The subject of Lever Action Rifles has been stirring a lot more emotions lately. And it’s not my fault. I blame Tracy for this. Tracy is a local cowboy out here that comes out to Crusader Training using his Lever Action rifles.
To run a Lever defensively, you need not all the modern accessories… the gun is serviceable as is. You needn’t run it with your support hand far out in front as is the modern style. These are not modern guns so you keep your support hand in a location where you find balance and support to work the action. You run it under the same theories as you run your tactical shotguns… fire one, reload one. Fire two, reload two. Keep the gun topped off as much as possible. Standard rifle tactics apply other wise. I find it best to keep ammo not in individual loops like is popular, but in a pouch so you can carry more ammo in bulk rather than a small fixed amount. I like to keep this pouch on the Strong Side, not the Support side like is popular with Shotguns. Reason being is that it’s easier to reload with your Strong Hand than it is the Support Hand. Easier and more efficient. This might be counter to other’s doctrine, but this is what has been working for me for some time now.
Winchester pattern guns or Marlin pattern guns both have their Pro’s and Con’s and one is not clearly better than the other in Rifle Calibers. But I must say that I am quiet fond of the Winchester 92 Pattern guns for Pistol Calibers. But that’s just a Flavor Preference and not a Technical one. I do like the ability to drop a cartridge into the open top if you’ve run the gun dry.
As far as caliber selections… you can argue the benefits of all the options. .44, .45, .357 and such… all fine and well. I’m fond of the .45-70 for my Big Medicine. But don’t discount the Classic .30-30 Win. Ammo is cheap enough an it’s enough gun to drop an Elk let alone Deer or Assorted Baddies. And as far as trajectory goes, the .30-30 offers about the best there is. Especially with LEVERevolution ammo from Hornady.
Crusader Weaponry will be teaching a Lever Action Focus Course in the near future. If you are interested and serious about training with us… Post such below and Emails will be kept for organizing the class. We’re looking at this Fall.
In a moment of weakness… I picked up a Weaver Rail that will fit nicely on my Rossi M-92.
What evilness have I brought into my home? I am ashamed. Okay… I’ll return it to normal sooner than I thought. I still might experiment with an optic on it… just so I can get a better idea on the rifle’s accuracy… and then this rail is coming off and another sighting system is going on. Because the factory sights on these guns are a let down. They are preventing these rifles from hitting their potential.
Now, before you hate me for what I did… I did nothing as bad as what Mossberg has done. Mossberg took the Lever Action, and defecated all over it. This rifle just might be put on display at the SHOT Show. If it is – someone please Falcon Punch the guy at Mossberg that did this.
That is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some seriously nasty things.
UPDATE: I took the rail off and put the rear sight back on. It’s as if it never happened. I’ll look at other sight options.
In one of the comments was the question… What Caliber for a Lever Gun?
This depends on the purpose of the gun. For just having fun, for defense, or for hunting big game? Really it comes down to a Rifle Caliber or a Pistol Caliber.
For a Rifle caliber, you have .30-30, .35 Remington, and .45-70.
For a Pistol caliber, you have .357, .44, .45, or .44-40.
Each option in either category has it’s following. For plinking and defense work, a pistol caliber will do just fine. The .357 is mild and most of those rifles can also run .38 Special. Loaded hot, .357 magnum can be a beast from a rifle barrel… making it just fine for any big game you want to take a bite out of. For defense it’s probably ideal. If you are going to let kids or delicate womenfolk who think they are too sensitive for anything stout shoot your gun, load those .38 Specials and it’s a pussycat.
Stepping up, I really like the .44 option. I’ve killed a lot meat with .44 Magnum out of a 16″ barrel and it’s a bigger push than .357, but very manageable and you can still shoot it fast. With full house loads I’ve made accurate hits out to 400 yards. With Cowboy Action loads, really downloaded lead heads, it’s spot on at 100 yards. I’d have to put an optic on it to really get the accurate out of it that the gun is capable of. But I don’t want to do that. Yet.
I’ve not been impressed with .45 Colt, and .44-40, while a great round, is not one I’ve spent any real time with… only a box or two over the years.
In the rifle options, you can take the biggest game in North America. The .30-30 is the classic and will do most anything you want unless you are Bear Country.
.35 Remington does better on bruin and elk, but has no popularity in the wide open western spaces. A great option for timber country. It shoots much like a .30-30 but does so with a bigger heavier bullet. It’s a personal favorite as well, but in Utah they are as rare as hen’s teeth. Hitting with a bigger bullet is always preferred over hitting with a small bullet – when it comes to making loud noises and breaking things.
That leaves .45-70 Government… the authority… the big stick. It can drop anything in North America that has a heart beat, but has some dramatic thump to it… I like the .45-70 a lot… and from recent posts, you guys already knew that.
So for general use and flexibility, I’d probably say a .357 Magnum is the one to go with. This was the original caliber I was looking for in a Rossi Lever with a 16″ barrel. Waited a year for the .357 before I gave up. But I am glad I did, because I am truly loving the .44 Magnum. For a tactical, defensive type rifle or a plinker to have fun with… I don’t think the .357 option can be beat. If you can find one.
I’ve spoken of it before… You guys know I have this little .44 Mag Carbine, an M92 Rossi. It’s a simple Winchester 92 Clone. Short 16″ barrel, lever action, really light and fast handling. Super smooth thanks to multiple Slipstream applications. It’s like melted butter on butter.
Shooting it, it is dead nuts on using 240 grain loads, specifically cowboy action loads, at 100 yards. With 180 grain full house magnum loads, it hits like 4 feet high at 100. Which actually puts it on for longer range shooting. 300 yards is very doable with this gun. Shooting the cowboy loads, it’s a pussycat. Real mild and pleasant. It’s fun. You break the shot, feel and hear the bang, and then… and then… you see and hear the impact of that 240 grains of lead smacking the target. Hard.
