5 Great .357 Magnum Lever Action Rifles
Courtesy Chris Dumm for TTAG
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Why wouldn’t you want a .357 Magnum lever action rifle? The .357 Magnum round is pushed to greater ballistic performance (add about another 600 fps and another 500 ft-lbs of energy, give or take) as well as a wealth of ammunition choices.

You can even shoot .38 Special for some of the easiest long gun plinking you’ll ever do.

“But muh tactical!” you say? Poppycock; the .357 Magnum is one of the best rounds for personal defense out there. With the added velocity and muzzle energy, along with the fact that JHP rounds are easily available from any gun store, whereas frangible or JHP rounds for an AR-pattern rifle are harder to source, it makes one of the best home defense long guns possible. Additionally, .357 Magnum lever action rifles can accept optics as most are pre-tapped for scopes and can easily be fit for a tactical rail.

Yes, tactical Virginia, you can put a red dot on a lever gun. If you want to. There are even night sights available from aftermarket suppliers.

You can also get your lever action fix without breaking the bank on ammunition – .357 Remington is cheaper than .30-30 – and without breaking your shoulder, as a .45-70 will make you black rifle boys soil yourselves and cry for your mommas.

The fact is, .357 lever action rifles are proven game-getters, as they are well-suited to whitetail and hog hunting in thick timber at close(r) range, inside about 150 yards. Larger game such as elk or black bear warrant a more substantial cartridge and hunting game on the open plains of the West requires more power and a flatter trajectory.

With that said, should your fancy be tickled, here are five .357 Magnum lever action rifles to look for.

5 Great .357 Magnum Lever Action Rifles
courtesy mfr

If it’s an American classic you want, the Winchester Model 1892 Carbine is about as classic as it gets. The 1892 was one of Winchester’s rifles designed by John Browning. Browning created the 1892 to compete with the Marlin 1888, and according to legend, completed the work in two weeks. The 1892 is a top-ejecting model so scopes or rails are out, but the point of this gun is to be a fast-handling, medium-range rifle. At that task, it has excelled for more than a century.

The ’92 is a round-barrel model, with the metal bits in blued steel and the furniture in black walnut. The Carbine model features a 10-round tube and a 20-inch barrel. At only 6 lbs, it can easily be carried in the hand…which you have to do since it lacks sling studs. Today’s edition also features a falling block safety, so it can be carried loaded. Since MSRP is only $1,069, it’s Winchester’s entry-level lever gun…but it’s far from entry-level quality.

5 Great .357 Magnum Lever Action Rifles
Courtesy Henry

The Henry Big Boy Classic is as close to the original lever gun as it gets without having to look for .44 rimfire. It’s replete with a brass receiver, 20-inch octagonal barrel and buckhorn rear sight, so it has the classic look and feel, but also features a brass bead front sight and 10-round magazine tube. Worried about scratching that brass? The Henry Big Boy Steel is a great option, too.

It’s an entry-level model — MSRP is $972, you’ll pay about $200 less retail — but the rifle comes tapped for a scope or rail if so desired.

5 Great .357 Magnum Lever Action Rifles
Courtesy Marlin

Marlin made a name for themselves offering an improved version of the Winchester action starting in the 1880s. Among their improvements was a revision to the receiver for their model of 1894. Marlin changed the sliding top strap to a sliding sidewall, therefore making the rifle side-ejecting. That keeps spent brass out of the eye of the user and today, allowing for easy mounting of a scope.

With today’s rail-mounted optics, that makes the 1894 CSBL tactical and practical, with the addition of an XS Sights Lever Rail and sight set.

The 1894 CSBL has a 16-inch barrel, with an 8-shot tube. The finish is stainless steel with a black/gray laminate stock with checkered pistol grip and a rubber recoil pad. It carries easy, at 6-½ lbs, with swivel studs coming standard (as does a hammer block safety) and has a large loop for fast cycling. You get the best of both the classic function of a lever gun with modern improvements. Granted, it comes rather dear at $1,214 MSRP, but since the name on it is Marlin instead of Winchester, you should be able to pick it up for much less.

5 Great .357 Magnum Lever Action Rifles
Courtesy Winchester

Of course, you can also get the original Winchester carbine, the Winchester 1873. The Gun That Won The West. The 1873 was one of the most popular lever action rifles of all time. While initially offered in .44-40, .32-20 and .38-40 (and discontinued for some time) a new version emerged in 2013 chambered for .357 Magnum/.38 Spl and a hammer block safety for safe carry.

The 1873 Deluxe Sporting is that classic rifle, dressed to the nines with a color-case hardened finish and checkered pistol grip. The furniture is high grade walnut, and the Deluxe Sporting model also features a 24-inch half octagon barrel and half rounded. This is the showpiece among Winchester’s 1873 model range, and it had better be with a price tag at around $1,800. If you want a lever gun for your wall and occasional shooting, good luck doing better.

Courtesy Marlin

Another Marlin not to miss is the Model 1894 CST, which features a black pistol grip stock and stainless finish. The sights are – just like the CSBL – are an XS Sights ghost ring sight set. It lacks a top-mounted rail (you can still install one, the receiver is pre-tapped). Just like the CSBL, it has a 16-½” barrel length and an 8-shot tube magazine, an enlarged loop and swivel studs…but this model also adds a threaded barrel for adding a suppressor. MSRP is $1,223, but since the name on it is Marlin instead of Winchester, it’ll command less of a premium in-store.

