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Cleaning Up a 1947 Marlin® 39A – Part II
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.   Click on any blue text to go to a product/seller web site.

 Cleaned Up 1947 Marlin 39A from 2010

Wow, it’s been 10 years since I purchased this rifle.  It’s a great shooter; very accurate and the action is butter smooth.  I took it out of the gun safe to give it a quick going over and decided to make a few more improvements.  I wanted to keep it as close to the 1947 pattern as possible, but I did make a few changes.

Re-Bluing the Receiver
As mentioned in my previous article, this rifle did have some surface rust mostly on the right side of the receiver.  I tried to polish out the rust and cold blue it, but the cold blue solution combined with the original bluing created more rust!  I was finally able to make it look somewhat decent, but it didn’t come out perfect.  Over time that cold blue job started to rust, so I decided to do it over.

I completely disassembled the right receiver half.  This half had all the action parts except the bolt.  Then I removed the bad cold blue with 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper and polished with a buffing wheel and 400-grit polish. 

 Reblued Receiver

I degreased the receiver with acetone, then heated it with a heat gun.  I used a large cotton dauber to apply Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue liquid.  I dipped the dauber into the solution and applied it liberally on the steel for 60-seconds.  I then wiped off the excess liquid and polished the metal with 000 steel wool.  I repeated the process using a new dauber.  At first the bluing was splotchy, but eventually it came out even after 10 applications.  After the final polish with steel wool, I applied some Minwax finishing wax to protect the newly blued surface.

 Mark Lee Express Brown #2

If the bluing doesn’t hold up, I’m going to try the process found on YouTube by Ginsboy2003:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-CDOJF-TmY  Following his process, I would remove the old bluing, apply Mark Lee Express Brown #2, then apply the Oxpho-Blue.  The browning provides durability, and the cold blue provides the color.

Changing the Rear Sight

 Marlin Rear Sight

I really didn’t like the Marble’s leaf sight, so I replaced it with a Marlin folding leaf sight I had from my 336.  I drifted out the Marble’s sight and installed the Marlin sight.  I adjusted the Marlin sight so when I looked through the peep it was aligned with the front sight.

Adding Sling Swivels

 Uncle Mikes Sling Swivels

In my box of sling swivels, I found an old set of Uncle Mikes fixed 1-inch sling swivels.  The later versions of the 39A came with fixed sling swivels.  This package came with two swivels; one with a wood screw to install into the butt stock, and one with a 10-32 machine screw for the fore end cap.

I carefully marked the center bottom of the fore end cap and milled a 0.159” hole, then tapped the hole with a 10-32 tap.  The machine screw swivel was not threaded all the way to the stud, so I took a 10-32 die and ran it backwards over the threads to cut threads up against the stud.  I trimmed the excess threads with a Dremel cutoff wheel and installed the swivel with the white spacer.  The spacer ensured I installed the swivel perpendicular to the barrel. I used a fine sanding drum on my Dremel tool to grind the end of the shaft flush with the inside of the end cap.

 Front Sling Swivel Installed

I removed the swivel from the end cap, cleaned the threads of the stud and end cap with acetone, applied some JB Weld epoxy to the threads, then reinstalled the swivel.  I allowed the epoxy to cure for 24 hours, then reassembled the rifle.

 Sling Swivel Bits

For the rear sling swivel, I placed some painter’s tape on the bottom edge of the butt stock so the center of the tape was 1 1/2-inches below the Marlin bull’s eye.  The tape helped to prevent the wood from splintering.  I used a center-punch to mark where to drill in the stock and used the smaller swivel base drill bit to drill into the stock. 

Rear Sling Swivel

I installed the white spacer, applied some grease to the threads and screwed the swivel into the stock.  My rifle now has sling swivels that look factory.

Making a Sling


I made my own sling using webbing and plastic hardware I had on hand.  I cut 44” of 1 1/2” green nylon webbing to make the sling.  I use a lighter to seal the ends to prevent them from fraying.

 Sling Assembly

In the above photo I tried to show how I assembled the sling.

  1. I fed one end of the webbing through a swivel hook and stitched it.  This hook is attached to the stock sling swivel.  If you don’t have access to a sewing machine strong enough to stitch webbing, you can use a tri-glide to hold the end.  Strapworks has a video showing how to do this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xB86Lm7vBw
  2. I fed the other end of the webbing through a tri-glide.
    1.5 Inch Tri-Glide
  3. Then fed the end through another swivel hook.  This hook is attached to the fore end cap sling swivel.
  4. I fed the end through the center-bar of the tri-glide and stitched it in place.

