Need help with picking a new Lever Action


November 5, 2007, 02:30 AM
I need some advice on a Lever Action rifle. I figured I would first throw out some background info. I decided to go looking for a Lever Action after selling my Remington 700 Police chambered in 7mm Remington Mag. The reason I sold the gun was based on versatility. The 700p was a great gun bench rest or prone, but was not really a standing position gun. Also, it weighed 12lbs with a bipod & scope which was a lot to carry around in the backcountry. For bi-weekly shooting, the cost of ammo was getting to be a lot and the lack of ranges here in CT over 100 yards made the gun boring to shoot after the thrill of owning a tack driver quickly wore off. There is a 300 yard range but it is located over an hour and a half away and with the cost of fuel lately, the closer 30 minute away 100 yard range has become the only real option for regular shooting.

At 100 yards I was consistently shooting one half inch groups and even at 300 yards, it was not uncommon for me to shoot one and one half inch groups. Again, this gets boring after a while and at $1.25 a round, it was not worth keeping the gun if I was not having much fun shooting the thing. If I lived in an area that had 500+ yard ranges, things might have been different.

I found the recoil with the 700p (700 Rem Mag) acceptable for extended range shooting only after adding a limb saver butt pad. BEFORE the addition of this pad, after about the 20th round my arm was quite sore but AFTER the pad was added, shooting 40+ rounds at the range, recoil was manageable.

Before asking for suggestions, I should advise first how I will be using the gun. First off, I will NEVER BE SHOOTING ANYTHING FURTHER THEN 150 YARDS. This is very important to consider when suggesting a caliber. I need a round that will kill ANYTHING up to 150 yards. Beyond this range, I don’t care if the round can punch through paper. I am looking for a round that can take down anything I cross paths with (Dangerous, large, medium and small game). I need a rifle chambered in something that can take down deer w/o destroying the meat and also be effective against grizzlies, elk and bison up to 150 yards MAX.

I keep stressing the range because the biggest question I have is will a 44, 45 or 357 meet the above criteria? I know pistol rounds are not ideal for hunting big & dangerous game at a distance, but at a maximum distance of 150 yards, can these rounds get the job done? If not, the only other option I know about is the 45-70, a round that will most certainly fit the bill, though ends up being quite expensive to shoot at the range.

When it comes to a Lever Action Rifle I need an all weather, reliable design. I plan on taking the thing in the back country of Vermont, New Hampshire and Alaska. I hike & camp in the snow, rain, sand, etc. The gun needs to hold up to all kinds of weather. Stainless steel seems to be the way to go but I am open to other suggestions.

Weight is a consideration and I am really looking to keep the rifle seven pounds or less. Also, price of ammo, availability of ammo and availability of different loads of the same caliber (different grain/weight, etc) is a huge consideration. I do not care if I have to spend $1.50 a round for good hunting ammo, as long as my range ammo stays as inexpensive as possible. Lastly, I would like the rifle to hold as many rounds as possible.

After a little research I was considering a Marlin. I like the side ejection port and have heard their guns are built solid. They have several stainless steel models too. The question becomes caliber. They have plenty of 45-70 models but all but only one can hold more than 4 rounds and that one is not stainless, something that worries me being I need an all weather gun. Also, the 45-70 round is expensive and I am not sure how available the round is and if there is any variation in grain/weight. I have never shot this caliber and have no idea how the recoil compares to say, the 7mm rem mag?

Marlin sells several other rifles in 44, 45, and 357. These hold more rounds which are also less expensive and more variety, but I am worried they will not have the stopping power I need, even when shooting at a max of 150 yards.

Anyway, any advice would be helpful.

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November 5, 2007, 02:41 AM
Have you looked at the Browning BLR ? It's First Class !

November 5, 2007, 02:50 AM
Well, with Winchester gone, Marlin is pretty much your only choice in the calibers you listed. Henry makes a .44, but I don't know if it is a serious gun.

The real cat's meow is the Wild West Guide Gun, but it is spendy.

At 150 yards, 30-30 is still pretty effective. Inside 100 yards or so, the pistol calibers are fine, except for that part about grizzleys. You can get very hot hardcast .44 and .45 ammo from DoubleTap and Buffalo Bore for bears, but I can not make promises about stopping grizzleys. I carry a Winchester trapper in .45 LC with 335 grain hardcast loads, moving at 1650 fps, in bear country, and hope I never need to test it.

