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Old December 22, 2012, 12:36 PM   #1
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New to lever actions...advice please

New to lever actions, so take it easy please…

I’ve been thinking about picking up a lever action rifle because they look like they are fun to shoot. As someone who grew up watching westerns, what could be better, right?

Anyway, I would use it for target shooting and would probably never take it hunting. That makes me think that .357 might be the way to go, rather than say a 30-30.

So a few questions:

1. With a .357, is that the same as the pistol cartridge? And if so, would .38s also be OK in the rifle?
2. What is the effective range of the .357? I doubt I’d be trying to hit anything over 150 yards, so is the .357 OK for that?
3. Is there a big difference in recoil from the .357 and say a 30-30?
4. Just reading some posts here, people seem to like older Marlins (pre Remington) at least for 30-30s. Does that apply to different calibers as well?

I assume that there are .22s out there as well which might be great for just target shooting. But would want something that I could use at a gunfight near the corral…should that ever happen.

"I'll die before I surrender, Tim."
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Old December 22, 2012, 01:34 PM   #2
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1. It's the same and there are a good variety of loads. 38's also work, but they may not hit the same place as the 357
2. My opinion is that you might be ok to 150 yards, but you could be reaching close to it's useful range depending what you are trying to do out that far. Hitting a gong is one thing, taking game is another.
3. Recoil in my 357 rifle is much less than a 30-30.
4. I like the Henry for 357 so I've never needed or wanted to look for any other lever action brand.
Take a look at what Cowboy action shooters use. My Henry is better suited for hunting. But personally I can't stand the thought of getting such a fine looking rifle all beat up in the woods, truck & camp. You may find it too heavy for plinking.
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Old December 22, 2012, 01:42 PM   #3
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I would go with the Henry also.
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Old December 22, 2012, 01:54 PM   #4
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Lever actions are like potato chips.
It's hard to stop at just one.
One caution, though.
Some cartridges that work just fine in revolvers won't necessarily feed from a tube magazine lever action.
If you want to use the same rounds in both a revolver and the rifle, check to see if the cartridge of choice actually can do double duty.
Lock the doors, they're coming in the windows.
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:34 PM   #5
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And if so, would .38s also be OK in the rifle?
Cartridge length can be a problem in the '92 clones and Marlins. Usually not so much for a '66 or '73 clone. If you reload you can seat the bullet in a .38 out to duplicate .357 length.
I've been shooting lever action rifles for 30 years or so. I've been shooting CAS since 1997. For price, reliability and general use the Marlin is hard to beat. The Henry 'Big Boy' is a usable gun if you shoot it slowly and can tolerate the occasional jam. I have seen one Big Boy, out of dozens, successfully complete a CAS Match.
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Old December 22, 2012, 09:43 PM   #6
Ralph Allen
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bbrian, You've heard the old "he drank the koolaid" joke. Once you purchase your first lever action, you will be hooked for life. Great fun. I have multiple lever guns in calibers from 22 S,L,LR thru 45-70. Love them all. Jump in and welcome to the "lever revolution".
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Old December 22, 2012, 09:51 PM   #7
Crunchy Frog
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A pistol caliber lever action rifle is a lot of fun to shoot. Also historically accurate. The .357 rifle can shoot .38 Special which is relatively inexpensive. Even with full power .357 loads teh rifle is a pussycat.
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Old December 23, 2012, 12:32 AM   #8
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I limit deer hunting with a .357 rifle to 100 yards max. A good factory 158 gr JHP will take a deer if you hit it in the heart chest area. I've never shot a deer with a .357 unless in was broadside or facing me dead on.
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Old December 23, 2012, 08:29 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I'm excited about picking one up.
"I'll die before I surrender, Tim."
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Old December 23, 2012, 06:26 PM   #10
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+1 for Pre-remington Marlin 336 in .30-30, .35 remington is another good caliber but its better for thick brush deer hunting than target shooting.

I also have a .22 henry, I like it a lot and its been very reliable.
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Old December 25, 2012, 09:37 AM   #11
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Definitely go for it. It will reach out to 150 yards without much trouble. I wouldn't necessarily try to hunt with it at that range but it will do fine for targets. It has significantly less recoil than a 30-30 which is pretty nice as well.
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Old December 25, 2012, 10:13 AM   #12
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I've never had any trouble feeding .38 Specials in my Marlin 1894. It's great fun to plink with the .38 Specials.

What I find with the .357 Magnum is that the longer barrel of the carbine makes the .357 magnum into a whole different cartridge. While my standard .357 load leaves the barrel of my 6" Mod 28 at 1200 fps, it leaves the barrel of the carbine at over 1700 fps. Plenty of power for the smallish deer in our piney woods, and plenty of power for the hogs that wander the same places. I could probably push those bullets a little faster, but they're my home-cast bullets and don't want to stress the alloy.

I really need to get some good jacketed bullets and run then across the chronograph to see what they'll do.

The .357 Magnum carbine combines good accuracy, plenty of power, and a light, handy package. It's a great companion piece for my handgun.
Dennis Dezendorf
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