Thursday, September 02, 2010

Classic 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. Most (if not all) of the movie credits you show should go to a '92 and not the '94.

  2. Anonymous12:19 PM

    My Shoot'n buddy has a Winchester lever gun(post-64)that he keeps say he will sale to me. But he never seems to want to part with it.