Marble's® Game Getter  

 
Webster Marble's Masterpiece
Arni Dunathan
 
By 1909, when the Marble Safety Axe Company introduced its Game Getter Gun, Webster Marble was already famous for his inventive genius.  The new gun became his masterpiece.
 
A diehard minimalist, Marble believed most outings were spoiled by poor equipment and too much of it.  Of his own products he said:
 
Equipped with….a Marble Pocket Axe, Recreation Waterproof Pocket Match Box, and a Marble Compass…one might cross and recross a continent without a guide.
 
But why no gun?  According to the inventor, everything he tried during three decades as surveyor, trapper, and timber cruiser was too cumbersome or too fragile.  In fact, for lack of a gun, he once used his axe to fend off a hungry lynx.
 
Looking for the perfect firearm, he tinkered for years.  From early patents and prototypes it is clear he wanted three things, light weight, multiple calibers, and absolute reliability.
1910 Envelope Stuffer
Envelope stuffer circa 1910, said it all: bag small game, big game, and defend against predators with the same gun.
 
Game Getter
By 1908, he had what he wanted and filed patents for a folding shoulder stocked double barreled pistol in calibers .22 and .44—at a mere 2 ¼ pounds.
 
The upper barrel was chambered for .22 short, long and long rifle.  The under barrel, a smooth bored .44, could handle shot or ball.
 
 
Game Getter Catalog Game Getter Catalog
 
 
Operation was simplicity itself.  Pulling the trigger guard to the rear opened the breech.  Automatic extractors pushed empties up in easy reach; reloading was a snap.
 
 
Game Getter Ammunition
The large center mounted hammer had a selective striker with three positive stops:  up for .22, middle for Safe; down for .44.  Parts were large and easy to handle even under difficult conditions.
 
The lightweight tubular steel stock folded up for carrying, down for pistol shooting, or out for firing from the shoulder.
Game Getter ammunition was made by all major U.S. brands and some foreign.
 
 
Sights were the best Marble made.  The A model came with a gold bead front, folding middle, and specially sized Marble’s Flexible Joint Rear Sight mounted on the tang.  Model B did not include the tang sight but was drilled and tapped for one.
 
Slung across the shoulder, tucked under one arm, the top grain leather holster (included) held the Game Getter comfortably out of the way until needed.  A dove tailed wood box suitable for storage completed the outfit.
Marble's Tang Sights
Marble's tang sights were made to fit a wide variety of guns. Far left is for the Game Getter.
 
 
Game Getter Calibers
The Game Getter’s finish was breathtaking.  Grip frame, breech block and barrels were rust blued in the style known as National Armory Bright.  Screws were highly polished, then gas oven heated to a deep sapphire.  Color case hardening left hammer and striker with unique patterns of red, amber, and blue.  The stock’s nickel plate was mirror bright; glistening black rubber grips set off the whole.  It was, more than one customer said, “A beauty.”
 
 
Pre-advertising sold nearly 500 guns before the patent was issued.  Assembly began ahead of schedule and the first guns shipped were marked PATENT PENDING.
 
 
Marble's Employee
Between June 1909 and May 1918, 9981 First Model Game Getters were sold.  Factory and customer claims for the gun’s accuracy and power were impressive.
 
From the Factory:  Sixty No. 8 shot in a 12 inch target, 6 round balls in a 2 inch bullseye, and 10 .22 bullets in a 1 ½ inch circle—all at 50 feet with a 12 inch barrel and the same sight setting. Round ball penetration was 6 inches in a pine block.
 
From Customers:  Twenty four flying ducks out a 25 shots, deer at 50 to 100 yards (one 220 pound buck’s neck broken at 130 yards), Bear and moose killed at 50 yards, all from a 12 inch barrel. (The unlucky moose quickly became the company’s famous symbol).
Unidentified Marble employee is immortalized in this 1909 postcard demonstrating that the Game Getter is everyone's gun.
 
In 1910, to reflect the Game Getter’s importance, Marble changed the name of his company from Marble Safety Axe to Marble Arms and Manufacturing.
 
Game Getter Advertisement
 
Sales of the First Model slowed during World War I.  A modernized Second Model with improved safety, greater dependability, and more power was introduced in 1921.
Marble's Game Getter Advertisement
 
 
Game Getter
A new rebounding hammer eliminated the need for a Safe position on the striker.  Coil springs throughout reduced the likelihood of breakage.  A newly designed middle sight included a peep; the tang sight was unnecessary.  Overall, the gun was more streamlined and easier to use.
Far more versatile as a hunting weapon than H&R's Handy Gun (below), Game Getter never the less suffered the same fate.
 
 
Lengthening the chamber for the new and easier to get 410 (first in 2 inch and later in 2 ½ inch) improved penetration (8 inches in pine) and accuracy.  Oddly, shot performance suffered; the old brass cased .44’s still delivered more shot to the target at 50 feet.
 
The Second Model sold more than 10,000 pieces until 1934, when it ran afoul with the Congress of the United States and The Federal Firearms Act.
 
Classifying the Game Getter as a sawed off shotgun, investigators levied a $200 fee on its sale or transfer and made possession of unregistered guns a Federal crime.  By 1939, appeals finally resulted in a revised ruling, but only for 18 inch barreled guns.
Game Getter Advertisement
 
By then it was too late.  Sales had plummeted and, in despair, Marble Arms and Manufacturing cut off its arm.
 
Game Getter
In 1962, approximately 200 Game Getters with 18” barrels, plastic grips, and an industrial coated finish were assembled from factory parts and quickly sold out.
 
Today, unregistered Game Getters with 12 and 15 inch barrels remain illegal.  Owners, fearful of confiscation and prosecution, hide them, deal them under the table, or send them to gunsmiths for rebarreling.
Assembled from leftover factory parts in 1962, last of the Game Getters had plastic grips, industrial finish and simple rear sight.
 
 
But the real crime is to sportsmen who can no longer wander the great outdoors in the company of Webster Marble’s masterpiece.
Webster Marble
 
 
For informational assistance with this manuscript, the author gratefully acknowledges Clint Dunathan and David Nyberg; for guns and accessories: NorthwoodsKnives.com
 

 
Marble's has a card file of Game Getter Gun registrations that go back to the beginning of the 1900s.
 
To search the Game Getter card file, click on the card to the left.