Tag Archives: Marlin

Guns & Ammunition – Exciting New Products from Remington

Our Field Editor got to use all three of the 2020 shooting systems. It definitely works, he says.
Our Field Editor got to use all three of the 2020 shooting systems. It definitely works, he says.

For over 50 years Remington Arms has hosted an annual event whereby writers/editors are given the opportunity to learn of and use those new guns slated for introduction the following year. This year’s venue was Bienville Plantation in White Springs, FL. If memory serves, this was my 34th seminar, my first going back to the early `70s when they were held at Remington Farms in Chestertown, MD on the Chesapeake Bay. Those days were so much simpler because Remington made only rifles, shotguns and ammo. A three-hour presentation was enough for all the proud department heads to show off their new goodies for the coming year.

Those days are long gone. Today, Remington is just one member, albeit the largest, of the Freedom Group of Companies comprised of Marlin, H&R, Dakota, Nesika Bay, Parker Guns, Bushmaster, DPMS/Panther and Barnes Bullets. It’s gotten to where there is just too much to cover in three days time, so these last few years there have been two seminars, one covering sporting arms and ammunition, the other tactical/law enforcement. The latter convened in December at the famous Gunsite Academy in Paulden, AZ.

Anyway, the biggest news from Big Green for 2014 is not simply a gun, but a shooting system designed around a digital optical instrument which Remington claims to be “…the greatest advance in targeting, tracking, and ballistic computing since telescopic sights were introduced. Combining the capabilities and functionality of multiple devices into one package, the Remington 2020,” as they’re calling it, “allows you to immediately improve your accuracy and confidence at distances up to 500 yards.”

Like I said, the 2020 is a system consisting of the digital optic, and a hand- selected Remington rifle that can be had in a choice of three models/calibers — the BFI Varminter based on the company’s AR-platform R-15 rifle in .223 Rem.; a Model 700 SPS Tactical in .308 Win., or a Model 700 Long Range in .30-06. Also part of the system are three specific loads in each caliber for which the optical systems are programmed and calibrated.

The new Remington Model 700 VTR
The new Remington Model 700 VTR

To explain all the things this rifle/scope/ammo combination is capable of would take more space than I’m allotted here. Besides, I don’t think I could do an adequate job of it because, quite frankly, I’m not savvy enough to tackle such technology. Hell, my sons recently talked me into joining the 21st century by getting a smart phone. After a month, all I’ve learned is that it’s much smarter than I, as I haven’t begun to learn all the things it’s capable of. All I can do so far is to make a call, answer a call, and store photos.

Anyway, I can t least tell you some of the things this system can do, assuming one can understand the instructions and how to do it. First off, it has a 3-21x zoom range and an onboard laser that can measure distance on a deer target up to 750 yards away. Once the specific load is entered into the computer and zeroed-in as per the instructions, it determines the range to the target, then computes the aiming point based on built-in sensors that determine temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, wind velocity and direction, inclination, and whether the rifle is canted. Along with all that information, it also tracks moving targets and computes the necessary lead.

There’s also a still/video camera on board, that automatically begins recording 1/54 of a second before the shot is fired to determine if indeed it was

The author puts one of the new Nesika Bay rifles through its paces. He found the gun extremely accurate.
The author puts one of the new Nesika Bay rifles through its paces. He found the gun extremely accurate.

as good a hold as one thought the moment the trigger was pulled. Then there’s the WiFi capability that allows everything that appears in the scope’s heads-up display to live stream to an       I-Phone, I-Pad or Android, so others can see what the shooter is seeing (this feature will settle those “I’m telling you guys it was a perfect shot. He should be lying right around here somewhere!).

We all got to use to use the 2020 system on steel targets at 380 yards. I chose to use the .308 SPS Tactical and had no trouble hitting the 10” diameter target every time. If truth be told, however, I could have done the same thing with and ordinary scope and a simple crosshair reticle, just as I’ve been doing for more than 50 years. As long as I know the distance — no longer a problem with today’s laser rangefinders — and my downrange impact points, with a steady-enough rest I’m pretty confident out to 350-400 yards. Beyond that, I just don’t shoot.

Don’t get me wrong, this 2020 system is a tremendous advancement and it’s going to appeal to the younger generation of shooters who cut their teeth on computers and smart phones. Besides, I think Remington is perfectly okay knowing this thing is not going to appeal to relics like me. To me it’s just another incremental diminishment favoring shooting and technical savvy over hunting skills.

Considering the price of the 2020 system ranges from $5300-$5500 depending on which rifle is chosen, it’s not something we’re going to see in a typical deer camp! That price includes a supply of ammo and a wheeled hard case.

Though the 2020 gizzy was the star of the event, there were several other interesting extensions rolled out at Bienville. One of the coolest guns in my opinion is the Model 700-VTR; that’s the one with the triangular barrel and a built-in muzzle brake. Though I hate muzzle brakes, somehow I can live with it on this model. Go figure! The current VTR line is being replaced for 2014 with two new models, a blued steel version with a Dark Earth synthetic stock with black overmolded grip panels, and an all-stainless version with a black stock and gray grip panels. Both guns will come with a new, tactical-style bolt handle, a Pickytinny rail, and a short Harris Bipod.

For the 2014 version of the Model 700 CDL Limited Edition gun, Remington has chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the .223 Rem. cartridge. As with other LE 700s, only one limited production run will be made, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. Distinguishing the model is the word “Limited” on the left side of the receiver, and a special 50th Anniversary floorplate.

The 2014 Marlin 336
The 2014 Marlin 336

There’s nothing in the way of new models from Marlin, but what is new is the quality of the guns themselves. For decades the old Marlin organization refused to keep up with advancements in manufacturing technology like numerically controlled machines and EDM processes. Although the flagship Model 336 has always been highly reliable, they were on the rough and hitchy side. Now under the Freedom Group, they’re finally made the transition to modern machinery. As a result of the tighter tolerances possible, the new Model 336 represents a dramatic improvement over the previous version. You only have to cycle the action once to appreciate how much smoother it is. It is at last, all the gun its design allows it to be.

Lastly, the Nesika Bay folks rolled out three brand new rifles, a Sporter, a Long Range, and a Tactical, all based on the company’s highly acclaimed benchrest action on which many a record-setting rifles have been built. Heretofore, Nesika Bay only manufactured the action; now they’re building complete rifles using Douglas match-grade barrels, Timney triggers, and hand-laid composite stocks with integral aluminum bedding blocks. I shot a .308 Win. Sporter version at the seminar on the 100-yard range and both 5-shot groups were well under an inch.

On the ammunition front, 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the Core Lokt bullet, one of the best production grade hunting bullets ever. There are many additions to the ammo line, far too many mention here. Perhaps the biggest news, however, is the 32 million dollar expansion of the company’s Lanoke, AR facility, which promises to nearly double the ammo output. That should help relieve somewhat the ongoing ammo shortages we’re all come to live with these past couple of years.

To find out all that’s new from Remington and the Freedom Group of Companies, go to www.remingtonvault.com— Jon R. Sundra

50 Years With Fishing’s Finest

Connie-Elek-Big-Black-Marlin_2-tropicBig game fishing–it goes hand in glove with big game hunting. It shares with hunting the challenges of locating, outwitting and taking an animal from the wild, and offers the intrepid outdoor adventurer maritime exhilaration and thrill every bit as rewarding as the most demanding terrestrial achievement. It’s a natural extension of the very lifestyle that defines a Safari Club International member to the extent that big game fishing occupies a noticeable portion of Convention. One of our long-time big game fishing exhibitors, Raleigh Werking and Tropic Star Lodge, has even earned SCI’s C.J. McElroy award—an award presented in part for dedication to wildlife conservation, exemplary ethics, and commitment to SCI’s programs and missions.

