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Old January 12, 2013, 02:40 PM   #1
chaim
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Lever rifle in .45LC

I used to have a Winchester 94 in .45LC. Lever rifles in .45LC can be less reliable than other calibers (due to the thin rim I guess), and Winchester 94s can be less reliable in revolver calibers because the action was designed for rifle calibers. The combination was a rifle I bought for home defense as well as range fun but only felt comfortable shooting at the range (it would FTF a couple times per box of ammo).

I still want a lever rifle in a revolver chambering. I want it in .45LC or .357mag since I have handguns in those calibers. I want it for fun at the range, but also for home defense so it must be reliable.

I do seem to see more in .45LC than in .357mag, and usually at more reasonable prices. So, my question is, how big an improvement are guns like the Winchester 92 and clones, Marlin 1894, or the Puma/Rossi 92 which have actions designed from the start for revolver calibers? Would a Marlin or Rossi in .45LC be acceptably reliable for home defense?
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Old January 12, 2013, 03:45 PM   #2
Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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Just this Ol'Coot's opinion, but let someone else do the testing and leave Rossi, Henry, Tarus etc. on the rack.

Henry may prove to be good, some folk think it is, but the rest are questionable at best.

Go Marlin.

Then, if you want a lever gun, consider it a fun/range/plinking gun and NOT a home defense firearm.

Now, it may be better then a sharp stick, but the hand guns you have are better, MUCH, suited for the home defense use then the rifles your speaking of. Smaller, faster into action, just better for home use.

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Old January 12, 2013, 03:49 PM   #3
Dr. A
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I have both the 94 Marlin and 92 Rossi. Without a doubt, the Marlin will crank off the rounds more quickly and accurately for me. Both would easily be up to the task. The longer action of a Winchester 94 made them somewhat unreliable for the shorter pistol cartridges. As far as home defense, some folks need to worry about overpenetration. I am more worried about how well I handle the gun myself.
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Old January 12, 2013, 05:23 PM   #4
Shotgun693
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I've been shooting Cowboy Action since 1997. The WW'94 is not totally reliable because the rifle was designed for longer cartridges. The Henry Big Boy is as reliable as the average canoe paddle, I've only ever seen one finish a match without failing. The '92 clones are decent but normally need a little work to be really reliable. The Marlin, at least the pre-Remington, are really nice and reliable. The Uberti '73 Clones are slick, reliable, accurate, good looking and more expensive. The '66 clones and real Henry clones are nice but more expensive and not as nice as the '73.
Bottom line, if you can afford one get the '73, mine is a .45 and has never failed me. If cost is a factor find a Marlin.

Last edited by Shotgun693; January 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM.
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Old January 12, 2013, 06:08 PM   #5
FALPhil
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Quote:
Lever rifles in .45LC can be less reliable than other calibers (due to the thin rim I guess), and Winchester 94s can be less reliable in revolver calibers because the action was designed for rifle calibers.
Which is why you buy a Winchester 92 chambered for revolver cartridges. Winchester still makes the 92. Why handicap yourself?
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Old January 12, 2013, 07:10 PM   #6
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I'd rather have a Rossi than a lawyered up Winchester. Actually I do have a Rossi in 44-40. They slick up with use really nice.
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Old January 13, 2013, 08:14 PM   #7
Shotgun693
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BTW, the 'thin rimmed' .45 Colt hasn't been made in years. All the new .45 Colt ammo has as thick a rim as any other round you might find in a lever action.
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Old January 14, 2013, 11:38 PM   #8
chaim
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Quote:
Then, if you want a lever gun, consider it a fun/range/plinking gun and NOT a home defense firearm.

Now, it may be better then a sharp stick, but the hand guns you have are better, MUCH, suited for the home defense use then the rifles your speaking of. Smaller, faster into action, just better for home use.
Long guns have some definite advantages over handguns for home defense. As the saying goes "a handgun is to fight your way to your long gun".

Shotguns have long been well accepted by many shooters as ideal home defense guns. However, any long gun has quite a few advantages.

Long guns have a longer sight radius than a handgun so it is easier to shoot accurately, especially when you aren't necessarily at your best (such as when you are awakened at 3:30am and dealing with a dark house). Other than pistol caliber carbines, long guns have more stopping power. Shotguns and .223 have much more power at short range than any handgun. While 9mm, .40 and .45 don't gain that much velocity (and thus, power) out of a long gun v. a full size pistol, revolver calibers generally do gain a significant amount of velocity and power.

