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Thread: Best lever action caliber

  1. #1
    Member schmidty_dog's Avatar
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    Default Best lever action caliber

    Hey guys, recently i've been gettin the itch to pick up a lever action rifle. I really want one, do I need any other reasons? Anyways, i'm caught in a pickle of sorts, what caliber should I get? I like the Marlin models, and the 30-30 or 45-70 seem to be the ones I'm most interested in. I know the big bore would be the choice if big bears were in mind, but do you have any input other than for that use? I just want a gun I'll use alot, even if its just for plinkin. I've heard you can load the 45-70 pretty mild, but not sure just how mild that is.

  2. #2
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Win 71

    Win 71 in 348 Win
    Alaska

  3. #3

    Default .45-70

    I vote for the .45-70. I have shot whitetails in Arkansas and moose in Alaska with mine. I sometimes carry my Marlin Guide Gun with me when 4-wheeling, camping or fishing. Can't beat it for a lever gun.
    The "regular" factory loads are very mild to keep the pressures down so that ammo can even be fired in original weapons in that caliber. Remington even makes a 300 grain hollowpoint, but I would avoid using that round for anything larger than a small deer. The Marlins can handle stiff loads, and ammo makers load different levels of power to accommodate the 3 different strengths of guns made in this caliber. The Marlin is right in the middle, and can digest most with no problems. Buffalo bullets make some hot but excellent loads the Marlin can handle.
    The main difference in power levels you must be aware of and be sure to use correctly is in reloading this round. You can reload it to a mild plinker up to near .458 Win Mag levels, but these are only for the single shot MODERN rifles, such as the Ruger Number 1 or the Browning 1885 Hi-Wall, or the Siamese mausers converted to this caliber. Be very careful not to fire rounds loaded to these guns pressures in a Marlin, or anything else.

    The .30-30 is an excellent round for deer size game and has proven itself for over a century, but for up here, it has is strict limits, in my opinion. Heck, get both!!!
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  4. #4

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    For using lots including plinking, get the 22. Later if you decide you really like levers you can pick up something for bigger game, but you'll never use it as much as you use the 22.

  5. #5

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    i have the marlin 336 stainless in .30-30 Win and its a great lever gun, it can easily handle black bear or caribou and anything smaller within 200 yards with Hornadys Leverevolution ammo. its a great gun for plinking to because its pretty soft on the shoulder. Definately get a Marlin though, great feel and good quality. .45-70 is also a must have for levergun lovers like me.

  6. #6
    New member George's Avatar
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    Default lever gun choices

    Natural that you're focusing on the Marlin lever gun- they seem to have cornered the market in the lever actions but don't overlook the other possibilities- including the Winchester/Browning re-makes in some of the classic forms. I like ak bush man's choice of the Winchester model 71 in the 348- what a nice balanced package it is in a high powered lever gun! As to the mild 45-70 loads. How mild?- very mild if you wish. Both the Lyman regular and cast bullet manuals have a lot of mild 45-70 load data.

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    Default

    I just got a Legacy Puma carbine in 480. The gun appears to be well made and the fit and finish are fine. It is light, short and well balanced. I bought it to carry while bird hunting and walking around in bear country. I figure it to be a 50 -75yd gun. It can be loaded with a 400gr. to about 1450fps. Down side the 480 appears to be going the way of the dodo bird. It is also available in 454.
    pete

  8. #8
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default If I can ever find one that I can afford...

    I'd truly like to have a Model 94 Winchester, pre-64 t ype, with a 22" .38-55, octagon, please! Till then, I suppose I could make do with one of the Marlins.

  9. #9
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    Default

    I really like the .405 Winchester as far as lever gun cartridges go.........I've always been a fan of the .375 Win also.........

  10. #10
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    Hard to go wrong with a 30-30, it seems everybody ought to own one.

    But, if I were looking for a fun to have lever gun, it would be between a 22rf and a 357 mag. I'd also say the 357 mag in a good lever, with proper bullets, it one of the most under-rated guns around.

  11. #11
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default

    I currently have a 30-40 (95 win), 45-70 1886 Win, a 38-40 1892 Win and a couple 357 mag clones of 92s....

    But I would rather have my old Model 71 Winchester in 348..... Talk about a great brush gun...and a great round for working in a lever action....
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  12. #12
    Member chrisWillh's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Darreld Walton View Post
    I'd truly like to have a Model 94 Winchester, pre-64 t ype, with a 22" .38-55, octagon, please!
    I'll second that, I wouldn't mind a '92 either, original or replica.
    Chris Willhoite

  13. #13
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    Default

    I have a M92 in 44-40. I enjoy the heck out of shooting it.

