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  #1  
Old 08-05-2016, 11:05 PM
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Effective range of Marlin and Winchester rifles


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When I was in high school in the 1960's, it was considered bad hunting policy to take shoots over 100 yards and your fellow hunters looked down on you for such reckless shooting. We hunted in woods where shots were normally 35 yards or less and the favored gun was a shotgun with buck shot or slugs.

Gradually, a few rifles started showing up and hunters started taking shots out to 60-70 yards and the 30-30 was king. No one used a scope. We sighted our rifles in at 25 yards and hoped it would be on target at 100 yards. Ammo was hard to find and expensive, not because it was high priced, but because we did not have much money to spend. If it could hit a piece of notebook paper folded in half at 100 yards, it was an accurate rifle. No one could imagine shooting over 100 yards.

I said all that to say this, lever action rifles were not designed to be accurate at long range. Back in the early days, lever action rifles were designed to shot 100 yards or less. I know, I was there. We purchased used guns from the 30's, 40's and 50's. We could not afford new rifles and the purchase was usually some kind of trade with a little cash or in exchange for manual labor.

No one reloaded, it was all factory ammo. Also, you shot whatever you could get. It might be the same brand or you might have loose cartridges from several manufacturers, but at 50 yards or less, they hit about the same place. Honestly, no one paid attention to how accurate a rifle was back then. The only thing that mattered was; a rifle doubled your shooting range from 35 yards to 70 yards and at that range, Marlin and Winchester 30-30's were kings.
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2016, 04:29 AM
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With the sights my Winchester M94 came with, I'd say you're correct about not shooting past 70 or so yards. I grew up not so much later than you and am quite familiar with the prevailing attitude of the time.

The addition of a much better sight, handloading accurate ammo, and shooting it enough to gain full familiarity with the package changed all that.

With an aperature rear and a post front, I have no problem consistently hitting targets at 200 yards, and have cleanly taken deer at that distance.

I simply exploited the potential of the rifle. But, that came later. I (fondly) remember those times, but am also glad about the interest in shooting that drives me to continually improve.

My wallet, not so glad.....
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  #3  
Old 08-06-2016, 05:02 AM
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That is the true original purpose of the carbine length, saddle guns that gave birth to the levergun. That said, better sights,including apertures and scopes and recently developed levergun calibers, such as the 307 & 356W, 308 & 338MX, etc. have pushed the limits to well over 200 yards. I still think the absolute genius of the levergun is a carbine length, iron sighted , fast shooting short to moderate range weapon.
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  #4  
Old 08-06-2016, 05:37 AM
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It's not just a generational thing, but a locality thing. Growing up out West, in the 80's, a flat-shooting rifle that kept shots around 2" at 100 yards was the goal. Lever actions and 30/30's were pretty rare...but the guys who carried them just hunted in the thick stuff, and they managed to get deer, too. Wherever you hunt, and with whatever equipment you're carrying, it really comes down to how good of a hunter you are, not how great your bow/ML/rifle is.
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  #5  
Old 08-06-2016, 06:45 AM
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The Korean War era men who taught me to hunt were all very proud of their marksmanship with iron sights, and later with scopes. We kids started out with lever action 30-30s, but bought more serious guns as soon as we could afford to.

We hunted the hills and mixed farm land of central Vermont, and shots could be 25-300 yds. Folks who knew what they were doing could kill deer at 200 yds with a little Winchester, but it was easier with a bolt 30-06.
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Last edited by mogwai; 08-14-2016 at 07:04 PM. Reason: mew is men
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  #6  
Old 08-06-2016, 02:34 PM
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Perhaps the conditions that the used guns were in limited accuracy? I don't know.

My 1967 Glenfield (Marlin) .30-30 will shoot nicely with Hornady 160gr. FTX. Group at 100 yards. I have shot even better groups, with factory ammo, in both this gun (Winchester 170gr.) and my .35 Rem (Federal 200gr.).

With a 150 yard zero (about 2" high at 100), there is no holdover to 175 yards or so with either. Some folks go to 3" high at 100 yards to stretch the range with no holdover. Not bad, really.

The Ranch Dog postal matches for lever guns brought pictures of some amazing groups.
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  #7  
Old 08-06-2016, 03:56 PM
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Trying to get guns to do what they never were intended to

Isn't a great idea, IMO & often doesn't work out so well. Traditional lever actions were never meant to be long range rifles. Savages & Browning' with bottle necked cases changed the game. While traditional levers may reach out there and give decent groups ON PAPER, what they bring with them & the drop off beyond 200 yards +/- , is another story.
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  #8  
Old 08-06-2016, 04:03 PM
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Ranch Dog's match did give some amazing results using scopes, sand bags, modern ammo, or reloads.

