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View Full Version : Lever action - 30-30 or .45?


lincoln6echo
09-27-2011, 9:11 PM
I'd like to buy my first lever action for range and camping casual shoots and wanted some feedback. I'm looking at some Marlin's, Henry, etc but know very little about them so any feedback on recommended caliber, models, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks!

tuna quesadilla
09-27-2011, 9:15 PM
It sounds like you want it mostly for recreational purposes, so I say get one in a pistol caliber. I bought a .30-30 Winchester 94 because it was a great deal (who says I'm not an impulse buyer? :p) and I found the ammo just way too expensive to shoot recreationally.

.357 Magnum and .44 Magnum are both common chamberings for leverguns and they are much cheaper than the typical lever cartridges like .30-30, .45-70...

Grumpyoldretiredcop
09-27-2011, 9:19 PM
Just got a Rossi 16" in .45 Colt and like it. You may have to do some sight work with the pistol caliber lever actions. I had to cut about 1/3 off the rear sight to get it sighted in with Cowboy Action loads - low velocity loads tend to print high.

ojisan
09-27-2011, 9:25 PM
If you want to shoot over 100 yards, or need something for raiding bears in camp, a 30-30 is the choice over the pistol cartridges.
The 30-30, while not having the range of the .308 due to the bullet shape, is a hard hitter as the ammo for it has been highly refined over the years.
I think the Marlin 336s have the strongest action but they are not as light and easy handling as a Winchester 94.

The .38 Special / .357 Magnum; the .44 Mag and .45 Colt can all take down critters at shorter ranges, but getting hits much past 100 yards can be difficult.
Some people like the Rossi brand better for these rounds...I could not say.

Personally, I own a plane-jane 30-30 Win 94 with 20" barrel.
I'd like to get the 16" barreled Trapper model some day in .44 mag.
I always liked the shorty look and the .44 Mag does not kick much in a 6 pound rifle.

NYY
09-27-2011, 9:25 PM
i say NO for .30-30. reason? a couple. 1) ammo... idk about you, but best ammo i could find was MAYBE $15 for 20 rounds. non Soft points either.. that i can find. Because its mainly a hunting rifle (also, something about feeding in rounds would be harder? somethn like that.) 2) the things kicks like a B1TCH!! very powerful (my winchester model)... hurts more than my Mosin. Also depending on your model.. mine is a 94. the handguards, I burned my fingers easily on the barrel. UNLESS, for hunting, that 1 shot wont hurt you/burn you. Affter all, that cartridge is known for the most killings of any animal and known for majority of the Buffalo killings, if im not mistaken

OC-Indian
09-27-2011, 9:32 PM
44mag

robcoe
09-27-2011, 9:36 PM
I'd like to buy my first lever action for range and camping casual shoots and wanted some feedback. I'm looking at some Marlin's, Henry, etc but know very little about them so any feedback on recommended caliber, models, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks!

For a first, I would say a henry .22lr, to get you used to them. Besides, everyone can use another .22.

Then, probably a .30-30, just cause it's a fun round(I love my marlin model 3000)

then go for a .357/.38 so you can shoot it more, with more kick than the .22

then finish off with the .45-70

bob7122
09-27-2011, 9:38 PM
.30-30 would be good. it is a nice round for game, i don't think it will go past 300 yards accurately but it is a good round up to that distance imo. but .44 mag is also a nice big round but won't do well at longer distances past 100 yards. anything within 100yards though is in for a world of pain.

sevensix2x51
09-27-2011, 9:47 PM
.30-30! It is the quintessential levergun cartridge. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I looked at some online ammo vendors, and it seems that .45LC, .44mag, and .30-30 are all within a few dollars of each other, per hundred rounds of factory plinker ammo. YMMV, and it was just a quick look, but that was the impression i got.

kendog4570
09-27-2011, 10:35 PM
I LOVE the .45 Colt round, and have several guns in that caliber, but have never been able to get a rifle in that chambering to really shoot well, without a bunch of advanced reloading gyrations. 1873 Win clones, Henry's, Browning Low Walls, etc. So I sold them.
Dont have personal experience, but the folks that really wring out lever guns (Cowbot Action shooters) say the 44-40 is a better, more accurate round in the rifle. Something to do with the thinner brass working better at the operating pressures of the round.
Come to think of it, back in the day (1880's) the gun makers didnt offer the .45 Colt round in rifles or carbines. Maybe they figured out something back then? There sure would have been a market for one. Almost every gun was offered in 44 WCF though.

