go to the local gun shop and check the used selection. some shops have dedicated racks, mine uses red tags. a general rule of thumb: the rougher it looks, the better it shoots. current marlins are having qc issues. they closed the Connecticut factories last year and moved to New York and Kentucky. buying used allows you to get a better firearm for less money, why wouldnt you? if you are determined to get new, i'd suggest a savage mkII. if i ever come across one while i have the money, i'll get it without hesitation. never shot one but they have a decent rep and they are the least expensive left handed .22. i'd even be tempted by a righty.
Marlin 60 is good, if you want semi auto. I forget which model it is, but there is a tube mag bolt action marlin 22, you can fire anything from 22 cb up to cci 22 minimag and stingers as well as 22 shotshell. Plus its cheaper then a lever 22.
You might be able to find a ruger 10/22 for that price used. I payed $187 for mine and it currently has over 500 rounds through it without a cleaning or failure.
This is rapid fire benched at 50 yards.
The last two batches of Marlin bolt-action XT-22's I inspected were up to 1990's snuff, as they say
the recent 60's & 795's are better than the 2005-2010 CT guns, when Marlin started having QC issues after they announced the sale of Marlin...
grumpy employees don't make quality guns...
All in all, Improvement is being seen, and since they're still learning on the job in KY & NY plants...
expect to Inspect anything you get carefully...
given the way MFR's in every field are pushing stuff out & letting customers QC it to save money,
you'd wanna do that anyway...no matter who makes what...
Preference...I'd still grab an older Marlin from a pawn shop/yard sale/etc...pre-2005 in the least...
If I were to buy a new Marlin, it would be Carefully Inspected for the known issues...At The Store...before it came home!!
At least the 2012's solved the Out-Of-Spec 60/795 Accessory Rail issue that's plagued Marlins since 2005...
Occasional Rough Bolt issues still exist, but 30 minutes on a polishing wheel resolves that...whatcha expect for $150??
DIP makes the perfect adjustable Trigger Assembly for them as well...definitely worthwhile!!
that's pretty much all the 60/795's need, other than a scope or Techsights upgrade
As far as the XT22's...I'm not fond of the new plastic stock, its better than the pre-2012 one...but its still plastic.
My first move would be to snag a Boyd's laminate of some sort & pillar bed it in
If one keeps the OEM plastic stock...best bet is to pillar bed it...its inexpensive and works WONDERS!!
I'm not just Trigger Happy, I'm Trigger Ecstatic!!