What’s Wrong with Lever Guns?

Image source: Rock Island Auction

Image source: Rock Island Auction

Imagine an alternate universe in which Hollywood has spent decades making genre movies in which every single main character uses a Borchardt C93, and now factories are cranking out almost nothing but cast steel facsimiles of Borchardts to meet the demand based entirely on these movies. All other semiauto pistol designs never took off in sales and remained curios with the exception of the Roth-Steyr M1907 which had a production run of about a million units over a century, and which hasn’t been made since 1997. The other exception is the Gabbett-Fairfax Mars, which remains in limited production and is used only where people need more power than 7.65mm Borchardt.

Astute readers will notice that this is not a picture of a lever-action rifle. Image source: Rock Island Auction.

You get to pick between one of these three pistols, except that they have all been redesigned for and made using modern manufacturing techniques. Everything else has turned out to be a market flop. Image source: Rock Island Auction.

 

In that alternate universe, you would be perfectly justified in saying semiauto pistols suck. Now I’m going to tell you a secret: We live in this universe, but for lever-actions instead of semiauto pistols.

I cannot seem to escape an issue that has come up several times in the comments section: I think lever-actions suck, and a lot of people are not happy with that.

UJB9-F-F1-H

In Dimension C-137, this is the best pistol ever made. There, production ended in 1997 and the parent company now makes a successful line of budget revolvers. Image source: Rock Island Auction

 

I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t going to be me railing on for 1500 words about how terrible I think these guns are, or how when I was young a roving gang of Rossi 92s murdered my parents in cold blood in an alley one fateful night. Instead, I want to come at this from a different angle, a more positive (although still critical) one.

SAU3-R-F2-L

In Dimension C-137, if you want to go hunting with a semiauto pistol, you have to use one of these. That’s… Not that different from our timeline, actually. Image source: Rock Island Auction.

 

I’ve used extreme examples in the imaginary scenario above (is the Browning BLR really as convoluted and weird as the Gabbett-Fairfax Mars? No) to make a point, but we can see a lot of analogies in modern lever action rifles. Most of the lever action designs available on the market today exist because of tradition and a certain kind of desired appearance. They have been altered for production according to modern low-labor manufacturing methods, which causes some problems considering the original designs were intended to be produced according to high-labor turn of the century methods that are no longer cost effective. Even minor design changes to existing lever action designs would substantially improve them (cantilevering the magazine tube and deleting or moving the barrel band, and using a socket arrangement instead of a tang mount for the stock immediately come to mind for rifles like the 1894 and 336), and a substantial overhaul to the entire concept wouldn’t be unwelcome, either. Yet, even though this has been attempted several times, almost all of those attempts either flopped or have now been discontinued (e.g., the Savage 99, probably the best lever action ever made).

Lever-action rifles could be great, but they’re yoked to 150 year old conventions that do nothing but drag on their functionality. Even developments like the Browning BLR and Henry Long Ranger, which I appreciate for not using tubular magazines, still conform to a Western box receiver aesthetic that – although pleasing to many – gives them higher MSRPs than forged receiver bolt action rifles, while still having to be either made outside the country or from less expensive castings.

I don’t want the traditional lever action rifle “cowboy gun” to go away, far from it. I would, however, like for the industry to step outside the box to make something with a lever that is truly better than what was possible over 120 years ago, and for the consumer market to reward them for doing it.



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 can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Disarmed in CA

    Uh, what?

    • Swarf

      Yeah, that.

    • Zachary marrs

      Yeah. This, i was going to just blame the fact im drinking, but wow

  • Dracon1201

    What modern improvements are you specifically interested in seeing?

    I personally would like to see a box mag fed lever action, stock more like a Magpul R700 stock, lower tube eliminated, integrated peep sights, full pic rail, ambi rotating selector, with a threaded barrel, in modern rifle calibers.

    But once you do that, why wouldn’t you just reach for an AR?

    Basically, is it the romance of the lever that you crave, or is it the functionality?

    • M.M.D.C.

      I think the answer might be ‘both.’ It’s a bit like driving a vintage pickup truck; modern pickups will haul more, burn less fuel, are easier to drive and more comfortable to ride in – BUT… there’s something about the sensations associated with the antiquated mechanics and style of an old truck that is appealing in a way that is real but difficult to describe.

      • Dracon1201

        So it’s the romanticism/2nd kind of cool thing for you. I get that. It’s the same reason I have a Scout rifle. It’s fun. I’ve always enjoyed levers, but some modernization would help, as long as it doesn’t look like that 30-30 Mossberg abortion.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        I like your pickup analogy.

      • valorius

        Old sports cars too. 🙂

    • My big complaints are:

      – Tubular magazines have always and will forever suck a lot. They’re good for shotguns (because with thin plastic hulls they tend to suck less than box magazines), but I would not design a new centerfire rifle to use tubular magazines.

      – Tang stock mounting is bad, if you’re at all planning on using wood stocks. Tangs and wood stocks need to be carefully shaped in order to distribute the recoil forces correctly, and this adds cost (although I admit it improves style somewhat), and only delays the inevitable breakage of the stock. I would not design a new centerfire rifle to use tang stocks.

      – Monobloc “slab side” receivers look cool (and I am honestly personally a fan of them), but they add cost and reduce the competitiveness of lever-actions. There doesn’t seem to be any reason besides style to use monobloc receivers, either.

      Beyond those “big three”, there are a bunch of little improvements with potentially big consequences* that could be made here or there to the classic lever action. You’ll note that some of all of these improvements have been made on previous designs (Savage 99, Winchester 88, Finnwolf, Marlin Levermatic, etc), but few of those designs sold well. So more than whining to the industry that I want better leverguns, I’m kind of asking the community to think about rewarding manufacturers for trying something different.

      *e.g., why do lever actions have a reputation for not being accurate? There’s not any reason why actuating the cycle via lever makes a gun inaccurate, so this is related to the design details of the gun (and tube mags aren’t a help here, either).

      As for why the lever action in general: Why not? Sure, you could use an AR-15 for just about anything, but we don’t today. There is room for manually operated guns, as evidenced by the popularity of bolt guns. Just because something has a lever on it doesn’t mean its obsolete, especially if we could move past the 120-year-old paradigm.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Don’t forget the traditional barrel band that seems to be on every levergun except the Savage and BLR. That does nothing beneficial for precision.

        • Marcus D.

          My Model 92 Winchester does not have a barrel band.

          • ostiariusalpha

            No, it just has a band attaching the magazine to the barrel, which has an equivalent effect on precision.

          • Kivaari

            Shirt tube or dovetail?

        • gunsandrockets
          • ostiariusalpha

            Most of the 336 rifles have barrel bands, the XLR’s use of screws is not an improvement.

        • ozzallos .

