Lever action vs bolt action balance and handling


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dak0ta
April 15, 2013, 02:29 PM
Yesterday, I was comparing my Marlin 336 with a 4x scope to my iron sight Mauser hunting rifle. The Marlin was noticeably heavier and not as well balanced when carrying and shouldered compared to the Mauser. The Mauser with irons balances perfectly at the magazine and it comes to the shoulder very quickly.

Besides being more compact and having faster follow up shots, I don't see how the supposed benefits of the short lever-action carbine are valid. To me, the longer bolt rifle balances better due to the length and swings easier.

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MrBorland
April 15, 2013, 02:37 PM
The scope on the Marlin likely throws it's natural balance off somewhat.

If you're carrying the rifle by the receiver in the field, the Marlin's narrow receiver feels easier for many to hold, and the shorter barrel makes in more maneuverable amongst brush & thicker woods.

bergmen
April 15, 2013, 02:40 PM
I find exactly the opposite to be the case with me. My 336 shoulders more naturally and more comfortable than any other shoulder arm I own. Cheek weld and sight alignment work best with this rifle (as well as my M1A). So, drop-at-comb and length of pull figure into this for me.

It may have a lot to do with different physiologies and statures of people. I know my adult children all have their favorites (as far as natural shouldering and overall comfort of alignment) some are like mine but there are differences.

Dan

bhk
April 15, 2013, 02:54 PM
Personally, I feel lever actions with scopes are ungainly and do not handle near as well as a well-fitting bolt gun with a scope. On the other hand, lever actions WITHOUT scopes are true marvels when in comes to carrying and handling.

When you wrap your thumb over the top of a scopeless lever action, carrying becomes secure and natural. Nothing beats it. Scopeless lever actions can also come up and point like a fine shotgun because the stock comb height on levers is generally designed for iron sights.

I love my scoped bolt actions and they are generally my first-line guns for hunting. But if the hunt involves lots of hiking and close-range shooting or if my freezer already partially full, a lever is likely to go with me. All my levers have receiver (peep) sights mounted on them, making them fast and accurate pointers.

jmr40
April 15, 2013, 04:08 PM
It depends entirely on the guns. Bolt rifles can vary from 10 lb. long range rigs with long 26" barrels to 5 lb. carbines with 16-20" barrels. There are far more options in bolt rifles with sub 20" barrels than lever guns

Lever actions, I'm talking actions and magazines, not complete rifles, are the heaviest of all rifles. Bolt rifle actions, as a rule, actions and magazines only mind you, are the lightest. After that it depends on what type of stock and barrel you put on them. It takes a lot of metal to make a lever action, magazine, springs and the extremely complex mechanism. Bolt rifles are as simple as it gets in a repeater.

All of my bolt rifles except 1 are lighter with scopes and mounts than all of my Marlin lever actions with no scope on them. And pretty close to the Winchester 30-30.

My Kimber 308 with a 2.5-8X36 scope and mounts is 1 1/2 lbs lighter than the Marlins and almost a full pound lighter than the Winchester with only irons. My 300 mag with a scope on it is my heaviest rifle and is less than 1/2 lb heavier the levers. If I had even a lightweight scope on any of my levers they would be my heaviest rifles.

I discovered long ago that "MY" bolt rifles carry and balance much better and are much faster for aimed shots, even repeat shots. That isn't true with all bolt rifles, but I don't have any interest in those type of guns.

That said, I own more Marlin and Winchester lever guns than all other rifle types combined. The myth doesn't live up to the reality, but I still like them.

adelbridge
April 15, 2013, 04:53 PM
balance and shouldering are subjective. Faster follow up shots while staying on sight plane probably go to the lever action. In South Texas shorter lever actions are known as brush guns because they are easier to get on your belly and crawl thru the cactus. I have seen a UTV full of rednecks chase down and pick off a sounder of hogs with a lever gun and there is no way a bolt gun would have done the same.

Mat, not doormat
April 15, 2013, 05:07 PM
It's worth pointing out that you've got your sighting systems backwards from how those platforms are usually compared. The lever is usually open sighted, while the bolts, being chambered for longer range cartridges on the whole, tend to wear glass.

