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Lever guns are awesome. Not awesome as in “that hamburger was awesome.” Awesome as in standing mute in the face of God. If you have any doubts on that score, check out the bit of the video above where we learn about John Moses Browning’s contribution to lever gun design – realizing that John Moses Browning was His representative here on Earth. If you own a lever gun, you don’t need me to convince you. If you don’t, what IS your problem? Didn’t watch enough/any episodes of The Rifleman? Never shot one? Never checked out the gun porn at Handled one of the post-Freedom Group Marlins? Whatever it is, get over it. If you don’t have a lever gun in your collection, you don’t have a collection. And yes, I have lever fever. You?

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    • Love my late 1960s 336 as well.

      It came from KMart. I just found a box of the .03-06 purchased at the same time for a little over $3. . .

      • Inherited my Dad’s 70’s Marlin 336 30-30 used for pig hunting. Pretty beat up. No safety-half cock is the safety. Took it to the range Father’s Day before last with my son in my dad’s honor. He passed in May 2012. Because he lived out of state and I am in CA, had to DROS it and the two shotguns (one of which was mine) to get UPS to ship them to CA.

  1. My wife hunts with her grandfather’s Winchester 64, which is elegant and extremely accurate, but we’re looking for a bolt-action rifle to replace it. The only way to unload it is to run live cartridges under a cocked hammer, and with cold hands that’s always made us a little nervous. Which doesn’t detract from the mechanical beauty of a lever gun, of course.

  2. Because I got rid of my pre-Remington Marlin 1895CB.

    Why? Because even though it was pre-Remlin it was still a jammomatic POS. Looked nice, but simply didn’t work with any ammo that I tried.

    Some day I’ll pick up a Henry in .44 mag.

    • “Some day I’ll pick up a Henry in .44 mag.”

      You won’t regret it.

      And I recommend that you do it sooner rather than later. States that have historically constrained hunters to use shotguns in more populous regions are moving to allow rifles chambered in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. That means more demand for the given supply … which means increasing prices.

      As for ballistics, a rifle with a 20 inch barrel should launch plain-Jane Winchester white box .44 Magnum, 240 grain semi-jacketed soft point bullets with a muzzle velocity around 1900 fps. That will easily drop a deer out to 150 yards. And if you ever wondered about a great rifle to have in a SHTF scenario, a lever action rifle in .44 Magnum with something like a 9 round integral tube magazine is pure awesomeness. (Make sure you have iron sights on a SHTF rifle.)

  3. Er…don’t you mean PRE-Freedom Group Marlins? Sorry for the caps my phone doesn’t let me italicize.

    • Robert probably meant that handling a post-freedom group Marlin might have put you off lever-guns.

  4. Well, basically because they are generally not as accurate as some other types – for example a quality bolt gun or AR15. If I lived in a crappy state I would probably own some lever guns.

    • Citations needed. Lever action .30-30 has killed a lot of deer. What is that you say about accuracy?

      • A well made lever gun could achieve MOA (perhaps even under) groups… if it were well made. And that’s the rub.

        Sadly, most of the lever guns being made today are rough in their guts and loose in their lock-up. People have become used to seeing 2 MOA groups (or worse) out of newer center fire lever guns.

      • Yup, a lot of deer have been killed with them. That is not the same as accuracy. In PA you barely need rifling to kill a deer in most hunting situations. I think it’s like the other guy said – they could be accurate but it’s not really made.

      • My first long gun (personally owned that is; my first long gun experience was an M16A1 courtesy of the U.S. Army) was (is) a (post ’64 – sigh) Winchester Model 1894 – bought from a pawnshop for $110.

        I went with the ’94 because I’m a south paw and the top eject, lever action suits both right and left handed shooters.

        It took a while to get a good setup (scope, cheek rest) but it is pretty accurate. My 14 son shoots Gator-Aid bottle caps with it at 100 yds.

        Someone once told me that the long gun police feared the most is a lever action rifle because it’s easy to cycle making it a fast shooter. Of course that was before Scary Black Rifles became so popular.

        The rifle’s been checked by two gunsmiths. Both have said it’s in good shape, tight and accurate. It does have some surface blemishes from the previous owner though.

