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Range Report - New (to me) Marlin Lever in 30-30

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by David W. Gay, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. David W. Gay

    David W. Gay Member

    May 7, 2004
    I had intended to start a thread a few days ago to request some insight on the various lever-actions out there. I've been wanting one for a while - for no particular reason other than I like them, but I just couldn't decide on make/caliber/cost, etc. I've looked around enough to get a general idea on a price range, and came across one in a local shop I liked. The price was good, I was tired of just looking, so I bought it.

    As the thread title suggests, It's a Marlin in 30-30. It cost $239 before tax, and the guy gave me a 20rd box of ammo. It appears to be in good condition.

    The next day, (yesterday), I head to the range to try out my new best friend. The closest range is a private rod & gun club. I show up with membership form & fee in hand and ask where I can shoot. First they tell me all new members are approved at the monthly board meetings, which will be in a couple weeks. So, I just let them give me the run down on range rules, etc. We chat about guns & the troubles of 'unsafe' shooters that show up, and before I go, I end up with my membership badge in hand. I didn't get to shoot that day, but had a place to shoot that is near by.

    So, today, I head to my new club. Only two other guys are on the rifle line. I was hoping no one would be there, cause I knew I'd look like someone new to the rifle. Never-the-less, I sat down & loaded up.

    A little background: The only other rifles I've ever shot were some .22lr - a bolt action with peep sights, and a semi-auto with a simple scope. Oh yea, and I have shot some trap with a 12ga, but only a couple of times.

    Anyway, back to my new lever...

    So, I loaded up, brought it up to my shoulder, held it firmly in place, and ...


    Ok, I meant to do that. Yep, intentional dry fire. I know exactly what I'm doing... Carry on, carry on...

    Let's see, I'll just flick this lever here like they do in those old westerns, sit back down, shoulder up, and fire.

    Wo, that hurt! Maybe I need to hold it a bit firmer to my shoulder.

    Nope, that didn't help.

    Second, third... forth shots still hurt like the dickens. I thought I was holding it correctly, like I'd see others shoot, but I couldn't lesson the jolt to my shoulder

    Ok, how to pad the blow, otherwise I'm going home... Hmmm, this here sand bag looks perfect!

    I set it between the stock & my sholder, (not the whole bag, just enough) and the next several shots are MUCH more bearable. I can't tell if I'm hitting the target, (100yds, iron sights) but I am hitting the berm. :)

    Did I mention there were a couple other shooters a few lanes down? Well, one of them appeared to be in his 70's, and had a thick European accent. German, Swiss, Polish - I don't know. Anyway, the older gent came over and kindly offered me several tips on how to handle & shoot my rifle.

    The first was to ditch the sand-bag. The next was to hold the stock firmly against my shoulder, but to "sit loose", and let the shot push me back a bit to absorb the recoil. Then, put the sand bag under the rifle to help stablize my shooting.

    Cool, all sounded good. I thanked him, repositioned, and fired off a few more rounds.

    Kind gentleman returns and says to put the sand bag under the front stock, not near the end of the barrel.

    Oh, ok - thanks again!

    A few more rounds, he returns, still kindly offering advice, and says to not have my hand holding the front stock while resting in the sand bag, but to just let the front stock rest directly on the sand bag. Let my off hand just sit on the bench.

    Oh, ok. Thanks yet again!

    He has a scope and offers to sight a few shots for me. I was now shooting at the iron "gongs" out at 200 yrds. I was pleased when I heard a "thudgong" while aiming for the large, 3ft (or 4ft) diameter target. Several times, actually. I also manage to hit a smaller, 2ft diameter target. Not every shot, but 3 out of 4 times. My spotter said I was shooting up & to the left. The wind was quite gusty, from left to right. So not bad, I guess.

    I know, some of ya'll probably scoff at anything less than a 2000 yards bullseye, but I was happy. Especially considering the front sight bead completely covered the 2ft target at that range, and this was my first time.

    Since I only had two boxes of 20rnds, I didn't get to shoot very long. But it was enough for the first day. I was in a good mood as I headed into work. It's probably a good thing I only had two boxes of ammo, otherwise I might have been late. :)

    Well, that's about it. Not an exciting story, but I'm stickin' to it!

    Here is a pic from Marlin's website of a model closest to mine. Mine has a different model number stamped on it, looks slightly used, has slightly different checkering, and a different front sight, but is otherwise identical.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2006
  2. ReadyontheRight

    ReadyontheRight Senior Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Minnesota - nine months of ice and snow...three mo
    You did a brave thing to go out and shoot with limited experience. It can be very intimidating.

    You've discovered a major secret of the gun culture. Most folks who shoot are the nicest people you will ever meet.

    Now you just have to get an M1 Garand, ditch the sandbags, learn to shoot prone, sitting and offhand and get out and shoot competitively! 99% of it is straightforward. The last 1% separates the real shooters from the "enthusiasts" like me. But it's all still a blast.

    You will not WIN (right away), but you will be suprised how much fun you will have and how well you do.

    Just always be safe.
  3. ReadyontheRight

    ReadyontheRight Senior Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Minnesota - nine months of ice and snow...three mo
    Or...just keep on shooting the 30-30. Great gun!

