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My Favorite Gun: Marlin 1893

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_from Honesdale, Pa.,​ s__ent us this account of his favorite gun. To share your own, email us at We want to know the story of your favorite gun, and what makes it special to you. And, of course, we want to see a nice picture of it. _

No doubt there has been a long kinship for lever action rifles in American lore. From taking on the Old West to legions of hunters busting brush, the fast-handling lever action has been an American staple. My own affinity for these guns began more than 20 years ago when I fell head-over-heels for a Marlin 1893.

I had achieved the magical age of 12, and my first deer season was finally in sight. My father and I drove to my grandparents’ house and from under the bed in the spare bedroom my father withdrew the Marlin .30-30. In my memory, it took forever to pull that gun out from its resting place. At just over 44 inches in length, it seemed as if the gun went on forever.

No bluing remained on the metal surfaces, the wood finish had darkened, and there was a massive chip out of the forearm. But what struck me then, and still does today, is how unique it looks. There is the curved metal butt plate that battered my young shoulder. The half-octagon barrel begins at the receiver but ends just past the forearm. The somewhat crude front sight looks to have been added at a later date. But to the boy who grew up watching re-runs of old TV westerns—The Rifleman, Bonanza, etc.—it was as if gun harbored the qualities of the weapons used by those TV characters.

The 1893 has a special resting place in my gun safe. It’s not just my favorite gun: It’s the first I could call mine. Every time the door opens and I look at it, I remember different pieces of its history. Sometimes I think of learning it was manufactured in 1897. Or the many years it hunted western Pennsylvania with my great-grandfather before coming to the northeast with my paternal grandmother. It might be how it was the rifle my father carried to the deer woods. Sometimes it’s the memory of the trip with Dad to a small gun shop near our house to outfit it with a scope before my first hunting season. Or, my recollection of one opening morning during my college years. I kept clearing the scope through a sleet storm, and eventually we were rewarded with a fat, young 8-point, the first deer I ever took.

The years continue to churn along and more often than not the Marlin 1893 is pulled from the safe and given a wipe-down to keep the surface rust at bay. I just hold it. I hold it and marvel at its unyielding reliability, feel the connection it gives me with relatives I never had the chance to know, and wonder what the future will bring for my favorite gun.

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