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  • Marlin 795- Part V

    Posted By on January 8, 2016

    I kind of like my Marlin 795s.  In part IV if you remember, I converted the Marlin 795 to a long barreled hybrid using a Model 60 upper. That was interesting but on the other hand I already have a long barreled Model 60 and having two became redundant.

    Upon further reflection I decided I would try and take the 795 the other way and make it more compact. The regular 795 has an 18″ barrel and an overall length of 37 inches. It is already two inches shorter than a standard Ruger 10/22 and a 1/2 pound lighter. Taking the barrel down to the minimum legal length of 16″ would make if even more compact and lighter still.

    In discussing it with a friend he pulled out a cut down Model 60 he had done for another friend of his. He cut the mag tube and barrel to 16″ and threaded the barrel. He added an AR15 flash hider to protect the threads. Makes a real nice little carbine and was going to be used as as Jeep gun i.e, strapped to a Jeep’s roll bar when offroading.

    Regular 22" Mod 60 vs. 16" cut down "Jeep gun".

    Regular 22″ Model 60 vs. 16″ cut down “Jeep gun”.

    After seeing how compact the Model 60 became I was convinced to let him cut mine down. Since he offered I also had him thread the barrel as well.  A couple days later he called and I went and picked up my 795 barreled upper from him. The result was a 16″ threaded barrel with a threaded barrel and  “mud guard”.   The “mud guard” is a cut down AR15 flash hider. Since the goal was compactness he cut the flash hider so that it only adds 1/2″ back to the length. It is intended as a thread and muzzle crown protector rather than a flash hider.

    Top to bottom a regular 795, my cut down 795, the cut down model 60 and a full size 60

    Top to bottom a regular 795, cut down 60 receiver to be used with the 795 guts, the cut down model 60 and a full size 60

    Close up of threads and flash hiders/thread protectors/mud guards

    Close up of threads and flash hiders/thread protectors/mud guards









    Putting the barrel back in the stock I compared it with my regular 795. Not bad but not compact enough. The next step was to take the hollow plastic stock and cut it down 2″. Pretty easy to do cut. I then tapped the screw lugs inside the stock and reinstalled the butt plate.

    Cut down buttstock. I used the screw lugs to reattach butt plate

    Cut down butt stock. I used the screw lugs to reattach butt plate

    In that the stock was narrower the shorter it got the butt plate was too large. I ground the edges down until it fit flush and used the regular screws to reattach it. (A friend of mine who cut his 795 stock down for his son simply used a slip over rubber stock pad). Overall length with 2″ taken off the barrel and 2″ taken off the stock reduced it to 33″. The “mud/thread guard” added 1/2″ back. Overall weight was reduced by 4.5 ounces but that would be offset somewhat the installation of the original iron sights.

    Regular 795 top with the cut down barrel version below it. Not much difference in length overall.

    Regular 795 top with the cut down barrel version below it. Not much difference in length overall.

    Cut down on top. Overall length reduced by 3.5 inches with the mud guard. A little bit better.

    Both stock and barrel cut down on top. Overall length reduced by 3.5 inches with the mud guard. A little bit better.









    Some people might complain that the stock is too short. My experience as rifle instructor has taught me that it is much easier to shoot a rifle with the stock too short than with the stock too long. I am a pretty big guy but have no problem shooting shorter than normal rifles.

    Bottom line is I now have a shorter, more compact version of my 795. Is it worth it? Ideally if you wanted a shorter lighter version you would probably be better off finding a Marlin Model 70 Papoose. The Papoose is a take down version with a 795 action, a half stock and a removable 16″ barrel. The problem is that the Papoose is no longer made and tends to command top dollar if you can find one.  A 795 can still be found at about $150 retail.  Cutting and threading the barrel along with drilling and tapping the front sight holes would probably set you back at least another $100. But then again you don’t have to thread the barrel and using a scope eliminates having to replace the front sight. Cutting the stock is the cost of a hack saw blade providing you don’t screw it up.

    So is it worth it?  Hmmmm……probably not unless that’s what you really wanted and had a specific need. You can now buy Ruger 10/22s with all kinds of short barrels that are already threaded and/or take down models for what it would cost to cut and thread a 795. Unless of course  you had an old beater 60 and someone to do it for free like I did.


