The downside to lever guns.


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MCgunner
January 23, 2008, 10:13 PM
Being a right handed left eyed person and shooting lefty most of my life, a lever gun would seem to be the perfect solution for a guy like me. I've got one, a little .357 magnum Rossi that I like, but over the years, I've been a bolt guy. I've taught myself to shoot lefty and reload a right handed bolt, easy enough really, and not as slow as you might think.

Thing I DON'T like about lever guns is their complexity. There's more moving parts, more stuff to maintain, to break. Too, I don't like cleaning the bore from the muzzle, prefer to push through from the breach if possible.

Then, there's the whole accuracy thing. If you get a lever that's picky about accuracy. what are ya gonna do about it? You gonna free float the barrel, bed the action? Right. First place, few levers are capable of MOA accuracy. Most are capable of adequate short range hunting accuracy, but if you have one that won't shoot better than 4 moa, and I've seen some, all the leverlution ammo in the world won't help you 'cause poor accuracy is going to keep you to 150 yards max on deer and hogs. I have fired VERY accurate levers, know they're out there, but I also know the turkeys are out there and if yu get one of those, the only user friendly solution is to get rid of it and buy another. Now, some designs are better than others and I know the old 99 savage and the BLR tend to be accurate guns, but I'm mostly thinking Marlin/Winchester here. I'm a picky guy, perhaps too picky, but I like the gun to shoot 1 moa or better. The better it shoots, the happier I am. I get that sort of accuracy from a bolt gun and if I don't, 9 times out of 10, a little free floating or bedding will fix it. Not much you can do with a gun that has tube mags and barrel bands hanging off the barrel.

I haven't mentioned autos, either. But, autos are usually heavy, bulky guns. I prefer a good lever/bolt guns handy dimensions and weight. Pumps? Well, they are great on shotguns.

Okay, take your shots at me. That's just MHO and what works for me. :D I'm not going to say I won't buy another lever gun, but I sincerely doubt one would ever replace my bolt guns as my main hunting arms. I'm a bolt kinda guy.

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Shawnee
January 23, 2008, 10:49 PM
Hi McG...

Methinks "downsides" are relative beasts, McG.

The older I get the less I care about MOA accuracy and the more I care about ease of carry. (Which is most of the reason I hunt with a Super Blackhawk.:))

And if I really fretted about 3" groups there is always the Browning BLR or the Savage 99 or the Winchester 88.

;)

Fast Frank
January 23, 2008, 10:59 PM
Not going to feed the trolls tonight...

TexasRifleman
January 23, 2008, 11:01 PM
Eh, MC's no troll, he's just bored and looking for a good debate.

Levers have their place, but you are right they will never be as accurate at 150+ than a bolt, but their intended use is inside that range.

This one is quick on target and doesn't hang on every tree limb when crawling through the bush.
Mechanically I'm not sure. I've seen some awfully old Winchesters out there still running along. They look complicated but they don't really have that many parts moving around inside. Not as many as you'd think anyway. It's a pretty simple design.

And as I have said before; If you can't kill it with a .45-70 you should just consider running.

PS. Dear Marlin, Quit screwing around and make one of these in a pistol grip stock. Thanks.

http://homepage.mac.com/jayc67/marlin.jpg

TCB in TN
January 23, 2008, 11:03 PM
It pains me to say it, but I agree with you shawnee! ;) If you want better long distance performance out of a lever then you need a lever that handles the proper cartridges. My little Browning BLR .308 is a dream to shoot, just as my old BLR .270 did (yes Shawnee I loved my old .270win as well). Overall they are a good balance between the light handy lever rifle and the longer range often desired. With factory ammo I have shot my .308 with a light rest to well under 2 inches on several occasions, that was at 100 yards off a fence post or shooting sticks. I am sure if I were to get the sand bags out and really to play with my loads I could do considerably better. Will you ever get that consistent 1/2 moa performance out of a short handy lever gun...... well probably not, but then again most handy, short barreled bolt guns don't consistently perform like that either. Were that really your goal then it would be better to get a heavy barreled bolt gun, or if you are really set on a lever then have you a custom heavy, long barreled lever gun made. But again IMHO that would defeat the real purpose behind a lever gun.

