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Henry Repeating Arms .30-30 (courtesy

TTAG writer and resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor has a large number of guns, including full auto SBR’s in some astounding calibers. His eldest son, an avid hunter and firearms enthusiast, has access to Jon’s arsenal – and I’m not using that term in the assault media sense of the term. And yet his son has a thing for lever guns; his eyes lit up when he saw the Henry Repeating Arms .30-30 Jon’s got on test. There’s something deeply, intrinsically appealing about lever guns. Wild West charisma? Cowboy assault rifle? Stunning capacity? All-American design? The simple joy of shooting simplicity? I don’t know. What I do know . . .

Grizzly Custom Guns Marlin 1894 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

is that I’ve got lever fever. I thought that owning several examples of the genre – including a Grizzly Custom Guns Marlin 1894 [above] and a Big Horn Armory Model 89 chambered in .500 S&W [below] – would cure me of that affliction.

Big Horn Armory Model 89 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

No chance. I like to say I own a bunch of Henrys because it’s the best gun to put into the hands of my neighbors in a SHTF scenario. True dat. But it’s also true that I’m addicted. You?

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  1. A shiny new Henry rifle is definitely on my to get list for early next year (bonus season for me!). I’ve wanted one for too long and now I just want one. Henry sent me a paper catalog and I am sick of opening it up and ogling at the rifles. The time for action is now! 😉

    • The Henry is less desirable than the Marlin, since it doesn’t have the side loading gate. The loading gate makes it “Tactical”.

      • +1

        Henry’s are beautiful, but loose the defense appeal with out a loading port. When they are empty you are toast.

    • Sadly, I don’t have a lever gun yet either, but it is near the top of my “to buy” list. I think one will do it for me. There is something special about a lever gun, much like a single action revolver (do have one), or a break action shotgun (don’t have yet).

  2. I have a Henry Big Boy steel in .357. Put on an oversized lever, a rail and a Burris Fast Fire II and it is absolutely the most fun gun to shoot that I own. I also have a Rossi M92 in .44mag. Also a blast.

    When I take newbies shooting, which I do as often as I can, they all love the lever guns. Yeah, there’s something beautiful and pure about them.

      • Phil, I have an R92 in .45 Colt… and I absolutely love it! Not as much as my Tavor… well, maybe as much but in a different way.

      • My dad just purchased a Rossi model 92 in .44 Magnum. The action is very nice and the trigger is superb. Unfortunately, it does not reliably feed cartridges all the way into the chamber. He is going to send it to Rossi (under warranty) to fix the feeding problem. Assuming that Rossi can fix the feeding problem, this will be one outstanding rifle.

      • I’ve got the R92 in .357/38…. I love it. Short enough without having to pay a tax stamp, but conventional enough where it won’t scare antis. There’s just something satisfying about working the action.

  3. I have had my eye on a lever action 12 gauge for months now. I just wish I had the cash to buy it. Anybody wish to give a donation?

  4. More cow bell.

    I have an affinity for lever guns. I’ve got my eye on a certain one, should it appear at the right time and price…

  5. When I did hunt(im more shooter than hunter)I used my dad’s 1969 (1972?) (Im 28 now last time I hunted was a decade ago) 30/30 lever action marlin. There’s just something about pulling the trigger and using the lever to reload that makes you feel bada**.

  6. I’ve been looking for an older Marlin in .45-70. Seems like it would be a great thumper.
    That Grizzly has gorgeous wood on it!

    • I’d like the Jurassic World model 45-70. Also a JM 1894 SS in .44 mag. Been looking for a couple of years but people want looney tunes money for ’em.

  7. What is that cool rifle with sling and full rail in pic above?
    I really like my Rossi 92 in 357 and Browing 308 lever action.
    Something so fun about wheel guns and lever actions

    • Changed the photo. That was the Big Horn Armory gun. I’ll add a pic of that on its own soon . . .

  8. I’m definitely interested in a lever gun, probably .30-30, and eventually in .45-70, but I am focusing more right now on things that are in danger of being banned.
    That being said, when I do pick up a lever gun, it won’t be a Henry. They are really nice guns, but they seem extremely unsafe with you hand being that close to the muzzle when you are loading. Yes, I realize that tactical reloads are not really an every day thing with a lever gun, but why did they go away from the tried and true loading gate?