Successfully associating a fishing operation so perfectly with a distinguished and opulent hunting organization requires much more than cavalier effort and a record book fish mounted over the bar. Instead, Tropic Star’s success has been earned from now 50 years of providing ultimate big game fishing adventures, and those adventures resulting in more than 300 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) World Records.

John-Himsel-Aug-2012-7As this year marks Tropic Star Lodge’s 50th anniversary, I took the opportunity at Convention and later in follow-up calls to speak with Werking to find out what, in the past 50 years, has earned the lodge its reputation as a “must-go” destination for SCI Members. If I had to narrow our discussions down to the one overarching theme that defines the Tropic Star Lodge experience, it’s that Werking’s goal, in addition to putting guests on big fish—and lots of them, is for guests to be so immersed in comfort and familiarity that they feel Tropic Star is their own personal, private lodge and not simply another “been there, done that” fishing vacation. With more than 100 loyal employees, some of whom span three generations from one family, servicing a maximum of 36 guests, it’s easy to imagine nearly every want or need catered to personally and immediately.

TSL-BW-PLANEThat personal, private club atmosphere didn’t just evolve at Tropic Star—it’s part of the lodge’s DNA originating from its genesis in 1961 when Texas oil tycoon, Ray Smith, searched the world over trying to find the ultimate fishing spot to build a lavish, private fishing lodge exclusively for him and his friends. He found it on the Pacific coast of Panama at Piñas Bay, a secluded bite taken out of the edge of the Darien Jungle 150 miles south of Panama City. The area remains wild and remote, adjacent to a Choco native village and within walking distance of dense rainforest, tropical waterfalls and the only white sand beach on the whole coast. To this day, access to the lodge is only by plane or boat.

To say Smith found incredible fishing in Piñas Bay is an understatement. The area’s main underwater feature, the legendary Zane Grey Reef, is only a 20-minute boat ride from the lodge. It’s about a quarter square mile seamount that rises from a flat continental shelf in 350 feet of water to form a peak with three distinct pinnacles within 150 feet of the surface. The deep valley between the pinnacles holds an abundance of baitfish that attracts and holds all manner of bill- and sailfish along their migrations, as well as massive yellowfin tuna, feisty dorado, jacks, snapper, grouper, remarkable roosterfish and more. There has been no respite in the quantity or quality of big game fish in the past 50 years, as Piñas Bay is currently ranked the #2 all-time best fishing place in the world, even besting the waters off Hawaii and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.


Like every good SCI Member, Werking and Tropic Star Lodge know the importance of protecting such a valuable natural resource, and have been instrumental in initiating and lobbying for the implementation of important conservation efforts that protect the abundance of big fish. Those conservation efforts include a 20-mile boundary from the shore that protects and separates sport fishing from commercial fishing. Tropic Star was also one of the first fishing operations to stop killing billfish catches, and remains a leader in billfish tag and release. The lodge was on the cutting edge of using circle hooks instead of J-hooks, which can gut-hook and kill big fish, and that protection of the resource pays off in lots of tight lines and world record fish.

Boyce4BlueDay#2-tropicWhen asked what guests might do around the lodge if they tire of catching big fish, Werking laughed, “I’ve never seen that happen!” Even so, Tropic Star is a full tropical resort with kayaking, whale watching, hiking, birding, trading with local natives, swimming, beaches and more. For guests who are new to the sport of big game fishing, there is also a complete introductory class designed to familiarize you with what to expect and what to do when aboard one of the 15 customized Bertram 31s in the lodge’s fleet. Tropic Star Lodge is still, no doubt, every bit the remote, private country club Smith envisioned 50 years ago with the only big difference being that today, thanks to Tropic Star Lodge, you can be part of this paradise experience.– Scott Mayer

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Marlin’s .256 Winchester Levermatic

Marlin-Levermatic 256-Winchester
Marlin’s Levermatic and Ruger’s Hawkeye were both chambered in .256 Winchester Magnum.