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  1. I agree with Dave. I got a 336BL a couple years ago and I have no complaints. At least you should expect the kind of quality you’d get from a Remington bolt gun in the price range. Frankly the quality was sinking fast before Remington bought them out, but they went straight off the cliff when they fired all the Marlin workers and took their worn out tooling and put their own Remington workers (with no experience building lever guns) on them. The old tooling is long gone now. I’d stay away from used Marlins made anywhere from 2005-2015 though.

    From what I hear the Henry trigger is better though. I put a Wild West trigger on the 336, and it’s great, but that puts the Marlin price right up there with Henry.

    • Extremely fun to shoot makes them relevant. 😁 Not everything has to be tactically sound.

      And if you do it right, .38 Special or .357 Mag is an incredibly cheap round to reload, with brass that lasts forever and makes a fine alternative to .22LR when plinking ammo is hard to find.

      Plus, it beats a sharp stick.

    • That’s a LOL. The .357 magnum has never been irrelevant since it made its debut 80 + years ago. And as far as lever action rifles in pistol calibers…they have never been irrelevant over their 150 year history. In fact, a lever action carbine and a revolver in matching caliber is every bit as useful today as it was for the settlers on the Western Frontier. Me personally I will gladly take an 1892 or 1894 in .357 instead of a “black rifle.”

      • Bingo. I’ve never understood the fascination with Black Rifles. I think a lot of it is people who do not come from a hunting background and just want to look “cool”. Having fired several different types and CARRIED them in the Military, I much prefer the simple and traditional bolt-actions, levers and semi-autos that American hunters have carried for generations. The AR-15’s in .223 are just glorified rabbit guns in my opinion. I much prefer .30 caliber bullets in any of those platforms. The .357 sounds like just the ticket for deer hunting in heavy brush where 70-80 yard shots are about the max you will find. Most of our deer were harvested at 30-45 yards. That’s one reason my dad carried a semi-auto 12 Gauge for whitetails.

        • im drawn to modern firearms for their “dynamicism.” its a different kind of shooting, fast followups, peppering paper or spinners, quick reloads. plus i have very bad eyes, and kinda need a scope or a red dot to shoot in a relaxed fashion.

          Modern black rifles offer options older firearms cant compete with. and i personally think the word “tactical” and the word “options” are interchangeable.

    • LMAO!
      You do that.

      I Won’t be waiting on you to be relevant……just sayin….

      357 rocks…..357 carbines rule.

    • I just checked Davidson’s, my primary national wholesaler. Of the 32 models of 357 lever gun they offer, there are precisely zero units currently available for sale.
      That’s relevance!

        • About the only .357 or .38 spl ammo available now is the pricey 30-bucks-for-a-box-of-20 defensive loads. I’m glad I was able to get what I needed for the time being.

          9mm brass-case FMJ is pushing .40 cents a round for the cheap stuff and I don’t see the price dropping anytime soon…

    • Spoken like someone who doesn’t live in a 2A benighted state or area. In those area, they can’t legally own an AR, AK, etc. For them a pistol caliber Lever carbine makes a lot of sense. I can (for now) legally own an AR, and do. But I also have lever rifles in pistol calibers of 357 and 45 colt. I can even hunt with both in some neighboring states, and do. They also make a valid home defense rifle AND a great truck gun, to keep the Karens and Kens from whining “ASSAULT RIFLE”.

      • I saw your reference to benighted states and then AR, AK.

        Funny, but what popped into my head was Arkansas and Alaska aren’t benighted states. They both have Constitutional carry! 🤪

        Then my brain kicked in AR15 and AK47/74

        Pistol caliber lever action rifles do make sense for benighted states, and are also still a lot of fun for the rest of us as well.

      • Why does a levergun in .357 Magnum make more sense than one in .30-30 in those states?

    • “Yes, tactical Virginia, you can put a red dot on a lever gun.”
      You can also put ketchup on a hot dog, but you shouldn’t.

  2. Yup. Fully agree with this. Per ballistics charts, and generally speaking due to all the variables from different cartridge loads, a .357 Mag out of a carbine rifle barrel approaches the muzzle velocity and energy of a .44 Mag from a handgun. So for me, the perfect single-caliber combo would be .357 Mag wheelgun at the hip holster, and lever gun such as one of those shown in the article above.

    If I absolutely had to ditch all my guns and go with a single handgun + single rifle, this would be my choice.

    • How do the modern .357 loads compare to the first repeaters? .44 Henry rimfire. .44-40. .38-40. I’d bet the old timers that rode the wild and woolly west would have liked the magnum in a rifle.

      The tactikewl timmy’s that see all rifles as AR’s are missing the point. Guns can be fun. Trust me. They can. Not all rifles need to be used to kill commies.

      • Forgot to add. I bought a brandified new Ruger .357 revolver just as this lockdown crap started. I had just enough time to look at a Winchester 92 in .357(did not like the large loop lever) and an italian copy of the 73.

        • If I didn’t have to deal with CA’s onerous gun registration laws, I’d otherwise be glad to offer someone one of my Glock/AR sets for a .357 Mag revolver + rifle. Even swap. But alas…

          My revolvers and levers aren’t in .357 Mag. If you have some, enjoy them. I’m a wee bit envious.

