Lever-Action Rifles: Are They Still Relevant?

Writing for ShootingIllustrated.com, NRA editor and author Jim Wilson raises the topic of the lever-action rifle’s role in civilian and law enforcement shooting. On Facebook, author, instructor, and gunsmith Grant Cunningham concurs with Wilson’s assessment, broaching the discussion to the public:

Wilson’s article sparked an exchange in the comments between myself and Grant:


No problem with leverguns, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they have meaningful advantages vs. a modern semiauto. Certainly they’re generally more than enough tool for the job, but given the choice and the fact that decent lever guns at good prices are becoming increasingly uncommon, I can’t really recommend them unless it’s just what someone fancies.


How much actual experience do you have with shooting lever guns?

They have more than a few advantages: they’ll operate with a wider variety of ammunition, from ultra light squirrel loads to (depending on the cartridge) large game; they’re significantly faster to access from storage, due to their short height and lack of significant protrusions; they’re easier to maneuver around obstacles, for the same reasons; they can be topped off after every shot; they have a much lower social profile; they’re legally acceptable in jurisdictions where AR or AK patterns aren’t; those that use straightwalled cartridges are easier to handload for. There’s more, but I’m tired of typing tonight.

I’ll let Jim Wilson chime in on their practicalities for law enforcement, since he’s used them in that role and I haven’t.

The AR is a wonderful gun; I’ve shot many tens of thousands of rounds through them and taught lots of people how to use them. I wouldn’t be without one. For the real-world (outside of the military) use that rifles are put to, though, the levergun is still quite viable because even it is more than enough for any plausible job.


Hi Grant,

There’re always going to be folks who have more experience than I do, and mine’s limited to casual range time mostly, however I have also worked on them some.

I think we agree, fundamentally. Nothing you mentioned was anything I hadn’t considered, but those advantages are not uncontested by the evil black rifle market. For example, one can equip an AR with a .22 LR kit, while the lever gun is certainly easier to pull from a scabbard, an AR typically isn’t used that way anyway (living either on a rack or on a sling), an AR can be used with low-capacity magazines to reduce protrusions (and I actually do this, having a larger magazine for backup), and handloading is fine, but the huge variety of inexpensive AR ammunition that is reliable in most quality firearms dulls this advantage considerably. The social profile/legal aspect is the biggest advantage I see – though I think the unblinged pump-action shotgun has an even lower social profile, and I’d be more willing to recommend it first, though, true, it isn’t a rifle. Even so, with the number of offerings of ban-legal ARs that retain most of the advantages… It’s a thin margin, by my measure.

Now, disadvantages the lever-action has also are worth mentioning. The durability of parts in my experience is far less consistent than that of a modern semi-automatic, they are far less accurate (and unlike a Ruger 10/22, you typically can’t just remove the barrel band to shrink your groups), they often don’t accommodate modern sighting systems as well as an AR, though the 336 in particular is not so bad about this, felt recoil is often higher for rifle-caliber lever-guns, they are typically longer, they do not generally come with very durable finishes or stocks, the cost advantage they used to enjoy is shrinking steadily as the AR and AK markets move into the lower brackets, and as the decent older leverguns become more desirable, they are manually operated, and they are much harder to make “safe” than a modern semiautomatic.

All this aside, yes, of course the lever-action is still viable. If you have one that works well, by all means don’t feel rushed to go out and buy an AR-15. Use what works and is close. However, I wouldn’t generally speaking recommend anyone run out and purchase a lever-action versus a more modern weapon, unless the circumstances were special as previously mentioned.

Some of the potential drawbacks and pitfalls of lever-action rifles in general are highlighted further in this video by the popular YouTube gun vlogger Hickok45:

Despite the obvious roughness of the new Rossi, it is still a gun that retails for north of $500. This is a reasonable price for the lever-action enthusiast, but in an era of complete AR-15s from major manufacturer’s with sticker prices below $570, even the basic lever-action rifle is a hard sell for most shooters looking for a basic utility rifle.

The lever-action rifle remains a handy, desirable weapon, but unfortunately rising prices of the type – and falling prices of competing semi-automatic rifles – have shaken the levergun from its long-held place as “America’s rifle”. Though, my comments may sound overly negative; while I would not recommend the lever-action rifle for duty purposes on the merits of utility alone, that does not mean I think those who like the type should avoid it, nor do I think that those who already own and get good use out of leverguns should all throw their rifles on the pyre to be burned. In fact, as Sheriff Wilson says, the lever-action’s day is not yet done, and it is still an effective, capable weapon, despite its age.


What do our reader’s think? Am I wrong about the lever-action’s disadvantages, or are there advantages I’ve overlooked? Do you think the lever-action is no longer relevant, or maybe it’s set for a big comeback? Let us know in the comments!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Boogur T. Wang

    IMO, The lever action rifle is the original “assault rifle.”

    • ostiariusalpha

      Right on, lever actions were military arms first & foremost, they’re rapid fire & high capacities allowed for more “tactical” maneuvering than was possible with single shot muskets or rifles.

      • geo

        Yup, just ask Custer! 44WCF,38WCF worked just fine Against him, but that’s then not now.

        • UnrepentantLib

          Going from memory here, but I read once that in the Fetterman Massacre, 1866, where an 80 man cavalry detachment was lured into an ambush and wiped out, two cavalry scouts were carrying Henry rifles. The rest still had muzzleloaders. The scouts were found surrounded by empty cartridge cases and dead Indians.

          • Phil Hsueh

            Similar to The Little Big Horn except that none of Custer’s men had lever action rifles, they were all armed with breach loading carbines. They had the advantage in range and overall hitting power but were much slower to reload.

  • ganadharmabhasa

    Why aren’t there many lever-action rifles that are hammerless and contain box magazines?

    • kregano

      Probably because you’d have to extend the receiver to ensure clearance between the magazine and the lever during cocking.

    • Wetcoaster

      I suspect expense of manufacture and a bit of a niche market (served by Browning BLRs and about a century’s worth of Savage Model 99s).

      It’s kind of like my question as to why more pump-action rifles don’t exist – I think it’s because they fall into a middle-ground between semi-autos and bolts in terms of speed, reliability and simplicity.

      I’ve been curious myself as to why no one seems to want to compete with the Remington 7600 or why a pump .45-70 never seems to have been made (a custom-made bear defence gun if one ever existed), but as Alex C implies, it’s more of a lifestyle or image thing in many ways, like those of the milsurp persuasion.

      To each their own, but purely on the basis of the merits of the platform, it would be like steering a new hunter towards a surplus Israeli Kar98 or Ishapore 2A1 in 7.62 instead of a perfectly reasonable Savage bolt or Remington 700

    • MR

      I’d prefer a slide-action over a lever-action, you don’t have to break your fire control grip to work the action. Along that line, the Remington 7615 uses AR mags, I believe the rest of the 7600 series uses DBMs similar to their bolt guns.

  • Ghost

    There may come a day when you’ll take anything you can get, and a lever action would be more than relevant.

    • Ok, so all we need is a flux capacitor to validate this dude’s standpoint.

      • ghost

        No idea where you pulled that from, I was not talking about time machines. I’ll take a lever action anytime if that is all I can get. Matter of fact I’ll take one even if it’s not all I can get. I really don’t care about this “tactical” BS, whatever game that came from.

        • Nicks87

          A well placed shot is a well placed shot regardless of what weapon it’s delivered from.

        • iksnilol

          The time machine would be needed to go so far in the future where a lever action is all you can have.

          Besides, it is easy to get illegal firearms.

    • Grindstone50k

      That does not validate in anyway the discussion of the practicality of a lever-action vs. modern SAs.
      Hell, I’ll take a pointy stick, if that’s all I can get.

      • Dan

        Dibs on the rocks

  • FrenchKiss

    One thing that was not mentioned: AR rifles have no soul. They are just appliances like a can opener or fork. Lever action rifles have a soul and become a part of the owner like a leg or eye. And they age gracefully like a beautiful woman. My Marlin, which is 20 years old, is beautiful from the tip of its octagonal barrel to its sexy wooden butt. No AR could ever compete with my baby.

    • James Kachman

      *joins in the raucous laughter

      • FrenchKiss

        Nope. Still no soul.

    • iksnilol

      Eh, what you call “soul” (the gun being a part of you and all that romantic jazz) comes from using and in the end becoming attached to the gun.

      • FrenchKiss

        No wood, no soul.

        • gerrard

          damn straight

          my BLR is older then me, wonder what it has seen…

          • UnrepentantLib

            Same here. My Savage M99 was made in 1906. Found it in a gun store in Anchorage in 1973. I’ve wondered about the path it took to get there.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You know that they make wood furniture for ARs, right? Just because the polymer furniture doesn’t warp to hell from a little moisture, doesn’t make it soulless. A black rifle has a charm all it’s own, not everything requires burled wood, case hardening, and semi-grips to be a classy weapon. An old Rolls-Royse Silver Ghost is an undeniably beautiful car, but that doesn’t make the Plymouth Barracuda a soulless tool.

          • FrenchKiss

            Um, yeah, it does.

        • M.M.D.C.

          Ask and you shall receive:

          • FrenchKiss

            Meh. Doesn’t look that good. Better, but not my thing.

        • No bakelite, no soul:


    • Swarf

      Strongly agree.

