Considering 357 Lever Action

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May 17, 2011
Columbia, SC
For a variety of reasons I am considering buying a lever action rifle/carbine chambered in .357 Magnum. I know very little about lever action rifles. I prefer the idea of side loading vs loading through the tube so I am ruling out Henry. Beyond that I don't know what factors to consider. I see Marlin has a line of lever guns in .357 in a couple of different configurations. Is old vs new really a factor?

I live in South Carolina so I don't need to take down grizzlys. I don't hunt. I have .357 revolvers and like the idea of cartridge commonality. I'm not interested in .45 Colt, 30-30, 45-70 or a Glock 26/19. This would be a what-if general purpose rifle that might travel with me to various states. An alternative to the scary black rifle but chambered in a round that has multiple applications including defense.

What do I need to know if I get serious about buying?
I doubt I would scope it. Chambered in .357 if I did hunt with it I would keep the distance to 100 yards or closer. I would be more likely to put a red dot on it which means the modern Marlin, right? But I'm not sold on the idea of a red dot.
I have an old Marlin 1894.
It won’t shoot .38 Spec they jam up. .357s shoot great all day long. Operator error? Perhaps. I have heard more people say that’s not a prob for them, but I’m not the only one with this prob.

For that reason my 1894 .44 RM (shoots specials just fine!) is one of my very favorite firearms. I put a peep sight on it and it shoots better than I do. When I bring a new buddy to the range I tell him to go to WM and buy a box. They keep trying to steal that gun. But I say, we’re at the range dummy, I’m armed!

The .357 is my fav caliber if you counted by how many I own. So,I’m 100% in favor of it in the Marlin.

I have one of the Rossi's, though not as good looking as ColtPython's sample. It is a great handy little carbine. It shoots awesome. I've shot more 38 Spcl than 357 through it. I think one of the things that helps in getting 38s to feed right is the bullet profile. I'm using plated RNFP and they work pretty well.

On a somewhat related note, I was looking at a 44 Mag Marlin at the LGS the other day. I'm on the fence as I don't own, nor plan to own any 44 Mag revolvers. If it would have been 45 Colt, it would be in my safe already. I do have a Ruger BH 7.5" in 45 Colt.
The Rossi is a fine gun, if you can find them, I've been looking for awhile now. My good friend has one and changed out the sites. It shoots much better now. Personally I like those guns with irons, no scopes. I've shot many lever guns though out the years, some good, some bad. They are what I grew up on. Just something simple and familiar about them to me. Even the worst ones can be tinkered with. To put that into perspective, I have a beautiful bolt gun that is the most temperamental gun I've ever owned.
I have a Rossi that I mounted a scout scope on for load work-up. It still hasn't been removed.
Buy any decent 357 lever action and you will love it.
I waited 10 years and wish i hadn't.
I have a Henry and it is a ton of fun to shoot. I imagine a Marlin is as well. I suspect I'll own a Marlin in 44 mag, or maybe 45-70 some day.
Like many, I wish the Henry had a loading gate. That said, don’t overlook it. They are fine rifles. Very smooth. The Henry, when empty, is one the slickest operating single shots you can imagine. If you throw a cartridge into the action through the ejection port in just about any orientation other than backwards, it will feed slick as grease. If you have an empty Henry and a handful of rounds, you are not unarmed. I do think my Henry Big Boy Steel, though lighter than the Brass/octagon version, is still a tad heavy for a .357. Maybe better suited to 44 mag, size wise. But, .357 leverguns are hard to come by these days. I’d still prefer a loading gate.

BTW, I also have a Miroku/Winchester 1892 in 357. It is just about perfect but very pricey and hard to find also. You can find various 1873 clones easy enough but again, they are pricey, heavy, and not overly strong (at least as I understand them).
You won’t really go wrong with either the Rossi or a Marlin. I searched for a pre-Remlin Marlin, and I paid a premium for that but I’m happy. It cycles .38’s as long as I go slow, if I speed up it’ll jam. .357’s can be fed smoothly at any speed.

The Rossi’s are nice too, but for some reason I just like the classic look of a Marlin lever action. It probably has more to do with my learning to shoot on dad’s 39a than anything else.
If you can find a pre cheapened out Puma/Rossi, they are fantastic carbines. Try to find one that has the front sight blade mounted on the barrel band, those didnt have all the corners cut that the newer ones have. Much better fit/finish.
I have a Marlin 1894C in .357 and love it. I shoot almost exclusively .38 loads and it's a hoot to shoot. It gets a little finicky with SWC bullets (still feeds though), but will run all day without a hickup using RNFP bullets in a .38 case which is what I use now. Super cheap to feed if you reload (I do). Like another poster said, if you can find an old one or a new one, I would buy it. I bought a recently made Marlin (Remlin to some) two years ago (an 1895 in 45-70) and it's build quality was equal to my 2006 1894.
For whatever reason, .357 leverguns have been scarce the past couple years. Pretty easy to find 44 magnums, but outside of Henry's (nothing wrong with those except for the lack of a loading gate) but .357s are pretty skimpy. At least that's my experience.
My Henry 357 is very fun and accurate, I don’t think you’ll regret whichever one you choose. Try a skinner peep site, they are much better than the factory buckhorns. My brother has a new Marlin 44 mag lever, it’s nice but not as smooth as the Henry.
For whatever reason, .357 leverguns have been scarce the past couple years. Pretty easy to find 44 magnums, but outside of Henry's (nothing wrong with those except for the lack of a loading gate) but .357s are pretty skimpy. At least that's my experience.

Marlin stopped making them for several years which made them scarce. On top of that my state opened up deer hunting to using pistol caliber rifles, so .357 lever actions were even that much more scarce around here for awhile.
image.jpeg I bought a Rossi model R 92 just three weeks ago in caliber .45 Colt. That crazy thing will even feed and eject empty cases! It is the 20 inch round barrel model. I paid right at $440 for it plus tax. My first Rossi/puma that I bought back in 1985 cost me a whopping total of $190 brand new!
Really can't go wrong with an older Marlin 1894C or a Rossi Model 1892, provided of course they check out okay. Got a great deal some years back on a used, but like new in the box, Rossi Model 1892 in .45 Colt. Goes perfectly with the three other .45 Colt revolvers that I have.

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I've got a couple Marlins in 357, one is pre-Rem the other a Remlin I messed with by converting it to a pistol grip stock.

I did buy a Rossi a few years back, it was an awful specimen. Not saying they all are like mine was. It was was worse than any Remlin I ever ran across which says it all.
I have a Rossi with a 16" barrel. It flawlessly feeds any 38 or 357 load I put in it. The only mod I've made is clip a bit from the magazine spring to make it easier to load. I think they use the same spring on longer barrels.
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