The enduring Marlin Golden Model 39A


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The handsome lever-action Marlin Golden Model 39A, the world’s longest-lived rifle is still going strong today, despite being the oldest firearm design still being made anywhere in the world.

Marlin has long been famous for its high-quality lever-action centrefire rifles, but there’s one particular rimfire model that has a long tradition of reliability and accuracy, and is renowned for its unparallelled longevity. The Marlin   Golden Model 39A is the oldest rifle in continuous production anywhere in the world. A rifle that lasts that long must have a lot going for it and be special in more ways than one.

It was first introduced 118 years ago as the Marlin Safety Repeating Rifle Model 1891, and was a favourite with Annie Oakley who used one for her trick shooting act. Placing a card with the Ace of Hearts at 12 yards, “Little Sure Shot” (as Chief Sitting Bull christened her) could rack off 25 shots in 27 seconds with her Model 1891 and landed every shot within the outer edge of the heart symbol. Annie’s performance also saw her consistently break feather-filled glass balls tossed in the air as she rapidly worked the lever of her Marlin 1897. Just how this boosted the sales of Marlin rifles is not difficult to imagine.

The 39A was a logical spin-off from Marlin’s already popular line of centrefire leverguns, which used a system designed by Louis Lobdell Hepburn, a crack marksman and genius firearms designer of that era.  Hepburn was responsible for the models 1881, 1888 and the first of the solid-top ejector models, the 1889.


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