A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

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A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 26 Dec 2018, 2:51 pm

You might be wondering why one would purchase a (comparatively) expensive Marlin XLR 30wcf. That’s an astute observation as modern levers such as the BLR or Henry Long Ranger (costing similar if not less) chambered in such cartridges as the 308w should always outperform ye olde 30/30. Nevertheless there’s a few reasons for me wanting an upgraded 30/30:

  • I have a lot of experience, handloading equipment and supplies for the 30/30; my first personal centerfire was the venerable 30/30. And in the grand scheme, the 30/30 is still a really versatile and accurate round. As much as I love my pistol caliber levers, the 30wcf really does dominate over them.
  • Cowboy Lever Action Silhouette rules stipulate rifles need to be styled traditionally with the tubular magazine.
  • It’s long 24’ barrel comes pre-drilled and tapped to take an aperture sight, offering a long sight radius for irons.
  • The XLR has ballard style cut rifling that should (in theory) stabilize cast lead bullets better than the normal microgroove barrels you find in most 336’s.
  • The XLR omits the traditional barrel bands (at the cost of the magazine capacity). Barrel bands can disrupt the barrel harmonics, especially as the barrel heats and changes.
  • I do not like the triggers on the BLR. In fact I detest them, and I know they are a tricky thing to lighten, in fact many Smith’s outright refuse to touch them.
  • The 336 action is in my experience an extremely reliable lever action.

Ok so onward with the review:

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XLR vs JM 1894CB 32H&R
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The Marlin XLR is a new era remlin concept; it comes out of the same factories as the “cheap” remlin versions, so I was a little nervous it wouldn’t be much of a step up from my cheaper 336w (yet costing more than double the price!). Thankfully, the first thing I noticed was that compared to the entry level 336, the fit and finish is of much higher standard. The machining is much more refined than the 336w; no sharp edges and the action is fairly smooth out of the box, yet locks up tight. The tolerances are noticeably tighter; some of my rough old handloads are a squeeze to chamber; I'll need to tweak my trims and OALs for this rifle. The trigger is also noticeably lighter and crisper than your average 336, breaking at around 4lbs. Probably about perfect for a hunting rifle. Unfortunately the factory trigger still suffers from the old marlin flop. NOTE: I still did replace my factory trigger with a “Wild West Guns Trigger Happy” trigger, as this gun will be used for target shooting, and I do like my light triggers.

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timber finish is overall very good
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dovetailed magazine attachment
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The squishy, recoil absorbing buttplate is finished perfectly, and does a superb job at soaking up any recoil of even the hottest factory loads. It’s on-par, if not better than the aftermarket limbsaver pad I had to add to my 336w:

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recoil pad
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Even though it’s a laminated timber stock, the colouring and checkering is well finished. A small polymercap underneath the grip I discovered is also a nice touch and oozes quality:

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polymer cap
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The bolt is fluted, reducing the bearing surfaces and thus helping with an overall smoother action:

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fluted bolt
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The underside of the bolt showed an embossed “3030” insignia another touch of quality:

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emboss
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The screw-on front ramp that is dovetailed to take the front sight has two screws (instead of just the one) meaning I was comfortable changing the front sight without worrying about damaging any screws, this was a real bug-bear for me in the past:

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two screws FTW!
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I managed a quick visit to the local indoor range. As a sort of control I purchased a box of Hornady Leverevolution factory ammo, and the XLR absolutely sung. With a little 1-4x24 scope at 50m the first three shots stacked on top of each other, then the fourth and fifth opened up to just under 2moa, probably as the barrel properties changed due to the heat from the full power loads (after all it’s no free floating barrel):

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50m group
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Still a lot of load development to do, especially reduced loads with lead pills yet I’m confident I’ll get her singing with a good variety of bullets.

Overall I’m surprised at the quality of the remlin XLR; the detail is where the XLR far surpasses your average 336. But at $1700 you’d bloody hope so!!

More range reports to come...

In2.
Last edited by in2anity on 28 Dec 2018, 9:25 am, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by bigrich » 26 Dec 2018, 3:02 pm

new toy for chrissy mate ? good stuff . not bad accuracy either i considered one of these myself , but where i hunt the ranges can stretch out , so i needed a bit more range than 30-30 can give me . keep your review going, ya might talk me into one yet :D

:drinks: :drinks: :thumbsup:
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by Harrynsw » 26 Dec 2018, 3:30 pm

Firstly, congratulations on the purchase.
Sweet looking lever action. I not long ago bought a 336SS which i upgraded from the 336W costing an extra $500.

Other contenders were the Henry long ranger and the Browning BLR. Although slightly heavier the Marlin won me over in the end because of cartridge capacity. The extra weight would absorb a little recoil as well.

Although not the tightest groups, it's tight enough for what I need using S&B 150 grain soft points.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 26 Dec 2018, 3:30 pm

bigrich wrote:new toy for chrissy mate ? good stuff . not bad accuracy either i considered one of these myself , but where i hunt the ranges can stretch out , so i needed a bit more range than 30-30 can give me . keep your review going, ya might talk me into one yet :D

:drinks: :drinks: :thumbsup:


Yeah mate cleared out the safe a bit so thought I’d treat myself :thumbsup: :drinks:

Those hornady FTX pills have a g1 of 0.33, so driven at 2400fps they should buck the wind ok out to 300m. I really want to try it in a 3p service match see how she goes on the 300m line. I also picked up some Berry’s plated bullets that are rated to 1950fps - really interested in getting them to group also.
Last edited by in2anity on 26 Dec 2018, 7:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 26 Dec 2018, 3:41 pm

Harrynsw wrote:Firstly, congratulations on the purchase.
Sweet looking lever action. I not long ago bought a 336SS which i upgraded from the 336W costing an extra $500.

