What caliber for mare's leg?


July 1, 2009, 10:02 AM
I have been toying with the idea of owning a mare's leg for some time now. This morning the straw finally broke the camels back when I watched a trailer for the new Woody Harrelson film "Zombie Land". My question is what caliber is best suited for a rifle cut down to such a short barrel length. My local shop where I most likely will purchase the mare's leg has one in stock now in 30-30. Yet they advertise that they can do the SBR conversion to any lever action, which is where my question comes in to play. Do I get the 30-30 or do I opt for something different? Owning the rifle will be more of a novelty for me than anything else. Just like single action revolvers and 45-70 rifles for me. What I don't want is something not fun to shoot. Any suggestions and advice would be appreciated.

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July 1, 2009, 10:05 AM
You might think about getting a pistol caliber gun (.357?) instead of a .30-30, especially if it's for novelty's sake. That would be a lot cheaper to shoot, and probably a bit more pleasant on the recoil side.


July 1, 2009, 10:17 AM
I was thinking that as well Josh. My only hesitation is why get a pistol caliber mare's leg as opposed to a long barreled revolver. Logically the pistol round seems more reasonable. The temptation is there though for 44-40, 45-70, 30-30, something that will feel different when fired. Yet I don't want it to recoil so badly or have such poor ballistics that it sits in the safe as opposed to going to the range. Luckily for me ammo prices aren't an issue, yet. I don't spend much money on most things so my ammo and supplies budget is more than my peers.

Now if I did decide to go with a .357 would it still be able to chamber and fire .38 specials? I have never owned a lever action rifle and so have never had to wonder about this.

July 1, 2009, 10:55 AM
Why not 45 Colt? Loaded properly in a weapon that is strong enough the 45 Colt out performs the 44 Mag.

July 1, 2009, 10:58 AM
.357 and 38 Spl = Yes (mostly, some have feeding issues but my '94 Trapper eat them all) I already own a few too many SBR's/SBS's, but really like the idea of a lever

July 1, 2009, 11:25 AM
I can't tell you what caliber to get, but if you're looking for a holster, I can help you there. I just made one recently for a customer. Check it out here.


Please excuse the gross display of self promotion!

July 1, 2009, 11:35 AM
the recoil on a 30-30 is not at all uncomfortable! most people can shoot one all day long, or until their money supply (buying ammo) is used up. i have not shot a pistol caliber levergun yet, so i can not comment on them. but i have shot several thousand rounds through my 30-30 and never had an unenjoyable time.

July 1, 2009, 11:44 AM
Due to the reduced capacity I would go with a pistol cartridge, preferably a .454 so you can use .45LC for capacity and relative inexpensive cost of ammo, and still have the ability to use .454 for the "different feel". :D

July 1, 2009, 12:22 PM
+1 for 45 colt, great round loaded hot and has some good history to go with it. Post pictures when done!

July 1, 2009, 12:24 PM
Bennadatto, very nice work, I'll definitely keep you in mind. Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I never even thought of round capacity. I called the shop and the 30-30 is a 3 rounder. Looks like either 45 Colt / .454 or .357/.38 special is the direction I'll be going.

July 1, 2009, 12:59 PM
Looks like either 45 Colt / .454 or .357/.38 special is the direction I'll be going.Either would be the way to go (the .357 will be easier to find but I like the .454 "got thump?"). Let us know (and like the above post says we need photo evidence) how it turns out. :)

Grey Morel
July 1, 2009, 01:21 PM
Legacy sports now offers the Puma lever gun in a pistol version. look into that.

July 1, 2009, 01:33 PM
The reason I haven't really had much of an interest in the Mare's leg pistols is because I have yet to see one for under $1,200. The 30-30 model I was looking at getting is selling for $795 new in box. Even with the $200.00 dollar tax stamp and state taxes that's still quite a bit of ammo money left over. The shop says they'll do the conversion for any model. Here's a link to some pics of the one I was looking at.


When I get mine I'll be sure to post more pics of my own :)

July 1, 2009, 02:03 PM
If you cut down a rifle, you go to the ATF and do all the SBR paperwork rigmarole.

If you go to JB Custom, you get one built from the ground up on a new pistol serial numbered receiver and it is just as legal as any other pistol.
With no ATF involvement!


You do want to go with a 92 action, and a pistol caliber.
A 94 action is not only longer, making the gun longer, but the danged thing would only hold three rounds at best.
A 92 is also smoother to operate then a 94.

