New Calibers for Lever Action Rifles


March 26, 2009, 02:22 PM

we've got the classics: 30-30, 45-70, 35 Remington.
we've got the pistol cartridges: .357, .44, .45 etc
we've got updated classics: the Lever-Revolution Spitzers
we've got I think exactly 1 actually new lever cartridge: the .308 Marlin Express

Given the popularity of Lever rifles, I would think (and I would want) some new cartridges that would be good in lever action rifles but which would bridge the gap between the "full power" of classics like the 30-30 or the .308 Marlin Express and the much slower pistol cartridges.

The kind of thing I am think of would be sort of a rimed .223, or a rimmed .243 "short", a rimmed .260 "short". Maybe something like 5.56x45R or 6.5x45R or 7x45R (or the above three x40R). See what I mean?

They could be either spitzer or roundnose and would provide mid-range rifle power in a lever carbine package...sort of what the .30 carbine or other PDW cartridges are to full power battle rifles...this mid range lever caliber would be to 30-30s.

I know there are knowledgable riflemen/reloaders out there who might be able to comment on the feasibility of this. It just seems to me that a nice lever action rifle in something along the lines of a 6.5x40R would have a place. Is my imagination running away with me?

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March 26, 2009, 02:33 PM
Ugh, you can look at the Browning BLR's, it has the modern cartridges (.308,.30-06, etc.) That's the closest thing I can think of.

March 26, 2009, 02:40 PM
Did you overlook the .218 Bee, 25-20 WCF, and 32-20 WCF?
And the 256 Winchester Magnum that Marlin made a nice lever-gun for at one time.

They are just what you are suggesting, and are still available on the used gun market.

What would be nice if if Marlin would bring them back again.
But not enough people bought them the last time they did it several years ago.


March 26, 2009, 02:41 PM
Big E

Thanks. What I am talking about are brand new cartridges that would be designed work in existing platforms...some thinking outside of the lever action box if you will.

I do really like the BLR by the way and I am always looking at those but one does not seem them very often. I think they make a .223 and a .243 and a host of other calibers all the way up to 300 win mag I think.

The obvious correlary to my OP would be expanding the selection of bottom-fed levers.

March 26, 2009, 02:45 PM

Well I did not overlook...I was in fact ignorant of how those fit into my little scenario. I wonder if today those things would find a market? A world of higher cost of ammo presumably because of demand as well as materials, fewer rifle ranges. I'll have to look at those calibers.

I am going to have to learn more about reloading.

March 26, 2009, 02:54 PM
don't forget the new Marlin 338 Express..........

March 26, 2009, 02:59 PM

You hit the nail on the head RC! That .256 Winchester Magnum looks exactly like the sort of thing I am thinking (dreaming) about!!!'s not just me then. I did a Search and despite the fact that the thing never caught on, people seemed to think it was a great little cartridge.

Wonder why it never caught on? I assume people pretty much associate lever action rifles with deer...with good reason. My though process is around a lever rifle instead of a Mini-14...quick, handy, low recoil, light weight...the "M1 Carbine of the Lever Action World"....more for coyotes and such.

Very intersting caliber.


March 26, 2009, 03:04 PM
The 1895 Winchester was made in US Cal. 30 (30-40), .405 Win., 30-06, .303 Brit, 270 Win. & 7.62x54R..... and a few other calibers as well. I think Browning still sells them.

March 26, 2009, 03:28 PM
It wouldn't have to be rimmed or new for me. I'd like a 336 in 6.8spc with leverevolution ammo. If not that I'd like a pump action carbine for that cartridge.

PS _ There is also the .25-35 for which the model 94 was chambered recently in a limited edition, but they are too pricey.

March 26, 2009, 03:37 PM
Don't forget .22 short / .22 lr / .22wmr

March 26, 2009, 03:55 PM
.454 Casull. I know that Puma makes one but I'd like to see it in a Henry. I like their Big Boy Yellow Receiver.

March 26, 2009, 03:59 PM
Don't forget the .444 Marlin, though I don't know what that does and the .45-70 can't.

And I would sort of consider .30-30 to be an "intermediate" cartridge between something like .44 magnum and .45-70.

March 26, 2009, 04:00 PM
Is 7.62x54R new enough? :D

If they made a new production 1895 in that caliber, just like the old Russian contract rifles, that would be sweet.

