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  #1  
Old 02-24-2009, 04:39 PM
Kitten Wood Mt's Avatar
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Pros / Cons Lever Action


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I am interested in adding a lever action to my collection.... for fun and hunting.

What are some things to look for in a good lever action?

Pros and/or Cons?

A couple things I have understood:

Side ejection allows for a more typical scope mounting.

There is a bit of a safety factor on older models in that once the hammer is pulled back there is no real safety stop. Is this correct?

What's a good deer hunting caliber? I've seen a number of 30-30 for sale in the local paper.... tax time....

One thing I have already figured out.... during deer season having the ability to make a lot of quick shots can make a lot of hunters sloppy w/ their fist shot.....

Thanks.

Last edited by Kitten Wood Mt; 02-24-2009 at 04:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2009, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Kitten Wood Mt View Post
I am interested in adding a lever action to my collection.... for fun and hunting.

What are some things to look for in a good lever action?

Pros and/or Cons?

A couple things I have understood:

Side ejection allows for a more typical scope mounting.

There is a bit of a safety factor on older models in that once the hammer is pulled back there is no real safety stop. Is this correct?

What's a good deer hunting caliber? I've seen a number of 30-30 for sale in the local paper.... tax time....

One thing I have already figured out.... during deer season having the ability to make a lot of quick shots can make a lot of hunters sloppy w/ their fist shot.....

Thanks.
I like them for their handling qualities, light and quick with open sights. I prefer reciever sights. There is no more of a safety factor with the older ones than you have with any gun. Once the hammer is pulled back it's the same as pushing off the safety on another gun. You still have to handle it safely as you do any gun. You have to decide what type of hunting you want to do with it and pick the caliber and the sighting system that suits you.
Good luck and have fun doing it!
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:08 PM
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As mentoned, they're light and handy, a plus. And .30-30 is just about perfect for any short-to-midrange deer hunting. Some of the newer cartridges chambered in Marlins can get the job done to 300 yards without a whole lot of fuss. The Browning BLR, a modernized leveraction design, is chambered for long range cartridges like .308 and others.

About the only potential minus I can see with most leveractions is that, compared to bolt actions, they have inherently weak extraction. This is absolutely nothing to be concerned about with factory loads, but can be a problem if poorly-made or hot handloads are used.
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:09 PM
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Kitten Wood Mt
The beauty of the lever gun is that it's light,easy to handle and quick to shoot.
The proper caliber depends on the type of hunting that you do.I hunt the big woods of New York,and "still"hunt,or "trail watch",so the 30/30 is my choice.
Some prefer the Marlin,especially if you use a scope;but the Winchester '94 is better for carrying.
You can get a 35 Rem caliber that is the same gun with more power,but no more range.
To get more range,you will have to go to bigger,heavier guns that are no handier then a good bolt gun.My Savage '99 is a fine rifle,but cannot compare with my Krag sporter,as a hunting partner.
Keep tuned,you'll get plenty of opinions just as good as mine.
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Old 02-24-2009, 05:36 PM
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I would look for the new 308 Marlin Express. You will have all of the range you can use and the accuracy is superb with factory ammunition.
Install a light scope with a receiver sight back up and you will have lots of shooting fun.
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  #6  
Old 02-24-2009, 07:29 PM
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Good notes!

I am in SW Oregon now living on 45 ac. backed up to the "Big" woods of Fed Forest.

Even though I grew up w/ and still have my Grandpa's old 22LR, my first "big" gun was a quick (ignorant) purchase of a Savage 110 300 WM to deal w/ a 400# black bear that had destroyed my chicken coop for 3 years in a row. It was a LOT more then I needed ... as it turned out I got to "deal" w/ him from 30 yrds away.

After downing my first black tail deer w/ the 300 at 100 yrds it was not hard to figure out that a lighter gun would be better to take through the NW woods.

Now that I have added and restored an older Ted Williams 30-06 and a Remington 788 .243, I have a nice spread of rifles for everything from varmints to Elk.

Besides adding a possible over / under center fire and shotgun combo, I would like to also like to have a lever action w/ open sites for the "jack rabbit" type hunting black tail offer in the thick NW mountain brush.

While I would like to keep the option open to add a typical scope (side eject design) w/ my other rifles I would think that long range shots are not my primary focus. If I have a 200 yrd shot in my typical hunting areas its setting on the edge of a large skid landing.

