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Thread: First Lever Action?

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub 6string's Avatar
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    First Lever Action?

    Hi guys,

    I've never owned a lever action, in over 40 yrs of shooting.
    Here's the thing: I'm a lefty, shoot virtually only cast boolits, and once sighted in, prefer to shoot offhand.
    And, I like accuracy!
    So, what are the pros/cons in using a lever action vs. a bolt action, given my likes?

    I can tell you my preference in lever actions would be an older Winchester or Marlin.
    Cartridges? .....well, 38-55 is catching my eye!

    Thanks for your opinions and help,

    Jim

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Tazlaw's Avatar
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    My first lever action is a Marlin 30-30. I was so young I couldn’t work the action! 40+ years later, and it’s a dang nice little shooter!
    Just knowing enough to do it, is not enough to do it right! -Taz

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Cheap shooting, +1 for an 1892 in 357 mag. It's a top eject. Every once in awhile you see a new production winouko in 38-55 on GB or find a cheap 30-30 and have it reborn to 38-55. Store them seperately, they tend to multiply.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    pros are they usually feel more youth sized since the profile is basically a red ryder bb gun and easy to carry around and they usually hold more rounds then a bolt action. cons whoever designed these things seems to have had no concerns for minimizing the number of screws.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Wheelguns 1961's Avatar
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    Do you intend to hunt with it? Reason I ask is in my state, you can only use straight walled pistol cartridges for deer hunting. The only other thing you can use a rifle for is small game with a .22lr. A nice bolt action .308, or a 30-30 lever gun wouldn’t do me any good.
    Due to the price of primers, warning shots will no longer be given!

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub 2A-Jay's Avatar
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    I bought my first lever gun at sears back in the early '70s it was a Ted Williams Winchester model '94 .30-30. Long gone now, Current is a 1947 Marlin Model 336c 30-30. I would buy another one.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy 444ttd's Avatar
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    winchester m94 top eject with a william fp peep sight and JES rebored it to 35/30-30.

    shooting it in. two shots each number
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    "The religion of KE: proposed by the ignorant, and parroted by the unknowing" - MikeG

    ​“Einstein's relativity work is a magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king... its exponents are brilliant men but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists.”
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    My first lever was a Marlin 45/70. I had a grin from ear to ear and was hooked on levers. To me a bolt action was more of a serious shooter vs a lever that was fun. I am not talking about accuracy or anything just the fact I really enjoy a lever action.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    I shoot left handed and use levers a bit. I have an old 35R, 3 30-30's, a 38-55 and a 357 Rossi as well as a Henry 22 mag. The 30-30 is probably the most useful for someone just getting into them unless, like mentioned you want to hunt with it in a straight case state. I have had several 30-30's and have shot cast out of them and they are about the most cast friendly cartridges made. I prefer Winchester or Ballard rifles Marlins over the Micro Groove Marlins. Some will get their feathers ruffled on that statement, but the standard rifled barrels are a little more versatile to alloys and bullet diameters. Shot deer with cast out of the 30-30 as well as Jacketed. Cases are cheap.

    In a straight case State I would find cheaper doner rifle and have someone like JES re-bore it to 38-55. The 38-55 is an excellent cast bullet cartridge also and fun to shoot. Those that have the JES re-bores seem to like them.

    DEP

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    You could try for either an inexpensive Marlin or Winchester in 30-30 and have it bored to .38-55. John Taylor on this site does it, and rather well from the reviews.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    I always thought they were not as good a bott actions and in some ways they are not. Not as accurate and some are tougher to scope. Some are a pain to take down and clean.

    But they sure are fun. I went over 25 years without one. Now I have eight. Any decent lever action is a lot more accurate that any shooter I know if shooting from standing position.

    I prefer Marlins as they are easy to dissemble and put back together and easy to tune.

