JB Custom Mare’s Leg Pistol Video Review

The original Mare’s Leg Pistol was a shortened .44-40 Winchester 1892 lever action rifle which featured in the ’50s TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive. Its distinctive design featured a cut down butt stock, shortened barrel and large cocking lever loop.

Since 2005 JB Custom have been look-alike that is registered as a pistol with the BATFE so it can be legally owned without jumping through NFA hoops.

Mares Leg Pistol Lever Action

Steve Doran has produced a video review of the pistol. It looks like a lot of fun!

The standard model sells for $1695.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • SpudGun

    If you seriously think I’m going to stand next to someone at the range as they spin that thing round like John Wayne / The Terminator, then you are sorely mistaken.

    This weapon has one use and one use only, to get people accidentally shot. Hopefully only the operator.

    I have a disdain for these so-called ‘pistols’ anyway, as they are neither accurate or practical. I lump the Kel-Tec PLR16 and Sig 556 pistol into this category of worse then useless as well.

    If you want to wave a gun around and show off, that’s up to you, but don’t do it near me or I’ll have you ejected from the range. Spoilsport?: Yes. Alive?: Definitely. Watching some cowboy wannabe let a loaded weapon slip from his hand?: No thank you.

    • Mark Hicks

      Spudgun seems to be off his rocker a bit.

      This is a fine pistol and has many practical applications. It’s also very accurate and can handle a variety of loads.

      It would make a very handy camp gun and is more than fun to shoot at the range. I don’t know any serious shooter who would “spin” shuck the pistol and the fact that Spudgun implied that just shows his ignorance.

  • Dazza

    I’d love to see the manual for this, I’d bet it has some HUGE disclaimers and a large list of bullet points that all start with “DO NOT”.

  • AP

    I couldn’t disagree more with SpudGun. This is a superb piece; a practical, high-grade firearm, just as described in the video. It’s easily wielded, powerful, lever-action-reliable AND accurate. It would be awesome protection for the backcountry and it’s historically “cool,” too. Not sure you can lump a Kel-Tec and a Sig in the same catagory as this, maybe only in the broadest terms. As for the spin, most will surly agree that it’s not an acceptable maneuver for a public range, as the disclaimer states.

  • Johann Van De Leeuw

    1695?!?! Wow, wish I had that kind of money to spend on firearms…:)

  • SpudGun

    Apologies AP, we are all entitled to our opinions and I’ve obviously not been clear in my opinion of these cut down rifle / pistol creations and how I find them to be neither accurate or practical.

    Let’s begin with accuracy – these weapons cannot be held in such a way to get a consistently decent shot, they lack the solid one or two handed grip you get with a conventional pistol and are lacking the butt and long barrel from a conventional rifle.

    The rifle sized caliber in a short barrel produces recoil and considerable muzzle blast, making a fast, accurate follow up shot almost impossible. Engaging / hitting any target beyond 50 yards will be more luck then skill. Anyone who has tried shooting from the hip knows that it’s best left for the movies.

    The Mare’s Leg suffers even more from consistent follow up shots as both the hand and the eye have to move from the target to cycle the action.

    As for practicality – these weapons offer no advantage over a traditional pistol and rifle combination and in fact offer several disadvantages. Unlike a traditional pistol, they can’t be carried or concealed easily, they weigh a lot more, are awkward to cock and take longer to reload. A traditional rifle will have a longer barrel and a butt stock, making them far more accurate, stable and easier to handle. If I was stuck out on the plains and I needed to shoot something for my supper, believe me, I’d choose a quality bolt action rifle over any other option.

    There isn’t a single situation I can think of where the Mare’s Leg can do something that a normal rifle or pistol could not. It is a novelty at best and a dangerously unsafe weapon at worst.

    Again, this is just my opinion gleaned from my own personal experiences of pistol, rifle and shotgun shooting over the years. If you wish to purchase such a weapon, I will in no way discourage you, as it’s your money and a free country.

