Our friends at The Firearms Blog posted this video ripping lever guns a new one. The charges leveled at levers: they shoot a stupid cartridge (.30-30 comes in for a lot of stick), they can’t be shot from prone and they’re a bitch to load/reload (hence their dismissal from military service). And?
Firearms enthusiasts aren’t always looking for the ultimate gun: the lightest, softest shooting, easiest to load, most ergonomic, most reliable, easiest to clean, best ballistic hammer money can buy. Revolver enthusiasts, for example, know full well that wheel guns come a poor second to most modern polymer pistols in terms of capacity and fast reloads (Jerry Miculek excepted).
Lever gun lovers — a group to whom I belong — are under no illusions when it comes to their rifles’ limitations. But there’s something totally awesome about firing a well-made lever gun. Not only does it connect you to America’s historical past it feels right. And looks cool. And does the job. Kinda like a small wooden sailboat — which are a genuine pain to maintain compared to anything fiberglass.
Anyway, the fact that Henry Repeating Arms is doing a land office business with their modern lever guns tells you a lot about the genre’s allure. Yes, they’re pretty darn good at doing what rifles do. But again it’s the way a lever gun makes you feel that sets them apart from any other type of rifle. Are you in?
Oh yeah. Love that Big Horn .500!
Lever guns are great guns. I remember that TFB article from last week or so, I like TFB but I thought the article was crap. That dude has an obsession with the Mauser, and while also a great gun, a lever action beats a bolt action for home defense, unless your defending your home from a distance, of course.
That Alex C guy, from TFB is kind of a dbag. He hates on guns he knows people love, regularly, to provoke a response or get a rise out of people.
That would have to be a very long distance. Lever guns come in more than 30-30 and nineteenth century calibers.
And everybody knows that 30-30 ceases to be an effective round at exactly 100 yards, because for reasons. Not that it’s the ballistic equivalent to 7.62×39 or 300blk or anything.
Having moved thru thick brush with an m16 and a winchester 94, at different times in my life, I can tell you the lever gun is better in the thick stuff.
Lever guns don’t have protruding thingys to snag on every twig and vine. They are smooth, compact, easy to wield. You can get into and out of vehicles quite well with a lever gun and the same about getting onto and off horses.
Lever guns work. Too many potg spend too much time playing Rambo. They need to relax and get in touch with their inner John Wayne.
Honestly, I’ve never had that issue. I think that most people just have too much crap hanging off of their ARs. The only problem I’ve had with my personal rifle is the 3 o’clock flashlight mount on a VTAC barricade with an SBR. It effectively makes my rifle 3″ wider.
Keep your hands off my innards!
Then carry a Mini-14 or Mini-30 in the brush. Garands don’t have a Cabela’s counter hanging off of them.
Any thoughts on the lever gun vs the SKS as a “brush gun”? Strictly asking about the ability to go through bush while carrying one
SKSs are pretty damned hefty.
I’d say eat your Wheaties if you plan on humping one about all day.
It can be done, I’ve done it, but it wasn’t fun.
Good point about the weight factor. I was thinking more about the lines (length, width, and lack of hanging off crap) of the rifle. The SKS is a good handy rifle, but the lever gun probably is the better brush rifle due to weight, and more power at short range.
An SKS is a great gun, but it’s slower to reload on the move than a level action. One of the big advantages of the lever gun is that you can slide rounds into the loading gate on the move and even shoot between each round if you needed to.
Huh? You can load an SKS in about the time it takes you to take a step. Stripper clips are a thing.
Not a defense of lever guns, per se, but with a stripper or a magazine you usually have to wait until your weapon runs dry before you refill. With a lever rifle, if you have fired two or three rounds and hit a lull it is easy to put two or three new rounds into the tube and be back in business with a full mag. Just sayin’.
What ROHC said. Milsurps are great. I love them and really regret trading off my sks. But a 7 pound .30-30 vs. a 9 pound milsurp is no contest. Not if you’re hunting.
+1 You got that right. If you have to walk a bit you know.
I’m going to go with serge here on both counts.
I’ve never had a problem with moving through thick stuff with any AR platform type weapon. Got shit hanging off the side of your gun? What, are you operating operationally all over that AO (mall)? The number of fixes for this is retardedly large these days. Back 10 years ago, not so much but today if you got shit hanging off the side of your gun you ain’t doing it right. If your thinking “But muh PEQ-2!” well, that shit’s meant to be on the top rail of your rifle right behind the front sight post (if you have one). “But muh tac-light”. Put that shit on your lower rail in front of your preferred grip. Seriously, at this point what in the actual fuck are you hanging off the side of your rifle? 204 getting in your way or something?
Secondly, the SKS, serge is right about stripper clips but if it’s legal in your state after market detachable 30 round mags are also a thing. SKS is heavy? Get a weight set and start working out. Little ass Vietnamese guys carried that thing as a primary weapon in Vietnam. You can too. No excuses, hit the gym.
Now, in deference to JWM, I don’t know what his set up was or why he had it that way. The old school Nam sling for an M16 I could see being snaggy as hell and some of the new ones are not much better. I could also see the front sight post being snaggy in some situations in a jungle (I’ve never carried one in such an environment). I definitely agree that in certain circumstances the smoother contour of a lever gun could be an advantage in the thick stuff.
old school nam style sling on an old school nam style m16 with the FA giggle switch. No add ons. 30 round mag hanging out the bottom. Front sight post. Flash suppressor. Carry handle. Vines and other assorted greenery could and did hang up on all of them.
I don’t remember where or when I heard it but there’s a lot of truth to that saying “the only easy day was yesterday.”
That old school flash suppressor could be a major problem with vines and whatnot.
Being a youngun’ I never had to deal with such an issue.
“SKS is heavy? Get a weight set and start working out. Little ass Vietnamese guys carried that thing as a primary weapon in Vietnam. You can too. No excuses, hit the gym.”