      Pistol gripped black plastic is just plain ugly. I want a semi-auto, but I just can’t bring myself to allow one of those monstrosities space in my safe next to my lever and bolt actions.

      • Porty1119

        Sounds like it’s time for a Garand, or to save up for an M1A then!

    • AKs have soul, though. 😉

      • iksnilol

        I promised myself if I ever became stupidly rich I would get myself a H&H or Purdey AK… preferably chambered in some ridicilous cartridge like 9.3×64 or something.

    • Grindstone50k

      Guns are tools. Beauty is subjective. Objects don’t have souls. Unless you have a soul gem embedded in it.

  • They make great sense in places where you cannot hunt with a semi-automatic (like PA). I reckon that .30-30 has taken more deer here in Texas than any other cartridge too for what that is worth (of course this does not mean much in the context of your article).

    The value I see in lever action is their use as a serious game stopper. A .45-70 with stout loads can deliver a Taylor KO factor of 44 and above, where 7.62×39 had a TKO factor of 12. 5.56 comes in at a rather embarrassing 6.

    I have shot hogs right in the side with several rounds of .223/5.56 and they run and run. Even if you get them in the heart, they will still run and you will have to go into the woods to get them. 7.62×39 is more effective, but they just run a little less far. When you bust one with a 10 gauge slug (hog or a deer) anywhere on animal’s body then it damn near knocks it into the next county (I have spun a deer around in a circle with one when I hit it in the left rear hip). I have seen a hunting guide perform the same thing with a .45-70 Marlin Guide Gun and hand loads to a pig. While I realize they make semi automatic rifles in big boy calibers, they are unquestionably more unwieldy than a lever gun.

    But you seem more concerned with their use as a tactical rifle. I would say this is foolish if you have the option of a nice self loader. Hell, they were obsolete in this sense back in the 1930s. Even when Frank Hamer led the posse to stop Bonnie and Clyde, they opened fire with a salvo courtesy of Remington Model 8s, a BAR, and some miscellaneous other guns.
    My take on this is that anyone clinging to a lever gun as their go-to defensive or offensive rifle is overcome with misplaced nostalgia. It would be like carrying a Single Action Army as your EDC gun. There are unquestionably better options out there, but the people I have met who do it are one step away from full on cosplay.

    A thing that irks me in the link is that the author suggest a lever gun for “those who live in areas where owning such semi-auto carbines is frowned upon”. SCREW THAT! For one, who the hell cares if it is frowned upon? If it isn’t illegal and is the best option, do it! Also, if it is frowned upon, then you could just not tell people you have what you have. That is your business, not theirs.

    • M.M.D.C.

      Practical relevance is a difficult thing to determine as there is often overlap of the practical and the impractical in anything.

      I think lever guns have a great deal of nostalgic and aesthetic appeal; having been designed when the beauty of a thing was an important consideration and their association with early America and all the ideas that go with that. For these reasons, among others, they are bought, loved and used and this is good for the general love of shooting and the health of gun culture in America. Not to stray into political territory, but this is obviously good for everyone who cherishes what we have here.

      So, for impractical reasons, lever guns have a positive practical purpose: strength in numbers.

    • anon

      Did you seriously just reference taylor knockout as a legitimate measure for effectiveness? Wow

      • Eh, kinda. As people we like to have nice and neat little charts and indexes to
        place things in. Taylor’s formula does just this, and my own experiences
        with hunting with all sorts of different calibers over the course of my
        life are somewhat in line with it. Of course there are alternatives to
        TKO, but these could also be refuted as irrelevant based on their
        inherent bias.
        It is easier than me rounding up live hogs, shooting them, timing their expiration, and dissecting them to inspect tissue damage.

    • Alex, knock-out-index-is-useless.htmlTKO is a useless metric for terminal effectiveness, unfortunately.

      In some places, you are taking a legal risk by using a modern rifle for self-defense, I think that’s what he’s getting at. It may be harder for the prosecution in a shooting case to find an in if you use a more “domestic” looking lever-action than an AR-15.

      • Dude, I like and respect you but you can’t link to something you wrote and be like “see, this proves my point,” lol.

        But I use TKO as a reference because it is easy to calculate and is a handy tool. Like using BMI to calculate how in shape someone is: It really is not definitive or the best way, but it’s something.

        • Err, why not?

          Look at the way the equation is constructed. It makes no sense given ballistic science as we know it. The Lambert glacier example is hyperbole to prove the point that the equation is about as backwards as it gets.

          As another example, it puts the .260 Remington and the .45 ACP at about parity in terms of effectiveness. This makes absolutely no sense. I’ve had people respond to me when I point this out by saying “well, it was only intended to be used for dangerous game rounds” – so, what, it’s only useful with a bunch of rounds that are very similar in effectiveness? Doesn’t that kind of seem like a placebo for choice to anyone else? If you can’t decide between several calibers that are all almost identical, why not use Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, instead?

          • Yep, Taylor Knockout is definitely an absurd system. 150gr .308 has a value of “18,” while .44 mag out of a pistol has a value of 20, despite the .308’s 1600ft/lb advantage.

          • I see it as basically Eeny Meeny Miny Moe for dangerous game hunters. It uses three dimensions that are all easily found – usually via the packaging on the box, in fact – and as long as it’s used between calibers that are tomato/tomahto anyway (e.g., .416 Rigby or .458 Winchester Magnum) it can’t hurt, though I don’t see its utility there, either, as deciding between two very similar calibers should probably be more influenced by factors beyond terminal effectiveness, such as ammunition availability.

            The application of the TKOI to wildly dissimilar cartridges has been the source of much obfuscation and many misconceptions regarding terminal effectiveness, however.

          • John Taylor knew more about hunting than I can ever hope to, and his equation was designed to give merit hunting cartridges as a result of his practical experience and empirical data (I know you know this, but other may be less familiar), especially when applied to large game. As such, it would be unfair for me to try and refute the merits of something like .223 based on TKO, just like it would be inappropriate for someone to declare Magnus Ver Magnusson obese based on his BMI.
            You cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, but as people we like to have nice and neat little charts and indexes to place things in. Taylor’s formula does just this, and my own experiences with hunting with all sorts of different calibers over the course of my life are somewhat in line with it. Of course there are alternatives to TKO, but these could also be refuted as irrelevant based on their inherent bias (such as Thorniley Stopping Power or just plain old kinetic energy delivery which leaves the glacier you mentioned delivering 165464350 joules of KE).
            Again, I know you know most of this and I do not mean to insult your intelligence, but rather explain my point of view and why I chose to use TKO for this example.

          • I’m sure Taylor was a great hunter, but his equation doesn’t have any particular basis in reality.

            What he was actually trying to measure was the wound channel of very stable FMJ large-game rounds as they traveled great distances through the target. He reasoned – not incorrectly – that a larger caliber round of this would create a bigger wound channel and lead to a greater stop. He combined this with momentum, and voila.

            The problem is that momentum has almost nothing to do with the subject, and that most modern rounds do not travel this way through the target. Because of this, TKOI is virtually meaningless in the contexts it most often gets used, and is only of marginal utility in the context for which it was intended.

          • LG

            Nathaniel is wrong again. Kinetic energy calculation includes energies which are not directly transferable to the target. But the momentum is directly transferable. the effect on buff, ele, lion, etc is vastly different as one increases the diameter. Just read and review the hunting statistics from Zimbabwe, when it was Rhodesia. The death rate of the hunters changes dramatically by way of caliber when crossing wounded dangerous game. Even going from a 416 Rigby to a slightly less ke but larger diameter 404 Jeffery increases the statistical survival by 20% . I know of no PH who carries less than a 458 Win Mag.

          • Wrong. Go back and study your high-school level physics. Momentum is transferable, yes, but its relation to the terminal effect of a round is nil. If it were, you’d kill yourself every time you shot your rifle. Newton and all that.

            Saying the kinetic energy calculation “includes energies which are not directly transferable to the target” is nonsense. The energy of a 62gr .224″ projectile moving at 2,920 ft/s is 1585 Joules. If that projectile contacts a mass that causes it to slow to 0 ft/s, its energy is 0 Joules. It has transferred all of its energy to the target.

            A round may strike a target and pass through, yes, but in this case it retains both momentum and energy. There are no mystical quantities of energy that exist in inert small arms projectiles that cannot be transferred to a target.

          • LG

            Read Falker on wounding effectiveness and read the South African PH material. Big bullets, of equal construction to smaller ones, produce larger PERMANENT cut wound channels. To paraphrase the late great Elmer Keith, big bullets make big holes, let a lot of blood out and air in.

            But by your own admission you have not hunted dangerous game. It is not theoretical, my 416 Rigby while great, does not stop a buff like my 500 NE.

          • Here’s something I wrote a couple of comments above:

            “What he was actually trying to measure was the wound channel of very stable FMJ large-game rounds as they traveled great distances through the target. He reasoned – not incorrectly – that a larger caliber round of this would create a bigger wound channel and lead to a greater stop. He combined this with momentum, and voila.

            The problem is that momentum has almost nothing to do with the subject, and that most modern rounds for other purposes do not travel this way through the target. Because of this, TKOI is virtually meaningless in the contexts it most often gets used, and is only of marginal utility in the context for which it was intended.”

            The fact that a wider bullet produces a wider wound channel doesn’t change the fact that momentum is irrelevant.