    However, the video does begin with someone swinging the weapon around and this seems to be it’s main (only) selling point, which I do find irresponsible.

    • Spud, it shoots pistol cartridges so muzzle blast is not a problem. A longer barrel (12″) barrel will give more power than a pistol chambered in the same cartridge.

      Many semi-auto rifles come in pistol variants. They are the same class as this gun. They are popular simply because they are fun to shoot.

  • Rob

    Ok, I’m thinking a GREAT anti-zombie, shtf defender… in 45/70, .. wow

  • Steve

    I find it hard to believe that this weapon is considered to be a pistol. Especially with what appears to be a aborted butt-stock. If you buy one now as a pistol do not be surprised in a few years when ATFE changes its mind and decides you need to register it.

    In fact you want to pay close attention because the window they give you will be rather short.

  • Valhalla

    Fun for all Firefly fans… 😛 (those of you who are will know what I mean)

    The benefit I could think of is if you could carry this as an “Oh crap I just stumbled onto something mighty mean and my hunting rifle is to freakin’ long” weapon.

    I also think that with a little practice its simple lever action could be an easy operation weapon for home defense. Short barreled, powerful pistol round, and really cool (in case you end up in a Resident Evil remake or home invasion movie without knowing)

    • Valhalla, ah yes, I had forgotten bout firefly 🙂

  • Don

    Spudgun, AP

    You both make good points. I’d like to add that in the TV show the thing was a 44-40, and this one is available in that as well as more modern pistol calibers, and since it’s been truncated it would only hold 6 shots.

    Practical question; why would someone choose this weapon (either in cowboy days or now) when you could have equivalent firepower in an unmodified revolver, plus the ability to operate the thing safely with one hand and a smaller package to boot?

    There’s no denying that it looks kind of cool, and is probably fun to shoot as a novelty. In my book that’s justification enough for it to exist, but I don’t think anyone who needs a gun for any practical reasons really would go for it. If magically this was just like the fictional version in the show and somehow held 6 rounds of 45/70 (and a normal human being could handle the recoil) then it would have some practical merit since you can’t already get that in a normal pistol. Unfortunately that’s not real. I’d like to have a Star Trek phasor and a Star Wars light saber too, but they’re not real either and the plastic ones don’t do anything for me.


  • Valhalla

    Don, why use this when you could have a revolver?

    Because this works as a club as well. You get into a close fight and whack ’em upside the head. On a horse a full sized rifle would be hard to pull out, a pistol rather jerky, but this you could pull in close to your shoulder and across your body, and get off a couple of shots.

    It comes across as the original PDW, higher powered rounds then usable in a pistol, but small and controllable.

  • Don


    Historically the 44-40 was a pistol caliber. It is the same round that was used in single action revolvers of the same time period depicted in the TV show. While it is potentially possible to get higher velocity out of a longer barrel, (6″ to 8″ were common lengths for single action pistols of the day) the bullets of this time period were lead, not jacketed, and certainly not laser cast, limiting the effective velocity to about 1200 fps, which is easily achievable from a 6-8″ barrel in 44-40. 1200 fps is even pushing it for lead. I would think most loads would want to stay around 900 fps for lead.

    As for firing from a horse the revolver is far better suited for this purpose (and designed with use as a Calvary weapon in mind), operable by one hand and with proper grip angle, whereas this fictional weapon requires two hands to operate and with a grip angle which is awkward for either handgun style firing or shoulder firing with the truncated stock. This is why stockless or short-stocked shotguns don’t have grips based on straight bottom stocks.

    I suppose it does work better as a club, but generally most would prefer to use a club as a club and and a gun as a gun. If I added 12 inches and 4 lbs to my cell phone it would work better as a club too, but it would be a crappy cell phone.