    • The key question is, “How much accuracy do you need?” The lever gun is a deer rifle. Deer hunters have known for decades that the lethal area on a deer is about 9″ wide just behind the elbow of the front leg. Hit this area with a powerful enough bullet, and you’re bringing venison home.

      With my grandfather’s 106 year-old lever gun, I can place a 170 grain .32 caliber round within 4 inches of the center of a 9″ paper plate 100 yards away. That’s while standing up without a scope. That’s a dead deer every time.

      Will I be ringing gongs at 800 yards? No, but you can’t eat a steel target, neither.

      • The answer from gun owners should be “as much as can be achieved.”

        People should not be making excuses for shoddy workmanship. Old lever guns used to be able to achieve some pretty nice groups – certainly under 2 MOA for the better made rifles, with careful loading of ammo and some care in choice of loading components. Some could throw down 1 MOA groups.

        Yes, lever guns are often hunting rifles, but there were many lever guns that had 24 to 26″ barrels that were quite accurate in their day, using vernier sights for the rear. Remember, in the heyday of lever guns, the competition was not the bolt gun, but the falling block actions such as a Sharp, Borschardts, High Walls, etc, and those falling block rifles could be made to do 1 MOA, and they too had many of the same issues a lever guns has, eg: no forearm or floated tube to isolate the barrel from the shooter’s grip or the rest, big blunt bullets with low Bc’s, long lock times, etc.

        • Diopter sights with a globe front is usually one of the best things you can do for accuracy in my honest opinion.

          That and polishing the internals a bit… though you know much more about that than me.

        • I agree with you – for shooting on round targets.

          For hunting and general shooting, they’re not quite as useful as perhaps a hooded front post with a brass bead.

          Polishing the guts of a lever gun can be done (and certainly is), and you can make even a rough “Ranger” grade Win94 feel oh-so-much better than it started as. It is a fair bit of work, however… and most people won’t invest the money. I’ve done it to one of the 94’s I own, and intend to do it to others. I’ll never get my time/money back out of the operation, tho.

        • Heads are round

          *cue dramatic western-movie style guitar riff with a hawk scream*

          I don’t really have experience with different types of front sights (globe sights and AK sights are what I am experienced with). I wonder whether a gold bead-style front sight (like Ed McGivern recommended) would be better than a modern fiber optic one?

          I think polishing the internals is also worth it from a mental perspective. You get more connected to your weapon (thus making you subconsciously better with it) and you learn a lot, which can be used to improve other things (not only weapons).

        • DG, I always appreciate your comments. You clearly know what you are talking about, which is all too rare on the Internet. Thanks.

      • I agree with everything you wrote. However when I can buy a good bolt gun that reliably kills deer, is handy, and is really accurate and puts a smile on my face at the range – then why would I bother with a lever gun? I don;t have anything against level guns, just not my cup of tea.

    • Agreed. I don’t hunt, so target accuracy is my main criteria in everything but my CCW. Browning BL-22s are cute, but for less money my CZ-452 will out perform it any which way. Also, my old eyes won’t work with open or aperture sights, and optics just look WRONG on a lever gun.

  5. I got one of those .22S/.22L/.22LR Henry rifles and freaking love it. Finding any .22 ammo is the problem.

    • My conventional BLR in .308 is the fastest-pointing rifle I own. If I’m going to be in a situation where I need to do snap-shooting inside of 100 yards (eg, called coyotes), I get out the BLR and use the iron sights.

  6. i dont own a lever gun yet because its behind a lot of other items on my money spending priority list. like an aimpont and light for my AR, and professional training, and a shotgun, and i still dont have one single .22, rifle or pistol. maybe after all that stuff, but i might still get one of those uebrti replica revolvers first. i dunno.

  7. The Rossi 92 is a great bang for you buck. I have shot the bananas out of my 357 mag 20″ version. 38 specials feel like 22lrs, and 125 grain 357 magnums have a loud report with little recoil. 158 grain hard cast at 1800 feet per second give a nice punch.

  8. Because I keep getting outbid on ruger levers in .22 mag.
    And because I dumped the Henry due to the stupid comb drop.

  9. All this talk of Henry, Rossi, no, no no.

    The answer, gentleman, is clearly “Winchester”.

    Pre ’64 Model 94 for the win, baby.