    But you will find that ammo will soon become expensive since there is no 30-30 military surplus ammo.
  4. lawson

    lawson Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    Chandler, AZ
    there's no "white box" or equivalent cheap range ammo for the .30-30 either, which is kind of a bummer if you don't reload (and i don't). i would shoot my Marlin a lot more often if ammo were cheaper. one of the nice things about the Marlin is that it's already drilled and tapped for a scope mount if that's your thing.

    you might want to consider a recoil pad if it's a bit painful for you. there are many available brands that are pre-fit and only require two screws to install.

    and yes, it can be intimidating for a newcomer at a range, but most shooters are the nicest folks you'll ever meet.
  5. Nathanael_Greene

    Nathanael_Greene Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2003
    Welcome to the 30-30 universe!

    My first lever-action rifle (and one of my first rifles) was a Marlin/Glenfield 30-30. They are great little rifles.

    And if you think a 30-30 is fun, get a Marlin 1894C in .357 magnum. Shooting .38 specials through it is like shooting a .22. There's virtually no recoil, it's not too loud, and you get a nice big hole in the paper.

    You might also want to check out www.marlinowners.com. Lots of good people and good information there!
  6. foghornl

    foghornl Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Lever Guns are FUN! :D :D :D :D

    Yeah, .30/30 ammo can get pricey. If you watch the sales at your local stores, you can sometimes find it for $8/20, and very rarely, $7/20.

    Last time I saw it for $7, I bought the last 5 boxes on the shelf.:evil:

    p.s. Unless you have the very short, tricked-out-with-big-loop-lever, don't try the "Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain 'The Rifleman' swoosh it by the lever" thingy. You WILL smack yourself in the face with your rifle....Never mind HOW I know..I just know
  7. Chipperman

    Chipperman Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Essex Co, MA
    Congrats on the new gun. Good on ya' for graciously accepting advice from an experienced shooter!
    You may want to make a .22 your next rifle, so you can practice trigger control, and make sure you don't develop a flinch from the .30-30.
  8. roscoe

    roscoe Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Get a recoil pad and shoot it a bunch. Spend time with it. Make it your own.

    If the recoil is still too much, you can get reduced recoil rounds that are for Cowboy Action shooters. But, with a recoil pad ($20 from Cabelas) it should not be so bad shooting 30-30.

    Incidentally, the 30-30 lever action is one of the most versatile rifles out there - good choice.
  9. David W. Gay

    David W. Gay Member

    May 7, 2004
    Of Recoil pads & Reloading

    A recoil pad is the first thing on my list. If I can't find one I like, I have this "stress" ball, thats not really a ball, and is made of some firm, gel type stuff. I might make it into a pad for the butt plate. I was going to go shooting this morning, but my shoulder is still too sore. Oh well, ammo is a bit pricey, and I don't want to spend all my spendin' money before the weekend. On the other hand, to save money, maybe I'll just go spend several hundred dollars on a reloading setup. If I'm not carefull, I could go broke just trying to save money. :)

    As for flinching, I was starting to, just a little, by the end of the shooting yesterday. Although, the rifle is much easier to control while flinching, compared to a pistol, due to how it's held. But, yea, I actually was thinking of getting another lever in .22 simply because it'd be much cheaper to shoot. But recoil & trigger discipline would be another benefit.

    As for a .357 lever, that's the caliber I really wanted, and the shop where I got mine from had one in .357, but it cost much more, and I'm a real cheep s.*.b. Of course, if I'd thought about it, in the long run, the .357 would be much cheeper to shoot, due to lower ammo cost. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to get one! You know, to "save" money, you gotta spend it. :)

    As for an M1 - it is on my wish list, along with at least a dozen other various firearms...

    Carry on!
  10. scooterthegreat

    scooterthegreat Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I remember my first time shooting something other than a .22 or .410. It was a 12 ga Rem 870 Express with 3" turkey load. The range we went to didn't have any benches so I had to just stand there. The boyfriend put the target up, gave me some pointers, and away I went. I was so afraid of the recoil and how loud it was going to be than not only did I let the butt get out of position on my shoulder, but I also flinched so badly when pulling the trigger that I took the recoil on the upper part of my bicept. He knew how much I hurt. With tears in my eyes (part from pain, part from embarassment) I put in another round... I fired only 3 rounds that day. We were going to go back the next day, but I showed him my arm. The bruise looked like someone had taken a black sharpie to my arm. We waited a week...

    One of the most important bits of advice that I have been given by an experienced shooter is: "Don't fear the recoil - Embrace the recoil - relax and breathe". Sounded pretty zen at the time, but after giving it some though, it makes a ton of sense. He also told me that there isn't anything wrong with a recoil pad on both the gun and your shoulder. I'm a pretty small person so I have had to modify most of the stocks on my guns and I always have a very good recoil pad put on. I have them on my 30-30, 300WSM, and both shotguns.

    I ran into the guy out at the range last fall. Thanked him for his advice as it really changed the way I shoot all my guns. He offered to let me take a shot with his new 375 H & H Magnum. I respectfully delined... He laughed - ;)
  11. whitedog

    whitedog New Member

    Apr 1, 2006
    Monarch Ammo @ Academy 30/30 about $5.00 a box
  12. Skofnung

    Skofnung Senior Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Atlanta Area
    Save your brass.

    Get a Lee loader

    A pound of powder (~$20.00 at a gunshow)
    Large Rifle Primers (~$20.00 per thousand)
    150 grain .308 caliber flat nose bullets (~$10.00 per hundred)

    You will end up with cheaper and more accurate ammo than factory, and you will be able to load your cartridges down to save your shoulder.

    You don't need to spend 200 bucks on a reloading setup at first... Though if the bug bites you...
  13. cavman

    cavman Senior Member

    Dec 16, 2005

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