          BTW, next to .357 Mag in the combo, my next favorite choice would be the set in .44 Mag. I wouldn’t turn up my nose at either. 🙂

        • In a handgun .357 is the upper level of my comfort zone. Getting old ain’t easy. .44 mag would batter my hands a bit too much these days.

          Even when I was younger I preferred the .357 over the .44. I don’t live in big bear country. I would accept the beating and get a .44 if I did.

        • @jwm

          I really am not trying to get a caliber war started but, I think the .357 mag is about the perfect handgun round. I’m not particularly recoil sensitive (though getting old does suck) but from a power-to-controllability ratio standpoint, I’ve always found the .357 to be the sweet spot. I will admit to some bias – my first handgun was a S&W Model 19 and, for many years, it was my only handgun. In the many years since, however, I’ve shot pretty much every common handgun caliber and own a dozen or so of them and, still, something about that .357 just works the best.

        • My Name. You would be hard pressed to find an all around cartridge as good as the .357. I had the model 19 years ago. It was sweet. I now have the Ruger gp100-7. It’s not as slick as the old 19, but it will do the job.

          Factory triggers don’t come much, if any, better than the k frames.

        • @jwm

          “Factory triggers don’t come much, if any, better than the k frames.”

          I have to agree. My M19 was made in 1976. It has always had a good trigger but now it has one of those “I’ve fired it about 50,000 times” trigger jobs and is as smooth and sweet as any trigger I’ve owned. (I do have a Ruger LCR that was pretty good out of the box and a 50 year old 1911 that are in the running.)

          I’ve been at the range many times when people in adjacent lanes started talking about trigger quality and, when I let them fire that old 19, the response is usually just, “wow”.

        • @ I Haz A Question

          I might have read your post incorrectly but I live in occupied Ca and I have a Rossi 92 (1892 clone) and a Taurus 605 both in .38sp/.357.

          I know both of these are on the “cheap” side but the fun my kids and I have when we bring this to the range is priceless. Also, after breaking it in, the Rossi’s action (which is the major criticism for this gun) was just as smooth as the Winchesters, Marlins and Henrys I have shot. I am going to start reloading though as JHP rounds for these calibers are expensive and I am apprehensive about using the easily found round nose bullets on a tube magazine gun.

        • JWM, I too would love to have pairs of 357 and 44 mags. Chiefs Special, 6″ Python and Henry in 357. Model 29 and Marlin stainless 1894 in 44. Christmas is coming.

        • @myname

          I’d tend to agree with you. No such thing as a perfect caliber, but .357 magnum and its sister the .357sig is about as close as one can get. I do like the other pistols but somehow I always end up back at one of those two.

        • I only have a little experience with .357 SIG (a friend has a Springfield XDM in said chambering) but it seems a reasonable round. As a reloader, I will say that I have affection for the ease of use/reuse of straight walled cartridges and, thus, am a bit more fond of 10mm but, .357 sig certainly has merit.

        • @Corrino,

          You have my (good natured) envy. Please enjoy those guns with your family on my behalf, as I will not be purchasing **anything** in CA in my continuing quest to remain off the CADOJ’s books. Who knows what the future will bring and if the wife and I will one day move out of this state, but for now we have good jobs, good friends, a good church, no debt, and hope that the current angst against Newsom and the Left in general will bring about some degree of change in November.

          In the meantime, be sure to sign the Recall. It’s been gaining more momentum than originally expected. Two million signatures needed by Nov 17 to qualify for a 2021 Special Election.


        • The large loop makes solid sense for colder climates like the plains states and Alaska. Great for when wearing gloves…

      • The 357 out-paces the 44-40 and 32-20 by a fair margin.

        It brings the 38+p up to mid-range 357 revolver ballistics (~1250).

        As far as commies……pretty sure it would get the job done.

        But I take your point that a rifle can be useful……and fun.

        That’s what makes them lever action great.

  3. My Marlin feeds .38 Special just fine but has a tendency to hang up on .357 Mag rounds (no matter the bullet type, it seems to be an OAL issue.)

    • Remlin? Or classic JM stamped?

      I would think this problem could be cured by a visit to a dependable smith.

      • JM all day but damn are they pricey – if you can find them at all. I’ve been looking for a stainless 1894 in 44mag for years. They were discontinued for quite awhile and JMs were going for $1200 or more. I’m sure even more now.

      • Remlin.

        And, re getting it looked at, yes; thing is, there aren’t too many smiths in my area who are comfortable working on lever-actions (and the ones that are, I don’t trust). Since it’s a range toy for me, it’s never been a big enough issue for me to bump it to the top of the to-do list. Just, reading the article reminded me about it.

        • Have you tried hand-loading and experimenting with overall length?

          • ALL factory handgun ammo is impossible to obtain now in the Covid 19 and “Defund the Police” world we live in now. Until February of 2020 a person could get a lot of different cheap ( relatively) 38 Special and 357 target ammo. And 9mm , 45 ACP, 40 S&W , 380 Auto and all the rest. Then came panic buying of guns and ammo due to social unrest, and of course it’s a an election year. Less than 100 days away now. So it partly the pandemic, and partly the Presidential election, and then the riots in major cities across the USA. So it’s a one-two-three punch. Maybe people will wake up and smell the coffee. Have as much ammo on hand as you can afford. Then you won’t be caught short. These comments are directed at the people say there is no ammo to buy, or it’s too expensive. I agree. But it’s the old Supply and demand scenario. Low supplies and very high demand. Maybe this shortage will get more people into the handloading business. At least try it with used reloading equipment, one or or two sets of dies. Bare essentials. Then expand and retool , upgrade if you find it’s your thing.