          Barrel bands are hardly unique to lever guns. The ruger 10/22, for example. By that criteria, any AR barrel that is not free floated is up for dispute.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Right, non-free floated, pencil barreled ARs are nothing to write home about in the precision department, and anyone that owns a 10/22 (including yours truly) is familiar with the stock version’s obvious limitations as anything more than a plinking rifle. But at least these guns have numerous options to fix their harmonics issues, and both can be turned into very fine precision rifles. There’s no such luck with a tube magazine, attachment to the barrel is the only option that has ever been made available, and even on the box magazine versions of leverguns, there is usually no provision to secure the forend to anything but the barrel. There is no particular reason that a lever action can’t have a free floated barrel, but there seems to be zero momentum to develop such models in the present market.

      • gunsandrockets

        What’s wrong with the aluminum receiver of the Henry Long Ranger? How does it add any more cost to the firearm than the aluminum receiver of a Mossberg shotgun or an AR rifle?

        • Versus an AR-15, the production architecture is not currently there (AR-15s benefit from tooling that has long since been paid for).

          Versus shotguns, lever actions must somehow be able to deal with high pressure rifle cartridges, where in comparison shotguns do not. Plus, they have higher standards for accuracy, which shotguns do not.

          We see this in every new design like this, not just lever actions. The Henry Long Ranger is slated to cost over a grand (MSRP), but we also see it with the FN SCAR (over $2k), the S805 Bren (over $2k), and other weapons.

          Where we see cost savings is with minimalist bolt action receivers made of steel that are essentially hogged out of round stock. This is not necessarily the only pattern that could be made very economically (MSRP below $500), but it is the one that has consistently been made that economically. You could also possibly do something like a cast aluminum receiver, with clever design.

          It may be possible to make an inexpensive (MSRP below $500) lever action with a slab side metallic receiver, but I strongly suspect to do so you would have to divorce significantly from traditional lever action design practices.

          • Tassiebush

            I find this a really interesting topic! I can’t help but think that a pretty economical entry into this niche could be made using a limited number of steel parts basically taking on the similar approach of bolt in a Savage set into a steel reinforced polymer action frame.

          • Yeah, it could be done pretty easily if there were a gun company willing to take practically any risks at all.

          • gunsandrockets

            Just like a Remington 760 or an AR, the Long Ranger has a rotating bolt which locks into a barrel extension.

            And you keep mixing up production costs with pricing. I’ve already shown the gun market doesn’t work that way. Do you really believe the receiver of the higher priced Long Ranger is more expensive to manufacture than a Marlin’s receiver?

          • So then why can’t Marlin offer a centerfire levergun under $500, either?

          • gunsandrockets

            Either?

            First off every retail outlet I can find already sells the Marlin 336W 30-30 lever action for less than $500 even when it is not subject to a promotional sale.

            And your question doesn’t make sense to me. Marlin’s lever actions are already priced lower than the Henry Long Ranger, despite the fact the Marlins are more complicated and expensive to manufacture.

      • Kivaari

        The Winchester M88 and M100 were very common to see with broken stocks. In the first few years the M88 (in particular) showed up at the shop with broken stocks. Falling off logs, a common thin in our neck of the woods, resulted in more broken M88 stocks than any other stock I have ever seen. That is since the 60’s. Few people owned the M100. Those that did had similar issues and never learned how to clean semi-auto rifles and the gas systems rusted out. Same on the Remington 740, 742 and 7400.

        • Yeah, tang-style stock mounts are far from the only way to screw up a stock-receiver interface. It’s a fairly involved problem, but one that’s been figured out for well over a hundred years now…

      • ozzallos .

        Sigh.

        Tubular magazines are fine. There is less that can go wrong with them and you can’t lose it. If you don’t have a mag for reasons, you’re screwed. A gun equipped with a tubular mag is a self sufficient package.

        You can say tang mounting is bad, but somehow the millions of lever guns out there don’t have this stock breakage issue you seem to think is rampant in the design. Go ahead. Take an impromptu poll of the lever gun owners out there. Hell, I’ll even do it for you if you want. Well, not really, because I already know the real answer.

        Monobloc receivers add cost… And you’re point? This comment on a site that regularly features expensive range toys is kind of ridiculous.

        Those supposedly inaccurate leverguns have been slaying millions of deer for the past 100 years. You’re sadly buying into the same trope that says that the 30-30 complete stops and falls out of the air at 100 yards because the interwebs say that’s its maximum effective range. Just like you can work a side lever like a mad man, I can point you at numerous examples that will prove you wrong.

        By the 120 year old paragim I assume you mean to contrast it against the likes of the Savage 99 with its ability to equip spitzer points in a internal rotary mag. They’re fine rifles, but you’ll never be able to load more than 4-5 round in them, let alone anything in the forty caliber range. Mag fed leverguns were already bundled in the first point.

        The way I see it, your “facts” have a problem: They’re not as factual as you think they are.

      • somethingclever

        Sorry to resurrect this thread, but you’ve honestly made me consider a wishlist of features I’d like in a “modern” lever action. I agree about getting rid of a tubular magazine. It made sense when the preferred cartridges were rimmed, but not so much anymore. So a box mag. I would want to replace the hammer with a tang safety. Side eject is preferable. The ability to shoot African dangerous game (375 Ruger, 416 Ruger, dare I ask for 458 Win Mag?).

  • I M Deplorable

    My wife likes the Jesse Stone mysteries. Tom Selleck probably has something to do with that. But in one episode the bad guy has a lever action 308 and I thought, never heard of that. But sure enough, Browning makes one. But is there really an advantage when you factor in flat nosed bullets for the tube magazine?

    • A.WChuck

      The Browning uses a three round rotary magazine, I believe.
      Edit:
      Marlin makes or made a .308 Marlin round for tube fed guns, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that.

      • Porty1119

        .308 Marlin Express. It’s designed to shoot 150gr Hornady flex-tips and roughly equal .308Win performance out of a tubular-magazine lever gun, and generally succeeds while not being stupidly expensive to feed.

        • I M Deplorable

          Makes think of the movie Hud, it still upsets me when they destroy his cattle herd.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      They make a takedown model and it looks good.

  • Joesph Constable

    I would like them to put a gear in it to shorten the stroke. It is the number one reason I don’t buy one. The second reason is I want a detachable magazine.

    Just don’t chamber it in .223 so the AR people will not crowd the market.

    • Julius No

      That would be an incredibly stiff lever, with no mechanical advantage for primary extraction.

      • ostiariusalpha

        You could have a staged lever stroke. The smaller first part of the stroke would simply turn the bolt for primary extraction as it unlocks the lugs, then the second longer part would use a gear ratio to move the the bolt group back for ejection and feeding in the shortened stroke that Constable desires.

