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View Poll Results: Vote for your favorite barrel length for a 30-30 levergun.
24" barrel 8 13.79%
20" barrel 34 58.62%
16" barrel 11 18.97%
Other length barrel; please specify. 5 8.62%
Voters: 58. You may not vote on this poll

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Old December 9, 2018, 08:08 PM   #1
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Preferred Barrel Length for 30-30 Lever-Action

I seems that most 30-30 lever-guns have 20" or 24" barrels, but then there are the, "Trapper", versions with shorter barrels, usually around 16". Which do y'all prefer, and why? Lever-guns only, please...
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Old December 9, 2018, 08:20 PM   #2
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Since I only have one 30-30, I started this off by voting for the 20" barrel it wears. I used to have a 24" Winchester model 55 clone that I wish I'd kept, it shot so well. I can't imagine needing a barrel shorter than 20". But what say ye?
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Old December 9, 2018, 09:43 PM   #3
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I believe the best is probably the 20 inch and that is also reflected in the sheer numbers of 20" barrels vs most of the others out there, however, you will see a lot of 24" long old guns, at some of the bigger gun shows, so they were popular at one time, for sure.

I have mostly 20" barrels but do have a couple of 24's and a trapper or two. I like the longer barrels and even the trappers, and you might want to own one of each, just for the fun of it.
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Old December 9, 2018, 11:29 PM   #4
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I love my 20” model 94 30-30.
It is my “woods” gun, and my “brush” gun. The 20” barrel is great for quick shots especially on moving targets. If I had this gun three years ago, I believe I would’ve harvested a nice buck that I bumped into still hunting through some cattails. We came face to face about 8 feet from each other. His eyes about popped out of his head when he realized what i was.
My Rem 700 was just too long and with the scope it was just too close to get a decent shot. I did get a shot off but just took some hair off his belly....
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Old December 10, 2018, 02:30 AM   #5
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My marlin 336 30 30 and BLR are the only lever guns I have with longer barrels--I have a definite preference for trapper-style shorter barrels for ease/quickness in freehand shooting. Just a personal preference.
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Old December 10, 2018, 05:24 AM   #6
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All I've ever had was a 20 inch but I'd much prefer a 24. The 20 inch barrels have always done the job with no complaints. I just like long barrels. The Trapper models don't interest me at all.
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Old December 10, 2018, 06:36 AM   #7
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I have quite a few lever actions and one of my favorite 30-30,s is a older(pre 64) Winchester model 64-24" barrel with a redfield receiver sight. I can hit a one gallon milk jug at 150 yards all day long with cheap Walmart shells,12.99 a box..
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Old December 10, 2018, 09:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
All I've ever had was a 20 inch but I'd much prefer a 24. The 20 inch barrels have always done the job with no complaints. I just like long barrels. The Trapper models don't interest me at all.
I agree. While my thudy-thudy is a 20" carbine, I've got 2 .357mag Rossi Model 92s; a 20" carbine and a 24" rifle as well as 2 .45 Colt Ubertis; a 19" '66 Yellowboy carbine and a 24" '73 rifle and I prefer shooting the rifles to the carbines.

I tried a fellow's 16" Rossi trapper at our range while he tried my 24" rifle and I thought the balance of his trapper was all wrong. Hard for me to shoot it past 100yds as I was fighting the poor balance of it. Not surprisingly, he liked the way he could stay on target at longer range much better with my rifle.

Even though both of my rifles are heavier with their longer, octagon barrels, their weight and length makes them 'hang' on target better than the lighter, round barrel carbines. I also have tang sights on the rifles and love shooting them at longer ranges; 200 - 300 yards.

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Old December 10, 2018, 10:03 AM   #9
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To each their own. I've found the trapper carbines unexcelled when going deep into thick woods is on the menu.
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Old December 10, 2018, 10:14 AM   #10
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My 336 in 35 Remington and my Mossberg knock-off in 30-30 both have 20 inch barrels. They both work well in the piney woods and bottomlands in south Louisiana and Mississippi.