Seems like a total waste of money & a good rifle, but to each his own.


July 1, 2009, 03:21 PM
Great, thanks a lot. I had never even heard of a Mare's Leg until 10 seconds ago. Now I have to buy one.


July 1, 2009, 03:27 PM
You're a young'n huh?
Google Steve McQueen and Wanted Dead or Alive.

The Mares Leg was a Hollywood trick gun that was the "Hook" used to make McQueen's Josh Randall character one of the 50's/ 60's top TV Westerns.


BTW: Josh Randall's Mares Leg held about 400 rounds, making it a much more effective gun-fighting tool.
And of course, he never, ever missed either!

It also didn't / couldn't chamber the 45-70 rifle cartridges he carried on his gun belt.

They also got in a world of hurt for modifying the 92 Winchester rifles used in the show without the required BATF paperwork or tax stamps!


July 1, 2009, 03:35 PM
Wonder where they are getting the virgin receivers from.

July 1, 2009, 03:38 PM
Uberti I think.

Oops! Thats not right.

The website says:

The first models sold by Jim Buchanan of J.B. Custom in Fort Wayne, Indiana were built in South America by Rossi, but the latest models, which were introduced at the 2008 SHOT Show, are handcrafted in Italy by ArmiSport


July 1, 2009, 04:21 PM
Haven't posted on THR for a while, but to clear this up:

Both the Legacy Sports Bounty Hunter & Jim's current trademarked Mare's Leg are built by Chiappa/Armi Sport in Italy. Same maker.

Jim (J. B. ) is not building his guns himself. He does not get "virgin" receivers.
Both companies import fully finished guns, constructed in Italy as handguns (the BH is marked on the upper tang "Model 92 Pistol"), and blessed by ATF as importable handguns.
Jim's takedown model is, as far as I know, the only takedown offered.

The Legacy Sports BH is not the prototype pictured on their website, it has a slightly shorter stock nub, a correct WDOA Type II "wedge" lever, and a fixed rear sight.
Dunno about Jim's, have not seen one in person.

The Chiappa/AS guns contain no castings, use forged frames & other parts, are built on modern CNC machinery, and if the one I have here in .44-40 is representative, they're very well built, fairly accurate, and very slick.
Jury's still out on the internal longevity, but externally they're miles beyond the Rossi Pumas in machining & wood.
Oiled walnut, subdued but nice chemical case colors.


July 1, 2009, 05:41 PM
First time I ever got a good look at one of those.....I like it, a lot! Awesome holster by bennadatto as well.

Yo Mama
July 1, 2009, 06:35 PM
I thought you meant you were going to hunt a horse!:what:

July 1, 2009, 07:03 PM
I have to agree with Maverick here. The .454 Casull would be the way to go. Casull power, if that's what you want today. Long Colt if you want capacity tommorrow. "Ruger Only" Long Colt if you want both next week.


July 1, 2009, 07:37 PM
How about Building your Own? Is there a company that sells Receivers Only?

July 2, 2009, 02:01 PM

The only way to build one yourself is to saw of a 92 Winchester carbine and go the whole ATF SBR tax stamp route.

Way more trouble then it would be worth just to butcher a good old Winchester 92.


July 2, 2009, 02:24 PM
In "practical" testing yesterday, the .44-40 BH was viable with a two-hand hold shooting a reduced-size buffalo silhouette out to 75 yards.
The concept is workable in terms of accuracy, but not nearly as easy as using a conventional handgun. You are essentially adapting yourself to a modification much less efficient than a firearm originally designed for the human hand.

Calibers such as .30-30 and .454 would be pointless in such a platform beyond the mere oddity factor. For serious applications, there are many better defensive and hunting choices in those calibers. For recreation, way too much recoil to be enjoyable for any type of extended shooting session, and shot to shot recovery times (already slow) would be lengthened.

This is not knocking the mare's leg in general, the one here is a buncha fun to play with, but it remains a toy. And, there's nothing wrong with toys.

July 2, 2009, 02:29 PM
+1 on the pistol caliber. I'd go with .45LC.

July 2, 2009, 03:10 PM
Wow its available in 44 magnum?

July 2, 2009, 03:15 PM
Wow its available in 44 magnum?IIRC .44Mag. isn't any better than a hot .45LC out of a carbine...just more expensive to shoot...but I guess it's worthwhile if you have a .44Mag revolver to go with it. :)

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