I expect that you would not shoot a grizzley at 150 yards - it might be prudent to wait until it was closer and was sure to be unfriendly.

Plenty of people hunt deer with pistol caliber lever guns, especially where the range is known to be limited by terrain/foliage.

There are other options, such as the Browning BLR, or a used Savage 99, or a Winchester 88. All of those lever gun shoot real spitzer rifle rounds.

November 5, 2007, 02:52 AM
Edit: Posted at the same time as Roscoe. Thanks for the info on Calibers! Guess 45 is not an option.

What Caliber? I looked at them and thay look great but again, I need to figure out what Caliber. Do they make a 30-06? If so i think that may be a better option.

If they do make a 30-06 i have been told it would work, but at that point rounds are almaot as pricy as the 45-07. I guess it then comes down to availability of the rounds. How available is the 45-07? Is it as available as the 30-06? Again, i dont even know if that make lever actions in the 30-06, i am just throwing it out there.

Shawnee: If i get another 7mm rem mag i am going to be pissed at myself. When i sold the 700p i gave away about $150 worth of ammo. I did not know they made a lever action in that caliber. Its an option, but again... i would cry picking one up knowing i had 7 boxes of silver tip not a few weeks ago. Also, it only holds 3 or 4 rounds. I really wanted the gun to hold upwards of nine or so... something the marlin cowboy does. Again, the only thing is the marlin cowboy is not stainless and the 45-70 ammo is pricy!

Is it harder to take down a grizzley, then say a moose or bison? If the hot load 45 MAY take down a grizzley is is possible that under 100 yards it can get a moose or bison as well? I dont really hunt. This is more a worse case, stuck in the woods and need to survive thing. (5% of the time it will be a range gun but i plan oh hiking the arctic circle in a few months and need something that will stop a polar bear, etc. I have a feeling i might just have to suck it up and go for the 45-70. They say its one of the best bush gun calibers and that is what i am looking for a part time bush gun that can take on anything that comes my way and a part time range gun that is fun to shoot. I guess i can suck it up and pay more for the ammo. Is stainless steel a req for bad weather & backcountry guns? I like the 9 round marlin cowboy but again, its not stainless.

November 5, 2007, 02:57 AM
.30-06 in a lever action? Never heard of it. Pointy bullets gang fire in tubular magazines. Not good.

If you really are wanting a gun that will stop dangerous game, the pistol chambered rifles are out of the question. .45-70 is your best option.

Marlin makes excellent rifles in that caliber. Use and 1895G myself for hot hunting. Hornadys' Leverevolution is excellent out of it.

November 5, 2007, 03:29 AM
Hi Thal...

The BLR comes in many calibers including the 30/06, 300 Win. Mag. and .358. You can check them out on
In an actual defensive situation you might do well to anticipate getting only 2 or 3 shots, or even just 1 - in which case the cartridge had better not be a "maybe" cartridge.
Given the power you are asking for, I really doubt you're going to find one that is cheap to practice with.
Methinks you'll find most 45/70s pretty heavy.

Good luck !

November 5, 2007, 04:34 AM
.30-06 in a lever action? Never heard of it. Pointy bullets gang fire in tubular magazines. Not good.

There are lever actions out there that feed from box style magazines. My father has a Sako Finnwolf lever action which is chambered in .308 Win. It uses a detachable 3 round mag.

I should mention that the Finnwolf is no longer in production, however. They stopped making them back in the 70's. Really nice gun, though.

November 5, 2007, 06:24 AM
For deer in VT the Marlin in 30-30 would work fine. Half the guys up there use them now. But for elk or grisly? I'd be looking at a bolt action. BTW I also lived in CT for a lot of years.

November 5, 2007, 07:02 AM
If you want a traditional lever gun and cartridge that will handle the situations you asked about, one option is the Browning re-make of the Winchester model 71. This is chambered in 348 win which pushes 200 and 250 gr slugs at good speed. (2200 fps to 2500 fps) 150 yds is well within its range. Major kick back is that for cost savings you will have to reload. The rifles are available on the used market but many can be found in 98% + condition.
It gives you the traditional form and function of a lever gun since it is basically a modernized 1886 rifle. I love mine.
Have fun picking a new rifle.