  • Some Guy

    I agree with the point that hte Savage 99 may be the best lever action rifle ever made. I would love to see someone in the USA pick up the manufacturing rights and start turning out new examples of that rifle, maybe with some modern improvements. Originals in good shape are getting scarce and pricey. I’d love to have a new source on them, even if it cost me more.

    I’m only 32, by the way. So this isn’t about nostalgia for me. I think they are genuinely highly functional firearms with genuine advantages for me.

  • Aono

    Savage 99, not Finnwolf?

    • My understanding is that the Finnwolf is also excellent, but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one.

      • Don’t forget the Marlin Levermatic.

        • Dougscamo

          Or the 88 Winchester…though I still see them for sale

        • Marcus

          Amen, The Marlin was a very short throw lever action, that came in tube and detachable magazine versions, in .22 and .22 magnum. I have a .22 version with detachable mag. It would be great if they came out with one that shot larger calibers.

          • Tassiebush

            They did come in .30carbine and .256mag (based on a necked down .357mag). I think .357 was there too and probably a bunch more I can’t remember.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      Thanks for writing about the Finnwolf. Never heard of it. Learn something new everyday!

  • Sianmink

    When the bolt-action repeater came out, lever-action rifles were doomed to irrelevance. the only reason anyone wants a lever-action is nostalgia/looks, and neither of those reasons adapts well to modernization or improvements, and really, how much can you do to improve a lever-action rifle? It will still never be as good as a good bolt-action or even a pump.

    • nova3930

      Don’t forget that working the action on a lever gun is a hulluva lotta fun….

    • Paul White

      Why doesn’t anyone still make a pump action rifle in pistol calibers? Too pricey or something?

      • Porty1119

        I’d imagine something like a beefed-up 870 in .410 would do. I’d love one.

        • Paul White

          Pump action .357 mag with a 20″ barrel and an 11 round capacity. Tapped for a red dot. Pumpkin slayer!

          • Tim

            I’ve often though about a 870 scaled down to .357, .44 and various other revolver cartridges. I had a Winchester 94 in .357 and it temperamental and fragil. The 870 baised design would have a high capacity, fast linear cycling, and be very robust.

            Currently I have the 77/357 paired with my SP101 or 686. Personally I think this combo is great to travel with. Simple ammo logistics and it covers a lot of potential issues.

          • Sulaco3

            IMI Timber Wolf pump .357/.38 carbine, have one love it.

          • Bill

            A highly underrated carbine.

      • Swarf

        Some Italian manufacturers make a repro of the Colt Lightning in 357 but they are pricey. Taurus made a slide action called the Tunderbolt, but I believe it has been discontinued for a number of years and… ran spottily when it was in production.

        Those were cowboy guns for SASS and the like, which is cool, but what I would love is something like my Remington 760 but in .357 instead of 30-06 (same size magazine but 4 times as many bullets, yes?!). And, uhm, not built by the current incarnation of Remington.

        • Marcus D.

          A friend of mine has shot the Lightening repro and says it is an absolute gas and very fast. Uberti makes them only in .45 Colt, at least a the current time. The price is about $1300, similar to their other lever and rolling block rifles. Their Sharps rifles are much much more.

    • Porty1119

      Please find me a bolt gun as useful for home defense as a pistol-caliber lever gun. Better hope it’s sold both left- and right-handed models, too!

      • DrewN

        Not only sold,but actually available to buy.

      • Bill

        Pick a Scout rifle. Though I’d probably lean towards the pistol caliber lever gun also, just because.

    • Aside from Enfields, how many bolt guns held more than five rounds of anything bigger than squirrel calibers before the Steyr and Ruger scout rifles came around? Lever action big-bores will always have a place in heavy brush, and most of them will have more rounds on tap than comparable bolt actions.

    • gusto

      and yet they survived and are used practically to this day

      If you are hunting by foot the lever action is just best

      low weight, handy and very carryable

      pump? the unicorn BPR? the rem 7600 sucks, might be decently accurate but that is it, rattly POS

    • Porty1119

      Southpaws exist. Left-handed bolt guns may as well not.

  • Captain obvious

    The lever action is what it is. It has reached the zenith of it’s design capabilities. Beyond that it turns into something else. Yes, I am a fan, I have a 336 in 35 rem, a Marlin 375, a 94 and two 99s. One of those is 113 years old in 303 Sav. The other is a 99C in 308.

    • In what respect are a Sako Finnwolf, Marlin Levermatic, or Winchester 88 not leverguns?

  • Martin M

    despite all their shortcomings, I love lever guns. Aside from their aesthetic qualities (a major factor in firearms design) they have many things going for them. Chiefly is their shape. Thanks to a tube magazine they have adequate capacity while maintaining a slender shape.

    Sure they have their limitations, but so does every firearm. It’s a right tool for the job situation.

  • Don Ward

    Again. This is a continuation on the theme but the main complaint from the rational defenders of lever guns is that they don’t “really, really suck” as has been the complaint by two of my good TFB buddies. I maintain the position that they don’t “really, really suck”. Guns that “really, really suck” are KelTecs, those little micro .22 revolvers and apparently Remington R51s and so forth.
    Any of the rational civilian activities that a lever action rifle was useful for in the 1890s is still applicable today. And while the design might not be optimal, their ubiquitous nature and easy of use and shear numbers means that they still are “viable” to use that word today.
    Furthermore, there are niches where they succeed and are quite useful.
    1) An Alaskan “bush” gun chambered in 45-70/.444 Marlin
    2) A brush gun for deer hunting for shots under 50 yards in clearcut and whatnot.
    3) As a self defense carbine/ranch rifle in states where EVIL black rifles are outlawed/onerous to own.

    • I’ve said it several times, but we’re about 150 years beyond the point where some kind of minimum standard for firearms efficacy has been met. So yes, you can shoot a deer just fine with a levergun, but there are a bunch of ways in which they suck, too, that more modern designs have long since gotten past.

      And you know how I feel about the word “viable”…

      • Don Ward

        That’s why I used the word “viable” as an inside joke.

      • Don Ward

        The point is that there are still plenty of areas where lever action guns work great and I’ve mentioned them before.
        Taking a step back, I’ll use a different example. One can say bow and arrows “really, really suck” or black powder rifles “really, really suck” for reasons that you mentioned about the progress of technology.
        Except, hundreds of thousands (millions?) of hunters use intentionally obsolete technology in order to get a couple weeks head start on the deer and elk hunting season. It’s a niche. It’s filled. And it’s filled with weapons that the newest and latest tactical gear can’t fill.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Have you seen the newest compound bows? That’s some pretty innovative engineering they’re putting into them, despite their “niche” applications. They have a market that rewards them for producing novel designs.

          • Don Ward

            True. I completely agree. On the other hand, by the same parameters outlined by the infamous TFB video a couple weeks ago, bows “really, really suck” because they aren’t a Kar98.

