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Thread: Lever Actions

  1. #1
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Lever Actions

    I'm looking at getting a new lever action. It was the first gun after the .22 I ever hunted with back in my youth. My eye is currently on the Marlin 336C in .35 Rem. I have no specific purpose other than I don't have a lever action, so I want one (does one really need any more reason?). I recall shooting my dad's old Marlin .35 Rem to be pretty fun. I'll probably just leave it iron sights, but want the ability to scope it if I ever got the itch to do so. Before I commit, anyone have any other suggestions for a good general purpose lever action rifle?
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  2. #2

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    I've got a 336 in 35 Rem, and while I love it, I can't call it a general purpose LA. Ammo and brass are getting hard to find and expensive. I agree that it's great fun to shoot, but to bring out the most fun, I'd sure get into bullet casting with an eye toward using RCBS's 200 grain flatnose. It's a dandy, dandy bullet in the 35 for everything from plinking to reduced loads for small game to big game.

    If you ambition includes the potential for future scoping, then Marlin is certainly a fine choice if you want a tube magazine. But for me scopes on rifles with tubular magazines requiring FN bullets are kind of like jet engines on crop dusters. That reflects my preference for receiver sights for close work while reserving scopes for hunts and calibers that might feature longer range shots.

    If I might scope a gun someday, I'd sure go for a box magazine such as the Browning BLR or a used Savage 99. Both are available in calibers that provide better long range potential while still serving well at closer ranges. I'm a Savage freak, and my favorite calibers are 250, 284, 300 or 308, and 358. Of that bunch, the 308 is probably the most versatile and readily available ammo-wise.

    I don't currently own a BLR, but the door is wide open with calibers on that one, allowing you to think even more broadly in how you define "versatile." Heck, you can even get the 325 WSM in a BLR.

    Harping on "versatile" for a moment, then there's the question of pistol rounds like the 44 mag or even the 357 if you want more plinking than hunting in your versatility. Back to the Marlin for those.

    I think that if you decide in more detail how you are going to use the rifle, that will narrow the ranges and calibers that will work for you. Some folks will be recommnding you hop on the 45-70 bandwagon, and while I own a couple of those and like them, the round doesn't fall very well within my terms of "versatile," considering all the ways I use a gun. It's a great round, but you see guys talking more about bear smoking than throttling way back and whapping bunny heads or beer cans with it. I spend a lot more time doing that than bear busting, so it falls in a different place on my scale.

    And frankly, if you're not a reloader you're going to get a whole lot more use out of a 22 LR than any other caliber, and isn't that a pretty good definition of "versatile?"

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Get one...

    I have a 45-70 Marlin Guide gun (stainless) and love it. I got it for bear protection on canoe fly fishing trips I take each fall in NW Alaska. Slimmed down the forearm and coated the stock in spray on truck bed liner. Tough as nails and looks great. Got the idea on a Marlin owners forum. http://www.marlinowners.com/board/ Tons of info here on all Marlin lever actions. Great info for customizing and such too. I sent mine off to www.stevesgunz.com for an action job. Its a whole different gun now. Slick as butter. Got the XS sight system (ghost ring). Buffalo Bore ammo. Its going to be sent to Brockmans Gunsmithing in Idaho next month for a full length mag tube and trigger job (3lbs). So much can be done with these guns. Lots of gunsmiths do special work on them as this style gun is popular with the Cowboy Action Sports. I suggest you read around on the www.marlinowners.com forum. All the info there you could ever want.

  4. #4
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    As seems to be a growing trend, I totally agree with Brownbear on this one...........Brownbear, are you my secret twin seperated at birth???

