March 27, 2012

Marlin Model 983S Bolt Action 22 Magnum

The high demand and short supply of ammunition in recent months has left many rifle shooters scrambling for alternatives to their centerfire firearms. While rimfire rounds may not be the complete answer to the problem—some types of rimfire ammunition in also in short supply—the popularity of the less expensive bullets is growing.

Those shooters interested in a little more punch for the dollar are turning to 22 Magnum offerings. With more knock-down capability than a Long Rifle round and selling for at about half the cost of common centerfire ammunition, the magnums seem to be a good choice.

Gun Tests Magazine selected the bolt-action Marlin Model 983S Bolt Action 22 Magnum, $320, because it can satisfy the plinking desires of firearm enthusiasts without breaking the bank; and it offers varmint-stopping punch for shooters interested in bagging small game. And despite the continuing drain on ammunition supplies because of volume purchases, there are still many different varieties of affordable 22 Magnum ammo available at most sporting-goods outlets.

Here's what they said:

Gun Tests July 2009

The Marlin offered big-rifle feel and good accuracy with everything we fed it. The only minor problems were with the loading port and the out-of-the-box trigger pull.

We selected three types of ammunition for our test of the three rifles to check out the effectiveness and grouping of different loads. Our test ammunition included CCI Maxi Mag TNT 30-grain hollowpoints with an average muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps; Remington Premier Magnum Rimfire 33-grain Accutip-V rounds with an average muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps, and Winchester Supreme High Velocity 30-grain jacketed hollowpoints with an average muzzle velocity of 2,250 fps.

Our testing consisted of firing groups of five shots with each rifle at targets set up 50 yards down range, utilizing a Nikon ProStaff 4X scope. All shots were fired from a solid rest on an Uncle Bud’s Bull Bag at Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 12-inch targets. We also fired a few test rounds with the open sights of the rifle, with the details listed below.

The two-toned stock and stainless action and barrel really makes this rifle stand out in the rack, giving it a plus for eye appeal. Even with its 22-inch barrel, the bolt action still weighed in a right at 6 pounds—with a good heft and balance. The Marlin is designed more in the style of a centerfire rifle than the other two in the test, and we found that factor resulted in better accuracy.

Gun Tests July 2009

We were very pleased with the short-stroke bolt action necessary to eject shells and feed another round into the chamber. The action was smooth and effective (no malfunctions at all) and spent casings were ejected with authority. We would have preferred a lighter trigger pull.

The Monte Carlo stock added to the big-rifle feel of the 22 Magnum, and the rubber recoil pad, while not required for the tiny punch of the magnum, was appreciated because it helped produce a good shoulder fit.

Although the action was smooth and easy to use, we were disappointed in the size of the loading port on the tubular magazine. The port was slightly smaller than the 22 Magnum ammunition and was a fumble point for some of the members of our test team.

It should be noted that the Marlin was easy to load as a single shot—a big plus if an experienced shooter is planning to use the rifle as a training tool for a beginner.

Both with and without the scope, the Marlin’s accuracy was impressive. The five-shot groups with the various ammunition ranged from a low of 0.75 inch in diameter to a high of only 1.5 inches. Even with the open sights, the average group was 1.9 inches. We are confident that by working with different ammunition, the Marlin could become a nail-driver.

Gun Tests July 2009

The Monte Carlo comb on the stock gives the Marlin the feel of a larger center fire rifle, and we believe the style allowed for better accuracy over the other two test rifles. We liked the two-toned wood's appearance and gave the Marlin high marks on the attractiveness scale.

We were slightly disappointed in the trigger pull of the Marlin, which measured 5.75 pounds and probably made an impact in the accuracy testing. A trip to the local gunsmith to have the trigger tweaked to somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 pounds would be our recommendation. There were no functioning problems with any of the ammunition. The Marlin seeming to favor the Remington 33-grain rounds.

Our Team Said: With its big-rifle feel and impressive accuracy with all the test ammunition, we liked just about every feature of the Marlin. The only minor problems were with the loading port and the out-of-the-box trigger pull—neither of which was considered a deal-breaker.

Comments (10)

Just picked one up used...very good condition $225. I am quite happy how it shoots and handles...a little on the heavy side but damn fine to shoot.

Posted by: Katz | May 10, 2016 5:19 PM    Report this comment

I have a Model 983, purchased thru Klein's mailorder in 1963. Back then came with a 24" barrel and clip mag. Very accurate and dependable. Started with a Weaver 6x scope moved from a Stevens #50 single shot. Eventually switched to a 3-9x Simmons. Still the most accurate gun I own. Just a bit better than my Ruger .204 caliber. Best accuract was with Super-X 40 gr. hollow point ammo. Deadly on chucks and coyote.

Posted by: mrhovy | April 9, 2012 8:27 AM    Report this comment

I have a couple of Marlin .22; a Model 80DL bolt action that shoots all .22 ammo (LR, Long and Short) and an a Model 989M2 autoloader carbine. I really like both, a Marlin 22 mag would be a nice addition.

Posted by: rbart48 | March 31, 2012 11:47 AM    Report this comment

What's the capacity of the tube feed?

Posted by: ForRec66 | March 30, 2012 8:54 AM    Report this comment

I recently decided to get a .22WMR to reach out and touch the local coyotes. I got the Savage 93F however and found it to be very accurate- I've gotten groups as small as 7/8" at 200 yds. But I don't have a Marlin in my collection...yet.

Posted by: jwash111 | March 30, 2012 5:55 AM    Report this comment

I have one of these and the accuracy is very good. I use open sites and have take numerous species of animals from small to large.

Posted by: Dennis H | March 29, 2012 5:09 PM    Report this comment

Think I might check this one out to go with my lever action Henry and my bolt action mag fed Savage, both nice .22 mag rifles. But as always I am open to having another good gun in my collection.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry,
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | March 29, 2012 3:58 PM    Report this comment

That's a nice looking rifle.

Posted by: david b | March 29, 2012 3:26 PM    Report this comment

very nice looking gun and write up!! Wish I had one, we used Marlin .22 long rifle for all our coon hunting needs they NEVER failed to fire...

Posted by: pitdogg | March 29, 2012 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I have an 882: Walnut stock, box magazine. I really like it. I heard that someone was selling 5-round magazines (normals are 7) the smaller magazines reportedly fit flush. I can't find any. I paid around $150.

Posted by: Mister E | March 29, 2012 12:06 PM    Report this comment

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