The Marlin Model 336 is easily one of the most popular deer rifles in the country. With a mix of a great price, good power, and great performance in brushy woods, it has proven itself time and again. While it will perform out of the box, adding the best scope for the Marlin 336 to your platform only increases its effectiveness and versatility.
We aren’t talking just any scope but some of the best scopes out there that are tailored to this specific rifle. There are some considerations to make depending on what model you own and how you use it. That is the best place to start, so let’s get to it.
What makes the best Marlin 336 Scope?
Model and Caliber
At current production, there are about a dozen different models of the 336 available in two different calibers. There have been many past models that varied from the current production and about 9 other calibers. For the most part, all perform about the same but there are a few notable differences.
When it comes with the specific setup of the 336 you have, the main thing it will affect is what mounting option is available for your scope. Some have a rail already in place while others use standard screw in scope bases. This will generally not affect a standard scope but can have some impact on your options with red-dot sights. This is more something to consider when making your choice rather than anything that will make once scope less usable than another.
Caliber is where things get a little more complicated. The two current options are the tried and true .30-30 and .35 Remington. These are both cartridges from the turn of the 20th century and perform very similar. The .35 has a little stiffer recoil but not enough to really affect a scope. It’s the older models with more powerful cartridges that you need to pay attention to.
If you have an older Marlin 336 chambered in .375 Winchester, you may want a scope with a little more eye relief. The same is true for a few of the older cartridges though most are on par with .30-30 in recoil. A lot of this depends on how recoil sensitive you are. Taking a scope to the eye is never any fun and can ruin a day of hunting.
In the world of rifle optics, it seems everyone wants to go over the top. There is no need for that with either of the current calibers offered for the Marlin 336 though I have seen scopes as high as 20x on a .30-30.
Realistically, anything 10x and has a use on a 336. My personal preference is for a 6-8x or so. A 4x is also a very good option. 10x is right at that cusp of too much power. If you could get a good deal, you could go into the low teens on a scope but you would probably want to keep it dialed back to somewhere in that range of 6x-10x.
Some models of the 336 are very heavy with heavy barrels, rails and other accouterments that add weight. This will reduce felt recoil to some degree. Others are comparatively light with short, streamlined barrels. This disparity means there are no firm rules as to how far you want that eye relief to be.
Just as much of this depends on how accustomed you are to recoil and how much you can deal with this. Body size and strength help. Generally, any scope will be sufficient to work with a .30-30 or .35 Remington cartridge. Neither have a very strong recoil.
That said, the layout of a lever-action rifle does lend itself better to a longer eye relief. This has made red dot sights a fairly popular option. They can be placed as far away as needed with no issue. For a standard scope, you need to pick up your rifle and see about how far you need your eye relief to be before you buy something that doesn’t work.
Reticles and Adjustments
Thinking on this critically, there is very little reason to use any type of complicated, range delineated reticle for a Model 336. It lacks the range needed to make such a reticle useful. Stick to standard or duplex style crosshairs or even a circle, point, or other shaped reticle.
This reflects on the type of adjustment you use. Scopes that have turret adjustments to get you spot on target are intended for longer ranged rifles. For the 100 yards or so that you are likely to shoot, these are an added complication. Stick with standard capped adjustments that usually used on a hunting scope. This will do everything that you need.
6 Best Marlin 336 Scope Reviews
Not only is the Leupold VX-R a personal favorite but it checks all the boxes of what makes a good scout scope that is perfect for shorter range rifles. This is the type of optic that not only makes your shots more accurate but increases your shooting speed and allows you get on target and drop a deer or hog every time.
This particular VX-R is a low powered 5x model. While that may seem a little low to some people, it can get you out to 100 yards with no problem and the low magnification means that vegetation is less likely to obscure your view. Combine low magnification with a 33mm objective and you are guaranteed good light transmission for a bright view.
The reticle is perhaps what pushes this optic over the top. The Firedot is a duplex reticle with a small illuminated center dot. You can use this scope both eyes open and it fast! On target and trigger pulled in seconds. This is just what you need for whitetail in the thick woods where time can be short.
You also need to factor in Leupold’s legendary durability and an exceptional warranty. Not only will this scope last a lifetime but should something go wrong, it’s guaranteed for a lifetime and backed by the best customer service you are likely to find. If you want the best all around, this is it. At least in my opinion.
For some reason Burris has fallen out of popularity recently. This is a shame as their scopes are very nice and, in the case of this scout scope, about the perfect match for a Marlin 336. It has everything you need to get the job done with nothing extra to get in the way or make it complicated.
For power, this goes from 2x to 7x. Set it on max and forget it. 7x is a great magnification for any range from 30 yards out past 100 if you do your part. Again, this has a reasonably sized 32mm objective lens for exceptional brightness. This is handy when you are hunting in the dim, tree-covered woods.