        • Geoff: Nope, not yet. Good thought though.

          OM56, can’t disagree. You can find ammo, and buy it if you can afford it. Reloading is a good alternative if you can get the supplies, but from what I read things like primers are becoming harder to find as well.

  4. Not a bad option if you are living in a slave state. But the tyrants have publicly said they hate repeating firearms. And they repeat that statement in the new book about Samuel Colt.

  5. I REALLY wish Mossberg would make that hideous SPX Tactical in .357. It’s so ugly I love it.

    I’ve shot the .30-30, and it’s fine, but man, I’d love that thing in .357. .30-30 is just a little unpleasant in it due to the light weight and stock. Maybe some lighter .30-30 loads would be better, but .357 would be so good.

    On the other hand, I own a .357 Uberti 1873 sporting Deluxe 24.5″ octagonal barrel rifle and the thing is drop dead sexy, and fun to shoot. A bit heavy, if I had to buy it again, I’d pick a shorter, lighter barrel version but I am not unhappy with the gun. It’s a great shooter, almost no recoil with any .357 or .38 load and it looks good hanging on my wall.

    • I’m still waiting for someone to make a 357 in….
      Carbine length
      With nice wood
      Threaded barrel

      Henry is close with SPX but went plastic stock….DOH!
      Emailed them and apparently they don’t have wood parts that would fit.

      The wait continues.

      • Go to GB or GI and find yourself a Browning B-92 in .357. It’s a copy of the Winchester 1892 made by Miroku for Browning. They show up now and again and they are a really fine rifle

  6. My all-time favorite .357 rifle is still the IMI Timber Wolf pump. Such a great gun — I wish they’d never discontinued them.

    • Was a great gun….I wish someone should resurrect it.

      Basically a Remington 870 design.

  7. Take a lever action over an AR every day. Prefer .44 Mag to .357, but that’s just me. Actually prefer 30-30 to any handgun round. Apple’s should be in pie. Oranges should be squeezed into juice.

  8. I had a 30.30 then I decided to upgrade to a
    45-70. Depending on how hot the load is. It can really thump that shoulder. But the most painful thing is buying ammo for it.

      • gee – how many of us have heard that, for 1,000 times? Not all of us have the ability for various reasons to reload. I’d like to, but my current living situation and potential job changes/living situations don’t allow for me to set up an area for reloading. I am sure I am not the only one that is open to it but finds that it is not possible right now. Comments like yours on “why don’t you just reload” are what limits some of my shooting time on the metallic silhouette range as its full of old vietnam era (and older) shooters that whine more than a Karen in the wild if you don’t pick up your brass with intent to reload.

        • Our public range requires that spent brass be picked up. Reloading has nothing to do with it.. And, I AM a Vietnam in-country veteran, Gomer.

        • can you find sace for a backpack sized tote? get the Lee hand press. Dies, a dipper set and some components and you are gtg.

        • 1/ picking up brass at this range is not required, only the reloaders typically pick it up. I told them if they were so worried about reloading they can have my brass. Unless they went back later to get it they never seemed to care that much. They were hell bent on making me reload. Couldn’t seem to understand that I couldn’t and didn’t care to at this moment.

          2/ there are other living constraints and issues that make reloading not an option at this time. Maybe I’ll be in a position to reload once I retire in 25 or so years but by then I’ll probably have sold everything and moved back overseas so it won’t be an issue.

        • To reload the .357, a Lee Loader is all you need, plus a supply of primers, a pound of powder and bullets. Speaking of bullets, the .357 is one of the best cast-bullet rounds ever, so add a lead pot, a mould, and a pan of lube to the kit. It’ll still all fit in a small tackle box. Mine berms, or scrounge for scrap lead. Lube is easily made from beeswax and chassis grease. All in all the .357 may be the best TEOTWAWKI round going.

        • While I’ve never loaded brass I have loaded shotshells on a card table in the living room with a mec 650. Admittingly I was single then but it was relaxing!

  9. Curious that this article features only the most expensive versions of .357 carbines. Rossi makes various models starting at about $500. The regular Marlin 1894C is priced at around $700. The Henry Big Boy Steel in .357 is about $700. So there are several options available that are much less expensive than the fine examples listed in the article.

    • The Big Boy Steel Carbine is competing for the top of my wish list – I really like the color case hardened version. If they’ll go ahead and put the new loading gate on it (which I expect they will before long) I think I’d probably move it straight to the top of the list.

    • Because the title of the article is “Five great…” not “Five cheap.”

  10. .357 out of a 20″ Henry Big Boy Steel rivals the muzzle energy of a .223 out of an 18 inch. Don’t believe me??

    Check out ballisticsbytheinch.com/2011graphs+/223ME.html and ballisticsbytheinch.com/2011graphs+/223ME.html

  11. I have the Winchester 1892 pictured above. It is such a joy to shoot! I can’t go the range without people coming over to try it out. Extremely accurate, small groups–it reminds me why I got into shooting in the first place.

    • The last time I was at the range with my marlin in 45-70 all eyes were on me…everyone else shooting the newest AR/AK and here comes this doofus with a lever action thumper. Got a lot of positive comments on it. Unfortunately it caught the Remlin disease and had to be sent to the ship for some warranty work. Expecting it back today via UPS, can’t wait to put some rounds in it this week.