        • What hunting law mandates that lever actions must have crappy tang mounted stocks and obsolete tube magazines?

          • Raginzerker

            If they’re so crappy why does mine kill deer every year? No, lever actions aren’t the best gun ever but they still work, personally, I hate bolt guns, they’re boring imho, get off your high horse and just get over the fact people like different things than you, makes you sound like a trolly neckbeard

          • You can hunt whitetail with a garden hose, let’s be honest here.

            I think it’s interesting that I keep getting told to “get over the fact that other people like different things than you”, when what was originally so offensive to levergun people was the fact that anyone could not like lever-actions. I mean, how could they not!?

            I mean, I’m not coming into your comments sections and telling you what to think, now am I?

          • Kivaari

            How many times does it take telling people the can like or dislike whatever they like before they understand that they can like or dislike anything they want?

          • Liking things and insisting they are the best is halal. Disliking things is haram.

          • Paul White

            There’s a difference between “I don’t personally like this thing” and “This thing sucks.”

          • RA

            Do you hunt with the Bolt action or Semi-auto garden hose?

          • valorius

            what’s wrong with a tube magazine? Or tang mounted stocks?

            I shoot lever actions quite well, and i find them to be plenty fast.

          • jay

            I want a new 1895 Winchester in 7.62x54r. No tube magazine. Put a nice scope on it, and you have a 100 yr old sniper rifle. Know anyone who makes them new? And yes, I want it stripper clip capable.

      • Marcus D.

        Personally, if I were gadding about in Alaskan back country, I’d rather have a lever gun in .45-70 than any bolt gun, and ARs need not apply. Will an AR down an angry grizzly? Probably, but I don’t want to be the one to try it. A bolt gun most definitely has the power, but if you stumble across said grizzly around a bend in the creek, you are not going to get a follow up shot if you miss.

        • I don’t feel that way, but then I run bolts faster than I do levers…

          • jay

            It comes down to training, ergonomics and cartridge. I can cycle a very fast mad minute with my Enfield #4 MK1, and hit the gong every time. But if I had to go against a black or brown bear, and lug my choice through the woods, I’d choose my Marlin 336cs. Much lighter to lug, but a real shoulder bruiser compared to my Enfield. Still I’d trust the .35Rem to stop the bear, before the .303. But I could still do a very fast follow up with the Marlin.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          Answer: .458 Socom AR15; You have the ballistics of .45-70 in a detachable mag fed semi auto platform.

          Though a .308 AR or M1A Scout Squad would also do quite well.

          • Marcus D.

            Now let’s talk about weight. The 16″ 1873 or 1892 will weigh in at seven pounds or less. The M1A at 9.5 or better. Most of the AR 10s I’ve seen are about the same. Which would you chose to lug around?

          • Kivaari

            A ’73 or ’92 shoot pistol cartridges.

          • Marcus D.

            Yes, yes, my 92 is in .45 Colt. They also come (now) in .357 Mag. .44-40 and .44 Mag. But we were talking about the .45-70 Guide gun. The Marlin 1895 weighs in at 7 lbs., the Henry an ounce more. Serious firepower in a light weight and handy package.

          • ozzallos .

            458 will never reach the potential of a full house 45-70 in a lever action due to case size constraints

        • rebart

          I don’t think they have Grizzlies in Aus. A .45-70 is overkill for their animal population, but I wish I had one.

          • gusto

            you crazy?

            a camel is the size of a moose if not more, they have water buffalo and big hogs, but they probably need something abit more flatshooting cuz of the scenary

          • rebart

            I think my .308 lever gun would do the job. How much camel hunting do they do? Heck, people all over the world kill big hogs with guns a lot less powerful than the .45-70. In fact, I know for sure some hunt hogs with a hand gun.

          • rebart

            blank

          • Tassiebush

            There actually are some big species that warrant something at that power level. Depending on the area there are Sambar deer, Asian water buffalo, scrub bulls or banteng (a relative of other bovids) which are all big beasts. Sambar are found in our two most populous States.

          • rebart

            Those Sambar Deer are awesome. The are big and beautiful. I’m not sure I want to hunt scrub bulls with any thing less than a mini gun. Just kidding, I think a .45-70 would do it, but I’d prefer an African elephant gun. However, if you miss your’e in trouble. Bolt guns are far slower to get a second shot than a lever gun. But to each his own.

        • rebart

          Agreed.

      • rebart

        If you are making claims about levers suck, please back those claims up with a little intelligent evidence. Notice, I didn’t use the word “prove”

        • I’ve gone over these exhaustively, just look at my writing elsewhere (even in these comments).

        • Kivaari

          He is entitled to his opinion. His articles and others have outlined why lever actions are not his first love. Accept it.

      • rebart

        Your opinion ONLY! You know what Dirty Harry said about opinions.

        • No, it’s not my opinion. I’ve explained at length why the features of almost all modern leverguns significantly impede their efficacy and longevity. That is empirical fact, not opinion.

          • valorius

            I guess the reason i find them so highly effective is because i never read your article. LMAO.

      • valorius

        i dont think a lever gun ‘sucks’ in any way whatsoever for brush hunting anything you’re gonna find in N. America.

    • Peter Nissen

      I have to agree with Don – Living in Australia – I would consider a lever gun the perfect survival tool. Biggest game we have to worry about are the water buffs and the crocs but after that – there isn’t anything that can’t be taken down with a 30-30. And having carted around a Win 94 for years – a firearm that required minimal care but functioned perfectly when needed.

      • rebart

        You don’t have wild hogs?

        • clampdown

          I think hogs are well within the capabilities of a .30-30. However, I’m kind of surprised that water buffaloes would be considered within those parameters. Living in GA, however, the .30-30 is pretty much all one really *needs* for game, or, in my case, my SKS…it’s my only centerfire gun right now, but if push came to shove, I don’t think I’d need much else.

    • ozzallos .

      This has been my problem with every iteration of Nathan’s rant– The complete and willful disregard for several very legitimate uses of the lever action where few other viable options exist.

      It does an otherwise decent blog a disservice every time he pushes the topic because his little lever temper tantrum screams amateur and irrational bias.

  • A.WChuck

    I think the Toggle action biathlon rifles are as close to a modern lever action as you are going to find.
    I’m a lever fan and would love a lever action rifle in a more modern cartridge.

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    Aren’t they obsolete according to Alex?

    • Porty1119

      The same guy whose idea of the perfect infantry rifle is a Gewehr 98? Yes.

      • Kivaari

        The G98 was the best BOLT action of the era.

  • abecido

    I wouldn’t want to live in Dimension C-137, but I would like to visit a well stocked gun store there.

    • iksnilol

      I, uh, I don’t know, Rick, it doesn’t seem so safe.

      • Billy Jack

        Their economy is based on the trading of sexual favors for goods and services.

