I picked up a Marlin 795 in 2008. Thankfully before freedom group bought them, closed the North Haven plant, and tanked the build quality of the entire Marlin product line. Before that I had been using my trusty 1978 Ruger 10/22 with 10 round rotary magazines with a deluxe checkered walnut stock plus modifications and my 1975 Glenfield (Marlin) Squirrel Model 60 with a 17+1 tube to hunt jack rabbits and cottontail. Both have beautiful wooden stocks and are classics. I tend to be hard on my hunting rifles and I wanted to get something that was less expensive and lighter that I wouldn’t mind so much if I scratched it. The Glenfield weighed in at 5.5lbs with a 22″ barrel while the Ruger weighed in at 5.25lbs with an 18.5″ barrel. I noticed an ad in the local Big 5 Sporting Good flyer around Christmas time for a new Marlin 795 for $109.00 so I decided to go purchase one and try it out. Weighing in a pound lighter at 4.5 lbs with an 18″ barrel and 10 round box magazines.
Courtesy warning: If you do not like photos of dead animals or it makes you squeamish I suggest you stop reading here. Both myself and my dogs rather enjoyed the delicious rabbit stew that resulted from my hunting trips.
This is now my new favorite plinker and rabbit hunting .22LR. It is lightweight at 4.5 lbs and compact at 37″ total length. Accurate out to 100 yards with bulk ammo. It has taken some abuse over the years. Abuse that you can give to a sub $120 rim-fire. When I first bought it I put a 1″ 3×9 Tasco scope on it, it was too top-heavy. Then put a 3/8″ Tasco tube scope on it and couldn’t get a quick enough sight picture to hit moving jacks and didn’t like the small FOV. I even tried a red dot on it, it still was a little too top-heavy although the red dot offered for great snap shooting. I finally decided to stay with iron sights for this application. I initially ranged at 25 yards. Then adjusted for 4-5″ bullet drop with federal big box bulk ammo at 100 yards. I am hitting rabbits out to 100 yards with regularity now and from 25-50 yards I can hit running jacks and cottontail with speed and accuracy.
As far as the build quality, I will cut to the chase, it is a sub $120 rifle so it is not your grand daddy’s marlin. The stock is a monte carlo style, light, cheap piece of plastic. The sights are metal and cheap and the rear ladder style sight is prone to moving left or right. I marked it so I can move it back to zero. The mag release is thin and also prone to bending slightly. Some people have reported mag release problems and simply bent it back into place to fix it. The trigger housing and trigger are plastic. It has a cross-bolt safety behind the trigger. It does have a last round bolt hold open. It also has a bolt release lever located in front of the trigger which I like, but is spongy and feels like you are going to bend or break it every time you use it, but it hasn’t to date. It has sling mounts but I have not utilized them. It has dovetails for scope mounts, which I hate. I wish manufacturers would just tap the receiver and let the end-user figure out what rail and scope they want to use instead of forcing us to use the dovetails which are notorious for not holding zero. The trigger is OK for the price of the rifle. I measured 6.78 lbs out of the box and a little mushy and it is about 6.25 lbs now and the mushy feeling has worked out with use. It is not a bad trigger, but not a crisp target trigger either. Lot’s of people complain about the trigger but it has served me well. What do you expect for the price? I cannot justify spending $80-$90 on a trigger upgrade for the price I paid for the rifle. This is not a bench rest rifle. It is a fun time plinker or lightweight hunter. If you want a bench rest rifle you are looking at the wrong model. This is an out of the box shoot me a lot type rifle, not a rifle to hang things off of, modify, and spend money on. Although there are a selection of aftermarket triggers, magazines, stocks, and sights available for this model if you so choose. Even with all the above cheapness factor, other than the two issues below, it has been a surprisingly reliable rifle and I have put more than three thousand rounds through it over the years without a single issue. Not one. Not a stove pipe, or a FTF. It runs pretty dry and dirty as well.
I picked up a few extra 10 round magazines on gunbroker for a good price to go with it, and thus ended the investment. The factory magazines are thankfully nickel plated to combat corrosion and are solid and reliable. Currently a number of manufacturers offer hi-cap magazines for this rifle. 14, 15, 25, 50, and 70 rounds. Tactical Vantage is one of these manufacturers. I like the low profile lightweight mags. I only own one 25 round magazine for my Ruger 10/22 and I barely use it. Due to the rise in demand for rim fires and accessories, the stock 10 round box magazines are going for around $15 at the time of this review. I got mine for $9.00 each.
The rifle is easy to clean and tear down. Two screws remove the trigger housing and bolt/barrel from the stock. Then pushing out a take down pin and the trigger housing separates from the bolt. You then simply push the bolt back with your thumb and push up separating it from the receiver leaving you with four parts, the bolt, lever, recoil spring, and recoil spring guide. There are plenty of tutorials on you tube but it is very simple to disassemble, clean, and reassemble.
The accuracy of this rifle is great. With irons I can hit rabbit sized targets with regularity and it has excellent groupings for my purposes.
Here are some of my offhand groupings with irons and federal bulk pack ammo at 25yards:
To test groupings I am using non-match ammo, Federal 550 Bulk pack High Velocity 36Gr copper JHP because that is what I hunt with. Especially with current ammo availability. It has about a 5.6″ drop @ 100 yards. I am shooting at 25 yards from an offhand standing position.