March 26, 2009, 04:01 PM
Most definitely not a new rifle or new cartridges, but the Savage Model 99 was chambered in .308,.243,.250-3000,.300 Savage, and a few others, I think. Ballistically, some of these seem to cover the spectrum the OP was interested in.


March 26, 2009, 04:10 PM

I have wanted a model 99 since I was a kid. They are rather collectible these days and thus not cheap. Still want one though.

Love that Model 95 Russian too.

March 26, 2009, 04:15 PM
Don't forget the new.450 marlin

idk if the is really a place for new lever cartridges they have worked fine for a hundred years why change them now

March 26, 2009, 04:40 PM
Find a 7-30 winchester. A 30-30 necked down to 7mm. They made a few in the 80's

March 26, 2009, 04:47 PM
Not rifles, but might as well go with 12ga, 20ga, 410, etc... ala the 1887 Winchester.

March 26, 2009, 04:55 PM
that is 7-30 waters. isn't it?

March 27, 2009, 01:45 AM
Never heard of it. What's the bullet weight?
The good old thirty thirty really is a decent round but man I bet it would be great with a lighter bullet

March 27, 2009, 06:34 AM
The 7-30 used a 120 grain bullet I believe. Seems like Winchester offered them in a 94 with a 24" barrel. They were only made a couple of years. They would be a great idea with the new Leverution ammo

March 27, 2009, 07:37 AM
I think most of the responders have missed the OP's question. He is asking about something that falls between .308 (or even .30-30) and the pistol cartridges. Presumably something in 6-7mm, short and low recoil. Again I say 6.8 would be sweet and .25-35 is already around.

March 27, 2009, 09:04 AM
i have been thinking about a 357 herret conversion, on a marlin 336 rifle. would be like the 35 remington with a shorter cartridge.

SWC Bonfire
March 27, 2009, 09:09 AM
What I wish someone would make is a scaled-down 1895-style action carbine that would shoot 8 rounds or so of .223 or even 6.5Grendel or 6.8SPC.

I know that there are a lot of wildcats off the .30-30 brass for Thompson contenders, I wish you could get a 94-style lever with a .30-30 round necked down to a flat-point .243/.257/.264 caliber bullet. Would be a good gun, might even get better than expected trajectory from the flat-nose 6.5 bullet.

March 27, 2009, 09:56 AM
Always remember that generally speaking, if you are thinking of different rounds based on current or even obsolete cases, it has already been thought of by others before you. Many prolific inventors have preceded us who necked down and up and have blown out cases to form different rounds. Most of these proved, for one reason or another, not to be economically viable.
You can always wildcat a cartridge for your own use, but gun manufacturer's know what sells.
Reamer producer's will be happy to grind a reamer to your specs, it's up to you if it's a workable round for the firearm that you will be using.


March 27, 2009, 10:23 AM
22 Savage hi-power :D

March 27, 2009, 11:01 AM
well...there is some good thinking here...

lets push this idea out a bit...has anyone made an action that can chamber a 357 Max?

I ask this as I come from the Contender single shot crowd. I know that you can take a 357 max case, run it through the forming die of a 300-221 and have a 300 whisper rimmed. easier to use with a single shot action. NOW...instead of necking down to 300, you take it down to 300, then take it down to a quarter bore...say a 256 Winchester Super Mag (IIRC the 256 base dia is the same as 357 as well)

At the same time you could go with another caliber that has been around for a bit...357-44 Bain Davis.

The Marlins that were chambered in 444 Marlin would make for an interesting platform in perhaps a 7mm Bellm. Best numbers I have seen are about 2500 fps out of a 14" barrel...imagine what you could get with a 18 or 20"?

Lots of possibilities. :)


March 27, 2009, 01:32 PM
I'd like to see a 460 and 500 S&W in a lever action. The 460 equals the .45-70 up to 350g for the most part in energy. Marlin could make the guide gun with close to 10 rounds in a tight little package. The 500 whould be a hell of a thumper as well.

March 27, 2009, 01:49 PM
What I am talking about are brand new cartridges that would be designed work in existing platforms...

Most brand new cartridges fail. That should be expected, since there's so much redundancy already.

I believe there have been at least 14 different .300 Magnum cartridges.

Still, new rounds come out all the time.

Lever action buyers probably tend toward "traditionalist" tastes, more than, say, long-range varmint hunters or "space gun" target-shooting competitors.

Therefore, I would expect fewer new lever cartridges. Manufacturers would see them as a risky proposition, and wildcatters tend not to use lever guns as much as bolties or guns like the Thompson/Center single shots.

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