I have purchased several Marlins from GB. So far, all great, but kinda of pricey ( no where close to $1600.00). I buy from sellers having multiple positive feedback scores, been lucky. I do have both .357 and .44 in '94 CB's with the 24" barrel. I recently asked about the twist rate in the .44 being slower that the other cowboys, you might want to check out my post in 1894s. Eaglesnest provided some really good info. As to finishing, you plan to chemically strip it? How are you going to deal with the checkering, nylon bristle brush with stripper? What kind of oil are you planning to use? I totally relate to your disregard for the unsavory look of the Marlin plastic finish.
Hey, what's up with "Kaliforniastan" anyway, looks like you're mixing your metaphors real good. Is there a problem with gun dealers from California??
Oh, also, a point of interest: the three rifles I bought from GB were advertised as "No sales to California"
For some reason there seems to be some paranoid, knee jerk, response about fantom, resrtrictive gunlaws in California, that DON'T exist. I educated all three as to reality of California DOJ regulations and bought the guns. No one was spirited away in the night nor thrown a gulag in the Mojave desert.
Just for the record, I am also old enough to remember when a kid could shoot anywhere out in the open (formerly) spaces in southern California, 365 days out of the year. That was before everybody from the rest of the country moved out here an wrecked it good for the second and third generation dwellers!!