            But I’m not rich enough to afford an African dangerous game hunt, so feel free to dismiss my opinion and continue to get high school level physics wrong.

          • LG

            It just so happens that I have a minor in physics, from many years ago. Slug diameter directly translates to wound channel. Momentum directly translates into available energy for the cutting and penetration. A round that does not travel in a straight line cutting flesh and bone is useless for dangerous game. If you hunt game that will not kill you then less than optimal could be acceptable. In buff hunting do not worry if you mess. Up the first shot. The next twelve will just be an annoyance. I had a friend and PH get killed three years ago in the Zambezi Valley because an American with a fast small round knew more than the old professionals. Even my friends 458 Win Mag could not stop the wounded buff. The client through his gun down and ran, attracting the buff. The PH died trying to save the client. It was a sad loss.

          • Too many years ago, then, because momentum as a quantity does not correlate directly with energy. One is linear with respect to velocity and one is a square function.

            You seem to be under the impression that I’m saying African big game hunters have got it all wrong and they should be using .257 Bob or something. I never said anything of the sort. If I were hunting dangerous African game, I’d use a thoroughly conventional round for the job.

            Don’t confuse the issue here, what’s on trial isn’t the whole of African dangerous game hunting, it’s a single rule-of-thumb formula created by a hunter to work within specific narrow band of cartridges that all produce very similar velocity levels that has since been applied improperly to apples-and-oranges type comparisons like Alex made above.

            For African dangerous game hunting rounds, the TKOI is applicable, even if I don’t see how it conveys information the hunter shouldn’t already know. Misusing it to compare .45-70 with 5.56 is right out, and given the high frequency with which it is used in this inappropriate way, I don’t feel that I’m out of line in pointing that out.

            It’s very clear to me, though, that none of this measured debate is important to you, since you’ve failed to even read much of what I’ve written. So there you go, you’re using the right cartridges to hunt dangerous bovids over in Namibia or wherever.

          • Free entertainment for Saturday.
            FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

          • LG

            Obviously you have never used the Woodleigh hydro stabilized mono metal solids on suitable game.

          • That’s you running out of arguments. I’m disappointed.

          • nadnerbus

            “You cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree” is now my favorite thing that I have read in the last week.

            Reminds me of Dana Carvey’s Ross Perot. “Folks, you can’t put a porcupine in a barn, set it on fire, and expect to get licorice, it just doesn’t work that way.”

            I knew what you meant, and it makes sense, it just sounds like something a crazy Texas oil tycoon would say.

          • LG

            The Taylor KO factor is still taught in the South African professional hunter didactic lectures which are required in obtaining a PH license.

          • Which is far from the context it’s used here.

        • I should also clarify that I’m not saying there are corner cases where the TKO breaks down – I’m saying it flat out doesn’t work. So it is easily calculated, but all it tells you is the momentum (which is irrelevant) times the caliber.

          Here’s a better option: Divide ammunition into two groups based on its muzzle velocity. If it has a MV below 1,800 ft/s, it’s in one group. Above, it’s in the other. Then compare rounds within those groups based on their muzzle energy, which is easily calculated by .5 * mass * (velocity^2). So I wouldn’t generally compare .45 ACP and 5.56 this way, because they’re in two different groups, but if I compare 5.56 and 7.62 NATO I find that the latter has about double the energy.

          Finally it’s important to remember that energy isn’t a value of how much “damage” the round does, but it tells you the budget the round has for being effective. A specific loading with a certain shot placement may use this budget poorly or well, but higher energy rounds have a greater budget than lower energy ones.

          • LG

            Nathaniel F, I would venture to guess, has not faced off an angry buff or ill tempered elephant. Taylor, Ponduro, KO Factor is VERY relevant.

          • In fairness, I haven’t either but I have faced two charging hogs in my life. Nothing will scare you more than when three trigger pulls from your AR15 do nothing to slow the bastard down.
            Now when I am stalking I take a sidearm and an appropriate firearm. Within the protection of a vehicle I don’t worry about it.

          • William Kister

            Each situation can be different. I had a jackrabbit run up my leg after a direct hit to the skull with a 180 grain XTP loaded at 1600 fps from 10 yards away from a 44 Magnum. That same load usually does a fairly good job at dispatching the long eared beasts in a less than pretty fashion. Several hunts have shown the same things. I have had a mule deer run 50 yards after being hit with a 180 grain ballistic tip from a 300 Weatherby that destroyed it’s heart and lungs, but I had an elk go down right where it stood with a 6.5 Creedmoor with the same shot placement even though the 300 Weatherby has 2-3 times the energy.

          • Are you saying that dangerous game hunters cannot make a good decision in caliber without the TKOI?

          • LG

            No. But they do. My 416 Rigby is great. But when the chips are down I have my 500 -3″- NE in hand.

          • Let me explain further: I may take two calibers, let’s say .22 LR and .500 S&W Magnum. One of them is clearly going to be a more effective and deadly round, given a hit. If I run the Taylor numbers, I find that yep, it predicts the .500 S&W smokes .22 LR.

            However, the Taylor numbers don’t always positively correlate like that. You will find the Index breaks down when faced with simple problems, so often in fact that it by itself doesn’t really convey any new information about the round’s effectiveness.

            .458 Lott vs. .458 WM. Which is more effective, off the cuff? Well, the .458 Lott, any person familiar with both would say. Did we need the TKOI to tell us that? No. Did you need the TKOI to tell you the .500-3″ Nitro would be harder-hitting than your .416 Rigby? No you didn’t.

            So now you are left with an equation that tells you only what you already knew, and nothing else. Not a very useful equation. Worse, a misleading equation in the hands of those who don’t know better.

          • For the love of God post up photos.

          • LG

            Admit it, you have not hunted dangerous game. Ponduro survived because of stamina and brains. The distillation of all his dangerous game hunting, as far as caliber goes, was the Taylor KO.

          • I’ve not flown to space, either, but I can tell you which end of the rocked needs to be pointed up.

          • Tierlieb

            And you have not gotten the point that Nathaniel is making. But if it depends on having hunted big game, I’ll say I did and yet I also say Nathaniel is right:

            TKO works for similar cartridges with similar bullets, which is why it is useful for short-ranged big game hunting.

            But like Nathaniel pointed out, it is absolutely wrong for comparing cartridges in general, which is what Alex C. did. When you use TKO for .45-70 vs. .223 Rem, you are on the wrong track, because both use different wounding mechanisms for example.

            Comparing thumpers (like .50 Beowulf) and zippers (.204 Ruger) is another common misuse of TKO in AR-15 debates.

            Also a look from another perspective: No one ever used TKO to decide between a tumbling, a fragmenting and a deforming .223 Rem round – because it is the same value, yet they are all hugely different in knocking out targets.

      • Bill

        Not once have I ever found a reference to a case in which that card was played, with the possible exception of a guy who offed somebody with a FA SBR he wasn’t legal to possess, and there were other issues in that case also. Courts tend to rule that if a person needed shooting it doesn’t matter what they were shot with.

        • Fair enough, but it is a consideration that comes up in conversation often as a “pro” of lever-actions.

        • Zachary marrs


          They spent what, 3 hours talking about how George Zimmerman’s keltec was black?

          While highly unlikely to occur, it’s not like it is impossible

          • Bill

            Anything’s possible, but not everything’s important, relevant or a valid concern. I have no idea of how long they talked about George Zimmerman’s gun, and am not going through the trial transcripts to find out, but I’m still carrying a black duty gun, black shotgun, and a black rifle.

            Lawyers are paid to throw out red herrings and distractions when it’s in their side’s best interest to do so. If you shoot someone with a black gun, and under whatever legal proceedings you find yourself, your lawyer can’t get any reference to the type of gun you used ruled irrelevant, you need a better lawyer. Or you could use that double barreled shotgun everyone mocked Joe Biden about, conveniently forgetting that those are a dime a dozen out here in the sticks and I’ve been on countless prowler calls to find Farmer Jones waiting to meet me, holding just one of those. We’d never be able to seat a jury where at least 3/4s of them didn’t have a double barrel shotgun, probably with exposed hammers, sitting in a closet at home. So, if a person was REALLY concerned about it, maybe that’s what they should train with and use. Those type of firearms have been successfully defending hearth and home since colonial times.

            I guess it isn’t actually impossible, but then again I guess it’s possible that Bigfoot exists and aliens are doing rectal probes on people and Elvis, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix are all drinking margaritas together on some South American beach.

      • Pweeeeeef

        Your “support” for your claim is useless. Comparing a bullet against a living animal to a glacier (A GLACIER!) against a planet? Well, at least the author got a few clicks.

        • The point is that the glacier will not kill you, despite scoring extremely high on the TKOI.

          Just because something scores well on the TKOI does not mean it is more lethal. That is the point of the article.

          • People also forget the original context of the TKO. It was originally meant to signify how long an elephant might stay down if shot in the head but its brain was missed. Taylor would then be able to move closer to deliver a fatal shot.

      • Tassiebush

        I recall as a teen sitting in on a defensive shooting case where the defense made quite an issue out of the fact that the shot guy had an sks which he said he bought for deer. At the time of the incident it was a legal firearm and it was a legal calibre for deer but not an orthodox choice and it was certainly portrayed by the defense as part of the evidence that the shot guy was threatening. Certainly gave me the impression a jury could be swayed by that type of thing if it came down to the line.

