First lever action. Which caliber? Which brand?

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2008? Is that when Remington bought them out? I have had fits with Remington rifles. What did they screw up on the Marlins? I don't think the 30-30 has more "power" then the 44, more KE sure, but twice the mass, and twice the frontal area make up for the energy difference I think.
Kachok, first off, welcome to the wonderful world of lever action!! You have received many good replies with great advise. My own little 2 cents would be, since you reload, go with the .444. It has plenty of horsepower to drop anything on 4 legs where you hunt (the biggest of hogs will be your main concern) and it does a dandy job on deer out to 200 yards all day. I have killed more than 60 hogs with mine and many bucks and does and an asian water buffalo at a little over 150 yards loaded up with factory Rem corelocs. The .45/70 would be some serious over kill for your area and your shoulder would thank you for not getting it being you are a smaller fella. You can also get hornady's FTX bullets (the ones with the polymer tip) for reloading which is what the leverevolution are topped off with. Or you can make up some great hard casts that will lay the smackdown on any hog that walks with the .444. I've had one in my rack since I was 18 right alongside my .30/30 (which has taken many hogs and deer as well with no complaints whatsoever) and I can honestly say, anything I have pulled the trigger on with my .444 has died with little to no blood trailing needed. A lot of people are under the misconception that the little old .44cal pistol bullet wont penetrate well and I am here to say HORSEPUCKY to that bunch of malarcky. It does a fine job in both penetration as well flat out knock them on their butt horsepower. Sorry my 2 cents turned into a quarter :) Good luck with your decision and happy hunting.
I'll see if I can find a good source of 444 brass around here. I have yet to find any, but I was not looking hard for it either. Do the marlin 444s have those microgroovs? Would I have to find an older model to shoot hardcast?
Never had a problem out of mine with hardcast but some people do seem to have problems. I don't cast them myself. I have a friend in PA that makes up some 260gr hardcasts on occasion for me and they group dead on with my flat nose sierras. I have found that they do better after a good copper fouling cleaning of the barrel before I range them in. Of course my .444 is not a range rifle. I go sight it in if I am making up a new load or just tinkering so not a ton of rounds go through it. If I remember correctly, my pre 1964 .444 had ballard rifling but that went to my oldest boy a while back and my middle son just adopted my newer one with the micro. Damn kids are running me outta rifles! I'll see if I can find you a good cheap source of brass. I have found that rem brass seems to do the best for reloads on the hot side. Hornady brass is a bit on the pricey side but it also performs very well on hot loads. As was stated earlier, that leverevolution factory load is damn nice and does lay the smackdown on a deer. Does very well on hogs too. And not much more, if any, than typical factory ammo. But I dare say, the Rem coreloc ammo for it has performed exceptionally well for me on both deer and hogs. Cheap, easily found, and also leaves really good brass for playing with later.
I say the Mossberg 464. I have both a Winchester '94 and a Mossberg and the Mossberg's action is much smoother. If I had to get rid of one it would be the Mossberg for sure only because the Winchester, well.... it's a Winchester.

People are going to say I'm crazy or pick the others because they just can't handle change. I will not reply to the Mossberg haters because I'm to tired to argue.