WNTFW
January 23, 2008, 11:08 PM
You didn't mention being mistaken for Chuck Connors. That is another down side.

I find the allure may be the cowboy image. Also some of it seems regional. Around here shotguns rule for hunting & no one hunts on horseback. I've never seen anyone shoot one. I'm sure they have there niche. Having a rifle in the same caliber as a handgun is cool too.

I'm very live & let live. Because I don't get the magic doesn't mean it doesn't exist. People like what they like.

Later,
WNTFW

R.W.Dale
January 23, 2008, 11:09 PM
Whatever floats your boat.

I do feel though that people tend to get a little TOO hung up on accuracy as far as hunting arms are concerned. In reality a good reliable 2 to 3 MOA is gonna be more than accurate enough for taking deer sized critters out to 250yds or so on a 9" kill zone.

When working up a hunting load and selecting a rifle I worry about POWER, Bullet, ease of use and then LAST of all is accuracy, again provided I'm getting at least 2.5 MOA

earplug
January 23, 2008, 11:18 PM
My Savage 99 in 300 Savage will shoot three shots under 2 MOA. Its more like a 1.75 MOA. Just a run of the mill 1946 type gun with a 3x Weaver.
I haven't had to rezero this unit in over ten years. Whats not to like?

JustsayMo
January 23, 2008, 11:33 PM
I've come full circle. Started with a levergun, got into bolts and autos for a majority of my adult life, then came back to leverguns.

For me the downsides are minor and more than offset by field practicality -- Ease of carry, quick on the target, carries plenty of ammo on board for hunting without a protruding magazine, generally lighter weight, very good accuracy from field positions, easy to maintain, capable of shooting mild to heavy loads and still function even with mixed loads.

From the bench my bolts have the edge in accuracy, though not by much -- every lever I've owned (15 or 16 at last count) could do better than 3 MOA at 100 yards -- and the pointy bullets will fly flatter farther. Problem is I don't like carrying them in the field and I've never had a viable hunting shot much over 100 yards anyway so the advantage is moot, at least where I like to hunt.

If you have a Marlin you don't have to clean from the muzzle. Complete disassembly is easy with slotted screwdrivers and a few punches. Marlins are much easier to put back together than a Winchester levergun which I'd strongly recommend against without some expert guidance.

TexAg
January 23, 2008, 11:34 PM
Ok geeze no one's mentioned it yet so I will: its really easy to clean a Marlin from the breech, you take out one screw at the lever hinge and the bolt slides right out, piece of cake.

TexAg
January 23, 2008, 11:37 PM
Mo ya just beat me to it.
And I know its debatable for some good bolt shooters, but I still find a lever quicker to cycle, which can be alot of fun when you come across a group of pigs.

bill larry
January 23, 2008, 11:38 PM
Gosh, nobody has mentioned how easy levers are to take down in the field without tools...:p

R.W.Dale
January 23, 2008, 11:45 PM
Of course you could select an action that offers the best of both worlds. The Remington 7600 pumps! You get the ease of handling and fast follow ups of the levergun coupled with the accuracy and power of a bolt action. A true win win compromise.

Shawnee
January 24, 2008, 12:07 AM
ROTFLMAO !!! :D:D:D

Don't worry that you agree with me, TCB... I forgive Ya.


:D:D:D

ArmedBear
January 24, 2008, 12:13 AM
Hey krochus, I checked out some pump Remingtons, and there's really only one thing I didn't like. I was forced to hold my forward hand too far out in front of me for my taste (at least for carefully-aimed offhand shots).

How do you deal with that?

M'bogo
January 24, 2008, 02:44 AM
I'm a lefty also..and I don't like LIMA BEANS so I do not buy, cook, order, eat or seek out LIMA BEANS.

Maybe you could use the same approach in dealing with LEVER GUNS. ;)

M'bogo

R.W.Dale
January 24, 2008, 06:09 AM
Hey krochus, I checked out some pump Remingtons, and there's really only one thing I didn't like. I was forced to hold my forward hand too far out in front of me for my taste (at least for carefully-aimed offhand shots).