I move the tri-glide up or down on the strap to adjust the length of the sling.  When stored in my gun safe, the tri-glide is at the bottom of the sling keeping the sling “dressed” so it doesn’t drag on the floor or get tangled with other rifles.  To carry the rifle, I move the tri-glide up the webbing until the sling is at the desired length.

 Leather Pouch

In my prior article, I replaced the Lyman tang peep sight with a Marbles tang peep sight.  I made a small pouch out of chap leather to carry the extra apertures that came with the sight.  The pouch fits on the sling so I always have those apertures handy and don’t lose them.  I keep them in a small plastic bag so they won’t rust being next to the leather.  The pouch is large enough that I can carry extra parts or small tools.

Replacing the Front Sight Base, Front Sight, and Adding a Hood

 Front SightFront Sight Hood

I decided to replace the white-line front sight with a green fiber-optic sight.  I’m a big fan of fiber optic sights and green seems to work best for me.  I purchased a front sight and open front sight hood from ebay.  The front sight was designed specifically for the 39A, and the open hood allows light to illuminate the green fiber optic. 

 Front Sight Hood Bottom

The bottom of the hood has a lip that fits into a corresponding groove on one side of the hood channel.  My 39A front sight base did not have that groove; I’m sure this was a later factory enhancement.  I replaced the front sight base with the base I removed from my Marlin 336 when I converted it into a takedown rifle.  (Refer to my article Building a Backpacker “Scout” Rifle.)  Apparently on earlier large caliber rifles the hood would shift and eventually come off during recoil, so Marlin added the lip.  The front sight base fit perfectly on my 39A barrel.

I used a 65-degree dovetail file #080-648-165 I purchased from Brownell’s to remove a small amount of metal from the sight dovetail until it fit into the base.  I filed the sight, NOT the base.  This was a trial and error process.  After 3-5 strokes with the file I tested the sight for fit.  When the sight just started to fit in the dovetail, I used a brass punch to finish drifting it in place.

 Bushnell Boresighter

This rifle was already sighted-in for 50-yards.  The fiber-optic front sight is lower than the sight I made, which will change the impact of the bullet.  I used my Bushnell Universal Laser Boresighter I purchased from MidwayUSA.com #636671 to see where the existing sights were adjusted in relation to the red laser dot.  After I installed the new front sight, I adjusted the peep and blade sights to the same position in relation to the red dot.

The Bushnell boresighter fits in the end of the muzzle and comes with expandable arbors to fit bores from .22 through .50.  I don’t like the in-chamber boresighters because I’ve had problems in the past with the laser reflecting off the bore and causing interference which makes the dot difficult to see.

Adding a New Butt Pad

 Marlin Butt Pad

In spite of my efforts to repair the plastic butt plate, it still broke, so I decided to add a rubber butt pad.  I purchased a Marlin butt pad from MidwayUSA #680699 which required some minor fitting.  You can see in the above photo I didn’t get the angle of the toe exactly correct, but it still looks good.

 Completed Rifle

In the above photo you can see what the rifle looks like with all improvements installed.  The sight hood and sling swivels make the rifle look factory, and the green fiber-optic front sight and sling add to the utility of the rifle.  I am very pleased how my rifle came out.

Carrying Spare Ammo

 Spee-D-15 Loader

For the range I bring along my Spee-D-15 loader I purchased from MidwayUSA.com #511932.  This loader has 8 tubes arranged around a central axis giving me 120-rounds.  I remove the inner magazine tube from the rifle, rotate the spout on the loader to align with one of its tubes, and with the muzzle pointed away from me, place the spout at the end of the magazine tube, tip up the loader, and 15 rounds slide down into the tube.  If I want to fill the magazine tube to full capacity, I can top it off from a box.

 Catch 22 Carrier

Catch 22 Carrier

The Spee-D loader is much too bulky to carry in the field, although FortuneCookie45LC has a video showing how he carries his in the field https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-W6FiBrV3I.  For field use I carry two Marble Arms Catch .22 ammo carriers.  Each carrier holds 50-rounds in ten 5-round pockets.  The top slides open to expose one pocket at a time.  Each carrier comes with a molded-in belt clip so I have 100-rounds at the ready.  To load the rifle, I pour from the Catch .22 pocket directly into the magazine tube.


   © Copyright 2020 Roy Seifert.