    This weapon is not practical, which is why virtually no one used it in real life. It does look mighty cool which is why hollywood uses it and why it would be a decently fun grownup toy.


  • Ty O’Neal

    Regarding the Mare’s Leg:

    Looks like a great fun gun, and I would own one in a minute. I have competed in ISPC and IDPA, and any idiot can kill themselves with anything. That’s what make the Darwin Awards so Fun to Read. Anybody with a lick of sense, should be able to enjoy one of these safely.


    Face it, it’s not about being practical or the utility of this gun, it’s about having something fun and different to shoot. Of course you wouldn’t want to be around someone at a range twirling this gun or any other gun for that matter. That is a no brainer whether it’s this gun or any other.

    ALL the Western Guns have been shown on TV, or in the Movies being twirled around, and caught in the air, and Fanned etc. What’s the difference between this and any one of the millions of other, “Western” Guns out there, if you have a moron holding it??

    There are damn few people who have the $1695 laying around for one, and if they did, it certainly wouldn’t be the first gun they would buy.

    I don’t have a damn good reason to buy a, “Tommy Gun”, but if I had the Money laying around to do so, I think it would be a really be a Hoot to shoot. I’m glad these are being made, further, I’m glad the BATF wasn’t overly anal about the classification about them either.

    I doubt seriously if anyone with ever commit a Robbery, Car Jacking, Murder or anything else with one of these in our combined lifetimes. They are too expense, rare and bulky for that type of non-sense.

    If you don’t want one, don’t buy one, just remember next time your out buying a gun, no matter what gun, you probably don’t NEED it either, you just WANT it, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

    As my Grandmother always said, “There is always room for one more”.

    Have fun and be safe.



  • Blackie

    If it isn’t practical, how come Steve Doran does so well with it? He seems to do well shooting with deliberate sighting from the shoulder AND shooting from the hip. If I could own one (maybe if I ever get to live in a redneck state where gun laws are a lot more liberal (eg, NO pistol/rifle permit needed) I might buy one. They ought to make them with a retractable setscrew, sort of Steve McQueen meets Chuck Connors. After all, Woody Strode carried one (a ML with rapid-fire capability). But I’m puzzled—how was Doran able to spin-cock the gun? Chuck Connors’ rifle had a spring plunger that kept the bullet from falling out when the rifle was spun.

  • Spinich

    Check out Zombieland, Woody is carrying one in it.


    Anyone know what rifle Arnold uses in T2? Seems like a similar lever action.

  • Mike

    Actually the 44-40 was originally designed as a rifle round for the 1873 Winchester rifle. It was called the 44 WCF or 44 caliber winchester central fire round.Within a few years it found its way into colt pistols. Ammo that could be used for both pistol and rifle was a good idea on the frontier. 44-40 just means 44 caliber and 40 grains of powder.

  • Perfot

    “This weapon has one use and one use only, to get people accidentally shot. Hopefully only the operator.”

    Yeah, that 12″ barrel swings easier than a 2″ snubbie! And anyone who owns a gun should shoot himself. Spudgun is correct on both counts.

  • Lancer

    It’s as some of the people have said, it just a neat gun and looks so cool. I bought one from a different compant that look just a bout the same and everyone I showed it to look at it like a kid in the candy store. It’s having something that someone else dosen’t, and it’s just so cool looking and you come into my camp or home unwelcomed and it’s pointing at you, you’ll think twice. I didn’t have the money and paided a little less than 1,200, back ground, taxes and everything. Love the gun and no regretes

  • Steven S.Baum

    This is a FUN gun and as all GUN’s should be treated as a firearm.So ‘twirling’ is a BIG no,no.And it is a pistol caliber with a 12″ barrel so adds to the ballistic advantage,and besides to those of us that grew up with Steve McQueen as Josh Randall in “Wanted Dead or Alive” it is a FUN gun to own or shoot.If you doubt me ask any who have had a chance to fire one and especially those old enough to have seen the show = they WANT to take a shot with it.And btw yes – I would carry it afield for bear or 2 legged dangerous game.