    • MANG

      Excellent use of “cosplay” imo.

    • Anonymoose

      We can’t use .30-30 on deer here. Only straight-walled cartridges (the DNR calls them “pistol cartridges,” even though they have .38-55, .45-70, .45-90, and .50-110 on the list).

      • Lmao! .45-70? Go for it. Less powerful, smaller stuff? Devil’s tools.
        I hate it when the clueless get to make these decisions.

        • LarryNC

          You wrote: “I hate it when the clueless get to make these decisions.”

          That is, in my opinion, the real problem. In a nutshell.

      • Paul White

        where the hell od you live? 30-30 is awesome for deer

        • silversax42

          I live in Ohio and that’s the rule here – prior to last year we couldn’t hunt deer with non muzzle loaded rifles at all

    • Jeremy

      I have a 10.5 inch 458 Socom that will do everything a slug will do but in a more compact easy to use, easy to reload package. It is not unwieldy at all.

    • Nathan

      30.30 is all I have ever used on whitetail up in New Hampshire. Other than .50 muzzle loader for black powder season.
      With all the talk about ballistics and energy, any hunter knows there is only one thing that works: shot placement. The most famous elephant hunter of all time used nothing more than a 7 x 57 mauser.
      That being said, traipsing through thick woods with maybe one chance at a shot per week up this way, there is no need for any semi auto. My old 336 is easier to carry and although always functional, it also looks like a woods gun. And up this way anyway, one shot is ALL you are going to get before it disappears, hit or not.
      A friend of mine hit one full frontal in the chest with a 7mm Rem Mag at about 15 feet, and it took three of us 5 hours just to find it.
      I’ll take my beat up, more than adequate lever gun anyday. But guns are like vehicles. You can’t talk about a race car as if it is a family car as if it is a 18 wheel truck. They all have different functions. But on American game up to 75 yards, or 150 with optics, a good old lever gun would always be my choice.

  • Paul White

    I love lever guns for funsies, but i’d be hard pressed to grab one over an AR for self defense. But, vs the 223, I’d rather have a 30-30 for deer any day.

    Of course cost wise, levers cost *more* than AR 15s but a good deal less than most AR 10s.

    • ostiariusalpha

      That’s why you get an upper with 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. They’ll kill a whitetail dead as well as the ol’ thudy-thudy, but without the kick of that venerable cartridge.

      • Nicks87

        .223/5.56 will kill deer pretty easily. I’ve been hunting with an AR15 for a few years now, works just fine.

  • Jason Wimbiscus

    I’ll concede that there’s a reason no military uses a lever action as its battle rifle. That said, there are very few situations the average civilian will likely encounter that, all other factors being equal, could be solved with an AR and not a lever action. If leverguns are your thing, awesome! If modern semi autos are your thing, awesome! Either way, you’ll probably go through the entirety of your life engaging in exactly 0 gunfights so it makes the most to sense to buy and shoot what feels best in your hands.

    Here in California (a place I am temporarily, I hope) the lever does have one advantage over the AR/AK. No need for a bullet button. I would personally prefer the ability to top off a magazine after each shot (levergun) over having to fiddle with a bullet button every time my state mandated 10-round maximum capacity mag ran dry.

    • Well, to be fair you can simply use a kydex grip wrap on any AK or AR to make it featureless and therefore have no need for a bullet button. Or use a Mini 14, Saiga, M1A, or modded AR with a conventional stock.

    • One situation I’ve noticed that the levergun performs much more poorly in is having to rapidly and safely unload it.

  • iksnilol

    The fudds in Norway frown upon lever-actions. Though I don’t care about them, they can’t be pleased. Lever action = wannabe cowboy/John Wayne impersonator in their eyes and if you go with a semi auto they think you are a wannabe soldier or a mass shooter.

    Screw them I say, then again lever actions aren’t practical in Norway. Though I will admit, I wouldn’t mind a 45/70 Guide Gun (do they make takedown versions?).

    • Swedish big brother

      dude there are several lever guns that shoot regular rifle ammo , the BLR, the finnwolf the win88 the savage99, comparable accuracy to a regular boltgun

      and don’t you have moose and bear in Norway?
      a marlin guidegun with an aimpoint is a great gun for moose or bear hunting especially for the doghunter who needs a short handy thing that carries well and packs a punch

      • iksnilol

        Don’t know about bear, though moose is the most common animal to hunt.

        Yeah, there’s options for sure. I guess I am just not that drawn towards the lever-actions.

  • Herky-Bird

    One thing going for leverguns, they’re lefthanded approved! Had a nasty cheek burn when in the USAF from my GAU.

  • Bill

    For those of us who still use .357 mag and .45LC, they have a value in stocking ammunition. While i’m not a huge fan of pistol-caliber long guns, these cartridges, and there are some monster .45 Colt rounds, beat the heck out of a 9mm. Now that the zombie apocalypse appears to have passed, for utility purposes I think they are just fine, assuming the sights are usable in a fight.

    My new metric for evaluating defensive rifles is how well they can be used to fight off Immortan Joe and the Warboys.

    • Swarf

      My Marlin 1894c in .357 is currently my go to.

      .357/38 is an incredibly versital system.

    • Nicks87

      “beat the heck out of a 9mm”
      How, exactly?

      • .45LC Buffalo Bore (260gr @1800fps out of a 20″ barrel) is pushing 2000ft/lbs. So about 4x the energy of a 9mm carbine.

      • Bill

        Terminal energy. Exactly.

        • Nicks87

          So now we are going back to Taylor KO factor? With a Glock 17 I have 17 9mm rounds that I can fire 4x as fast and just as accurate as your big bore revolver. Caliber doesn’t always trump capacity when it comes to handgun rounds and the light recoil of the smaller rounds allows for much more speedy follow ups.

          • Bill

            So how does requiring multiple hits make that relevant? I could just say that Capacity doesn’t always trump Energy. Can you guarantee 17 hits shooting 4 times as fast?

          • Nicks87

            Yes I can and you cannot guarantee that one or even six shots of .45LC will be lethal. There’s a reason cops don’t carry revolvers anymore and that hunting large game with one is considered a challenge to most hunters.

          • Bill

            Well aren’t you special – the best cops in gunfights have a hit percentage of maybe 70%. And believe it or not, multiple hits of ANY caliber, short of maybe a 20mm cannon round, aren’t a guarantee of stopping a fight.

            Autoloaders have been around sine the late 1800’s. Cops carry them today because of a TV show called “Miami Vice” in the early 80’s, when it became the fashionable thing to do. A lot of us gave up ballistic power, the 125 grain SJHP .357 mag, for the illusion of firepower, the under-developed 9mm service rounds of the day.

          • iksnilol

            70% of 20 rounds (19+1, the capacity of the common CZ SP01) is 14 rounds.

            70% of six shots is 4.2.

            So unless your rounds are more than 3 times as lethal as my “puny and underdeveloped” 9mm it still beats your magnum revolver.

          • Bill

            Not going there – the lethality of ANY round that can be fired out of an individually usable weapon is subject to a whole bunch of known and unknown variables. Recall also that there is a psychological component on the part of the person shot. Plenty of people have died from survivable wounds, while others have taken numerous hits from multiple types of weapons and stayed in the fight. No round is a death ray.

            No gun “beats” any other gun. If a target takes 14 hits to it’s periphery or non-vital areas it doesn’t matter what round is being used. If another target takes one hit that severs the spinal column at the base of the skull, it doesn’t matter what round is being used.

            I have absolutely nothing against the 9mm and have carried one in some capacity or another since the late 80s. I’ve also carried in some capacity or another .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 38Sp., and .380. With the exception of the .380, which I think is probably borderline and use primarily as a backup or deep-cover gun, I’m really indifferent about the others, and think more in terms of pistol fit and function versus caliber.

          • iksnilol

            I agree with you for the most part, though you gotta agree: 14 shots vs 4.2 is way better odds.

      • iksnilol

        It’s a bigger and heavier bullet going faster. Ballistically, it has it beat. Practically? I doubt it outclasses it that much considering 20-30 round mags are standard in 9×19 carbines while a lever gun has 10-15 rounds or something.

        Personally I would choose the 9×19 carbine because .45 LC is a bit hard to find in Europe.

    • Tassiebush

      Agreed about the new metric. I’ve been taking precaution of welding star pickets to my cars for extra security and stocking up on explosive/incendary lances. I haven’t mastered dirt bike based grenade throwing yet though! Will get some monster truck wheels fitted when I can afford them 😉

    • wetcorps

      Well one of the girls tried a lever action. She magdumped at Joe’s bulletproof windshield and got run over 🙂

      • Bill

        You are correct sir; I’ve watched it twice and forgot all about that scene. Beats a muzzleloader.

  • FrenchKiss

    Oh I forgot, cue the lever gun haters in 3..2..1..

    • ostiariusalpha

      More like, cue the Fudd trolls.

    • Josh Carter

      Funny to see someone who says any gun without wood is “soulless ” call people haters. I’m hoping the irony was intentional.

      • FrenchKiss

        Having no soul, and hating are two different things.

        • iksnilol

          I would think it is an insult to say something is “soulless”, and if you insult stuff then you probably don’t like it.

          • FrenchKiss

            And what you think is wrong.

          • iksnilol

            So you insult stuff you like?

          • FrenchKiss

            How could I insult an object?????? Sorry gun, did I hurt your feelings? SMH.