I do like the idea of the lighter the better for pressing through the brush.

Any Pro or Cons with any of the stainless steel designs I've seen?

Last edited by Kitten Wood Mt; 02-24-2009 at 07:31 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2009, 08:09 PM
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I like this for all around use.

http://www.marlinfirearms.com/Firearms/xlr/336.asp
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2009, 02:26 AM
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Kitten Wood - re: the safety. You probably already know this, but just to be on the safe side....The older, pre-cross block safety, lever actions are ready to fire when the hammer is all the way back. At this position there is then nothing more to do than pull the trigger to make the gun fire. You will note that on such rifles and carbines, there is also a half-cock position for the hammer. Many folks, myself included, consider that to be the safety position of the hammer. A properly functioning gun won't fire with pressure on the trigger, and if the hammer is somehow mistakenly impacted from behind, the hammer is not resting on the firing pin. I've never tested the latter scenario to see if undesired firing can occur, but I believe it's a possibility to be very aware of. When I am hunting, I do so with the trigger at half cock. At full cock one would be inviting disaster.

Newer lever guns with exposed hammers also give the user the option of using the cross block safety, which is a second safety. Some consider it redundant and an unnecessary aggravation; others use it along with the half cocked hammer.

Either way, an individual untrained in either the safe use of his particular style of firearm, or in gun handling in general, is eventually going to fiddle his way to an unexpected and undesired firing of the gun in question. Even if there are 10 safeties!

There are also a few hammerless leveractions that can be found. Excellent guns in my opinion. Winchester Model 88 & Savage Model 99 to name a couple.

Have fun, and be safe!
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  #9  
Old 02-25-2009, 03:27 AM
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Reasons for the lever action....

1. traditional lever actions are chambered in cartridges that are ideal for deer and similar game to 200yds without holdover.
2. scope sights are not necessary for these ranges and, in fact, aperture sights are superior in all ways except they do not magnify the target.
3. when chambered for these cartridges, they produce recoil in the lower end of hunting cartridges (12-14 ft lbs) which most shooters can handle easily.
4. while producing light recoil, they are also light weight themselves and their point of balance, without scope, is just forward of the receiver in most loaded carbines, very near the physical center of the carbine, making them easy to point in any direction quickly and smoothly.
5. traditional lever actions are slender enough to grasp with one hand at the point of balance and carry all day.
6. traditional lever actions tend to have slightly shorter lengths of pull which make them quicker to shoulder.
7. traditional lever actions offer a very secure 4 points of contact at the butt plate, grip/lever (which I pull back on), cheek and forestock which is comfortable in most positions and allows rapid and accurate positioning of the shooter.
8. open topped actions, like the Win M94, allow the bolt to be withdrawn part way to confirm the condition of the chamber.
9. Win M94's allow the cartridge in the chamber to be removed and replaced with another cartridge, without having to feed it through the magazine (this is handy if, like me, you carry small game loads for single loading).

I own two leverguns at present; a BLR in .308 Win and a M94 in .30-30. I have also owned a couple of M336's but don't own them now. The BLR has a scope on it and the M94 has aperture sights. The more I hunt and shoot the more I prefer the M94 over the BLR. If I ever need to shoot more than 250 yds I'll pick up the BLR but it doesn't feel nearly as good as the M94 and find I prefer to just watch the animal go its own way if I can't stalk any closer. I have seen far more game under 100 yds than over. As for rapid repeat shots, you can try it but it still takes a cool head and steady hand to hit whether its the first shot or the seventh. It's far better to make the first shot count.

Regarding safety, keep the chamber empty and only lever in a round when you are about to shoot at game. A chamber that is empty and verified is the safest chamber of all.

Last edited by Kanuck; 02-25-2009 at 04:45 AM.
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  #10  
Old 02-25-2009, 03:39 AM
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Buy a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. That's all you need to know!
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  #11  
Old 02-25-2009, 06:15 AM
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Great notes!!

On the safety note, one of the reasons I ask is this last deer season one of the guys at work laid his lever action 30-30 across his lap as he got back into is truck and somewhere in the process of shutting the door shot a hole through the other door w/ window down. FORTUNATELY his hunting buddy was still at the back of the truck.

A number of "Don'ts" were done.... but his take was the exposed hammer caught on his clothing..... Over all my guess is liquid stupidity and a major roll to play....
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Kitten Wood Mt View Post
Great notes!!