    • “but why did they go away from the tried and true loading gate?”

      Because then it’s it not a Henry.

    • The gun banners want to ban these as well. They are just a little further down the line. The gun banners want to ban ALL guns.

  9. Those Henry Big Boys are beautiful and smooth, but two things keep me from buying one: they’re heavy, and they lack a loading gate. My .357 Rossi 92 might not be as nicely finished (but after some tinkering, it’s very slick), but it’s less than six pounds and it’s the handiest rifle I own.

    My Henry .22 is perfect, though. I can’t think of a single complaint I’d make about it.

    I think a lever in .44 Mag is probably next for me. I like semi-autos, pumps, and bolties, but lever action rifles are absolutely my favorite long guns.

    • I’ve owned a Marlin 1894 in .44 for about 25 years. Although the current manufacture ones supposedly have some issues, if you pick your specific one carefully to avoid any glaring problems I don’t think you’ll regret getting one.

  10. ah, leverguns, I could stop any time…. Currently have a dozen of the critturs in the safe. Rossi’s in 357,44mag and 44/40. Winchester 92’s in 44/40, 94 in 30/30 (my first centrefire rifle) uberti burgess (44/40), 1866 (44/40) and 1873 (44/40) goldenboy henry (accurate!) and a norinco 1887 cut down to 18 inch barrel.

    I do shoot cowboy action, so that’s my excuse. Plus they are all beautiful. My oldest winchester 92 was born in 1897 and despite no rifling for the last 6 inches of barrel, it still does OK on cowboy stages.

    I am busy ruining my 1866 by shooting exclusively black powder through it – none of the phut ….. plink, I like fire, smoke and BOOM!

    (ruins my times, because i have to slow down after 3 when I can’t see the target anymore)


    • gareth,

      How does your Rossi model 92 in .44 Magnum perform with respect to loading cartridges into the chamber? My dad just purchased one and it is 50/50 whether or not it will fully load a particular cartridge into the chamber.

      • What do you mean by “fully load”? Does it hang up with the cartridge at an angle in the chamber, or do you mean that the bolt won’t fully close on the chambered round?

        • The cartridge only goes about 1/4 of the way into the chamber and gets stuck at an angle.

          At that point, if I back off the bolt, I can easily slide the cartridge into the chamber with my finger and easily close the bolt.

        • The 1892 action can be sensitive to cartridge length (especially with certain bullet shapes), and it sounds like that’s what’s happening. Unlike some other lever action designs, the 92 feeds the round in at a relatively steep angle, so the longer the cartridge is, the more likely it is to jam up as you describe. It’s a relatively easy fix, by taking a little material off the cartridge guides, but if you want to maintain your warranty, you’ll have to send it back to Rossi for them to adjust it. Another possibility is that there’s a small burr or rough patch on the ejector (the little spring-loaded piece sticking out of the front of the bolt). The back of the round slides up across it, and if the ejector face is not smooth, it can catch there.

          Here’s a great description of the problem (and a potential solution, but like I said, doing it yourself might void the warranty):

      • no problems at all. I have two of them, and both feed fine. I am using hollowpoints as well as lead reloads.

        The hollowpoints are loaded hot (they don’t eject well from my S+W 29) but they feed and eject fine in the Rossis.

        The only levergun I had that had feeding problems was a Uberti 1866 in 38 special, which constantly fed 2 into the action, which I now believe was due to short cartridges (they were commercial loads too) Needless to say that gun went back. I now have 4 Rossi 92s and they are all sweet little guns, the 357 and the 44s are 16 inch trappers, and the 44/40 is a 20 inch carbine.

        If your’s isnt feeding well, I would suggest longer rounds if you reload is check 1, then I would have a trusted gunsmith look at the timing – it may be that something isnt quite perfect.

        I have to say I sat in the shed, squirted a lot of lube in and racked the action several hundred times when I first bought the gun, and it has smoothed up a lot. (the elderly winchesters are smoother, but that’s because they have fired thousands of rounds).

        The video from Nate Kiowa (sp) is very helpful on Rossi tuning. I have watched it a few times, but haven’t bothered to strip the guns yet – they work, and are smoothing up with use.

  11. Fevah struck here. Marlin 1894s in .357 and .44. Henry in .22 mag. Winchester 1894 in .32 special.

    I sorta have a thing for pistol caliber carbines, hence the Marlins. I love all my rifles but still consider the Marlins my go to rifles.

    Lever guns just sort of tug at the heart strings of being a Rifleman. Clearly too many westerns in my youth.

  12. I’m constantly stuck between going for a Marlin 30-30, enfield, and an AR. i can find ammo for the marlin and even the enfield right now. Then again a savage 99 is begging me at a local shop.

  13. I’ve had a Winchester 94 in .30-30 since about the time I could walk, maybe before. It has taken an innumerable number of deer and pigs, probably a few jackrabbits in there too. I have a few now.
    I’ve had Marlins in .357magnum and Henrys in several calibers. I absolutely love them all. Frankly, although it is a joy to carry, that classic 94 (the one I use the most was made in 1948) is kind of a pain to shoot. Its so light that recoil is still after 20 rounds or so. The Henry is actually more pleasant to shoot and a bit more accurate, partly because of a little extra barell and a little more weight. Plus, that receiver just looks great.
    My dream rifle is a Grizzly Customs .45-70 Safari grade with a fancy grade ironwood stock and grip. Loaded up hot with some hard cast rounds, you’re good for any animal on earth inside 150 yards.
    One day I’ll get one and take it on a Cape Buffalo hunt.
    In the meantime, I’m looking to make some bacon with that Henry.

  14. I’d like a Big Horn model 90 (.460S&W) but I’ve got a Marlin budget, so I’m kind of holding back until they’re good again.

  15. EI’d love a lever. Sadly way down the list…anyone wanna’ be my secret Santa? Eye
    -opening the # of Rossi owners.

  16. The first rifle I bought for myself was a Mossberg .22 lever gun. Bought it at a yard sale and rode it home on my bike. I was 13 at the time. America has changed. But I haven’t, I still like leverguns.

    I have used and owned lever guns from Marlin, Mossberg, Winchester and probably my favorite(if I was forced to pick a favorite) Savage model 99.

    The levergun is the American Rifle. No plastic poodle shooter is going to usurp that crown.

  17. Yeah, lever guns are pretty cool. The tubular magazine style is very reliable and quite stylish. I’ve had reoccurring thoughts of a Rossi Model 92 in .45 Colt with a set of Skinner Sights.

    • The Skinner rear peep sight was a great upgrade on mine. I don’t like semi-buckhorns, so the factory sights were never going to stay on it for long. I was skeptical about having a peep sight that far from the eye, but it works really, really well. I ended up needing a taller front sight, so a Williams with a 1/16″ gold bead went up there, and the combo is fantastic.

  18. People want to try my Marlin .357 levergun whenever I’m at the Range. Then people want to buy one. No one’s buyin’ mine – great gun in a great caliber…

  19. I’ve said this many times and it’s worth repeating here: There is not much you can’t do with a lever action 30-30, and if you only got to have one rifle, you’re doing well with the same.

  20. Lever guns are my favorite. I have a large safe full of Brownings, Henries, Marlins, Winchesters and even a stray Taylor, Rossi and Uberti. I love the look, feel, utilitarianism and the simplicity of them.

  21. There’s a Henry .30-30 under the tree to me from the misses. It’s the “new” generation steel receiver with the buckhorn rear and bead front as opposed to the previous ghost ring setup. Trying to decide what optic will be riding atop it at the moment. Torn between a Viper PST in 1-4×24, Strike Eagle 1-6×24, or Steiner GS3 2-10×42.

    If this one goes well, a .45-70 or .357 are in my future.

    In all honesty, the older I get, the more I like things “built to last”.

  22. I think every “dyed in the wool” gun guy has a thing for lever-action rifles. I agree it’s a least partly the “cowboy / western” image.

    I currently own only 1 lever gun… a Browning BL-22 Grade 2 with a flamed maple stock. It’s gorgeous and it’s fun.

    My dad has a few lever guns of 1960s vintage, including a Winchester .308. Some day they’ll be mine. 🙂

    • Get one in .357. They’re pretty cheap to feed .38 Specials for practice, and full Magnums pack a serious wallop out of a rifle barrel.

  23. Lever guns are fun for plinking, for nostalgia’s sake, and, yes, for sex appeal. For SHTF? No way. Lever guns made in modern times are far too finicky precisely because nobody’s life depends on them. They’re just toys for grown men to fantasize about the Old West.

    I own a Henry lever rifle in .357 magnum and I enjoy it. I would encourage others to consider adding one to their collection, but it would never be my go-to gun in a home invasion or wider crisis. It just can’t be trusted in an emergency. Now, for 19th century technology that truly has withstood the test of time, look to a pump action shotgun. A Maverick 88 in 12 ga. won’t let you down.

    • How do you mean “finiky”? Not doubting your experience its just not been mine. I think it’s safe to say I’ve put thousands of rounds through a lever gun of some type. I don’t recall ever having a failure. I’d trust any of them with my life.
      Also, as I reload, they allow me a great deal of round versatility.

      • He posted awhile go about how it wont eject 120 something-gr .38 SPL
        but will eject 158gr .38 SPL.

        Basically the .38 SPL has to be the same weight as a .357 mag round.

        I don’t understand why my self.

      • What ACP said. Have to use 158 grain. Have to use flat nose. I know, chain fire risk in a tube magazine, but even round nose are flat at the tippity tip.

        Can’t use aluminum casings. Can’t use hollow point.

        Unless you’re using 158 gr. .357 magnum in brass, there will be trouble. Even within those strict parameters, there will still be brand-specific hassles.

        Compare that to the versatility of an AR or pump shotgun, an there’s really no comparison. Now, people’s experiences may vary and when I’ve had as much lever experience across as many platforms as you, our experience may converge. At this point, though, I’m not a big time lever believer.

        • A blanket statement that levers are unreliable based on your experience with a single rifle seems quite a stretch. Even ARs and pump shottys can vary greatly between brands and individual guns.
          Case in point: my M&P 15 hates Federal .223, but loves Federal 5.56
          My Marlin .357 eats everything, including Blazer aluminum case hollowpoint magnums and all .38 Specials that it can reasonably be expected to feed (no wadcutters, of course). And the Hornady Leverevolution bullets are as close to a Spitzer as you will find for a tube fed gun. Actually they are the most consistent factory round I have found for my 1894C.

        • J-H, thanks for the reply, that does indeed sound like a pain in the ass. I have to admit I’ve never considered putting steel cased ammo in my lever guns but then again, the only steel case ammo I’ve run much is for my soviet/warsaw guns, and even those I’ve finally run out of and switched to brass.
          It’s hard to figure out why one weight of round won’t eject than another, unless you are talking some really drastic COAL differences. One of the reasons I like lever guns is because regardless of the bullet weight and charge they cycle just fine. So I can load up a starting load in a light weight for my kids and a heavier weight full power loads for hunting.
          But thanks for your point of view.

        • I know most people don’t have issues, but down at our range, the leverguns that do play up a little are all 38/357. This includes Rossi and Uberti models.

          That said, there are a lot of them, because it is a popular cowboy calibre. But those of us who shoot 44/40 or 45 don’t seem to have the same issues – maybe because the original calibre was bigger (although 32/20 was also popular).

          Who knows, but it just seems to me that the fatter rounds with a bit more mass seem to have less issues?

          Of course the BOOM and smoke and flame is also much more fun. 33 grains of 3F in a 44/40 is close to God’s own loading.

          remember folks, once you go Black, you never go back…


    • I posted on this before. God knows where it is . . .

      I reckon the key to surviving a SHTF scenario is to have as many people on your side as possible. The more of them that are armed, the better.

      Many of the people in my ‘hood are gun newbies. I would not expect them to be able to reload an AR or even bolt gun with anything approaching confidence. Manipulate the safety? Maybe they’d forget. Hand them a loaded lever gun and they’re set for anything but an extended engagement. And maybe even that.

      The need to manipulate the lever between shots is also an advantage. While they might just keep pulling the trigger on an AR, the lever gun’s reloading process slows them down just enough to make them consider each shot. Also, lever guns are easier to aim instinctively than a scoped rifle (which requires the correct cheek weld and eye relief) or a red-dot equipped long gun.

      And how cool would it be for a pack of marauders to face an organized (one hopes) group of homeowners equipped with lever guns?