But things were different back then. Most people owned one gun, a shot gun. It was used for home defense, gathering food, or shooting a snake that got in the hen house. Then gradually, along came rifles. In our area, few people could afford to purchase a new rifle. We purchased used rifles from the 30's, 40's, and 50's and not every store carried rifle shells, they carried shotgun shells. You did not waste rifle cartridges re-sighting open sights or practicing. Frankly, no one thought about a need to re-sight a rifle or practice just because they changed brands or bullet weights. Either you could shoot a rifle or you couldn't, in which case, you shot buck shot. The average shot at deer was less then 70 yards in the woods. We did not use feeders. We ate the corn. We hunted from the ground. We could not afford lumber to built a tree stand. It was this type hunting where a lever action really shines. And as for barrel length, you need to look at some of the pictures from that era, some of the barrels were really long, especially from the 30's and early 40's. The ammo (powder) needed the extra barrel length in the 30's and early 40's. As powder improved, barrel lengths decreased. Scopes and improved powder probably had more to do with improved rifle accuracy than any other thing. You really can't compare the results of a rifle using modern ammo with a scope shooting off a sand bag to people using open sights, shooting a rifle that was sighted in at 25 yards while setting on a 5 gallon bucket, and using 1960 ammo. It is apples and oranges.

Last edited by Taylor; 08-06-2016 at 06:12 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-06-2016, 04:06 PM
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Perhaps I am Naive but why did Winchester and Marlin sell Carbines, rifles and muskets with optional sights that were 'calibrated' out to 700, 900, and longer Yard distances on their Lever guns in the 19th Century?

What Part of the "Effective Range" is controlled by the Shooter and the way the Firearm is Aimed?

Best Regards,
Chev. William
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  #10  
Old 08-06-2016, 05:11 PM
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And as for barrel length, you need to look at some of the pictures from that era,
But don't these long barreled Winchesters look cool?
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  #11  
Old 08-06-2016, 05:31 PM
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900 yard calibrated muskets?

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Originally Posted by chevwilliam View Post
Perhaps I am Naive but why did Winchester and Marlin sell Carbines, rifles and muskets with optional sights that were 'calibrated' out to 700, 900, and longer Yard distances on their Lever guns in the 19th Century?

What Part of the "Effective Range" is controlled by the Shooter and the way the Firearm is Aimed?

Best Regards,
Chev. William
I believe you are thinking more of rifles like the early black powder sharps or military rifles where accuracy was minute of man. Sure many guns can go for 1,000 yards. The trajectory may look like a rainbow however, compared to today, but they got there eventually.
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2016, 03:15 AM
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My older Glenfield is a keeper! Scope is 2-7X by Simmons.

TR

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Last edited by T.R.; 08-16-2016 at 03:47 AM.
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2016, 05:40 AM
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Winchester 1886 in 45-70 shot at my personal range...114yds from bench (my deck) to target at backstop. I know the bullet drop out to 175 yds and being able to estimate yardage fairly well, I'd have no reservations at shooting a deer within that boundary. I think a lot of the problem shooting lever guns at those distances isn't the gun, it's the shooter. Very few shooters/hunters (not dedicated target shooters, just hunters) are even capable of shooting out to seventy-five yards without a substantial rest and even them it's "iffy" for a lot of them. There's a huge difference between the average deer hunters ability and the capability of the gun. The shooter is usually the weak link.
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Last edited by nsb; 08-11-2016 at 05:43 AM.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2016, 09:00 AM
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My experience, in this topic is limited to Marlin pistol-cartridge rifles, and they were about as accurate/precise as the best of my non-lever-action pistol-cartridge rifles/carbines. Even off of a rest, the best I was getting was 2moa, and that might've been a fluke.
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  #15  
Old 08-11-2016, 09:13 AM
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Some folks don't like scopes on handy lever rifles, some folks say the LeverEvolution ammo is just a gimmick and doesn't do anything other ammo can't. I say that's fine with me, but I'll keep my 1-4x24 Hawke scope and the LE ammo for my 1895G when it allows it to shoot 3 shot groups like this at 100 yards.

Everybody likes what they likes!
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:29 AM
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Everybody likes what they likes!
Quite agree. Personally, I won't buy another rifle that I can't put a scope onto without gunsmithing. That's just what I like.
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  #17  
Old 08-14-2016, 04:59 AM
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Yes Ko, I too, prefer a scope.

But have 2 rifles where the iron sights best suit the purpose for those rifles.
I got a lot of practice with both of'em working up reloads.
I chose to hunt one last year. Got a deer and a coyote - both 1 shot kills.
Learned how much harder it is to settle down to a good sight picture hunting in field
than it was shooting targets!

Think iron sights (and the shooters eye sight) was the factor limiting hunting range
with lever action rifles not the cartridge they were chambered.
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Old 08-20-2016, 10:35 AM
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I consider the 30-30, 25-35, and there ilk, 200 to 250 yard deer rifles with iron sights..with a scope they would be 300 yard deer killers..at the longer range of 250 yards I would take a rest, but I would also do so with a 300 Win. mag at those ranges...I would take a rest at 50 or a 100 yards with any caliber if possible. Off hand shooting? Im good to 150 to 200 yards. I believe if one hunts he should practice until he can shoot off hand well, if you can shoot off hand then you can shoot under most any circumstances..
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