going. The thought of them reminds me of the sights on my 105 millimeter howitzer when I was at Ft. Bragg – BIG! Anyway, having taken good aim I let the first round go, and the second, third, fourth, etc., etc. what a joy to shoot. The extra weight removes any recoil that a .410 may produce. This is bonus for me since I started with the .410 because of it’s lack of recoil. (Having hurt my back on an Airborne exercise in the military, I found the heavy bore shotguns painful to handle.) Rounds chambered smoothly, quietly, trigger pull was OK, but only OK, I would check it when we got back to the shop.
As I shot there was a noticeable difference in pattern with my “Double Ball” rounds. The spread was anywhere from 4-8 inches at 20 yards. Not bad, but my goal is that spread at 50 yards. Some tweeking at the bench will help this- maybe a few less grains of 2400…
These thoughts and more ran through my mind as I headed home. I had a major surgery coming up in 4 days and knew it would be a month or more before I could shoot again. But I would shoot again, and that little Marlin had stolen my heart. Beauty, practicality, serviceability, ruggedness, all rate top notch and I give this .410 an 8 out of ten score. This of course could change next fall after deer season (Yes I hunt deer with the .410 – and kill them too!). Regardless, I recommend the Marlin .410 Lever Action to anyone.
Now on to price. I purchased mine vie., an auction at www.auctionarms.com. I had looked and waited and watched for the better part of 5 months. Almost daily checking auction arms and www.gunbroker.com as well. The reason is simple, these .410 are no longer in production. They were a limited run in 2003. The original Marlin .410 issued to stockholders in the 20’s and early 30’s can fetch up to $2000. These second run guns sold for 500-600. I had watched them going for 700-900. I bought mine for 550 – it pays to be patient gentlemen. (Which reminds me, read my tutorial on on-line gun bidding at auction).
You can find them with decent prices @ Impact Guns as well.
So there it is guys and gals, my opinion on the .410 Lever action. If you have one, or buy one, please let me know your opinion. You can also find them for sale @ www.410shotgunner.com as well as many other .410 shotguns for sale.
the vintage sportsman