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Marlin Camp Gun
This is the 9mm version of the handy, Marlin Camp Gun. This is the original version, predating the .45, and is a suitable companion to my 9mm pistols, and a nice compliment to my Marlin Camp Gun in .45 caliber. As with it's bigger brother, Marlin did not try to reinvent the wheel, but chose to use a standard magazine to feed the little carbine. In this case, it is the magazine used to feed the long line of S&W "wonder nine" handguns. These pistols have been produced in one form or another since the introduction of the venerable Model 59, back in 1973. The series is still being produced today, in a number of different models, from full sized duty guns down to back up, and hide out models. The full sized guns used a 15 round magazine, while the more compact models had a smaller, 12 round version. This gun was produced during the clinton magazine ban, and thus saddled with the government mandated (or was that emasculated?) 10 round magazine. The magazine housing of the Camp Gun is sized to fit what was initially a 12 round magazine. This means that pretty much any of the magazines produced over the last three decades, for any sized pistol should fit. I have several old 15 rounders from the original Model 59, and they fit and function well. As can be seen from the photo, the 15 round mag sticks out of the bottom of the magazine housing a tiny bit. These magazines are over twenty years old, and used to belong to an old Model 59, which was one of the first guns I ever bought. Several years after the gun was sold, I came across these magazines, which I must have misplaced. I also have a pair of extended magazines which hold thirty rounds each. These magazines, added to the trio furnished with the gun, give me quite a bit of capacity, if I should ever decide I need it.
The gun is effortless to shoot, and at handgun ranges, there is little trouble keeping all of the shots within a couple of inches. The size, weight and handling qualities are virtually identical to those of the .45 model, except for a slight difference in perceived recoil, and the larger magazine capacity. Both models also share the unlocked, and rather heavy bolt, though this seems to affect the 9mm a bit less than the .45. The mechanics of the gun, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the system Marlin chose to go with are covered in the section on the .45 version. There were rumors about a 40S&W version of this gun, though I do not see how this could have been produced without a major redesign of the gun's unlocked bolt, possibly converting it to a locked action. The ballistics of the 9mm out of the 16" barrel seem to fall about half way between the 9mm and the .357, if fired out of a standard pistol. With the exception of the checkering on the stock, the .45, and 9mm versions appear to be identical. The dimensions are exactly the same. Where the difference really shows up is at the end of the muzzle. Looking down the muzzle end of both guns, there is no doubt which one is which.
Unfortunately, both of these fine utility guns have been discontinued. I do not see them in the catalogs, nor have I seen a new model in a gun shop of late. I checked Marlin's web site, and saw no mention of them there. Considering the many things that these little guns had in their favor, I am unhappy at their demise, though I am glad to have acquired an example of each while they could still be had. I suppose that they were considered under powered for the hunter. The size, ease of use, rapid fire, and quick handling, which should have made these guns a natural for defense, were eclipsed by the glitz of the civilian versions of the assault rifle. The plinker, and "knock around" shooter, may have considered the guns, and the ammunition, a bit too expensive for casual shooting when compared to the common .22. The guns themselves sold for about double the cost of a good quality .22. The ammunition goes for around eight to ten times the cost of the venerable .22 rimfire rounds. Going up the scale, a post ban version of a civilian semi assault rifle will sell for about four times the price of the Marlin (the preban versions being all but unobtainable), but the ammunition will cost about the same, or even a bit less. Thought of by plinkers as too much gun, and by sport and defensive shooters as not enough gun, the Marlin was ignored by both.
Considering the cost, popularity, and capabilities of some of the truly dreadful guns out there, like the civilian ingrams, tec-9's, and others of this class, it is a real shame that the Marlins are no longer produced. The Marlin is at least the equal of all of these guns in every way, and is superior in accuracy, and handling qualities, while costing less. With aftermarket magazines holding as many as twenty rounds (or even more in the case of some aftermarket 9mm S&W magazines), the Marlin can even match or exceed the vaunted firepower of these other guns.
Even better, since the end of the idiotic magazine ban, a number of hi cap magazines are available at fairly low prices, including some 9mm drums. The drums in question are from the old Soumi submachine guns. These are 72 round magazines, which are easily modified to fit the Camp Gun, as well as a number of other weapons. The total cost of conversion of the magazine is about $50, including the cost of the magazine itself. Time invested comes out to about an hour and a half. I presently have four such magazines.
The practical, utilitarian design of the Marlin has given it a sporting look, which makes the gun much less threatening than the military style carbines mentioned above. Though this unassuming appearance has probably hurt the Camp Guns in the self defense marketplace, I consider this style to be preferable to the more aggressive look of the military type guns which have become so popular. Marlin's decision to use the most pervasive .45, and 9mm magazines in the world means that there will never be a problem procuring magazines, which is often not the case after a semi auto firearm has been discontinued. I suspect that in years to come, these guns will be sought out and valued much as the old Ruger .44 carbine, and the old Dan Wesson's are today. All of these are cases in which a well thought out concept was dashed against an unready market.
My 9mm Carbine combo. This gun, and the S&W automatic, take the
same magazines, including the 30 round extended version in the carbine,
and the 72 round modified Suomi drum to the right of the photo. So far everything
is working well; but I do wonder about the effect of the heavy Suomi drum
on the plastic parts of the Camp Carbine. Time will tell. Used in the handgun,
the drum is just silly; but then, quite a number of pretty neat things,
including much of the gun culture, are pretty silly. The Camp Carbine here
is loaded with the 30 round extended S&W style magazine.