Tactical Lever Action Shotgun?

I don’t know what it is, but some questions have been coming in from multiple folks asking about the viability of a Lever Action Shotgun for Tactical use. This answer is a straight up no. Reason being, is that the Lever Action Shotgun loses the advantage of flexibility that the normal shotguns have, or the ability to top off on the go like a normal lever action rifle. So instead of being the best of both worlds, it’s the worst of both worlds.
Sure, Terminator 2 made it look cool with the firing from a motorcycle and spin cocking it… But that’s about where the cool factor comes to an abrupt end.

The reloading is second to none when it comes to being slow and awkward.
The reliability is questionable in every Winchester and Win-Clone I’ve seen. But even if you had one that ran as reliable as the Sun Rise – it’s still limited with a very short mag tube that you can’t extend, and reloading is about as clumsy as mechanically possible.
Even one as practiced as Master Quinn has a time of running these things.
A Shotgun has it’s advantage in being Situationally Flexible.  You take that away from it – it’s handicapped drastically.
A Lever has it’s advantage in being light and easy to handle, narrow in profile, and easy to top off on the go.   Take those things away from it, and it’s handicapped.
I see no point in these Lever Action Shotguns other than as a Novelty or a Historic Curio Reproduction.
The use of one in a Tactical Situation would be a mistake unless this was the only weapon you had or that it was a stop gap weapon until you could get to a better weapon.
Granted 12 gauge is devastating and 4 or 5 shots from it is formidable… but this is like planning on using a 2 shot Derringer as a defensive weapon.  There are better options out there.  In every metric there are better options.

That being said.   They are still freaking cool and fun… so outside of the Tactical Use spectrum – they are just fine.

Quick Update – There is a Marlin Lever Action in .410… It was produced for a time, dropped, brought back briefly and dropped again.  So examples are out there.  They are rare and hard to find.  I’ve only seen 2 in person.   They are cool and could be viable as a Tactical Lever Action Shotgun.  But they are only in .410 and that’s also a handicap.  But it’s better than harsh language, so there’s that.

19 thoughts on “Tactical Lever Action Shotgun?”

  1. Great feedback George. I always appreciate your honest and knowledgeable opinions. Nutnfancy also stated in his review that the Century Arms PW87 shotgun is primarily for recreational use and not for tactical or home defense.

  2. Okay, make one with a 20″ barrel, an extended mag tube, ghost-ring sights, 1897-style heat shield, and I’ll take it. Add a bayonet lug and my desire would be assured. ;P

    1. Did. Very limited numbers though. And finding one that doesn’t cost as much as a Honda is like finding the Golden Fleece.

  3. But you’re forgetting the fact that they have them in Call of Duty games.
    Call of Duty=Tactical.
    If I had a nickel for every CoD Commando that came into a shop I used to do some work for looking for old 12ga side-by-sides to cut down into pistols, I could probably buy a good used car.

  4. I can’t see how these surpass what we have right now.

    As soon as they came out on COD 2 and started dominating multiplayer with the ability to be double-weilded… I stopped playing that game.

    Video games like that hurt us dude. I miss the more “realistic shooters” like Rainbow Six 2: Rouge Spear. THAT was a great tactical game.

    1. I miss the more “realistic shooters” like Rainbow Six 2: Rouge Spear.

      Don’t forget Rainbow 6-Two: Beretta Edition.

  5. Was visiting Tome Stone AZ a while back and walked into a small (but PACKED with stuff) private museum. Wife got to have pictures taken holding a lever action .12ga that the proprietor stated he got from a descendent of Wyatt Earp. Clumsy and a real clunker I think to use, but, as cool as they come.

  6. Winchester also had a lever .410 shotgun…but was limited to 2 1/2″ shells. There is one at a local shop and because it’s a Winchester they want waaaaay too much for it.

  7. Since the advent of The Judge and other .410/.45 pistols on-scene there has been some upward movement by Mfgs. in .410 loadings, including some tactical stuff – it’s still a pretty big bore to be staring down…

  8. Even John Moses Browning (Peace be Upon Him) didn’t want to make a lever action shotgun, believing that the pump action was a better fit. Winchester DEMANDED that he design one because Winchester was known for lever guns and they wanted instant brand recognition.

    If John Moses Browning tells you that you don’t want a lever action shotgun, you listen to him. Any shotgun that can’t reliably eject off the shelf 2 3/4 shells isn’t worth the acetylene needed to torch cut the receiver to properly dispose of it.


    I love the .410 for home defense. I have a Mossberg 500 with the barrel cut down to 18 3/4 inches to make it a cylinder bore. With Winchester 3″ 000 buck, the recoil is quite manageable (about the same as an AK). It also isn’t as loud as a 12 gauge. Not that I want to shoot it without hearing protection, but I don’t think I will rupture my eardrums if I have to torch it off in a hallway.

    The velocity for .410 buckshot is the same as for a tactical 12 gauge load (1200 fps), the difference is 5 pellets vs 9 pellets. Since buckshot in a .410 is lined up back to front, there is minimal spread, putting all 5 pellets into a 3″ group at 7 yards (10 ring on a silhouette target).

    Brenneke 3″ slugs weigh 114 grains and are doing about 1400 fps (500 ft-lbs) at 25 yds, so are on par with a .357 mag, but with a larger frontal area.

    Living in a condo in the Burbs, I don’t think I need more oomph than a .410 loaded with 6 rounds of 3″ 000 buckshot. If the poop hits the fan, sure I’ll break out with the 12 gauge or even the Springfield Scout, but for a “bump in the night gun” the .410 is fine.

    Besides, it seems silly to me that Taurus, S&W, Winchester, and Hornady just spent the last few years telling me how 5 shots of 2 1/2 .410 out of a 2.5 inch barrel was the best personal defense gun EVAR! but a 3″ .410 out of an 18 inch barrel is some how weak tea.

  9. Seems like a steampunk thing to me. Technology gone wild a la 1890’s.

    Cool retro look, extremely impractical, fraught with complexity, and downright slow.

  10. Yeah I remember the Terminator used this and it was totally cool. When I saw one in the range I tried it out and I looked like an idiot. It was so complicated to use.

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