November 5, 2007, 08:04 AM
Well dang, here's everything you want...

Caliber 308 Marlin Express
Capacity 5-shot tubular magazine
Action Lever action; side ejection; stainless steel receiver; barrel, lever, trigger guard plate, magazine tube and loading gate. Hammer block safety.
Stock Black/grey laminated hardwood pistol grip stock with fluted comb, cut checkering, deluxe recoil pad; nickel plated swivel studs.
Barrel 24" stainless steel barrel
Twist Rate 1:12" r.h
Sights Adjustable semi-buckhorn folding rear; ramp front sight with brass bead and Wide-ScanŽ hood. Solid top receiver tapped for scope mount; offset hammer spur (right or left hand) for scope use
Overall Length 42.5"
Weight 7 lbs.

November 5, 2007, 08:48 AM
Babalouie. Yes, that was one of the ones i was thinking about but its not a a reg 308 its a 308 marlin express. normal 308's wont work in that gun. The 308 marlin express rounds cost as much as the 45-70 and is hard to find in stores.

Thanks for the input though. : )

November 5, 2007, 08:57 AM
You can probably HUNT anything on your list with the .308 ME, but when talking about STOPPING anything on your list I'd think you want something bigger. A heavy-loaded .45-70 may be your best bet in that regard.

But yes, the .308 ME looks to be a very versatile cartridge with performance just shy of the .308Win.

November 5, 2007, 09:13 AM
there's a company called puma that puts out lever guns in pistol calibers. i saw a stainless one the other day in 480 ruger.

i don't know anything about puma, but i do know the 480 ruger will do everything you're looking for - i've punched deer w/ my 480 ruger at 100 yards out of a 7.5" barrel, and the bullet penetrated fully.

don't know anything about ammo costs for the 480 - i handload all mine.

good luck!

November 5, 2007, 09:26 AM
Hi Thal...

Stepping a wee dram "outside the box"...

Have you considered a Remington 1100 or 870 "deer" model 12 gauge ?

Peter Hathaway Capstick has always said when African professional hunters had to go into the crud after a lion they reached for the 12ga loaded to the hilt with #3 buck - no matter what the gun-zines claim.

Buckshot and slugs are (relatively) cheap, "promo" shotshells can provide the practice, and I assure you slugs will kill deer beyond 100 yards.

re: another poster's comment - there isn't a thing wrong with the .348 but it won;t be cheap.


November 5, 2007, 10:06 AM
Is it harder to take down a grizzley, then say a moose or bison?

Yes - much harder, when charging their skulls are angled like the the prow of a ship and you have a small, partially obscured target charging at 35 MPH. Bullets can easily deflect - they say nothing is guranteed to stop it. If you are hunting them, of course, you might get a broadside shot, but that is a different thing.

Upon rereading this thread, it occurs to me that the criteria of range plinker and and arctic walkabout rifle may be non-overlapping sets. You cannot go wrong with the .45-70 for grizzley protection, and it is probably the best weight-power combination. But, yeah, it ain't cheap, especially if you use the high-end ammo.

November 5, 2007, 10:31 AM
45-70 can be bought in bulk (100rds) from Cabela's website at $120 before shipping and any taxes.
I would think that $1.20 per rounds isnt too bad for practice ammo.

November 5, 2007, 11:55 AM
I have a BLR 81 in 308, a marlin 1894 in 357, and I have own the marlin in 44 mag. Being a lefty I'm a big fan of levers. I have to say the BLR is my favorite. I chose the 308 because of the availability of ammo. I can "plink" with surplus ammo, and save the "good" stuff for hunting. It has a 4 round detachable magazine, which makes clearing your rifle before and after the stand real easy. The accuracy and handiest of the BLR combined with the power of the 308 make it and ideal brush gun, but still adequate for longer ranges.

The 357 Marlin is a real fun gun to shoot. But as a whole I (IMHO) think it's a little light for a serious hunter.

November 5, 2007, 02:50 PM
Ammo cost will drive you nuts if you don't start reloading. .45/70 isn't cheap. A Marlin stainless guide gun may indeed fit your bill. It's lightwieght and throws a heavy bullet so yes, expect it to kick like a mule. You can smooth that out with a PAST recould shield worn under your shooting coat until you get used to it.