    I only have a few lever guns in my little collection, and they include a few Winchesters and Marlins. I have owned a BLR and am activly looking for another one, an old model with the long mag and steel reciever in 358. I too, would like to add a 35 rem to the battery and will try to find one in an older Marlin so I can have Andy Hawk hack the barrel and magazine down to 16 in! Yea baby, that will ride nicely on the front of the old ATV! I dont have a Savage 99, but am also looking for one of the older models in 300 Savage, but your mention of "versital" kind of leads me to the Winchester 94 carbine (20" barrel) in good old 30/30! I dont care what anyone tries to tell you, or how many folks I offend with this statement, but NO rifle, in my opinion is more pleasurable to carry and better ballanced than the 94 carbine. The smoothness of the action makes the Marlin look like the mass produced, crude hack job that it is. They are still good guns, and I wouldnt part with mine, but if you are looking for smooth action and great trigger pull out of the box, dont even EVER think Marlin. That said, the trigger on most all lever guns will require a bit of gun smithing to make them decent, and Winchester is no different in that regard. The BLR has that funky rack and pinnion style action, and while quite smooth, it is rather wierd in that the first few degrees of lever moovement is rather stiff, as the end of the bolt must rotate to disengage the barrel (much like an AR-15) then, once past the high effort inital moovement, it becomes............well, almost frictionless. Not a bad thing, not a good thing, just wierd to me. Of course you also mentioned "scope", and since we dont really know each other, I wont punch you in the mouth for such slanderous thoughts Just kidding of course, but like Brownbear, scopes seem................well, they just seem better suited to bolt guns. If you really need that chunk of glass and aluminum, then dont go for the Winchester. back to the 30/30........while its no barn burning magnum, it is fully capable of taking everything in this state.........not recommended, especially for Brownies and Moose, but it can be done, if you close, good, and a little lucky, and its not too much for bunnies either. Ammo is on every counter in every gun store on the planet, and at reasonable prices. If you reload, there are more bullets, moulds, cases and powders than you can shake a stick at. You could even have it re-chambered to 30/30 improved and get about 100 fps more out of it, if thats important to you.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  5. #5
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default

    More than likely I would put a good peep on it, but I don't want to rule out a low power scope as my eyes age. The 35 Rem Marlin that I hunted with as a teenager had a small scope on it. My dad also had a 444, but I'm not interested in that or a 45-70. I was glancing at the 30/30, but I've never shot that round, so I was leaning toward the 35 as I'm familiar with that one and it has a pretty good rep. I do reload and can mold my own bullets, so I'm not too concerned about ammo.

    My initial consideration of a Marlin is simply because of familiarity with the gun. But I'll certainly look at the other models you guys mentioned. Guess I'll need to take a trip to the gun shop and hold a couple other lever guns to see how they feel. That's the nice thing about this forum. I was all ready to just go drop half-a-grand on the Marlin and now you guys have given me a couple others to check out before I make my final decision. Thank you.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  6. #6

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    I can fully relate to the nostalgia side of things. That probably explains a third of the guns in my rack. There are certainly "better" ones around, but it's kinda like keepin up with the Joneses on new cars. It'll make you dizzy for trying, and meanwhile there's value in respect for history and tradition in hunting, isn't there? Why would I otherwise own and cherish a funky old 30-40 Krag for example?

    I'm betting if you look around, you're going to find a very good used Marlin in 35 Remington, probably with all the new stiffness worn smooth by a previous owner. That's the way I got mine. I searched around and found an old Redfield aperture sight, and that's been on the gun for lots of years now with no thought of a scope. If you're seriously looking, I'd go to Midway for bulk packs of Remington 200 grain RN bullets sooner rather than later. All bullets are zooming up in price, but these provide nice value while giving you one of the best game bullets around for the 35 Remington. At those velocities, they provide just about the perfect combo of expansion and weight retension. As I recall Cabelas has them too, but I haven't compared prices recently.

  7. #7

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    Iv'e been shooting my little 1894 Marlin in 44 mag forever. It went with me to Mo for years to hunt whitetails. It was not a back up either it was my gun of choice! The little gun has killed more deer than any other centerfire I have owned.

    I also own two well worn 336's in 30-30. They are smooth as glass and both would shoot 2" groups with iron sights when my eyes were a tad younger. I also have a couple 94 winchesters. I love em all. I shoot 180 gr hard cast lead bullets with gass checks pushed by 25 grains of 748 @ about 1800fps. I have yet to see a 30-30 that didn't shoot this load well.

    There is also a newer Marlin 45-70 guide gun sitting in the cabinet. The goofy lawyer button on the side takes away from the nostalgia of being a lever gun. The action is not in the same class as my old lever guns as far as smoothness goes. I worked the action a couple of thousand times one night while watching tv hoping to hone it some. The only thing that accomplished was sending mother to bed frustrated. The action is still rough, thus this one probably won't be around long.

    Puma makes a very tough lever gun...its hard to question their construction since they are capable of handling the 454 casull round at chamber pressures that are almost 20,000 psi more than Marlin & Winchester ever cincidered for their guns. However the Brazilian walnut or whatever that they use for stocks should be reserved for making fork truck pallets and the lawsuit prevention safety is mounted right on top and resembles an ignition switch on an old Oliver tractor.