The .357 Mag in a Win 92 frame is a ton of fun, but the same gun in .44 Mag will kill at both ends. The 30-30 is a respectable game cartrige, but kicks a little in a 94 carbine. The 45-70 is awesome no matter which way you load it. All of them are much better if you reload. Lead bullets open up a whole new horizon.

Guess you'll have to get one of each!!

PanaDP
09-27-2011, 10:37 PM
If it's for fun stuff like that, I'd get it in .357 or .45 colt and get a matching-caliber single action revolver.

Dark Mod
09-27-2011, 10:44 PM
Im not a big fan of pistol cartridges in rifles. if you want a 44 mag get a handgun, why carry around the extra weight of a rifle when you could shoot the same round almost as acurately in a concealable and for more wieldy revolver. if you want a lever action rifle get a proper rifle, you cant go wrong with a Marlin 336c 30-30. If you want something with alot more bang you can go with a .45-70 but 30-30 will be able to handle just about anything.

I dont think any other caliber has taken as many whitetail deer as the good old 30-30

PanaDP
09-27-2011, 10:47 PM
why carry around the extra weight of a rifle when you could shoot the same round almost as acurately in a concealable and for more wieldy revolver.

Because it's fun.


but 30-30 will be able to handle just about anything.

I dont think any other caliber has taken as many whitetail deer as the good old 30-30

He wants it for camping fun shoots and range trips. Pretty sure a pistol cartridge can "handle" those tasks just fine and for roughly half the cost per shot.

eric2063
09-27-2011, 10:48 PM
FWIW I have a Marlin 1894 Trapper model in .44 mag and I absolutely love it. You can shoot the .44 special rounds for fun or the full bore magnum if you want and it doesn't have much kick to it at all, and under 100 yds it will put a serious hurt on an intruder. And you can own a rifle and a pistol in the same caliber for logistical ease if you want to as well, like reloading, and it adds to the fun of a day plinking.
My short list of future buys inculdes another Marlin in .357 mag but I might have to push it down the list for one in .35 Remington, or .35 Whelen if I can find such a beast, for short distance/heavy cover elk and deer hunting once we complete our move to Northern Idaho next month and the budget recovers some.
One can never have too many Springfield and lever action rifles :D

tuna quesadilla
09-27-2011, 10:58 PM
Im not a big fan of pistol cartridges in rifles. if you want a 44 mag get a handgun, why carry around the extra weight of a rifle when you could shoot the same round almost as acurately in a concealable and for more wieldy revolver.

According to my 7th Edition Hornady handbook, a 240gr pill out of a 7.5" Redhawk (and that's a BIG revolver) can be loaded up to 1350fps, whereas the exact same bullet out of an 18" carbine with a slower-burning powder is good for 1700fps. You get a 25% increase in velocity in a package that is FAR easier to shoot accurately than a handgun, not to mention the tiny amount of recoil out of a pistol-caliber carbine (have you ever fired a full-power .44 Mag load out of a revolver?) :eek:

Yes the "real" lever rifle calibers will give you even more power and better ballistics, but please don't downplay the benefits of a pistol-caliber carbine either. :)

tuna quesadilla
09-27-2011, 11:00 PM
.30-30! It is the quintessential levergun cartridge. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I looked at some online ammo vendors, and it seems that .45LC, .44mag, and .30-30 are all within a few dollars of each other, per hundred rounds of factory plinker ammo. YMMV, and it was just a quick look, but that was the impression i got.

Unless something has changed since I owned my .30-30, the very cheapest .30-30 ammo was still in the $12-14 range for a box of 20, while you could buy a box of 50 .38s or .44s for just a few bucks more.

lincoln6echo
09-27-2011, 11:05 PM
Thanks for the feedback folks! Sounds like the 30-30 is a pretty safe choice allowing for a bit more ease in the accuracy dept and more options if I wanted to expand intended use for it. I love the idea of the .22 and was eyeballing the Mare's Leg but to start I think I'd rather consider something along the 30-30, .357 and .44 lines. Most of what I had in mind would be >100yds but if the .45 is a PITA to shoot well even at that distance I think I'll skip it.

bob7122
09-27-2011, 11:12 PM
a mare's leg in .44 mag or .30-30 would be even better.

nyc71
09-27-2011, 11:48 PM
For a first, I would say a henry .22lr, to get you used to them. Besides, everyone can use another .22.