On the safety note, one of the reasons I ask is this last deer season one of the guys at work laid his lever action 30-30 across his lap as he got back into is truck and somewhere in the process of shutting the door shot a hole through the other door w/ window down. FORTUNATELY his hunting buddy was still at the back of the truck.

A number of "Don'ts" were done.... but his take was the exposed hammer caught on his clothing..... Over all my guess is liquid stupidity and a major roll to play....
IF you unload the rifle before getting into the truck, you can diddle w/ the hammer all you like and not produce a NG. There's also a safety on most levers, although not 100%, tends to eliminate these unpleasant surprises.

Still, it seems unlikely that w/out pressure on the trigger, even a pull on the hammer would result in a discharge. If it didn't get pulled back to 1/2 cock, then it might slap forward and fire the cartridge.

Will have to experiment w/ this...on an empty chamber.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Kitten Wood Mt View Post
Great notes!!

On the safety note, one of the reasons I ask is this last deer season one of the guys at work laid his lever action 30-30 across his lap as he got back into is truck and somewhere in the process of shutting the door shot a hole through the other door w/ window down. FORTUNATELY his hunting buddy was still at the back of the truck.

A number of "Don'ts" were done.... but his take was the exposed hammer caught on his clothing..... Over all my guess is liquid stupidity and a major roll to play....

That's not about gun safety issues at all. It's about really bad gun handling safety.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:46 AM
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Agree.... shooter stupidity not a gun issue....
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:29 AM
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A Marlin will fire if the hammer is all the way down and something hits it. We demoed this with a primed .35 Remington case and a plastic hammer for Firearms Safety classes.

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  #16  
Old 02-25-2009, 10:39 AM
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I'm a bolt kind of guy with a safe full of those guns. Years ago when I was a youngster I started out with my dads old Win 94 30-30. He put lots of meat on the table with that old gun and I couldn't wait to get a really modern gun in a magnum caliber like my high school buddy had. Who on earth wants to shoot a 30-30 in the modern times the early 1960's offered.

It didn't take me long to get rid of that pipsqueak 30-30 and get out there hunting with a magnum. Killing deer at long range was a great thing to do and I spent lots of years looking down on those low power cartridges some old fogies still shot.

Your questions got me to thinking about how many deer I've killed at close range at a hundred yards or less and how much meat I've blown up with those magnum rounds. For a while I shot deer with a Ruger 44 magnum auto rifle and it was such a good deer gun at a hundred yards and under. Like dads old 30-30 you could shoot thru both front shoulders and still eat durn near up to the bullet hole.

I catch myself in the local gun stores eying those Marlin 45-70 lever guns and think how one would fit just right in the safe. Sometimes it's hard to walk away from the counter without saying let me look at that Marlin to the clerk.

You can't buy new 94's, but take a look at the new Mossberg lever gun and there's sure nothing wrong with the Marlins.

My 2 cents.
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  #17  
Old 02-25-2009, 10:41 AM
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Marlin has added the cross-bolt safety to it's lever guns to keep people who get into trucks with loaded guns from shooting themselves or their buddies. I think they nick-named it the Plaxico Burress safety.
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  #18  
Old 02-25-2009, 11:55 AM
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A newer Marlin 336 in 30-30 or 35 Rem should suit all your needs. I favor the .35, but realistically, either would do for deer and black bear out to 200 yds or better. If you end up with a .35, it's hard to go wrong with Remington 200gr Green box. If you have a Jones to do further than 200 yds, get a nice bolt gun.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:22 PM
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well Jack that surely justifies me selling my Marlins , a levergun that goes bang when you smack the hammer with a round chambered. I "feel" perfectly able with the 94' .30-30AI in my hands. I now just put together a older post 94 .30-30 and it too has that "same" good feel. Loaded with 180 grn. hardcast it will work for my "needs" here in the Brooks.

They can throw at us all kinds of new chamberings but the .30-30 caliber is still tough to beat with one who knows its potential & there own abilites.

the best,
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:46 PM
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"A Marlin will fire if the hammer is all the way down and something hits it. We demoed this with a primed .35 Remington case and a plastic hammer for Firearms Safety classes."


Understood. I had head this also.

Side stepping a bit to show me ignorance....

how possible is such a unintended firing w/ a loaded bolt action on full or field safety - if dropped or hit hard?

Last edited by Kitten Wood Mt; 02-25-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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