    For most hunting, the .30/30, .32 Spl., and .35 Remington get the job done and are easier to find than .38/55, .375 or .444. The .45/70 is fun with factory loads (Trapdoor level), but a bit much if loaded hot.

    My most used lever actions are .38/.357 (three of them) but I do not hunt with them. Cheap, fun to shoot, and easy to reload. Cases last a long time. OK for deer at 100 yards but not a great choice IMHO.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy gumbo333's Avatar
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    I shoot left handed also. First lever was a Marlin 30/30. Had a couple of those plus 45/70 and a 338mx. Never a 357. An inexpensive 30/30 that could be rebored to 38/55 would get you there. I have moved on to Henry, love them. Have fun.
    Never trade luck for skill.

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub 6string's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your thoughts and efforts to share,
    I did, in fact, enjoy a 10" TC Contender in 30-30, exclusively as a cast boolit silhouette gun.
    Easy to load for success!
    Honestly, this would be for a fun way to practice standing offhand rifle shooting, while using cast boolits in a long gun.
    About the only other important qualification to add would be the ability to get a nice trigger pull.

    Thanks very much everyone,
    Jim

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    Most people do not shoot a lot off hand past 100 yards.

    If that is you, get yourself a Marlin 1894 in .38/.357. Cheap to shoot and easy to load for. Can use factory sights, tang sight, dot sight or scope with no gyrations.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    My first levergun was a Browning BL22. Accuracy was very good with standard velocity ammo. But t was so light, offhand shooting was iffy. My second was a Marlin 1895 45-70. It's my black bear rifle of choice. My third was a Browning BLR 358Winchester, because I wanted a 358 since high school. It's pleasant to carry and shoot. My latest was a Marlin 1894 44 Magnum. If it had the same bore and twist rate as the 444, it would be perfect.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I started with a Marlin 336C - 30-30 in 1964. I have handled many, many rifles. Most bolt guns feel heavy, awkward and slow. There are a few, very few that feel 'lively' in the hand. Using scopes or young eyes and receiver sights, I never found bolt guns 'out of the box' more accurate than lever-guns, when carry equal sighting equipment, Maybe some of the newer ones are. I have muliple Marlin's and Savage 99's that make 1.5 MOA and on good days go under 1 MOA. A couple Savage 99's in 243 consistently beat 1 MOA. For prone shooting a bolt gun is superior, a bolt gun is easier to shoot accurately from the bench, offhand and kneeling, the lever gun is just as accurate and faster. Most lever guns are stocked too long for proper handling from the shoulder. If you cannot work the lever with rifle shouldered, your stock is probably too long. Marlin's and Savage 99's have triggers than can be easily stoned to 3lbs or less. If time as much time is spent fussing on a lever gun as on a bolt gun, accuracy results can be very pleasing. Calibers like the 308 Win, 358 Win, 45-70, and now Henry's Long Ranger in 6.5 Creedmoor pretty much cover most practical hunting. With boolits, a good 32 Special is hard to beat for accuracy when the wind is quiet (under 10 mph in Wyoming). M.L. McPherson has a book on Amazon that covers many of the things that can be done with Lever Guns.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    im a lefty too had a marlin 1894cs in 357 mag never got on with it ,have a win 94ae trapper 357mag now for 20 years love it.got a marlin 45-70 slb last year like it too.dont think either are hard to strip down.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    A good used Marlin or Winchester 30 30 and don’t look back. If you ever get bored( I doubt it), send it with $250 to JES and get a 38 55 back.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    There’s been some dandy Winchester 94’s in 32 Special on Gun Broker

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    6String -

    Howdy !

    You briefly mentioned bolt actions, in addition to levers.

    IF you might be open to use of another action type than a Win or Marlin lever gun, howzabout
    a Martini action ?

    The .310 Martini has a rim diam a scant couple thou’ larger than the rim on a .25-20.
    Would work for a lefty.
    Has a lever.

    Just a thought.


    With regards,
    357Mag

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check