Marlin Model 1897, 97, 39, 39A geek out

On the top is the Marlin Model 97 circa 1912. (Actually unknown date, between 1906 and 1915).
On the bottom is a Marlin Model 39A bolt.

That big cut they made for the lever also made the bolt weak.
Not a problem when shooting standard velocity .22.
But could crack the bolt face when shooting high velocity modern .22.
I found some info online here;

Even shows a bolt that had been brazed due to being cracked.

I am not sure what the hand engraved markings on the 39A bolt mean “9 69”.
Perhaps the first owner scratched it on there.
Perhaps it was the date of purchase of one of the owners.
I don’t have the rest of that rifle; just it’s bolt.
Which I modified to fit my 97 in order to preserve the original 97 bolt intact.

You can see the difference between the 97 extractor and the 39A.

Here you can see where I had to remove material from the ramp on the 39A bolt where the lever rides.
The 39A bolt actually fit into the 97 fine before modification but reached battery too soon causing the lever to hang down.
Simply taking about .010" off the ramp of the 39A bolt allowed a perfect fit and operation.

This is a “2 screw ejector” on the model 97.

Here on the left is the model 97 firing pin.
Model 39A on the right.

I won’t have a day off for the next 10 days.
Only test shooting has been done indoors into a tree stump since fitting the 39A bolt.

But I fully plan to do some test shooting and will report back to this thread with some pictures as well.
Living in a shipping container has advantages… living in the national forest doubles those advantages.
See you on the range in about 10 days Marlin fans.


One more geeky detail before I hit the rack.
This bolt is probably 108 years old.

You can see the wear on the ramp from lever contact.
It still shot and ejected just fine.
Even without the bolt going into complete battery due to wear.
They really don’t make them like this anymore.
I will treat this lady with due respect.
As a side note:
Who ever had this rifle before me sure liked their shorts.
There was a ring of carbon in the chamber, right at .22 short length.
I initially took it to be rust.
A little bore scrub and some copper .22 bristle brush brought the chamber back to normal.
This fine rifle is cleaned, and ready.


And how cool is that :sunglasses:


My first Marlin was a beautiful blued Papoose I bought in the early 90’s.
Of course, being young and dumb and needing money, I sold it one day.
Then bought a stainless steel Papoose in the early 2000’s.
Still have that one.
It’s finest moment was at a group target shoot.
A friend had his smokin hot girlfriend in a bikini there.
She wanted to shoot my Stainless Papoose.
Naturally I let her.
Can’t quite get the image out of my head to this day.
Nor do i want to!

Darned accurate for a take-down with a short barrel.
Always wanted a 39A with a longer barrel.
This 97 just happened.
So i rolled with it.
24" barrel and 108 years old.

I could easily spot weld the ramp on old bolt and re-grind the profile angle to restore it"s ability to reach battery.
But I am also aware that this could be the original bolt for this rifle.
In the interest of preserving it intact; I opted to adopt an orphan 39A bolt and modify it to work instead.
I believe that all machines should be in operating condition regardless of age.
This rifle will send a few more rounds down range in it’s lifetime.
Anyone that gets it after me will get the operational 39A bolt along with the (possibly) original 97 bolt that; technically is also operational, but makes me nervous for the rifle due to the wear on the bolt ramp, and possibility of cracking the bolt face.


I had a chance to take the Marlin 97 out to shoot.
These are the first shots at a target since fitting the 39A bolt besides a few test rounds into a tree stump to test function.
The snow is hard enough to walk on now.
All shots taken at 46 yards offhand.
That front sight looks awful small on a 24" barrel.
The Model 39A bolt I fitted has loaded, fired, and ejected just fine.
Sending brass about a foot away with CCI standard ammo, but only just clearing the ejection port with the hotrod Browning 1435 ft/sec ammo.
I think the difference in pressures makes the Browning cases expand into the chamber a little more.
But all worked fine just the same.
I can’t say for sure which ammo was better for accuracy.
Standing in the snow and staring into the sun… i think the rifle is more capable than I am.
Shooting into the sun offhand is par for the course for how I intend to use this rifle; hunting small game.
So I think this is an informative first round for me.
Most likely 108 years old, this rifle.
When I get more time, and as it becomes easier to do so with the snowpack, I will set up a proper range and a rest.
Like I said before; I won’t be firing bricks of ammo through this old timer.
But I do fully intend to hunt small game with it.
Therefore, I need to shoot it a bit to get sqyared away on how it shoots, and how I shoot with it.




Marlin 97 sends a few more down range.
Definitely capable of shooting better than I am.