  • I’d love to see a .45 ACP levergun with a threaded barrel and Hogue overmolded furniture. That would be a lot of fun.

    • It has struck me that a .357 Magnum lever action would offer a fairly
      straight forward conversion to either .40 S&W or 10mm Norma. You
      would swap out the barrel for a rechambered .38-40 barrel, and then weld
      up the stop on the lifter to adjust for the shorter cartridge. The
      bolt, extractor, and magazine tube should work as-is given how close the
      rims are in size.

      • A 10mm levergun would be great. Especially if the loading gate was milled in such a way that you could thumb cartridges directly from a Glock 20 magazine into the tube.

  • Michael Bane

    Not surprisingly, I come down with Sheriff Jim and Grant. We have filmed several SHOOTING GALLERY episodes on using the lever gun as a surprisingly efficient self-defense tool. It’s short, light and powerful. I particularly like .44 magnum guns running .44 Specials. I have used that combination in some of my training classes back when I had such time to do things like that), and modern .44 Special round are world-class stoppers.

    Last season on SG in one of our most popular shows, I unveiled my “anywhere” gun, a rifle that was, to the best of my knowledge, legal in almost every jurisdiction in the country — a Browning BLR Take-Down in .223 with a Burris Scout Scope. It’s a 1 1/2 – 2 MOA gun @ 100 yards, but so what? It’s the gun I keep around the house. The show was so popular that Browning now catalogs a production version of the gun I built.

    As far as durability/finish/etc., let me say this flatly…CHEAP GUNS IS CHEAP GUNS! That is true whether we’re talking about ARs or lever action rifles. A bottom-of-the-line commodity AR is the equivalent of a bottom-of-the-line lever rifle. You can lecture me all you want about the ARs being “mil-spec,” but in turn I can tell you some fascinating things about the different steels used to make bolt carriers. Find someone to tell you about the ill-fated attempt to get a SAAMI rating for the .300 Blackout (that usually happens over an adult beverage).

    There is a difference between a Del-Ton, say, and a Daniel Defense, much less a Wilson or Noveske. And there is a difference between a Rossi and a current generation Winchester of BLR (Marlin is a whole other story!). Durability? LOL! I have fired Henrys used in the Civil War. My pre-’64 Winchester 94 30-30 will outlast me by a pretty far margin, I suspect.

    My 2 favorite rifles in the world are ARs and lever guns. I own far too many of each.

    Michael B

    • Nicks87

      “A bottom-of-the-line commodity AR is the equivalent of a bottom-of-the-line lever rifle.”
      That’s an interesting statement. If the AR doesn’t reliably cycle ammo or hold zero then the lever action immediately becomes the superior rifle. Kind of like the pump vs semi auto shotgun debate.

      • MR

        As long as the lever action does reliably cycle the available ammunition, and doesn’t choke on cartridge length or bullet design. Not necessarily a given.

        • Nicks87

          I’m just saying manual operation vs gas operation. Traditionally a lever action should be more reliable but I know some have issues. I would trust a bargain basement lever action over a comparatively priced AR.

      • Grindstone50k

        Of course, the same could be said of a bolt-action, pump, etc. Yet some how the vast, vast majority of DGUs are with semi-autos.

  • gerrard

    Love my levers, rossi m92 357mag and BLR 358win

    somebody said below that ARs lack a soul and that is spot on

    EVERYBODY who shots my leverguns do so with a smile on their face

    they carry well without a sling, fast and relible

  • David Sharpe

    Basically it all boils down to personal preference. I like all guns, levers, semi autos, pumps etc.

  • MACVS2

    I have some familiarity with the M-16 (and several variants) and the AK; when I hunt I almost always carry a lever action, having them in calibres from .25 to .35. While I’ve dropped more deer with a bolt action .222Rem, my largest animal, a 700lb. feral boar, was dropped with a single 180gr handload from a Rossi ’92. That’s the carbine, matched to a resolver I’d carry in a stressful situation.

    • Swarf


      I don’t know if that was a typo or intentional, but I like it.

      • Marcus D.

        Very fitting. Sam Colt would approve.

  • Kevin Harron

    I think the comments about social profile are on the mark. A lever action gun is way less ‘scary’ than a black rifle. They also may be relevant in areas where semis are not legal.

  • Lance

    Id say yes they hold multible rounds can fire them in a reasonable rate of fire. And if you live in fascist holes of CT, NY, NJ, and kalifornia its your only choice for a unneutered rifel for defense.

  • 277Volt

    “Best” boils down to user preference.

  • GearHeadTony

    I think if the manufacturers would embrace some more modern cartridges in lever guns beyond the old .30-30 they would be more popular. .500 S&W would be great. How many 10mm Autos would fit in a tube magazine? Just wondering.

    • I just did the math:

      The 30-30 is 84.84mm long; a Marlin 336C holds 6.

      The 10mm is 32mm long; a 10mm Marlin 336C would hold 15.9 cartridges.

      • Anonymoose

        So 15 and one .40 Short & Weak.

        • silversax42

          Can’t combine them though – no rim so you have to headspace on the case mouth.

      • Nashvone

        So…S&W 500 magnum is 41mm long. That would be 12.4 rounds. I could handle that but I’m not sure my wallet would enjoy it.

    • Dan

      I think there is a .500 s&w lever gun??? Perhaps it was a custom I read about idk to google i go. Bighorn Armory model 89

      • GearHeadTony

        Price ranges from $2500 to $3300… no thanx.

        • Dan

          Oh you mean a reasonably priced lever gun in .500s&w? Ah yea no.

  • Grindstone50k

    Lever-actions are cool and have their place and utility. But I wouldn’t pick one over a modern semi-auto rifle for a defensive scenario if I had a choice.

  • sam

    Law enforcement should use lever action rifles. That makes sense to me. Low cost for basic ones, manual feed I think is good for convenient, practical, safe operation with only a modest amount of technical training needed. Variety of suitable chamberings. No detachable magazine to misplace. It’s a much better idea than having them use pistols.

    • David Sharpe

      Pistols aren’t carried because they’re the best, they are carried because they are easy to carry.

      Carrying a rifle of any kind is a pain for normal police work.

      • sam

        The right way is not always the popular and easy way. – Margaret Chase Smith

        • Bill

          I work in a very rural environment where people predominately are very pro-police, with a minority who are extremely anti-, but if I slung up my AR on every call, somebody’s gonna write a letter, and I’ll have to remember that the agency psychiatrist is NOT my friend 😉

          But, if it helps any, I keep a .308 bolt Scout rifle as a trunk gun, primarily for bigger varmints or tougher targets.

          • sam

            My point exactly. If your psychiatrist and the people who support your position don’t want you roaming around with an AR while on duty I can’t rightly disagree.

            The 308 in the trunk is probably fine as long as you don’t get it out of there for no reason and go nuts with it. But don’t quote me on that since I totally don’t speak for your employers.

          • Bill

            Actually they do want me to have them available, as I get the big bucks, 11 of them an hour, to go looking for trouble, whereas most people have the luxury of not being required to go where a rifle is needed. They just don’t want me going into Starbucks with it slung up unless i’m there on a robbery call. I kid, we don’t have a Starbucks. And if we did, I’d always be thinking about the 4 Washington cops ambushed in a coffee shop while writing reports.

        • billyoblivion

          I’m fairly certain that Ms. Smith was not talking about police officers carrying rifles instead of pistols.

          The notion that a police officer should carry a rifle *instead* of a pistol is a damn foolish notion that shows no grounding in reality.

          • sam

            You can hyperbolize if you like but plenty of police officers work without pistols

          • billyoblivion


            Good boy. Have a lolly.

    • Zachary marrs

      So you want them to just carry rifles around?

      If you are talking about the keystone cops, then your post makes sense


      • sam

        No, I mean, I want them to do things other than just carry rifles.

        I do think police officers should be limited to using some kind of manual repeating rifle as a firearm in performing their official duties i.e. while on the clock.

        I could see some exceptions, like if an officer applies to the sheriff, proving they need permission to use something else, such as a revolving-chamber-pistol in 38 caliber, and can lawfully furnish it, and maintain proficiency and liability insurance. The public of course being able to object and being given time before granting of the permit to do so.

  • JjPaul

    Lever guns are great, here in PA, there’s really no other hunting rifle you need.

  • A lever-action is very relevant if you’re an outdoorsman or one of the 99% of people that doesn’t engage armed foes for a living. They’re usually quite svelte and easily draw from a mounted scabbard. Lever-guns are also chambered in everything from rimfire varmint cartridges to Turnbull proprietary magnums and back again. I wouldn’t take one to the next Sandistan war. But anywhere else? Absolutely.

  • Tassiebush

    One disadvantage of cheaper tube mag lever guns vs blr or savage 99 type is reliance on non pointed bullet noses. Apart from the disadvantage this creates ballistically it also means most leverguns are in cartridges that have poor potential against body armour which I understand is a consideration for police or defensive use. If a Pedersen style spiral mag (puts bullet tips out of alignment with primers removing risk of chainfire) could be added to a 1894, 336 or 464 you could have cake and eat it too. I’d love to have a .223 in one of those platforms! I suspect such a mag could be made more cheaply now than before.

  • Bal256

    I love lever guns but when you do an advantages/disadvantages laundry list between action types you end up pitting a big list of minor advantages vs a smaller list some very significant disadvantages. How many serious militaries use lever action again?

