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View Full Version : Advice Needed on My First Lever Gun


Amsdorf
August 1, 2012, 06:39 PM
OK, so I need a bit of schooling.

I'm very interested in getting a good old fashioned lever gun.

What is the "best/top of the line" out there in terms of QUALITY, not necessarily price, and from there....moving on down...what other options are out there?

I'd like to shoot something as close as possible to what was commonly used in the late 19th century, terms of caliber/chambering.

Thanks guys.

jmortimer
August 1, 2012, 06:58 PM
Winchester (Made in Japan) probably the best current production. Henry makes great guns made in the USA but no loading gate (not a problem if for fun) Uberti (Italy) makes nice gun and Rossi 92's (not top quality but many fans) Browning BLR as good as it get but with box magazine not traditional lever gun. Marlin made a good gun but I would investigate before I got a current production model. Wild West Guns takes the Marlins and makes some cool high-end guns. Mossberg 464 only in .30-30 would work. If I had the $$$ I would get a Model 92 Winchester.

Wyosmith
August 1, 2012, 07:36 PM
If quality is paramount and tradition is not, Browning is the one to look at.
Very accurate as a rule, and as strong as many bolt actions. They are smooth and as reliable as any lever action.

Crunchy Frog
August 1, 2012, 08:50 PM
Here you go, the "Gun that Won the West": http://www.uberti.com/firearms/1873-rifle-and-carbine.php

Get one in .44-40 (.44 WCF) and you will be as authentic as they come. The '73 was designed for that cartridge.

Shoot cartridges loaded with black powder for the truest picture of how it was like in the late 19th Century before that newfangled "smokeless" powder came about.

HondaCowboy82
August 1, 2012, 09:33 PM
I would lean toward either the Winchester 94 or Marlin 336 in .30-30. they are tried and true lever guns with ammo readily available at any commercial or mom and pops store. I have a 336 that i have had since i was 10 (now 26) and it performs flawless. My dad has always shot a Winchester 94 and he has had good luck. However, we have had two Marlin 44 Mags and both had issues with the action sticking. just my .02.

impalacustom
August 2, 2012, 02:00 AM
Get yourself an original 1892 in any of the pistol calibers and you will not regret it. If you are hunting I'd get a 1894 or 1886. The Miroku Winchesters are good but for the price I'd rather have the real thing.

maas
August 2, 2012, 05:00 AM
Well that all depends on what you're wanting. A cowboy lever or a modern lever. Cowboy lever I'd go Winchester. Modern I'd go with the BLR. Personally I like the older Winchesters without the tang safety (in 45 colt). currently on the wish list.

Zhillsauditor
August 2, 2012, 05:17 AM
I'd like to shoot something as close as possible to what was commonly used in the late 19th century, terms of caliber/chambering.
Look at getting an Italian clone of a Winchester for new production. They are the closet you can get without buying the real thing. I'm partial to the 1873, but you can get one of the 1876s that will shoot a real rifle bullet like the 45/70.

http://www.uberti.com/firearms/1873-rifle-and-carbine.php

If you look around long enough, you may find a 1893 marlin for a decent price, then you will have the real thing (a real Winchester is expensive). Here's a shooter on gunbroker going for a reasonable price right now:

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=298270797

dgludwig
August 2, 2012, 12:39 PM
I'd look for a Winchester Model 1886 "Extra Light Weight" repo, chambered in 45-70 Government. A big, strong lever-action known for its smoothness of operation, power and reliability.

g.willikers
August 3, 2012, 08:02 AM
Marlin qualifies, with lever actions dating from the early 1880s.
There's plenty of them around, too, at very reasonable prices.
If the the quality of the newer ones is suspicious, finding a nice older one won't be difficult.
Depending on how historically authentic it has to be, the ones in modern and easy to find calibers would probably be the most useful.
Their internals are similar to the Winchesters, but a little less complicated and they eject out the side, rather than straight up.
A good feature for scope use.

PetahW
August 3, 2012, 12:50 PM
The best quality production firearms (bar none) made today, in terms of material, fit, & finish are those made in Japan by Miroku Gun Co, branded for other firms like Winchester & Browning.

If you wanted a pistol-type cartridge, the short-action Miroku/Winchester Model 92 is available in .44-40.

If you wanted a "Buffalo" type rifle, the Miroku/Winchester Model 1886/86 is available in .45-70.

If you want a longer-range, "plains" rifle, the Miroku/Winchester Model 1895 is available in .405 Winchester (or .30-06 ;) )

Lesser quality (and cost) clones of the Model 86 & 92 are available from importers of Italian & South American rifles, in much the same chamberings - and some clones of earlier/weaker Winchester designs like the Model 1873, etc.

