Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

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Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Pete44ru » Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:10 pm

Earlier this evening I traded into a Marlin Model 38 slide-action rifle, that I have a question or two about.

First, about this rifle, and what I already know (or think I know ;) about them)

I've read that about 20,000 were produced 1922-1930, and had 24" octagon barrels.
I know they take down similarly to a break-open single-barrel shotgun.
I know they should only be used with standard-velocity ammo, lest the bolt break.

The rifle I have has a 24" round barrel, marked "The Marlin Firearms Corporation" on top with the rest of the barrel addy info & patent dates; and a cartridge marking on the left side with an arrow stamped both ahead and after the marking, as: "< 22 S - L & LR >".

The receiver bottom is stamped with "Marlin" and "MOD 38", and a high-end, four-digit serial number with an "A" prefix, as in "A8xxx" or A9xxx".

My questions:
Since I'm ignorant as to what the length & frequency that the Model 38 production runs were, what should I figure as the DOM ? 1925 ? 1927? Earlier/later ?

How is the bolt/slide removed for cleaning, after the rifle is taken down ?

When was the switch, if any, made from octagon to round barrels - or was either barrel config always an option ?

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Last edited by Pete44ru on Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Parley Baer » Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:54 pm

Here is my guess on the serial numbers. I believe the Marlin Firearms Corporation started out with digit only serial numbers. I have a Model 32(same rifle) with a 3 didgit number and a Marlin Firearms Corporation barrel. I believe the left over Model 32 parts were used to get the line up and running again when producing the Model 38. This is in line with rifles such as the Model 39. Sometime later they switched to a letter prefix and suffix system. Maybe with the new Marlin Firearms Co. Anyways I would guess with a serial number in the A8000-A9000 range that would be a later manufactured rifle. Maybe someone else can answer the rest of your questions and maybe there thoughts on the serial numbers.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Pete44ru » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:15 am

Thank You, Parley Baer - Interesting, for sure.

It''ll be interesting to find out if the 20.000 figure for total production is close to the truth - AND how high the non-prefixed SN's ran.

My presumption: If 20K IS about right, AND the non-prefixed rifles represented about half of that, then my latter 'A" prefix SN might run closer to 1929 or 1930 - yet, that the barrel says "The Marlin Firearms Corporation" (etc, etc), gives me pause.

Can you (or anyone else) tell me when Marlin actually changed their company name to the "Marlin Fireams Co", for if not the barrel markings ?

It's a beautiful little rifle - I'm glad I was finally able to obain it, after drooling over it for the last 20 years.

.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Parley Baer » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:46 am

The production of Marlin Firearms Corporation barrels started in 1922 or maybe very late 1921. They were continued to be used up through 1935. During this time period there were a lot of left over barrels from the previous Marlin Firearms Co. and those barrels were also used on various rifles. It appears when the "new" Marlin Firearms Co. started up around 1925-1926 they continued to use the Marlin Firearms Corporation barrel stamps. A very few have Marlin -Rockwell marked barrels.

Here are serial numbers in Brophys book. Didgits, low 782, high 10938. A prefix, low A206 high A11389. D prefix, low D272, high D1739. Round barrel cost $21.50 and octagon barrel cost $23.50 according to one Marlin brochure. So I would guess your rifle was made in the later 20's.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby chrifle » Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:36 pm

Really nice 38, and glad you were able to "score" a trade after such a long wait! I have both a round and octagon version, and believe they were available over the course of the model being sold - no "cutover" period exists. The bolt should be able to drop out the back of the receiver (after takedown), you may have to help it with your finger - can't remember if you need to compress anything from the bottom? Your buttplate does not look original with the deep arch - is it metal? I think all model 38s were bakelite or hard rubber, and more flat with the Marlin logo in a circle? The S shape pistol grip on the buttstock is standard. Should be a fine shooting rifle!
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby cj57 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:38 pm

Looks like a fine Marlin!

Clark
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Regnier (gunrunner) » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:53 pm

Pete44ru;

A nice Model 38 to be sure. I do agree with Chrifle about the butt plate. All the catalogs I checked showingthe Model 38 refer to the hard rubber butt plate that "adds to the pleasing appearance." The catalogs do show that both the round and octagon barrels were available while the Model 38 was in production.
The instructions to remove the breech bolt say to "Draw back forearm and action arm to rearmost position, lift out breech bolt as indicated." Which means, move the forearm all the way back and reach in to remove the breech bolt. Nothing to disconnect or move out of the way. Quite simple.....
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Pete44ru » Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:44 pm

Thank you all, for your input !