    • Jack Burton

      It shouldn’t matter whether or not any militaries use lever actions, and I don’t think a single person here or in the linked threads has said one would be their first choice for that use. But their comparatively innocuous appearance paired with their trim size and weight, as well as the rather unique variety of chamberings they can be had in gives the lever action more than a “minor” advantage over an AR or whatever as a personal defense/kicking around gun IMO.

  • Kelly Jackson

    They’re relevant until I can figure out how to shoot .45 / 70 out of an AR15.

    • Jack Burton

      Yep. Or .357Mag/.38Spl, .44Mag/.44Spl, .45 Colt etc…

    • Zachary marrs

      .458 socom and .50 beowulf offer similar performance

    • iksnilol

      You could use a sidemounted magazine like those 50 BMG uppers.

      So, something like a FG-42 using standard AR lower and feeding from sidemounted magazines.

  • HM

    The lever action defiantly lacks the spray and pray ability you see with lot of semi-auto users.

    • iksnilol

      Eh, some of us can’t afford to spray and pray even with a full auto rifle.

    • Bill

      Which bottom line is a Good Thing. Unless it’s branded “Krylon” or “Rustoleum” we shouldn’t be spraying with anything.

  • Alex Nicolin

    I would take an AR or even an AK over a lever gun at any time. Isn’t the .30-30 ballistically similar to the 7.62x39mm?

    • It’s superior after a surprisingly short distance, actually. If we compare the 154gr SP load for the 7.62×39 to the classic 170gr Sierra in the .30-30 Winchester, then the former retains more energy after a mere 75 meters.

      • Tassiebush

        To fling an almost futile argument towards pro lever camp, a hornady 160grain flex tip load would probably outclass the usual 123grain 7.62×39 and that heavier load at all ranges though…. At considerably more cost per round of course. If Pedersen style spiral tube mags or even Lebel style brass with the groove around primer to allow point to not rest on primer were available then at least ammo could be an even playing field.

      • iksnilol

        I thought they were pretty similar in regards to trajectory? Something about the round nose bullets in 30-30 causing it to drop faster.

        Sure, if you use those spitzer bullets then I guess my point is moot. But for standard ammo I thought they were pretty similar.

  • TonysTake

    If you know what, when and where you are going to shoot, Pick your favorite. Personally, I take all my guns to the range, most every time I go. These are the facts from my point of view:

    Lever actions are chick magnets. That is until they beg you to let them shoot that scary looking black thing. Whats that saying about once you’ve shot black…. You never go back? If she’s hot or offers to cook you dinner, let her shoot your A/R too.

    Lever actions are much cheaper to shoot. Not per round sent downrange but for the day. I take maybe 40 rounds of 30-30 whereas I must lug a minimum of 150-300 rounds of 5.56 down the stairs, to the truck, out of the truck and to the range. The A/R is just plain fun to shoot.

    Some people have the time on their hands to reload .223s’ I guess. Reloading 30-30’s is a practical way to save some money.

    Price: You can find decent used lever action rifles in the $200-250 range. Good luck finding a used A/R for twice the price. To max-out a 30-30 and make it super sexy, all you need is a scope. With the A/R, $100 won’t go very far. Those of you with an A/R, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    I like them both and I shoot them both. For home protection, I prefer the 12ga. pump. For hunting, the 30-30 is da bomb. Just for fun or if you find yourself in a SHTF situation, go with the A/R.

    • Paul White

      where do you see decent used levers for that price? I wouldn’t mind one in .44 and one in 30-30 at those prices

      • TonysTake

        Gun Broker dot com was the last place I shopped. You might also try the nearest gun show when they are in town.

  • uisconfruzed

    I deer hunt with a Colt Anaconda .44mag topped w/Aimpoint Micro T1. I’ve looked for, want, and have handled several .44 mag SS lever guns. They’re too heavy & fat. Make it nimble, accurate, with a good trigger & I’ll buy it!
    I’ve a couple friends; retired Marine Scout Sniper & Ranger that have now use a break barrel .44 mag for deer hunting. They claim it’s much quieter and the deer are DRT, not like their .308 bolt gun.

  • Uniform223

    Now to really make the lever action rifle more palatable to the modern consumer we need to tacti-cool it out.
    +full length 12 o’clock picatinny rail
    +key mod hand guard
    +quick detach magazine feed feature
    +muzzle break/compensator/flash hider/glass breaker
    +camouflage finish

    • Jack Burton

      No thanks. Just give me a plain Winchester-style levergun with black laminate furniture that is durable, reliable *and* sanely priced(c’mon, Ruger).

    • Bill

      moss berg tried, and was mocked mercilessly

      • Tassiebush

        Man I’d love to know how they sell compared to the normal model?

        • Jack Burton

          I don’t think either sells particularly well, though I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that abomination outsells the vanilla model.

          • Tassiebush

            Haha owning one or using one would definitely be a shameful deed of darkness!

    • Bob

      Gotta have the shoulder thing that goes up.

    • Swarf

      Check out Just Sayin’s link above and tell me you still want that.

  • Jim_Macklin

    More than a decade ago, Col. Jeff Cooper, writing in G&A suggested that the lever action was gun for the captives n NYC, unable to buy a handgun or a modern semi-auto.
    The handgun caliber Winchester and Marlin rifles with 10 or more rounds available or a rifle caliber with more power than the 5.56×45 or 7.62×39.
    Cooper’s SCOUT rifle is a bolt action and demonstrated that in most one on one or small unit actions such as home defense or law enforcement, the shooter’s skill mattered more than action type or caliber.

    • Bill

      In ALL armed confrontations the shooter’s skill matters more than the weapon.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Pffft! I’d rather be a decent shot in an Apache vs. a world champion shot with a .22 LR. There is always a breakdown point for how much you can depend on either skill or weapon. You only need to be a so-so shot with an ICBM, but it’s pretty useless at spitting range. It is context that is king.

        • Bill

          No, common sense is king, and Apaches have separate pilots and gunners who both go through intensive selection and training, and the helo requires intensive service to maintain combat effectiveness, and they still miss sometimes. It takes two people to launch an ICBM, and they each carry a pistol to shoot the other if that person tries to launch the weapon alone. They have to access and verify a complex code system to access the launch controls.

          If a sniper puts a round through your gunner’s head, or yours, or it’s turbine blades while it’s being serviced on the flight line, you just came out on the bad end of asymmetric warfare. So, there’s your context.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I wish it were that simple. Sadly, an individual’s common sense is nothing more than a very small facet in the overall context of combat. It’s certainly more helpful to not be a fool, to have the training & insight to recognize your context and try to use it to your advantage. Still, no one is omniscient, and oftentimes that context will bury even the most skilled in a moment for which they could not be prepared. All our self-assurance that we can master our context is shown to be a lie at those times, and it turns out all you’ve been depending on is luck. Skill can help push luck your way, but only that only goes so far in the end.

          • Paul White

            In his example, I’m pretty sure the .22 wouldn’t penetrate the armor

          • Bill

            I don’t think it would even scratch the paint.

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    TRUE STORY!! During the Isla Nublar dinosaur park incident where hundred of tourist were killed/injured. One of the park workers managed to kill indominus rex with nothing but a lever-action rifle while the so-called “heavily armed” InGen special security personnel with AT-4, M-14, M-4 can’t do nothing but a scratch.

    • CommonSense23

      God I hate you so bad for ruining that for me.

    • Phil Hsueh

      I was going to bring that up but you beat me to it. Chris Pratt’s character’s weapon of choice in Jurassic World was some sort of lever action with a scope mounted on top. However, we never really got to see it in action, I don’t recall if he actually shot at anything with it but he certainly didn’t take anything down if he did.

      • silversax42

        He only shot at I Rex – it did pretty much nothing. Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70. I have the same gun, but not in stainless.

  • Fred Johnson

    My God yes, the lever gun is still relevant!

    Haven’t any of you seen Longmire?


    • USMC03Vet

      Yes and ill forever hate A&E for cancelling it.

  • Pike0331

    Any time Alex posts about hunting hogs I feel a little ashamed to call myself a hunter when He uses a 5.56 on a hog if and knows it will take multiple shots to take it down or it will run and run. That’s a very bad method of repping hunters.

    • Zachary marrs

      We do not hunt hogs, we eradicate them.

      And while my experience using 5.56 on hogs is limited (10 hogs), I’ve never had to shoot twice, even when ive been charged *shrug*

      • Pike0331

        That’s great, I agree 5.56 should be enough for most hogs, and shot placement is what counts. However if you consistently have to shoot a hog and then chase it as it runs and runs then maybe that person should get a bigger gun. My grandfather has taken hogs all his life with a M1 carbine, and all the hogs we trap on private property are killed with a single 22 magnum. It can be done, but if we consistently killed an animal inhumanely we’d find a better way.

        • mig1nc

          Plenty of hogs go down with one shot. At least the smaller hogs. Maybe those giant pigs like the 1000 lbers would be a challenge though 🙂

          • iksnilol

            Whip out the Garonja for the 400-500 kg ones.

