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5/7/2012 2:52 PM
 

Lever actions come up a lot on the general purpose rifle thread for good reason. They are light, handy, ambidextrous, quick to cycle, and innocuous looking. There has been lots of good discussions about lever actions on other threads, but a question I received via email prompted me to start a thread dedicated to practical lever actions. I'll throw the question out there, and then come back later to post some of my own thoughts.

Question:

I am looking to put together a brush lever action rifle. I know nothing about lever actions and didn't want to post generic question on the foum until I do some research. Ideally I would like a round that could put a charging wild hog down or a home intruder. Looking for something a bit more modern with stainless steel and maybe laminate stock. Have any experience with Marlins or Winchester?

Despite the fact this guy didn't want to make any forum posts until he knew enough about what to ask, I think the information this will draw out will be useful for lots of people. One thing this thread is begging for is a quick rundown on pros and cons of the various makers and vintages as well as pistol vs. rifle caliber for someone considering lever actions for the first time.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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5/7/2012 3:58 PM
 

Ideally I would like a round that could put a charging wild hog down or a home intruder. Looking for something a bit more modern with stainless steel and maybe laminate stock.

To stop a charging hog I would recommend a slug from an Ithaca, pump-action so as to be a little less anxious about getting a second shot off. To stop illegal entry of your home (as opposed to a home intruder) I would recommend owning a dog. Would-be intruders tend to cross houses with dogs off their list.

 
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5/7/2012 4:24 PM
 

I already own an Ithaca Model 37 Trench, I use to work at Ithaca Gun during the summers to help pay for college before they shut down and relocated.

I also use to have a dog, a damn good guard dog too at that- sadly he has recently passed

I suppose my initial questions was to address not the specifics of what a lever gun can do, but that it could do many things(some better then others)- be that hunting, self defense or target shooting and a round that would match the rifles versitility.

 
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5/7/2012 5:31 PM
 

JSonn wrote

I suppose my initial questions was to address not the specifics of what a lever gun can do, but that it could do many things(some better then others)- be that hunting, self defense or target shooting and a round that would match the rifles versitility.

I guess the only thing would be that if you are really into target shooting I could see them becoming a bit of a pain to shoot prone.

JSonn wrote

I already own an Ithaca Model 37 Trench, I use to work at Ithaca Gun during the summers to help pay for college before they shut down and relocated.

Off topic, but are you from Cayuga County? That general vicinity is one of the nicest patches of our planet I’ve ever spent time on!

Sorry about your dog. There’s really nothing else like a good ole dog.

 
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5/7/2012 5:45 PM
 

I would think that any of the bigger pistol calibers (44 mag and up) would do what you want. I have a Marlin in 44 mag and like it a lot. It is accurate for what it is and within its range and with 10 rounds of 300 grain goodness in it not much around here, home or woods, it won't fix pretty well. 

 
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5/7/2012 6:55 PM
 

I am not planning on shooting prone with it, my realistic shooting from standing or kneeling positions.

I did grow up in the Finger Lakes Region, lived there for 15 years right off Lake Cayuga- I agree whole heartedly with you

they are called man's best friend for a reason, miss him everyday...

I forgot about this fact, lever's can share pistol ammo which makes it handy since I also have a 44 mag revolver. What is the theory on barrel length for a lever gun? Also would 45-70 be overkill? I am looking for something that is fast to reload, fast to shoot, is realistically accurate but has knock down power.

 
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5/8/2012 8:27 AM
 

snakey3 wrote
 

I would think that any of the bigger pistol calibers (44 mag and up) would do what you want. I have a Marlin in 44 mag and like it a lot. It is accurate for what it is and within its range and with 10 rounds of 300 grain goodness in it not much around here, home or woods, it won't fix pretty well. 

I've leaned in that direction before ....

Back in the 90's when Ted Yost was still running the Gunsmithy at Gunsite, I had them trick out a Marlin 1894 (.44 Mag) with custom fabricated Ghost Ring sights,  tastefully enlarging the lever loop, general action smoothing and a perfect 3 lb trigger. I even had them custom fill and dress the existing rear-sight dovetail so the barrel was perfectly seamless - it was slick!

Like a dumbass, I sold it to someone who was obviously thinking clearer than I .....

 
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5/13/2012 10:38 PM
 

I have owned and used a number of different lever action rifles and carbines over the past twenty some odd years. To me, they are still the most handy general purpose brush guns made. I can't speak to stainless or laminate lever actions as I have never owned one; personally there is no appeal to own a stainless lever action.

I think the .30-30 makes for the best all around brush gun. In a camp (or home if you like) defense role, 110 grain Hollow-points should do nicely.  I tend to stick with 150 grain bullets when in the field and frequenting more open spaces, and keep to 170 grain bullets when expecting to be in thicker brush.

I would probably stick to the 170 grain bullets if hunting hogs with a .30-30.

While I personally don't own a .45-70, I am convinced they make fine brush guns. A close friend owns a Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 that I have had a chance to shoot a number of times. It is a nice gun to shoot and impressively accurate. I think they have a niche in the brush gun role, but are a bit pricey to shoot unless you are a hand loader. As .30-30 is more economical for me to shoot and fills more roles for me than the .45-70 does, I haven't found a pressing need to add a .45-70 to the stable yet, but haven't ruled it out either.

I have owned a number of pistol caliber lever actions; .357, .44 Mag, .45 Colt, and .44-40. I liked all of them, especially the .44-40. While I like the increased magazine capacity that pistol calibers offers, I still think the .30-30 is a better brush gun

Choose what you feel will best fill the roles you intend for it. Have fun in the process of making your selection, and keep in mind that your first choice may not in the end be your final choice!

 
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5/14/2012 2:20 PM
 
Not too long ago, I bought a Marlin 1895GS. It is considered my go to trouble gun for anything outside the home or in the woods. I love shooting that .45/70 round, but it is costly. My goal is to bring the barrel to 16.5" and install XS winged sights to it. Maybe a XS scout scope mount for a scope later on. But being a defensive weapon I will stick with ghost ring/iron sights. I love this gun, but if I could start over. I would have bought a 336XLR and have that chopped down with ghost ring sights added. Much cheaper to shoot and here in SE Minnesota, would handle whatever needed to be taken care of. Just my 2cents. I suppose if I were in Griz country or Moose country, I could justify .45/70, but in my experience, it is hard to convince the wife that $50 a box is worth it. Whatever you pick, have fun with it and do it how you want it.
 
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5/14/2012 8:51 PM
 

 $50 a box?  Check out HSM ammo.  Their bear load is only about $30 a box, and very well built.

 

I have a nicely modded 45-70 Marlin, and would not trade it.  I also have a Gunsite 30-30 Winchester, and a beautiful .357 Marlin (actually the wife's).  I've never shot a pig, but I have to think that my choice for the OP's mission would be the .357.  It can be loaded hotter than any 30-30, and carries way more bullets.  It cycles faster, is cheaper to practice with, and can take pretty stout loads when needed.  It's not an open prairie gun, but there's not much a hard cast .35 caliber slug can't handle within 125 yards.  Further on thin skinned animals.  The gun itself is very light, very handy.  Noticably more so than the 45-70, which is no slouch.  

Anyway, hard to go wrong with any of the choices mentioned, but the .357 would be my pick.

 
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5/14/2012 9:38 PM
 

SLG wrote
 

 $50 a box?  Check out HSM ammo.  Their bear load is only about $30 a box, and very well built.

 

I have a nicely modded 45-70 Marlin, and would not trade it.  I also have a Gunsite 30-30 Winchester, and a beautiful .357 Marlin (actually the wife's).  I've never shot a pig, but I have to think that my choice for the OP's mission would be the .357.  It can be loaded hotter than any 30-30, and carries way more bullets.  It cycles faster, is cheaper to practice with, and can take pretty stout loads when needed.  It's not an open prairie gun, but there's not much a hard cast .35 caliber slug can't handle within 125 yards.  Further on thin skinned animals.  The gun itself is very light, very handy.  Noticably more so than the 45-70, which is no slouch.  

Anyway, hard to go wrong with any of the choices mentioned, but the .357 would be my pick.

What exactly is a "Gunsite 30-30"? Sounds sexy...but I haven't heard of it before and nothing comes up when I search for it on the net.