    • +1 Just purchased one last year in 30-30 and it’s definitely my favorite out of more than a dozen long guns, Everyone who shoots it, loves it.

    • If you like getting brass thrown i to your scope because of how they eject, I guess. Older Marlins can be found for decent prices and they just plain work. What’s the old saying? Winchesters are for lookin’ and Marlins are for shootin’.

  10. My collection is barely into double digits, with several holes to fill…including a levergun. I would like a 30-30, my wife wants a .357. If we weren’t trying to get out of debt, we’d alreay have them. As is, the next to get on our list is a Mini-14 and a Beretta 92, so it might be a while.

  11. Because my dad won’t let me have Grandpa’s 1908-vintage .32 caliber Winchester Model 1894.

    As far as I know it was the only rifle Grandpa owned, and he harvested many Wisconsin deer with it. The bluing on the receiver is wearing off, and the stock needs to be cleaned up a bit, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  12. If I had to pick my favorite rifle out of the dozens I own it would be my grandfather’s 1886 crescent butt plate Winchester bought when he was a student in the 1890s its a 45-70 with the nitro proof steel round barrel one of the very first built with that option… It is still as tight and smooth operating as when it was new…. I have put several thousand rounds through it since I inherited it when I was 13. I own other Winchester lever guns and while the 1873 is fun and cheaper to shoot my heart belongs to the 86

  13. Lever guns are great guns. Love a recent addition to my collection. In many ways the AR15 the is the modern equivalent of what the lever guns used to be, “America’s rifle.” Standard capacity, lightweight, various calibers, and good ergonomics. And everyone had one.

  14. Got a Browning BL-22 in .22 S/L/LR that is a joy to shoot – just flick the wrist and you’ve got another round chambered. My girlfriend’s not a fan of long guns, and even she has fun with it.

    Wouldn’t be opposed to other calibers, just don’t have the extra money/space for them at this time.

  15. Awww RF man, you’re killing me 🙂 My Lever Fever was just starting to subside… now I’m feeling warm again.

    I tried to purchase a Marlin 1895 SBL, but after waiting for 6 months, I bailed. Might have been better off (not having to deal with an FG POS). I was planning to have it smithed right out of the box…

    At this point, there’s not one specific lever gun that has me locked in… So until then, maybe I’ll be able to stave off the fever… Guess we’ll see.

  16. $ is the only reason. Probably have to settle for Rossi in .357. Not a hunter so it would be for fun/defense. Reality sucks:-)

  17. Winchester 94 was the first firearm I ever bought. I don’t understand how any red-blooded American could not own at least one. But I guess maybe them city folk just don’t fully appreciate a good lever gun.

  18. I have a long list of wants, and at least one of these is on it. I shot a 30-30 a friend of mine owns once–first shot was a bulls eye, after that, not so much. But since I don’t hunt, any one I bought would be a very expensive wall hanger. I would definitively buy a .45-70, but then I’d have to buy one in the same caliber as the SAA I have yet to purchase, and another in 30-30. I might be able to manage it if I don’t pay the mortgage for two or three months….

  19. Same reason I don’t have a howitzer… Haven’t gotten to it yet. Oh and ’cause dad is alive and kicking ( my brothers ain’t getting the ’73 in 38-40)

  20. Practically nothin’ handier on the planet than a lever-carbine fitted with XS aperture sights.

    • Any specific recommendations? The 1895 SBL has the XS sights, but I’m really leery of Freedom Group crap these days and not sure they can even produce one anymore either…

      • Wait for a good deal on an older Marlin or Winchester and have XS apertures installed without all the goofy protective wings. Just like with no-nonsense defensive handgun sights, the largest rear aperture (providing an unobstructed view of the front sight, while remaining an index for placing shots with precision) with that bright white stripe front sight is an incredibly useful setup.

  21. RF great lines in the post. Definitely put a smile on my face. You’re a damn Hemingway. Or maybe a Milius !

  22. I don’t really have lever fever, though I have always wanted several Remington 1858 revolvers. Thinking a pair of bandoleer/suspender style rigs with 6-8 revolvers each and a coat over it (just because I have seen too many westerns). Dual wielding it could work then, empty gun in right hand then empty gun in left hand while switching guns in right hand. Luckily I am ambidextrous.