Anyone younger than 50 will be forgiven if the name “Levermatic” means nothing to them.

This was a rifle produced by Marlin in the 1950s and ‘60s that can be charitably described as “ill-starred,” but it is one that is still intriguing after all these years.  And if, like your obedient correspondent, you spent your youthful years studying the 1965 Marlin catalog when you should have been learning trigonometry, then the story of the Levermatic is worth hearing.

No one will ever know what moved Marlin, maker of the multi-million-selling Model 39A lever-action .22, to design the Model 56 as a rival for its own star.  But that’s what Marlin did.

The 39A was a traditional lever rifle with a tube magazine – highly attractive in those days when the horse opera dominated the airwaves, and everyone was thinking cowboys and Winchesters.

The Model 56, conversely, had a one-piece stock, a box magazine, and a mechanism whose chief boast was a “short throw” lever that could supposedly be manipulated by flexing your fingers, with your hand never leaving the stock.  It was named for the year of its introduction.

The next year came the Model 57, with a tubular magazine, and later a model to accommodate Winchester’s new .22 Rimfire Magnum cartridge.

Brass for the .256 Winchester Magnum (r.) is easily formed using .357 Magnum (l.) as the parent case.

So it was no surprise, when Remington and Winchester each announced a new small-rifle cartridge in the spring of 1961, that Marlin decided to adapt the Levermatic to chamber them.  The cartridges were the .22 Remington Jet and the .256 Winchester Magnum.  Both were based on the necked-down .357 Magnum cartridge, and both were billed as “combination” rounds that could, like the .32-20, be chambered in either a handgun or a rifle.

Oddly, neither Winchester nor Remington chambered a rifle for their own creations; instead, they sent them out the door to make their own way in the world, like Oliver Twist.

Smith & Wesson did adopt the .22 Jet, creating the Model 53 “Dual Magnum” double-action revolver to shoot it.  This revolver came out around 1962, and lasted until 1974.

Ruger created its “Hawkeye” single-shot lookalike of a single-action revolver, with a pivoting breechblock in place of a cylinder, and chambered it for the .256 Winchester.  They made 3,300 of them (and created an instant collector’s item) before throwing in the towel.

The only riflemaker to take any interest was Marlin, which adapted its Levermatic action to the two centerfires and the result was the Model 62.  Although it was slated to be made in both the Jet and the .256, only one Jet (a test model) is known to exist.  It was sent to Ken Waters and Bob Wallack for a test article for Gun Digest.  The .256 Winchester did go into production, however, and Marlin made some 8,000 of them.

In 1966, Marlin added the .30 Carbine chambering and began phasing out the .256 Winchester.  Another 8,000 .30 Carbine Model 62s were made before the rifle was discontinued completely in 1971.

Factory .256 Winchester Magnum ammunition is discontinued, so handloading is the only option for an avid Levermatic shooter.

With only two handguns and one rifle originally chambered for these cartridges, they did not last long on the ammunition lists.  Winchester stopped making .256 Winchester around 1990, and the .22 Jet was gone from Remington’s list by 1993.  Today, both are strictly handloading propositions.  Although factory Remington brass is still available, .256 Winchester brass will never be made again; apparently, Winchester destroyed the dies.  It can, however, be easily fashioned from .357 Magnum brass, with a two-die forming set from C-H Tool & Die.

Owners of Marlin Model 62 Levermatics generally fall into two categories:  Those who would not part with them, and those who want to sell because they can’t find ammunition.  So, while not exactly common, they are not collectors’ darlings, either.

What a Levermatic is, though, is the source of a lot of fun shooting.  Once you have a supply of .256 brass, ammunition making is easy and economical, and the Levermatic is a very accurate, well-made rifle.  Noise is mild, recoil nonexistent, and you can stalk squirrels and ground hogs to your small boy’s heart’s content, regardless of your age.–Terry Wieland