Introduced in 1948 to the American Hunter the Marlin Model 336 and other related variants have been a solid link among whitetail, bear, and even elk hunters for many years across the board. At the end of WW II, the young soldier just getting out of the service was gun savvy, and Marlin was quick to catch on to the pending market in a good lever action rifle.
What the Marlin retains that is different from some other lever-action rifles is that it is set up as a side ejection design and that makes mounting scope bases, blocks, or even Weaver-style rails a snap when moving to more than a set of open buckhorn style sights. With this very flexible ability to take on glass sights what the buyer of a scope needs to understand first and foremost is that it will be important to base your choice in glass against the exact cartridge type you’re selecting in the rifle.
For example, if you’re shooting the 45-70 round there I little need for some range stretching system. Sure the 45-70 is a buffalo cartridge of old and was spot on deadly to 600 yards, but that is not realistic as a big game rifle nowadays, because modern ballistics has generated far more accurate and deadly ordinance over the past 200 years or so.
This means that as offered by the builders of the Marlin 336, cartridges like the 45-70, 444 Marlin, and 30-30 Winchester, being the primary chamberings in this rifle, keeping with the correct scope offerings as paired to the above listed cartridges is critical. It also means that range is for the most part inside 200 yards, and a hunter that knows the cartridges well can push that effective range to about 300 yards using a whole lot of bullet trajectory knowledge, and also using a good scope sight in the process.
When selecting a rifle scope for the Marlin 336 and its close variants, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a life savings to get into a good glass as balanced to the rifle being present in this review. Therefore let’s get started with scope number one in the selection process.
My Picks For 336 Scope
1. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24
Don’t let the name on the scope fool you. This scope is compact in design for use on the smaller receiver of the AR-15, M-16. That means that it is a nice fit for the Marlin 336 short receiver, and when the barrel length moves down into the trapper series at 16 inches, it is even a better fit.
Affordable, tough as nails, as I have shot these scopes for years on both rifle and heavy recoiling slug guns (shotguns). I can test the fact that for a little over $200,00 you’re getting one pile of great operation glass that will control any and all of the cartridges chambered in the lever-action rifle.
This scope is 13 x 2 x 1 inch in size. The air to glass surfaces are hard coated and scratch resistant as well as waterproof. The objective lens is 30 mm, which is ample for shooting to 300 yards regarding light gathering abilities.
Standard one inch rings and bases are easy to apply to this scope in terms of mounting. With the Marlin having a drilled and tapped series of scope base holes in place adding this scope even at home should not pose a major problem at all. This scope features a large “throw down” lever when changing magnification levels on the run.
The company priced right and field tough this scope is a good choice for this shorter range big bore rifle.
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II SFP
Moving into a somewhat larger scope, but still very workable on the Marlins full-length barreled receiver is the Vortex Crossfire II.
This is a scope that has more meat to it as it is a heavier larger scope, but it is still a 1–4x30mm objective lens unit. This scope is again a great price range optical system as it is in the ballpark of about $1xx on the low end, to just $3xx when fully equipped.
Vortex uses the V-Brite reticle in the Crossfire series, and the scope is available with battery powered visuals Lighted reticle.
Sub-tensions in the reticle are the Dead-Hold BDC system. Find the mark that fits the impact point of your bullet, and you know where to aim lacking any massive hold over guesswork, or DOPE card reading in the field.
This scope has a long eye relief and wide eye box for fast target acquisition. Turret adjustments are in MOA clicks and the main tube housing is of a one piece aircraft-grade aluminum construction.
The Crossfire series of Vortex scopes are all very much field ready and designed for the hunter from the main tube up.
- Size 14,5 x 2 x 1.73 inches 1.5 pounds.
- Battery power lithium
3. Nikon Black Force 100 1-6×24 IL MOA.
I have moved again toward the small objective and compact glass sight, as it is fitting that this be considered as workable for the Marlin lever-action rifle. If you don’t think I am on the right track here be advised that currently the US Army has contracted Sig Arms to build a combat grade scope just like this for general application among squad level troops. That means every ground pounding trooper will carry a scoped M-16 / M-4, or whatever the next advance is in military weapons. Why move away from the ACOG red dot etc? Because scope like this increases hit ability and reduces excess ammo consumption as well as develops a far more lethal soldier.
Like the military sighting concept, this Nikon Black will do exactly the same thing and is workable on big game to all practical range limits. The small compact structure of the scope makes it easy to carry and will not interfere with mounting speed or locking in game harvesting accuracy.
Low profile capped turret adjustments in MOA graduations, a larger 30mm main tube built for rough field use ( military style ), and mounting an etched reticle this scope is a mid-range priced unit that has enough advanced upgrades to make it very lethal in the field.
As mounted on a lever rifle this scope is fast to mount, sight, and in general use by even a first time shooter.
- 11.6 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches / 13 ounces.
