Thoughts wanted on lever action rifles using handgun ammo


August 1, 2009, 09:32 PM
I don't own a lever-action rifle, have been thinking about buying one. I'd probably be using it for plinking and possibly for deer hunting, figured on a 30-30 as a good direction to go, but wondered about those that are set up for .45 Colt, .44 magnum, or .357 magnum as those are all rounds I already have for revolvers and expect to be reloading at some point (once I can get primers!). Anyone have any favorite calibers, manufacturers, models you think I should pay attention to? Pros and cons of the handgun round vs. stick with a rifle round? I'd appreciate your thoughts!

If you enjoyed reading about "Thoughts wanted on lever action rifles using handgun ammo" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 1, 2009, 09:46 PM
I own a Winchester .30-30, and a Marlin 1895G in .45-70. Both rifle rounds, of course. They are excellent for deer hunting, and you mention that is one of your goals. In my opinion, your first lever action should be a rifle caliber---it's really more practical for hunting. That said, the .45 Colt Puma's are pretty darn cool.
You'd be hard pressed to go wrong with a Winchester thirty thirty as a deer hunting round, and it's fun as heck to shoot- and surprisingly accurate.

August 1, 2009, 09:47 PM
If it was to be my only rifle I would stick to A rifle cartridge. 30-30 is A good choice.

August 1, 2009, 09:53 PM
For primarily plinking, 44 mag. If you are serious about hunting the 30-30. The 44 amo is a little cheaper to shoot and out to 100 yards or so will kill anything the 30-30 will kill. In my experience the limiting factor is that the 44 rifles I have shot are not quite as accurate and hits much beyond 100 becomes more difficult.

30-30 rifles tend to be less expensive, especially used ones so that may offset the price of ammo somewhat.

August 1, 2009, 10:09 PM
Thanks for the input so far - the deer hunting is optional, this wouldn't be my only choice, as I've got .243 and 30.06 bolt action rifles, could use the new rifle but don't have to. I certainly think of the 30-30 as the traditional approach, but getting more out of rounds I already use instead of adding a new one was part of my thinking.

August 2, 2009, 12:04 AM
45colt in '92 cause you can load it soft to hard and it's super fun in a lever.

August 2, 2009, 12:19 AM
Puma 92 .45 Colt
Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt
Thats what Id go with cuz thats what I got :)
.45 Colt is my favorite caliber to shoot and reload

Ian Sean
August 2, 2009, 08:10 AM
I recently got to shoot a friends Marlin 1894 in .357, very nice to shoot and accurate, recoil very mild.

I have 2 .357 wheelguns, and now I am also thinking of getting one!

It is nice to have several different firearms in the same caliber. I have also benefited with my 9mm pistols and my Ruger 9 carbine, that has been fun and handy as well concerning ammo.

If I do get one it would mainly be to compliment the .357's, probably would not hunt with it myself.

I also reload, lot of potential for making up fun loads for it.

August 2, 2009, 08:20 AM
I have a 1977 Marlin .357 carbine. I don't technically hunt but I have used it on woodchucks. My kill shots with it have been between 50 and nearly 100 yards with iron sites. I think the gun is capable of much more but my eyes are not. It. I do have an old 30-30 but for informal purposes, and potential social work, I do enjoy this carbine. So much so I bought a .357 Blackhawk to keep it company. This 1894c and my 39A are the only two firearms my wife really enjoys shooting with me.

August 2, 2009, 08:46 AM
For a plinker, I'd get a Marlin in .357. Fun, and a great companion to a .357 revolver. But for serious hunting, .30-30.

August 2, 2009, 09:04 AM
I have a .357 rev. so if the price is right on a Marlin .357...

August 2, 2009, 09:10 AM
I have a Rossi in 454/45 Colt. 45 Colt (if you reload) is versatile enough to go from plinking rounds, to real thumpers that will take down anything in North America. If you reload, you get the cost/round WAY below what you would pay for commercial ammo.

August 2, 2009, 09:15 AM
You'd be hard pressed to go wrong with a Winchester thirty thirty as a deer hunting round, and it's fun as heck to shoot- and surprisingly accurate.

They say more deer have fallen to .30-30 lever actions than any other rifle.

I don't hunt, so I'd like a .357 Marlin to go with my Python. ;)

The Lone Haranguer
August 2, 2009, 09:28 AM
I don't have any myself, but a .357 Mag. lever would make a handy little home defense gun, a fun plinker and can be used for cowboy shooting. If it were to be used mostly for hunting I would like a 30-30 better.

August 2, 2009, 01:50 PM
I have both 30-30 and .357mag Marlins.

Shooting my 6x12x3/4" steel gong at 100 yards the 30-30 seems to smack it with more authority than the full house .357 mags. But the mags smack well just the same.

Reloading is easier and faster for the .357mag. Cheaper too.

Accuracy edge to the 30-30 at 100 yards, but that's only if handloading. With factory ammo for me it's a wash. My levers with me driving, usually shoot from 3 to 4 inches @ 100 with factory stuff. I don't use scopes on my levers.

If you're shooting past 100 yards again I give the edge to the 30-30.

I have a friend who has Winchesters, .357m, .44m, .45lc, and 30-30. He likes them all of course, but his favorite is the .44 magnum.

August 2, 2009, 01:56 PM
There is an unfired Winchester Trapper in .44 mag for sale locally at $575, no box or paperwork, that I might go take a look at.

August 2, 2009, 05:45 PM
I love the idea of versatility, but when I actually have the things (like other pistol caliber carbines), my opinion is that if I'm gonna carry a long gun, then I'm gonna take advantage of its capacity for a heftier loading. I don't know the difference between 44mag ballistics and a 30-30 ballistics, but I'm guessing the 30-30 edges it out to some degree.

August 2, 2009, 09:21 PM
My Winchester 94 trapper in 357 is my favorite long gun. I bought it to match my revolvers. It is extremely accurate out to 100 yards. Ballistics are similar to the 30/30, I have read... but I am not an expert on that.

The 94 is a fun, accurate and quick shooter...

Good luck

murdoc rose
August 2, 2009, 11:18 PM
I don't like pistol rounds in my rifles but then again i don't really like pistols, I do however love lever actions so id vote go for 30-30 or up

Jefferson Herb
August 2, 2009, 11:46 PM
You can pair up pistol cartriges and .357,.44mag,and .45colt will work on deer;although the rifle cartriges will be better.I like the .45-70 for a lever gun,you can cast your own slugs,make your own powder if forced to,and even with a rainbow trajectory,can be used on elk or moose with proper loads.
Origional loads would go thru horse and take out rider behind horse at 500 yds. If there are those who doubt,there is a nice article in bp section on the range of the .50-90 sharps.

August 3, 2009, 11:52 AM
I have a marlin in 30-30 and a rossi in .357/38. For plinking, the rossi will do in either caliber and will work for hd as well with 16" barrel open sights. I got it to keep my ammo purchases tight owning two handguns in same caliber.if i was just chasing deer, i would grab the 30-30.but the big loop .357 is a will kill a deer!

If you enjoyed reading about "Thoughts wanted on lever action rifles using handgun ammo" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!