Q: I just bought a secondhand Marlin MR-7 bolt-action in .30-06 in very good condition fitted with an old Redfield 2-7x scope very cheaply. I have never heard of this particular rifle before and the gun shop I bought it from couldn’t tell me anything about it either. The rifle groups into 1.5″ at 100 yards consistently with Federal 150gn factory ammo and I like the balance and feel of its rather severe classic stock very much. What can you tell me about this gun? What is the best powder for reloading the .30-06? Can you suggest a good load using Woodleigh 150 and 165gn bullets?
A: The Marlin MR-7 is a very interesting rifle. I reviewed one back in 1996 and hunted with it in Queensland taking a fine chital and numerous pigs. Marlin dropped their previous Model 455, a bitser based on an F.N Mauser action fitted with Sako trigger and Marlin barrel in 1959 and replaced it 37 years later with the MR-7, an eclectic design that incorporated the best time tested features of some successful American rifles. The receiver and trigger were copied from the Winchester Model 70, as was the rear end of the bolt with the addition of a flange shrouding the left raceway. But the front of the bolt is purely Remington 700 right down to the annular extractor, plunger ejector, anti-bind groove in the right locking lug and “three rings of steel” surrounding the cartridge case head. The MR-7 had a magazine with hinged floorplate and detachable four round box copied from the Browning A-Bolt. The rifle I tested performed well in all functional aspects and produced excellent accuracy with a variety of ammunition and reloads. The best powder I’ve found for the .30-06 is AR2209. Two good working loads are the 150gn Woodleigh and 62gn of AR2209 for 2950fps and 59gn behind the 165gn Woodleigh for 2880fps. To be on the safe side, start 2 grains lower and work up one grain at a time.