Then, probably a .30-30, just cause it's a fun round(I love my marlin model 3000)

then go for a .357/.38 so you can shoot it more, with more kick than the .22

then finish off with the .45-70

I like your thinking, I have the first three but I want to add the 45c & 44 mag to the family instead of the .45-70.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"- Benjamin Franklin

sevensix2x51
09-28-2011, 7:39 AM
Unless something has changed since I owned my .30-30, the very cheapest .30-30 ammo was still in the $12-14 range for a box of 20, while you could buy a box of 50 .38s or .44s for just a few bucks more.

You can still get 20rd of thirty thirty for $15, but .44 is like 30bucks a box, and 45LC is even more.

Biigg50
09-29-2011, 5:54 PM
I have a Winchester 94ae Saddle ring carbine in 45lc. It is my all time favorite woods gun. I can shoot lite loads in it or I can load it with real heavy loads that out power the 44mag! It is devastating on wild hogs or deer and black bears.
For fun I also have a Marlin 1894 src in 357/38 with internal parts by Wild West guns and it is very fun and accurate as well as a good deer gun. Loaded with Buffalo Boar heavy cast loads it is awesome!
I also have good revolvers chambered in both for back up if needed.

paul0660
09-29-2011, 6:05 PM
It's all good. If you trade in your brass you can get .30-30 for half a buck each. .357 and .44 mag are not much less. The rifle round is going to be more accurate, and more useful if you do go hunting, or the guy you sell it to does.

smittty
09-29-2011, 6:10 PM
lever actions in handgun calibers such as 357mag/38sp and 44mag/44sp are generally fussy about cartridge length. One exception seems to be the 45lc but ammo pricing is right up there with 30-30.

I bought 3 model 92's before getting lucky with one that fed both 357mag and 38sp. I have 1 in 45lc that runs perfectly as well as a tuarus thunderbolt in same caliber that also runs perfectly. Marlin has same issues.

For those reasons I suggest a lever in 45lc or 30-30, regardless of model or brand.

scarville
09-29-2011, 7:20 PM
I like the Marlin 1894 in either 44 magnum or 357 (1894C). Both the 357 and 44 magnum cartridges gain a lot in the longer barrels. For example a 158 gr JSP that makes 1200 fps from my Model 28 w/4" bbl will top 1700 fps from my Marlin w/18.5" bbl. MPBR on that load is about 125 yards and at that distance is still moving at about 1200 fps. If you want to use lighter bullet the 125 gr 357 magnum cranks over 2000 fps in the longer barrel. I chrono'ed some Federal 125 gr right at 2100.

You can usually shoot 38 spl in the 357 models (and 44 spl in the 44 models) but watch the cartridge OAL. For that and a couple of other reasons, I prefer to use light handloads in 357 cases when I want something for small game or for light duty plinking. You can two-load short cartridges but only with an otherwise empty magazine.

The biggest problem right now with the 1894 is Marlin doesn't seem to be making them.

The 30-30 -- mine is a Marlin 336 -- is a better cartridge than some people give it credit for. It pack about the same punch as the 7.62X39 and, as other have pointed out, the 30-30 loaded with 150 gr FP has killed a lot of deer.

Personally if I was looking for an all around camp carbine and general plinker I'd go with a 357 with the 44 a close second. I prefer the Marlin actions but I know levergun shooters who think the Winchester 92 or 94 clones are the bees knees.

jimmykan
09-29-2011, 7:42 PM
... why carry around the extra weight of a rifle when you could shoot the same round almost as acurately in a concealable and for more wieldy revolver.

Because the longer barrel of a lever action rifle completely transforms the magnum revolver cartridges into beasts!

The standard 357 Magnum 158-grain JHP load generates about 1250 fps in 6-inch barrel revolver.

The same load out of an 16-inch barrel rifle generates 1750 fps!

In 44 Magnum, going from 6-inch to 16-inch barrel, the 180-grain JHP is taken from 1850 fps to 2200 fps!

That's more energy than than the 30-30 at closer ranges.

Quinc
09-29-2011, 7:45 PM
357/38 Rossi. About 400$ for the gun and when you want to just plink .38 ammo is cheap. If you want it for protection/hunting the .357 will take care of you.

tuna quesadilla
09-29-2011, 8:38 PM
You can still get 20rd of thirty thirty for $15, but .44 is like 30bucks a box, and 45LC is even more.

Oh ok.

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ItemDetail.aspx?sku=74085

:)

Which Way Out
09-29-2011, 8:58 PM
I like my Glennfield Model 30 by Marlin in 35 Remington.