Fuck that. I lift four days a week, but I’m not looking to carry around extra weight because dirt poor, third world Asians we fought 50 yrs ago did it.
New cars are expensive? Get a donkey and start practicing riding it. Little ass Vietnamese guys rode donkeys around as their primary mode of transportation. You can, too. No excuse. Ride a donkey to work.
To be fair, we’re not talking about a lot of weight. An SKS still weighs less than a Garand or the M1A. It is far from an unreasonable weight for a rifle firing an intermediate cartridge.
“Little ass Vietnamese guys carried that thing as a primary weapon in Vietnam. You can too. No excuses, hit the gym.”
I bow before you greatness.
The lolz were epic.
Love me some lever action!
.357/.38 is the funest plinking you can do.
Some peps just gotta be haters…
People also still shoot muzzle loading cap and ball rifles. That doesn’t mean that they are anything other than antiquated curiosities.
In Illinois, muzzle loading rifles are commonly used to hunt deer, but that’s mostly thanks to our stupid laws.
Certainly if I wanted to go out and kill a whitetail, the antiquated curiosity called a muzzle loading rifle wouldn’t be my first choice, if I truly had a choice. But they are used by many hunters, successfully.
I have many choices here in Texas, and for deer hunting, a flintlock is usually my first.
I agree with all of you so far, i love the lever guns, and I’m a relatively young fellow to say so, my grandmother has a lever 300 savage, built by savage, only complaint I have is the stock was shortened for her before I was ever a thought, so it bruises the shit out of my shoulder, but I enjoy it regardless, i learned to shoot on my uncle’s Browning .22 lever action, and killed my first rabbit with the same one, been looking for the right lever gun since for me, if I have to accept a 30-30, well, so be it.
more power in a lever = browning light weight in several calibers, mine is a 7mm-08.
Yes. Make mine a stainless takedown straight grip.
I think the lever gun has appeal beyond just history. .30-30 is ridiculously pricey , so much if I owned one I’d reload the cartridges. For instance, a .22 Mag or maybe a 9mm or .40 SW would probably be a great ranch varmint gun to carry handy in the ATV while out mending fences. Simple to load and operate, no external mags to mess with, accurate enough with iron sights for a ranch gun.Also keep in mind that in heavily wooded states like my native Pennsyvania, most deer are shot under 100 yards and a short barreled lever gun with iron sights is a perfect “brush gun” for deer and hogs.
“maybe a 9mm or .40 SW”
Good luck finding a lever gun chambered in those calibers. However, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .45 Colt are common.
I understand, and agree with your premise.
It would be very interesting to see someone develop a new lever action mechanism for short pistol cartridges like the 9mm and .40S&W. On a 16-inch-barreled gun, you could fit 14 or 15 rounds in the tube, and the mechanism could probably be engineered for a fairly short lever throw, since the bolt wouldn’t have to travel as far to eject. I’ll bet such a rifle, engineered from the ground up for that size of cartridges, using modern materials, could be a light, handy, slick-operating machine and a hoot to shoot. It would also probably be a commercial failure, but still…
While I’m on the topic of fantasy guns, I’d love to see someone shrink and re-engineer the Winchester 1895 design to make a lever-action carbine in .223 or .300BLK…
Except due to the already niche market status of lever guns, I’d put money on the tubes only holding 10 rounds or less, because while you might appreciate another handful of rounds, it would make the rifle illegal in a couple of the more populous states, so they’d just handicap everyone.
.22lr has it’s own exceptions in many states, thus the popularity of a 11+ capacity 22lr levergun is higher.
Pump would be better, but you’re just opening a bucket of worms if you want a rimless cartridge IMO.
c4v3man, as far as I know, most capacity-limit laws apply only to semi-autos. In any case, plenty of leverguns are already out there with capacity for more than 10 in the tube, with longer barrels. A 24″ will usually hold 12 .357s, sometimes 13 depending on cartridge OAL, so manufacturers aren’t afraid to make them.
I believe that one of the reasons people like lever rifles is nostalgia for the old west. They want to have a rifle that looks like the one John Wayne carried and used in the movies.
But along the lines of what Stinkeye was saying, what if someone made a nice looking lever rifle in the popular modern cartridges like 9mm or .40 S&W? Why use a tube magazine loaded one cartridge at a time? While it might throw off the “aesthetics” a bit, such a rifle could easily be manufactured to accept a standard double-stack pistol magazine, say for a Glock. Magazine capacity could then be from 10 to what, 21 or even 30? Depending on your desires or stupid local laws. JMHO.
Now, you’re in the arena of the Kel Tec SU 2000 in either 9mm or .40 S&W. Semi-auto and fold in half. My 9mm takes S&W 5900 series mags (up to 17 rounds) and my .40 takes Glock 23 mags which can be had in several capacity configurations. But, I digress as the conversation is regarding lever actions. Speaking of which, I still would like to see Henry come out with a .32 Fed Mag lever gun. I’m thinking a .32 Fed Mag would be sufficient for whitetails out to 100 yds (about the longest shot around here) and would also have the capability of firing .32 H&R Mag, .32 S&W Long, .32 S&W, and in a pinch .32 ACP. Just sayn….
.30-30 ridiculously pricey? I’ve never seen it over $16 per box of 20, even during the Great Ammo Shortage. Costs more than .357 or .223/5.56, but less than .30-06 and .308 and all the other common hunting rounds.
Compared to other hunting rifle rounds, the 30-30 is pretty reasonable. The only real hunting rifle I have is a .270, and 30-30 is generally cheaper than .270.
People are comparing it to things like 7.62X39 and 5.56. Cheap imported steel cased 7.62X39 ammo can be found in the $5 a box ballpark, which is way cheaper than 30-30. That is one of the main reasons I picked up an SKS rather than a lever action (I’m a plinker rather than a hunter anyway).