good luck
i don't want to step on anybody's pinkies. or start some pi$$ing match. but other than plinking, or small game, i could never understand the whole pistol caliber lever gun thing, i am sure they are a lot of fun to shoot, just not at larger game. i guess if you want to keep things short, and give yourself a "see how close i can get" challenge. then it could be ok. but in the field, it is very easy to misjudge distances. and just wounding an animal, especially a hog, is never a good idea.
Ummm have you ever seen a 454 hit a hog or deer? Trust me it is nothing like poping them with a 45ACP. You are talking about a 300gr bullet at 1650fps in a handgun, add a hundred or so fps for a carbine length barrel and that is one heck of a wallop. Dropping deer or hogs within 100yd is not even a slight stretch of the imagination, people hunt brown bear and water buffalo with them. KE is not the be all end all of wounding potential; mass, momentum and caliber have alot to do with it as well.
My personal choice would definitely be a slightly used Marlin in .30-30. However, based on your criteria I would suggest again a slightly used Marlin in either .444 or .45-70. Since you said you reload the cost and availability of these two calibers isn't an issue and both will deal with most any medium to large game in NA. I'd just shop around and buy whichever one you find a good deal on first.
I bought a damaged 336C in 30-30 for $150.
Trimmed the damaged barrel back, cut an inch off of the badly damaged stock and added a scout rail, 4x scout scope and a peep sight.
30-30 works very well for any game animal in my area of central Texas and it is a very practical truck gun.
The only reason I would go with a pistol caliber rifle is to match it to a pistol I carried daily. Other than that I don't see the advantage.
It did feel good to take a great old rifle that was essentially junk and breathe new life in to it again.
Here's the low down on the 45/70 per Frank. The only cartridge I can think of that has more possible variations is the 30/06. It can be loaded from mild to wild and everything in between. With 525 grain piledrivers from buffalo bullets it will simply create more recoil than any sane human being wants to even think of. Loaded mild at 900 fps with 300 gr bullets its a kitten. The Marlins are extremely accurate, quite often producing less than MOA 5 shot groups. Also very light and short. With it and a 06 in my battery I'm good to go for anything in North America including the BIG bears. I've had a 45/70 in one form or another for over 45 years and have never regretted it. Frank
I like the .358 Winchester cartridge a lot but the only lever-action rifle left still chambered in this round that I know of is the Browning BLR (if even it still is). Two nice but long discontinued and hard to find (with correspondingly high price tags) lever-action rifles chambered in .358 are the over fifty year old Winchester Model 88 and the over 100 year old (and as "classic" as you can get) Savage Model 99. Either one, in my estimation, is worth "saving up for".
If you look hard enough you can find A Marlin 336 ER in .356 win.
Or just go with A 45-70. Sweet guns. A little recoil won't hurt ya. I'm about 150 lb and my favorite load is the 525gr Beartooth Pile driver over A healthy dose of RL7. Here is my GS
I own three Marlin lever guns; a 336C in 30-30, a 336C in 35 Remington and an 1894 44 Mag. They each have their strengths with limited range their common weakness. Within 200 yards the 30-30 with the new Leverevolution ammo is only a few hundred feet per second slower than the 308. The 44Mag is comparatively inexpensive to shoot, has plenty of ammo capacity holding 10 rounds in the magazine and within 100 yards is excellent deer, pig or black bear medicine. The best of the three, particularly if close encounters with pigs or bears is in your future is the 35 Remington. Experienced users universally testify that the 35 kills way out of proportion to its' paper ballistics. It is particularly favored up North where heavy brush and a lot of hunters on public land places a premium on anchoring your quarry on the spot. The 35 Remington ammo is readily available everywhere and the recoil is surprising mild for the power output. It would be a mistake to overlook the 35.
35 Remington - I'll third this suggestion. A bit more lead and they are out there in the used racks.

I used to have all three of the old school - Savage 99, Marlin 336, and Win 94. Sold the 94 as it kicked harder than the others due to real light weight and old stock with too much drop. The 336 is a bit heavier, but easy to break down and clean from the breech. I kept it and scoped it.

The 99 is another class all by itself. Mine's in 308, but there are lots of other choices. It's an investment as they ain't building any more of them and fun gun to shoot and hunt. One with good peeps might be just what your looking for?

If a later model rifle is in the offing, I'd likely go with Marlin 444. It'll knock a big hog or bear flat down. They been selling them for a long time and for good reason.
if you want something definitely different,, maybe a Marlin 336 or a Win m94 rebarreled to 7-30 Waters

The 7-30 waters is an overlooked round IMO. And if your reloading then ammo shouldnt be a problem.
I have and love my Browning B-92 in 44mag, great toting little rig. I have taken a few hogs with but do think something with a bit more oomph would be reassuring. A new off the shelf would probably be a Marlin in 35 Rem using the Hornady Lever Revolution stuff. I reload but not for my lever. If used was okay a Savage 99 in 300 Savage or 308 would get strong looks.
There are a pile of used lever guns out there, and if i was buying a Marlin, i'd take an older used Marlin over a new one any day!

I remember seeing lots of posts about this. Two questions:

1) When exactly did Remington take over and screw up the Marlin lever-actions?
2) How can I tell if a Marlin 336 I'm looking at is "pre-Remington" (eg, good to go)?
One word...


I have had Marlins in .357, .44 and .30-30 over the years. My .30-30 Model 30AW has been in my hands for over 20 years. My 30AW came with uncheckered wood, attached sling and the 'gold' trigger
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