How do you deal with that?


I'm 6'-2" with monkey arms, it's just never been an issue with me.

Double Naught Spy
January 24, 2008, 08:31 AM
Okay, take your shots at me.

How can you argue with a man who is whining about his personal preferences and hangups?

Okay, so you don't like lever guns. Did you actually have a point or were you simply whining? Not to worry, I don't think any of us were going to buy you one for your next birthday or anything like that.

Were that really your goal then it would be better to get a heavy barreled bolt gun, or if you are really set on a lever then have you a custom heavy, long barreled lever gun made. But again IMHO that would defeat the real purpose behind a lever gun.

And just what is the real purpose of a lever gun about which you speak? It still fills the original design intent of being a magazine fed self contained cartridge repeating arm.

Walkalong
January 24, 2008, 08:44 AM
I don't think MCgunner was whining, just throwing out an opinion to see what folks thought.

I like lever guns, but prefer a bolt gun. I like autos as well. I would pick up my Mini 14 to run off to a conflict before my AR. I would take an all steel 5" 1911, or two, over my favorite wheelgun, Redhawk, but I really like my wheel guns, and love my Redhawk. Well, actually, I would probably tuck my 2 1/2" 686 somewhere to take with me as well. Then again..........................

Who knows, in the real situation, what we would choose first. :)

Dave Markowitz
January 24, 2008, 09:36 AM
Yes, leverguns are more complex than bolt guns. So what. They still work reliably. Also, not all levers are difficult to take down and maintain. The Marlins can be field stripped by removing one screw. After field stripping, they can then be cleaned from the breach as well.

As for accuracy, my 1978-vintage Marlin 336 will keep all its shots inside the 10 ring of an SR-1 target at 100 yards. That's with factory ammo and peep sights, and is about as accurate as I can shoot any rifle without optics. What more does one need for whitetail deer hunting?

ArmedBear
January 24, 2008, 09:48 AM
The Marlins can be field stripped by removing one screw. After field stripping, they can then be cleaned from the breach as well.

True. Complaining about complexity is really a beef with Winchesters, not the Marlin design, which is elegant and simple.

Bolt guns are perfectly fine tools. Like a pair of pliers. They work, but I can't really love a bolt gun regardless, any more than I love something with little character, that I buy because it will get the job done. I like my favorite boltie, but I love my favorite lever gun.:)

Yes, that's quite subjective. But what isn't, really?

waterhouse
January 24, 2008, 10:11 AM
What mine lack in accuracy they makes up for in the "fun shooting" area.

From a practical hunting perspective, I see it as just another tool in the box. They are light an easy to carry and accurate enough for hunting out to 125+. I don't hunt much with rifles, but most of the deer here are withing spitting distance. Good enough for me.

32winspl
January 24, 2008, 12:00 PM
Accuracy? Both my 450 marlins (1895M & 1895MR) have occasionally shot 3 shot 100yd groups that you can cover with a quarter (scoped and from a bench with factory loads), and never larger outside-to-outside than 2". Iron sighted, those two, and my Dad's Mod 94 in .32 Spl seldom stray outside
2 1/2". I'm a lefty and left-eye dominant. So if you're gunning for mice at 100yds, they might not be the guns you wanna use. Oh, I've fired lots of other folks' levers, and never had one shoot anything approaching 4 ".
As for cleaning the '94, I use a BoreSnake & Hoppes; drawing it from breech to muzzle. (As someone else pointed out, Hoppes doubles as a very nice cologne).
I'm not trying to sell you on a lever gun. I also own, use, and enjoy bolts and semi's. A trip to Gander Mountain would suck if the handgun cases only held revolvers and the racks only levers. It'd be like only having one woman... er, well, you know what I mean.

TimboKhan
January 24, 2008, 12:14 PM
Of course you could select an action that offers the best of both worlds. The Remington 7600 pumps!

That is a good compromise!