  • AK™

    If you took the time to train with it (why not..you spend time training for all the other guns in your possession, correct?) then why not have some fun on occasion?

    Not everyone can run a semi-auto pistol,however both of my parents(who are in their 60s) can operate my grandfathers WWII M1 Carbine with ease.

    Train train train..whether it’s at the range,in your home or on horseback. Some people use snap caps,others just dry fire.

    That is a shotgun that Arnold uses. It’s the Winchester 1887. If you or your kid have ever played Modern Warfare 2,you’ll find the 1887 in game.

  • The Rifleman

    First things said…Let them spin it…It’s much harder than the a 16 or 20″ barrel…(weight for followthrough)…I tried (UNLOADED) The rifles (2)20″ Winchesters and the El Tigre used in non closeup shots, Chuck Conners used also had a piece (spring plunger) to keep the rounds from falling out when spun…so spinning for all sense and purposes cannot really be done or should I say consistantly.. the only real unsafe thing I can see..if the (adjustable set screw) would be added for the trigger to fire when chambered..although I have 2 with the screw and the safe handling can be a pain sometimes.I “NEVER” let anyone other then myself handle these rifles.I would add this as a “toy” to my collection for I have 6 large loop rifles 16 and 20″ in various PISTOL calibers …. great for the woods, a talking piece, loaded with shot shells for snakes and varmits…or for plinking at close range….ps check out the holster for this gun….I think this gun would be more safe than a newbie with a single action pistol being drawn and shot from the holster at the range…Indoor or out!! One last thing …Check out Mike DeMuzio on utube…although he does use a 20″ winchester or two!!!

  • spudgun, this gun is practical because we americans have the right to shoot whatever we want, practical or not. you sound like an anti gun californian. and me being from idaho, you wouldnt be able to eject me from any range because i can go out on my back porch and shoot whatever i want. and due to ignorance you fail to see the fun and useful qualities in this hand cannon; small package, high velocity, high power, and its pritty accurate. and someone with skill ”unlike yourself” could harvest game with this. but theres not a lot of deer on your ”gun range” so you probably dont get the hole hunting and harvesting deal.

  • icecycle

    Yeah, I have been thinking about saving up for one of these.
    You practice with the sucker.
    I mean unloaded and all.
    I mean really looked at and know every time it is unloaded.
    Is this going to be a toy or your first or last line of defense.
    If so, then you need a lot more practice.
    does it come in a common caliber? I carry twin 45s and would not mind
    having this as a ‘look at that’ piece. In 45 acp.
    In the start of Wanted, Dead or Alive does Josh seem to look at the title and go all WTF?

  • john

    hey spud, i build ar pistols, they are very accurate. they have full length buffer tubes,and 11 inch barrels, with the right optics, i can shoot 1 inch groups at 100 yards. i can also use 100 round drums with them. do i need to? no but i can god bless the usa.oh and in mn i can hunt deer with a 223. what kind of groups does your practical guns shoot?

  • Mark

    This is a great gun if you are in your mid-50s or early 60s and want to pretend to be Steve McQueen; otherwise it’s nothing but an expensive toy. A very expensive toy!

    $1,290 to $1,600 just for the gun; and around $300.00 to $400.00 for the holster. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include the cost of shipping and also what a licensed firearms dealer might charge for ordering the weapon for you since regular folk like you and I just can’t order guns through the mail unless we are licensed firearms dealers.

    Several excellent points have already been made that a Mare’s Leg is next to impossible to carry concealed, unless you wear a long trenchcoat all year long. Or you live in a state where it’s okay to carry a gun that isn’t concealed. But I’m sure even in those states one carrying a Mare’s Leg would get some serious looks from the public. Imagine trying to go to a restaurant with that weapon strapped to you. I can hear the hostess dialing 911 already.

