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Educate me on lever action rifles!

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by ratt_finkel, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. ratt_finkel

    ratt_finkel Well-Known Member

    So I recently read an article comparing the umberti? Henry big boy and marlin lever action rifles. And realized they are really cool firearms. Trying to do more research on them. As I'm ready to get serious about buying one.

    I'm completly ignorant about calibers, relability etc.

    My criteria would be something bigger than .22
    Scope mountability
    At least 8 round capacity

    Not really sure what else. The .357 option looks intersting.

    So I'm here and anxious to learn!

    Thanks in advance, Jeremy!
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Your questions would take a book to cover it all.

    Uberti's are almost all reproductions of old Winchester designs. Quality is not as good as the old guns they copied. Scope mounting is not going to happen because they all eject out the top, just like the old Winchesters they copy.

    Henry's are modern designs with what some consider questionable quality shortcomings such as plastic parts and sheet metal covers over pot metal castings. By all reports they do work well however.
    And I beleive you can mount scopes on all of them, but am not 100% sure because I have had zero interest in owning one.

    The Marlins are a continuation of a proven design dating back over 100 years, with modern updates such as stainless steel and more powerful chambering for instance. They are all made of steel & walnut, and are very good rifles. All come ready to mount scopes on them.

    I guess if I wanted a cowboy rifle to be as authentic as possible, I would go for the Uberti replaca's.
    But instead, I just bought the real deal, old Winchesters.

    If I wanted a modern hunting rifle that will last longer then I will, I would get a Marlin.

    I did that too, in fact!

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  3. ratt_finkel

    ratt_finkel Well-Known Member

    Rc, I appreciate the info. I didn't realize my question was so generalized. But your info is already helpful. Assuming general plinking. 30-30 or 45-70. I'm really at a loss with all the different caliber variations. And I'm not familar with any of them except the handgun loads.
  4. Badlander

    Badlander Well-Known Member

    My favorite is the Marlin 1895 45-70. It is probably not A good choice for A plinking rifle due to recoil and cost of ammo. But it will kill anything that walks.
  5. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    i recently went with a Marlin 1894 Cowboy with the Octagon barrel in .357. i lie the way the Marlin leaves you a solid top to mount optics. i'm planning on shooting it mostly with .38 spls because i have so much of it...otherwise i would have contemplated the .44 Mag.

    to me the handgun cartridge chamber lever action makes more sense, because i can carry it and a matching handgun when out and about...neither the 30-30 or 45-70 hold any attraction for me
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  6. Abel

    Abel Well-Known Member

    I like the Marlin 336 & 1895 models. They are easy to take apart/clean, accurate to 1.5MOA, easy to mount a scope on, and both are chambered in great medium-big game cartridges, the 30-30 Win., 35 Rem., & 45-70 Govt. If you're lucky, you can find a 336 chambered in 32 Winchester Special. To me, handgun caliber leverguns are about as useless as teats on a boar hog.
  7. Tallinar

    Tallinar Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking, the popular centerfire lever gun chamberings you will find in circulation today are:

    .357 magnum
    .44 magnum
    .45 Colt
    .44-40 (WCF)

    I would suggest looking into an 1892.

    Rossi (ie, Taurus, Braztech, Legacy Sports) makes very affordable M92 replicas, and I believe Winchester still makes them as well. The 1892 was specifically designed for pistol cartridges. It has many resemblances to the 1886, almost to the point where you could get away with calling the 86 the 92's "big brother." The 1892 action was based on the same Browning action that's found in the 1886.

    If you're interested in plinking, you may find that .357 mag, .44 mag, or .45 Colt are more cost effective per-round than .30-30 or .45-70. Components for these are less expensive. Also, remember too that .357 mag, .44 mag, and .45 Colt can all be easily utilized as 100 yd deer/target rifles.

    Since you want an 8 round capacity, this can be tougher to come by in .30-30 or .45-70, but with pistol cartridges -- being shorter -- you can choose from 8 rounds (16" barrel) up to 12 rounds (24").

    I'll say that I've owned several Rossi 92's; in .357 mag, .44 mag, and .45 Colt. I love them. I will definitely say that the fit and finish is not always as nice as you'll find on a Marlin, but I've not had one that didn't shoot well. Some of them may have some stiff actions that require a little breaking in, or could maybe even benefit from a little tuning (mainly excessive extractor tension), but they've always treated me well. My favorite 92 that I've had is my 24" octagonal barreled EMF Hartford model in .45 Colt.

    Of course, you can accomplish the same with a model 94 that you could with a 92, but I just happen to prefer the look and feel of the 92. Here's a couple basic images for comparison. The Rossi pictured has a 24" octagonal barrel. The Marlin has a 20" barrel.

