I received my first .22 as a gift from my mother and stepfather when I was 7. It was an old falling block single-shot and I quickly learned that little rifle in and out. Empty tin cans lived in fear of me and that trusty rimfire for I was a dead-eye shot. Or at least this 7-year-old tried his best to be.
As I progressed with it, my stepfather would entrust me with three cartridges and send me out to hunt small game. If I brought back a rabbit or squirrel, he’d put his hand out and expect the other two cartridges back. So I was taught from a very young age to make each shot count.
Then when I was around nine I received a new rifle to learn, a Marlin Glenfield Model 60. It was used and had been around the block, but that semi-automatic .22 was Jet Age firepower to me. The tube magazine seemed to hold an endless supply of glittering cartridges. Get on the trigger and you could make a tin can dance.
In an instant it seemed all my training and hard work had gone out the window as I eschewed carefully aimed single-shots and embraced spray and pray. At least I did until my stepfather reeled me back in and taught me the errors of my way. He patiently taught me how to make best use of the Marlin, and over the years that followed I spent a lot of time with that rifle.
Marlin’s famous Model 60 was an evolution of their earlier Model 99. Developed by Ewald Nichol, the Model 99 was introduced in 1959 and offered through 1961. The Model 60 was introduced in 1960 and featured a less expensive birch stock, a brass rather than a steel tubular magazine and Marlin’s Micro-Groove barrel.
Developed in 1953 the Micro-Groove rifling featured 16 grooves intended to deform projectiles less and thus improve accuracy. The Model 60 also sported a receiver grooved, rather than tapped, for scope mounts. A crossbolt safety was fitted and the bolt could be manually locked open.
Since 1985 the Model 60 has also included a patented feature that holds the bolt open after the last shot. The end result of Marlin’s refinements was a light, handy, reliable and affordable .22 LR semi-automatic rifle.
Outdoorsmen, hunters and recreational shooters happily embraced the Model 60. It proved incredibly popular and sold shockingly well. With over 11 million shipped, the Model 60 has proven to be one of the most popular hunting rifles ever introduced. What is even more impressive is the Marlin sold this well despite the fact that the aftermarket never embraced it like Ruger’s 10/22.
Down through the decades millions of youngsters cut their teeth with the Marlin. Untold amounts of small game were taken with them and the amount of rimfire ammunition they devoured would be staggering. I greatly enjoyed mine during my youth.
At some point in time though, I sold that old Model 60. Years went by and when I felt the need for another light and handy semi-automatic rimfire, I began searching for a Marlin. While the Model 60 is the classic, some 35 variations were made down through the years.
So one day when I walked into Jack & Dick’s Pawn shop just off-post from Ft. Riley, I paused when I saw a Marlin. Rather than a traditional beech stocked tube-fed gun, though, it was a Model 795SS. This stainless steel relative of the Model 60 wore a black synthetic stock and fed from a detachable box magazine. It was in excellent condition so after a little haggling on the price (I am from Maine) I bought it on the spot. I ended up with a good-looking rifle at an excellent price.
The Marlin Model 795SS features an 18-inch stainless steel barrel with Micro-Groove rifling at a 1:16 right-hand twist. Mounted to the barrel is a protected ramp from sight and an adjustable open rear. The barrel is fitted to a receiver with scope grooves milled into the top. This allows an optical sight to be easily mounted.
Inside the receiver rides a simple bolt. Operation is straight blowback and my example was new enough to sport an automatic last-shot bolt hold-open. A manual bolt hold-open and crossbolt safety are also standard. Feed is from a 10-round nickel-plated detachable box magazine.
The action is dropped into a black Monte Carlo style synthetic stock. The stock is a tough piece made from black fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate. It features molded-in checkering and stainless steel sling studs. The rifle is fairly compact at 37 inches long and very light at just 4.5 pounds.
When I purchased the Marlin it was topped with a very cheap Tasco 3/4″ tube rimfire scope; the type you can buy at Walmart for $8.
I expected this to have issues, and it did. During my initial testing this particular optic simply would not hold a zero. You could adjust and adjust and adjust and get it dialed in, fire a few shots and it would start to wander.