Other contenders were the Henry long ranger and the Browning BLR. Although slightly heavier the Marlin won me over in the end because of cartridge capacity. The extra weight would absorb a little recoil as well.

Although not the tightest groups, it's tight enough for what I need using S&B 150 grain soft points.


I’m not a big fan of S&B, and certainly don’t like their brass. Different ammo would definitely group tighter, yet still your groups are tidy for a 336. You often read comparisons between the SS and the XLR - honestly the XLR is probably not worth the extra money if you intend on scoping it and only shooting hunting ammo.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by Harrynsw » 26 Dec 2018, 4:00 pm

in2anity wrote:
Harrynsw wrote:Firstly, congratulations on the purchase.
Sweet looking lever action. I not long ago bought a 336SS which i upgraded from the 336W costing an extra $500.

Other contenders were the Henry long ranger and the Browning BLR. Although slightly heavier the Marlin won me over in the end because of cartridge capacity. The extra weight would absorb a little recoil as well.

Although not the tightest groups, it's tight enough for what I need using S&B 150 grain soft points.


I’m not a big fan of S&B, and certainly don’t like their brass. Different ammo would definitely group tighter, yet still your groups are tidy for a 336. You often read comparisons between the SS and the XLR - honestly the XLR is probably not worth the extra money if you intend on scoping it and only shooting hunting ammo.


Yes purely for hunting...
Btw, where did you get and how much were those lever revolution rounds?
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 26 Dec 2018, 4:13 pm

Harrynsw wrote:Btw, where did you get and how much were those lever revolution rounds?


They were at St Mary’s indoor - that’s the first time I’ve ever seen them as a whole cartridge actually, and they were pricey af $49/20 from memory :crazy: The 160gr FTX pills on the other hand, they are easy to find. I only shot five of the factories - I’ll save the the remaining 15 for until I get a significant pay-rise :lol:
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by Harrynsw » 26 Dec 2018, 5:05 pm

:D :D
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by wrenchman » 27 Dec 2018, 2:15 am

nice looking gun i have been loading the flex tips with my son
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 27 Dec 2018, 10:33 pm

wrenchman wrote:nice looking gun i have been loading the flex tips with my son

Thanks wm - I’m not really an SS kind of a guy tbh, and I prefer walnut over anything, but still, the XLR is growing on me...
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by AZZA'S HJ47 » 30 Dec 2018, 12:54 am

I have the 1895 sbl in 45-70 man they really are a great rifle I seem to grow fonder of it every day
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by Harrynsw » 30 Dec 2018, 5:17 am

:D
AZZA'S HJ47 wrote:I have the 1895 sbl in 45-70 man they really are a great rifle I seem to grow fonder of it every day

:) aka getting used to the recoil....so if heard about the 45/70
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by AZZA'S HJ47 » 30 Dec 2018, 9:41 am

I wouldsay its more of a push/shove than anything you donthave thesudden kick of say a 308.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by bigrich » 31 Dec 2018, 6:36 am

AZZA'S HJ47 wrote:I wouldsay its more of a push/shove than anything you donthave thesudden kick of say a 308.


that's about it. i had a cva single shot (great rifle ) s/s synthetic in 45-70 , and it pushed and rolled ya , my s/s syn 308 gives a quicker more intense kick . b@rstards , i miss my 45-70 now ....... :cry: :lol: :lol: :lol:

:drinks: :drinks: :thumbsup:
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 31 Dec 2018, 7:57 am

The big plus of the 45/70 I see is it’s a lot easier to handload than bottlenecks - soo much less f*****g around. And it gets its wind bucking abilities through the sheer mass of the pill. Only problem is that it’s very greedy when it comes to lead.
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 31 Dec 2018, 10:07 pm

It shoots the Berry’s plated pills good - there’s a hot barrel node at ~1820 FPS which is a relief, wanna see how that goes out to 300m.

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There’s also a (cold barrel) node at ~1180 FPS, but the half case of 2206H seemed a little position sensitive, i was only getting good groups if i tilted the muzzle up before the shot... not ideal. Gonna try some TB, AP70N, AR2205, AR2207 and AR2208 to see if I can find a less position sensitive plinking load. My goal is 60 plinks in row inside 2moa (at 50m)
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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by PoorShot300 » 04 Jan 2019, 1:07 am

Bookmarked: I too own the XLR and use the Revolution ammo for now, but just recently bought a press to roll my own. It was the first I bought along with it's little brother the Annie Oakley ancestor A39 Golden Boy in .22.

Had the odd load/ejection issue with the A39 but since the smithy did his magic it's been smooth ever since and eats most any ammo from what I have tested without issue. I had no issues with the XLR out of the box, though, as I don't have anywhere to hunt, they both only punch paper for now and I'm loving it.

Anyway, looking forward to future reports on your experience with it.

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Re: A Marlin XLR 30/30 Review

Post by in2anity » 07 Jan 2019, 1:52 pm

It also likes 2207 on the hotter side exiting at 1780fps:

21gr_2207.jpg
21gr AR2207 @50m
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And the 1800fps 25gr 2206H load grouped well again, even with a piping-hot barrel:

25gr_2206H.jpg
25gr AR2206H @50m
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Interestingly the XLR does not seem to like mild loads of TB and AP70N - it only seems to tighten up when encroaching on 2000fps.
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