    I do realize it would be heavy but not too much and the weight would be distributed.

    Oh, and a Sharps rifle with a Malcolm scope. I don’t really think that much about lever guns when thinking about westerns.

      • I love my .45 Colt Rossi. Had a Ranch Hand for a while too and while “cool,” it was a bit pointless. Nigh impossible to aim, must be shot from the hip. Was a fun little bastard though! Now I am lusting after a stainless Marlin in .45-70 Govt I keep seeing at the gun show.

  23. I must respectfully say that I, my wallet, and my savings plan are in an incredible amount of hate with Mr. Farago. Every single time I get a bit of money saved up here he comes suggesting another gun that I must have. I am starting to think that my LGS is colluding with this website. He is the guy who got me started here. Let me go see how much this is going to set me back…

  24. I’ve wanted one since I was a kid and now that I finally live in a much freer state a lever action is on my list for latet this year.

  25. I’ve two Winchester 1894’s, one manufactured in 1950, the other in 1899. I’ve shot both and the cool factor is off the charts.

  26. Henry in .45 LC
    Marlin 336C in .30-30
    Uberti 1873 Deluxe in .357

    All of them are accurate, look great, and function as smooth as silk.
    I would have at least one more but there are too many other things on the wish list.

  27. I own a bunch of lever guns, but alas, none of them are real collectables. Most are Win94’s that have found their way to me in various conditions. The .30-30 isn’t all that useful for hunting here in Wyoming, so they spend most of their time sitting in safes.

    The Win94 is perhaps the most ubiquitous lever gun out there, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with a Marlin 36/336 made before the Wall Street vermin got their hooks into Marlin. There are other makes/models of lever action rifles that should not be overlooked, however, and the following is hardly a complete list:

    – The Savage 99 is a classic lever gun that can use pointed bullets safely and effectively, and is now becoming quite collectable in its own right. In my opinion, the 99 is perhaps the best classic lever gun design out there, smooth, slick, fast, able to handle high pressure cartridges with spitzer bullets… the 99 is my choice for starting a collection of a particular model #. The .300 Savage cartridge gives up almost nothing to the modern .308.

    – The Winchester 88 is a marriage of a bolt design and a lever action handiness in high pressure, short action cartridges, such as the .308 and .243.

    – The Browning BLR family is a modern take on the Win88 lever gun’s ideas, with a rotating bolt and a detachable box magazine, available in a number of modern cartridges from .243 up to .300 WM. I have a BLR short action and it points and shoots terrifically well. I just wish the box magazine attachment were better designed on these rifles, because they’re accurate, slick, handy rifles.

    – The Winchester 1895 could use pointed ammo (it was most common in ’06 Springfield), but the magazine is right where you want to carry it, and the ergonomics suffers a bit.

    The early Winchester lever guns are quite collectable now, and even for something as widely made as a 1873 “First Model,” in 60 to 90% condition, you should expect to pay up some serious bucks – from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Some classic Winchester lever guns that were made as “one of one thousand” or “one of one hundred” rifles could be worth over $100K – easily, with some 1-in-1000’s going over a quarter mil.

    When you get into collecting Winchester lever guns, you’d better learn all you can about the subject before buying anything, and there is quite a lot to learn.

  28. I learned reloading working up loads for my 1979 vintage 1894C. The Ruger Blackhawk completes my cowboy ensemble. And it was my go to defense gun until last Xmas when Santa left a mp15 under the tree.
    Now, if I can only get my wife one of her own so she stops tryin to steal this one…

  29. I once had a Winchester Model 94 in 30-30. Took it to the range and arbitrarily set the elevation on the rear sight. Figured I’d start there. It shot a bulls-eye at 100 yrds. Second shot 1″ at 1 o’clock off the bull. Let the carbine cool off, dId the same thing. After four tries I left it where it was. I don’t remember the group sizes exactly, but they were small enough to be separated by 1 inch. Don”t remember when or why I got rid of it.

    I presently have 3 lever actions in 22 caliber. Henry and Winchester 9422, and a Ruger Model 96 in .22 mag. Haven’t decided on whether I’ll get a pre-64 Winchester/Marlin or a Henry in 30-30 yet. Leaning towards the Henry.

