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If it were me, I'd be looking for a nice pre-safety Marlin 336, anywhere from the late 50's through 1982. The suffixes to look for are 336C and 336RC (regular carbine) in the standard 20" barrel models. If you can find one that's a 336SC (sporting carbine), that would be about the best. It's got a 20" barrel and a 2/3 length magazine tube with a forend cap instead of a barrel band of the standard C's and RC's. They are highly sought after.

If you feel that you need a manual safety, you'll want a 336CS which they started making in 1983. They later changed back to the C designation, and through the mid 2000's they were very finely made. Some are roll stamped just the 336 and no letter suffix. Those are C's. Then there are the Texans with straight grips instead of the standard pistol grips. These are also highly sought after, and they generally fetch higher prices than the standard C's.

I don't want to leave out the Marauders, which were Marlins with 16.5" barrels and the Y, or Spikehorn designation, which are short barreled and with a reduced length of pull.

With the latest, new Marlins they are having some teething problerms with quality control at the Ilion, NY facility they moved to fairly recently.

If I've left anything out, someone will be along to fill in the gaps.
 

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Oh, shoot, I left out the old A's and ADL's with their 24" barrels. I've got a couple of them with old waffle top receivers, not D & T for scope mounting, and they are very sweet shooters indeed.
 
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