I have to tell you fellows that I own a 94, and the more I handle Marlins, the more I dislike the 94. Mine is a fine vintage example that is many times better than the 94 was in it's last few years, but even with that, I have just come to believe that the Marlin levers are better designed and better shooting guns. I will never get rid of mine for personal reasons, but I will probably not spend money on another one either....

TCB in TN
January 24, 2008, 03:06 PM
And just what is the real purpose of a lever gun about which you speak? It still fills the original design intent of being a magazine fed self contained cartridge repeating arm.

In the grand scheme of things folks typically chose lever guns because of the style they were. Most were designed to be handy, quick pointing brush hunting or saddle guns. Most lever gun folks like them, in large part because of those features. Can the lever do more than it does now? Certainly but most modern lever designs are traditional and stick to that short, handy, quick handling formula.

It would NOT be difficult to take a lever action and build a real strong long distance gun, beef up the materials around the action with a detachable mag, attach the forearm to the rec. and allow a heavy bull barrel to free float and you have a pretty good start toward a tack driving lever gun.

Gewehr98
January 24, 2008, 03:08 PM
I have to tell you fellows that I own a 94, and the more I handle Marlins, the more I dislike the 94.

The more I handle Marlins, the more I like my Winchester 94s. I find the former clunky, oversized, and not at all easy-handling. I figure that's why you don't see John Wayne carrying a Marlin in his movies. :D

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

ArmedBear
January 24, 2008, 03:39 PM
I like the Marlin 1894...:)

I like the Winchester 1892.

The real difference, to me, is one of design philosophy. Marlin can build a great lever carbine, and they do -- just not chambered for .30-30. The 336 is designed and built with "rifle" in mind. The standard 94 is much more of a carbine, though they did make some with pistol grip stocks and longer barrels.

I have a pair of Marlin 39's. One is the 39A, that shoulders and feels almost exactly like a 336. The other is a 39M, that shoulders and feels a lot like a 94, or an 1894. Same action, different intention for each model of 39.

As far as John Wayne carrying his 1892 in the Civil War...:)

IMHO, the standard 94 design is somewhat mismatched to the .30-30 round, which will work on deer at least as far as the iron sights will. The 94's handling suggests relatively close, quick shooting. The wonderful 1892 (now made by others of course) or a Marlin 1894 will do that, arguably better, with .44 Magnum, or even .357. What Marlin did with the 336, i.e. a gun that's quicker handling than most deer rifles, but holds steady for long shots, makes good sense when paired with the .30-30 or .35 Remington.

Marlin, of course, still makes 4 different lever gun actions for different classes of cartridges. Winchester, for a long time, just shoehorned them into 2, then 1 at the end (not counting Japanese "special editions" of course).

With an infinite supply of money, I'd have a few of each, mint, just so I could do my own comparisons.:)

Vic303
January 24, 2008, 03:47 PM
I think the lever guns shine in the pistol calibers best. I love the Marlins in .357 mag.

Z_Infidel
January 24, 2008, 04:13 PM
Marlin's XLR line of rifles (and the 308MX) are quickly becoming known for their accuracy, especially with the LeverEvolution ammo. I personally have been impressed by my 336XLR .30-30, and from what I've read the 308MXLR and 308MX are even better in the accuracy department.

I like lever guns mostly for their handling characteristics, but then even my bolt gun is a full-stocked CZ with iron sights. Heck, shoot what you like!

fiddleharp
January 24, 2008, 08:26 PM
Back in 2001 I put three shots into one ragged hole at 100 yards with my Browning BLR in 7mm-08. My rest was a sneaker on top of a tackle box, with the butt end of the stock resting on another sneaker. I was shooting close-out Remington ammo Wal-Mart was selling for $5.50 a box.
After my second shot, I was afraid I didn't even touch paper because I couldn't see a second hole. After the third shot I still could see only one hole, but was starting to get excited because the sight picture looked good and the squeeze felt perfect on all three shots.
When the range went cold I walked out and couldn't believe my eyes. One ragged hole, two inches above the bull at 100 yards! Whoohoo! :what:
That was many years ago, and try as I might, I've never been able to repeat that stunt. :banghead:

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