  30. They’re beautiful and really neat, but I’m really lazy.
    I’d much rather go, “Bang Bang Bang”, than “Bang, click-click, Bang, click-click, Bang”.

  31. Got my first lever-action rifle last year. I had been wanting one for a long time. Wifey picked up a Browning BL-22 for me as a Christmas gift. It has a flamed Maple stock, which is GORGEOUS! It also has an engraved receiver. The lever has a “short throw”… 30-degrees, I think. I can work the action by just extending my fingers. My grip on the rifle is not lost while working the lever.

    My dad has a 60s vintage Winchester lever .308 that has never been fired. I’ve got my eyes on it. 🙂

  32. Since you brought it up…

    I picked up a “well loved” (beat up) pre-Freedom Marlin 336 30-30 with the long mag tube. I don’t know what year but it doesn’t have a safety so I guess older than 1980? Anyway, I got it for a song and I’d be curious in having it refinished. A nice bluing…or go utility and parkerize it? Hmm.

    Anyone have any good recommendations about who to go to/trust with this sort of thing? I’m not going for presentation grade at all, just want it to look nicer and be reliable to shoot. I’d probably sand the stock and handguard myself…oil it with…something. Never done this before, I have research to do obviously. But the metal bits I think a pro should do, I’m just not set up for that sort of thing.

  33. Pretty good ballistics for 22mag coming out of a 16-20 inch barrel. Enough for varmints or defense. That might be the only golden boy I could afford 🙂

  34. I’ve got a sweet-shooting 45 colt Model 94 carbine with a case-hardened receiver and checkered walnut stock. I like it and don’t ever plan to sell it. If I owned a lever rifle with an accessory rail, I’d sell it cheap and quickly … and anonymously.

  35. I have a Rossi model 92 .44 magnum. It sure is handy. I like to carry it in my right hand, wrapped in my hand.

  36. I live in PA where we can’t use semi-autos for hunting, so lever guns are very popular. I own several, all purchased back prior to 1990.

  37. Two kids in college means gun funds are limited. and a lever gun hasn’t made it to the top of my want list. I will have one eventually. Currently a Remington 7600 pump action fills that PA deer rifle niche.

  38. When did Remington take over Marlin? My Marlin 336 is from around 1980 (no safety if that’s the marker). I started shooting it again this year after many years away from it. Have an inexpensive scope on it, but was considering those XS sights. Too many other things to spend money on, though.

  39. My “looks like a high school shop project” 45 colt Winchester Ranger carbine is one of my favorites. With a Williams peep sight it, on a good day, hand loaded Barnes 250gr XPBs will print a 2 inch group at 100 yards. Plus, it’s just a damn fun rifle to shoot. Everyone who takes it for a spin loves it.

  40. Winchester 94/22 fun and just perfect
    Trio of Model 99 Savages .250 a .300 takedown and my dad’s .300 total refinish
    pair of Winchester model 94’s both from early 60’s production well finished and nice
    pair of Marlins .444 and .450 have taken elk with the .444 all are pre Remington
    Browning .44 mag small deer and works smoothly so I can’t complain
    Nope: don’t shoot much because AI have too many choices go get one…

  41. Lever guns just aren’t for me. Bolt guns are more accurate and semi autos shoot faster so I don’t see the need to fill. That being said they are the sexiest rifles you can buy and I will own a Uberti replica of the Henry someday. It’ll look awesome next to the blues steel 6″ Single action army I’ll own too.

  42. Looking into my safe ….. Henry Big Boy in .44 mag, Rossi 92 in .38/.357 with the John Wayne loop, mid 70’s vintage Winchester 94, same vintage Marlin 336, and a frowned upon Winchester Model 200 .22 lever gun which shoots great. They’re all fun.

  43. I have a 35 Marlin… which is too expensive to shoot often.
    and a 30-30 Winchester… which is still not cheap to shoot.

    Both guns feel real good to shoot !!!
    Pain in the ass to load though… the loading gate is too small.
    I am guessing this would have been less of an issue with .45’s.

    I have been thinking about getting a .22 Henry to shoot often… but the damn .22 ammo is too hard to get.

  44. Lever guns ARE awesome. Not only is a modern 1895 in 45-70 one of the best guns you can have at your disposal, owning lever guns manufactured at the turn of the 19th/20th century is some REAL history to contemplate.

