Skip to main content

Marlin 336 Dark Lever-Action Rifle

Whether you want an old-school tactical rifle or a new-school hunting rifle, the Marlin 336 Dark fits the bill.

Marlin 336 Dark Lever-Action Rifle

Despite being the opposite of modern technology, lever-action rifles continue to be popular with gun buyers, and they sell steadily. Take the Marlin 336, for example. It was introduced in 1948 and is a direct descendant of the Marlin 1893, so it’s hardly a new design. While the Model 336 is, and has been, a popular hunting rifle because it’s handy and reliable, that doesn’t mean a company as astute as Marlin isn’t going to come up with new versions that can attract the interest of young and old alike.

Case in point: the Marlin 336 Dark. Consider the 336 Dark a modernized version of this .30-30-chambered lever action—still suitable for whitetail deer hunting but now sporting some upgraded features for today’s discerning consumer.

You’ll quickly see where the rifle gets its name. The metal has a matte Parkerized finish, and the hardwood stock has a black, webbed finish painted on. You can have it in any color you want…as long as it’s black.

The barrel on the Dark has been shortened from the original’s 20 inches to 16.25 inches, with a five-round magazine tube. The muzzle has been threaded 5/8x24, so you can attach a suppressor if you’d like.


The overall length of the rifle is just 34.5 inches. You’ll see a crossbolt safety on the receiver (push to the left for Fire), and of course, with all lever-action rifles of this type, if the hammer is down or on half-cock it will not fire.


Marlin-336-Dark-Rifle
The Marlin 336 Dark features a large lever loop wrapped with paracord, a comforting addition for long shooting sessions where you work the lever a lot.

You get an excellent set of XS ghost ring rifle sights. The front is a tall post with a white line up the center, and the rear is a large aperture adjustable for elevation. Sight radius is 18 inches. In addition, you get XS Sights’ Lever Rail, an 11-inch Picatinny rail that runs from the receiver halfway down the barrel so you can install a standard scope, a forward-mounted scout scope or a red dot.

The hammer comes standard with a knurled knob that extends to the right side so you can work the hammer under a rear-mounted scope. The knob is removable if you don’t like it. Trigger pull was a crisp four pounds.

A paracord sling is included. I thought that was a neat idea, but it seemed to get in the way more than it was useful, but then again, I wasn’t carrying the rifle around the woods for hours. More paracord was wrapped around the big lever loop, and that was definitely welcomed.

Marlin-336-Dark-Rifle
Sights include an XS ghost-ring rear, and there’s a rail that accommodates a traditionally mounted scope, forward-mounted scope or red dot. The knurled lever spur is removable.

Anyone who has spent time vigorously working the lever on a rifle like this knows you can bruise the back of your fingers quickly, and the paracord on the 336 Dark’s lever isn’t a styling cue, it’s functional. Well, maybe it’s both.


The black two-piece stock looks like it’s made out of polymer, but as I mentioned, it is traditional wood with a black crinkle-type finish. The rear of the stock features a nice rubber buttpad to help absorb some of the kick.

When I was carrying the rifle, I wished Marlin had gone with a polymer stock because it would be lighter than the provided wood one, but after shooting the rifle, I realized I didn’t want it any lighter. While no magnum thunderstick, the .30-30 is still a decently powerful round, with noticeable kick in the lever-action platform.

When it comes to firearms, everything is a compromise. Compared to a standard 20-inch-barreled lever action, the 336 Dark is shorter, lighter and handier. But that shorter barrel does reduce your velocity. Thankfully, the velocity loss is not too bad.


For example, out of my personal Winchester ’94 with its 20-inch barrel, the average 150-grain .30-30 Win. load will do just over 2,350 fps. Out of the 336 Dark’s 16-inch tube those loads averaged 2,250 fps, only a 100 fps loss.

Marlin-336-Dark-Rifle
The XS front sight is a tall ramp with a white line down the middle. The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24 and comes with a thread protector.