So out of curiosity, I dropped by Walmart and purchased an identical model for $8. This was installed and, as expected, testing showed that it would not properly hold zero either. My point being that very poorly made low priced scopes have long been the bane of rimfire rifles. Far too many people look for the absolute cheapest scope they can find to stuff on a rimfire. Then they wonder why they miss what they aim at half the time.
My solution was to simply pop the cheap Tasco off and replace it with something better. I first tried a Trijicon Accupoint I had kicking around. It was on the heavy side and the reticle washed out easily at night when using a white light. So I ordered a Weaver Classic 2.5-7x28mm Rimfire scope. Built on a 1-inch tube, this Weaver is a good looking scope well suited for my needs.
Being an honest to goodness rimfire scope means the parallax is set at 50 yards. It sports aircraft-grade, one-piece aluminum construction with fully multi-coated, non-glare lenses. Designed for the field, it’s waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.
I selected this model for a couple reasons. I like the magnification range which runs from 2.5-7X. This is a very practical range for a .22 LR and allows you to dial it down for fast close range shots or dial it up for precision.
The 28mm objective is compact and doesn’t add unnecessary bulk to the rifle. Yet it still provides an exit pupil running from 9.9 to 4mm. Field of view runs from a wide 40.3 to 14.6 feet at 100 yards. Adjustments are in quarter-minute clicks with 52 moa of adjustment available. Reticle is Weaver’s version of the duplex. At 11 inches long and weighing just 9.7 ounces I found it to be a good match to the Marlin. Available in matte black or silver, MSRP on this model is $229.49. Street price is quite a bit lower if you do your homework.
Next up, I needed a sufficient quantity of spare magazines. One downside to the Marlin is a lack of aftermarket support. In the past, some aftermarket high capacity magazines were offered for the Marlin, but they were of poor quality and reliability was an issue.
So I simply bought eight factory stainless steel 10-round magazines from SGN advertiser CDNN. At $13.99 their price is reasonable, but if you keep your eye out you can often catch them on sale. All of these functioned flawlessly with 100% reliability. Shooter’s Ridge has recently introduced a 25-round synthetic magazine, but I haven’t had a chance to test it yet. It’s on my to-do list, though, and I’ll report back with my results.
Accuracy from the bench is quite acceptable. I trundled it out and shot some groups at 50 yards for this article. Four 5-shot groups were fired with three different loads from a rest. I picked one match load, one premium load and one bulk-pack load for testing.
Put to the test, the Marlin showed itself well capable of fine performance. Best accuracy was obtained using Wolf Performance Ammunition’s 40-grain Match Target load, which averaged .5″. CCI’s 40-grain Mini-Mag load was right behind, averaging .7″. Remington’s inexpensive Golden Bullet load averaged a respectable .8″. Regarding practical accuracy, this rifle has performed well in the field on small game.
Performance of my pawn shop Marlin has been excellent. This is a rifle I purchased which has seen steady use for about a year now. Reliability has been flawless with a wide variety of subsonic, standard and high velocity loads. Weight with scope, rings, loaded magazine and sling is a very handy 5.3 pounds. The light weight means it’s very quick to the shoulder and swings quick as a bunny.
The crossbolt safety is easy to manipulate, as is the bolt release. The magazine is well placed but a bit mushy in operation. The trigger is acceptable and I have no complaints with it, but it’s no match unit. There’s a bit of grit but it breaks cleanly and it has never hindered me in the field.
It has accounted for its share of miscreants raising Cain around the farm. These are usually dispatched at night using a white light. I will say that a small rail section added to the fore-end would be a welcome addition for adding a white light. This will be a modification I’ll likely do in the future.
All in all, I’m very pleased with Marlin’s 795SS. It has proven well made, reliable and accurate. I like its light weight and appreciate its quick handling. The stainless steel construction takes nasty weather in stride and eases routine maintenance. MSRP of this model is $259 but street price is a bit less. If you’re in need of a good reliable semi-automatic .22 LR working rifle here’s one I recommend.