A lever rifle specifically can be a great home defense gun. A 16" lever carbine is quite compact and smaller (and more handy) than most long guns. Capacity is decent, and they can be topped off on the run pretty easily. Compared to a shotgun, recoil is much reduced which can lead to faster follow-up shots, and it is easier to find ranges that allow you to practice with your defensive ammo (around here, I know of only one range which will allow me to practice with 00 buck and it is over an hour away, while many allow pistol/revolver caliber carbines). With practice, a good lever gunner can get off aimed shots just as fast with a lever gun as with most semi-autos.

Quote:
As far as home defense, some folks need to worry about overpenetration.
That is the issue that has me considering another try with a .45LC lever rifle. .357mag is a high velocity caliber that can have overpenetration issues even out of a handgun. .45LC is a slower round and less likely to go through an attacker and hit something I don't want to hit. I've also begun to consider my 30-30. A rifle sounds counter-intuitive when worried about overpenetration but some of what I've read from hunters, many 30-30 loadings are not particularly likely to overpenetrate. Still, I don't think I'd trust it.

Quote:
The Uberti '73 Clones are slick, reliable, accurate, good looking and more expensive.
They definitely are beautiful, but a bit out of my price range.

All the comments about specific guns are appreciated. I'm leaning towards a Rossi or Marlin (depending upon what I see at an acceptable price first).

Quote:
BTW, the 'thin rimmed' .45 Colt hasn't been made in years. All the new .45 Colt ammo has as thick a rim as any other round you might find in a lever action.
That's good to hear. Everything I've read over the years suggests that the thin rim of a .45LC contributes to them being less than reliable in a lever rifle. If that has been addressed there is no reason to avoid a .45LC lever rifle.

Last edited by chaim; January 14, 2013 at 11:45 PM.
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Old January 15, 2013, 12:11 PM   #9
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The "thin rim" of the .45 Colt is not the thickness of the brass, rather, the amount of rim surface from case to rim lip. Since the .45 Colt was not used in original Henry, Win '66 or '73's, the extractors (not designed for the small surface area of the .45 Colt case) will on some occassions, pull over the rim during extraction. Used to see this on the CAS firing lines and the early '92 Rossi's were particularily prone to that. Must say that the occurance was during competitions after firing many rounds with the fouling beginning to cause the issue. Even with smokeless loads, with the straight wall case, one could see this issue occassionally. The .44 WCF (.44-40) is superior in that that the rim is thicker and is a bottleneck cartridge having a better chamber sealing. Now, during a home defense situation I dont see the .45 Colt "thin rim" issue to be a real concern. IMHO, I would concur that the '92 would be a good choice, strong lockup with a short action better suited for the revolver cartridges. The .45 Colt is a fine round and if you are a handloader, is a real viable and fun round.
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Old January 15, 2013, 12:37 PM   #10
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Thought the "thin rim" meant "ballon head case"? The cross section of one of these resembles a rimfire case.
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Old January 15, 2013, 12:59 PM   #11
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The "folded rim case" issues you refer to are oftentimes attributed to the .45 Govt. (.45-70) used by the Army in the M1873 Springfield "Trapdoor" rifles. These were heavily blamed for some jamming/failures for Custer's men although, probably an overstated occurance. Modern cases do not have this type of rim and so, that particular problem is no longer so much of an issue and as a previous poster pointed out, this problem has been eliminated.

The "thin rim" of the .45 Colt is the diameter of the rim vs the OD of the case itself. The extractors of the typical early style toggle link lever rifles do have some issues with this case because they just cant get a good grip on the rim having less surface area. More of an issue if you are firing BP rounds with the .45 Colt as some reproduction chambers seem to allow more fouling to escape into the chamber. Again, the .44WCF generally have much less issues in this regard.

I have been out of the CAS competition circuit for 7-8 years now so to be fair, I am not positive if the newer '92 clones have the extractor issue anymore, the manufacturers may have solved that by now.
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Old January 16, 2013, 07:48 PM   #12
Shotgun693
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If you can't afford a '73 then look for a good used Marlin. You ought to go to a few Cowboy Shoots and see what's for sale. CAS shooters up grade all the time and you might get a really nice shooter at a good price.
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Old January 16, 2013, 07:57 PM   #13
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Modern .45 Colt cases have wider heads than the original copper balloon head cases.
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Old January 16, 2013, 09:03 PM   #14
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I shot a marlin competition cowboy 45 in cas for more than just a couple of times. so things to consider. a 44 40 with its tapered case is a faster smoother cartridge in a rifle. others have already said/stated that. in a marlin close examination will reveal there is not a lot of material in the threaded portion of the barrel. its actually quite thin where its is screwed into the receiver. my particular gun also had a very large chamber to aid in speed I am sure. but that leaves the empty cases blackened from lack of chamber seal. also that left the cases almost bulged. your experience may be different but that was mine.
...a replica in 44 40 is my first choice. fwiw bobn
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