    • Alexandru Ianu

      I don’t know. Most non-micro pistols being a derived Borchardt action doesn’t sound too bad to me as long as there are double stack options readily available.

  • Bierstadt54

    Okay, I can get with this post. I love the Old West nostalgia of the 1873, 1876, and a few others, but I would love to see some development of the lever gun. I would enjoy seeing something that LOOKS GOOD (the Browning BLR is modern but just looks like a bolt gun with a lever added, and if that is all you are doing why bother) and shoots modern bullets.

    • Porty1119

      Personally, I’d love something like an up-to-date Winchester 1895, with both fixed and detachable magazine options (in other words, a detachable magazine with stripper clip guides) for both traditionalists and the tacticool crowd. Chamber it in .223, .300BLK, and 7.62×39 for the mini-action, .243 and .308 for the short-action, and .30-06 (and maybe some of the freakish magnum cartridges) for the long-action variant. I suspect that a .300BLK levergun with a 16″ threaded barrel would be a hit in places that prohibit semiautos for hunting.

      • Paul White

        Make in 7.62×54 too, for repro purposes.

        • Porty1119

          Most definitely.

      • Bierstadt54

        An up-to-date Winchester 1895 that can conveniently mount a scope and chambered in a medium bore magnum would be my favorite rifle.

  • Billy bob

    Maybe they can make one that takes glock mags?

  • Lever actions were doing pistol caliber carbines before pistol caliber carbines were cool.

    • Major Tom

      But unlike those neutered subguns, a lever action has been mastered for over 100 years in manufacture. Plus a number of them get quite accurate and useful. Triply so if you live in an area with idiotic gun control laws. No bullet buttons or pathetic mag limits on a good old levergun.

      • You’re right, it has all that bureaucratic nonsense built right in.

        • GaryOlson

          A bureaucrat is afraid of new, except their “new” ideas, and embraces the legacy heritage. Bureaucrats have accepted the “nonsense” of a levergun over a flintlock or a spear because the fog of history creates romanticism. I suggest in 100 years an AR will be legacy; and the new rifle will be “nonsense”.

        • Damn yankees can still load their tube magazine repeater on Sunday and fire it all week, even if their state legislatures have a rather casual relationship with the Bill Of Rights.

  • Darren Hruska

    For one, lever-actions have higher theoretical rates of fire than traditional bolt-actions, contrary to what Alex stated in his video. It’s simple physics. With a lever-action, you’re moving your trigger hand from-and-back-to the trigger in a singular motion (as the lever acts as the trigger guard). With a traditional turn-bolt rifle, it’s a dual-motion process. Although, a well-made, smooth straight-pull rifle should come alarmingly close, but even then, your hand still has to jump between the trigger guard and bolt.

    Secondly, you’re more likely to find a unicorn roaming a gun shop than a left-hand configured bolt-action rifle. Lever-actions are just MUCH more ambi-friendly right out of the gate. Crossbar safeties on otherwise ambi-friendly guns can go to hell, though.

    If we’re going to talk about obsolescence, a very well-made semi-automatic rifle can put just about every manual-operated rifle to shame. In the world of manual rifles, I think lever-actions are still relevant, but as you mentioned, Nathaniel, they can use a bit of an upgrade. Bolt-actions have went from integrated box magazines being the norm to detachable box magazines being the norm while lever-action rifles are generally still stuck with the tube magazine. A successful lever-action with even just an integrated box magazine would be very welcomed. I do recall reading about Henry Repeating Arms developing a lever-action with a detachable box magazine a few months ago (in a local outdoors newspaper), but I haven’t heard about it since then.

    • iksnilol

      Not really, fire with middle fingre, use thumb and pointer to cycle bolt.

      • ostiariusalpha

        You still have to remove your trigger finger every time you cycle the action. It is much simpler to re-index with a levergun.

    • Paul White

      for hunting rifles I still prefer internal fixed magazines personally.

    • Here’s what the strokes for both look like:

      http://i.imgur.com/jY308XB.png

      I think a lot of people like to compare short-stroked pistol caliber lever guns against full-length bolt actions, and then conclude that levers are faster.

      • How fast do you really need to be able to fire five rounds from a long ranged scoped hunting rifle anyway? If you have to resort to the Mad Minute on a hunt, maybe you should either hunt smaller game or use a bigger gun.

        Seriously though, even comparing Macintoshes to Granny Smiths with a bolt gun and lever gun in the same caliber, a bolt action requires [take hand off of firing position → counterclockwise rotational motion → rearward motion → forward motion → clockwise rotational motion → move hand back to firing position and re-index the trigger], while a lever action requires [raise thumb → forward/down motion → up/rear motion → lower thumb and re-index trigger]; it’s an inherently simpler set of movements that begins and ends with the hand in a natural shooting position.

        • I can teach someone to run a bolt gun quickly in about two minutes, so it’s not that complicated.

          • Of course it’s not complicated, it’s just slightly less not complicated than the movement of a lever. Most people are never going to use either action type in a way where the difference is big enough to matter.

          • Honestly, the actual movement of your hand is pretty hemispherical, just like a lever-action. And I still find that I run bolt guns faster than I do levers.

        • Giolli Joker

          Nice Apple to apple comparison!

      • gunsandrockets

        Riiiight. As if the Ruger 77/357 would be significantly faster!

        What might make a real difference in bolt-action speed is some of the better designed straight-pull bolt actions. But even they are slower than a good lever action.

        • Try a CZ 527 sometime, I bet you’ll change your tune. 🙂

          (And keep in mind that’s a rifle that’s more effective in terms of delivered energy on target than a .30-30)

    • Vizzini

      Secondly, you’re more likely to find a unicorn roaming a gun shop than a left-hand configured bolt-action rifle.

      This is the entire issue for me. I just don’t want to restrict myself to what I can find in left-handed bolt guns (which are then awkward for every right-handed shooter and probably much harder to sell).

      Ohio recently started allowing straight-walled cartridges in rifles (mostly pistol-caliber, but includes some larger straight-walled cartridges like .45-70) for white tail deer and so it was a lever gun I chose. I looked a bit for left-handed bolt guns, but every time I found a bolt gun I liked, turned out it wasn’t available in a left-handed model.

  • lbeacham

    A 1957 Chevy could be improved, but why? Nostalgia can’t be bought.

    • ARCNA442

      I think the point is that you don’t see many people arguing that a 1957 Chevy is a viable modern car.