      • carnst

        but you don’t do, you try and it is damn near impossible. ffs not even The USSR succeded and they had platoons out there trying to eradicate both pigs and wolves

        And frankly I think the american way of shooting indiscriminately is way counterproductive

        Look at Germany and other countries with hog problems, shooting a sow is always a big big no-no. piglets without sows becomes even more problem. and that is what makes Franz so great, he is not only fast and accurate he shots the correct pigs

        Not to mention the hazard of having wounded animals fester, if they heal they become super aggresive, if they keel over and die they are a biohazard, spread disease to other animals, waterways and tons of meat around brings in other pests who thrive

        • Zachary marrs

          Have you ever hunted a hog?

          • carnst

            yes but not in Texas, so boar not former domesticated hogs 😛

            we don’t have the sheer numbers you do but I do hunt them, both over a feeder and with a baying or driving dog.

            and some when farmers have recently sown new grain or produce

            It is really not that I care about the hogs really.
            as I said I think the indiscrimante shooting is counterproductive

            IMO and experience sows that have had piglets shot from under them keeps away from that field or nexk of the woods, and if they are constantly moving from area to area they destroy less ground and probably breed less.
            and smaller pigs are better eating to

            and as I said wounded pigs that go of and die by themselves is a hazard, especially for you texans with the warm weather

  • USMC03Vet

    Lever action certainly is antiquated but still cool.

    Lever action cool > tacticool

  • Dan

    Dude you would get all the chicks with that Model T my grandma would put her special dentures on for that

    • jakegranger

      skip the dentures

  • Gidge

    If enough people like shooting them and are willing to pay for them then they’re still relevant.

  • Franciscomv

    Pump and lever action rifles are a great alternative for guys like me who live in very restrictive countries.

    Semiauto centerfire rifles are almost imposible for civilians to own here, so gun shops don’t stock them. Even some fixed magazine semiautos which used to be allowed are now being banned (so we can’t even have something like a SKS). Garands remain legal but they are quite scarce and expensive.

    So lever action rifles offer us a pretty decent option.

    • Swarf

      I have a feeling the clue is in your handle, but I’m not getting it: what country are you in?

      • Franciscomv

        I’m in Argentina.

    • johar

      I had semi-autos (not ARs but hunting ones) but traded them in for levers, sleeker, carry better and more reliable

  • WFDT

    “Janice”, my Rossi 92 in .38/.357, is the duty longarm here at the Double-T Ranch. She’ll handle any type of round that will fit in her, including snake-shot.
    My Colt SP1 AR sits secured in the gun locker, part of the collection.

  • S O

    It’s a typical American notion that LE needs the firepower to cope with worst possible opposition.
    You give LE huge firepower, the worst possible opposition stays a rarity, but the huge firepower gets applied when much less firepower or a stern voice would have sufficed.
    There’s a trade-off between the intended advantage in rare extreme situations and unintended consequences.
    LE in the U.S. often opts for maximum firepower, and the citizens bear the consequences.

    Sometimes it’s best to make limited means available in order to avoid excesses.

    In some other countries, a firearms expert who advises LE is a man who knows how to teach NOT to shoot and still get the job done. All those semi-celebrity firearms experts in the U.S. appear to be about shooting and accident prevention only.

    • Tom Gerace

      Oh brother….cops have been lighting up the population with rifles and “huge firepower” now? Cops have had rifles in squadcars for decades now, show me where they are being routinely misused. Almost all LE shootings you would complain about would have been done with a handgun.

  • Danny O’Connel

    I wouldn’t carry a single action revolver when more modern choices are available, the same goes for a go-to rifle or trunk gun.

    Not that many quality choices that are affordable either since Freedom Group destroyed Marlin. You either buy a used JM Marlin or roll the dice with a Rossi or Remlin.

  • W.P Zeller

    ARs don’t come in .45-70. Marlins do.

  • Wolfgar

    For close range hunting the lever action Winchester is still the top gun in my book. I was trained to hunt with a lever action 32 Winchester lever action and for fast snap shooting rifles there is none faster. Light and quick to shoulder there is none better. All the equations and rhetoric wont replace the mountain of deer, bear, elk and moose I have seen taken with this rifle. My late father and grandfather were deadly with their Winchesters especially when a hunter was expected to use only one round per animal taken. It is not the rifle that is obsolete but the skill of the hunter.

  • Ditto

    Lever guns are awesome.

  • smartacus

    i wouldn’t mind seeing a rifle or mare’s leg in 45GAP

  • Tassiebush

    I think Alex’s choice of guns is okay in this context. Franz Albrecht is a superb shot and one we should all emulate but the big difference is he is shooting driven boars which run past or towards him which also quite frankly aren’t a big deal if some in the mob get away. In contrast feral pigs are often fleeing the shooter and each one that gets away can be a small disaster given the environmental or stock damage they can do. I was just reading an article recently about a farm in Queensland Australia that should have had 800lambs but due to pigs eating them only 200 were left. In the face of those sorts of problems hitting the largest number possible with the trade off of a larger proportion of wounded suddenly seems more acceptable ethically than passing up shots or using a more limited platform. I guess what I’m saying is that pigs often are an extreme enough problem to bend the ethical framework.

    • iksnilol

      But that guy is killing more of them… isn’t the point to kill as many hogs as possible?

      • Tassiebush

        He is awesome and clearly selecting the ones he shoots (I think a small number get through that weren’t by choice) but I think that if his amazing standard of shooting was the benchmark then there wouldn’t be as many pigs being eradicated because hardly anyone else is that good. Don’t get me wrong because I certainly am a believer in the capabilities of bolt actions or leverguns and I think working them properly nice and fast is a badly neglected skill and they really are normally the better hunting arm but I just think the average Texan with a self loader is a much better fit to their pig problem than I would be with my bolt action fetish.

        • iksnilol

          I wasn’t thinking bolt vs selfloader, I was just thinking about the type of shooting he does.

          • Tassiebush

            Oh sorry mate I misunderstood. Yeah driven hunts are very effective. Just tricky to organize in a lot of situations but if it’s possible it’s great.

    • carnst

      but Franz is doing it with a bolt action (or straight pull)

      imagine him in a helicopter with a semi-auto(:

      and IIRC he most often uses 270 win, probably because its flat trajectory and speed, he doesn’t have to lead as much, and he goes for neck shots. he has got BOTH speed and accuracy

      And frankly I think the american way of shooting indiscriminately is way counterproductive

      Look at Germany and other countries with hog problems, shooting a sow is always a big big no-no. piglets without sows becomes even more problem. and that is what makes Franz so great, he is not only fast and accurate he shots the correct pigs

      Not to mention the hazard of having wounded animals fester, if they heal they become super aggresive, if they keel over and die they are a biohazard, spread disease to other animals, waterways and tons of meat around brings in other pests who thrive

      • Tassiebush

        Franz is just superb (rifle is a Sauer 202 from memory with another video featuring him). He’d no doubt be superb as a helishooter using a self loader too. His ability to select them and to neck shoot them full speed is just awesome but there are very few who can shoot so well. That is exactly why he is so fantastic to watch!
        I’m certainly not meaning wounding heaps or failing to catch or finish them if wounded. Just that if a person who is an average shot comes across a large mob of running pigs then trying to hit as many as possible with an immediate follow up afterwards is acceptable in a context where the pest problem is so extreme.
        I don’t think anyone is firing indiscriminately at them. I’ve understood the comments about the shortcomings of the 5.56 differently to mean mortally wounded pigs that just aren’t dropping as quickly as desired.
        I think what you’re saying is right in 95% of scenarios. Just not this one.

        • carnst

          he uses both a sauer 202 and a merkel helix

  • nova3930

    Lever actions certainly have a particular fun factor you can’t get with anything else.

  • Bal256


    “Do you think lever guns have meaningful advantages against AR-15s in a tactical scenario?”.

    “I like how the lever gun looks”
    “Its not as scary for the antis”
    “The lever gun is more fun”
    “I like hunting with lever guns more”
    “The AR-15 isn’t legal everywhere”
    “I don’t think police should own AR-15s”
    “Lever guns have soul”

    Its pretty evident when team lever gun answers by not addressing the actual question.

    • Brian M


      Does a lever gun, versus any semiautomatic, magazine-fed, black rifle, boast”

      * Equivalent or Superior firepower? No
      * A rate of fire as high or low as the user wishes?.
      * Comparable reload times? No.
      * Convenience of ammunition? No.
      * Meaningful weight advantages? No.
      * Demonstrably superior reliability? No.
      * Superior handling characteristics? No.
      * Similar ease of use? No.
      * Versatility? No.
      * Greater economy? No.

      All of these are definite nos, at least for weapons comparable in caliber and such. The real lynchpins are firepower, reloads, convenience, and ease, and on all of these, the lever gun simply does not even match the black rifle in its weakest category, ease of use, where despite black rifles having diverse controls and such, a real hamper with lever guns lies in having to manually reload them one by one and then work a mechanical device for each shot, which is clumsy and slow, not to mention all the potentials for screwups like shortstrokes and doublestroking. The absolute worst point for the lever gun is the absolute strongest one for the black rifle — black rifles are fed by detachable magazines which hold seldom fewer than nigh on three dozen rounds, versus the tubular magazines for lever rifles, which cap out at around a half dozen rounds, give or take a couple.

  • Blake

    call it personal bias, but

    I *LOVE* leverguns!


    Perhaps it has something to do with my dislike of shooting from the prone position, which is admittedly one of the largest drawbacks of leverguns.