      • A better plan would be to convert your non-gun neighbors into gun owners *before* SHTF. The good news is that lever guns are an excellent way to do that, also. Everybody loves a cowboy gun.

  24. Damn, but that’s a *pretty* piece of fiddleback maple on that Marlin in the photo. 🙂

    Lever gun? Yes. You mean there was a question? (00)

    Best classic lever action made: Winchester 1886 (any caliber, but the .40-82 is a special favorite). Best modern lever actions: Browning 1892 and the Browning BLR.

    Most regret I have in my life is for the .22-250 BLR that would shoot crows out of a 400yard distant oak all day long, and the Winchester JW Commemorative .32-40 I had, both of which were lost in the Great Tragic Canoe Apocalypse.

  25. No love for the ol .35 Remington hmm? I run a 1983 Marlin 336CS in that chambering. With Hornady LE’s she shoots fine out to about 200 yards and it’s fun taking on guys with .30-30’s seeing who can penetrate steel better.

    • My brother popped a coyote with his last year at over a hundred yards. Nice to have something in the same caliber as Grandpa’s old model 8 Remington.

  26. I just bought an AR and a lower, but my next major purhcase is going to be a lever (not sure which one) and blackhawk in .44. ooooh yes

  27. My wife doesn’t know it yet, but she’s getting one for her birthday. Being lefty, a lever gun suits her better than any bolt action rifle. (yeah i know they make them for southpaws, but she doesn’t like to have something I can’t use, and she doesn’t like me having stuff she can’t use in case of emergency.)

    • You can use a lefthanded bolt action, just like we lefties can use a right-handed bolty. I’ve got a couple. Still, I prefer a lever gun or semi-auto to any bolt action.

  28. For a budget minded gun guy, a Henry in .22LR was all I could afford, and my only lever action. It’s a blast to shoot!

    • That’s probably what I will do as well. Besides, a levergun in .22 will go nicely with my Heritage RR revolver.

  29. Have a Winchester 94 in 30-30.

    As a Lefty, I really appreciate the shells ejecting upwards instead of into my face 😉

    And yeah, fun as heck to shoot!!

  30. My next is a Rossi R92 16″ or 20″ 45LC Stainless. I’ve never been able to cycle one in the stores. Does anybody want to talk me out of the Rossi? I like the price mostly, but don’t want junk. I’m also already set up to reload 45LC.

    • I won’t try to talk you out of it, other than to tell you that the Rossi’s are inexpensive because they’re a little rough. They’re definitely not junk, but they’re not $1500 Winchesters, either. If you’re comfortable possibly having to tweak the mechanism a bit to get it smooth and reliable, go for it. Just cycling mine empty a thousand times or so really helped to smooth it out, and replacing/trimming a couple springs and a little polishing here and there finished the job. I like tinkering, so it was fun for me, and after all, it was only a $400 rifle. is an awesome website with tons of information from Rossi enthusiasts. There’s lots to learn from those guys.

    • Phil LA, it would be worth contacting Rossi and finding out what kinds of pressures those guns will withstand for that .45LC. The .45LC one of those old school black powder cartridges that can be very dramatically improved with a faster loading, if the receiver can handle it. The weak point will be the receiver, not the case. Jim Linebaugh did some pretty cool work with the .45LC. In a carbine, that hot-loaded .45LC is a very worthy hunting caliber.

      • Thanks jwt, point taken. That would be one of the intended roles; a deer rifle out to 100 yards or so, and I’d like to send as much energy as safely possible.

        The other intended role would be as a HD carbine. It would look elegant hanging on the wall in the bedroom, but still be useful.

        The way my house is situated, I’m less interested in a semi-auto carbine due to the likely hood to “spray and pray” during a defensive encounter, versus the deliberate nature of a manually cycling firearm. I like the idea of medium power factory loads that would (hopefully) cut down on concussion and flash from the carbine length.

        Thirdly, it seems more likely to have a lever viewed in a different light by legal personnel than say an AR.

        Thanks for your thoughts, I’ll make sure on the pressures, but I’ve heard that the Rossi’s are pretty stout.

      • Pretty sure Rossi are made with good steel and can handle decent pressures. My 44 mag loads are clearly full house, no issues at all. 45LC can be loaded to those pressures I believe.

