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Centerfire Rifles - Manually Operated Lever action, bolt action or other non gas operated centerfire rifles.

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  #1  
Old 08-09-2019, 6:23 AM
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Default Lever Action?

I am considering picking up a lever action rifle. Always rather liked these, but a few questions, which are no doubt somewhat naive...

1) Opinions on home self defense weapon? Seems like the compact size, decent mag capacity (varies), rapid cocking, and wide range of cartridges available could make it fairly formidable. I don't know about potential jamming, but perhaps less chance of that vs a semi-auto? Also, it is not compromised in any way (so far) vs an AR type, under CA laws.

2) The gun appears lightweight, with no cushioned butt pad on many lever actions I see, so expect recoil to be heavy (depending on cartridge). Comments welcome.

3) When it comes to accuracy who makes the best? Marlin, Henry, etc..? Does anyone make aftermarket octagonal barrels? Can they be changed out by a gunsmith?

4) Is the lever design inherently accurate? Some have hammers, some do not...as I understand it. Pros and cons.

I was thinking of something using a 357/38 Special round or 44 Mag/44 Special. Probably with some sort of optics as my eyesight is no longer great.

Thanks,

Phil
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  #2  
Old 08-09-2019, 6:38 AM
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As far as new production goes, I’d get one of the stainless Marlin 1894s for the use you are describing, probably in 357 mag. They come with a rail that would simplify optic mounting.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:48 AM
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I can only give an opinion on #1 and #2.

If you are considering .357 or .44 you are really shooting a magnum handgun round from a rifle. As such, the recoil is manageable. IMO .44 is more recoil than .223 perhaps but certainly nothing like a large rifle round so the recoil pad isn't necessary. If you wanted one you have the option to install one aftermarket in most cases.

Home defense... over penetration may be an issue, cocking in tight spaces may be an issue. Other than that I don't see any problems. Personally I would take a HD shotgun over a lever action.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:50 AM
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Go with a side gate loader. Rather cumbersome and stupid design loading a rifle by unscrewing a tube at the front of the barrel. That nixes Henry's.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:51 AM
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I'd use mine for SD/HD. Either of the calibers that you listed would do the job. They are in the seven pound range and swing well; quick to shoulder and point.

Accuracy is more dependent upon the shooter than the manufacturer but plenty good enough for SD/HD accuracy. Recoil isn't an issue at all in 38/357. 44 isn't punishing. If you already own a handgun in your listed calibers, that's what I would go with.

The Henrys and Marlins are side eject, meaning you can easily mount an optic on the top of the receiver. The Winchesters are top eject so no optic can be easily mounted on top of the receiver. Other options are available however.

The big lever action debate is tube fed (Henry) vs loading gate (Marlin and Winchester). And, Marlin's quality control. Henry now offers a gate fed lever in a couple of calibers.

Henry's fit/finish, wide selection and lifetime warranty are exceptional. If you like "mechanical" things, the Winchester is a work of art.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
Go with a side gate loader. Rather cumbersome and stupid design loading a rifle by unscrewing a tube at the front of the barrel. That nixes Henry's.
Here we go... simply a preference. Side loading gates are a PITA! slow. The tube type magazine works flawlessly. Also tube type much easier to unload. BTW Henry now makes side gate loader.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:59 AM
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Iíve got an 1894 in .357 and another in stainless .44. Both at JM stamped Marlins. They both shoot really well and are very accurate. I have an XS scope mount with a Leupold X II Scout IER scope on the .357. I have had jamming issues in the past. Found itís from one or two screws loosening up. A solid breakdown and cleaning and some locktite has made them very reliable.

Recoil is not bad for either round. (357/44 Mags or specials). Iíd suggest one in .357. 38 special is cheap and plentiful for having fun. .44 mag is expensive and I never come across .44 special and when I do it seems like itís more expensive than mags.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie50 View Post
...BTW Henry now makes side gate loader...
The Henry side gate loaders also include the removable tube magazine for easy unloading.

Unfortunately, the side gate is currently limited to 3 calibers (30-30 Win, .38-55 Win & .35 Rem). Can't wait for them to add it to a .38/.357 version.

https://www.henryusa.com/rifles/side-gate-lever-action/
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  #9  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
Go with a side gate loader. Rather cumbersome and stupid design loading a rifle by unscrewing a tube at the front of the barrel. That nixes Henry's.