    Rossi 92:

    Marlin 94:
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  8. XxWINxX94

    XxWINxX94 Well-Known Member

    Rc nailed it.

    If you want an authentic design, highly collectable, mechanically sound rifle, a pre-64' Winchester lever action is for you. They come in every shape, size, and caliber imaginable. However, one in good condition will cost you. An alternative is an Uberti Replica, or a newer Marlin, etc.

    As far as a scope goes:
    Authentic lever actions weren't really designed to put scopes on, as they eject from the top. The idea of "cowboy shooting" involves the straight up iron sights, and that is lost with the mounting of a scope. Scopes are great for newer guns, but would be hard to get on an authentic Winchester.

    "Cowboy action" calibers are older cartridges that have been around for a long time. They are typically weaker loads, that have a slower FPS and a heavy bullet. You will see many lever actions in pistol calibers like .22, 25-20, 32-20 .38/357, 44-40, 45, etc.
    Some rifle calibers are the .30-30, 45-70, 50-70, .38-55, and even some more modern rounds like a 308, it depends on the rifle and maker.

    The .30-30 or 30WCF is a great deer cartridge and has probably taken as much deer as a 30'06. 45-70 is a slow, big bore cartridge used for bigger game like Elk or Moose.

    You could learn more by doing some more research. Here is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lever-action#Calibers

    An 8-round capacity will be nearly impossibe in a rifle caliber like .30-30, by your criteria you may be limited to pistol chamberings.

    Lever actions are great, but the guns themselves can cost big bucks, and the ammo is very expensive unless you reload, because not all the older guns can take the higher-pressure loads of today.

    Theres millions of Lever designs out there, you have to pick which one suits your needs and wants.

    Here is my Model 1873 Winchester, Mfg in 1884 in .44-40 caliber.
    This is one of the "classic" lever guns and can often be seen in western movies.
  9. Greg Koziol

    Greg Koziol member

    they tamed the west.. they protected our ancestors from bears, indians, thugs and marauders, looters. There proven to work and if they worked 100 years ago, they will work today.
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Very broad brush overview:

    Win 92: Light, fast handling carbine designed for pistol cartridges. Winchester stopped making them long ago. High end repros made by the Japanese. More affordable repros made by Rossi. All are good and very quick in the hand.

    Win 94: The original smokeless powder rifle from Winchester. Made for .30-30 size cartridges by JM Browning. The action is more complex than the 92 but very reliable and rarely needs a teardown. Slightly slower action and a little more weight. Chambered in later years in everything from handgun cartridges to a proprietary line of "big bore" rounds in the big bore variant.

    Win 95. Big slab sided box magazine medicine. TR's favorite. Heavy and very strong, able to shoot pointed bullets in full powered cartridges. Not many made then or now compared with the 94, and they're $$.

    Marlin 94. Currently used as Marlin's handgun cartridge carbine. Very stout and a bit heavier than the Win 92. IIRC, it was originally designed for .30-30 size rounds so it's a bit overbuilt but helps neutralize recoil. Also can mount a scope.

    Marlin 336. Marlin's traditional deer rifle frame, often in .30-30 but IMHO it's an ideal platform for the .35 Rem, even hot rodded. The receiver is large and tough.

    Marlin 95. The one sold these days is pretty modern, and based on the 336 action. It's stout and has a pound or two on the win 94. Used for the .444 and .45-70 along with a bunch of custom rounds. It's the basis for many tricked out leverguns.

    Savage 99. In some ways the most modern of the classic leverguns, this one has an elegant action that's both light and very strong. Can chamber a variety of rounds including those with spitzer bullets up to about .308 power and size. Very fast in the hand.
  11. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    you left out the Browning BLR :D
  12. Eb1

    Eb1 Well-Known Member

    From one Jeremy to another. Marlin!
    Marlin .357 sounds like it is right up your alley. If you can find a .32 H&R Magnum that would be cool, but it is tube loaded like the Model 60.

    I have always had a Lever Action, and will never not have one.
  13. jdowney

    jdowney Well-Known Member

    The pre-64 rifle calibers are a bit heavy and expensive for plinking, unless you get into reloading (lighter loads, cheaper, bullet casting, etc). So by that standard I think you're looking at a newer rifle in a pistol caliber.

    I'll point out however, that the pre-64 Winchesters are probably the best value for the money. Fit and finish is excellent, and last time I was checking up on it, they mostly seemed to sell on gunbroker for $400 or so, rarely more (that may have changed).
  14. Badlander

    Badlander Well-Known Member

    What does Pre 64 have to do with rifle calibers?? Dare I say nothing!
  15. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Browning BLR: Very modern and strong design that owes little or nothing to the classics. The receiver is bulky but not too heavy. Takes box magazines and can chamber pretty much anything.
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    You left out the Winchester Model 88, and the SAKO Finwolf too. :D


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