Last edited by mgulino; December 10, 2018 at 04:41 PM.
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Old December 10, 2018, 10:20 AM   #11
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Hard for me to imagine that a person would benefit that much from walking the woods with a rifle that had maybe 8" less length to the barrel. I am in the woods very often, year around and what does a guy do...maybe stand 8" further from any objects in the woods so he doesn't bump into them?
I guess it's just a matter of what a guy likes, more than the practical aspect of the barrel length on a 94. I have them in 16,20, and 24 lengths and the only thing is see as an advantage one way or another is the sight radius. One trip to the woods recently I took my old 24" and dropped a spike with it just for something different for the day as opposed to one of my more modern rifles.
If I were to choose only one 94 to use, it would probably be the 24" for the simple reason of the sight radius. Add 8 more inches of sight radius to an open sighted rifle, and you are definitely gaining an advantage.
This all said, there is a 16" .45 colt caliber out in a safe in my garage that is sure fun to plink with !
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Old December 10, 2018, 10:30 AM   #12
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I have had a Marlin Marauder since back in 60s. I didn't buy it new but it was mint when I
got it. I was youngest in hunting crew and all the older guys said it was worthless because
of short barrel. It didn't take long before they were trying to trade me out of it. This was way before the Marauder was cool. I have never noticed balance problem. I would say it's what you are use to. I've got a Lyman reciever sight on it and have shot many deer with it.
Most at under 100yds but a few in 150yd range. I don't shoot at 200yds on deer with any
30/30 class gun. There is to much chance of poor hit. I know guys will howl at this because
they are always shooting 200yd + deer with there 30/30s. Yea, they are shooting supported
or from stands with scoped rifles. And the average Hunter can shot a longer barrel because
of sight radius. On a short barrel with reciever sight you actually have more sight radius and
extra 4" of barrel is no big deal.
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Old December 10, 2018, 11:46 AM   #13
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For Marlins, specifically, I prefer a barrel shorter than 20".
It's mostly about balance and carry-ability; but being short and easily maneuverable is important, too.

While an empty Marlin 336 in .30-30 might balance fairly decently with a 20" barrel, things change once the magazine is full. They get muzzle-heavy.
The ideal compromise, in my opinion, is about 18". It balances quite well when empty, and balances very well when loaded.

But, if I'm cutting a barrel or looking for a short barrel, I want to go all the way to 16". (Or shorter, with an SBR stamp. ...But that's another subject.)
Balance is still great, and being a little shorter on the long end makes it that much easier to carry.
Capacity really isn't a problem, either. With a full-length magazine on a 16" barrel, capacity can still be 5 rounds (+1).
My still unfinished custom shorty 336 .30-30, with a 16.125" barrel and custom (extra short) 12-9/16" magazine tube, will still hold 4 rounds (+1).

My vote in the poll was for .30-30, as it's far more common. But...
.444 Marlin is another story. While I am not recoil shy, I don't exactly enjoy it, either. So, I do prefer to keep a little more weight on the front end with my 444s. Balance is muzzle-heavy, even when empty, but I like 18+ inch barrels. My own custom 444 (built from a 336 .30-30) has a 19" barrel.

My .44 Mag 1894 is one I haven't made up my mind about, yet. I really think that 14" would be just about ideal. But that's a big magazine capacity hit (-4 rounds), and I really don't mind it as it sits at 20".

But, don't forget: With any lever gun, the stocks on the rifle have an impact on balance.
A 336 with a 20" barrel and birch or polymer stocks is going to be more muzzle-heavy than the same rifle with walnut or laminate stocks.
That is also a factor with my aforementioned custom Marlins. The 444 was massively more muzzle heavy with a birch stock and plastic butt plate than it is now with its (oversized) mesquite stock and brass butt plate. And the shorty 336 .30-30 will balance better when finished with its maple stock than it did with the original walnut stock. (It is a very slim stock, and the maple isn't as dense as most examples.)

The biggest downside to short barrels: Shorter sight radius. (I see now that Drm50 also mentioned it.)
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Old December 10, 2018, 01:04 PM   #14
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I kinda go the other way. My 1894 (made in 1895) has a 26" barrel. My other 1894 (made in 1908) has a 25" barrel. Neither one kicks as as hard as carbines do, and either one is much more accurate than a carbine. I like to wring the most out of the slower cartridges, so a longer barrel lets me do that.
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Old December 10, 2018, 01:17 PM   #15
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Mine is just another opinion in the long line of opinions:

Have owned all three barrel lengths one time or another. Only one in the few hunting rifles I bought in my life where I made a bad choice in calibers. Bought my Trapper back in the early 80s. Around the time president Regan was bushwhacked.
Offered in calibers 30-30 and 44 mag. I chose the latter caliber so to match my Ruger 44 mag Red Hawk. "I'll never do that again" _ i.e. Match a rifle to a sidearms caliber for ease of ammo reloading? (foolishness I think.) During those 1880s yes it was appropriate. Not today. Horses are no longer a need for transportation and our travel bag/box of Reloading tools and spare cartridges fit nicely in the trunk of any vehicle. Well maybe not a 2019 Ford GT but everything else automotive they surely will.