Not so quick there! They are coming out with one. Iím looking forward to hearing about reviews.

https://www.range365.com/henry-relea...e-gate-rifles/
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  #10  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:29 AM
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I’ve got 16” Rossi 92 levers in both .357 and .44. The .357 is my wife’s favourite rifle.

The .44 gives considerably more kick than the .357. And shooting 38’s out of it feels like a pop gun. Plus .44 means more chance of over penetrating. I don’t use either as HD guns myself but if I was going to use a lever I’d take the .357 loaded with 38’s.
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  #11  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:33 AM
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You need to practice a bit for speedier shooting.
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  #12  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:37 AM
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I'm interested in the Henry Long Ranger model in 223/5.56 since that is the ammo I have the most of.

https://www.henryusa.com/rifles/the-long-ranger/

I'd hate to start with a new caliber under today's ammo laws, etc.

Good luck on your quest.

Respectfully
Kyle
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  #13  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:44 AM
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I've had opportunity to try Browning BLR's in 223 a few times; they were a lot of fun to shoot.

They use a box magazine which is a lot faster than a tube or side gate style.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle1886 View Post
I'm interested in the Henry Long Ranger model in 223/5.56 since that is the ammo I have the most of.

Respectfully
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  #14  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:52 AM
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I have two Henry's. One in .357, 20" octagon barrel, other a .45 Colt, 20" round barrel. Tube fed. They take a little getting used to, but, who hasn't loaded a tube fed .22 rifle? No time flat, its second nature. The Henry Big Boy Steel come in .357/38spl, .41 mag, .44 mag/44spl, .45 Colt and .327.
Lots to choose from.
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  #15  
Old 08-09-2019, 8:32 AM
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my fav rifle is my Chiappa imported by Taylors, its a '92 takedown copy of the Winchester with octagonal barrel in .45Colt. By far my favorite rifle, I do own a Henry also in .45Colt but I have not shot it since I got the '92
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Old 08-09-2019, 8:51 AM
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I have a Browning 92 in .357. Although I don't use it as a defense gun I would think it would be a decent one.

I would go for the .357 version of a lever gun. Couple that with a .357 revolver and you would be set!

The .44 is nice, but pricey to shoot. I had a Browning 92 in 44 mag too. Sold it.
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  #17  
Old 08-09-2019, 11:35 AM
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44mag noticably more recoil than a 357 in lever carbine. I have Marlin 1894c in 357 and 1894p (ported barrel and factory recoil pad) in 44.
If you reload you can load rifle loads hotter than factory revolver ammo. I was happily amazed that 44mag with the right rifle load out of a 18" barrel carbine could punch through a 1/4" thick cold steel plate at 100 yards.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
Go with a side gate loader. Rather cumbersome and stupid design loading a rifle by unscrewing a tube at the front of the barrel. That nixes Henry's.
Not necessarily.

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  #19  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:04 PM
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Years ago I bought a minty 357 Marlin 1894 carbine built in the 80's from another calgunner. Still got it, only lever I own.

It's great with 357 but it doesn't feed 38spl reliably. From what I've read it's the dreaded "Marlin Jam." Pretty nasty, I have to take it apart to get the round out.

I'm with those that suggest going with a loading gate model, tube loading gets annoying fast.

Midwest and XS make some cool rails for Marlins if you want to properly modernize one.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:06 PM
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Considering the application OP has proposed, anyone use a HD round in their lever?
Like Critical Defense or Underwood?
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vino68 View Post
Considering the application OP has proposed, anyone use a HD round in their lever?
Like Critical Defense or Underwood?
Can't say as I have. But, nobody wants a .45 Colt from a rifle coming at 'em.
That is a fact. Or a .357 for that matter.
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Old 08-09-2019, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vino68 View Post
Considering the application OP has proposed, anyone use a HD round in their lever?
Like Critical Defense or Underwood?
Yes, didn't seem drastically different from plinking loads. Both Critical Defense and Barnes 225gr XPB lead free from Buffalo bore. The Buffalo bore lead free seemed to feed a little better/easier. Recoil wise it was not much different than a warm plinking load for my SAA, I have also shot the +P option from Buffalo bore in my '92 but of course not in my SAA. My normal plinking load with Trail Boss is really nice in the '92.
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Old 08-09-2019, 3:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil3 View Post
I am considering picking up a lever action rifle. Always rather liked these, but a few questions, which are no doubt somewhat naive...

