The Marlin 444
Marlin has long been the king of lever action rifles, and without a doubt the .444 Marlin has been one of the most popular heavy rounds of the last half century. Now as the round is fast coming up on its 60th birthday, let’s put some perspective into the big .444 slugger.
Why the need
Large game hunters in North America in the late 19th century discovered the venerable .45-70 Government round. The .45-70 was adopted by the US Army in 1873 and used in all of the late Indian Wars as well as the Spanish American War by the military, but its greatest calling was in large animal hunting. The .45-70 helped bring the buffalo to near extinction, and line up innumerable bear, cougar, wolves, and elk and mule deer from Texas to Alaska and back. However, the big round needed a big gun, typically a single shot drop hinge action long barreled rifle that weighed at least 9-pounds.
The Marlin 336 rifle, introduced in 1948 was a game changer. With its solid, flat top receiver and side ejection, the 336 could mount optics and its microgroove rifling worked better with a jacketed bullets. Offered mainly in .30-.30, the 336 was a great brush gun for whitetails, but couldn’t be counted on to take large dangerous game. What was needed was a modern heavy round that was short enough to use the 336′s lever action. That’s what led to the development of the .444 in 1964….
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