“Be careful what you wish for, lest it comes true,” goes the adage. In deer season last year, I saw my hunting buddy Jason bag a six-point buck with his 1974 vintage Marlin 336 in 35 Rem lever-action rifle. It was an exciting hunt, and I was so impressed with how Jason handled his Marlin rifle, I decided I wanted the same rifle for myself for the next deer season. Jason agreed to search for a Marlin rifle for me, and he came through. He found me a 1960 Marlin 336 lever action in 30:30 in short order. Not long after, Jason found the right scope for my Marlin rifle: a Bausch and Lomb Elite 3000. Jason installed the scope on the rifle for me; he has the skill and experience for such delicate work. With the new rifle and scope assembled, I looked forward to getting it out to the range to try it out.
I took possession of the Marlin rifle and scope early in the year, and it was not until the fall that Jason and I took it out to the range to sight it in. In the interim, I had a stroke of good fortune while shopping at Sail. Though I went to SAIL with no intention of buying a new rifle, I saw no harm in stopping by the gun counter to see what they had for sale. What caught my eye was a left-hand bolt action rifle with a clearance tag attached. Curiosity got the better of me, so I asked the sales associate what make, model and calibre the rifle was. He told me it was a Remington Model 700 in .270 Winchester. I asked if I could take a closer look at the rifle, and the associate took it off the rack and handed it to me. Once I held the rifle and looked down the barrel, I was genuinely bowled over at how well it fit and how well-balanced it felt in my hands. “I want this rifle,” thought to myself. “What about your budget?” my conscience intoned. “Yes, what about my budget,” I thought. “I could wait, as much as I want to buy the rifle, and go over my budget before deciding, but what if someone else comes along and snaps the rifle up in the meantime,” I pondered.
“How often am I going to find a left-hand bolt action rifle in .270 on clearance,” I asked myself. “Budget, be damned, I am buying the rifle,” I decided. I said, “I’ll take it,” enthusiastically to the associate. We completed the necessary paperwork, and I paid for the rifle with my credit card. I spent just over $700 for my new rifle. I contacted Jason and broke the news. He told me it was a good purchase, that .270 is an excellent calibre for deer hunting. The next challenge was to find the right scope for my new rifle. I decided on a Bushnell Elite scope for the new rifle, following the recommendation Jason gave me. I trust in his judgement as he has an expansive knowledge of firearms and optics. Jason mounted the scope on the rifle for me. As it turned out, my purchase of the Remington Model 700 left-hand bolt action rifle in .270 proved fortuitous with the 2019 rifle season for deer on the horizon.
Jason and I got out to the rifle range on a Sunday morning in September to sight in both my Marlin and the Remington rifles. I intended to use the Marlin in the upcoming rifle season for deer in November. I had never handled a lever-action rifle before, and never really thought there would be any issues for me in using a lever-action rifle. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. As I noted earlier in this post, I rely on Jason to help me with the installation of the scopes on my rifles as he has the skill and know-how for the task. When it comes to working with my hands, particularly with anything other than the most simple machinery, I am completely inept. I struggle to load the cartridges into the Marlin. The rounds jammed as I tried to load them; loading cartridges into a lever-action rifle requires a degree of finesse I lack. With Jason’s help, I succeeded in sighting in the Marlin. Jason took the time to make sure the Browning A-Bolt in 7mm Rem Mag rifle he selected for his trip to his moose camp was zeroed.
I found that I can operate my Remington left-hand bolt action rifle efficiently. I have ample experience in shooting bolt action rifles, going back to my formative years. I started with my father’s old single shot bolt action Cooey .22 calibre rifle. We quickly got the Remington sighted in, and I liked the group I shot with the rifle. I had not given up on the Marlin lever-action rifle and decided I would practice with it at home. I bought some dummy cartridges to practice loading the Marlin. Practice with the Marlin did not get off to a good start. I struggled as I did on the rifle range to load the dummy cartridges. The cartridges jammed or went flying into the corner of my hunting room when I lost my grip on them while struggling to load them into the magazine. If that was not bad enough, I found I had a hard time setting the rifle to half-cock, even with the hammer extension in place. The hammer kept slipping from under my thumb. I concluded that it would take a great deal of practice before I am comfortable hunting with my Marlin rifle. I will not take it into the field this season, as the deer stand is not the place to try to get a grip on using a lever-action rifle.
That I have difficulty operating my Marlin lever-action rifle is a disappointment. I so looked forward to taking it hunting in the rifle season. I thought it would be the perfect gun for hunting deer in the wooded area where my stand is located. I will use the Marlin someday, of that I am sure. For this season, however, I am going to try the new Remington left-hand bolt action rifle in .270 I bought on an impulse. Sometimes fortune surprises you in showing that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. Now it remains to be seen if fortune will favour me this season in sending a buck past my stand while I am sitting. Whether I bag a buck this season or not, I look forward to getting into the field with my new Remington left-hand bolt action rifle.
Posted by Geoffrey