Shooting the rifle was a lot of fun—not just for me but also my nearly grown kids—and it proved nicely accurate. In fact, this was the first lever-action rifle my 17-year-old son had ever fired, and it was a nice father/son moment teaching him how to fire the gun and work the lever without taking the rifle off his shoulder or his eyes off the sights.

Marlin advertises this as a rifle “tricked out for the modern hunter,” but pretty much all of the changes done to the 336 for this model are what the tactical types suggest should be done to make a lever-action rifle more suitable as a defensive arm. None other than Jeff Cooper saw the value in a lever action with ghost-ring sights and a forward-mounted scope or red dot as an “urban scout rifle” for those people who live in jurisdictions that frown on AR-15s.

Whether you want a very old-school tactical rifle or a very new-school hunting rifle, the Marlin 336 Dark fits the bill.

Marlin 336 Dark Specs

Type: Lever-action centerfire
Caliber: .30-30 Win.
Capacity: 5+1
Barrel: 16.25 in., threaded 5/8x24
Overall Length: 34.5 in.
Weight: 7 lb., 10 oz.
Stocks: Hardwood with black web finish
Sights: XS ghost ring
Trigger: 4 lb. pull (measured)
Sights: None; Picatinny rail attached
Safety: Two-position rocker
Price: $949
Manufacturer: Marlin, MarlinFirearms.com

Marlin 336 Dark Accuracy Results

Marlin-336-Dark-Rifle
Notes: Accuracy results are the averages of four five-shot groups at 100 yards from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of 10 shots measured with an Oehler Model 35P 12 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviation: SP, softpoint

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

Ruger Launches New American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Grendel

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Ruger's Matt WIlson kick off SHOT Show 2018 by taking a look at the Ruger Predator.

RS Sako Finnlight II

RS Sako Finnlight II

The new Sako Finnlight II sports an innovative stock and Cerakote metal paired with the terrific 85 action.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were offered not one but two hot new centerfire .22 cartridges. First out of the gate was the .22 Nosler, followed by the Federal .224 Valkrie..22 Nosler vs .224 Valkyrie Ammo

.22 Nosler vs .224 Valkyrie

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 02, 2019

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were...

These three products from Horus Vision, a smartphone app, pocket weather meter and laser rangefinder, produce fast, easy firing solutions.3 Great Horus Vision Products Accessories

3 Great Horus Vision Products

David M. Fortier - August 21, 2020

These three products from Horus Vision, a smartphone app, pocket weather meter and laser...

The author takes stock of rimfire rifles he's known and loved..22 Memory Lane Ammo

.22 Memory Lane

J. Scott Rupp - January 04, 2019

The author takes stock of rimfire rifles he's known and loved.

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills don't hinder your rifle's accuracy potentialHow to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest Shooting Tips

How to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest

Keith Wood - August 05, 2014

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills...

See More Trending Articles

More Lever-Action

The Winchester '92 turns 125, and the company celebrates with an anniversary sporter.Winchester Model 1892 Anniversary Edition Lever-Action

Winchester Model 1892 Anniversary Edition

Stan Trzoniec - October 10, 2017

The Winchester '92 turns 125, and the company celebrates with an anniversary sporter.

The 1886 Lite Hunter from Uberti couples fast handling with serious firepower.Uberti USA Model 1886 Review Lever-Action

Uberti USA Model 1886 Review

Joseph von Benedikt - November 26, 2018

The 1886 Lite Hunter from Uberti couples fast handling with serious firepower.

Hunting with an exquisite piece of american firearms history - the Savage Model 99.Savage Model 99 Appreciation Lever-Action

Savage Model 99 Appreciation

J. Scott Rupp - July 10, 2017

Hunting with an exquisite piece of american firearms history - the Savage Model 99.

The Daisy Red Ryder celebrates 80 years with a special edition.Daisy Red Ryder 80th Anniversary Special Edition Lever-Action

Daisy Red Ryder 80th Anniversary Special Edition

Layne Simpson - September 03, 2020

The Daisy Red Ryder celebrates 80 years with a special edition.

See More Lever-Action

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the RifleShooter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All RifleShooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now