Help me choose a lever-action .22 rifle!


Felonious Monk
October 6, 2006, 05:31 PM
I've decided that a pair of these for the kids would be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I know nothing about them, since right now all we've got in .22 is a semi-auto pistol and a Rossi single-shot with interchangeable barrells in .22 and .20 gauge.

Any suggestions? Personal experience? Price range?

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October 6, 2006, 05:39 PM
I've got a Browning BLR II. Plenty accurate and great looking. Trigger is pretty bad. Beautiful workmanship.

October 6, 2006, 05:42 PM
If you want an heirloom quality rifle made of steel and walnut that your great-grand children will still be shooting then your only choice is a Marlin 39a. I have one and it would a close call between that and my K-22 as to which is the last gun I would part with. It's more accurate than my bolt action CZ which is saying something. Prices can be step on new ones and used ones are hard to find. Wal-mart can order them for about $360 if you don't mind giving them your money. Your local gunshop will be a little to a lot more. I've seen places asking $500 for them. The takedown feature of the 39a is handy and they come with a scope mount.

If you want an accurate, fun lever that is made of lower grade materials then the Henry for about $199 seems to be well liked by those who own them. The one cheap looking part is the plastic barrel band but I understand that Henry will send you metal ones if you call. Henry has also established a reputation for great customer service.

If you're leaning toward the Henry due to price I would recommend finding a shop with a 39a in stock and looking at it first.

Lots of good info about both over at

October 6, 2006, 05:47 PM
I was a hater on the Henrys until I picked up an Ithaca, which is the same design made in West Germany in the '70s.

It's lightweight but feels solid, accurate, and smoothest lever I've felt on a levergun. It's far smoother than my 1953 Marlin 39A. The basic Henry goes for $200 at sporting-goods stores in TX, and that seems about right.

The Marlin is a lovely piece of solid walnut and steel. It's notably heavier than the Henry, feels like a centerfire rifle more than a .22.

I'd imagine that the Marlin is more durable than the Henry, and has been made almost unchanged for over a century.

However, the Henry is smooth and light, historical looks with modern guts (designed by Mr Imperato, father of the current president of Henry), and it's far easier to find a Henry carbine than a Marlin Mountie. Marlins, both full-size and Mountie, go about $350 used online, as low as $250 in a pawnshop or gunshow if you're lucky, but I've only seen a used Marlin 39A once (and bought it).

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr Imperato is donating a Henry lever-rifle to the UT Rifle and Pistol Club. I still feel that my opinions are fair, and our club members have been having tons of fun borrowing my Ithaca, so it's not just me.

Both are good products, just very different conceptually.


October 6, 2006, 05:48 PM
The Henry octagon is a pretty nice piece - less expensive than the snazzy-looking gold one, but I kinda like it better. It has no plastic on it, unlike the low-end version, which is still well-liked.

Marlin 39A, for sure. If it's good enough for Annie Oakley, it's good enough for any of us! A proven design, to say the least. My pick.

The BL-22 is a fine little gun, nicely finished. It's a hair small for my taste, though. Not US-made.

Peter M. Eick
October 6, 2006, 07:45 PM
I am a fan of the 9422 if you can find one. Not cheap but well made guns.

highlander 5
October 6, 2006, 08:05 PM
how about the Ruger lever uses the same mags as 10/22 same general configuration as said 10/22

Brian Williams
October 6, 2006, 08:30 PM
I will always regret not buying my 39M in 1974 when I first found one.

October 6, 2006, 08:50 PM
I think the Browning BL-22 is in a class by itself. The lever action is short and incredibly smooth, and the finish is great.

The sights are better for younger people, they are so slim I can hardly see them!

October 6, 2006, 10:58 PM
Your choices are:


You could read 100 pages of people's opinions, and you'd only end up confused. Bottom line is: They all work. You need to see them in real life, pick them up, shoot them if possible, and then you'll know which you want.

October 6, 2006, 11:10 PM
Both the Marlin 39 and the Winchester 94/22 are "mans rifles" in that they are built with a LOP that fits your average man. You indicated that you are getting these rifles for kids.

IMO, the best kids gun is a Stevens Favorite clone.

That said, my Marlin 39 is without a doubt my favorite rimfire gun, possibly my favorite gun period. It certainly gets the most trigger time.

October 6, 2006, 11:48 PM
Man am I sorry I read this thread and did some research. Now I want a Browning BL-22.

There goes another few $100 bucks. :)

October 7, 2006, 01:42 PM
Shoot a BL-22 first, Remander!

They are fine pieces. However, they are a bit small for my taste, and I'm 5' 10" on a good day. It's subjective, though. They have a 13.5" LOP, essentially the same as my Weatherby boltie. So I can't even explain why they feel small.

Hence, I totally agree with toivo:
Bottom line is: They all work. You need to see them in real life, pick them up, shoot them if possible, and then you'll know which you want.

Ruger, Browning, Henry, Taurus, Marlin: all of these companies make some great products.

October 7, 2006, 03:30 PM
Hi Fig/Monk,
It seems to me maybe some more info would help the resident experts advise you more thoroughly. May want to mention how old and big are the "kids" the pair of lever actions are intended for.
Also I'm not sure I follow how you reached the conclusion this was what you needed when you then state that you know nothing about them.
Unless price is no object, I would lean more towards the less expensive models since kids may not exhibit the same care as adults. No real sense (to me) in having a gloss finish walnut stock dragged across the bench, for example. Are the kids involved in the choice or is this a surprise??
May I suggest the possibility 2 different types may be preferable to two identical. One kid may have a preference towards, say, a bolt action, or if both lever, one kid may prefer studs for a sling...?
Two diff. may also promote sharing as well as overall familiarity w/firearms as they try both kinds.
Of course two identical eliminates any chance of jealousy if they both prefer the same one if two different were purchased. On the other hand, if you want them to work on that issue(jealousy/envy), buy one a BL22 Grade2 Fld and the other a Henry youth model!!! Then if squabbling breaks out you can confiscate both and use them yourself. :D
Good luck, glad I'm not in your moccasins! (sorry about all the "IF's")

October 7, 2006, 08:55 PM
I just bought this 39A. Put a Simmons red dot scope on it for grins

October 8, 2006, 10:41 AM
Another vote for the Marlin 39. I have three, 39A, 39A Mountie and a 39TDS. FAR superior IMO. I liked the Winchester but it didn't shoot as well, felt less substantial and frankly, was worth more to someone else than it was to me.

I paid too much for my Mountie. I don't regret it at all. Wouldn't sell it for three times what I paid. Probably my favorite rifle

October 8, 2006, 11:44 AM
Your choices are:


You could read 100 pages of people's opinions, and you'd only end up confused. Bottom line is: They all work. You need to see them in real life, pick them up, shoot them if possible, and then you'll know which you want.

-Henry - lots of options to choose in their lever line (the Golden Boy is one nice looking rifle). No takedown. Made in USA. MSRP $289 - $425

-Winchester - out of business and used 9422 prices are sky-high.Takedown. Was Made in USA.

-Marlin - 39a is their only current offering, but what an offering it is. True rifle sized .22. Takedown. Made in USA. MSRP $615. (When I was looking for one about 4 years ago Walmart (before I decided to stop shopping there) had the best price at about $360. My local dealer couldn't match it because it was lower than his purchase price. I found a nice used one for $175.)

-Browning - BL-22 is the only model but there are 7 grades and configurations to choose from. No takedown. Made in Japan. MSRP $471 - $741

-Ruger - 96 is the only model (looks like a 10/22 with a lever slapped on it) but the only rimfire cartriges it is currently offered in are .22 WMR and .17 HMR. No takedown. Made in USA. MSRP $390.

Taurus - M62LAR is the only lever model. They adapted the M62 pump design to use a lever. Their pump actions look like a lot of fun and are definately worth a look as a fun alternative to a lever. Takedown. Made in Brazil. MSRP $339.

Aside from all having levers these are very different firearms in terms of design and handling. Like Toivo said you need to feel each in your hands before buying. I've held all but the Taurus (only held the pump and was impressed) and the 39a felt the best to me so that's what I bought.

You can check prices in your area at Davidson's Gallery of Guns - Gun Locator

October 8, 2006, 10:54 PM
I plan to buy a pair of Henrys for my two boys (7 and 10). Then, I am buying a Marlin 39 for myself.


October 8, 2006, 10:58 PM
Marlin 39A. Not just a .22 but a real honest to by God Steel and Walnut rifle with lots of history behind it.

