I hope this helps and doesn't fuel the fire of the Marlington's but here goes... We are lucky enough to live within 75 miles of Cabela's and my wife 'allowed' me to choose the rifle I want. Now, I didn't NEED a new rifle but certainly WANTED a cowboy gun (my new hunting partner has been gaffing me to get one like his...sheesh).
Anyway, I wanted a Marlin Guide gun but did hear the concerns of buying without touching while Remington gets their act together (I will say, once that happens the quality will probably go up)... and in my vicinity it seemed like every small shop was back ordered on what I wanted... (They guys kept telling me everyone buys them to fly from the lakes nearby to Alaska for the bears)
Once at Cablela's I picked out of the three SBL's Cabela's had in stock. (These were the only guide guns they had in stock.) I looked all three over carefully and I have to say they were all damned nice rifles. The actions were a little stiff (understandable for a new one)... the stainless on all had a few markings from finishing or packaging.. nothing major but I am a little retentive.
Brought it home, loaded a few 300 Hornady JHP's with 50 gr IMR 4198 and let 'er buck. I also shot a few factory 325 gr FTX's.
Anyway, i am very happy with the gun. I purchased because I like to think I am a hard core hunter (#1) and wanted the composite stocks for the weather (I will say the walnut is gorgeous on the STBL and SG's) and of course the stainless is pretty and rugged. Just my kind of rifle crawling through the sticker vines in Western Wa. and walking till my feet bleed in the Eastern Wa. dessert.
(If interested, here is my original post about the rifle. http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php/topic,86534.msg826139.html#msg826139
Hope it helps, but I could have bought one online but decided to handle mine first. That was the right choice from what I read.