    As far as 22's go I have an older 39a that has killed over 500 tree rats and would be my first choice for a rimfire lever gun. I also have a cheap little Henry that I give very high marks. Its a hoot to shoot walnuts floating down a creek with the Henry.


    The lever gun has been and always will be my favorite rifle. Fact of the matter... I think I'll go clean one of them right now!

    By the way putting a scope on a lever gun is just wrong!!

  8. #8
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    If you are dead set on 35 remington in a lever gun, then Marlin is really your only logistical choice. set aside a few hundred bucks and wait for the Wassila Gun show, and get there early as I will also be looking for the exact same rifel! I also have a Big Bore 94 in 375 Winchester that I guess you could call "versital" that is if your definition is a round that isnt great at anything, but does ok at most things? I am confident that within its realistic range limitations 100 - 125 yards it would handle most anything you shot with it including bears and moose. Is there a better lever gun for moose and bears......ahhhh yep, could you shoot bunnies with it if you wanted to?.......yes, but again there are better guns for that. I dunno, I guess I gave up on trying to be versital years ago, and just started buying guns for one purpose. I have a 45/70 guide gun that's sole purpose in life is to ride on the front of the ATV in the rain, snow, mud, salt spray, what ever and protect me and my family from critters that can stomp or bite you to death.......... will I take it bear or moose hunting.........no, got a 375 H&H for that, would it do that job, yes, but I got better tools for that specific duty. Its job is to be like a Marine or a Cop, and stand ready to protect.........if it never gets fired.......Great, it has still done its job. Were guys..............we have guns, our wives have shoes and jewlery. Ask your wife why she doesnt just wear the same pair of pumps for everything, and why the hell does she need so many...........after you get back from having your head stitched back together let me know what she said!
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    There is also a newer Marlin 45-70 guide gun sitting in the cabinet. The goofy lawyer button on the side takes away from the nostalgia of being a lever gun. The action is not in the same class as my old lever guns as far as smoothness goes. I worked the action a couple of thousand times one night while watching tv hoping to hone it some. The only thing that accomplished was sending mother to bed frustrated. The action is still rough, thus this one probably won't be around long.

    Puma makes a very tough lever gun...its hard to question their construction since they are capable of handling the 454 casull round at chamber pressures that are almost 20,000 psi more than Marlin & Winchester ever cincidered for their guns. However the Brazilian walnut or whatever that they use for stocks should be reserved for making fork truck pallets and the lawsuit prevention safety is mounted right on top and resembles an ignition switch on an old Oliver tractor.


    The lever gun has been and always will be my favorite rifle. Fact of the matter... I think I'll go clean one of them right now!

    By the way putting a scope on a lever gun is just wrong!!
    EKC:
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  10. #10
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    Default 30-30

    I also think the 30-30 is a good all around cartridge and is pleasant to shoot. I've had winchester 94's and marlins and prefer the marlins but thats a personal choice. With the cowboy action shooting being so popular there's plenty of aftermarket stuff to slick up either brand. I was at the last UAF gunshow and one guy had a brand new in the box winchester 94 chambered in 7-30 waters, thats another good all around load too. personally I'd love to have a savage 99 in 358 winchester but I haven't run across one yet, maybe I'll get one in 308 and have it rebarelled. Savage really screwed up when they discontinued the model 99 as they are much sought after and most guys that have one won't part with them. Whatever choice you make it will be the right one because they're all fun to shoot and a pleasure to carry in the field.

  11. #11

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    So what is the problem with a .35Rem.? I fill the meat locker with one year in and year out. No, it's not a gun to chase BBs with, but how many of us really do that anyway? I buy my Moose loads: Buf. Bore's 220Gr.Speers at about 2250fps. Now if you do all your hunting as a sniper this is a poor gun to use, but if you shoot 'em at about 100 yds or so ........
    Dan

  12. #12

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    Hey TC1-

    There's a 99 in the classified ads right now. It's 243, but rebarrels just as well as a 308. And yup, the 358 is a dandy in it's own right, just like the 35 is a dandy in it's own right!

  13. #13

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    Forgot to add that I'm glad the B Bore 220 loads work for you Dan. I tried them in my own 336, and they locked it up tighter than a drum. I had to use a range rod down the bore to drive the cases out of the chamber after the extractor jumped the rim and left the case behind when I opened the action. Lots of force require on the lever before that happened, too. Same happened on all three rounds I fired.

    Gave them to a buddy, and his 336 would eject them, but just barely. Chrono showed only 2110 in his standard length barrel, meanwhile.

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