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Home > Magazine > Hook'n'Bullet > The All-Time Classic Pack Gun: Marble's Game-Getter

The All-Time Classic Pack Gun: Marble's Game-Getter
February 15, 2009

In about 1908, the Marble's company of Gladstone, Michigan, came out with its Game-Getter, a versatile, foldable over/under trail gun. The top barrel was a .22, under it was a .45 bore that could handle either bullets or .410 shotshells. It had a folding wire stock and slipped into a shoulder holster. It came in a couple barrel-lengths, out to 18". It was the ultimate trail gun for the pack-basket.

If you're someone who needs a handy gun or just likes the idea of one, the Game-Getter was it.

In the mid-century it was swept up in one of the occasional ill-advised and ineffective attempts to reduce crime by banning equipment. Folding stocks were banned and the Game-Getter was lumped into the same category as the submachine-gun.

Thus a big part of the revenue for this rare, large, high quality Upper Peninsula factory was destroyed. The company soon fell and hundreds were unemployed. No company as good, it could be said, was built after that in the U.P. (Although Iverson snowshoes are still made up there!) I strongly doubt that any crime was prevented by banning the Game-Getter. It was a classic case of an opposite effect stemming from the intent of gov't action.

Anyway, the Marble's company invented and developed many other fine outdoor tools, including the pin-on compass and the safety hatchet plus a line of handmade camp knives. It was an All-American company of the highest quality. Those items can be worth hundreds of $ today. A nice Game-Getter is worth $1500 at least.

I learned about the Game-Getter as a kid. It was an ideal conceptual gun for a northwoods camper imagination. ...Handy, versatile, simple, well-made by a noble company.

Several other gun concepts spun off of the Game-Getter, a few of which are still in play today in small but tasty ways. The Savage 24 rifle over shotgun is one. OK, maybe it's the only one left. There are other multi removeable barrel kit-guns that somewhat also qualify, including the Thompson Center guns which are built around a pistol frame, as the Game-Getter was. It's illegal to turn a pistol into a rifle but I suppose it could be done with the TC guns, making a more versatile and economical gun.

And there are several knife and outdoor supply makers now back in action again in the Gladstone area, all of which are spun somehow off of the old Marble's heritage.

An old ad.

Here's a better view of the stock.

An early model with the patented Marble's folding rear tang sight, sold separately by the jillions back in the day.

An ad for the final iteration of the gun, with longer barrel and straight stock pieces and less ornate receiver.

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wilco - , posted on Feb 16, 2009
Jeff, how would you build this concept today? What features and capabilities would you want?
JeffOYBmain - Williamston, MI, posted on Feb 16, 2009
Gosh, what's to change? I like the "classy" old look of the first model. The longer 18" barrel seems smart.

I've never used a Marble's folding tang sight---if it's awkward to use, then ditch it, I suppose, but I bet it's a good one. It's a peep. The new hunting mode for a peep uses a thin ring called a "ghost ring." This sight probably had that.

But the Sav 24 .30-30/12-ga combo with a .22 insert might be the ultimate. Put a folding stock on that item and skip the fore-end. But put a recoil pad on the stock!

Despite my infatuation with the concept, I do end up wondering when I'd really need all those options in a tiny gun plus folding stock. Basically: only when on a canoe outing or other self-propelled outing where an accurate, versatile gun is wanted. Some backpack or even mtbike outings might apply.

But thinking of more common situations, the point is not to need all options on a single outing but to be able to use one gun for a wide variety of outings. Yet, if you were going bunny hunting, why bring a tiny folder? Of course, economics enters in---for poor people who could only have one gun, what to pick? I'd say that Sav 24 with that insert! Not sure a folding stock is the true answer, unless you really like hunting/shooting with one. A kit-gun concept where you just dismantle the gun for compact transport in canoe/trunk seems more sensible. Most guns do break down easily enough that you could "kit" em.

I shouldn't neglect the ultimate robust, versatile gun solution: a .54 flintlock. You can shoot it as a shotgun and with a wide range of powder for both shot and ball. You only need powder, lead and sparky rock to make it work. Powder can be readily homemade even. (Get a smoothbore if you'll shoot it as a shotgun very often. I haven't been able to sort out whether this is recommended at all---the experts seem to say it's doable but will foul the rifling---but shot could be put into a cup-wad and thereby protect the rifling, it seems.)

Oh, here's a link to a .22 insert maker, $35, swappable in the field: