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If we’re talking home defense, the Benelli M4 Tactical shotgun is the obvious choice. Nine roughly .35 caliber lead pellets whizzing along at around 1200 feet per second puts Big Ben deep into “stop the threat” territory. That said, Grizzly Custom Guns’ heavily breathed-on Marlin 1894C ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. That bad boy can send a .357 Magnum 140-grain Hornady LEVERevolution pill downrange at 1850 feet per second. Nine of them, actually. Just not all at the same time. Or do it five times in a row without reloading. That said, I know which gun I’d rather show to a jury. Anyway, this is just for fun. Which one would you have for a conversation piece/range toy?


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  1. I’d love either, but the mrs wants a lever action-being they’re more lefty friendly than a bolt action rifle.

    • Left handed bolt guns aren’t that hard to get ahold of, I have 3 of them and greatly prefer them to my lever guns

      • true-but when she’s a lefty, and i’m a righty, and our budget doesn’t allow for a lot of guns-better to get ones we can both use.

    • I would love either one, especially since the lever gun is in .357. However, it would be the rifle only, for my wife. She is recoil sensitive and I can’t even get her to practice with a 20 gauge that has a CompStock on it. :-/

  2. “for a conversation piece/range toy”? The Marlin. For Home Defense? The Benelli. Showing a Jury? The old cowboy-style Marlin. No one can claim you’re a tactical wanna-be with an itchy trigger finger, when you’re sporting a cowboy action style rifle. (although it’s pretty much no less lethal)

  3. For any purpose that actually counts, for example, not just hanging above the fireplace mantle for show, I’d take the Benelli. Levers, like revolvers, have a vastly overrated rep for reliability.

    • Agreed. I’ve had two failures using a revolver and both rendered the piece unusable until completely taken apart and the broken component replaced. These were both quality S&Ws. I’ve seen plenty of ftf, fte, ect. on semi autos but nothing that wasn’t solved by racking the slide or in some cases dropping the mag. Not saying that semis don’t ever completely take a shit, I just have yet to witness it happen. To be fair, just about the only semis I have experience with are Glocks, Sigs, CZs, M&Ps and 1911s. I would take a revolver over a 1911 but that’s about it. Wheel guns are quite complicated on the inside compared to your average semi auto.

      • ‘These were both quality S&Ws.’

        I think I’ve identified your problem. If you want a problem free revolver buy a Ruger. And if you want a failure free auto get a Beretta 92.

  4. This is where being a gun owner can be tough from a practical standpoint vs. expensive toys.

    For a range toy? I’d love that lever gun, especially in .357 magnum.

    For home defense? I’d be more effective with the Benelli based on my experience with shotguns vs. my experience with lever guns.

    Though if I had to choose just one, I’m sure the lever gun is more in my budget and is a more interesting purchase. Those Benelllis are slick and all, but I can’t see myself owning one even if money were no object. Wouldn’t mind taking one shooting at least once though.

  5. Grizzly lever gun. Can already feed it and have a nice companion piece for it. That, and I like the M2/M3 lockup better than the M4.

  6. Benelli bonus: Unlikely to fail to fire because of a weak racking action (since it’s semi-automatic).

    Plus: It’s just a damn fine gun.

  7. For anything other than genital comparason, the m4 is a superior weapon. This is especially true if you get a full length magazine tube. A rifled slug will do far more damage than any .357 load on the planet.

  8. The lever can hold 10 38 special +p at a more ear friendly report. A shotgun would be move effective, but I wouldn’t feel outgunned with either.

  9. That Grizzly gun looks like it would probably cost almost $2000 from looking at their prices. Great to present to a jury, but I could get about six new 12 gauge shot guns for that price.

  10. Benelli.

    Though, if the lever gun was chambered in 30-30, I would’ve choose differently

    • You should do the math! At 1850 fps, the .357mag round is just a bit less energy than the 30-30. And most 30-30 levers (like the Marlin 336) have only 6 rounds. This tube magazine is 8 rounds for the 1894c. I would never feel undergunned with 9 rounds of .357mag compared with 7 rounds of 30-30.

      • Check out former TTAG crank Paul T. McCains VDMA video on you tube of him firing his M4. It’ s freaking awesome…

      • a 155 grain bullet traveling at 1850fps has a LOT less energy than a 160 grain bullet traveling at 2200. A really hot 357 still only touches the very tail end of even the weakest 30-30. This has been established hundereds of times over the past 50 years.

  11. I own a Benelli M4, and let me tell you, that thing is a monster. A quick swap of the magazine for a 7 shell tube, ghost load, plus one in the chamber, gives you 7+1+1 = 9 shells of doom.

    And, being a double-gas piston operated shotgun, you can let loose of all of those shells in a hurry (google Benelli M4 rapid fire). You can take your 9 3.57 magnum bullets fired a second apart from each, I’ll take the 81 .35cal pellets fired in roughly 3!

      • Since the extended tube arguably counts as three of the total 20 parts of which several don’t exist on an m4. Replace the butstock and pistol grip and you’re up to five parts. Given that at least three parts don’t exist on m4, that leaves two other parts you need to replace. (Somebody more familiar with an m4 can let me know if the m4 is missing any other parts.)

      • Well, a 3.57 is just about 90mm. How the magnum figures in that is beyond my math skills. Generally I can count to potato without much trouble. 🙂

      • I’m assuming that’s a 3.57 inch diameter bullet vs. a 0.9mm (0.0355 inch) one. I’m putting my money on the three and a half incher. That’ll leave a hole big enough to stick a 2×4 through.

  12. Grizzly. I have the Rossi Ranch Hand in .357/.38 and it always starts a conversation. For all-out power and defense, the M4 is the device I would choose.

  13. Lever gun, if those two are my only choices. At close/medium range that .357 in a long barrel is just dandy for me. 🙂

  14. Lever gun. It would bring me more joy at the range and neither of these would serve as my HD weapon.

    I love these “which would you grab” articles and would like to see more of them, especially when they have a unique scenario.

  15. For home defense, shotgun. Having said that. In a state like CA where unneutered ebr’s are not allowed the lever gun in .357 could be a usefull house gun for a person that has trouble handling the recoil of a 12 ga. Put a saddle ring type of sling mount on it and you’re good to go.

  16. Um, I’m not a gun grabber. That said, for home defence I’d take the scattergun, whereas for the range I’d want t’other.

    Today I test the DIY (GSIY?) repairs on my 1897 Winchester; if it all works, that’ll be my new home defence weapon.

    Wish me luck…

  17. As a conversation piece/range toy/safe queen, I’d pick that Griz over a plastic gun every time. For home defense, a semi-auto shotgun will do the business, but I’d prefer a pump action.

  18. A shotgun is the best HD gun (IMHO). I load mine with 7 rounds of 00 buck and the last 2 with 1oz slugs for those stubborn types (once the BB barrage has settled down and you can see who’s left standing). The M4 is a darn-near perfect home defense gun.

    However, I can see the merit of a.357 lever action…especially if you have a matching .357 wheelgun in the sock drawer for back up.

  19. If the comparison was to a pump-action SuperNova, I’d go with the .357mag lever gun. But compared to a semi-auto M4, I’m definitely a vote for the Benelli!

  20. The Benelli M4 with the SilencerCo Salvo-12 Shotgun Suppressor and the obligatory $200 tax stamp…

  21. Marlin. Biased since I already have one. Granted, its only been worked on by my local ‘smith, but she’s my favorite. If in some hell on earth I could only have one gun, the 1894C is the One. Take anything from squirrel to black bear so 2 legged critters are no problem. Benelli would take a duck too, though. Dammit. Both?

  22. Im gunned up except for a lever action…Been looking at the Winchester 94.. But Id settle for a 94-fish

  23. Home defense? No question, no doubt, the Benelli.
    That said, I’m a biased owner of an M1 Super 9. Eight shots w/in 3 seconds, with power, force and ultimate stopping power.

  24. For home defense and fowling, the scattergun. For anything else, and everything else, the Grizzly Marlin. I’ve taken well over a hundred deer and pigs, probably closer to 200, with a lever gun, and those from Grizzly are the cream of the crop. Take one of their Safari Grade 45-70s and some Garret ammunition and you will ethically, and reliably, take any animal on the planet. Beautiful, functional, reliable. If I was going to walk out of the door and hunt around the world, I’d be well served with just that combination.
    I tell people all the time that if they are going to hunt the piney woods or the hill country of Texas, get a lever gun in .44MAG or .357MAG and be done with it.
    And dang, that blond beauty hanging on the wall there deserves a frame around it. JWT

  25. If the threat is inside my home; a shotgun. If it’s outside; the rifle.

    If the threat is inside my home, my level of “give a f**k” about random objects is exactly zero. If it doesn’t have a heartbeat, I can replace it later. With the threat being inside my home, in close quarters to my famiLY, I want it dead NOW and collateral damage that doesn’t bleed is just “stuff.”

    If the threat is outside, I want something with the accuracy and stopping power to make sure that they do not make their way into my home. I also want something that isn’t going to throw out extra rounds and possibly break my neighbor’s “stuff” because he may care about those things more than I care about mine in that situation.

  26. The Benelli if I could load it with Brenneke 1-3/8oz Black Magic slugs.

    600 grains @ 1,500 fps per trigger pull would make me feel safer.

  27. I’d go with the lever gun for most purposes, although if I were to actually stare down a grizzly with one I’d rather have a 20″ .44mag. For home defense the .357 out of a long barrel is going to hit hard. Not as hard as a 12ga. slug, but pretty hard and you get an extra 3 or 4 rounds in the magazine. I’m not sure how useful a tactical shotgun is for skeet or pheasants, and I’ve already got a gun for that, so for me it would be mostly a range toy / home defense weapon.

  28. With regard to the comment:

    ‘If it doesn’t have a heartbeat, I can replace it later. With the threat being inside my home, in close quarters to my famiLY, I want it dead NOW and collateral damage that doesn’t bleed is just “stuff.”’

    I’d have to say, yes, unless it’s something like a $50,000 Steinway that is also a family heirloom.

  29. I’ll take them both in that I have yet to find a gun I can’t find room for…That said, no contest IMO in that the shotgun makes subjectively speaking the single best HD firearm to be found…The ability to use on the fly a myriad of different loads, have A+ unmatched CQB ability with the ability to act as well as a rifle out to 100yds…I think you get the point.

  30. Neither one, too much power and recoil plus they are clumsy for in the house use. a Rugar in .44 Mag, best of both worlds

  31. In the context of the guns I already have, I’ll take that lever gun. Difficult to find a good .357 carbine-length lever gun in Canada, and I always wanted a companion for my GP100.

    In the context of “just one gun for the rest of your life”, give me that Benelli.

  32. Those Grizzly Custom jobs run between $1500 and $2000 plus the cost of the rifle so, no. Not in a million years. Not on a “working gun.”

  33. Many folks out here going for Grizzly Custom gun but i would rather prefer Benelli M4 Tactical 12GA H20 Shotgun. Spending same amount $2000 on Benelli M4 is pretty value for money. I liked its Pistol Shaped Grip. Its definitely build for defense but great for shot range target as well. I m gonna take new 12ga M4 from online here

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