 
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5/15/2012 10:15 PM
 

Depending on your intended usage, the .357 lever gun may be slower to load if you have large hands or fingers.  Rounds with wider case heads like the 45-70 and 30-30, or even in .44/.45 pistol round make for easier and faster reload.  May not be an issue for purely a hunting/plinking rifle, but if the OP is looking for a "practical" rifle a la Randy Cain's rifle class, then something to consider.  Ray

 
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5/15/2012 10:31 PM
 

 Gunsite used to modify lever guns to be more tactical for jurisdictions that forbade military style weapons.  Sometimes called the "Brooklyn Special."

 
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5/16/2012 8:44 PM
 

What he^^^^^^ said.

We have had very good service from our CT(JM proof mark) Marlins.

Regarding the .357 mag in a lever:  We did some chrono runs with 125 gr JHP, Fed 357 B.  2,100 fps about 10 feet from the muzzle.  When we get the chance, we'll run some 180 gr hard cast lead Federals.  Given the meplat on the 180 HCL load, I suspect the impact would be noteworthy.  The 125 JHP may perform differently at 2,100 fps(compared to 1,300 from a revolver)

So, as SLG wrote, 125gr, .35 cal, at 2,100 fps is a fair performer, within its limitations(think M-1 Carbine).

Reasonable general purpose rifle, reasonable general purpose caliber, lots of pluses.

The .45 70 is a kick(note pun).  For our use, more of a general purpose rifle on the heavier end(larger co-inhabitants in the forests, bear, moose, etc).

.30 30s are certainly a standard, with a longer reach than the .357.

 

(note:  SLG,  Very good to see you here.  Hope you and your family are well and doing well.)

 
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5/16/2012 9:29 PM
 

nothing like a good ol "Brooklyn Special"

 
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4/25/2013 10:57 AM
 

I'd like to piggyback a few questions onto this discussion which have come up as I finish off my Winchester 94 trapper build. 

I'd like to be able to run a light, and the Wild West Guns mag tube mount seems like the cleanest solution.  Two questions: Is it open at the front (i.e. will it slide back on the mag tube towards the stock if one is so inclined)?  Any reason the Marlin 94 version wouldn't fit a Winchester?

I've also been ruminating on forward mounts for a side sling.  I've been enjoying the more comfortable and lower profile side sling carry on my Remington 700, and while I wouldn't use it too often on the Winchester, want that ability.  Putting the rear swivel into the wood stock is easy.  Any suggestions for a side mount on the front?  Looping some cord through the front barrel band works fine, but is ghetto and not especially permanant or low profile, especially once the sling is removed.

 
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4/25/2013 11:18 AM
 

DaveC wrote
 

I'd like to piggyback a few questions onto this discussion which have come up as I finish off my Winchester 94 trapper build. 

I'd like to be able to run a light, and the Wild West Guns mag tube mount seems like the cleanest solution.  Two questions: Is it open at the front (i.e. will it slide back on the mag tube towards the stock if one is so inclined)?  Any reason the Marlin 94 version wouldn't fit a Winchester?

I've also been ruminating on forward mounts for a side sling.  I've been enjoying the more comfortable and lower profile side sling carry on my Remington 700, and while I wouldn't use it too often on the Winchester, want that ability.  Putting the rear swivel into the wood stock is easy.  Any suggestions for a side mount on the front?  Looping some cord through the front barrel band works fine, but is ghetto and not especially permanant or low profile, especially once the sling is removed.

The way that the WWG light mount attaches it can't be run further back, because it uses the front magazine mount as the attachement point. That is the biggest thing I don't like about it followed closely by the fact it is weaver and not picatinny. I don't know if it would fit or not on the Winchester, but the few times I have called with questions they have been friendly and helpful. 

If you are careful and do lots and lots of measuring and just a little bit of drilling you can mount a swivel stud to the side of the fore end, but then you loose the flat profile. What I have done in the past is run a side mount in back and bottom mount in front. It isn't great, but works alright. 


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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4/25/2013 11:49 AM
 

Thanks Scot, I'd glossed over it being weaver and not pic.  That might be a dealbreaker. 

 
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4/25/2013 11:57 AM
 

I took a file and then cold blue to mine so I could run a weapon light on it. It wasn't a big deal, but kind of a pain. Last time I talked to them they were all weaver with no plans for picatinny, but that has been a few years.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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4/25/2013 8:55 PM
 
Sure: http://www.grizzlycustom.com/photos_custom_lever_rifle_1895g_2.html
 
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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsFirearms and Sk...Firearms and Sk...The practical lever actionThe practical lever action