It’s a blast. So much fun, I could have gone through several boxes of shells in it… but I was being sparing with my ammo. I am not yet ready to start reloading here.
I have to say that right now, at this moment, the M92 Carbine is my favorite rifle.
I had to. After shooting Evil Jim’s that bloody thing just wouldn’t get out of my head.
I had to join the Guide Gun Club. So I looked at what we had at the gun shop and I picked out this little thumper. It’s nothing fancy at all, just a Marlin 1895GBL in .45-70. It’s going to do just fine for my needs. The Guide Gun has always been a gun I’ve wanted since I’ve had just about all the others. Finally got my own.
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I might have to order some Wild West Guns sights for it… but other than that, I’m keeping it nice and simple and stock. No rail, no red dot, no “Tactical”. Just Old School Thumping Power. Gotta love it.
One thing that I failed to mention… Jim’s .45-70 Marlin was crazy smooth. The action felt like a Henry Goldenboy, it was so slick. None of the rough grittyness that is typical of a Marlin, in any caliber.
My own Marlins never felt half as good. My Rossi M92 .44 Mag feels really slick and smooth… But not like Jim’s. He’s been running Slipstream for a long time through that gun, letting it really work in. Mine will get that way eventually, given some more time. You feel the new Marlins we have at the store… Slipstream makes a new one feel just plain sad.
Marlin should be using Slipstream at the factory. Just saying. Because they would then be smoother than a Browning BLR…
Remington has cancelled production on dang near everything with a Marlin name tag. Specifically the lever action rifles. The Savage knock-off X7 rifles, I believe are still rolling out the door. We’ve had no problem getting those. Just Lever Actions, and the Rep told us that most of the orders we had were cancelled because they not in production. This doesn’t make me very happy. The problem Remington is having is that all the guys that used to know how to build a Marlin Lever Action are all now retired or laid off or working someplace else. This is just the tip of the iceberg that I’m seeing here. They buy Marlin pretty much to get into the lever action business… and then ruin it. Yet Remington is still cranking out the Savage Clones. To me, that makes no sense. If I was Remington, I’d kill the X7 line completely and concentrate on moving Remington’s own Bolt Action rifles. But Remington can do what it wants… that’s fine. But I also don’t get why Remington has moved the Sendero rifle to the Custom Shop, which has a completely different Dealer Program. What was one of the best production guns they made, and one of the most popular out here in my area of operation… they go and hamstring it.
I can’t get the Marlin Lever Actions to sell and now the Senderos are going to be difficult… Great. No, really… You guys concentrate on getting that ACR Contract and ignore the Hunters that have made Remington what it is. That’s a good plan. Worked great for Colt.
Here’s the deal… if you guys can’t sort out production of a gun made since the 1800′s… sell Marlin to someone who can actually build the things. Springfield would be great. Lifetime warranty, aggressive marketing, customer service like Marlin has never had before, and custom shop work that’s top notch. That would give Springfield some serious Hunting chops in the industry. I’d love to see Springfield own Marlin.
I can get worked up about Lever Actions… I love them. I have always loved them. And Marlin has always been a favorite brand. Most of the deer I’ve taken was with a .44 Mag Marlin 336… So it has a solid place in my heart. And we can’t even get any of the Marlin pistol calibers. I could have sold a hundred this summer… instead, I sold none. Can’t sell it if I can’t get it. Come on Remington!
There are few firearms that just give me such gratification as a lever action rifle. The elegant lines that fuse form and function with a mechanical simplicity that makes the Lever Action one of the most beautiful of all firearms. Doesn’t matter which lever you have… they are truly lovely. I find myself simply taking out my Rossi made Winchester 92 clone, just to look at it, just to feel it, just to hold it in my hands. I’ve got a lot of other guns that I like… but they don’t stick in my mind like that little 92. I’ve got my guns I use for certain purposes… and to be honest, this 92 doesn’t fall in to any of those purposes. But that’s all besides the point. I could probably very easily adopt the 92 for more serious purposes. Maybe I will. But I do prefer the right tool for the right job, shotguns, magazine fed semi-auto rifles, long range precision bolt actions. And they are all fine and good within their spheres. But if I had to have just one gun… well… that would still be an 870, but the 92 is encroaching on that in a big way.
I think Marlin, and by that I mean Remington, needs to stop making the X7 centerfire bolt action rifles. Marlin is a Lever Action Company… they need to stick to that. They do fine Rimfires… which is fine. Remington has nothing in that market. But Remington making a Marlin branded Savage Knockoff? Feh… Why? To get that 300 dollar rifle Market? I thought they already had that with their 770. Which is total crap, but hey. It’s at least a Remington.
Now, there is really nothing wrong with the X7 rifles. It is quite good for a cheap knock-around gun for those that have a hate for Savage and refuse to buy one… so now they can buy the Marlin option, which is a Savage knockoff crossed with a Vanguard if it got drunk with ambition and delusions. Reportedly the X7′s shoot pretty good. Especially their heavy barreled .308. But why would Remington want make that, when they would rather be selling their own 700 SPS Tactical? I don’t get why they feel the need to make a product that competes with their own product. Remington needs to squelch that.
I still assert that Mossberg needs to GTFO of the Lever Action market too.
We have a Winchester 94-22m .22 Magnum that came in on trade. It’s sporting a nice peep sight set up, nice checkered wood stocks… really nice looking. From a distance. Up close the gun is ugly. Pitting everywhere and the wood has more dings than I’ve ever seen. Some are unfortunately too deep to fix, and wood was amazing. New, this rifle would have been stunning.
The temptation is to restore it. No collector value, that’s just gone. This would be a rescue.