.357 Lever Action Rifles


March 25, 2003, 01:39 PM
I’m considering a .357 lever action rifle, and was wondering about opinions on the models I have found. I know many people recommend the Marlin 1894, but what about Winchester or Legacy Sports Puma?

I see Marlin has dropped the 16 in ported barrel and now only has the 18.5 inch barrel – price ~$392. (I’m not considering the 1894 Cowboy)

What reputation does the Legacy sports Puma have (20 in barrel)? Price ~$330

Winchester has two models with 16 inch barrels the M94 Ranger Compact (~$325) and the M94 Trapper (~$370). What are the differences between them, other than the Trapper being $45 more expensive? Winchester also has a 20 in – the M94 Trails End (~$380).

Do all feed .38s OK? Other than sighting and capacity, does the barrel length make much difference? Are there any other factors I need to consider?

Thanks for the input.

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March 25, 2003, 04:15 PM
The LSI Puma is a Rossi 92. It is noteable for having a god-awful ugly safety on the reciever. If you buy the EMF or Navy Arms make of Rossi 92 you don't get the ugly safety and you get better sights. The EMF gun costs about the same or a little more than the LSI. The Navy Arms is significantly more but supposedly has better quality control.

Some people swear that the 92 action is better than the 94 for both strength and reliability. Strength probably yes (the 92 action has more redundancy if something does break). Reliability is a maybe but the 92 was designed for pistol caliber cartridges as opposed to the 94.

All .357/.38s leverguns based on a browning lever action feed .38s on a gun by gun basis. Some do it well , but some do not. There are people who will work on them until they feed. If you reload its a moot point since many SASS shooters simple reload 38s to a longer OAL for feed reliability.

For pistol caliber carbines, length is important but they'll never be rifle caliber carbines. A 20" gun have higher muzzle velocity than a 16" gun, but not by a huge amount. The 20" gun will have a higher magazine capacity which could be important if you want to use it for home defense. Also the octagonal short rifle barrels should be slightly more accurate than the circular carbine barrels. If you get a carbine make sure the front sight is not on the end band holding the barrel and mag tube together. If it is then this will cause big trouble if you ever want to change the front sight.

March 26, 2003, 06:53 AM
I've owned a Marlin 1894CP (16inch/ported) for a year now and it's definately my favorite rifle. In regards to .38spcl, I've never had any feeding problems.

March 26, 2003, 10:03 AM
I've got a Rossi with 20" barrell. It feeds .357's ok. Never tried .38's tho it is rated for them.

March 26, 2003, 11:00 AM
I'm happy with my Marlin 1894CP. Haven't had a chance to shoot the competing lever actions, though.


March 26, 2003, 04:12 PM
Lots of fun to play with, not too expensive of ammo. I own several at this point and have the Winchester Trapper in 38/357.

If you mean to have a 'serious' rifle, or hunt anything over fox size- get more gun. A .357 out of a 16" barrel is moving fast, but it's still a .357.

That being said, my Winchester is a favorite and I'll never sell it. It's light, shoulders fast, and fits my body frame well. I have the newer crossbolt safty on mine, but never use it. (no problems thus far, but get an older moldel-if you can find one!) The trigger is not a rifle trigger as it has a lot of spring to it. I like to think of it as a large revolver, cause thats what it feels like. A large double action revolver.

I've fitted my Trapper with a quick adjust sling and Ashley Express Ghost ring sights. Accuracy is one fist size hole standing offhand at 25 yards. Some .357 ammo dosn't feed well, it's a trial and error thing. No feeding problems with any .38 I've tried.

By comparrison: the Marlin feels more club like (lot's more wood), but dosn't heat up as fast. The Winchester barrel gets hot after a couple of rounds, and you DON'T want to touch it. The Marlin has a shorter throw for the lever, the Winchester has to come down to near vertical to cycle properly. The Marlin also is flat topped with a side eject (easier to mount a scope on).

Every Rossi/Puma lever gun I've handled has been ill fited and poorly assembled.

Either Marlin or Winchester lever gun will serve you well as light brush gun, plinker, or training piece.


March 26, 2003, 08:29 PM
My Rossi '92 feeds anything I put in it. I mounted a Lyman Tang peep sight on the rifle, and it is quite accurate.

Misconceptions abound about pistol bullets in carbines. While you do see an increase in velocity, bear in mind, that there is only so much powder you can cram into a pistol case. The burn is completed long before the bullet exits the barrel, and past point of burn, entropy sets in.

I have never seen any indication that the shape of a barrel has any effect on accuracy.

March 26, 2003, 08:55 PM
As I understand it second hand, the banded construction which holds the barrel and magazine tube of the carbines together can cause the barrel to move around a little as it warms up. The octagonal barrels and their construction doesn't cause as much motion. It probably doesn't matter that much though.

six 4 sure
March 26, 2003, 11:53 PM
I have a Win 94 Trapper in .357 and love it. It's one of my favorite rifles. My only gripe is the ugly cross-bolt.


March 27, 2003, 12:51 PM
Thanks for the info.

Has Rossi's quality improved any since being bought by Taurus?

I knew the velocity would increase w/ barrel length, but I thought it was pretty minimal after about 12" w/ the .357 round.

This gun would be primarily for home defense, plinking, and maybe a couple of strays that wander under the elctric fence into the yard. Hunting w/ a rifle is not legal here, so that's not an issue.

March 27, 2003, 01:45 PM
I had a Marlin 1894CS and loved it. Once I got into C & R weapons, I sold it and have regretted it ever since. It was accurate, quick to shoulder and a blast to shoot. I never had any problem with it chambering any round I used in it, be it .357 or .38. If I came across another like it, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

March 27, 2003, 02:30 PM

It depends who you buy your Rossi from rather than Taurus vs Rossi. They're never going to be a high price gun, but different importers have different standards of quality control. LSI is the worst. Navy Arms is probably the best with EMF slightly behind them. Navy Arms uses better wood among other things.

Yeah as I understand it those last 4 inches might (big might) add another 100fps. Maybe less and it depends on the powder. Properly and hotly loaded you can get pretty close to .30-30 with a .357 carbine. Thats nothing to sneeze at. A 20" barrel gives you ten shots of .357 which is nicer than 8 or whatever a 16" gun has.

March 27, 2003, 02:33 PM

The .357 levergun will do all of that and more. One thing I like about mine is its handiness. Even with 20" barrell, the gun is light and easy to carry. I caught mine primarily because I often wanted more than a .22lr, but didn't need a full power deer rifle.
Its also handy for traveling in vehicle, no restrictions down here on rifles, whereas carrying handguns has a whole set of rules with it.

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