The cost to shoot is High but lots of fun. I just break it out once in a while. Also had some custom ammo made for it thats non lead in case I get a chance to do some hunting.
Custom ammo was $130 for 40 rounds.

RAMCHARGER
09-30-2011, 12:10 PM
Honestly I like my Marlin in .357 better than the .45 or a .30/30.

My Marlin in 45 Colt, using cowboy loads sounded like mouse farts. I have to run max loads so they dont feel like a 255 grain bb gun :). My youngest son liked it so much I gave it to him when he graduated HS.
I sold my .30/30 336 Marlin when I bought a .303 Brit.

Quinc
09-30-2011, 12:33 PM
You can still get 20rd of thirty thirty for $15, but .44 is like 30bucks a box, and 45LC is even more.

$27.99 per 50rds of both .44 and .45LC
http://www.slickguns.com/product/fed-ammo-44-mag-240gr-jhp-american-eagle-50b-20c-2799-495-flat-rate-shipping

basalt
09-30-2011, 3:25 PM
Thanks for the feedback folks! Sounds like the 30-30 is a pretty safe choice allowing for a bit more ease in the accuracy dept and more options if I wanted to expand intended use for it. I love the idea of the .22 and was eyeballing the Mare's Leg but to start I think I'd rather consider something along the 30-30, .357 and .44 lines. Most of what I had in mind would be >100yds but if the .45 is a PITA to shoot well even at that distance I think I'll skip it.

I was going to say .45 colt (or if you already have a revolver in another caliber go with that) until you said over 100 yards mostly. 30-30 for sure then. It has some pop to it, but it is fun to shoot. I would still rather plink with a .45 colt lever gun at <100 yards than the 30-30 >100.

Be sure to think about where/what you will be shooting and if it is really going to be >100. A modern revolver+modern lever gun with Buffalo Bullets packs a major punch and normal .45LC loads have no kick.

BajaJames83
09-30-2011, 3:31 PM
if its just for plinking id get .357

sevensix2x51
09-30-2011, 3:52 PM
Oh ok.

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ItemDetail.aspx?sku=74085

:)

I'd rather set my car on fire than buy anything from CTD.

And I like my car.

BlackonBlack
09-30-2011, 3:58 PM
I have a Marlin lever action 30-30 and I just love that rifle. Tons of fun to shoot plus I like the old style rifles. When it comes to caliber I would say it depends on how many other rifles you own. If you have severl others, a pistol caliber might be something unique to add to your collection. Me personally I don't like the idea of pistol caliber rifles unless its something far more modern and out of the scope of what you were looking to buy. If you were to get one lever gun why not the typical 30-30 configuration.

sargenv
09-30-2011, 4:11 PM
You can reload mouse fart loads in the 30-30 nearly as cheaply as the 357.. 165 gr cast as opposed to 158 gr cast.. 3-6 gr fast burning powder as opposed to.. about the same in the 30-30.. the difference is that you can load the 30-30 to full power but the 357 doesn't have the same power as the 30-30 no matter what you do.

cqbdude
09-30-2011, 4:40 PM
Get the .357/.38 trapper model....if you just want to plink on the cheap.
Then if you want more power, get the .44mag lever.
You can pair it with your favorite revolvers...

Here is a thread I started awhile back..

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=6094347&postcount=1

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=6094350&postcount=2

I have been shooting the .357/38 Marlin trapper and its fun..and you can shoot it at your local indoor range...and you dont get pounded by the bigger calibers..

And if you have kids they can shoot it too..or lady friends for that matter.

mcisniper
09-30-2011, 5:39 PM
I have a Winchester 30-30 carbine. LOVE IT! Great all around rifle; plinking or taking deer. I dont notice the recoil and its not very heavy either.

just my 2 cents.

Michael

gun toting monkeyboy
09-30-2011, 6:07 PM
.30-30 does not kick like a mule. And soft point ammo is easy to find. Even during the darkest days of the Obama scare, you could still walk into ANY Walmart and buy a box for $14. If you plan on hunting, .30-30 is the way to go. With a modern rifle and modern ammo, you can knock down deer to 200-250 yards easy.

If you are just going to mostly plink and have fun with it, .357 is the cheapest centerfire lever action you will find in terms of ammo costs. I have one in .45 Colt mainly because that is the same caliber as my Cowboy Action Shooting revolvers. It is accurate out to about 130 yards, but really starts to drop off after that.

And, as some of the others have mentioned, .22 lever guns are just so darned much fun. You can shoot all day for $20.