January 2009

Takedown rifles have always appealed to a limited audience, but for those who do find the need, they are very handy critters to have. Usually more interested in larger guns with larger bores for hunting purposes, backpackers—as well as horsebackers and fourwheelers–can appreciate a good   little .22 rimfire takedown for general use in the wilds, and Marlin’s simple, lightweight Papoose perfectly fits the bill.

Based on the company’s long-running Model 60 semiauto action, the Papoose is made in an all-weather configuration of stainless steel barrel, bright brushed alloy receiver, and Monte Carlo-style black fiberglass-filled synthetic stock. The 3.25-pound rimfire measures out to a compact 35.25 inches and reduces to two halves of 20.5 inches (stock/receiver) and 16.5 inches (microgroove barrel) for transport in a blue padded, floatable made-in-America Allen case that itself measures 24.5 inches. Assembly and reassembly takes about a minute on a slow day; one simply inserts the rear of the barrel into a threaded steel insert in the front of the receiver, lining the two up, and screwing the retaining ring down tight. Marlin includes a flat steel wrench in the case with the rifle that engages either of two opposing holes in the outside of the ring to cinch it up tightly into the receiver.

Up on top, the barrel uses a wide, shallow black folding buckhorn rear sight with a small U-notch and an open-topped Wide-Scan hooded front sight with a high-visibility orange plastic post. Both front and rear sights are dovetailed, and can be adjusted for windage; the rear sight uses the time-honored stepped elevator ramp for elevation settings. The receiver’s also grooved for a rimfire tip-off scope mount, if you want to clutter up an otherwise great little totin’ .22.

Inside, the Papoose features dual extractors for improved reliability, an automatic last round bolt hold-open, and a magazine disconnect. Outside are a knurled bolt handle, a grooved trigger, a bolt-release lever just in front of the synthetic triggerguard on the right side, a crossbolt safety behind the triggerguard., and sling swivel studs. There is also a release lever for the seven-shot nickel-plated magazine, and the stock wrist and synthetic buttplate each feature molded checkering.

Cleaning is relatively easy–especially on the barrel, since it allows you to work a brush and patches through it from the rear. This is a bonus with most takedowns, and it helps prevent accuracy-damaging wear to rifling at the muzzle. The trigger group drops out the bottom after two screws are backed out to give access to the bolt and mainspring inside the receiver. (One end of the barrel wrench is a screwdriver that just happens to fit those screws, incidentally.) This updated rifle isn’t drastically different from the Model 60 I carried in the Black Hills of South Dakota 35 years ago.

Marlin recommends high velocity .22 Long Rifle loads in the Papoose (definitely no Longs or Shorts) for the most consistent functioning, and three of the four tested were listed in the owner’s manual. I fired it off a sandbag rest from my official gravel-pit portable shooting table at 50 yards using smallbore-rifle black bulls; the little takedown showed more accuracy than I had expected with open sights on the sub-four-inch targets at that distance. Remington’s standard-velocity target load–used to test for reliability with non-high-velocity ammunition– produced the best groups of the session, and cycled the action perfectly. I’d tighten the barrel ring down with conviction (finger tight won’t do it). Also, if you encounter a row of misfires you’ll want to check to make sure it’s still tight. And do keep that barrel wrench handy during extended shooting sessions–just in case.

The last-round bolt hold-open failed once, with a Federal Game Shok HP, but otherwise it worked quite well. The two-stage trigger pull was also surprisingly clean, with consistent 5.75-pound pull and no overtravel. While I’m not fond of the magazine disconnect for general use, the Marlin Papoose is indeed a fun little utility rifle.


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