.

gwnorth
August 3, 2012, 06:49 PM
I have a couple of current production Winchester 1892's in .357mag and they are very nicely put together and finished rifles. Expensive, yes, but very nice products (nice high polish blueing, pretty good wood, sweet tight and slick actions).

If you want a replica of "the gun that won the west" sort of deal, I'd be looking at an 1873 in either .357mag or .45 (the wild west was pretty much over by the 1890's). Personally, I like Cimarrons (which are Uberti - I think most of the US importers of cowboy-style western rifles contract with Uberti for production). I've shot a couple of them as well as a few other brands, but I think my next lever gun will be either a Cimarron or a Navy Arms 1873.

Amsdorf
August 3, 2012, 06:59 PM
Thanks for all the great advice guys, I really appreciate it.

Shotgun693
August 5, 2012, 08:46 PM
You just haven't given enough info about why you want the gun and what you expect out of it. It's almost like you asked which girls are best to date.

Zhillsauditor
August 6, 2012, 05:33 AM
It's almost like you asked which girls are best to date.
No, that's a straight answer: the easy ones! :)

WV_gunner
August 6, 2012, 06:10 AM
My friend picked up a used '70s 1894 Winchester for $100 at a gun store/pawn shop for $100. It needs refinished, but it was still a good deal. So just do some looking around

taylorce1
August 6, 2012, 12:09 PM
Late 19th century screams 1894 Winchester in .30 WCF (.30-30) close second .32 WCF.

The .30-30 (thirty-thirty), as it is most commonly known, was the USA's first small-bore, sporting rifle cartridge designed for smokeless powder.

OJ
August 6, 2012, 02:17 PM
jmortimer Winchester (Made in Japan) probably the best current production. Henry makes great guns made in the USA but no loading gate (not a problem if for fun) Uberti (Italy) makes nice gun and Rossi 92's (not top quality but many fans) Browning BLR as good as it get but with box magazine not traditional lever gun. Marlin made a good gun but I would investigate before I got a current production model. Wild West Guns takes the Marlins and makes some cool high-end guns. Mossberg 464 only in .30-30 would work. If I had the $$$ I would get a Model 92 Winchester.

I dunno - they're all so ugly - but, I only have Winchesters and the Browning BL22 -

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/IMG_2491.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/BUFFALOBILL94A.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/003.jpg



[http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/AWINCHESTER95-1.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/IMG_1494_edited-1.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/ABL222.jpg

jmortimer
August 6, 2012, 07:22 PM
Is that a .405? I like that gun of your's.

newshooter1992
August 6, 2012, 07:37 PM
+1 for the mossberg 464

It was my first gun and I have not regretted the purchase.

I've put several hundred rounds through it (mostly the cheapest ammo I could find) and it hasn't hiccuped once. Only complaint is the semi buck horn sights and that's only because I am still not used to them yet (although I still do get good groups).

Of course there are going to be more expensive and popular rifles but as far as quality goes it's great to me. I've heard some complain about the "cheap" wood that it has but once you start breaking it in it gets a nice brown finish. It also has good safety systems which I really like.

Bottom line is that there are probably better looking guns out there, but you can't go wrong with the mossberg 464.

Hawg
August 6, 2012, 07:50 PM
I'd like to shoot something as close as possible to what was commonly used in the late 19th century, terms of caliber/chambering.

If you want historical accuracy as close as you can get without paying the price for an original get a Uberti 73 in 44-40, 38-40 or 32-20. The Rossi 92 is a good gun for really late in the century. If you want something with a more powerful caliber look around for a good used Winchester 94 top eject in 30-30. Forget about the modern Henry, they're nothing like what was used back in the day. The Marlin 94 is a decent gun but it comes in modern calibers.

OJ
August 6, 2012, 11:49 PM
jmortimer Is that a .405? I like that gun of your's.

Glad you asked - I should have identified it - Miroku made 8000 of 100 year models in 30-06 - half in Hi Grade like this one and half in Grade 1. All they're making now are in .405.

I stumbled on it on GA, called the dealer in Flint Michigan - couldn't believe the asking price - he agreed it was low but that was the asking price from some estate - some collector whose wife didn't like guns, I guess, and just wanted to unload it to settle his estate (he's probably still rolling in his grave) - long story short - I got it for less than the price listed in Gun Digest 1996 - NIB, unfired, with manual - some days things go so right it's unbelievable -

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/WINCHESTER95.jpg

It also shoots as good as it looks - I zeroed it at 25 yards to hit point of aim and "fine tuned" it at 100 yards for 2" above POA - all in less than one box of ammo - I make no claim to be a sharp shooter and that wasn't bench rest - it was "fist rest" - fist resting on range table. Solo shots were elbow rest -

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y25/kmastf/RIFLES/W95100yds.jpg

I shoot it at least once a month - rotate it with other rifles (I shoot every week - being retired is great) - It sure draws a crowd out there.