November 5, 2007, 04:49 PM
... or go with the non-guide gun model 1895 rifle in .45-70. It has a longer barrel so it will be heavier but will also lessen the felt recoil.

November 5, 2007, 05:21 PM
You got a lot of grizzlies and bison in Connecticut?

November 5, 2007, 05:22 PM
I'd go with the Marlin .444 or the .450 Guide gun. That is if I really thought I was going to have trouble with a grizzly. Really what you ask for is almost impossible. Anything that will defend you well from a grizzly is going to mess up a lot of meat on a deer. Maybe have some low powered deer loads for a .444 or .450?

November 5, 2007, 05:31 PM
IF you are hunting mostly deer. I would get a 30-30. It will handle anything in the lower 48 and is cheap to reload. If you want a little more power look at the often overlooked 35 Remington. Both come in th Marlin 336 model.

If you don't own a Lever Action 30-30, you need to go buy one... Now...


November 5, 2007, 05:39 PM
So do any of these lever guns with box magazines offer a capacity of more than 4? It would be nice to see one with with a somewhat higher capacity, like 10.

November 5, 2007, 05:49 PM
4 rounds at a time of .450 Marlin or .300 WinMag through a BLR should be enough. A BLR sure isn't a heavy gun.

Note that the Brits pioneered the double rifle for dangerous game. Two rounds are all they figured they'd have, but they wanted the two rounds to be quick and 100% reliable.

As far as advice, I'd say get two stainless Marlin lever guns. They're very similar so practice and familiarity will cross over well.

Marlin 1894SS (.44 Magnum, good for 150 yards + on deer, and for inexpensive practice, especially if you reload)

Marlin 1895GS (.45-70, for grizzlies and bison if loaded with heavy modern loads like Buffalo Bore)

Get the 1894SS first. Buy the Guide Gun when you're really going to need it.

November 5, 2007, 07:17 PM
Ammo cost will drive you nuts if you don't start reloading. .45/70 isn't cheap.

This is exactly right. Paying a buck and a half a shot really puts a crimp in the fun of shooting. Please do yourself the biggest kind of favor and buy this book:

Lyman 48th Edition Reloading Handbook

Read it, and see if you catch the vision and the flavor or handloading. :)

Even if you don't, it's a great book for anyone who loves guns.

November 5, 2007, 07:30 PM
First off, I will NEVER BE SHOOTING ANYTHING FURTHER THEN 150 YARDS. This is very important to consider when suggesting a caliber. I need a round that will kill ANYTHING up to 150 yards.

You won't get this with most pistol calibers. A .44 Magnum levergun is at its limit for whitetail at 150 yards. It won't fit the "anything" bill. You can get Pumas in .454, .480, etc, but they cost as much if not more than rifle rounds.

The only calibers that fit your bill would be the .450 Marlin or .45-70. Standard Remington ammo, Hornady LEVERevolution, and some of the less expensive hardcast ammo goes for about $1.20 per round, which isn't that bad. These aren't the Buffalo Bore/Cor-Bon barnburner loads, but you're throwing almost an ounce of lead nearly a half inch wide, you don't need high velocity.

As others have said, reloading is the way to go. That goes for ANY cartridge, nothing is cheap anymore with the price of metals skyrocketing like it is.

November 5, 2007, 09:20 PM
Thanks for the reply's people : )

I think i am just going to have to get 2 different lever action rifles, one to shoot at the range and the other for killing stuff.

I just looked at the $ for both and was shocked. The Model 1894 Cowboy (pistol cal) is about $620 NIB and the Model 1895GS sells for around $520 NIB

Why the does the stainless model in the larger cal go for $100 more?

November 5, 2007, 10:08 PM
Seems like you've hit the budget for some of Wild West's offerings.

I took one of their Guide Guns in 457WW and it's been great fun. I wasn't even looking for a lever but am glad I've discovered the things.

It shoots 45/70 and, being a noob metallic reloader, I was delighted to learn that Starline has the brass in the lineup. Call 'em. Who knows?

Whatever they do to that Marlin's trigger borders on magic.

November 5, 2007, 11:51 PM
You could try the Winchester 1895, in .405 it makes .45-70 look cheap, but it's a serious dangerous game round. In .30-06 it's hard to find the rifle, even as the repro. .444 Marlin might be worth a hard look; there are probably a few floating around here second hand for reasonable prices.

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