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January 30, 2008

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... and the Poor Man Shall Rejoice

Since the last couple of blogs seem to deal with the impecunious, here is a brand new big-game rifle that just about anyone can afford and is a remarkably good gun to boot. It's called the Marlin XL-7. It's made in .25/06, .270, and .30/06 and costs $326 with a black synthetic stock and $356 with the same stock in camo.


What makes the XL-7 remarkable is the things it does not have, as well as things it has. Here are the latter:
*An excellent trigger, called the Pro-Fire, which is reminiscent of the Savage Accu-Trigger.
*A real, honest-to God recoil pad instead of a slab of rocklike rubberized substance.
*Just the right weight and barrel length, and extremely handsome lines.

Here's what it doesn't have that is universal on cheap guns:
* Mold marks on the stock.
*That most loathsome of mechanical excressences, a detachable magazine. (The magazine is blind and holds 4 rounds.)
*Tool marks on the metal.

The XL-7 is plain, simple, and straightforward. Marlin resisted the urge to equip it with wonderful new features that are needed as much as a big zit right where your collar meets your neck. I haven't had a chance to shoot it yet, but the test group that came with the gun measured .829. I will let you know how my shooting goes.

To see the XL-7 go to marlinfirearms.com and click on bolt-action centerfire rifles.


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Impecunious - : having very little or no money usually habitually : penniless

Gee Dave, why didn't you just say the new Marlin is for us poor assed losers who can't afford anything else and never will be able to.

You Sir, are a gun snob and a jackass.



Why the heck do you hate detachable magazines so friggin much? They are a God send and make things so much more convenient, both for loading & unloading & are much quieter, which is important when hunting.

They are not only for road hunters, as you claimed in another article.

The one thing I hate about my Savage Slug Warrior (and I love everything else) is that it does NOT have a detachable magazine. So tough to load with the scope base right there. My dad has HUGE hands/fingers (think powerlifter body type), and he can't even fit his fingers in there to load it. A detachable magazine would be a wonderful thing.


Why is it that "economy" rifles always seem to be chambered in .270 and .30/06, and little else? Do those who wish to spend less not deserve to shoot trendy rounds like the WSM's, the .338 Federal or even the lowly .260 Remington? Is it assumed that if you're bargain hunting, you clearly don't care about trying something new?

Dave Petzal

To JS Street: You misread me tragically. "Impecunious" is non-judgmental, while "poor-assed loser" runs counter to the great national reconciliation that will take place when Hillary is elected.

As for gun snob, guilty, for the most part.
As for jackass, we are all jackasses. Only the type and degree differ.

To Bobble: Brand new guns are almost always chambered for the most popular cartridges;it's leff of a sales risk that way. If the Marlin succeeds, I have no doubt that more exotic chamberings willfollow.


Why the heck do you read this blog if you can't stand Dave?

I would think that the reason "economy" rifles don't come in "trendy" chamberings is that the ammunition for .270 and .30-06 can be found for pennies, while the trendy rounds go for a bit more.

To put it another way, if you've got the money to go out and buy a bunch of new rifles in new chamberings you've got the money to buy lots of trendy ammo. If you don't have the money for a trendy new rifle, you likely don't have money for trendy ammo.


I think the reason most economy rifles are typically chambered for the better known rounds is because they are precisely that--better known.

The target market for these rifles is the guy who goes deer hunting on the first couple mornings of rifle season and then puts the gun back on the rack until next season. In addition to having an established reputation, there is generally a wide array of ammunition available for these chamberings as well. Just think about Walmart the week before deer season opens, there are multiple shelves of 243, 270, 30-30, 308, and 30-06 ammuntion available and not much else.


I don't see how you see that word as "non-judgemental". Perhaps, a better word would have been thrifty or frugal, maybe even cheap. I'll admit to being any of those, but I can assure you "being habitually penniless" thankfully isn't a problem for me (@ least right now).

And as for varying degrees of being a jackass, I'll give you that one.

Have a good day, Dave.



I'd much rather read a review of this rifle than something costing several thou. I hunt deer and really love deer hunting, going to camp, etc. My rifle season in MI lasts from Nov. 15-Nov. 30. Since part of my job involves dealing with hunting camps, I spend part of my season visiting folks who are only up here during that time. As such, I probably spend 6 days with rifle in hand. If I were right handed, this rifle would be a godsend. If I were shopping for one for my son, this would be the cat's meow.
Dave Petzal, this is exactly the type of reporting that you should be doing, IMHO. Keep up the excellent work.


Gary wrote, "The target market for these rifles is the guy who goes deer hunting on the first couple mornings of rifle season and then puts the gun back on the rack until next season."

Actually, I can see the target market for this rifle being the same as that of the Tikkas, Howas, Savages, and Mossbergs... the guy who can't afford to drop a grand on a hunting rifle. There are plenty of blue-collar folks, young hunters, and students out there who need decent guns too.

As far as the chamberings for the newly introduced line, that makes perfect sense. If the rifle takes off in popularity, I have no doubt there will soon be additional chamberings... although I wouldn't hold out much hope for the WSMs.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing this rifle and other new offerings this coming weekend at SHOT. Who knows... I may even run across Mr Petzal or one of you other readers ogling the booth babes.


Impecunious (im pi kyoo' nee es) adj. 1. Always needing gas money; See Bill Heavey.


Impecunious (im pi kyoo' nee es) adj. 1. Always needing gas money; See Bill Heavey.


Even though I have quite a few rifles I am going to buy one of these in .25 just because. I've spent more that the asking price on .22's and almost ten times that amount for customs that don't perform much better. Sounds like a deal to me as I don't need clips rattling around in my pockets or being left at home or getting lost in the mountains. One shot should be enough and certainly a magazine full adequate. Forget the short and fats, stick with the old standbys except for a little experimentation every now and then with one of the really big cartridges. But then that's just me.


I'd like to second Scrap5000's question: What's (functionally, as opposed to esthetically) wrong with detachable magazines?


One advantage of buying a good inexpensive rifle is that it enables the financially challenged to put more money into a good scope.

Kudos to Marlin if they have done this right.

Dave, if you are headed for the SHOT show, how about organizing a booth babe contest? I suggest looking for the best left handed booth babe. You might have an inside edge in this area. Go for it.

Dave in St Pete

"*Just the right weight and barrel length, and extremely handsome lines."

I thought you said a 22 inch barrel was too short, especially for the 30-06. That ALL test barrels were 24 inch because that was the best.


Consider this - Another line of rifles well suited for the "realistic" hunter are the Howa Model 1500 Lightning. A company who manufactures for Weatherby provides incredible value in their own line - chambered from .223 - .300 Win.

As for Gun Snob - I too am guilty - but on my first Sheep hunt, my SAKO sh*t the bed due to moisture and my back-up Howa fit the bill nicely. It's now my go to gun for hunthing everything from deer to bear.....Cheap guns - can work - if you know what you're buying....


I have two teenagers; therefore, I am impecunious.

Write what you want, Dave. It's your blog. When you write about expensive firearms it fuels my dreams of opulence.


Why is it that field and stream evean value this David E.Petzal's opinon? He is clearly a spoild old codger that could give a Damn about anything except his own pompous opinon. Anyone could do what he dos. I am sure he only likes the canned hunts too.. Why is it that he thinks a man would go out and drop 2-3 grand on a rifle that he is going to pack a thousend miles in its life. Over rock stump and jump wade and crawl through thistle, streams and canyons..Not everyone is a fool.That is just blatantly wasteful. My dad in his 60 years of hunting killed a truck load of mule deer bucks, antelope and elk. Moste of them with an old 03 springfield he bought in Albuquerque New mexico in the 60s picked it out of a big bucket of them at a military surplus store $25 bucks. I have killed a few with it my self and now just youse my old Ruger M77 7mag $250 at a pawn shope 10 years ago .you dont have to take out a second mortgage to buy a hunting rifle or scope .. And Jim (above) you are right.. Jim D. New Mexico



I agree. The rifle looks to be a very good value and the price would allow you spend more on good glass.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen a $1000.00 rifle with a $100.00 scope and $15.00 rings. It's never made sense to me.



I honestly don't see a need for a barrel longer than 22 inches on a 30-06, .270, .280 or .308. The little gain in velocity won't make a bit of difference in killing power nor will it extend the range you could shoot at game with such calibers.

Mike Diehl

"Why is it that he thinks a man would go out and drop 2-3 grand on a rifle that he is going to pack a thousend miles in its life."

There are rifles that I've seen on which I'd drop $2K-3K if I had the money. I don't think that sort of money buys particularly better accuracy, but it buys a nicer-looking firearm. And there's nothing wrong with buying a nice-looking firearm, even if you're gonna hunt it for a thousand miles and it's gonna get a bit worn looking.

Likewise, an inexpensive, decent looking, accurate, functionally good and durable firearm represents a different market sector. Nothing wrong with those either. That market sector is the one I frequent.

NH Philosopher

High-End, High-Priced and a fit and finish that makes wives jealous. Say what you will (and I am a huge advocate of cheap guns - I have many) - nothing handles like a fine firearm. Why should F&S *hi Dave* review the mundane when the mundane is just that. Sex sells. Sex is aspirational for most - yet attainable for some. Keep up the good work reviewing what I can't afford - and I'll find a way....to get what I want....


I have too seen rifles i would like to drop 2-3 grand on but i dont. Why? Look at the new Ruger RCM. if this gun is what they say it is there you go . Jim D New Mexico

Dave Petzal

To Dave in St. Pete: You are delusional. I've always said that 22 inches is best for standard calibers, 24 for most magnums and you can get away with 20 inches for the .308, 7mm/08, .260 Remington, etc.


Hey Jim, if that thing shoots anything close, just think what I fella can spend on a scope! Hell I might even learn toshoot right handed. NOT!

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