  45. I love my 1980’s Marlin 336 that my grandfather had engraved for me as a birthday present! Still my favorite rifle!

  46. How does one not own a lever gun? We’ve got two Marlin 336’s. Probably my favorite to shoot…and that includes my AR, which is saying something.

  47. Got 2; a Savage Model 99E in .300 Savage and a 1970’s Marlin 39M from the era of when well machined forgings and walnut were king.

  48. Classic Marlin 39A from the 1970’s. Even in a world dominated by AR’s and NFA toys…. there’s just something about the simplicity of hitting steel targets with iron sights and the levering action. It’s like revisiting your foundation and roots. Absolutely love it.

  49. I love my Marlin .357, but the retail on those is way too high, so it’s kind of become a safe queen. I really want Mossberg to bring out it’s incredible 464 lever gun in .357 mag in the $400 price range. I’d immediately get one.

  50. Why don’t I own a lever gun? Cuz I own more than one lol. Looking to up the numbers. Need some mare’s legs in .22, .357 and .45lc as well as the full length versions of those. I only have a .22 henry and an 1887 12ga right now. Sold my pre-rem 336 in .30-30 cuz I don’t hunt and it’s too pricey for plinking.

  51. Haters gonna hate but I love my 16″ barrel Rossi R92 in .357 magnum. Very accurate and allows me to share ammo with my classic S&W Model 19. Size is perfect for self-defense and can hunt if I wanted to.

  52. as a youngster i passed on an 1894 .30-30 due to the caliber. mistake. i’ve never been to an ammo section that didn’t have some in stock. the same buck- fifty got me a .44 mag 3screw sa sb’hawk. i grew fond of that caliber and so added a deagle.
    to complement those i got a lever. pretty sure it’s called a “wrangler”. 16″ bbl., big loop lever (impress your friends by maintaining no muzzle control whatsoever while cycling the action one handed 360 deg.) angle eject with crossbolt safety. even that short length allows for some decent velocity with 300 grain projectiles.
    hated the “wintuff” stock finish so off it came. linseed oil looks better. next i buffed the blue off of the barrel rings and left them in the white. i should have left it alone but i never thought i’d sell.
    then i read that the ’94’s is a long throw action and that it is a poor choice for the short handgun calibers. it got in my head that i would like less lever movement to chamber a round.
    so i’ll look for an older marlin. ttag has me wary of the new ones. although i swear that big hoop (not as big as the wrangler’s…) stainless marlin in .45-70 belongs within reach.
    and for sure a savage 99. what a beautiful rifle. and the 336. one of those in the necked up short action .35 sounds nice.
    i would encourage anyone, especially someone just starting out, to consider a .38/.357 revolver/ rifle (lever or bolt or semi) combo. it covers a lot of bases: .38 is cheap with low recoil. .357 in a rifle will reach out pretty well for hunting or defense, and both are great fun for targets.
    i don’t see the attraction for a lever .22 however. maybe a pump. but mostly the little rimfire should be in a semi auto.
    i feel for the guy above who mentions .444, but the resurgence in popularity of the old gov’t round makes a .45-70 more appealing to me.

    • A .22 lever gun makes you slow down just a bit compared to blowing through 30 rounds from your 10/22 With .22 in short supply you can concentrate on accuracy and good gun handling. You can shoot a hundred rounds and still have lots of fun.

      • i agree and i get that. plus lever’s are way fun. most of which can be said for various single action .22’s, and then you may start to get into a high accuracy realm. although i’m most intrigued by that izhmash bi- athlon or a t- bolt.

  53. I recently “inherited” (its complicated) a beautiful 1976 Browning BL-22 Grade 2 and I am suddenly in love with lever guns! I can only imagine how fun a well made one in .357Mag would be.
    My new old Browning needs a re-blue though, the wood is good, but theres a rough spot on the barrel and a few scattered rusts on the reciever.
    But it doesnt need to be perfect, just better… its a shooter, and will be my future child’s first firearm. Perfect for that, for fundamentals and fun! I feel a semi as a first gun can cement bad habits more quickly.

  54. I don’t own one lever gun… I own 3. A Marlin 22 and Marlin 30-30 from the 80s and a beautiful Uberti 1873 in 45 LC.

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