    NOTE….Marlin has recently (Sept 2016)  offered a $25 rebate making the 795 the lowest price in about 5 years.  A local sports chain sale had them on sale for $129, the rebate put them around $106 + tax. Still a great bang for the buck.

    Classic Review-Remington Model 81

    Posted By on October 22, 2015


    I like Remington Nylon rifles but occasionally other Remingtons slip into the stable. I recently got a line on a Model 81 that a neighbor of a friend was selling. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the 81. Some online research revealed that the 81 was made from 1937-1949 and was basically a refreshed version of the a rifle which first hit the fields in 1906 and renamed the Model 8 in 1911 .

    Fixed five shot mag

    Fixed five shot mag

    The Model 8 was interesting in that it was a John Browning design using the long recoil system developed for the Browning Auto 5 aka Remington 11 aka Savage 720 shotgun. Unlike the Auto 5 however the recoil spring on the Model 8/81 was encased in a full length barrel shroud.  The Model 8 was offered in .30 Remington (a rimless version of the iconic 30-30 Winchester), a .25 Remington, .32 Remington and in .35 Remington.

    The .35 caliber Model 8 became popular with police departments in the 1920’s and 30’s to battle the road bandits of that era. It was a 5 shot fixed mag semi auto that could be reloaded using a stripper clip.  The heavy bullet .35 caliber was capable of penetrating the car bodies and engine blocks of the vehicles of the day.   Frank Hammer, the Texas Ranger and

    Lots of dramatic advertising for the Model 8

    Lots of dramatic advertising for the Model 8

    other deputies put an end to Bonnie and Clyde’s criminal careers using at least a couple Model 8s when he and his posse ambushed them. Photos at the scene shows that the basic 5 shot model was used.  However, a company from Missouri (Peace Officer Equipment Co.) did come out with a 15 round detachable single stack magazine conversion that was popular with police and prisons in that area. Remington themselves picked up on it and  contracted with POE to make their Police only version for awhile. Remington also made an FBI version of the 81 based on the 5 shot fixed magazine version but with specials sights and wood.  It should be noted that the .35 Remington remains a popular hunting cartridge to this day most notably in the Marlin 336 lever actions.


    Enter the Model 81 Woodsmaster

    Enter the Model 81 Woodsmaster

    By the late 30’s however the design was a bit stale so Remington spruced it up a bit cosmetically by changing the stock from a straight line to pistol grip and renamed it the Model 81.  They also added the .300 Savage to it’s stable of calibers. The .300 Savage was popular hunting round used in Savage’s iconic Model 99 lever action. It started life as Savage’s entry in the military trials to replace the 30-40 Krag at the turn of the century.  While it lost out to the 30-06 at the beginning of the century it’s shorter case and ballistics were used as the starting point for the development of the 7.62×51 NATO (aka 308 Winchester) round for the M14 in the late 1950s.

    Meanwhile, I got chance to look at the 81 in question. The serial number indicated it was made in 1947. It was in beautiful, pristine condition, walnut and blue steel and at a price I couldn’t resist. Later  inspection indicated that it had probably been reblued and the wood definitely had been refinished. With not a mark or speck of dirt on it, it probably had never been used after it’s refinishing however.  The bluing job was excellent but whoever refinished the wood sanded the checkering down.  The wood is still beautiful but checkering is thin. None-the-less I didn’t buy it as a collectible nor did I pay very much for it.  I was happy to get a iconic Browning designed semi auto hunting rifle at a good price.

    Glamour shot of my 81

    Wood and steel. They don’t make them like that anymore. Notice the the humpback receiver reminiscent of it’s Auto 5 shotgun relative.

    As a bonus it came with a Redfield rear peep sight that is mounted on the rear of the receiver. Standard rear sights were a leaf type mounted on the barrel shroud in front of the receiver. Mounting peep sights were pretty common in that it increased the sight radius and gave a much better sight picture. In that the 8/81 ejected straight up, scope mounts were usually mounted by drilling and tapping the left side of the receiver which off set the scope. Purists argue that drilling and tapping ruins the value.  On the other hand my research indicates that the Redfield sight on my rifle is of good quality and doesn’t hurt the value. In fact, these vintage sights are highly sought after and valuable in their own right.