Sent from my C771 using Tapatalk 2

MilliradianDOT
April 15, 2013, 05:25 PM
I have seen a UTV full of rednecks chase down and pick off a sounder of hogs with a lever gun

Now that brings a heck of an image to mind! But back to the Op when you look at what the lever gun was designed around, it does that quite well. A light short carbine that took the same round as your sidearm and could pump out ten rounds in 8 seconds. Like was stated before though, you have reversed the traditional roles of these weapons. In the late 1800's nobody was thinking about "how will this thing handle if we strap some two pound space age telescope thingy on top of the receiver?"

dak0ta
April 15, 2013, 06:05 PM
Interesting comparison: Lee Enfield Jungle Carbine vs Marlin 336

Both carbines, 303 vs 30-30, aperture sights. I'd probably take the JC due to extended range and 10 round capacity and very good sights.

http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/images/uploads/No5_2/Jungle-Carbine_8.jpg

http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/7694/marlin.jpg

BCRider
April 16, 2013, 02:30 AM
As the others have suggested I really think you're comparing apples to oranges.

When shouldering the Marlin with scope you'll be fighting the natural tendency for a low iron sights cheek weld so you can see through the scope. That's bound to put off anyone.

How well your Mauser shoulders would similarly depend on the stock and how it is intended for an instant and natural cheek weld with the iron sights or if it has a naturally high comb to do well with a scope mount.

VVelox
April 16, 2013, 07:47 AM
As the others have suggested I really think you're comparing apples to oranges.

When shouldering the Marlin with scope you'll be fighting the natural tendency for a low iron sights cheek weld so you can see through the scope. That's bound to put off anyone.

How well your Mauser shoulders would similarly depend on the stock and how it is intended for an instant and natural cheek weld with the iron sights or if it has a naturally high comb to do well with a scope mount.
Agreed. Which is why I find a red dot on my Marlin completely awesome as I can look through it with both eyes open.

Hokkmike
April 16, 2013, 08:37 AM
I often wondered why the early military, WWI and early parts of WWII, issued the bolt instead of a faster action lever as a battle riffle choice. I am assuming it was an accuracy issue. Also, most levers have to be removed from the shoulder between firing....

AirForceShooter
April 16, 2013, 08:39 AM
I don't like levers.
Any of them.

So for me there's no choice

AFS

mavracer
April 16, 2013, 09:42 AM
I often wondered why the early military, WWI and early parts of WWII, issued the bolt instead of a faster action lever as a battle riffle choice. I am assuming it was an accuracy issue. Also, most levers have to be removed from the shoulder between firing....
Tube magazines common to levers at the time are easily damaged and most levers do not require to be moved from shoulder except when shooting prone which was a concern for the military.

willypete
April 16, 2013, 09:46 AM
Ditch the scope.

I often wondered why the early military, WWI and early parts of WWII, issued the bolt instead of a faster action lever as a battle riffle choice. I am assuming it was an accuracy issue. Also, most levers have to be removed from the shoulder between firing....

1) The people who made those decisions didn't trust their troops to not waste ammo. You'll notice the magazine selector switch on a lot of military bolt actions circa 1900.

2) A typical lever action (Winchester 1895, BLR being the exception) cannot handle the pressures of a typical full-power battle rifle cartridge. Also, the bolt action is stronger in the fields of extraction, ease of maintenance, and as you noted, accuracy.

3) The part I put in bold is simply a training failure on your part. I've yet to find any repeating rifle that required removal from the firing position (except prone; twist a lever action) in order to cycle the action. The hand on the forearm should press the rifle back into the shoulder while the strong hand cycles the lever/bolt. Unless you are a left-handed shooter wielding a right-handed rifle (or vice versa), this will not present a problem where the solution is dismounting the weapon.

shafter
April 16, 2013, 11:36 AM
Take the scope off and you'll quickly find that the Marlin balances better. I prefer my leverguns to have irons and my bolt rifles to have scopes.

dak0ta
April 16, 2013, 01:21 PM
How effective are the partridge sights on the stock Marlin. Mine is the Marlin 30as so they aren't the semi-buckhorn type. Just square notch and the dovetailed front with a bead. Should I use apertures instead or a red dot?