    But give me the pairing of a well-built levergun & revolver in .357 mag & I’ll be happy as a clam. You can shoot cheap .38spl all day long (or reload it yourself), & still load up full-power .357 mag when the occasion arrises.


  • Blake

    “Your father’s light saber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

    -Obi-Wan Kenobi

  • Heracleitus

    I’d love to have a .45/70 lever gun. In particular, a Marlin 1895GSBL, but for that same $950 (with no optics), I could buy a Mossberg MVP Patrol in 308 and some decent optics or a low end AR-10. Both of which would be more useful (albeit, probably less fun).

  • Zachary marrs

    Ive seen people missing limbs from hogs, and other, less serious injuries.

    i have no sympathy for pests whose sole purpose in this world is to destroy.

    Go away

  • Chuck Altvater

    Is there anyone making lever-action rifles with the quality and flexibility of an AR?

    I’ve seen lever-actions dressed up like ARs, but it was clearly more novelty than practicality. Living in the Denver Metro area, I’d love to have a quality lever action that is in oat with my AR.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    “Horses for courses!”

  • A.D. Hopkins

    The ability of lever guns to keep on functioning despite dirt and snow is legendary. In the medium calibers they are just the right size and weight for a woodland deer rifle or a camp rifle. Easier to carry than anything that mounts a box magazine. I think they’ll be around for a while yet.

  • Florida Yankee

    Well, a Winchester (or any) lever action that you own and have at hand, is better than the AR still in a store. Mine is older than the AR’s existence ,so I guess I won’t throw it away. Goes well with my old fashioned Colt Single action Army, but I admit I depend on my SIG/Sauer M11-A1 for a bed-side gun right now.

  • maodeedee

    Yes Lever actions are as relevant as anything else although Mossberg recently attemped to make them more relevant by coming out with a “Tactical” version of one with an AR m4 stock which visually and aesthetically is an abomination.

    Lever guns are generally lightweight, compact, and fast to manipulate though I prefer a Pump action like a Rem 760 which Taurus or Rossi used to make and IMI used to have the xlnt “Timberwolf” but those guns were discontinued because the average gun buyer couldn’t connect the dots between how fast a pump shotgun was to manipulate and why a pump action rifle was ALSO almost as fast if not faster than a semi-auto for fast follow up shots.

    Levers are also ambidexterous and I especially love my pre-safety 444 marlin since I’ve lost vision on my once dominant right eye. And mine will shoot 300 grain Bullets accurately in spite of it’s too-slow barrel twist.

  • RPK

    The Henry H001 is a great starter rifle in the lever action field. It is more fun that any American citizen should ever be allowed to have at the range any day of the week and twice on the weekend. It works as a means to teach the basics of firearms (rifle) use. Controlling your breathing (and thus heart rate), proper sight picture (or alignment) and trigger pull (squeeze and don’t yank it). And, the Marlin .30-30 is unbeatable in the realm of taking down moderate to larger sized game. Yes, it is debateable that a semi-automatic rifle can give someone an edge. But, in the right hands, a lever action rifle can not only teach basic shooting skills, it can be a damn deadly tool. If you own one, then you know I do not speak with a forked tongue.

  • Pike0331

    I get that it’s pest control, but when I control pests like roaches or flies, I smash them, I don’t pull their legs off one by one and claim it’s an effective method.

  • Ryan

    For my centerfire cartridge rifle I chose the ubiquitous AR pattern carbine. Now I built mine myself, mostly because I wanted to know exactly what I was getting. That is a much more difficult process when it comes to a lever action rifle. In fact I honestly can’t think of a single place that sells everything you would need to build a lever action rifle, of any sort, from scratch. With the AR-15 pattern rifles there are dozens of places, if not hundreds, where you can purchase everything you need to build a quality weapon. My main reason in choosing an AR-15 type rifle is vast availability of parts and large variety of different projectile profiles. The second reason is that the 5.56×45 cartridge is the standard round issued to our armed forces, and most law enforcement agencies, thus almost guaranteeing its availability in both a surplus and commercial varieties, and during any sort of conceivable national emergency I will have a rifle that will be easily supported from those stocks. Should the worst happen and an organization like the National Guard for instance, is in need of volunteers, those with rifles that use that cartridge will definitely be more useful than the guys who have less common calibers in whatever form of weapon they bring to the situation.
    Now on the other side of the argument, when it comes to rimfire my choice every time is my Henry lever action rifle. It can chamber every sort of .22 caliber rimfire ammunition short of the longer .22 magnum rounds. It has an ample magazine tube, which is admittedly much slower to load than a magazine fed rifle, that can carry a mixture of different rounds without issue. Try that with most semi-auto rimfire rifles! My Henry is topped with nice old 3-9×40 Bushnell scope mounted in Leupold see through rings. This allows me to still fully utilize the iron sights for close in work, while having the option of going to the scope for either a longer range shot, or a more precise one. While I wouldn’t want to be left with only my .22 if the SHTF, I also wouldn’t really feel terribly disadvantaged either. A good .22lr 40gr solid can take game as large as a whitetail deer in an emergency situation and can certainly kill a human if pressed into that role. Now I don’t want to hear a bunch of trolls complaining that a .22 should never be used to hunt deer. I know that. It is certainly not the most humane way to take game of that size. But if comes down to eating or not, mine or my family’s survival or starvation, then I am glad the round is at least capable of doing the job. My preference for the Henry over the many very fine semi-automatic rimfire rifles out there is one of a purely personal nature. I like the fact that I can use little CB rounds if I want to be very quiet when taking small game without the need for buying a can. I can load long rifle, long, and short cartridges and accomplish almost everything I need a rifle to do for me.
    If I can’t get the job done with the .22 then I have the 5.56 that can definitely reach out and touch someone given the proper ammunition. Seeing as I had the foresight to build mine with a 1 in 7 barrel so that I can use high BC 77gr rounds like the new Black Hills ammunition. I can feel comfortable about being able reach out as far as 600-700 yards if I absolutely have to do so. Of course the rifle is at its best in the 200-300 yard region but I can take it farther if the need arises.
    All of this being said I don’t think that there is any one perfect rifle. Nothing is the best for every different shooting application. A .308 can reach out and take a target at a much farther distance than even my well built 5.56, but it is a heavier weapon to hump through the bush or over a mountain. None of the centerfire rifle rounds make for very good small game rounds. Now the 5.56 can be loaded lightly and perhaps be effective on animals as small as say a coyote, but try hitting a rabbit with one and you won’t have a lot of meat left on your bunny. Take your .22 (of any variety) up against a bear or other large and dangerous game and you are most likely only going to wind up as that beast’s next meal. So own both. Get yourself a quality semi-automatic military caliber rifle that you can carry for an extended period of time and practice until its use becomes second nature. But also own a good lever action rimfire for when you need to take small game or simply want to be able to carry a LOT more ammunition with you when you are going to be far afield or away from a source of ammunition for a long period of time. (I can easily carry 1000 rounds of .22lr for about the same weight of a single combat load of 240 rounds in my 5.56)
    Just my humble opinions guys. No offense intended to anyone who chooses other calibers or weapons for their own use. I agree with everyone who mentioned the fact that you have no need to feel under gunned if all you own is a lever action rifle. They are plenty fast if you have practiced that way, and they are more versatile in several ways. However, if your weapon goes down for whatever reason, repairing your AR pattern rifle in the field is almost ridiculously easy to do, while the same simply cannot be said of any lever action rifle.

  • Zebra Dun

    My first line go to rifle is a Winchester M-94 in .30 WCF-30/30
    I’ve owned three lever guns, one a Marlin 1984 In a time and place where an AR type platform can get the National Guard called out the lever gun is always just an old deer rifle.
    The ammo for most can e found in stock practically everywhere.

  • billyoblivion


    I mean cite me three *actual* cases where someone got their life blown out of them by a civilian and there is *any* evidence that the decision to prosecute for murder/manslaughter/wahatever was made on the basis of the rifle having some notional design similarity to something a military was carrying.

    Proximity, Intent, Means. The lethal force checklist. The shoot is either good, questionable, or bad. And the *weapon*, given that it is otherwise legal, generally has nothing to do with it. (Note the “otherwise legal” part. If you shoot someone with a gun you’re not supposed to have you’re going to trial on *some* charge).

  • billyoblivion

    While in general I agree with your position that technology doesn’t beat training, do you want to use Lance Armstrong as the posterboy for “Cops don’t need cars”?

    Taking someone like Munden or Miculek as a reason to take modern semi-autos away from police is, well, it’s either pushing an agenda, or a lack of thinking it through. Cops do not (generally) sign up to play with guns, and the ones who do are generally…not kept around much (or they go to armorer school, wind up in training or running the police range, but there’s few of those slots).

    The same amount of training that it would take to get your average cop proficient with a single action revolver could be used on shoot/no-shoot scenarios, role play training etc. that would make the officer not just a better shot, but also a safer and better *officer*.

  • Cm

    only reading a small portion of the comments and not watching the videos was it pointed out that levers are ambidextrous and have a much lower learning/retention curve? there are many employed whose duties are where an AR would be a detrimental platform. live stock and animal control officers, park rangers to think of a few, need a rifle much more for animal control that can also be used in a EL capability. speaking from personal experience w/ my brother, individuals drawn to these positions are very likely to come from a rural background where a lever was their first gun and still their personal choice.