    The checkering and adjustable rear peep sight. Original rear sight was on the barrel.

    The checkering and adjustable rear peep sight. Original rear sight was on the barrel shroud. The checkering pattern does not match known factory patterns.

    In regards to checkering. 8 & 81s came in 5 different grade levels. The basic model was uncheckered walnut and known as the “Standard” A grade. Grades B & C featured fancier walnut and two different patterns of checkering. They are known as the “Special” grade.  They are typically marked 81B or 81C on the receiver. Grades D, E, and F are known as  “Peerless, Expert and Premier” grades respectively.  Each featured better wood, more extensive and elaborate checkering and engraving.

    Remington's Police Guns. Not the Browning designed humpback Mod 11 shotgun.

    Remington’s Police Guns. Note the Browning designed humpback Mod 11 shotgun.

    I couldn’t match the checkering on my 81 with the illustrations of the grades I found online nor is is marked as a B or C grade.  I therefore assume my checkering was added later. Otherwise my rifle appears to be a basic Standard A version.

    One interesting aspect of the 8 & 81 is that they take down easily. A lever under the fore stock is flipped down and unscrewed and the whole barrel assembly can be removed. I say “assembly” because the barrel and recoil spring is contained in the over sized barrel shroud.  A bit of trivia is that the 81 is noticeable in the third Mummy film (The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) starring Brandon Fraser.  The producers of those films featured a lot of unusual period guns to make Fraser’s character seem more prepared, adventuress and tactical. His trunk of guns contains a taken down Model 81 mounted in a rack. Unfortunately we don’t see him using it in the film.


    They made about 127,000 model 8 and 81s combined over the span of

    Take down lever allows the barrel assembly to be removed.

    Take down lever allows the barrel assembly to be removed.

    40 some years.  I remember them growing up and recently showed mine to and asked my 87 year old father what he thought of them. He remembers them not being very popular because they were heavy, kind of ugly and one couldn’t easily mount a scope on them. The barrel shroud added weight and was ungainly looking and if you mounted a scope it had to be offset to the left side. I think that is the reason they were not more popular then or now.

    In regards to current value, both the 8 and 81 are most sought after in .35 Rem caliber. .35 Rem is still available while the other calibers are pretty much obsolete.  Obviously condition and grade affect value. The most valuable ones are those that are marked as police guns. On top of that, those that were converted to the 15 round detachable magazine are very highly sought after. Even the magazines command a high price.

    Ready to transport for your next adventure

    Ready to transport to your next adventure

    Overall, depending on condition a basic 8 or 81 in .35 Rem usually run around $400-500. Other calibers slightly less. Of course now that I have one I see them around a lot more. I would guess that the Model 8 might command a bit higher price, but most people I’ve run across who have them don’t know the difference between an 8 and 81. However, there does not seem to be a high demand for these guns therefore prices can often be negotiated down. I’ve seen them for as little as $200 in good condition.  Conversely, police guns and high grade guns can get up into the thousands.

    Do they shoot?

    The 8 & 81 are iconic Browning designs, but how do they shoot?  In order to answer that question I had to locate some .300 Savage ammo.  This rifle should have no problem shooting modern ammo if you can find it. The problem was I couldn’t find any ammo in any store. It is still made but not often carried on the shelves.  Consequently I went on a local gun forum and ended up trading some 9mm pistol ammo for a hundred+ rounds of vintage ammo including some hand loads and 100 empty cleaned, sized and deprimed cases. I don’t have dies for this caliber but I do reload so a set is on my list.

    Vintage ammo for a vintage rifle

    Vintage ammo for a vintage rifle

    I will save the accuracy report for later but suffice to say that reliability was good,  recoil is surprisingly stout. I am looking forward to trying some modern factory ammo and perhaps putting together some loads for next year’s deer season.

    Trip to the Ruger Factory

    Posted By on October 1, 2014

    In November of 2013 I won the Ruger 10/22 50th Anniversary Design Contest. My design was voted the best of thousands of submissions. One of the prizes was a trip to the Ruger factory in New Hampshire to see my rifle being produced.