        Lots of buffalo fell to the 45LC, its enough gun for pretty much anything you will run into, (or that may run into you..)

  31. My wish list contains a Marlin 1894 .45-70, and Henry Big Boy in both .357 and .44 magnums, plus Ruger revolvers in matching calibers. And I wouldn’t mind having the .500 lever gun and the smith wheelgun to match either.

  32. Give me my Marlin over a Henry any day. I can top off the tube without taking my eyes off target. Henry’s are pretty but loading them is outdated as all hell.

  33. I like a lever action with at least a loading gate. The Henry’s are not represented in my gun safe based on two factors. Price and lack of a loading gate.

    My lever action is a 1972 vintage Montgomery Wards Westernfield model 472 in .30-30. It was made for Wards by Mossberg and is the same as their model 472.

    I would love a lever gun with a detachable box magazine but the Browning BLR is also a bit pricey.

  34. My two sons and I each have a Henry .22lr . They are the Philmont special editions. I have a older Marlin in 444 Marlin. Beautiful rifle. My latest addition is one of the new Henry Big Boy steel rifles in 44 mag. Very nice. I installed a Skinner peep sight on it. I love lever guns. My oldest son hunts with a Marlin 30-30. He is hooked on lever guns also.

  35. Just spent two days stuck in Anchorage AK. Went to Northern Guns and bought a 1950 Win Model 71 deluxe. Now all I have to do is find .348 ammo!

  36. I bought a new Browning BLR 308 with a Leupold scope a few years ago and love it. Now it’s scratched bruised and used every chance i can.

  37. I am planning on getting a few lever actions in the near future. Their appeal to me is it takes you back to a time not to terribly long ago where gun control was never even a thought. Where when you were younger you went and bought a little bit of dynamite and blew up some stumps in your free time or shot at some squirrels and rabbits to eat for dinner. Those things were what every kid did not too long ago and now we are in a time where people of all ages don’t want to do anything outside or productive. So that’s what a good old lever gun does for me it just takes me back to those times and I think it does that for most people.

  38. Oh for a .41 mag lever gun with a nice pistol grip style stock and Skinner sights….

    Will just have to do with a Henry Small Game Rifle in .22 LR when the funds are there….

  39. This article sucks! Comments suck too! Only because I don’t have a lever rifle. I want one in .357/.38!! Okay, cooled off a bit…I need to find a LGS or someone willing to trade. Sighs…rant off.

  40. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is the pure kinetic joy of operating a lever action. My new Henry .22 gets out of jail on Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited to pick up a brick of ammo and blow up some cans! 😀 Anyone know of a good place near the SF bay area where one can legally hunt squirrels/rabbits?

    • One can legally hunt all sorts of game in the Knoxville wildlife area near Lake Berryessa. But lead ammo is no longer legal for hunting in CA. I don’t know the status of non lead loads for a .22.

      Also, this being CA, allow a good long time to get your hunting license. Now if you hunt with a shotgun there’s more public areas in northern CA that are actually good hunting.

      Good luck.

  41. I’ve had a love affair with lever actions since I was first introduced in boy scouts. I’ve got a bunch of different brands in different calibers, but my prized possession is a Henry Golden Boy .22LR engraved till the hill by the friends of the NRA. It’s a one of a kind master engraved. The wood is either european or american black walnut, it’s hard to tell since it has so much character and a super high gloss finish. Nothing like I’ve ever seen. It’s my gem! The real special part of it was that I won it on my first time going to a Friends of the NRA banquet and auction. I bought one raffle ticket as I walked in. People were buying dozens, but I never win anything so I was cheap. First winner of the night was ME and I was able to pick any item I wanted….Almost went with the Ted Nuget signed guitar because I know it was probably worth the most money….but I said F it and went with the Henry because it was a work of art and if needed I could fire ammo through it.

  42. If I had more money I’d have more lever guns.

    I have a .22 Henry and it’s awesome for the price despite the way you load it. I also have an 1887 12 gauge with a pistol grip/no stock and I think it’s my favorite gun. I used to have a Marlin 336 but I realized I had no use for a .30-30 so I sold it. Looking to get pistol caliber guns instead.

    Now I just need some mare’s legs.

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