I still crave a lever action. I just think I’ll get one in .357 instead of 30-30.
Yeah, for plinking it’s definitely on the expensive side. I don’t hunt, but I sure do love my lever-action deer rifle. 🙂
I didn’t know guns from nothing when I bought it, but I knew that I wanted something that could hit pretty hard and yet wouldn’t break the bank for target practice. And I knew that I had massive amounts of fun with a lever-action .22 as a young teen…so a Marlin .30-30 it was.
If I were to do it over again with what I know now, I’d have snagged a Marlin (is it the 1894?) in .357. Good ones (pre-Freedom Group) were still on the shelves for decent prices, and it would’ve been ballistically similar, cheaper for plinking, and still practical for deer hunting or home defense. But I still don’t regret my choice. I bought a great gun.
Henry’s new “Long Ranger”. Free floated barrel, box magazine, and oh, yeah: .308, thank you very much. and yes, I just got one.
And .223 and soon 30-06 and probably .270.
Lagging site stats?? Easy fix! Step one: disparage someone/something everyone loves. Step two: make popcorn.
Not falling for it.
Not even once?
He wants to bring back the Israeli supermodels.
I second the Israeli Supermodel returnification!
I fell for it.
Okay, Okay – just once, but only if there are Israeli supermodels in there somewhere…
While I love my Rossi Lever Action in .357 S&W Magnum, I prefer a bolt action for longer range work. Heck, I willeven use a .30 Carbine for 75-100 yard shots with hot 110-grain soft points for Whitetail deer. (It’s what I like to call my “short game”). 😉
.30 carbine? oh, you mean .300 extra dark accxyz blackout? 🙂 Right there with you on the .30 carbine.
Anyone who doesn’t like lever guns is a whiny girlyman who is planning to vote for the Hildebeast.
And they hate baby Jesus.
I had to laugh about people hating the baby Jesus.
Lots of people hate the “Revelation 19 Jesus”. Others hate the “Sermon on the Mount Jesus”. But it takes a special kind of person to hate the “baby Jesus”.
Of course there is really only one Jesus. At the end of the day, we will all either love Him, or not.
Jesus is just all right with me.
A reading from the book of Spencer.
Jesus told his disciples “Sell your spurs and buy a lever action rifle, in a caliber no smaller than .38.”
i think he’s awesome.
but his fan club can get annoying.
I think the main issue with the TFB evaluation is that they were looking at it primarily from a military arms perspective. They were called out by multiple folks on several points, such as shooting prone, the cycle rate of a bolt vs. a lever, etc. As a sporting arm, the lever action has advantages and disadvantages – nothing’s perfect, but my BLR suits my purposes just fine for hunting and the occasional range trip. Besides, I can’t use semiautos to hunt in PA (yet…). Anyhow, different strokes and all that.
As for busting on the 30-30…I don’t know why they hate America over at TFB… Definitely not “perfect”, but it’s been a solid short-/mid-range medium game cartridge for 100+ years, even compared to many modern MSR calibers.
In defense of TFB, it is not “they,” but “he,” Alex C. in particular, who has a fascination for military rifles. And as a military rifle, he is probably right that, at least in modern times, it is lacking in range and utility. But a 9.5 or 10 lb military rifle lacks in utility as a hunting rifle–as one LGS owner said, “you’ll take the Garand hunting—once.” As a ranch or truck gun, it is hard to beat a lever action for short range work on whitetails and varmints, out to maybe 200 yards at the most, activities in which you’ll rarely be prone. Further, just because the .30-30 is an average round and lacking in distance and velocity doesn’t make it a bad round for heavy brush or ranges under 200, which is a pretty reasonable range for hunting almost anything except Big Horns. Then there is always the .45-70, a powerful round that has some legs, and one that I would take if running around in the woods in Alaska, just in case of an angry grizzly or moose.
I agree. In Alex’s defense, I think he really was talking about the lever action as a military rifle (and maybe long range hunting rifle). In that realm (war), M-4’s and AK’s are obviously better, and bolt actions offer greater range.
On the other hand, the lever action excels as a truck gun, ranch rifle, shorter range hunting rifle, and home defense rifle. Alex shouldn’t have overlooked these great qualities.
I’m in. Recently scored a minty 1975 Winchester M94 in .30-30. Now I’m looking for a pre-Cerberus Marlin M336 in the same caliber.
And since Hornady and others began to market spitzer-type soft point .30-30s for lever guns, I’m thinking that the venerable old cartridge — which has probably taken more deer than any other — is further from stupid than the writer of that TFB article.
Lever guns are handy as heck and svelt. Especially when in pistol cartridges. The only issues I have with them are bruised knuckles when I work the lever too aggressively and the price to feed them when compared to 9x19mm. A 9mm Luger or 40 S&W lever action would be neat as heck.
The shortness of the 9 and .40 rounds mean that you could carry a lot of them in the tube (relative to the longer .357, .44, or .45 Colt). Of course the 9 and .40 wouldn’t stand to gain near as much in terms of velocity as the longer revolver rounds. I’d prefer the revolver rounds (.357 since I reload). The 9 would be nice for shooting cheaper ammo.
You can reload .357 Magnum for basically the same price as reloading 9mm, giving maybe an extra penny for the additional powder.
The price difference between 9mm and .357 Magnum ammo is mostly in the brass.
Correct! That is why I would personally go with the .357. I reload.
With the comment about “cheap ammo” for the 9mm, I was referring to cheap off the shelf factory ammo. The 9mm is the cheaper option for the person who doesn’t reload.
out of a rifle barrel the 9mm would be no slouch or shove some +P’s in there and see. Somebody pull the specs on the kel-tec sub2000. (power loss due to cycling the semi-auto non-locking bolt) They made levers in 32 and “pistol type” calibers in the old days why not 9mm now?
As far as lever guns not being a viable weapon, check “boot hill” as far as hunting goes, you could add all the hunting kills with semi’s and bolt guns over the last 100 years and I’ll bet it’s not half of what the old lever has harvested. They just work.
Look up Ranger Point Precision. They will cost but you can take a marlin 1894 and get it rechambered in 9mm, .40, 45, .38 super, 327 federal, .357 SIG, and probably more
My Marlin 1894c in .38/.357 is an incredibly versatile carbine with loads down to tiny and quiet .38 plinkers/small game getters up to 185 grain .357 thumpers that get well in to 30-30 territory and would take fairly large game.
And it’s fun as hell to shoot and good looking if I do say so.
Meh. Lever guns don’t need defending. Especially from the nonpolitical/political bunch at TFB. A lever action in 357/38 is on my lust-list…
One is on my lust list as well. Actually, the lever action .357 is probably on the top of my list.
You both need to get one… I have a whole safe full of all kinds of rifles, but none of them are any more fun than my lowly Rossi 92. Loaded with light .38 plinking rounds, it’s like a slightly louder pellet gun. Loaded with full-house .357s, it’s a for-real big-boy rifle out to 100 yards or so. The stock “buckhorn” sights suck, but Skinner Sights has all kinds of solutions for that.
Skinner Sights are great. I’ve got the smallest apeture on mine and am very happy with it.
I have been begging TTAG for a while now to do some sound testing with a lever gun and standard pressure .38s. Pistol caliber lever guns, with the right load, show a lot of promise in being ultra quiet.
I wish their Remy overlords would let Marlin start making the 1894C again.
Those Marlin 1894’s “only” go up in price on gunbroker about 50 bucks every 6 months…Dammit for them discontinuing.
I don’t think they were ever actually discontinued, they still have them on their website as though they’re still making them. But they’re not. They just quietly stopped making them. For a while?
Lever are great, but not for everything…
Hunting, yes. Truck gun, it’s THE truck gun. HD, sure, maybe, given the right chambering. Range/fun gun, oh yeah! SHTF rifle, nope, you’ll get owned by someone who knows what they are doing with an AR or AK. Long range rifle, don’t make me laugh.
Got several MSRs (5.56, 7.62, multiples of each) and also several lever-guns (30-30, 22lr). They’re different tools for different jobs, but honestly, a finely made lever-action just feeds some deep visceral pleasure center in a way that none of my MSRs do.
For the record, I haven’t found 30-30 to be excessively pricey in my neck of the woods. You certainly won’t find any “deals” on 1000-count cases of course, but I’ve seen it for less than .50c/trigger pull, and it gets WAY cheap if you do reload. The flat-nose configuration means you should be realistic about ballistics, and limit yourself to shots less than say 150 yards, but inside of that, it’s DEFINITELY minute-of-deer or minute-of-badguy accurate! While it isn’t my go-to for home defense, I certainly wouldn’t feel under-gunned or at any serious disadvantage if I had to defend me & mine with it! One SHOULD practice shucking in additional rounds while using it though, and I’d have to strongly recomment tearing it down and dehorning the inner areas of the receiver and the loading gate, unless you enjoy having your thumbnail ripped off?
Anyway, my .02…
These guys are dumbasses is they believe the gas they are passing.
Lever guns work and have done so for generations. The 30-30 doesn’t give up anything but accuracy at distance to the 223.
I can also get one in 357 to pair with my revolver. A 357 158 grain at 1900 fps is an awesomething thing on any varmint.
Just not enough places to hang doo dad’s to get advertisers I guess.
I suppose these same yoohoos are against pump shotguns unless they have a 25 round drum. Morons.
Just not enough places to hang doo dad’s
Yeah, about that.
That lever-action…thing…is an abomination and a sin against all that is holy. I kind of want one.
The earthquake you just felt was John Wayne rolling over in his grave
Full house .357magnum through a Henry Big Boy barely has a kick. Yea it being a better than 8.5# rifle has something to do it with it, but it’s so sweet to shoot and it’s a damn tack driver.
My only gripe with lever guns is I don’t own enough and I don’t get to the shoot the ones I own enough.
I love all the levers. Even the much maligned 464 SPX. If anyone has one they hate I’d be happy to relieve you of your burden.
The day TFB published this article, I went an picked up a new-to-me Winchester Model 92 with a 24″ barrel in .45 Colt (Japanese manufacture) that I bought off the webs for a very reasonable price and in excellent condition. Now I just need to get out and shoot it. And yes, I have an 1873 in a matching caliber. Although I don’t use it for that purpose (preferring pistols), a .45 Colt with a hard cast lead RNFP would make an excellent HD rifle, something I’d take over a 7mm Mauser any day.
It’s popular to trash talk lever guns because of the Freedumb Group fiasco and FUDDs, but I grew up on Clint Eastwood and John Wayne movies, so I love ’em. Problem is where the market largely stands today. You can purchase an old rifle of superb quality that you’re better off treating as an investment, buy a new and practically unfinished example, or get on a 1+ year waiting list for a competent gunsmith to turn your recently manufactured poop stick into a halfway decent rifle in exchange for your bank account info and firstborn son.
I’m glad I inherited grandpa’s Marlin 336, ’cause I probably wouldn’t buy one today. Quality work always costs, but halfway decent craftsmanship is a lost art all around.
I bought a 336BL a few months ago and I’m pretty happy with the quality. It was the stuff they were putting out about 5 years ago when they first moved production to the Rem factory that was complete crap and the ones Marlin was cranking out before they were bought out were getting pretty bad. My biggest complaint is the heavy trigger which I swapped out myself. But the quality seems to be pretty decent for a $500 rifle.
That’s not really a defense of lever guns. Alex’s critique is that they aren’t practical and have been superseded in essentially every respect by other types of firearms. I don’t think he intended that nobody should buy or like lever guns, but rather that fanboys are stupid. He’s a sucker for old military bolt actions, so the same ‘attack’ could be leveled at his favorite rifles compared to modern rifles. Also, lever actions don’t really connect you to American history any more than shooting a modern Mauser derivative connects you to imperial German history. At least, I don’t get that sort of feeling when I shoot either type of rifle. If you like it, buy it and shoot it, however impractical it may be. That is, after all, your right.
For general use (includes defense of self), you need an accurate decently powerful cartridge in an accurate and easy to employ platform.
If you are on patrol in Neosporinstan then you probably need a battle rifle. For every one else a lever gun would probaby do pretty well. Obsolete doesn’t mean ineffective.
If I am alone against 10 attackers in battle mode, I don’t think an AR is going to matter in the outcome. If I’m up against twomen gangbangers or crackheads trying to do me harm, I don’t think an AR is going to affect the outcome.
The issue is folks that are new to gun have been massively influenced by a military approach to weapons since we’ve been at war for the last decade and a half.
Lots of PD used to issues lever 30-30s as a trunk rifle to deal with distance standoffs. The one use I saw after the fact was decisive with one shot fIred. Would an AR have worked? Sure. Would it have been better? Seems moot to m .
I won a Henry Big Boy (.44 mag) in a raffle a couple years ago. Pretty fun to shoot, and it’s actually my wife’s favorite gun to shoot.
Gee, . Do these people write this crap just for attention? I’ve done just fine with my plain Winchester 94 thank you.
It’s like they’re dissing John Wayne.
Of course they just write shit like that for attention. About 30% of the gun-related content on the internet is some jackass bashing something that’s popular for clickbait…
I enjoyed shooting my dad’s Marlin 94 cowboy competition in .38spl, as well as my winchester 92 in 30-30, but to be honest, I enjoy shooting his Rossi pump .22lr (winchester copy) more than both of them. I’d love to get a good deal on a Colt Lightning carbine and a set of dies to reload for it, in whatever caliber I could find for cheap.
I hope this never happens, but if semi-autos get outlawed in this country, I don’t think the shift for home defense, truck guns and SHTF guns will be towards bolt action guns as much as to updated lever guns and pumps. As pointed out, bolt guns are great for high-power cartridges for sniping and hunting, but if I am taking on some BGs at medium range and I can’t have a semi-auto, I think a lever or pump action would be far preferable to a bolt gun.
Lever guns suffer inferiority complexes to semi autos that suffer the same to machine guns. You heard it here first.
2 browning BLR’s. 1 marlin 336, and a pre-64 Winchester 94. One of the Browning’s is chambered in .30-06. it’s lust as accurate as my brother’s Winchester bolt action and reloads from a detachable box magazine. And with a little practice, a lever gun can be fired from prone.
I confirm the prone shooting. Just last year I went shooting with the local Pink Pistols and many had great fun shooting two different lever-actions from prone position.
BTW, I’ve loved lever action since I was a kid and saw a movie about Annie Oakley; John Wayne didn’t even play a part in my attraction to them.
He forgot to mention that they’re an absolute hoot to shoot.
He also shows his ignorance by claiming that a 7.62×39 is as powerful as a .30-30. With the exception of dangerous game a .30-30 is all the cartridge an average shooter could possibly use without optics. Hornady’s FTX bullets can put over 1000ft/lbs of energy on target at 300 yards. Federal makes a 125gr. hollow point that’s a devastating defense round. Seems to me to fill a nice little niche between 5.56 and .308.
Yeah, well in the comments to that TFB post I was also told that the 6.5 Grendel is a legit 400-yard elk cartridge, too, so…
Yeah, the guy’s opinion lost alot of weight with me when he tried to gloss over the fact that lever guns beat bolt guns in terms of speed when you compare like to like. Average shoot to average shooter and expert to expert lever guns are faster. They are slower to reload (especially compared to modern bolt guns w/ detachable mags) but they usually hold a few more in their tube magazines.
The only way a bolt gun with detachable box magazine would be faster to reload is if you’ve already got a fresh magazine loaded (or stripper clips). And a side gate lever gun has the advantage of being capable of tactical reloads without taking the gun out of commission. Honestly, if I had an empty gun and a bucket with 100 loose rounds I think the fastest gun I’ve got to 100 would be a Rug er No.1.
But none of that really matters unless you’re on a battlefield. One or two rounds should be sufficient for most hunting situations. If you need more than a half a dozen rounds for home defense you’d better double check and make sure your assailants don’t have ‘PD’ or ‘SHERIFF’ or ‘DEA’ on their backs. Same with a carry pist ol, the need for more than a handful of rounds is an extremely rare event in the real world. At least for those of us who avoid stupid people and stupid places at stupid times.
My wife is not much of a gun enthusiast. She has an LCRX 3″ for CCW and also a 686. She is a big John Wayne fan and always wanted a lever gun. I bought her a Mossberg 464 Brush Gun for her birthday. Took her to the range. After about sixty rounds, and a bruise on her shoulder, she couldn”t wipe the smile from her face.
I’ve got a Rossi 1892 in .45 Colt. Out to 100 yards it is accurate, and great fun. Big .45 slugs are great to see downrange when they impact.
The best part of the gun is the weight. A hair under six lbs empty, and convenient to stow behind a seat, under a saddle or in the cockpit of a kayak.
I’ve got a Henry Golden Boy in .22LR. It’s my go to gun for a day of fun at the range on a budget. I could have picked up something with a larger caliber, but I don’t hunt, and this was for target shooting at the range. I can shoot this gun for hours on a few bucks worth of ammo (assuming you can get .22LR, a situation that seems to have greatly improved). I have more fun with this lever action than I do with my AR, and that is ultimately, what really counts.
Winchester 94, Marlin 336, (both .30-30) Rossi 92 in .38/.357 with the John Wayne lever, and Henry Big Boy in .44 special/mag. I even have a much maligned Winchester model 250 .22 which shoots great. Do I like lever guns? If I had to grab one when things went bump in the night, it would be the Rossi, loaded with .357 hollow points or semi wadcutters.
Fudds: “You don’t need an AK47 with 30 rounds to hunt deer”
Anti-Fudds: “You need more than a 30-30 lever gun for the zombie apocalypse”.
Me: Who are you to tell me what I “need”?
What is all this crap about “FUDDS?”
Does there always have to be some kind of stupid division just because someone likes something different then you do? I do get the frustration with gun owners who don’t get it that they will be disarmed too if the Libs have their way because they’ll kill hunting, but this division in our ranks and name-calling only serves the antis. How about ending the labeling and name calling?
Time to stick together.
You apparently misunderstood me.
Fudd: anti gun hunter.
Anti-Fudd: anti-hunting gunner.
Divisive: the way the above two groups dismiss each other’s choice of tools.
I’d love it if Henry made a .460 or .500 Smith lever gun with a full length tubular mag. With a side loafing gate.
I wish mine had a side loafing gate. Sprin’s stiff as hell.
Lever guns are excellent weapons. They are quick to operate, you can load them one round at a time while under cover and even shoot between loading rounds, they are available in a wide range of calibers both pistol and rifle, and they are compact and east to manipulate in tight quarters.
I have the usual assortment of ARs, AKs, pistol caliber carbines and a few old military rifles but I also have my old Marlin 30-30 and will always have one. They are versatile and useful rifles.
Lever guns are great. I treasure my well worn 1952 Winchester ’94 in .30 WCF. Fun to shoot, very good for under 200 yards, looks cool as hell and yes, if you are on horseback, motorcycle or ATV, pretty tough to beat as far as size and weight. Why does everyone have to be an absolutist about everything gun related? Sure, ARs are great tools too but they are sterile and generic. Lever guns have a hell of a lot more soul and are just plain fun. Just wish .30-30 brass wasn’t so damn expensive.
I’ll just leave this here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJkm1JuOoUM
Gotta love Hollywood.
In the real world, if you cock a lever gun while it’s not upright, the next round will fall out and you’ll be left with the hammer cocked on an empty chamber.
My next lever gun will be a Savage 99 in 243.
I already have Winchesters, Marlins and rossi 92s.
I will always have bolt action rifles for long range, but lever actions are cool.
Love my Savage 99. 300 savage. ..
What I think everyone seems to have glossed over is the caliber choices. Some of the models fire heavy, hard hitting short range calibers compared to other rifle types like the venerable 45-70 (which can be loaded with blackpowder if you choose).
I used hand loaded 300 grain ammo that sends that heavy slug flying around 2000 fps. Add this ability to a sleek, light rifle, it still has its uses.
I grew up watching lever action guns on TV and in the movies. I love my Henry lever action because it reminds me of my youth. I have a “cowboy” revolver to complete the set. It doesn’t matter to me if they are better or not. Henry makes the smoothest rifle I have found.
I am not in a financial position to get a modern semiautomatic rifle in any platform but I do have an 1894 in .30-30 and I feel if it came down to use it its a better fighting chance then nothing especially when paired with 2 shotguns and 3 handguns. I have practiced loading and cycling as quickly as I can. With the lower capacity marksmanship becomes more important. Even though it has roughly the same performance as a 7.62×39 it has quite the report. However as being a person who is not overly concerned about the possibility of needing a MSR I do intend on getting one but until then I am comfortable with the .30-30 if it where needed to be used against a 2 legged threat or multiple. Gotta work with what you got.
.30-30 is a nice bump up in power from a 7.62×39. It will launch a 150gr. slug at roughly the same speed as a 7.62×39 launches a 123gr. bullet. Federal makes a 125gr. hollow point I like for self defense advertised at 2570fps. That’ll make a devastating wound and isn’t likely to over-penetrate.
Yep. Hornady LeverEvolution is a darn nice .30-30 round as well, albeit too much penetration for self defense.
I’ve only got one lever action (30-30). And while pretty much everything he said was true albeit with tons of sarcasm and piles of fecal matter loaded with attitude, I love my lever gun because it is a very light handy rifle perfect as a scout gun. It’s compact, and like an SKS, there is no need to carry around extra mags. I have a scout scope on mine as it is a top ejecting Winchester 94. Also, as mine is a post 94 it was acquired at an amazingly cheap price with quality superior than a lot of guns made today.
Would I use it for home defense? No. But it makes a very lightweight grab and go rifle with a cartridge that has more than enough power for the ranges I am using it for, and I don’t have to carry around mags. I can just feed the ammo directly in as I go and I don’t have to wait until the rifle is empty to do so. Also, for me, a lever is a lot faster and easier to work than a bolt.
“But there’s something totally awesome about firing a well-made lever gun.”
Yes, well, apparently in all of history precisely five physical lever rifles were made that were worth a damn, the last of which was no more recent than about 1964.
Every lever lover out there has somehow managed to get their hands on these five prized rifles and enjoyed the hell out of them. So they sing their praises based on this experience.
Unfortunately, there are a zillion other lever rifles out there which, while very pretty, are pure jamomatics through and through, which everyone else’s experience is based on. And so the debate continues, unending and unsatisfying.
99% of lever rifles deserve only to be hanging on the wall over the fireplace, or else crackling like hickory in the fireplace.
A poor craftsman blames his tools.
My model 94 was made in 1971. Although the receiver is made of sintered steel and it has a few cast parts – it is very accurate at 100yrds and has never jammed. The fit and finish of a pre 64 is better, but I doubt it shoots or handles any better.
Maybe I’m a statistical anomaly like those other five guys?
You, sir, are in need of serious medical attention. You have clearly suffered some sort of brain trauma.
I have neither any complaints about nor have I had a single jam out of my Marlin 336BL I bought new this spring. Hell of a rifle and I think the Marlin quality is now at least up to the same Rem. standards as the other rifles made in Ilion.
There are times that youngsters need to have some sense slapped into them.
This is one of those times.
There are lever guns that address most, if not all, of his points.
Want a faster round? Get a Browning BLR. .22-250, 223, .243 Win, .270 Win, 7mm08, .308 are now all at your disposal, and with a detachable box magazine. Want more power? Get a Winchester 1895 in .405. Plenty of medicine for big beasts now. Want collectable (as all get-out) and lots of power? Get a 1886 Winchester in .50-110. The 1886’s used here in Wyoming in the Johnson County War that have papers are worth 10’s of thousands of dollars. The .50-110 works just fine against bison or even Cape Buffs.
Lever actions have several advantages. They’re easier to repair when you don’t have machine tools at your disposal, with the Marlin 36 perhaps one of the easiest to take detail strip, clean and re-assemble. Damn kids today are spoiled by the idea of the AR-15 – where you can buy most anything and bolt it onto your AR without needing precision tools other than perhaps a headspace gage. In a bolt action rifle, this isn’t the case.
Lever guns have flat sides, which is real handy when you’re on horseback and you keep your rifle in a scabbard. This used to be a big deal back when “calvary” meant “Army soldiers on horseback,” not “soldiers who jump out of perfectly good helicopters and leave their pintle-mounted, belt-fed weapons behind them…” Lever guns seem to just point well, which is why hunters in brush like them so well. My BLR in .308 is, without doubt, the fastest-mounting long gun I own – and I own a lot of bolt guns, lever guns, side-by-sides, over-n-unders, etc. When I’m hunting deer or elk in tough timber here in Wyoming, I take the BLR, with iron sights. I’ve killed more coyotes with that BLR than any other rifle I own – because when the ‘yote puts on the afterburners and is running for the horizon, I can swing fast enough on him and drop him in his tracks with the BLR – with iron sights.
The take-down versions of lever guns can be carried in a briefcase, fooling everyone you walk by on the street.
As for shooting prone: I’ll take a bolt gun or falling-block design over any modern box-fed rifle. The lever action rifle is at no more disadvantage than the AR-15 with a 30-round magazine, which I find a nuisance to shoot prone. I can shoot prone with the 20 round magazine much more easily.
As for military applicability: No one who knows the history of US military arms will ever be able to convince me that the Springfield Trapdoor was a better rifle than any lever gun. In their era, the lever action rifles were a huge improvement over the competition – which was the Trapdoor, not the Krag or the Springfield, both of which came later.
Want to argue the military efficacy of the lever gun vs. the US Army’s choice of the Springfield Trapdoor? Read the memoirs of Geo. Custer’s men, who carried Springfield Trapdoor carbines into battle.
Oh, wait, you can’t, they were all killed – by Sioux and Cheyenne armed with (among other things) repeating lever-action rifles. Why did the US Army adopt the Springfield design when the repeaters were already well known for their efficacy in gunfights? Because the Army has always had this obsession with “soldiers wasting ammunition.” This obsession is the reason for the Springfield Trapdoor – a horrible design for a rifle, perhaps the single most incompetent choice of a rifle in the history of the US military. This obsession is the reason for the magazine cut-off on the Springfield 1903/A3. This obsession was part of the reason for adopting the Garand design, with an eight-round enbloc cilp, rather than a detachable box magazine. This obsession is the reason for the three-round burst on the M16/M4, rather than a “full auto” selection.
Lever guns have their place, and in their specific applications (especially on horseback), they do quite well.
What…no 35 Remington love from the ‘smith?
I have 2 lever guns and enjoy them like a good Kentucky bourbon. 35 Remington and 30-30 Winchester are the pills I chose. The new hotness in guns hasn’t been drawing me in like bacon in the morning. The last purchase was a Ruger Blackhawk in 41 magnum, love me the single/cowboy action.
I have a customer who tells me that he’s going to inherit his father’s Model 336 in .35 Rem some day. His father says it drops elk and moose (we do have moose here in Wyoming) like a rock. I’m told he’s running 220gr bullets over a stout load – much more stout than reloading manuals indicate as ‘maximum.’ Just as elk are often found in the timber here, so are the moose. If you frequent restaurants on either side of the Big Horns, you can see old F&G signs on the walls telling hunters to “be sure” of your game, because you might be shooting at a moose instead of an elk.
This comes about because the best way to spot elk (or moose) in the heavy timber is to look for legs. If you get down on your knees and look into the woods, you can often see their legs moving before you will see their body.
I’ve never personally handled a 35 Remmy lever-gun. The old timers who have them like them – especially cut down to 20″ or less.
To each their own, but I don’t see the point of the .35 Remington when there are so many badass .45-70 “+P” loads available.
(Meant as a reply to Mr. Ferguson and not DG. Phone is glitching.)
That’s where Jesus was crucified.
I think you meant “cavalry.”
Other than that, thanks for the history lesson.
Lot of hate in that video. Sounds like he picked an area of comparison which would allow the most amount of bashing. I have a Marlin (pre-Cerberus) 1895cb in .45-70 (named big medicine). Fit and finish is excellent. Great fun at the range, for a few rounds. Completely changes the nature of a hunt compared to hunting with a bolt gun. I guess that’s the feelz of getting in touch with my inner John Wayne as jwm mentioned above.