    I’m not one to deny anyone the right to purchase what ever they wish.
    In fact I even looked into the idea of buying a Mare’s Leg since I love to target shoot and also for protection. But for the kind of money being asked for this particular weapon, I could buy two very good handguns and several boxes of ammo for less money.

    • Shade


      I live in N.M. and it is legal to carry here, not in a bank or where alcohol is served. 5 yrs in lockup if you are caught in a bar with a firearm.

      I saw a lot of heads sticking out car windows (all of them were children who probably weren’t aware of the law) when I wore my 357 on my hip. I thought that was a good thing, if children ask questions about firearms the may get some training and education providing they have responsible and caring parents.

      I think shooting is a good family sport. The families I met at National Skeet Match all seemed to be happy and well adjusted people. There will always be the the maladjusted who make things difficult for everone.

  • Otter Bob

    I’ve read and listened to all the pro’s and con’s about owning and shooting the Mares Leg. I own one and I love it!!! Of course I’m not going out and twirling this weapon around (LOADED) though. I feel it’s just a matter of common good sense which was instilled in me at an early age. I reside in Darby, Montana and gun laws are pretty loose in this state but that should never over ride safe handling of any firearm. I paid the $1695 for it and I have absolutely no regrets. I could have purchased a strip down version through Rossi for $399 but I wanted J.B.Custom’s breakdown model with a case hardened finish, high grade walnut stock, ladder rear sight, octagon barrel, etc. It’s a beautiful piece of work !!! I’m 63 and at my age I feel if I have the spare money to purchase such a firearm I’m entitled to do so….with out permission from the general public. As the old saying goes, “Opinions are like assholes….everyone has one!!!!”
    Happy trails and God bless John Wayne

  • white avenger

    I’m one of those “mid 50’s to early 60’s” guys mentioned above, and while I enjoyed Mr McQueen and “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” when it was playing, I have never wanted to be either McQueen or the character who he portrayed any more than I wanted to to be either Alan Ladd or Jim Bowie just because I thought that the “Iron Mistress” was a cool Bowie knife. I bought the Henry 22 version of the Mare’s leg and an Iron Mistress Bowie knife simply because I liked the way that they looked, and I could afford them. I don’t throw the Bowie, and I don’t twirl the gun. But I do enjoy the hell out of owning and safely both of them.

  • EPWrangler

    How about $399 for the Rossi Ranch Hand 45lc? I just got mine at Academy.I understand only a few stores will get them for now. I like moine but can’t twirl it yet. practice, practice.

    • Rifleman2

      I have a Rossi m92 full length and can flip it with either hand… full length (rifleman style) and shoot almost as good as the rifleman was SUPPOSE to be able to shoot.. love it.. some don’t like Rossi- but I LOVE mine!!
      Never tried the mare’s leg though..

  • Shade

    Interesting blog. I enjoyed reading the comments from one end of the spectrum to the other. I may as well throw mine in. After reading the comments from SpudGun & Perfot, I get the impression they don’t trust a number of the people the people they are in contact with at the range. Any gun is a threat in the hands of an irresponsible shooter. (I took my sons to gun safty classes at the ages of 12 & 9.) My 2 only bad experences occured in Viet Nam and neither were were war related. One was the result of two men PLAYING quick draw with loaded military 45s. That episode in the death of a close friend of mine. The other was also with a 45, a fool in my outfit was showing someone how safe the 45 was, if you push on tre end of the barrel the safty won’t let the weapon fire( make sure you push hard). He will spend the rest of his life with only one thumb. Guns are guns and will maim or injure in the hands of the foolish. Don’t blame the tool. Myself, I would welcome the chance to try this pistol. Had I the money, I think it would be fun to own. It would look nice hanging from a peg on my wall. A final comment, ” HAVE A SAFE and FUN TIME SHOOTING” !

  • Arlyn

    Is this product in Canada