      • I’ve had a similar experience. I think it’s partly because leverguns are unusual in a sea of sameness, and also because they’ve still got a bit of that badass Old West cachet.

        In May I went to Utah and took my brother, his son, and a handful of their friends out shooting. Nobody cared about the AR-15. Everybody wanted to get their hands on my lever-action .30-30, and nobody who shot it was disappointed. A couple of people got that familiar look in their eyes and started plotting their next purchase right there.

        I really want to get one in .357 mag. Seems to me that’s just about the perfect lever-action carbine caliber. And .45-70 would be awesome, too.

        • I think my Henry BB 45 Colt is my fav. lever gun that I own and have ever shot, easy on the arms and has some versatility. I might have to take that to the range next time and see what happens. While I do want one in .357 for ammo sharing with my handguns I’d be open to one in .327 Federal as well.

  12. I have been thinking of adding a Henry Big Boy X in .357 to go along with my other lever guns, but I’ve heard that .357 can be inconsistent regarding accuracy out of a carbine. A .357 bang stick would certainly be cheaper to keep fed for silhouette shooting vs my Henry in 45 Colt.

  13. Would love a new one, in particular one of the Henry brand as the finishes are absolutely beautiful. Give me a blued steel finish with walnut, no plastics or laminates please!!!

    Last one I owned was an 1889 Marlin in .44-40. A heavily worn gun that had been drilled vertically thru the buttstock, the barrel, magazine tube and lag-bolted across beams in the ceiling of some bar in northern Arizona. Found a gunsmith who examined it, he got it working again. The receiver was warped slightly outward, he pressed it back into line. A broken case was stuck in the chamber and a bullet a ways down the barrel. He cleaned that up. The hole in the barrel and tube could not be repaired but were near the ends, so he shortened and crowned the barrel, put in a new mag tube spring. Mounted basic fixed sights on it. Proof-fired it and it stood up. Kept that gun quite a few years, took it out to shoot every now and then. Finally needed cash and sold it to a collector of old west guns.

    Yes, need a new lever gun 🙂

  14. Back in ’05, I bought an Interarms marked Rossi model 92SR off of the used rack at a LGS for $200. It’s blue with a 16.5 inch barrel. A real plain looking carbine, but the thing shoots like a dream. The youngsters love shooting it with .38 spl. rounds much more than the .22s. It’s pleasant to shoot even with .357 mag. rounds and it goes on just about every trip to the range. With 125 gr. hollow points, you can aim dead on with it at 100 yds. and ring 4 inch plates every time. The trigger is even really nice for a lever gun and I own a bunch of them. I would absolutely use it for home D without a second thought.
    I always liked the cowboy combo concept of carbine/sidearm same caliber and own lever actions in .44 mag. (Winchester 94) and .22lr (Marlin 39A x2) with various accompanying sidearms.

  15. My current 357 carbine is a Marlin 94 from 1998. I had owned two previously and traded them off as they were great with jacketed bullets but not lead (microgroove).

    The one i have now has bllard rifling which is accurate with jacketed or lead bullets.

    My main load was Winchester 357 Silvertips. As they are harder to find, I switched to PPU 158 JHP with little change for sighting in.

    I sight in for 75 yards which let’s me go out 125 yards with pretty much a dead on hold.

    Thus sighted, 125 grain +p 38 special is spot on out to about 50 yards, maybe further…but haven’t tried it.

    Great guns…..would love to have a Winchester big loop trapper in 357…..but i wish the Winchester came with sling studs like the Marlin.

    This is my wifes go-to rifle for defense. She relegates me to my Win 94 trapper in 45 Long Colt……I guess I get by….

    • Being forced to use the Winchester Trapper, the horror. Well, things are tough all over I guess.

      I passed up a .357 ’94 trapper several years ago – it was a few $ more than I had on me and I couldn’t get the seller to budge. I chose not to raid the checking account for a c-note more and have been kicking myself since.

      • I was looking for a 357 trapper at Don’s gun in Indy in the early 90s.

        Going price was 399….they didnt have any…..but said they had a 45 Long Colt at a discount ……299……easy decision.

        I sold my 1980s Marlin 357 in 1996 for 450 to a guy who would not buy a new Marlin with a safety button. Then ordered a new 1894 with Ballard rifling, checkering, and sling studs for 350.

        I wish I had bought more…..or kept more …..lol

  16. But WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t use FMJ for self defense. those .357s out of a 20 inch barrel will just bounce off the bad guy’s chest, I tell ya!!!!!!!

    • All you have to do is search the net for, “I survived a center-mass shot from a .357 magnum” to see all the supporting evidence you need.

    • You do want to make sure your rounds are flatnose, hollowpoint or LeverEvolution in a tube magazine.

    • What Fudd?

      I own lots of guns…..I just like a lever rifle best for fun and utility.

      Nothing slimmer or quicker to get into action.

      Of course, I dont carry it on a single point like the “muh AR” crowd does.

      I use handguns for everyday carry. Long guns get in the way. But they do fit nicely behind a seat.

      • The old Ford Pickup had that seatback that folded forward. There was enough space there for a scabbard with a .30-30 in it. Slick set up that kept a rifle close to hand and out of sight.

        • And some states (North Carolina) consider that a concealed weapon.
          I was shocked when I found out.

      • Of course, I dont carry it on a single point like the “muh AR” crowd does.

