Friday, August 31, 2012

Lever Guns

This excellent post from Brigid got me thinking lever guns.

So here are my three: Top to bottom, a Winchester Model 94 in .30-30 (pre-1964, of course), a Marlin 1894 in .357 which has been mentioned here all too often before, and a Henry .22 that I've also boasted about.

The Winchester was once that I found in a shop some years back, in such bad shape that the owner was about to break it up for parts. I got it cheap and spent the time and effort to find the appropriate replacement parts and it cleaned up good and returned to action suitably reliably enough that I now consider it one of my backpacking rifles, carrying it afield for enjoyment and self-defense. Now it's been joined in that role by the Marlin, which has the advantage of my also having pistols in .357 Magnum, which allow me to carry a common cartridge for both while benefiting from the size of the pistol and the range and increased power of the rifle. I always backpack camp with a rifle and these days I lean towards the lever guns as they don't scare the wanna-be druid eco-freaks and assorted bunny-huggers that one meets on the trails. They see a black rifle and they get all upset, but a wood-stocked lever gun? Few people have an issue with those, even though they hit just as hard and shoot just as fast as an AR-15.

The Henry's just a fun little plinker that I enjoy playing with. I also used it to teach my nephew The Spud to shoot, and it was worth buying it for that alone. Like the other two rifles, it was defective when I bought it on impulse at a local pawn shop, but a simple phone call to the company got it a trip back to the factory for a complete rebuild at no cost to me, even though it was just a used .22. I'll tout Henry Repeating Arms' customer service every chance I get.

I like my lever guns. They're light, feel good in the hand and at the shoulder, and they balance well. Also, a good shooter can keep topping off the mag tube while firing, often preventing the rifle from ever running empty. They also evoke memories of the old-school movie heroes, men like John Wayne, James Stewart, Richard Widmark, and Randolph Scott. Even real heroes like Audie Murphy and Ronald Reagan toted these rifles across the silver screen at times. Lever guns have an aura of class and history that few other firearms can claim, and that's why even though I have my choice of modern semi-auto rifles, I prefer a lever gun on my hikes afield; they're what real men carry.


  1. My brother-in-law has been using his lever-action .30-30 (Win. '94, of course) to hunt white-tail in Missouri for over 30 years. It's never failed him yet.

  2. I'll offer a toast to the lever guns!

    My next, when finances allow, will be a mare's leg version.

  3. AND they are just plain fun!!! Just don't shoot a damn boar between the eyes with one, all you'll do is piss him off! BTDT, lost the t-shirt climbing the tree!

  4. I've got a Marlin 1894 and a 336, and just love them both.
    A lever gun just isn't "threatening" even though they'll still blow the beejesus out of stuff!

  5. ONFO - I'm assuming you're talking about just the ones shown: .30-30, .357, .22.

    I'm pretty certain that Buffalo Bore's .444 Marlin heavy, or .45-70 "Magnum"¹ loads, in excess of 3000 ft/lbs, would allow you to keep your shirt.

    ¹ Of course, not intended for Allin conversions/Trapdoor actions.

  6. One comment on the Model 94. Do not have a round in the chamber and the hammer down. Use the "safety" 1/4 cocked position. Drop one butt first and it can slam fire. Happened to a man I loaned mine. He had it butt down in the pickup foot well, opened the door, rifle fell out butt first, went off, and put a hole in the roof. He had powder burns on his face.

  7. Been wanting a lever gun in .357 to go with my SP101.

    Then I can get the reloading stuff for .357...


  8. The Donald, yep, 30-30... sigh... Always bring ENOUGH gun!!!

  9. Anonymous9:54 PM

    My favorite of the lever gun variety is the virtually unknown 1887 Winchester shotgun. I got to shoot one long before the T2 movie and fell in love with the sheer wackiness of it. Oh my god, is that strange, strange gun. It handles surprisingly well for such a clunky-looking machine.

    And, while The Duke is right up there as an alltime favorite, his terrifying use of his large-loop 92 to 'point' at things and people terrifies me anytime I watch any of his movies... I just want to duck. "So, Pilgrim..."

    Me: "Gyah! Point that thing downrange!"

  10. I have a Henry in .44. Great gun. I'd love to get a Winchester pattern in .357 or .44. Unfortunately, you have to find Marlins used as the new ones have serious quality issues.

  11. The problem with the boar shot in the head was strictly the bullet, not the cartridge. A hard cast, blunt nosed lead alloy bullet would have penetrated right through. Hell, I've dropped big piggies with that same .357 Marlin that this blog owner uses, only with hard cast 180 grain bullets.

    I also have a Brazilian clone of the 1892 Winchester in .45 Colt that will shoot JHPs for deer and hard cast 300+ grain bullets faster than the old BP level buffalo guns.

    For the non handloader, there is always Buffalo Bore.

  12. Love them only got 3 now a 38/40 Model 92 made in 1903 a 38/55 and a 44/40 had a 30/30 and a New Win 92 in 45LC always rifles dont like carbine's.