      There are a few guns I like just for nostalgia – but I have no desire to do anything but play with them on the range.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Yes, but Chevrolet pickups have in fact been updated since then; the same can’t be said of lever actions, other than modest changes to furniture. In contrast, bolt actions haven’t atrophied in the way leverguns have: with a variety of stock & chassis options, 54° (or shorter) bolt throws, bullpup configurations, toroidal lug designs, and even continued interest in exotic bolter mechanisms like the straight pulls; such as Merkel’s modular Rx Helix and it’s 2:1 ratio gearing, and Blaser’s R8 collet lock-up. That is what a competitive market looks like. Yet there’s plenty of promise for novel design inherent to the lever action; it was just never considered a fruitful venture due to the markets fixation on them as nostalgic status symbols of a bygone better age instead of as practical shooting platforms with yet untapped potential for improvement in mechanism & ammunition; beyond slapping ugly adjustable stocks and quadrails on old receiver designs, or polymer tips on potato-shaped bullets to increase their ballistic coefficients from pathetic to merely mediocre.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Lever guns are outdated for most peoples uses. They do work great for for deer hunting here on the east coast. People like myself own them for nostalgia of a bygone era. If you modernize the platform what does it offer that a good magazine fed semi auto doesn’t?

    Being ban state legal is the only advantage I can see.

    Being someone who can’t stand non suppressed 9mm AR15s if the own doesn’t shoot at a restricted range I do see your point.

  • Raginzerker

    I’d still take my marlin for hunting, for self defense, I have a maverick 88, I live in northeast Pennsylvania, I don’t need a 500 yard cartridge or rifle, plus, I think bolt actions are some of the most boring guns there is, I shoot the mauser (the gun Alex C thinks is just as good as anything out there) and even then it was just as lame as watching paint dry

  • wetcorps

    Lever actions are making a come back in Australia because of gun laws. I find this quite interesting (and wish we could get some Adlers in France as well). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62e5da433b29bd79a17957356916d01a4f28576cb3ea100ca3284912ca03e986.png

    • SP mclaughlin

      The greatest middle finger to the Aussie gubmint.

    • Tassiebush

      I’ve fondled a few in the local gun shop and they don’t seem bad but to be honest I’d much rather have a bolt action shotgun. I’m more inclined to get a new double than Adler.

  • Openmindednotangry

    STFU. BLR FTW!!!

    • Quasimofo

      Heh. Anyhow, my BLR is great for hunting, and I chose it purely for practical reasons, not nostalgia. Essentially a bolt action, but with the quicker cycling and better field handling of a lever. Uses modern chamberings and detachable mags. A bolt gun at the same price point would (or should) be more accurate, but my BLR is good enough for my purposes out to ~300 yards, which is plenty for hunting in PA. And because it’s PA, the Fudds don’t yet allow semiauto rifles for hunting. Didn’t want an Amish machine gun (lousy Remington pump rifle), and this seemed like the best option for me, and I’m happy with the decision.

  • YZAS

    Gees, I bet you’re the real life of the party. You’re about as fun as Gonorrhea 🙂 Not all firearms have to be high performance, sleek tactical entry machines. Levers are just fun man. And are a nice change from AR’s and AK’s all the time. I don’t want any modern improvements to the lever. That would just ruin the whole point. That’s what everything else is for. I think we need to save up and pitch in for you to have a fun, ‘escorted’ night on the town. Maybe that’ll lighten ya up.

  • Hinermad

    I loves me leverguns, but I strongly suspect a rifle that is “truly better than what was possible over 120 years ago” would have a pump action, not a lever. Heck, I’ve seen pump conversion kits for AR-15s.

  • Steelwolf

    You absolutely nailed with lever guns. The biggest problem with the lever action market is that most lever actions are based on obsolete deigns, from the late 1800s, or they are these bolt-lever hybrid designs (Browning BLR) that offer nothing better over a quality bolt-action. I should also point out that most factory lever gun triggers are garbage which does not help convince the spoiled bolt-action shooter who is used to decent trigger even on the cheapest of bolt actions.

    Lever guns, like single action revolvers, have market success because of
    cowboy action sports and rose-tinted glasses of the past, not
    because of any practical reason.

    To answer your last question of why no one has bothered to make a 21st century lever gun is simple; there is no point due to recent advances in bolt actions and semi-autos. The American hunter has access to a whole arsenal of semi-autos while our friends in Europe have gone full steam ahead with straight-pull bolt actions that offer semi auto speed with all the benefits of a bolt action.

    • gusto

      the BLR is better if you gotta carry it all day

      it is just not the light weight it is how handy it is

  • JimBob

    Get schwitfy.

  • Edward Brush

    I look forward to your dissection of some people’s misguided persistence in purchasing break-action shotguns. They are, after all, completely surpassed in every way by modern battle shotguns. Their popularity can only be explained by their prominent portrayal in movies depicting English aristocrats. I don’t want them to go away, but I think we need to admit they’re obsolete…

    • Bill

      I personally think the coach gun can serve a defensive role, particularly for those who can’t or wont learn the manual of arms for a pump gun, or even worse, an autoloading shotgun.

      • Tassiebush

        Certainly a very quick gun for an unfamiliar user to initially load

    • Don Ward

      Because it is inconceivable someone would use a break-action, over-under shotgun for skeet and trap shooting where in those contests they far out-strip any semi-auto ever made for follow up shots?

    • I don’t see anyone arguing that break-open shotguns are “just as good” as a modern pump or semiauto, nor do I see anyone arguing about their “viability” as a combat tool.

      • Don Ward

        They are better than pumps or semiautos when it comes to trap/skeet shooting. There’s kind of a reason why Olympic shotgun shooters use them.

  • Roy G Bunting

    Imagine a 16″ barrelled lever action in 45ACP that takes 1911 magazines. With a red dot on the receiver ring.

    The advantage that lever action rifles have over semiautomatic blow back is that they can be a lightweight locked breech. You could build a slim 4-5 lb rifle like I described above where a blowback design would be at least a pound heavier. You could also support higher pressure cartridges Ike 10mm, 44 magnum etc. Finally a use for Desert Eagle magazines! 🙂

    • You ever start making a solidly-built lever action carbine that takes Glock 20 magazines, be sure to announce it here and I bet you’ll pick up all the investors you need. That’s got King Of Bear Country written all over it.

      • Roy G Bunting

        If I could build it, I’d use 10mm 1911 mags to keep the rifle trim. Adding width means adding weight.

    • Tassiebush

      I’d take that .45acp model with a longer rifle length barrel and it’d be a super mild awesomely pleasant rifle!

  • GaryOlson

    A hammer can have a steel or wood or composite handle, heavy weight or light, claw or no claw, fat heads skinny heads, etc , etc etc. The hammer is like the levergun — it is what it is because the function we use it for doesn’t change.
    Adding modern features to a levergun is like adding nail gun features to a hammer. Ugly and less functional. Except stainless steel; that’s just practical.
    Even changing some features of leverguns to include different modern parts would make the levergun less useful. Although this might seem extreme, if the only lube you had was animal fat, would you prefer an AR or a levergun?