        I just read how lever actions were among the first guns carried on single point slings. That’s what the “saddle ring” designs were for. 🙂

        • Indeed. But it was attached to the saddle…..which was (hopefully) attached to the horse.

          I dont have a horse …..so the ring comes off.

        • No, the article actually shows period photos of guys wearing cross slings with clips on the end that attached to the rifle, so they could let it dangle by their legs. Apparently it was a regular thing.

        • Cloudbuster
          Thanks for the link. Goes to show I learn something new every day.

          I had only seen photos (prints?) of rifles attached to horn or pommel and carried in a shuck of some sort.

          The weren’t lever actions. I always assumed it was so you didnt lose your rifle when making a Sabre charge and hauling ass on your horse.

          As I’m not a horseman, I didnt think much of it beyond that. Ha!

  17. I’ve wanted one for years. Seems like whenever I’ve had the funds, none have been available, and when I’m broke, there everywhere. The Story of my life it seems.

    • Similar to the “Critter You Are Hunting Effect”.

      Go for a hike in the woods or mountains and you see deer most times of the year. Do the same during Deer Season, and all the critters have suddenly developed a deep phobia of open meadows you can see from far off.

      When I lived in the mountains caretaking a state property, soon learned the first day of hunting season would see the deer herd moving onto the property, bedding down behind the residence and the snow plow shed. A few javelina even took up residence beneath a collapsed radar dish, they just tunneled under the edge and hid out all hunting season.

      Yeah, what ever it is you want has a magical mystical ability of always being someplace else.

      Especially popular guns and ammo loads.

      • Ha. Best place to find squirrels in in a deer stand with a 30-06.

        The little bastards will come and cuss you and drop nuts on you.

        The evidently know a 22 rifle or shotgun by sight.

        • Had a lousy day in the deer blind once, in my youth. Took it out on a pesky squirrel – with a .308. No more squirrel.

        • Last time I went hunting. It was almost daylight and I kept hearing something move around. Turned out to be a skunk right underneath my stand. I kept still hoping that they couldn’t climb a tree

  18. What I found odd or maybe not is that after all the semi automatic handgun’s, rifles and pump action shotgun‘s were gone no one was buying lever actions. Trying to understand why the only conclusion I can draw is that people think them as old-fashioned and slow. That and you can’t find 357 magnum ammunition anywhere.

    • A great reason to explore reloading. 357/38 is the one of the easiest.

      Finding component will likely be tough though.

      Good time to start getting ready for the next ammo drought.

  19. My lever is a Winchester in .45 Colt, for which you can not only reload, but you can reload pretty close to double the pressure of a handgun round, as long as you are using a modern rifle, and depending on the weight of the round. One say I will probably add a .357 in a carbine for all around utility in the 100 yards or less range.

  20. You’ll see how “relevant” lever guns are next time the bolsheviks are in the white house. All your beautiful $2,000 semi-auto rifles will be illegal, while excellent, used $500 Marlins will disappear from the market.

    Best to have at least one, in your favorite caliber, in the collection.

  21. Every time TTAG runs a lever gun article I want one. NEVER see one at any reasonable price at any LGS. Not even a Rossi(saw a trick shot dude on a video who’s main gun was a Rossi). My lever lust may remain unquenched…

    • Gun shows are your salvation. Remember the name Glenfeild. Low dollar lever gun joy is in your future.

      (I bought a Glenfield 30A at a gunshow for $200 about 5 years ago. The 30A is a Marlin 336 for 70% off.)

      • That’s info that will come in handy. I know jack-all about lever guns except what I saw on ‘The Rifleman’ growing up. I have shot a buddy’s 357, think it was Italian, a couple times as he is into Cowboy Action..not my thing but fun to watch!
        I would not mind adding a budget minded lever gun to my lot, something as accurate as my buddy’s. His just naturally pointed well, I didn’t have to work at all.

        Thanks, info is always welcome.

  22. Have you actually tried looking for a .38/.357 lever gun? I have been wanting one for years now and always seem to miss the boat as they sell out quickly.
    Fortunately I do have lever guns in .22, .44 and 30-30 so I’m not that upset.

  23. I have a old JM Marlin lever rifle in .357, It’s one of those rifles that has been out there and used before I got it. let’s say it was well used and not maintained. took a good cleaning and now it shoots very well. Also have a stainless Rossi in .45 Colt. Great rifle and never have had an issue, shooting with 8 grains of unique with 225 grn semi wadcutters. I really like my lever guns, also have a early JM guide gun in 45-70 and also one in 450 Marlin. The .450 will really put a wallop on your shoulder. The .450 is like a 45-70 magnum. Also have a Winchester 1886 in 45-90, I shoot 45-70 loads in it and had no issues. Levers are light, easy to carry with quick target acquisition and reliability. Perfect. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

    • Look around on the internet. You can boost the Unique up to around 11-12 grains, as I recall, and your gun should handle it fine with that bullet. Really puts a pop in the round. (I’ve been running 7 grains for handgun loads.)

      • The 8 grains of unique seem like fairly hot loads out of the rifle. I always attempt to stay in the mid range of the reload manual. I have seen a gun blow up (not mine) and therefore I am very careful when I reload. For instance, My 45-90, when I reload the 45/90 case, I only load to mid range 45/70 specs and use toilet paper to make up the case space. It shouts very well that way.

  24. A 20” 1892 weighs just over 6 lbs loaded.

    It packs or stows easily and are very difficult to find lately.