    The winning design

    The winning design

    In April of 2014 I went to the NRA Convention in Indianapolis and met with the folks from Ruger. I got a chance to see a prototype of my rifle and pose with it and company executives. In that production hadn’t started yet there was no date set for my visit. However, while there the CEO Mike Fifer asked me if I wanted a special serial number on the rifle I was to get. I was happy to reply yes, my initials and 001. “Can do” he said. In subsequent conversations I asked if it would be possible for me to buy 5 more rifles off the line preferably with sequential serial number for my kids and family. “We can do that as well” he answered.

    Photo Op at the NRA convention

    Photo Op at the NRA convention

    L to r, Me, Tom Sullivan, Mark Gurney, Craig Cushman

    L to r, Me, Tom Sullivan, Mark Gurney, Craig Cushman

    In July the trip was arranged and my wife and I were flown to New Hampshire’s capital city of Manchester on Sunday August 3. We were picked up at our hotel on Monday August 4 by Craig Cushman who is Ruger’s product manager. Craig drove us up to Newport, about an hour north where the factory is located. Upon arrival we met up with Tom Sullivan. Tom is the Vice President of Operations. We also met up with Mark Gurney, Director of Product Management, Tim Lowney, Director of Engineering, Ron Nelson, 10/22 Line Manager and Brenda Taglieri who is the day shift Leader on the 10/22 line. She and her people are the ones who actually assemble the 10/22.

    Interestingly, they wired me for sound and had cameras follow us around the whole day. It will

    In the woodshop area

    In the woodshop area

    likely be edited down and shown on the Ruger Inside and Out show on the Sportsman Channel or their youtube channel sometime in the future.

    More production processess

    More production processess

    We got the grand tour with Tom Sullivan with us all day long. The Newport facility includes Pine Tree Casting which is Ruger’s original facility along with their manufacturing and assembly plant. It is their main foundry and factory. They make rifles, shotguns and revolvers. They also have a facility in Arizona that makes their semi auto pistols and a new facility in North Carolina that makes their American Rimfire .22 bolt action rifle and their new AR 556 rifle.

    It is a pretty large facility and we were there all day long breaking for lunch at a nearby restaurant. After lunch the tour resumed and we watched them make various guns. At around 2:30 PM they took us over to the 10/22 production line where they had my rifle set up. To my surprise they

    10/22 Line team leader Brenda showing me how to assemble a 10/22 on the line

    10/22 Line team leader Brenda showing me how to assemble a 10/22 on the line

    had arranged for me to make my own rifle on their line between shifts. The afternoon shift started at 3 pm. This is where Brenda came in. It is her team that makes 10/22s on the day shift. She walked me through the process. Unlike sitting at home putting a 10/22 together working down the line was a step by step process using tools, presses and jigs for each stage. Yeah, I knew how they are put together but not like on an assembly line.

    "Look Mac rifle #1"

    “Look Mac rifle #1”

    As we worked our way down the assembly line we came to the receiver. I pulled it out and noticed it had the special serial number on it. Then to my amazement, I pulled out five more receivers all with my initials and numbered 002-006. Ruger had put special serial numbers on the rifles I had requested for my family as well and we were going to build them!

    After building my rifle I was escorted to the range to test fire it. Not really a range, more like a

    A rack of winning rifle stocks awaiting assembly

    A rack of winning rifle stocks awaiting assembly

    bullet trap. “Yes, it works!”. I then got a chance to talk with the 10/22 engineers who adapted my design and made it a reality. They seemed to like the design and thought it was cool to meet the guy who thought it up. I of course thought it cool to meet the people who took it and made it happen.

    My 6 contest rifles at the factory

    My 6 contest rifles at the factory

    After a long but interesting day the whole group of us went to dinner at a local pub. We were joined by Tom Sullivan’s wife. We ate, drank and talked guns late into the evening.

    An amazing experience on my part and was treated royally by Ruger. I’ve always been a fan of their reliable and affordable firearms and am even more impressed by how they make their guns. They are one of the great American gun companies who are keeping American’s shooting heritage alive.

    Stay tuned for a review of my rifle on the line….

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