1) Opinions on home self defense weapon? Seems like the compact size, decent mag capacity (varies), rapid cocking, and wide range of cartridges available could make it fairly formidable. I don't know about potential jamming, but perhaps less chance of that vs a semi-auto? Also, it is not compromised in any way (so far) vs an AR type, under CA laws.

2) The gun appears lightweight, with no cushioned butt pad on many lever actions I see, so expect recoil to be heavy (depending on cartridge). Comments welcome.

3) When it comes to accuracy who makes the best? Marlin, Henry, etc..? Does anyone make aftermarket octagonal barrels? Can they be changed out by a gunsmith?

4) Is the lever design inherently accurate? Some have hammers, some do not...as I understand it. Pros and cons.

I was thinking of something using a 357/38 Special round or 44 Mag/44 Special. Probably with some sort of optics as my eyesight is no longer great.

Thanks,

Phil
1) yeah, As long as there aren't any cycling issues it should be good for HD

2) 38/357 loads are okay. 44 mag wasn't fun for me. Now that I reload I wish I still had my little 44 R92

3) I have a few Winchesters, a couple Rossi's and a Marlin. They all shoot better than me. My Rossi's are both octagon barrel. I think Uberti, Marlin, Henry, Taylor's and Winchester offer octagon barrel's. Probably a few others

4) Very fun guns to shoot. Its hard to beat the Henry and Marlin guns.
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Old 08-09-2019, 3:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
Go with a side gate loader. Rather cumbersome and stupid design loading a rifle by unscrewing a tube at the front of the barrel. That nixes Henry's.
For somebody who wants to have a fun range gun, its hard to beat a Henry top loader. Loading gates are old school cool but not fun if your loading a bunch of rounds at the range. Unloading a top loader seems safer compared to unloading a side loader.

Now that Henry is making a side gate, its the best of both worlds. I just hope they continue to make thier guns with both loading systems.
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Old 08-09-2019, 4:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie50 View Post
Here we go... simply a preference. Side loading gates are a PITA! slow. The tube type magazine works flawlessly. Also tube type much easier to unload. BTW Henry now makes side gate loader.

Yes, but the side gate loading lever gun is still ready to fire ALWAYS, EVEN WHILE IT IS BEING LOADED. You can not say the same thing about a tube feed only rifle. Having a firearm ready at ALL times is a major selling point to me. Especially for something like HD or pig or bear hunting.

Last edited by Bisley; 08-09-2019 at 5:31 PM..
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  #26  
Old 08-09-2019, 4:49 PM
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I own five revolver-caliber lever carbines; two in .44 Magnum, one in .41 Magnum and two in .357
They are my favorite long gun to shoot recreationally.

All are indeed fast-handling, light weight and accurate.

For HD I use a blued 16” Rossi 92 in .357 but have it stoked with Federal .38 Special +P hollerpoints, stashed with 8 in the tube and an empty chamber. I can lever a round into the chamber as I bring the gun to bear.
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Old 08-09-2019, 5:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
Yes, but the side gate loading lever gun is still ready to fire ALWAYS, EVEN WHILE IT IS BEING LOADED. You can not say the same thing about a tube feed only rifle. Having a firearm ready at ALL times is a major selling point to me. Especially for something like HD or pig or bear hunting.
Hmm. Ok, I'll go with that. But, in a hunting or a HD/SD situation, if you cannot neutralize the situation with what you should already have in the tube, well.....
Not being a wise**s here, just practice with what you may be using.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:17 PM
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No matter what a side gate will be better in any situation, plinking or whatever, than having to unscrew and pull out the entire length of tube and then reload it, then hope the tube doesn't catch the rim on the brass impeding the travel then tighten the tube screw. Loading tube is the bullet button of the lever action genre.

Lever gun would not be a first choice however for HD or hunting, no matter what people say for HD its shotgun, handgun and semi auto rifle. In a pinch sure whatever works, it is a firearm.

As for your questions.

Lever action is a cool choice as it's a tried and true rifle. I never thought I'd ever get a Revolver or Lever action but damn how your tastes change over the years. I bought my 686 specifically because I also wanted to get a Marlin Lever in .357 mag. Can mount whatever scope on it you want really, I'm going to put a red dot sight on it because handgun cartridge calibers dont need magnification really, you ain't going to shoot it 300+ yards.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:33 PM
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OP,
You will find a wide range of opinions on the "best lever" for whatever application. At the end of the day, it is personal preference. So, shoot as many levers as you can and pick the one you like best.