  25. I’m just trying to figure out why in the hell a Marlin 357 lever gun has to retail at nearly 3 times what the same gun in 30-30 retails for.

    • Supply and demand. Clearly, these articles (and other ones like this article) hit a receptive ear/eye in the gun buying public and they say “Imma get me sumodat!” and poof! The LGS is cleaned out.

      I admit that these articles about .357’s have me thinking “What the hell? Most of my hearing is already gone, might has well get a couple of high-pressure guns to finish it off…”

      • “Most of my hearing is already gone, might has well get a couple of high-pressure guns to finish it off…””

        Deafness quiets nagging wives.

        (Usually. Your miles may vary… 🙂 )

  26. “Why wouldn’t you want a .357 Magnum lever action rifle?

    It fails to cause antis to have uncontrollable, explosive decompression of the space inside the colon?

    It might not be a good reason but that’s not what was asked.

    • I’ve chosen to go with a strategy that includes both firearms that the SASS folks find fascinating and others that cause the antis to have bowel control problems – you can cover a lot of bases for just a couple thousand dollars.

  27. .357 velocities peak in a 16″ barrel and decrease thereafter. Marlin gets it and offers a true carbine. Just wish the all-weather version didn’t have the silly loop lever.

    • That all depends on the powder you’re burning.

      Slower burning powders will enjoy a longer barrel more than faster burning powders.
      Try some Blue Dot in your .357 Mag, chronograph it and see how you like it.

        • True ‘dat. I can probably name a couple dozen powders that will work in the .357. Personally I like Blue Dot, and Bullseye for plinking rounds.

  28. Yeah, that .357 lever gun is so irrelevant you can’t find one anywhere. It has a lot going for it: you can drive a 125 grain JHP .38 to .357 handgun velocities, its 16″ barrel is just as handy as an AR, you can reload on the fly like a shotgun, it’s legal in all 50 states, not frightening to non-POTG, and is simple to operate.

      • Wow, so many new posts on the 357 Mag rifles. Awesome. The more the merrier. My stance is that Lever action rifles are still very relevant in 2020, for all the reasons that people have stated. The fact that they are very difficult to find, new or used, is a testament of that they are still relative and in high demand. And yes the price has been driven up on them, in the used market in the last 10, 15 years or so, especially the ones with no factory additional safety’s, other than the half cock position of the hammers, such as the older Winchester and Marlin ’94’s. Henry is finally putting out some side loading gate models, while still retaining the muzzle end magazine tube, so as to make them easier and safer to unload. Best of both worlds. But those new “X” models are very hard to get now. Blame it on the Covid 19 pandemic. Or if you are willing to pay $1500-1,750 you get a Mikoru Japan made Winchester 92 Takedown rifle. I have one, and they are very nice, but spendy, and very hard to come by. I bought a used Marlin 94c 357 in June, 2020 for $600, in 98% condition. The action and trigger needed work, so that cost another $125 from my local Gunsmith in Oregon. Now it’s the way it should have been from the factory. Smooth as butter. Mine was made in about 2005, for what it’s worth. Before the Remington, Freedom group takeover. I love Lever action rifles, and own Rossi’s, Savage 99’s, Winchester’s , ( 92′ and 94’s), Marlin’s, and Henry’s, in 357 magnum and 44 Rem Mag. And one 1886 Winchester 45-70 takedown model, ( rare). I like all of them, they all have different “personalities”. The most Fun guns I own.

  29. Lever action rifles are fun. But I just couldn’t ever wrap my brain around spending enough on a lever action to buy two or three semi-auto rifles. Not question those who do or did so, ’cause there’s something special about shooting a lever action. It’s just not special enough to me for my wallet to cough up the bucks.

    • I really can’t either…sure was glad I had 8 30 round mags full of 62 gr 556 as BLM looters were approaching in May. A lever gun would be a really fun toy for me.

  30. Roger super Redhawks and Henry big boy , both in .44mag.

    Yeah both pretty awesome. I like the combo.

  31. And of course my Marlin comes back today from the warranty repair and they still haven’t fixed the main issue I sent it in for. The hammer was replaced and some work was done to help the feeding and cycling but I am still having a bolt issue. The hammer and bolt still make contact with each other on the side of the hammer, not just where the bolt cocks the hammer. There is an issue in how the hammer and bolt are aligned. I took photos and pointed out the issue but still didn’t fix it. Looks like they replaced my hammer with a used part and there is some marks on the front sight hood that weren’t there before. Upon opening the box the gun was dirty and needed to be cleaned/oiled, not sure if the dust was from the shipping cardboard or lack of care in the shop before packing. Significantly disappointed and I reopened another repair ticket. Never again Marlin, shouldve bought another Henry.

    The last time I sent a gun off for some work was a chiappa revolver 2 years ago. It came back looking like new. Bagged in plastic, clean, and well oiled. Night and day in service and I didn’t have to wait over a month. It was even out of warranty and they took care of it no charge.

    • Kahlil, was the Marlin 94 you just got back from the Repair shop made between 2007 and 2012-2015? Those “Remlins” had some serious issues, and are the least desirable models of all Marlin 94’s. They seem to have gotten a lot better in the last 5 years ago or so. The New Henry Big Boy “X” models are looking like may be the best value in a New Lever action rifle. Or the new Marlin “Dark” series for a little more money. Both have threaded barrels to make them more relative and modern. Suppessor equiped lever guns with Subsonic plinker ammo are a hoot to shoot. 38 Special ammo is cheap and easy to reload for plinking and target practice.

