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A Marlin 39A Golden rifle comes full circle back to me


Average Guy
Twenty years ago, my son was graduating high school. In addition to a gift of cash, I wanted to give him an heirloom gift. The cash would be gone in no time, but I wanted him to have a "forever" graduation present.

So I special ordered a Marlin 39A .22 lever rifle and waited for it to come in to my FFL. It wasn't cheap by any means, even back then.

The day I gave it to him, I told him why I bought him that rifle, and that I wanted him to keep it for the rest of his life. But I did also say that if he ever was going to sell it he should sell it back to me.

Well, fast forward maybe three years later and my young, still dumb, and impulsive son went and traded that rifle off (I think there was some alcohol involved) to someone for a 9mm pistol.

Let me say this slowly: it was a S&W SIGMA pistol that sold new for $279 on any average day. A truly horrible plastic handgun by everyone's definition.

My son didn't live with me, so I never knew about that trade for really some years until I asked him to bring the 39A with him to the range because I really wanted to shoot it. And that is when he fessed up that it was gone.

I was floored. I couldn't believe it. I can't say I became mad with him, because after all it was his gun to do with whatever he wanted. But I was hugely disappointed that it was not going to be in my family long after I was gone. These are not dime a dozen 10/22s or some cheap rimfire. These are limited production and have very high craftsmanship in every pore of the rifle.

Somehow earlier this month I mentioned to him that I sure wish I had been able to buy it. And he replied that he still keeps in touch with the guy he traded it to and he probably still had it. My son said he would check into it. And sure enough, in a couple days my boy gave me the good news that the man had long ago put it in the back of his gun safe and had never taken it out or ever fired it!

I pleaded with Adam to please please please try to get the owner to sell it. I gave him a starting price and a "top" price which was under a grand. I have been looking on Gunbroker.com at used 39A rifles and in the completed auctions there were dozens that had 25, 30, even 42 bids and they successfully sold for anywhere between $2500 and $3000. The Marlin Custom Shop will still make you one on special order for $3195. Ugh. I thought, even though my son is one of the most successful realtors in Huntsville and is a great negotiator, I probably didn't have a prayer.

Well, to bring this story to a close, yesterday (the day I signed my retirement papers) Adam sent me a picture of that rifle and said "I have it." I was absolutely elated. The same gun I worked hard to afford and buy, not another gun which was similar, was going to come home to me.

This morning I picked it up and paid Adam the money. He said that the man almost didn't sell because when Adam kept climbing the offer he got suspicious why someone was offering so much for a .22 rifle so he researched it and found the same thing I had. They go for thousands. Other than me sighting it in 20 years ago it has never been handled. It is absolutely pristine. Of course it is JM stamped. I'm ty[ing this while it lies on the bed right next to me.


Nitesite, you like many of us, have an appreciation for true quality and craftsmanship. "JM" Marlins are highly prized and today command much higher prices than their brand new counterparts.

Congratulations on having it back home!



Average Guy
In case some of you were wondering what a 39A was (I didn't know either)... ;) LINK

View attachment 25030


Your thoughtfulness and interest to help explain why these are special is really appreciated.

However, the stock picture you provided comes nowhere close to doing them justice. That wood looks like a pine board and not American walnut.

I'll post a pic of mine, perhaps later today, and you will see what I mean.

Thanks for the Wiki page. I enjoyed reading it.


John A.

Unconstitutional laws are not laws.
Staff member
Global Moderator
Congratulations. I admit that I have sold and traded a few things which I regretted. One being a 1960 something Thompson Auto Ordnance which was absolutely beautiful.

Sold it for a whopping $350 because at the time, I was expecting my oldest son to be born at any minute and he needed some baby clothes and a crib and I didn't have the extra money after bills to buy hardly anything. The crib taking up 1/3 of the money that I got for the rifle. I think he slept in it a grand total of once. Maybe...MAYBE twice. Ended up selling it in a yard sale for hardly nothing a year and a half later just to get it out of my way.

My middle son, I helped him build his first rifle. He bought many of the main parts upper and stripped lower, but I gave him a lot of my spare parts he needed to complete it just to help him out. He kept it about 6 months. Traded it straight across to a junky used kahr cm9 micro pistol that wouldn't even make it through an entire mag without having a light strike.

Fast forward, he gets in a hard spot and needs money. I buy the pistol off of him full well knowing it was a basket case. Changed the firing pin spring. firing pin itself. Slide spring. Got it running (most) of the time with anything besides hard primer russian import stuff, but still not enough that I'd want to carry it. And recently, he asked me if he could have it back.

Have it back?

Uhh. No. But if you want to give my money back that I have in it, maybe we can talk.

Have it back. Pfft.

In fairness though, he said he was keeping the old SKS and Winchester shotgun from now on. He keeps the pump in his car most of the time. And I have seen the rifle in a rack on the wall of the bedroom at his house.