The good news is the first one doesn't matter. It will only be the first of many levers you eventually own. LOL
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
No matter what a side gate will be better in any situation, plinking or whatever, than having to unscrew and pull out the entire length of tube and then reload it, then hope the tube doesn't catch the rim on the brass impeding the travel then tighten the tube screw. Loading tube is the bullet button of the lever action genre.
.
Your entitled to your opinion but it sounds like you don't really know what your talking about.
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Old 08-09-2019, 6:48 PM
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Yup my opinion. You really saying that the action of reloading a Henry tube is not cumbersome when compared to side gate??
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:00 PM
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Yes. Have you owned, loaded and shot a Henry? Tube feed isn't difficult. Granted, there is a learning curve, but, nothing that cannot be learned quick with a bit of practice. After all, isn't that what different firearms are about?
In the end, it's what is comfortable and easiest for you. Your choice, really.
No need to argue here. We all have our likes and dislikes. It's that simple.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:01 PM
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Side gate for rifle caliber IMO, ala the Winchester 94 in .30-30 as the good Lord intended. Tube load/feed for a pistol caliber Henry is fine.

And those are my two choices. And no I wouldn't choose either for my HD gun. Too many better choices out there, like almost all of them.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:04 PM
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Side gate for rifle caliber IMO, ala the Winchester 94 in .30-30 as the good Lord intended. Tube load/feed for a pistol caliber Henry is fine.

And those are my two choices. And no I wouldn't choose either for my HD gun. Too many better choices out there, like almost all of them.
Not a darn thing wrong with that opinion right there.^^^. Well said.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pennstater View Post
Hmm. Ok, I'll go with that. But, in a hunting or a HD/SD situation, if you cannot neutralize the situation with what you should already have in the tube, well.....
Not being a wise**s here, just practice with what you may be using.
How do you KNOW when you are done. If you had to empty a 1911, or other auto, you would leave it empty and not reload immediately after just in case you weren't done??? Not trying to be an *****, but you are either very, very overconfident or very, very ignorant.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:28 PM
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I have many lever actions. The saying, "buy once, cry once" is never truer with levers. Do not buy a Rossi or cheap lever action. You'll hate it. I love my Winchester 94 30-30. I have Marlin 30-30, not so much.

My favorite of all my levers . . . . Marlin Model 39 Mountee in 22LR. It is AWESOME. I can't tell you how many times people want to buy it off me.

I inherited it and it is the best lever I've ever owned. It is truly a marvelous little heavy barreled lever action rifle. I can shoot that thing all day.

Good luck
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:34 PM
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Do not buy a Rossi or cheap lever action. You'll hate it. I love my Winchester 94 30-30.
Amen to that.

I own 3 levers, a Winchester 94, an older 1892 in .44-40, and a Henry Golden Boy in .22 and they are all wonderful. My BIL owns a Rossi and it's crap. He's got an 1892 Uberti and it's really nice.
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Old 08-09-2019, 7:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Garv View Post
You need to practice a bit for speedier shooting.
Nobody needs to own a high power caliber rifle that can shoot 30 clip round magazines of high capacity ammunition bullets like that.

FWIW I have a rossi 16" 357. I literally had to debur the action with a file, but after that I can't complain. Cycles smooth and no malfunctioning.

Last edited by Whiskey_Tango; 08-09-2019 at 7:55 PM..
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  #39  
Old 08-09-2019, 7:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Tommy Gun View Post
Yup my opinion. You really saying that the action of reloading a Henry tube is not cumbersome when compared to side gate??
No, I said this

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Originally Posted by golfish View Post
For somebody who wants to have a fun range gun, its hard to beat a Henry top loader. Loading gates are old school cool but not fun if your loading a bunch of rounds at the range. Unloading a top loader seems safer compared to unloading a side loader.
I've never shot a top loader that had a tube that needed to be unscrewed or removed from the entire lenght of the loading tube. This kind of makes me think that you don't have a lot of experience with them.
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  #40  
Old 08-09-2019, 8:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
How do you KNOW when you are done. If you had to empty a 1911, or other auto, you would leave it empty and not reload immediately after just in case you weren't done??? Not trying to be an *****, but you are either very, very overconfident or very, very ignorant.
Ok. Read carefully now. "Overconfident"? No. Confident in my knowledge of the firearm I'm using? You bet. I can count, so, there is that. Ignorant? Only in Chinese politics maybe, NOT in firearm use. You are entitled to your opinion, I am entitled to mine. Let it rest.
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