Observations: the first two targets I shot at the circles instead of the squares. The third target I shot at the squares and fared better. It was easier to sight in on the thick squares rather than the circles with irons.
The results of three shot groupings are as follows:
Overall Average for the day: .988″
First Circular/Square Target: 1.15625″
Second Circular/Square Target: .9375″
Third Square Only Target: .871″
So at 25 yards with a stock Marlin and bulk ammo I am shooting sub 1″ @ 25 yards. These were shot back when I first had purchased the rifle so my accuracy with the rifle has gotten much better with time and training. Different skill levels will yield different results. The rifle is accurate for a budget buy.
As for out in the field, I found the light weight allows for a lot quicker snap shooting on running jacks, allowing me to swing up and hit them on the move, or track them until they stop to look back. Cottontails almost always need to be shot on the move, they run from cover to their holes and are gone in an instant. I put some black sharpie on the back of the front sight so I can quickly acquire it.
This jack was hit at about 50 yards, a clean head shot
This jack was at about 75 yards and you can see the effectiveness of the Federal bulk ammo HP it was a nice body shot and a quick humane kill. There are better hunting ammo out there but the federal has served me well in effectiveness, accuracy, and reliability and I cannot justify the added cost of boutique hunting ammo no matter how small.
The rifle went through many phases…. stock black.which stood out. when hunting
To a McNett camo wrap which got sticky and started melting in the Arizona heat and had to be removed
and finally to a Krylon Fusion paint job with a tan base, foliage green patterns on top to blend in with my desert environment
The Krylon Fusion has stood up well over the years and I cannot say enough good things about the paint.
Just shy of 4 years later and many hunting trips, target shooting outings, kids learning on it, the plastic has failed at the trigger assembly . It did not affect accuracy but it is causing the assembly to bulge, affecting the mag release functionality.
As I always say, nothing JBWeld won’t fix. It is just disappointing that these manufacturers cheap out on certain parts/mounts that are critical, no matter the cost of the rifle. I mean these two screws hold the stock to the receiver and the trigger assembly in. It should be metal. I would have gladly paid the extra $5.00–$10.00 it would have cost you. Even Ruger has cheaped out on their trigger assemblies since 2008, which you will see in a future review. Even on budget rifles, certain things should be beefed up to increase longevity.
I looked at buying this: DIP Marlin Trigger Guard With Trigger or this one without trigger: DIP Aluminum Trigger Guard but I just didn’t want to make this a $200+ rifle. I cannot justify 50% or more of the rifle’s original cost on upgrades. So $5.00 JBWeld fix it is.
Please note, I beat this thing, I mean beat it. I hunted with it constantly, it was tossed in the bed of the pickups, rhino, knocked around, beaten like a mule, left in the rain, in the heat, has thousands of rounds through it. But in comparison, the Ruger 10/22 I got in 1978 is still working flawlessly and it took 35 years before the trigger guard broke (when I dropped it on the ground in an episode of stupidity). It is a sub $120 rifle what else should I expect? I decided to try JBWeld and if that doesn’t work, move onto the replacement trigger guard or purchase a new 795.
This is still a great gun and a great deal, but this is just a sign of our times where rim fire manufacturers are using pot metal and cheap polymers instead of like they used to in the olden days…. granted you cannot beat the weight or price on this thing, I can carry it all day hunting in the desert and it never gets tiring. Snap shots, fast sight picture, and a great shooting rifle.
I suggest you inspect and check this area for wear and cracking after time. I suspect it was from removing and replacing the trigger assembly for cleaning over the years and possibly cranking down the screws too hard. I noticed they come loose. I put blue loc-tite on them and secured them but I possibly over torqued them. I always took care to make sure I did not, but it happens. I since bought a torque wrench for all of my firearms. It could have been all the times it got knocked around too. I do not have a definitive answer as to why it happened, but I can probably blame myself just as much as I can blame the housing strength and material. I assume this is a common problem as evident by the multiple manufacturer offerings of the replacement part. Just something to pay attention to.
Here are the cracks on both the fore and aft mounts
The bulge it causes which affects the magazine release
and the fix I performed with JB Weld and a couple vises,and a clip. The fix is holding up to date. Yeah I am cheap.
The only other issue I have encountered with the rifle is over time the front sight screw comes loose if you do not use blue loc-tite on it. I suggest you do so once you sight it in to make sure it does not come loose. It does get a lot of vibration riding shotgun in a sheath on my rhino so I am sure that and repeated shooting causes everything to rattle.
In conclusion, this rifle has slayed many a rabbit and many a target over the years. it has taught kids to shoot, introduced new shooters to the sport, and put a smile on many faces. If you are on a budget or want a lightweight hunter or plinker you do not mind scratching, I cannot recommend this rifle enough. If you have a Big 5 in your area, they regularly go on sale and I have seen them $100-130. Some times there is even a rebate making this a $99 rifle. In my personal opinion however, everything Freedom Group/Remington has bought has turned to garbage. I avoid their products if at all possible. I would look for a 2008 or earlier model that was made in the North Haven plant. Quality was much better. Just my opinion. The problem once you find one however, would be to find ammo.