      • It was an 1895 GBL. Based on the serial number it looked like it was made this year. The one that went directly back to gun store was likely 2018 or 2019 but was still new in box. I’m just fed up with the fact I spent over $1000 in gun and ammo to not be able to use it AND when it comes back from the shop it is dirty, not fixed, and has some cosmetic issues that weren’t there when I shipped it.

        • Sounds like Remington/Marlin customer service and repair has gone straight to hell. That is too bad. Once that word gets around, Henry and Brazilian made Rossi levers, and even Uberti and other Italian made Lever guns will gain more of the market share. Too bad Winchester lever guns aren’t still made in the USA. Browning should build a plant in Utah and make them there, as they own the rights to Winchester now. JM Browning did design a lot of the Winchester lever action rifles. Back in the day. Bottom line, if you get a Marlin lever gun that works and shoots good, and without a crossbolt safety, don’t EVER sell it. Count yourself lucky They are getting to very hard to find!

  32. I would add Chiappa Alaskan in .357 Magnum to the mix. Pricey, but they take down to a package about 20 inches long without sacrificing accuracy and are very well made.

  33. It’s nice to check back in after so many years and see that my old photos and articles are still ‘relevant.’ I wrote the original TTAG book on pistol-caliber levers back in the day, and I’d like to add a few points to those made in this article.

    First off, a .357 lever is almost as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. They’re quick-handling (crazy quick), they’re accurate, and they’ve got the power to take down medium-sized game out to 150 yards with the right ammo and careful rangefinding.

    Second, they take ordinary .357 ammo and produce ballistics you’d hardly believe. Joe Grine and I spent a day testing it agains the venerable .30-30, and the results astounded us. Instead of repeating all the details, I’ll just post the link below.

    Thirdly, in ordinary political/economic times .38 and .357 ammo is plentiful, ubiquitous, and affordable. We are not currently living in such times, when even steel-cased Russian 9mm is sold off the shelves at ridiculous markups.

    They’re also legal everywhere, even states with the most draconian gun control. It’s sad that this is a bonus, but for many Americans it is exactly that.

    I’m going to be very careful dipping into a little bit of political prognostication, but I think most of us would acknowledge that gun-banners have a list of the guns they hate most (cough AR cough) and that John Wayne’s Cowboy Rifle is way down at the bottom of that list.

    I own a Marlin .357 and it’s a beaut. But it didn’t came from the Marlin factory that way, and it took a custom lever gunsmith a lot of work and a lot of replacement parts to get it there. Unless Marlin has COMPLETELY reformed their QC system, I would never spend $600 on one of their levers. Risking twice that? Caveat Emptor.

    Henry offers their stunningly beautiful rifles, all American-made, for substantially less than a Marlin price tag. I’d buy another Henry in a heartbeat, if my gun safe weren’t replete with levers already. HINT: Academy has Henry Steel Big Boys in stock today, July 29th, for $730.


    And if even a Henry is a little rich for your blood, Rossi makes perfectly serviceable pistol-caliber levers that retail in the mid-$500s. Finding ammo can be tough for any caliber these days, but if you’ve already got a stash of .38 and .357 for your handguns, you’ve already got that covered.

    Here are links for the articles I’ve posted over the years; enjoy!

    The chrony doesn’t lie: .357 levers punch well above their weight:

    The original (factory) Marlin review:

    The review after Wild West Guns rescued it:

    Not a .357, but a Rossi lever. And a fun one!

    Also not a .357, but a stunning Henry:

  34. Surprised no one has mentioned Smith and Wesson 627 Performance Center 8 shot in 357. I have become a fan. It shoots deadly accurate and has amazingly smooth trigger action. It is my go-to gun for self-defense at home and in my car.

    • Probably because the article’s title was the 5 best RIFLES, not handguns. But that being said, your S&W 8 shot Revolver is a nice pistol.

  35. Just picked up a Marlin 1894C at my local gun store. Last one he had and probably will get for some time. Although some may not find this particular gun relevant, I think there are lots of pluses. Most of all it shoots the same ammo as a number of revolvers I have and reload for. It’s cheaper than a lot of other calibers to shoot with minimal felt recoil. Most of all it looks cool and reminds me of the good old days when guns were all made from steel and wood instead of plastic. I still have a safe full of AR’s, but thinking this Marlin is going to be seeing a lot more range time than they will.

    • I sure like my Marlin 94c..I had my Smith do an action and trigger job on it. Big improvement in smothness. They should come from the factory that way. The unnecessary cross bolt safety can easily be deleted with a Beartooth Mercantile safety delete kit for $35.00.

  36. I was surprised I didn’t see any comments about the Henry Big Boy X. I bought this in a .357 mag at BassPro for $800 and it has the side gate for loading. I would think the old school lever lover’s and the black rifle guys could come together on this. It brings old school to the new school and shoots like a dream.

    • I would love to have a new Henry Big Boy X in 357 Magnum.. Problem is, because of the pandemic, and an election year, like all the ammo, there isn’t any to be had, in the Pacific Northwest anyway. So when they become available, people on this blog will be talking about them. $800 was a great price..

  37. It was way past the time Henry made a side loading gate Lever action rifle. That feature was what was holding me back from buying one.

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