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Gun Of The Week by S.P. Fjestad

Gun of the Week image   The Gun of the Week is an exclusive editorial article that highlights a different gun each week. The guns featured represent some of the finest and most desirable collectible firearms available in today’s marketplace as well as many common guns that are encountered on a regular basis by many shooters and collectors. Carefully written captions provide interesting and comprehensive information, and up-to-date values are included for an in-depth article you won’t find anywhere else! Check back each Monday for a new Gun of the Week.
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Marble Arms Model 1908 Game Getter Folding Stock Pistol
Marble Arms & Mfg. Company was originally established during 1898 in Gladstone, Michigan. Webster L. Marble started his company to create “only articles of utility and convenience for those who seek sport and recreation in the open.” Marble’s Outing Specialties specialized in high quality axes, hunting knifes, compasses, cleaning equipment, and was perhaps best known for its wide variety of rifle sights.

This Model 1908 Game Getter might be one of the finer original specimens in existence, with over 90% bluing and case colors remaining. This pistol, which can be readily converted into a rifle, is amazingly accurate at up to 100 yards. It is marked “GAME GETTER” on the left side of the frame. This particular gun has the top rifled barrel chambered for .22 cal. and the bottom smoothbore barrel chambered for the .44 Game Getter cartridge (ball or shot).

During 1908, Marble Arms decided to manufacture its first gun that would complement its existing outdoor products. The Game Getter Model 1908 was completely unique for its time, featuring an O/U configuration that typically consisted of a .22 cal. rimfire rifled upper barrel, and a .44 cal. smoothbore lower barrel that could shoot .44 shot, .44 round ball, and even two inch .410 bore shot cartridges later in production (circa 1918). To determine which barrel was to be fired first, the shooter pivoted the hammer striker up or down. The tip-up barrels were opened by moving the trigger guard to the rear. One of its most distinguishing features was its folding steel tube stock, which made it ideal for camping and other outdoor recreational activities.

There were two variations of the Model 1908 – this particular gun is the Model 1908A, which features the aperture rear sight mounted behind the hammer. The 1908B did not have the rear sight, and a filler blank replacing the sight attachment area was installed instead. Additionally, a fixed blade front sight and folding leaf rear sights made sure the shooter hit what he/she aimed at.

Like everything else Marble’s did during the time period, the 1908 Game Getter was extremely well made. It featured deeply blued barrels, receiver, and trigger guard, and the hammer was case colored. Combined with the fleur-de-lis patterned checkered hard rubber grips and nickel finished metal stock that folded up under the gun for storage when not in use, it was perhaps the most striking new firearms design in pre-WWI America. Standard barrel lengths were 12, 15, and 18 inches, but on special order, Marble’s would also make its Game Getters with 8 or 10 inch barrels.

These pages appeared in Marble’s 1924 Outing Equipment catalog. The Game Getter (left) pictured is the Model 1921 that differed from the Model 1908 in that it had smooth wood grips, a straight stock made from square tubing, and no aperture rear sight. Note the pricing – the 18 inch barrel is listed at $30.80 (including leather holster), while the shorter 12 and 15 inch variations were a few dollars less. As a comparison, a Model 12 Winchester at the time retailed for approximately $50. Also of interest is their claim within the copy under the “Two Guns in One” subheading. It states “…moose, bear, etc. have been killed at up to 50 yards.” Anybody who used a Game Getter to hunt bear certainly was extremely adventurous, extremely stupid, or had a death wish!

So what’s a cool little gun like this worth in today’s marketplace? More than you might think, especially with this amount of original condition remaining. Most Game Getters saw a lot of use and as a result, it’s very difficult to find one with over 80% original condition remaining. This gun has over 90% original blue finish and case colors remaining, with only minor scratches and light frame wear detracting from its appearance. At a recent RIA auction, this lot sold for $2,587.50, including the 17.5% buyer’s premium. The later Model 1921 Game Getter (mfg. circa 1921-mid 1950s) in similar condition would sell for approximately $500 less. Approximately 20,000 Game Getters were manufactured circa 1908-mid 1950s, and are serial numbered 1-20,076. Rare accessories for this model include the leather holster with detachable sling (currently valued at $300-$500) and original wood (Model 1908, valued at $1,000-$1,200) or cardboard shipping container (Model 1921 only, valued at $300-$500).

There is one caveat involved with this model, however, that can’t be overlooked. Game Getters with shorter than 18 inch barrels that were not registered during the amnesty period of 1968 are not legal to own, and as a result, are basically black market items subject to BATFE confiscation.

When the National Firearms Act was enacted in 1934, it banned long guns with less than 16 inch barrels for civilians, even though the U.S. Government and foreign countries continued to purchase 15 inch Game Getters. To be legal, a short barreled Game Getter must have the necessary NFA paperwork that was given to owners if they submitted their guns for registration in the NFRTR central registry within 30 days after the original NFA was amended in 1968.

There were certainly a lot of short barreled Game Getters manufactured during its 50-year history, so be careful when buying or selling these short barrel variations. Over the years, John Allen and I have had more than a few phone calls from the “friends” of owners of non-registered short barreled Game Getters who always ask, “What can I get out of a Game Getter if it’s not legal?” Our answer is always the same, “Ten years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.”

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