Couldn't wait to send my Trapper down the road. "Good bye good riddance"
Still have original 1894 long barrels and 94 carbines and one lonely model 64 in 32 spec. Target shooting the 1894's yes are a bit more accurate over the carbine and a whole lot more accurate than the Trapper. But such long barreled Win rifles are indeed {muzzle} heavy. Honestly it takes some doing holding a long barrel to shoulder. Especially when shooting target tightest groupings. (They are a heavy rifle to deal with.) Not only for additional barrel length but too the additional bullet capacity all adds weight.

Carbine model on the other hand in my opinion is simply easier across the Board to swing_ aim_ and quickness in lining up its Buckhorns for a repeated firing due to its not feeling like a childs toy rifle or a muzzle heavy long barreled firearm. Overall the carbine's balanced? is a whole lot better than the other two. More accommodating. {is a good description} Especially so for those bifocal eyeglass wear'ers like me who prefer to shoot a Win lever over a Marlin.

Trapper model: although a shade lighter in weight. {4" cut of barrel weight some magazine reduction}_But_?_ their real problem is the barrel Sight Plain. As known: The shorter the barrel the more time it takes for the human eyes to line up those Buck Horns. "That's my experiences with the Trapper model."

My Trapper model was not at all as accurate as the other Carbines I own. {As I had hopped it would be.}

A bold comment: I supect all Trapper owners assuredly have to accept ball park accuracy at best. 75 yards and beyond. The best Trapper groupings? Expect no better than 4" separation at the very least with a 44 model.

4"?__A open sight group non of my current 94's print. (Not at all acceptable with me.)

Last edited by Sure Shot Mc Gee; December 10, 2018 at 01:23 PM.
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Old December 10, 2018, 04:10 PM   #16
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I have several at 20" and one at 16". Marlin made the Texan model one year with an 18" barrel. I had one and sold it. One of the few I wish I had back.
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Old December 10, 2018, 06:54 PM   #17
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I like 20". Makes for a handy short range rifle, perfect for a 30-30 with iron sights.
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Old December 10, 2018, 07:21 PM   #18
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I generally prefer the shortest option available---mainly in shotguns and revolvers but went with the 20in on this one.

Just seems the most natural fit.
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Old December 10, 2018, 07:28 PM   #19
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I don't think accuracy difference is a given between Trappers & Carbines. I have seen poor
shooting Win 94s ( post 64s ) and Marlin 336s also newer models from late 80s and up. The
accuracy issue is based more on individual rifles. Not to forget the individual pulling the trigger. The only way to proove accurracy is to scope & bench. The groups you will get is the
accuracy of the gun.
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Old December 11, 2018, 01:01 PM   #20
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My only .30-30 is a circa 1912 made Marlin 1893 and it has a 26" half octagon barrel...

Not sure if it is the long sight radius, or the Marlin-Hepburn peep sight, but the dang thing is scary accurate...

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Old December 11, 2018, 01:14 PM   #21
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I have a Win 94 and Marlin 336C, both 20". They work fine for me but If I were a squirrel I'd give one of my nuts for a Trapper version. Problem is the price is pretty high.
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Old December 11, 2018, 02:56 PM   #22
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Nice rifle, Salmoneye. That configuration, with the short magazine, is smilar to the Winchester model 55 I had. With it's 24" barrel, it also shot much better than I would have expected. The Winchester model 64 is also similar, but with a pistol-grip stock; reputedly, they also shoot quite well.
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Old December 11, 2018, 06:35 PM   #23
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I have a 24" Marlin with a pistol grip and a 1/2 magazine. If I ever re-barrel it I am going to install a 28" barrel.
Because I like the look of the long barrel, and I have a peep sight on the receiver so longer makes for a better sight radius.

It's a 30-30 so trying to "increase the ballistics" doesn't make any since to me. I use 170 grain bullets and if they go 2100 FPS they will do everything I ever need or want to do with a 30-30. So the long barrel has no function other then sight radius and looks.

But it's what I like.
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Old December 12, 2018, 01:41 AM   #24
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I've got a Win 94 Canadian Centennial with a 26" octagon barrel. It's not as unwieldy as I thought it would be. Of course I've only plinked around with it on a range, but it's a joy to shoot with 125's or 165's.
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Old December 12, 2018, 05:35 AM   #25
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I also own one of the Canadian Centennial rifles with the 26" octagon barrel. It shoots really well offhand for me, but it is quite a bit heavier than the 20" model I inherited from my Granddad. The Canadian is fun to shoot and I love the crescent butt stock and the longer sight radius. Couldn't really say which one I prefer, but I know the Canadian would have to go on down the road if I could only have one.
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