BP Hunter
April 16, 2013, 01:27 PM
I agree that adding a scope on a lever action makes the rifle feel unbalanced and heavy. I have a SS Marlin 336 and removed the scope. It handles and points naturally. SO comfortable that I made a point that I could be more comfrotable shooting without a scope hitting milk jars with open sights at 250 yards. FUN!

bhk
April 16, 2013, 05:01 PM
Apertures are far more accurate than notch sights. The newest Rifle magazine has some tests on this showing the author can shoot groups with peeps half the size he can with notch rear sights. This is similiar to the results I get. In serious rifle competitions, aperture rear sight scores approach those of scoped scores (this is with aperture rear, aperture front, and round bulleye targets).

I find peeps much faster to use that notch sights and they are are MUCH easier to adjust. As I said in a previous post, one of the main advantage of iron-sighted levers is the ability to carry the gun in one hand with the thumb of the carrying hand over the top of the receiver. Scopes, red dots (unless forwarded mounted), and extended magazines (like on the iron-sighted Enfield mentioned above) ruin this secure, easy carry. The main advantage of levers is this easy carry - why ruin it with a scope?

03Shadowbob
April 16, 2013, 06:27 PM
I find that my older wood and steel bolt rifles are much better balanced than my synthetic stocked rifles. I have a couple levers with and without scopes and the ones without a scope, I just find so much better balanced than any other gun I have.

VVelox
April 16, 2013, 08:20 PM
Ditch the scope.



1) The people who made those decisions didn't trust their troops to not waste ammo. You'll notice the magazine selector switch on a lot of military bolt actions circa 1900.

2) A typical lever action (Winchester 1895, BLR being the exception) cannot handle the pressures of a typical full-power battle rifle cartridge. Also, the bolt action is stronger in the fields of extraction, ease of maintenance, and as you noted, accuracy.

3) The part I put in bold is simply a training failure on your part. I've yet to find any repeating rifle that required removal from the firing position (except prone; twist a lever action) in order to cycle the action. The hand on the forearm should press the rifle back into the shoulder while the strong hand cycles the lever/bolt. Unless you are a left-handed shooter wielding a right-handed rifle (or vice versa), this will not present a problem where the solution is dismounting the weapon.
Another one is bolt actions can also be very quickly loaded with a stripper clip.

mo_dingo
April 16, 2013, 11:53 PM
Another one is bolt actions can also be very quickly loaded with a stripper clip.
Just not Mosin Stripper clips :)

batmann
April 17, 2013, 05:54 AM
My 94 Winchester is the one of the best handling rifles I have ever picked up until I put a scope on it. Took it off and went with a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot mounted scout style ahead of the ejection port, there are two small mounting screws I replaced with a front mount. Now I kept the original balance and handling and have help for my old eyes!

JustsayMo
April 17, 2013, 10:51 PM
I have a passel of leverguns (22lr - 45-70) and durn near as many bolt guns and the levers are without a doubt as handy as a long gun can be. My Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle comes close but you just can't beat a levergun.

My favorite: Marlin 1894 in 32-20. Made in 1905
http://i1115.photobucket.com/albums/k542/WhitSpurzon/yonderosa071.jpg (http://s1115.photobucket.com/user/WhitSpurzon/media/yonderosa071.jpg.html)

I sure don't understand why the myth persists that levergun actions can't be worked from the shoulder... :scrutiny: Or the mag tube is fragile... Tubular magazines survived and thrived the harsh environments in the west and far north.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da3TBtCY3G4

d2wing
April 18, 2013, 12:45 PM
There is a difference between the Marlin and the Winchester 94. The 94 is is slimmer , usually shorter, and much lighter. I love mine in the brush. A bolt action is longer so the weight may not be centered between your hands. It depends on which rifles you are comparing.

03Shadowbob
April 18, 2013, 07:04 PM
Very true d2

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