I'm leaning towards a 1927-28 DOM - but don't know if those "D" prefixed SN's were produced later, which would put my "A" prefix a bit earlier - Hmmmmmm....... 8)

The BP input is also interesting, since I've been examining rifles for original furniture for a loooong time - and this smooth blued steel crescent BP looks like it grew there, as does the buttstock inletting along the receiver tangs !
The 13" +/- LOP also seem commensurate with a crescent butt - since the CB was designed to be placed differently on the shooter's shoulder than a SG BP.

[EDIT: Upon someone's sage advice, I checked inside the buttstock inletting for a matching serial number. The receiver's entire 4-digit SN (but no "A" prefix) was stanped into the wood under the top tang.]

More "Hmmmmmmmmm"................

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Last edited by Pete44ru on Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Parley Baer » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:34 pm

It looks like the production rate average 1000 to 1500 per year. I would think the D prefixes probably ran a year or so. So Late twenties would be pretty close.
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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Regnier (gunrunner) » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:46 pm

Pete44ru;

The butt plate should be numbered too. The contour of the butt stock was completed with the butt plate in place then the butt plate was removed to finish the butt stock and butt plate. With the butt plate and stock numbered together, they could be rejoined after finishing and they would fit properly.
Due to the increasing cost of ammunition, there be no warning shot!

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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Pete44ru » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:33 am

Thank you, chrifle, for the hint; & you, Regnier, for the specifics ! 8)

After I saw Regnier's comment this morning, I pulled off the crescent BP to check for a SN, as per his comment - and there WAS a serial number stamped in the BP's metal inside ! :roll:

The problem is, the SN stamped there is for a rifle 50 (or so) guns away from the SN on my rifle's receiver and buttstock. :oops:

Since the BP's SN is in the exact same A7xxx range as my rifle, in fact pretty close - I can't help but wonder where/what it came from. :?:

In any case, I wouldn't think it'll be anytime soon, that I cut this buttstock wood flat for a gennie BP - especially since I REALLY like the styling ! :)

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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Regnier (gunrunner) » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:23 am

Pete44ru;

That style butt plate was used on the Model 27S, which was in production at the same time as the Model 38. I doubt that the Model 27S butt stock will interchange with a Model 38, but I will check later. Opps, what am I thinking!!! The Model 27 has a straight grip stock whereas the Model 38 is a pistol grip stock. No way they will interchange. Maybe, this Model 38 was returned for the different style butt plate, or someone in the factory wanted a crescent style butt plate on a Model 38.
Due to the increasing cost of ammunition, there be no warning shot!

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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby Pete44ru » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:38 pm

As posted above, my rifle's buttstock wood is serial numbered to it's receiver, it's just the BP that has a different SN (about 50 away) - so the buttstock is original to this rifle, if not the BP. That is, IF the BP's not original to this rifle - an "if" I can't answer.

Maybe it got pulled off the line for the mod for some employee; maybe it was returned to Marlin for the crescent BP; and maybe a very skilled person converted it aftermarket.

Lotsa maybes to ponder, for sure. :mrgreen:

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Re: Regarding A Model 38 Slide-Action .22 Rifle

Postby specrat » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:27 am

Inherited my grandfather's Model 38. Octagonal barrel; on top of barrel, just forward of the front sight, it is stamped "The Marlin Firearms Corporation. New Haven, Conn. U.S.A.", just below that "<--<< Pat'd Mar. 17. Sept. 15. 1914. July 13. 20. 1915. - Patents Pending >>-->"

Rotating counterclockwise on the barrel, just rear of the front sight and just forward of the upper receiver is stamped "<-o 22 S-L & L-R o->"

Taking the bolt out, on the inside of the upper receiver, stamped into the top, right next to the ejection port is "1820". These are all of the markings/stamps on the barrel and upper receiver.

On the bottom of the lower receiver, forward of the trigger guard is stamped "Marlin MOD. 38". There are no other stamps or markings on the lower receiver or stock at all.

Any information on this rifle would be much appreciated. I am not wanting to know in order to sell it, I would just like to know some of my grandfather's history. Thank you all and good shooting!

-Cecil
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