Served a dual purpose also - my wife was begging me to tell her what I wanted for our 25th anniversary - so I "helped" her - we husbands should help our wives any way we can.

All she got was a little ring - and is convinced she got the best of the deal - women - gotta love'em ;)

jmortimer
August 7, 2012, 09:30 AM
That is quite a find, I mean your wife of course. 30-06 would be great all around caliber in that gun. Not much it could not do.

Shotgun693
August 7, 2012, 12:06 PM
I'm going to guess you want a Cowboy Gun. I have a '73 clone in .45 Colt. All my Single Action Revolvers are .45s so I wanted a matching rifle. BTW, mine is the rifle, longer barrel. If you want a gun that was really popular and in a very common cartridge then the '73 in .44-40 is your best choice. If you reload, use a lead bullet and the gun will do about anything you'd want out of it out to about 125 yards. It's enough for game up to the size of WT Deer or a hog if you pick your shots. The '73 was the rifle carried by the Texas Rangers and most every other Peace Officer up until about 1900, some carried them well after WWI.

ltc444
August 7, 2012, 11:38 PM
You might take a look at Cabela's. They have two limited edition Model 94s. They have 24" Octagonal Barrels. They are pricey.

I have two lever action rifles. A Marlin 336 in 30-30 and a Win 94 in 44 mag. The marlin is comfortable to shoot. The 94 with 240 grain Hornady XTP loaded backed by 22.5 grains of WW296 has a healthy kick. Frankly, I prefer to shoot a 44mag pistol than the 94. Still is short handy and easily carried on horseback. The real cowboys out here in Eastern AZ nod appreciatively when they see it.

Amsdorf
August 8, 2012, 07:39 PM
Hey, guys, REALLY appreciate the great input/feedback. Keep it up.

Hawg
August 8, 2012, 08:03 PM
WInchester 94 in 30-30
Henry Golden Boy .22
Rossi 92 in 44-40

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y269/rebel727/my%20junk/030.jpg

Amsdorf
August 8, 2012, 08:04 PM
Wow, beautiful rifles.

Hawg
August 8, 2012, 08:21 PM
Well the 30-30 has been rode hard and put up wet but the other two are pretty decent.:D

Amsdorf
August 8, 2012, 08:41 PM
"Put up wet"

Please explain.

Buzzcook
August 9, 2012, 12:23 AM
Put up wet is from horse riding. The full quote is "Rode hard and put up wet".

It means not cleaning the sweat off a horse after riding it. That's a bad thing to do and can damage the health of the horse.

The phrase has since become a colloquialism.

akguy1985
August 9, 2012, 03:38 AM
Winchester model 94 for collectability, marlin 336 for the working mans lever gun.

Big Shrek
August 9, 2012, 06:13 AM
Tough as a German Tiger Tank - Marlin 336 in .30-30 or .35 Wheelen.
I prefer older ones, as you can find 'em in almost any pawn shop for $200-400 ;)

Marlins are the best selling lever-action...the numbers speak for themselves...
even Winchester couldn't out-sell 'em...that's why they do collectables instead of shooters ;)

Since the switchover from CT to NY/KY, Marlin has been having issues with the new ones...
so its best to wait until their new CNC lines are settled down and making solid rifles again...
much like a first-year model of motorcycle or car...those first year models have QC issues that need to be ironed out...
so until Marlin gets it together on the new production lines...grab one of the old pre-2005 models that are as solid as Granite :)

Amsdorf
August 9, 2012, 07:43 AM
Thanks for the explanation of "put up wet" ... interesting!

taylorce1
August 9, 2012, 08:41 AM
Tough as a German Tiger Tank - Marlin 336 in .30-30 or .35 Wheelen.I prefer older ones, as you can find 'em in almost any pawn shop for $200-400.

You mean .35 Rem don't you? The only two lever rifles I know capable of handling the length of the Whelen cartridge is the BLR and 1895 Winchester. The Marlin 336 as far as I know isn't big enough to handle the Whelen.

Marlins are the best selling lever-action...the numbers speak for themselves...even Winchester couldn't out-sell 'em...that's why they do collectables instead of shooters**

I think you're a little off with this statement as well, the Winchester 94 was the first commercial production rifle to sell over 7 million rifles. Current numbers put it north of 7.5 million before production in New Haven ceased. I don't think Marlin has produced those kind of numbers yet since the 336 has only been in production since 1948, 54 years behind the Winchester. The Marlin is only a better rifle IMO if you want to scope it, that is why sales numbers declined to where Winchester stopped regular production.