    I think I'll have to get into handloading, however to get the best performance out of it. It seems to always want to group high at 50 to 75 yards no matter how low I put the rear sight. I'm wondering if it's a problem with the gun or the ammo. Anyone else have this problem? Thanks.....Louis

  14. #14

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    Hey Louis. It sounds like the front sight is too short relative to the adjustment range of the rear sight. It's a small matter to change front sights, and they aren't expensive.

  15. #15

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    Model 71, 348Winchester...it doesn't get any better!

  16. #16
    Member KRS's Avatar
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    Default

    Marlin MXLR 1895 chambered for 450 Marlin, you can hunt anything with it.

  17. #17
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    Default

    I recently purchased a Marlin 1895XLR 45-70. Even though I am not exactly a pilgrim when it comes to rifles, many of the folks on this site know a heck of a lot more than I do. I have more or less been away from the sport for a while - too busy making a living. I like to ask a lot of questions - do much research before making such a purchase. Heck, that's part of the fun.

    I think Browning makes a good lever gun; a good friend has one and likes it - they make it in far more calibers than Marlin offers - .270, .30-06, .300 WM, 7 MM Mag, .243 as I recall, and the list goes on.

    I would not presume to suggest to you what gun or caliber you might wish to consider without knowing first how you were going to use it. From your post it sounds like you think you would like to try a lever gun and want something to have fun with. If that's the case, heck, pick a caliber - like the Model 39A .22. But, if you intend to do much more than plinking with it, then a bit more though must be given to caliber selection.

    I can, however, tell you why I went with a Marlin, and why a 45-70.

    My father purchased my first Marlin lever action exactly 50 years ago this Oct for my birthday. I still have it; I still enjoy shooting it; I have NEVER had any problem with it whatsoever. I've owned two Marlin .30-30s. One I've had for about 35 years, another one that I sold about 10 years ago. Lots of rounds through them. ZERO problems. That's reliability!! The only other gun that I have ever owned that I had the level of confidence in that I do a Marlin, and most people on this site have owned FAR more guns than I have, was a pre-'64 Mod 70 Win in 375H&H - that gun I gave to my son - my guess is that he will give it to his son one day. The same will happen with the 3 Marlins I now own, I'm sure.

    As for the 45-70 - I wanted something handy/relatively light to use as protection in bear country - I fly fish in grizz country in northern Idaho, Montana (near Glacier NP), and I get to Alaska every now and again. A rifle because if I had to make a living hitting the bullseye with a revolver I'd be up a creek!! With the 45-70 I think I got what I was looking for and ammo is plentiful. I have had the 45-70 about 2 weeks - I've put a box of very light ammo (Ultramax from Sportsman's Warehouse) through it, and the recoil was no problem whatsoever. I'll use a box of Hornady Leverevolution next. After that I'll try the Garrett Hammerheads - now that should be fun!!

    So, have fun doing the research.

    MD Mike

  18. #18
    Member akshrop's Avatar
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    Default Centennial '66

    I have a Winchester Centennial '66 and I love it. They are not of any collectable value ($450 at 100%), but are great shooters. Very easy to tote around and great plinkers, but my brother has the Marlin Cowboy model in 45lc and it is even more fun. If it is not a bear gun, but a plinker, look at the 45lc. It is fun and my brother's is a tack driver.

  19. #19
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    Default savage 99

    I'd like to see the savage 99 come back with a detachable clip and chambered in some of the old heavy hitters like the 348, 356, and especially the 358 winchester and even the new 338 federal or possibly the 350 remington mag. Of course now with new hornady leverevolutions these could be loaded in the marlin as well and could handle more preasure than the savage. I've seen alot of renewed interest in the lever actions due to marlin's innovations and the realization we don't need these magnums to kill stuff, any of these loadings listed above will kill cleanly out to 200 yds and some even more. Perhaps we'll see some new loadings from hornady and marlin like a 358 express...........I'd buy that in a second!!!

  20. #20

    Default 30-30

    I have a Win Model '94, made in 1898, and guess what? It still drives tacks at 100 yards! Probably at 200, but that is outshooting my eyes with iron sights. The 30-30 is the most prolific round in shooting history, and has killed more game than any other caliber (probably not for long, though).

    I just picked up a Marlin '95 stainless in 45-70....Wild West guns can pretty much modify a 45-70 to your hearts' content, and they are a Marlin certified repair shop. The marlin I bought was missing the rear sight elevator, and they replaced it for free as a warranty......Many have their own opinions about the shop, but bottom line is they do great work and I like their customer service. So, in returning to your original question; get both! My hunting buddy has a marlin 450....and just picked up a Win Mod '95 in 405....expensive gun (now) but nice ballistics for that round. I know of a model 95 in Win 405 for sale that was made in 1904 if anyone is interested. I want to buy it, just don't have the $$$ right now.

    Cheers,

    Scott

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