- Battery power lighted reticle Lithium.
4. Nikon 3-9 X 40 BDC Reticle
In this second Nikon scope, we move to the basic gold standard in whitetail or mule deer hunting optics. This is the 3-9 power system and in general, the most used glass sight of all among hunters.
When mounted on a full-size Marlin Model 336 ( long barrel) in 30-30 Win, or even 444 Marlin, the rifle scope sight is clearly quite capable of placing your bullet to as much range as you can stretch out of the cartridge being chambered in the rifle.
This scope has an enlarged bell at 40mm and that means pulling low light well early in the morning and late in the evening as well. Nikon has built world class photo equipment for many years and moving that knowledge of glass into the scope area of production has made for a well-built and designed product.
Mounting the BDC reticle the sub-tensions allow the shooter to “ map” his bullet impact points and then develop an E-DOPE card for use in the field. A deer walks out of a thicket at 254 yards and using the BDC aiming points the hunter that has done his homework selects the correct reticle ring for elevation and then sends the bullet downrange. The scope retains aiming points out to 600 yards, well advanced from the general working range of the cartridges offered in the Marlin 336 ever action rifle.
- 14.65 x 3.86 x 2,99 inches, 1.16 pounds
Very affordable pricing. A great deal of practical scope for the money.
Side note: I shoot Nikon on three of my five hard working field rifles. This fall Nikon ProStaff long range scopes will carry the mail on two trophy whitetail hunts. I trust the product.
5. Leupold VX-Freedom 3 – 9 X 40mm.
This scope is in the modest price point line by Leupold, but don’t let that fool you, as these are good scopes and will return years of solid service.
Again in the 3-9 x 40mm gold standard in hunting scopes, this scope will do anything required of the 336 Marlin rifle shooter and more.
We shoot five different Leupold scopes here at Ballistics Research & Development. Why so many? Because they work well both on cold steel targets and warm targets as well. Here at my company, we don’t have time for broken down equipment in the field. A day without some success is a lost day in the books, and it is not in our game plan to work that way. Therefore, the scopes selected need to be a workhorses period. Leupold fits this requirement perfectly.
This scope is equipped with the Leupold Light Management System, MOA clicks in terms of elevation and windage adjustments and is made from 60610T5 aircraft aluminum. Scratch-resistant lens surfaces that are up to military standards.
This total scope is designed and Machined in the USA. Glass used in these scopes is also American made, and lens installation on these scopes is hand fitted versus glued.
The scopes are budget priced for almost all shooters.
6. Steiner P4Xi 1x-4x24mm Compact
With a move up in rice that is pushing a grand, the Steiner German-built glass is another option that we shoot here at the research center.
Steiner is used here as ultra long range sniper scopes, but the general level of quality and construction stays the same on all of these very high-grade glass sights.
This compact and tightly built rifle scope is again ideal for use on a short action lever action rifle. Low turret height will keep chances of snagging when heavy brush shooting, or any need for a very quick movement into action.
The reticle in this scope is illuminated as a P3TR system. The lighting retains 4 levels of low light settings, 5 levels of daylight settings, and 2 levels of night vision settings.
This scope is a 1-4x power unit and carries a 100% warranty for the life of the owner.
- Len diameter 24mm
- Tube diameter 30mm
- Length 10.3 inches MOA 0.5 click graduations for very fine sight adjustment.
The scope is designed as a 600 yard specialized glass sight. This system can handle any and all chamberings as applied to the Marlin 336 and related variants.
7. Leupold VX- Freedom 1.5-4 X 20mm
This is the ideal power setting and compact size as applied to the Marlin Model 336. I shoot a Winchester 94 in 30-30 using a scope very much like this in a fixed 4x, which again is not bad either as used with the shorter range cartridge.
This scope is calibrated in ¼ MOA adjustments, waterproof and fog-resistant. It is also built from 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum. I strongly recommend this scope for timber hunters, or hunters hitting areas like the northern Minnesota black willow swamps or muskeg bogs.
The shooting is fast and the range is close in almost all cases.
- Weight 9.6 oz
- Elevation adjustment 125 MOA.
- Eye releaf 4,17 inches.
- Budget priced.
8. TRACT Toric 2-10 X 42
Built by a newer company that is a splintering of engineers from another major company TRACT builds good scopes. I shoot one on a 338 Lapua that is a one mile plus rifle, and also one on a .224 Valkyrie that is a dead sure rock chuck rifle in the high elevations of the South Dakota Black Hills.
Glass, main body construction, and turret tower housing are all top of the line, but at a working mans price tag.
Etched glass reticle, four-inch eye relief through a full range of magnification, and BDC reticle equipped. Need more in a scope and your just spending money.
Like other brands listed here. We use these scopes in the research business and have found them to deliver the goods without failure in the field.
Remember this. Anything I review here for Gunsfield.com is something I have currently on hand or would buy if I needed it.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM.