Gunshop Advice: Levers a big no-no.


June 18, 2007, 12:07 PM
Was looking for a general purpose rifle, woods protection (black bear and lower) and deer hunting. Something quick shooting with enough power to get the job done. I want something that is very reliable.

Went to the gunshop looking at some 30-30 levers, but the gunshop guy told me that lever guns are not as solid and strong as bolt actions. He said that lever-calibers are not effective at distances.

He recommended a Remington bolt action in 243.

I never shot a lever so I cannot personally decide. I guess what draws me to lever-actions is the ability to stick more rounds in the tube while rapidly shooting (atleast thats my understanding).

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June 18, 2007, 12:11 PM
The gun store guy doesn't exactly know what he is talking about. Lever actions are fine guns and have collected more deer than any other rifle. .243 is ok for deer, but I wouldn't go for a bear with it. Get the .30-30 and some Lever-Revolution Ammo from Hornady. You won't be sorry.

June 18, 2007, 12:16 PM
I think he's right about it as far as strength is concerned. The design of the bolt action is probably as strong as they get. Calibers are probably a different story though.

June 18, 2007, 12:21 PM
traditional levers are not as strong as bolt guns.still a good old 30-30 will put deer,black bear down just like it has for 100 years.
while I would not advise trying to load one while shouldered you can top off mag with out opening action therefore its ready to reshoulder.
and speeking of shouldering go to a gunshop and pick up 336/94 30-30 hold in your weak hand by the action letting arm hang,this will feel very natural like you could do it all day hunting, then throw it to your shoulder and notice the sights are already lined up for you.then try this with a bolt gun.there is a reason marlin and winchester have sold a bazillion levers

June 18, 2007, 12:23 PM
Your shop guy is just plain wrong. The bolt may be a little more accurate, but not enough to miss a deer or bear at reasonable range. For dangerous game, the lever will be faster in most hands than a bolt, and a marlin micro groove will not fail you. However for Black Bear, I would get the 35 Rem or even 45-70.

June 18, 2007, 12:24 PM
If you won't be shooting at really long distances, and you want a gun that points quickly for defensive use against bear attacks, you will be much better served by a Marlin 336 than a bolt-action Remington.

Bolt guns ARE stronger than traditional lever actions. That's why they're used for magnum rounds. That doesn't matter to you at all, if you're not going to be shooting the kind of rounds that require that strength. That's like bashing the rear suspension of a Honda Civic because it's not as durable as the suspension on an F-350 work truck. A fine high-MPG commuter car, and a fine durable work truck. Different purposes, with different tradeoffs.

The Marlin will point a lot quicker for defensive use than a bolt gun, and the .30-30 has brought home more meat than anything else in the 112 years since its inception. The .30-30 is a better round for stopping a bear, too, since the bullet is a lot heavier different in shape than the .243, which would be about my last choice. (.45-70 will stop a bear even better, though you'll pay the price in recoil when hunting deer -- your decision, depending on which use you foresee being the most likely).

That said, if you DO need a bolt-action round in a quick-handling gun, there are several that do that a lot better than a Remington bolt gun, some of the better choices also being from Remington: the 7600 pump rifle and 750 semiauto; then there are the Browning BLR and BAR, and the Ruger Frontier, which is a very short bolt rifle with a forward-mounted "scout scope".

Given your needs, these are all guns that I'd look at before considering a regular boltie.

Sounds like he has a .243 boltie he hasn't been able to sell.:)

June 18, 2007, 12:24 PM
A lever action may not be as strong as a bolt action, but that really isn't the question. The question is, are lever actions strong enough? The answer is yes.

There's a reason so many Marlin "Guide guns" have been sold for use in the brush in Alaska and other places.

June 18, 2007, 12:56 PM
I have a .30-30 Lever and for walking around the brush it is my go to gun. It feels perfect in the hand, holds enough rounds to get you to safety, the sights are just awesome and the caliber has just enough power that if I were attacked by any game in North America, with the amount of loads the gun holds and the quickness I could survive.

June 18, 2007, 12:59 PM
Went to the gunshop looking at some 30-30 levers, but the gunshop guy told me that lever guns are not as solid and strong as bolt actions. He said that lever-calibers are not effective at distances.

Hmm...I guess that's news to owners of Browning BLR's, Savage Model 99's, and Winchester Model 1895's in such calibers as .30-06 and .405 WCF.

June 18, 2007, 01:13 PM
I have a Browning BLR 308 that shoots about 1 1/2 to 2 moa at 200yards, The first Browning BLR 81 I had was in .270 and it shot even better. And as for the old Marlin and Winchester 30-30s well they are as good in the field as you can get. They do shoot very accurately even with reg ammo out to about 150 yards, and as mentioned above they handle, point, and shoot off hand in the field better than just about anything you will find. Counter jockey is just trying to push you into a bigger sale!

June 18, 2007, 01:32 PM
Thats all. He is right that a bolt action is stronger, but who cares? For a walking around protection rifle you want something that is fast handling and nimble. A nice light 30-30 lever carbine will be much easier and comfortable to carry around and what not than a blot action. The 30-30 will put down black bears and deer with no problem. Also, you may want to look at one in 44mag. That could fill the need that you have and also be a very fun little rifle. Plus, a heavy 44 load from a carbine barrel is quite potent, and the rifle may weigh a little less and hold a few more rounds.

Just my $.02

June 18, 2007, 01:33 PM
BTW I have seen a deer that a hunter thought was down, but was only stunned and hunkered down in the brush.

When he approached, it jumped up and came straight for him. He had a bolt-action rifle. A final, lucky neck shot killed it, but only after he'd given it slight wounds with the rounds in the rest of the magazine.

If it'd been a bear, he'd probably be dead.

A standard scoped bolt-action hunting rifle is the last firearm I'd want to have in my hands if I was surprised by an attacking bear.

June 18, 2007, 01:35 PM
BTW I have seen a deer that a hunter thought was down, but was only stunned and hunkered down in the brush.

When he approached, it jumped up and came straight for him. He had a bolt-action rifle. A final, lucky neck shot dropped it, but only after he'd missed or given it slight wounds with the rounds in the rest of the magazine.

NOT ONE ROUND he fired at close range came anywhere NEAR center-mass, which is where he thought he was pointing.

If it'd been a bear, he'd probably be dead.

A standard scoped bolt-action hunting rifle is the last firearm I'd want to have in my hands if I was surprised by an attacking bear.

Essex County
June 18, 2007, 02:24 PM
Whenever I feel the urgent need to find an ignorant and biased jerk I head directly to a Gunshop and look for the hired help behind the counter. I am rarely dissapointed...........Appoligize to the folks thart are sharp. Essex

George Hill
June 18, 2007, 02:35 PM
Marlin rifles are plenty strong enough for the calibers they are chambered for. I don't know what that guy is talking about.

June 18, 2007, 06:26 PM
I have shot a lots of lever guns at dangerous game and large game (over 1000 lbs) , so far their all dead. 45-70,405, 444 marlin all good reliable large bore levers and work like a charm.
Levers are good and I personaly love them ,
but a 223 ????????. You might go for a 30-06 in a bolt action rifle if you like that sort of thing.
Consider a 45-70 or a 450 marlin if you want a large caliber lever rifle.

Jim Watson
June 18, 2007, 06:38 PM
Remember the dealer was pushing a .243 bolt action. Look at the energy figures, it is little harder hitting than the .30-30. What it gains in velocity and "shock" it gives up in penetration.

(But if you find your self trying to "stick more rounds in the tube while rapidly shooting" you have worse problems with your approach to the problem than action types and calibers can handle.)

June 18, 2007, 06:38 PM
Do your own research.

Lever guns were the goto gun for years before bolt actions came on the scene.

June 18, 2007, 07:13 PM
if your avg shot will be less than 125 yards, a 44 mag would be a great choice in a lever

June 18, 2007, 07:21 PM
If your biggest threat is potentially a black bear, I don't think that .243 will do you.

If you would prefer a lever rifle, there are a goodly number of models chambered in 450 Marlin, some quite lightweight and manageable. Being that 450 Marlin is essentially a high-pressure 45/70, I see no reason to believe that lever rifles are not of sufficient strength.

If you run into a bear while carrying a lightweight BLR or 1895M in that caliber, simply place the buttstock on the bear's forehead and squeeze the trigger. The bear will be immediately incapacitated. In a pinch you could shoot it, although at this point the rifle may be counter-productive to preventing injury.

Nomad, 2nd
June 18, 2007, 07:28 PM
I have leverguns in .308 and 30-40 (Amoung others)

+ 1 on the 'strong enough'

and, I'd wonder about someone who advised .243 for bear...

Old Time Hunter
June 18, 2007, 07:30 PM
I'd never go back to that gunshop, at least until they had someone more knowledgeable and with practical experience. Maybe a loose wrist turn bolt is stronger WHEN chambered for larger magnum loads, but the leverguns handle up to 50k of CUP in Winchesters/Marlins chambered for .30-30 and almost 60k CUP in the BLR's, M95 Winchesters, and such chambered for .270's, .308's, .30-06's, and .405's. Heck, the M71 Winchester was chambered for the .348 and could be loaded to almost 4k of energy. Marlin has the .308XLR that is dead nuts even with a .308 and Winchester had the .307 BB that was a rimmed .308.

You can do more with a levergun chambered in .30-30 than you can in any of the boutique turn bolts, especially at the end of the day. Leverguns carry easier.

June 18, 2007, 07:43 PM
If your biggest threat is potentially a black bear, I don't think that .243 will do you.

I'm pretty sure a .243 would do for -hunting- a bear (when you get to choose the confrontation situation). Now if you were -surprised- by a bear that would be a different story.

Nomad, 2nd
June 18, 2007, 07:52 PM
He said woods protection (black bear

June 18, 2007, 08:07 PM
Thanks for all the help.

I'm impressed with how much the folks on THR know.

June 18, 2007, 08:19 PM
I have the best of both worlds. I shoot a REMINGTON 700 ADL in .270 for a primary deer rifle from tree stands and towers. If I am doing a dog hunt or two man stalking, I use an old Winchester lever action model 94 in 30.30. I use 150 gr. rounds in both. It has worked for me so far.

June 18, 2007, 10:29 PM
You ought to do a search for the threads about the funniest or stupidest things heard at gun shops. They are pretty entertaining.

Bolt actions have their place. Lever guns have their place also. For a handy rifle that is good for 200 yards or less, lever guns are great. They are also handy for home defense. My .357 mag Rossi 92 is a great rifle and I can hit target just fine at 100 yards. There are lots of choices in more powerful ammo. Most commons choices are different from bolt guns though. Most lever guns I see tend toward heavier bullets and slower velocities.

June 18, 2007, 10:44 PM
A .243 over a .30-.30 Lever for a brush gun.....potential black bear! I know where there is a gun shop with a salesman that does not know which end the bullet comes out of!

And I concur..most these posts have confirmed a lever in Marlin and others has plenty of strength! Have never seen the bolt blown out of a Marlin.

And looking upwards of pressure and power the .450, .45-70, and the .444 is some serious lead thrown down range with a LOT of energy!

June 18, 2007, 10:46 PM
I've found most gun shop employees are firearm experts like car salesmen are automobile experts.

June 19, 2007, 12:02 AM
Exactly. Most gun shop employees are basically like any other retail employee. Poorly trained in the items they sell.

June 19, 2007, 12:43 AM
I have to agree with the above post. Its so sad but very true. The people standing on side of the counter with you 90% of the time know more than those behind it.
I can 100% in all good concious tell you that if you want THE all round rifle go take a peek at a Browning or Remington 30-06. A good 30-30 lever action is nice and simple and Bushmaster 45-70 is pretty neat. All the newer ones from the big weapons brands are for the most part solid. And funny that its not as though your looking at the african safari calibers in that action as no the lever action could not withstand those pressures I have no idea what the clerk would be talking about.
But a new bolt action 700 or A-bolt in a 30-06 will serve you better than any other firearm type off the shelf as they are pretty much fool-proof and the 30-06 caliber has a ballistic coefficient superior to that of a 30-30 or even the fabled 45-70. Good luck and happy hunting!

:scrutiny: I have to add this one last remark about black bear and 30-30s.
#1 I think they are majestic animals and do not feel they should be shot unless absolutely 100% necessary aka bear mace didnt work.
#2 If I were to NEED to shoot one my mind always goes back to the Montana Fish and Game video showing the "drugged" bear coming to and knocking over the cage and going after one of the wardens. . The film shows that bear taking all seven rounds of the 30-30 lever action before it went down to another rifle while mauling a warden. Safely and humanely a 30-06 is probably the smallest caliber for a dangerous animal such as bear or moose as with this rare encounter, shot placement is very rarely in your favor.

June 19, 2007, 01:12 AM
Having not listened to the conversation, I am hesitant to say that he was trying to upsell you, simply because he did give you accurate advice, at least in regards to the strength issue. That said, he is wrong. A .30-30 is plenty for black bear, and a lever action is quite a bit faster and handy in the bush. If your looking for a gun to actively hunt black bear, then no, I probably wouldn't say a .30-30. I don't think I would recommend a .243 either, but I would recommend a good bolt gun owing to the general superiority in terms of accuracy.

On this note, keep in mind that accuracy has become something of a nebulous topic. Magazines and gun forums tend to call anything that isn't sub-MOA "inaccurate", even if only subconciously. Craig Boddington wrote an article a couple of years back in which he said that a rifle that was just MOA was "pedestrian". His point was valid, as the rifles of today generally are extraordinarily accurate as compared to those of even 20 years ago, but I just disagree that MOA is all that important for the average shooter. For me, if I can shoot consistently into a max of 4 inches at 200 yards, I am perfectly satisfied with that rifle. I am more concerned about consistent, functional accuracy than I am with gilt-edge accuracy, although there is certainly nothing wrong with gilt-edge accuracy.

June 19, 2007, 01:28 AM
You have received good advice here. I personally think the 30-30 levergun is one of the most versatile and useful rifles there is.

June 19, 2007, 02:07 AM
I think he's right about it as far as strength is concerned.