The reticle is a take on the duplex reticle that has a few bullet drop markers. This could be handy if you learn your round and its range. Most of the time you probably aren’t going to be shooting far enough to need them.
The biggest advantage of this optic is the massive eye-relief. Its 11 inches meaning you can push this way up on a rail and shoot both eyes open if you are so inclined. Regardless, you are never going to have to worry about getting a scope to the eye-socket with the Burris Scout.
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Despite its place as 3rd on our list, Vortex scopes are simply amazing. When it comes to cost for quality, they are nearly impossible to beat. The lenses are top notch, their durability is almost legendary, and their warranty is among the best in the optics world. These all add up to a scope that will last a lifetime and work flawlessly.
There are several variants of the Diamondback suitable for the 336. Some argument could be made for the 5x power scout model but we prefer the 3-9x which is a perfect match for a .30-30. You could go up to the 10x but it costs a good bit more and doesn’t offer much of a bonus.
There are also several reticle options but the standard V-plex is a solid bet. It's more or less a standard crosshair. Go with the Dead-hold BDC if you do want some bullet drop markings. Either will do the same job and even the BDC reticle doesn’t come across as cluttered.
Among many strengths with a Vortex optic are their VIP warranty, outstanding durability, and impeccable lens quality. These are simply amazing scopes available at a price that is almost unbelievable for the overall quality.
Vortex Optics Crossfire
Because they are such a good value, let's look at one more Vortex that is an exceptional choice for the model 336. In this case it’s the Crossfire II. There are a number of variants of this optic but the one that really stands out is the Crossfire Scout. It is very much in line with what you would need for a shorter range rifle.
The power on the scout tops out at 7x and like with the Burris, set it there and leave it. There is no need to scale it back unless you are shooting very short ranges or in very thick brush. For a scout scope, the objective is a little larger than expected at 32mm. This is really a good match, just not the norm in the optics world.
The reticle is the same V-plex as on the Diamondback so nothing new to add there. In many ways, this is very similar to the Diamondback with the same lenses, warranty, and quality. The difference lies in the eye-relief. The Crossfire II Scout has nearly 10 inches making it a very good choice for higher powered lever-action rifles.
The Crossfire has a couple of other notable features that may not be huge concerns on a .30-30 but can be handy if you ever move it to another rifle. Zero reset turrets are a great addition. Though the turrets are capped, they are finger adjustable for fine-tuning. All this is just extra but it’s worth considering.
Nikon Buckmaster II
At some point, we need to mention Nikon. They have been making scopes forever and have a good reputation for affordable optics that are good quality. In this niche, we really need to talk about their classic lower powered option, the Buckmaster line.
The Buckmaster is a 3-9x scope and is probably one of the most common options starting out on many lever guns. This was my choice on a .357 lever gun back in the 1990s and is a great choice for a .30-30 or .35 Remington. Ballistically, all three calibers are fairly even out of a shorter barreled rifle.
Like many other scopes on this list, the Buckmaster line uses a ballistic plex reticle. So, it’s a standard crosshair with some bullet drop markings below the cross. Nothing too special but a good match for the rifle at hand.
Eye-relief may not be anything too special but it has plenty to keep your eye away from the scope. The more moderate eye-relief is actually decent for rifles that use standard mounts and bases. For guns with rails, go with something with a little longer. If you have a more classically styled 336, this is a great starter scope.
Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
To end on a high note, we need to talk about Bushnell. There are probably more of their scopes on hunting rifles than any other brand out there. This isn’t so much about quality as it is about value. You can get a solid Bushnell scope for far less than many other brands and it will still do the job. Their Banner line is among the most popular by a wide margin.
At 3-9x we are in that sweet spot for a .30-30. And when combined with their DDB coated lenses, this is a perfect choice for dim woods or overcast days. You aren’t going to be shooting in the dark but you can easily squeeze a couple of extra hours out of your hunting day.
The Multi-X reticle is just Bushnells name for a duplex reticle. In this case, the thicker part of the line is quite thick making it easy to pick up in poor light. The thinner part is just what you would want for precision shooting. It’s a good reticle if a bit clunky looking.
The one issue I see with Bushnell is their quality control. You do occasionally get a bum scope from them. This is not a huge issue as their customer service is great and they always take care of these issues. It is just a minor inconvenience. You also want to stick to lower powered rounds with this scope, no magnums and probably no .375 Winchester. Otherwise, you are good!
At no point can I imagine not owning a 336. They are simply a great rifle perfect for taking a deer or some casual hog hunting. Back in the day they were a reasonable turkey rifle. While that base rifle is good and tends to be quite accurate, adding a scope is a no-brainer. Stick one on your rifle and give it a shot. I promise you will never look back!