October 8, 2006, 11:36 PM
I grew up shooting a pair of browing bl-22's my cousins had. I love my ruger 10/22, but the browning was just classic and fun. I'll have one of my own someday. The action throw was really short, and the tube loading used a spring system that fastened in a unique way from other tube loading rifles of the time (iirc). So I guess I should have just said, +1 on the Browning.


December 23, 2006, 12:36 AM
I'm on a prowl tonight for information about .22 lever guns.

I've already posted a long post (#11) over in this thread ( about Marlin 39A's, so I won't repeat it here.

Suffice to say, I seem to be leaning towards a move from a CZ 452 bolt gun to a lever .22. Marlin 39A is at the top of my list, despite the 24" barrel (which I'm not really fond of) and the cost ( :what: ), but I'm researching options.

I'm a hunter, not a plinker or paper puncher. And, I've always been a pump and lever guy. The CZ was my first bolt gun, and I just can't warm up to it. To much movement to load the next round. Doesn't feel natural to me, despite excellent ballistics, etc.

Plus, I'm in the market for a Marlin 336 in .30, so a lever .22 would make a nice mate for it. Alls the better if it's a 39A.

This thread has already contributed a lot of good information. But it's been quiet for a few months, so I thought I'd stir the pot a few days before Christmas. (Admit it: you're sick of shopping by now, so it's time to discuss lever guns for a while.)



December 23, 2006, 09:33 PM
My recomendation is buy a Marlin 39. I was very fortunate to have a Father that acquired this one 50 years ago and now its mine. Its one of my most prized possessions and will be passed down.

December 23, 2006, 10:34 PM
Here is another vote for the Henry H001... mine has been surprisingly accurate, dead reliable with even terrible ammo (Remington, I'm looking at you), is light and very handy, and has absolutely the SMOOTHEST action of any lever-action I've ever come across.

Plus some of the best customer service in the business. I had a question once and my email was replied to quickly and informatively by the president of the company! Can't ask for much better than that.

The biggest downside are the stock sights aren't to my liking. I installed a rear peep sight from Williams, now it's just about my favorite .22. Plus it takes everything, short, long, long rifle without a hesitation, jam or complaint.

Also, surprisingly good walnut is used for the stocks.

December 23, 2006, 10:50 PM
Would you consider a pump action Taurus M62? I have the blued carbine model with the youth stock and the standard stock. I think it would be an excellent choice in that when the kiddies get older, they can switch to the standard stock. It is plenty accurate, plus racking the pump is way cool.

December 24, 2006, 12:06 AM
Maybe my experience with the henry 22 is different from everyone else's, but I don't have much good to say about them other than they are cheap.

The palstic barrel bands and the baked lacquer type finish are just not what a fine firearm should have. My father-in-law had a henry. I looked his gun over then showed him my 9422. Wasn't long after that he was sporting a new winchester and my nephew had a henry. It was very clear that the winchester was in an entirely different class than the henry.

Not long after that my nephew brought me the henry saying that it was jamming. Seems part of the feeding mechanism is plastic and after a little wear the rounds would stand straight up in the action. When the action is closed it pinched the round against the feed ramp. I tinkered with it for a while and got it to where it would feed, but he said that after a few months it started doing it again.

I have been thinking about getting another lever 22. Since usrac is currently out of business, I think I will be looking at a 39a in the near future. :)

December 24, 2006, 04:20 AM
Since the sale of Winchester prices have sky rocketed because inventories are shrinking and they are no longer being produced. (at least that's what I have been told)

The Browning BL-22 is a great rifle but it will cost you anywhere from $400 to $750 depending on the variation you choose. Since you are going to buy 2 the price tag of ~ $1000 might be a problem.

I really like the Marlin 39A, unfortunately the price is just as high as the Browning. It shoots as well as the Browning and it looks good too. Both the Marlin and Browning are top of the line rifles and it's just about a coin flip between the two.

Henry makes a classic lever rifle and they look great with their Old West style. You can get a basic Henry .22 for about $230. They aren't as good as Marlin or Browning and the Henry trigger isn't great but they are in no way a bad rifle. I think the price is right especially since you are buying two that the Henry would be a reasonably choice. Nothing wrong with 2 of these for under $500...

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