Since the OP wants a late 19th century rifle the Marlin wouldn't be on the list since it is middle 20th. The last lever rifle designed and produced in the 19th century was the 1899 Savage to the best of my knowledge. That was a rifle design well ahead of its time, and one worth considering as well.

Hawg
August 9, 2012, 10:27 AM
Put up wet is from horse riding. The full quote is "Rode hard and put up wet".

It means not cleaning the sweat off a horse after riding it. That's a bad thing to do and can damage the health of the horse.

The phrase has since become a colloquialism.

Thanks Buzz.:cool:

"Put up wet"

Please explain.


Ye ain't from around heah air ye?

Meeteetse
August 10, 2012, 10:35 PM
If you want historical buy a pre 64 Model 94 Winchester in 30/30 (30 WCF). There are lots of them out there and you can find a good one for not too much if you look around. I wouldn't be without one, in fact I have two.

I you want a pistol caliber I would buy the new Winchester (Miroku) Model 92 and even though the 44-40 is more historically correct, I would buy it in 45 Colt or I would look for a Browning B-92 (same gun made years ago) in .357 mag. I have one and I love it.

dgludwig
August 13, 2012, 11:39 AM
You mean .35 Rem don't you?

Or he might have meant the .356 Winchester. And you're right, Marlin rifles have never been chambered in .35 Whelen (to my knowledge, at least). And you're also right concerning the number of Winchester Model 94s made over the years. Millions and millions of them might have the collector's interest now following their unfortunate discontinuation (recently reintroduced but at pretty steep prices) but almost all of them were never intended to be anything but excellent hunting rifles.

shafter
August 15, 2012, 08:36 AM
My favorite rifle is a Rossi 92 in 357 magnum. Its a dream to shoot and will cycle absolutely any 38 or 357 ammo use. I love it. I can only speak for my rifle but I'd say its worth getting. Go with 44-40 for more historical accuracy.

If you want a traditional levergun for hunting or general purposes a pre 64 Winchester 94 in 30-30 would be a real solid choice.

Have you considered a Savage Model 99? They have a nice old fashioned look and are quality rifles. I used to hunt with one chambered in 300 Sav and it was a great dear rifle. Its semi retired now.

The Marlin 336 is a great rifle but it has a modern look to it that doesn't appeal to me.

Red Cent
August 17, 2012, 10:56 AM
Go to one of these clubs. You will see some repros and orginials. And they will try to get you to shoot them. Don't be like most. Just say thank you and shoot it.

http://sassnet.com/clubs/Clubs_list.php?state=Missouri

L_Killkenny
August 18, 2012, 01:38 PM
What the gun used for? Hunting get a .30-30. Toss plinkin into the mix look at the pistol caliber carbines, Marlin 1894 and Rossi. Want a scope? Marlin or '80s/'90 production Winchesters. Want one that shoots pointy bullets and shoots like a bolt action get a BLR.

Personally there is very few new production lever actions that I would touch. Luckily there are boat loads on the used market, look there.

Unless you NEED extra power find yourself a .22. Used = Winchester, Brownings and Marlins. New = probably Henry, maybe Marlin.

Big Shrek
August 20, 2012, 12:26 PM
Gimme an old Marlin thuty thuty ;)

Mine is a 1952 Marlin 336RC that I traded a banjo I payed $80 for at a pawn shop a few weeks before :)
The rifle was marked $200 at another pawn shop...it was an easy trade!!
(I did a fair amount of cleaning & polishing to the banjo before trading...LOL)
http://www.supermotors.net/getfile/900979/fullsize/gedc0065.jpg
http://www.supermotors.net/getfile/900978/fullsize/gedc0057.jpg


Frankly, it is easier and less expensive to go grab a good used one from a pawn shop or gun store!!
$200-400, depending on condition!!

And if you don't like the modern crossbolt safety button (1983+), there's a kit so you can install a saddle ring in its place ;)

I was finishing a crib, that's why the Blue Can is in the pic and the funny slat marks are on the cardboard ;)

Chaga
August 22, 2012, 02:55 AM
When I was 8 my old man bought me a pre-64 Win 30-30 Trapper's Rifle. It's the only gun I have used that has never, ever, not once, malfunctioned in any way. I keep it clean and it keeps me happy.

I don't have as much experience as a lot of the shooters on here, but for what it's worth I would not part with that gun for love or money. I beat the hell out of it; when I was a kid, teenager, and most recently marking cattle by horseback on the Rez in AZ. Not only does the gun not complain, it seems to like it. It's like sixty years of heavy use is just getting it warmed up. If you want a lever action that's going to work perfectly every time, I'd vote for the Win 30-30.

Best of luck