    Gary

    • Leverguns covered with rail farms are an abomination, I agree, but what’s wrong with a stock design that doesn’t break after 500 rounds, or a magazine design that’s field-repairable, doesn’t shift the center of gravity as the weapon unloads, and doesn’t negatively affect accuracy?

      I realize that for most people these things may not matter, but wouldn’t they be nice, especially if they came with a price tag several hundred dollars less than a “Winchester” (Miroku) gun?

    • Tassiebush

      Haha that’s abomination is really something! It’d actually fall foul of the laws here (Tasmania Australia) for looking too much like a banned firearm.

    • McThag

      Who was it that made the pump action AR?

    • jay

      Interesting. Similar to the long ranger, by Henry. But with a tactical front stock and a free floating barrel. The butt stock still looks either tang mounted, or boxed in, in some way. There are ways of making such a butt stock stable and strong. Like the Enfield rifles. It does look like the stock and receiver are aligned, so recoil would be on a straight line. Seems interesting.

  • Jason Wimbiscus

    Existing lever action designs work well enough for their intended purposes. I’ll take a short barreled Marlin in the dense woods over any bolt action I know of.

    A Browning BLR in 9.3x62mm would be really cool, but there would be a market of one for it.

    I don’t fully understand the author’s disdain for tube mags. No, they can’t take pointy bullets (excepting leverevolution) but you can top off without ever going empty.

    • gusto

      I love the 9,3 and the BLR, have it in a bolt gun

      358win is enough for me in my BLR thou

      I want a 300winmag aswell as my driven hunts gun and travel gun, the blr with a detachable scope would be the perfect walk for days in alaska gun

  • Eric S

    Someone needs to bring back the Winchester leverguns chambered in 7.62x54R, for great justice.

  • El Duderino

    Glad the author didn’t bring up the people who feel there is some advantage to having a rifle and a pistol in the same caliber. In this century and, well, pretty much all of the last one there’s really no advantage, only the disadvantage of limited range with pistol chamberings. You use your rifle (firing a real rifle caliber) until it runs out of ammo or goes down hard, then transition to your pistol.

  • Oldtrader3

    Lever actions have functional use and must have some utility to many shooters and hunters or these lever actions would be as dead as the Borchardt pistol. Personally, I would rather have a Model 1886, 1892 or 1894 Winchester or Marlin than any of the “MDR’s” which I have currently seen. This is for weight balance, ease of carry, (yes) tradition and reliability.
    I have owned my Model 94 Winchester, which I gave my oldest son this year, since 1970 and it was built in 1947. It has never failed me one and won’t my son for another 50 years!

  • DannyBoyJr

    Thankfully, another man’s opinion makes no difference to my opinion that lever guns are awesome. Single action semi-autos are way obsolete, but I still see people rocking 1911s.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    It always seems that the root of the lever vs bolt argument is speed. If speed really is your priority then what is wrong with semi autos? For any lever or bolt gun (except the magnum rifles) you can get a semi auto that is either in the same caliber or in a ballistic twin caliber.

  • AD

    I don’t mean to be rude Nate, but your fictional analogy is terrible.

    First of all, lever action rifles use a completely different operating mechanism to bolt and auto rifles; your analogy is about guns using the same operating mechanism. A more fair analogy would be comparing revolvers and autos.

    Second, lever action rifles are hardly the most popular type of rifle out there; I’m pretty sure bolt actions and semi-auto rifles outsell them by a significant margin.

    No-one is claiming that lever actions are all-around superior to all other rifles. However, their particular operating mechanism is something that some people ENJOY using. It’s like claiming that people who play basketball are stupid because soccer is a better sport; it makes no sense, they are simply different and some people find one more fun than the other. Or they play both.

    After all, how many people own a levergun but not some other kind of rifle? I suspect it’s not that many. But when you already have a bolt-action and/or a semi-auto, why not buy something a little different, for variety’s sake?

    So why do attempts at more modern lever guns fail? Well, I can think of a few possibilities:
    1. People buy lever actions because they have a fondness for the guns they see in the movies, or the guns their fathers carried to hunt, etc. If the “new, improved” gun doesn’t look the same, they don’t want it.
    2. Lever guns are known for being slim, streamlined, and pointable, which are the qualities that some people like about them. Some of the newer designs lose a little of that, which turns some people off.
    3. Assuming lever guns don’t sell in particularly high volumes (not like lever guns and modern sporting rifles anyway), then anything new is inherently less likely to do well simply because of the market being smaller; manufacturer might not think it’s worth the time and effort.

    At the end of the day, WHY THE HELL ARE WE DEBATING THIS? If someone wants to use a levergun, what’s it to you? Why do you feel the need to tell them that they’re having fun wrong?

    • Alexandru Ianu

      “At the end of the day, WHY THE HELL ARE WE DEBATING THIS? If someone
      wants to use a levergun, what’s it to you? Why do you feel the need to
      tell them that they’re having fun wrong?”

      Way to miss the point….

      He’s finding it weird that a huge portion of the lever gun market is based on their early history rather than the genuine mechanical advantages that they afford. The public perception of lever guns leads to a disproportionate ignorance of the better ones out there, and this general type of action should be more popular.

      This trend is actually very old, as lever guns had been pigeonholed into the classic tube fed civilian frontier rifle category even in the 19th century. That’s why something like the 1895 Winchester wasn’t developed a decade earlier, and why when it did come around, it hardly mattered until the Russians got desperate in WWI. It’s a shame since it’s genuinely a good, reliable, ambidextrous rifle.

      The argument was never about people liking Old West style rifles and that general market demand.

      • Porty1119

        I can afford pretty much any rifle I choose (I don’t spend like I can, though), and my first choice for a general-purpose rifle is a forty-year-old Marlin 336 in .30-30. Why? Easy. Affordable, widely-available cartridge that is quite amenable to reloading and casting. High rate of fire, not too different from a semiauto if you’re taking the time to precisely aim, and certainly good enough for defense against a handful of perps. Ability to top off the magazine tube while not bringing the rifle out of action or off target, similarly to a pump shotgun (my first choice in general-purpose firearm). Extreme flexibility in ammunition selection- anything from 110gr .30 Carbine varmint bullets to 150-170gr medium game bullets, Hornady flex-tips for reaching out to 300 yards, or sized buckshot for plinking and small game. For a “one rifle” guy, they’re damn close to the do-it-all ideal.

        • Sure, but – and I’m speaking hypothetically here, I realize that by and large what I am suggesting doesn’t exist on the modern market – what part of that equation requires you to have a tang stock mount that breaks stocks and a tube magazine that can’t be easily replaced and is very susceptible to damage and manufacturing goofs?

      • Tassiebush

        One thing regarding the 1895 in this context is it performed better than the Mauser did on inrangetv’s mud test.

    • Short on time, so I’m gonna be lazy and use bullets:

      – The analogy was comparing early semiautos to late semiautos to make a point about early leverguns which are still somehow state of the art and late leverguns, which by and large don’t exist.