I have 1886 in 45/70, 45/90 50/110 express with tang sights and a 1895 in a 405 witch all will knock your dick in 400 yards. Enough said
Lever guns are undoubtedly cool to anyone who ever liked western movies, and who the hell never liked Westerns? One of my earlier rifles I bought was a Winchester Ranger in 30-30 that I bought from Sports Authority, I think for $199 in the early 90’s. It was plain jane, no fancy wood or front sight hood. Didn’t have a saddle ring that I recall. I bought it for pure cowboy cool factor, at least as much of that as I could afford. Same reason I bought a Ruger Vaquero later on that I had no real need for. I remember my surprise at the kick of the first round I touched off. I was still bean pole skinny back then, and compared to my padded stock 20-gauge Model 870, it was not much fun to shoot, and left my shoulder bruised after one box of ammo. I had no intention of deer hunting with it, I just bought it for fun. When I realized it wasn’t really that much fun to actually shoot, I traded it within a year for a used Marlin Camp Carbine in 9mm. Now THAT was a fun rifle. It had a scope with look-through scope rings underneath that let you use the iron sights if you wanted to, and it was hell on empty coke cans.
If I was going to be a wandering mountain man, I think an all-stainless lever gun in a big-bore caliber would be a solid choice. But in my suburban existence, lever guns just don’t appeal to me enough to buy one. If I had money to burn on a nice mantle rifle, a brass Henry would definitely have some appeal, but for practical home defense, lever guns are way down the list.
You can’t shoot a lever gun from the prone position?
Considering I’ve done this repeatedly, I don’t see the problem. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.
I’ve got a couple of AR style rifles, a tactical shotgun, a bolt “sniper style” rifle & the gun that gets the most rounds thoough it by a large margin is my Rossi. A Ranch Hande with a full stock is hands down the best bush gun I’ve ever owned. Nothing gets hung up on it, it’s a touch over 6 pounds with 6 .357 mags in the magazine and one in the tube, itll handle loads hot enough for deer out at 100 yds, a Skinner peep in the back and even my old tired eyes can shoot minute of deer at a hundred yds. Sling? Nah…with a cowboy gun??? Mine rides on the side of my backpack in a short scabbard. Nowhere near as hard hitting as my shotgun, but a helluva lot easier to lug around in the brush all day. I’ll even take my chances with a black bear up to 300 lbs or so.
‘A Ranch Hande with a full stock is hands down the best bush gun I’ve ever owned.’
Did the ATF approve your tax stamp for your SBR?
Yeah, well you still can’t beat a Winchester 1886/71 or M94 in .450 Marlin or new (pre-Remlin) Marlin 1895 or Big Horn carbine for power and cycling speed without getting a shoulder-crushing magnum bolt-action. Also, ‘Murrica.
Hold an empty lever rifle and revolver. Try to keep yourself from cycling the lever and hammers. Now do the same same with a semi-auto rifle and pistol. Levers, revolvers and bolts have soul. Semi-autos have efficiency and great use, but are cold.
I have a Marlin 336 in .30-30. It was my first deer rifle when I was 14. It’s not my favorite rifle now, but it’s not a bad gun by any means. It has taken some deer, it carries very nicely, and it shoots reasonably well. Somebody at the range recently let me shoot a mag through a Henry chambered in .357 Magnum. It was a lot of fun.
TFB’s critique of lever guns was ignorant, to say the least. Saying the .30-30 is basically a 7.62×39… show me a 7.62×39 that will throw a 170 grain round nose. Yes, the technology of lever guns has been surpassed, but so what? For all intents and purposes, Alex’s beloved bolt actions have been surpassed as well. They still have their niche, but self loaders keep making it a smaller niche. Anyway, lever guns have their niche as well. Aside from their historical connection and fun factor, they are excellent woods / brush guns, and excellent saddle or truck guns as well. My Marlin will never be my go-to choice to defend my home, but it will still be there to hunt Whitetails in the Michigan north woods and bring some smiles on the range. To each their own.
Have a Remlin 1894G in 45-70. Almost unlimited fun to shoot, and properly loaded will dispose of anything that lives on this planet, if needs be. And hey, bruises heal quickly. It’s my favorite of my rifles.
Two Marlins and a Winchester…. 45-70, 44 Mag, and the traditional 30-30. Love each and every one.
If there really comes a time when TSHTF, and all these MF’ers run through all thier ammo, because they unload a 30 round mag when 1-2 shots will do, those ARs are gonna look kinda stupid. Just sayin’.
I agree with Detroit man! my personnel favorite is in .32 caliber, yes its old and slow to reload but still shoots MOA POI. the way I see it is When I was a Kid Lever Guns ruled with a .300 Savage or the new hot rod Caliber in .243, detachable magazine was the Cats Behind!
it was light easy to shoulder in the brush and provided sufficient power for everything! any way most people do not have a battery of Rifles to choose from, and the Levers had a multifaceted role from Barn gun, woods rifle, Varmint, and self defense! but most of all it was Easy on the pocket book!
Granted a Lever is not my first choice of home defense but Neither is a Junk .223
My father’s old Savage 99 in 300 Savage is the ballistic equivalent of the 308 (and kicks like it too). Detachable magazine, round counter, was drilled and tapped for a scope, and as accurate as anything made at the time.
I think a lot of the old “lever guns aren’t accurate” BS comes from when they weren’t scoped, didn’t use pointed bullets, had “rainbow” trajectories, and some of them were ancient and wore out even back then. I’d bet with even a small amount of effort they would be as accurate as a bolt action.
Hmm, a modern lever action in 6.5 Creedmoor….
So your “defense” of lever guns comes down to they’re super neat-o cool?
Really, TTAG? That’s the best you’ve got? Allure?
I mean, I hated that piece over at TFB, but at least the guy provided substantive- if obnoxiously flawed -reasoning as to the deficiencies of the firearm. The best we’ve got here from a self-avowed levergun fan is that it is nostalgic? Yeah, thanks for that. Super helpful and ever-so informative.
Next time take more than five minutes to compose an article.