Nope. The Savage 99, Winchester 86, Winchester 95, modern Puma M92, Marlin 95, and a number of other levers are as strong as a bolt action. The Puma, with some beefing up of components, chambers the .454 Casull--a cartridge with as high a pressure as any rifle round. The bolt action's big advantage is not strength but ease of manufacture. They are also able to stabilize the cartridge head better, though this isn't going to matter for hunting purposes.

The Winchester 94 isn't as strong as some others, but it is more than strong enough to chamber the .30-30.

June 19, 2007, 04:02 AM
a 3030 is good for most anything, and a lever in 35 remington, will take down everything bigger than that. that dude does not know what he is talking about.
a 243 is good up to deer , and that is about it.

June 19, 2007, 04:15 AM
BG, you're getting good advice here on the strength and reliability of levers.

Levers have been around for a very long time.
If they weren't reliable and strong,
the market would have spoken.

For more on lever guns,
and those of us who love them,
come here (.30-30) ( and here (.45-70) (

(Note: the former thread currently has the highest number of views in Rifle Country: 17,641.
That should tell you something about the number of people who value levers in .30-30,
and trust their strength and reliability.)


June 19, 2007, 04:59 AM
The main reason I seldom ask for advice in a gunstore is the people on the other side of the counter usually don't know as much as I do, which isn't much. There are exceptions, and those exceptions are treasured sources of information.

June 19, 2007, 08:14 AM
The gun store guy doesn't exactly know what he is talking about.Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

I don't know what that guy was talking aboutThat's ok, George. Neither did he.


June 19, 2007, 08:25 AM
Apples and Oranges information was provided to you - The gun shop guy was basically correct on 80% of the information - however he appears to have not understood your stated needs and did not give you the whole story. The lever action rifles are designed for specific functions and they work well within this framework. For protection in the woods a lever action in a 30 -30 or preferably a heavier caliber would be a good recommendation. The lever ation is easy to carry, quick on target and simple to operate - in any case a bolt action 243 would not be the best choice. Check out the Marlin 336's for options.

June 19, 2007, 10:04 AM
in .44 mag. Yes, after 100 yds the trajectory is a little droopy, but bears over 100 yds away are less of a concern than ones at 20 yds.
The magazine holds 11 rounds, if 11 rounds of 240 grain bullets at 1600 fps don't stop it you are dealing with the supernatural.
IIRC the prez of Hammerhead ammo took all of the African dangerous game with a .45-70.
Good luck.

June 19, 2007, 10:22 AM
you'll do fine with a lever action rifle; .30-30 is a classic, but Marlin puts out more potent chamberings; if you want to use point bullets, then lean toward a Browning BLR, but be prepared to pay out the wazoo for one (1.5 - 2 times the cost of a Marlin...depending upon fit and finish);

I just got baboozled myself into a purchase that I do not want...walking into the shop, I wanted a slightly used pump action Remington 7600 in .30-06 which offers followup shots like a lever, but seems simpler to me since I use a pump action Remington 870...long story short is I left the store with a great and nice Tikka T3 in .300 Win Mag (I have a Tikka in .223 and I love the action, but the .300 Win Mag chambering is way too much rifle for my needs);

now I'm torn...keep it and 'try' to overcome a major flinching problem and a repeated sore shoulder or trade it and go with my 'gut' feeling; my overall suggestion is that you follow your 'gut' intention and buck the advice no matter how good it sounds...if you want a lever, get a lever...research your calibers and select according to your intended needs...not what Salesperson X says about Rifle Y in Caliber have to live with your decision, not the salesperson

June 19, 2007, 11:18 AM
The guy was not only trying to sell you a gun but wanted your business for ammo as well. .243 isn't cheap!!!

Find a new shop

June 19, 2007, 01:03 PM
I recommend .243 for Koala bears. :)

June 19, 2007, 05:29 PM
Sometimes, the advice you get from a salesman is more about him shifting stock than what really suits your needs.

The best way to avoid getting fitted up with something you don't need is to have enough information to know what you think you'll need and to be able to spot a line when its thrown at you. Asking here at THR is one way to get that information.

On the other hand, the saleman may have a point in that lever actions aren't the only solution and although many lever actions have been sold over the years, I'm betting that the sales of bolt guns outnumber the sales of lever guns these days. Many bolt guns can be operated very quickly for follow-up shots by shooters who are experienced enough with their guns and shooting from a prone position can be a little problematic with a levergun. Tube mag lever actions are pretty much limited to flat-nose projectiles (although the Leverevolution ammo sounds like its taking off).

If you're at all curious about a lever action 30-30 and think that it'd be suitable for want you want, there are so many about and they're so cheap that you could afford to take a gamble and buy a good used example and try it for yourself .... you can always sell it off later if it doesn't light your dials.


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