      – Lots of people have claimed that lever actions are superior. In the past couple weeks, I think I’ve seen something like one person a day claiming that in one way or another.

      – 1. Correct (by and large), 2. Yep, and that’s what frustrates me so much, because I personally would like a gun that has all those qualities (and a lever I might add) and doesn’t also have a flawed stock mount and a damage-prone tube magazine. 3. Correct.

      http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/09/11/stop-worrying-whether-gun-viable-accepting-obsolescence-arsenal/

    • Kivaari

      Remember some lever action rifles do operate like bolt actions and auto loaders. Rotating bolts. Some, most, lever actions use the locking block system.

  • gusto

    What is with the hate?
    those of us who love leveractions love the other kinds of guns to,

    but the haters seems to go out of their way to spout their hate,

    I don’t care for SbS but I just ignore them.

    leveractions-haters are like dudes who hate women because they can’t get with them

    • I see this a lot:

      “I don’t like lever-actions for these reasons.”

      “You must be a neckbeard manchild who lives in his parents basement and can’t get laid.”

      Does that sound reasonable to you?

  • Tassiebush

    Firstly I’m sorry about your parents and the Rossi 92 gang Nate!
    Second in my parallel happy universe the straight pull took the lever gun cultural niche and cheap to high grade reproductions and newer versions abound.

  • Tierlieb

    A short Marlin 45/70 lever action is a really good gun for dangerous game guides. Let your customer have their expensive Africa caliber bolt or over-under gun, but if they fail with their first (and maybe second) shot, 4 rounds delivered in under 1.5secs are a life saver. An AR-15 in a thumper caliber might be an alternative, but usually heavier, always bulkier and not well liked in Africa.

    Besides that, lever guns are interesting anywhere the law prohibits semi autos, as any Aussie will confirm. And they are fun to silence.

  • tom

    I DO NOT BUY LEVER ACTIONS BECAUSE OF HOLLYWOOD!

    I buy and use them because of HISTORY of the American West and my connection to it. And from that, I find beauty and character in them that fills a role in my safe.

    And I definitely don’t understand the view that they are not some of the best choices for collectors, enthusiasts, and sportsmen in firearm purchases. For example, I hunt Elk in CO. I use a stainless Rem700 in 30-06 in a synthetic stock. Probably the most sensible, or viable or what ever word you want choice for the job. But guess what? Hunting is not about shooting, so it is actually a little too long, and the 30-06 can really damage meat.

    So I switched to a different rifle. One that allows me to crawl through scrub oak easily because of its super short overall length. One that is just barely over 6lbs since I hike for hours up to high elevations in early rifle seasons. One that doesn’t have goodies on it for ranges I simply don’t encounter in dark timber. And finally, one that is in a caliber that easily takes the largest of Elk with less damage to meat. That is my 18″ Marlin 45-70. And yes, it also connects me to the west and how I live.

    • First, I am not asking you to give up your Marlin. I am not asking anyone to do that. I wrote an entire article basically outlining why you should “use what you want” and not worry too much about it.

      As for your 18″ Marlin… Barely over 6lbs? I doubt that. I hear a lot about how lever actions are so much lighter than bolts, but that’s not actually supported by the data (or by common sense). So the only way to find out is to put it on the scale…

      Further, it’s not like you can’t get inexpensive bolt actions with short barrels in elk calibers.

      Again, not saying you need to give up your Marlin. Use what you want.

      • tom

        I never said you are asking me to get rid of it either. Marlin 18.5″ tapered oct barrel is just over 6.1 lbs. (marlin LTD III, or modern Remlin CB 18.5)

        Just pointing out… forget it. I have fallen for link bait enough. You’re right, lever actions suck. I’m just going to get my old army surplus wool pants on and grab a good ol’ bolt action and dig a trench in my yard.

  • Sledgecrowbar

    I’d like to see a comparison, using several testers to make sure results are fair, between the speed and accuracy (at speed) of a lever action versus a pump action. You could run two of each style from different manufacturers to rule out preference. I’d like to get into guns like this but the most oddball thing I have now is the other side, a bolt action shotgun.

  • gunsandrockets

    Some historical context based on prices, source 1977 edition of Shooter’s Bible

    Savage 99E rifle 308 Win. $178.00
    Winchester 94 carbine 30-30 $130.95
    Glenfield 30A carbine 30-30 $124.95

    Winchester 70 rifle 30-06 $250.00
    Ruger M77R rifle 30-06 $215.00
    Remington 788 rifle 308 Win. $144.95

    Remington 742 rifle 30-06 $239.95
    Remington 760 rifle 30-06 $209.95

    Springfield Armory M1A 7.62mm $342.50
    Colt AR-15 5.56mm $297.50
    Ruger Mini-14 5.56mm $200.00
    Universal Carbine .30 $139.95

    • gunsandrockets

      The point is ease of manufacture wasn’t that important an influence over pricing. Clearly a Remington 788 or 760 was much easier to manufacture than a Winchester 94, yet they were priced higher.

      Instead of manufacturing costs, I suspect those prices much more were a reflection of demand, a demand heavily influenced by the available supply of used carbines and rifles as well as contemporary gun fashions.

      • Well, I didn’t say the gun buyers were dumb, I just said they picked their guns for irrational reasons, which is something everyone (including me) does.

  • Dean Carpenter

    Both Stoner and Kalishnakov redesigned the lever action. The redesigns included replacing replacing lever actions with full and semi auto. Nothing beats high capacity semi auto.

    Life has moved on.

  • Anonymoose

    I want a modern Mars! Up until the .44 Mag came around, the Mars was the most powerful handgun around, discounting goofy chop-jobs like the Howdah pistols.

  • gunsandrockets

    Tube fed lever actions persist in part because of the popularity of the .357 magnum, .44 magnum and 45-70 cartridges. A popularity which is reflected in prices of lever actions in those calibers compared to prices of the same guns in 30-30.

  • mazkact

    Not a damn thing since the King’s patent allowed for reloading behind cover 🙂

  • valorius

    pistol caliber lever guns are neat, but why on earth is there no manufacturer making a modern pistol caliber PUMP carbine?

    I’d LOVE to have a modern .357 magnum 18″ pump rifle.

  • Blake

    This sums up my feelings on the current state of lever action rifles perfectly, Nathaniel.

    I’m sure that Anthony Imperato, president of Henry, would appreciate your opinion if you’d like to send it to him:
    https://www.henryrifles.com/contact-henry-repeating/contact-anthony-imperato/

  • Reginald Pettifogger

    If only someone had made a lever-gun with an internal, rotary magazine to utilize spitzer bullets……
    Like a Savage 99!
    Or an easy to use, short-throw lever also using pointy bullets, like a Winchester Mdl-88.
    Sadly, those never happened.