Lever Action Rifles: Go Ahead, Say Yee-haw!

Henry Lever-Action Rifles

Lever actions! They’re as American as football, pickup trucks, and apple pie. Maybe pecan pie? Here are four lever guns that’ll make you say “Yee-haw,” and one that might make you say “I didn’t know they could do that…”

Mossberg Leads with Value Again

The most popular hunting caliber for lever guns is the .30-30 Winchester, named for its .30 caliber bullet followed by 30 grains of smokeless powder. Winchester and Marlin immediately used the cartridge in their lever-action hunting guns and the combination has been a hit ever since. It’s so common that if you hang out with rednecks (like I do!) you’ll find some of them just refer to all lever actions as “thuddy thuddy” rifles. Marlin and Winchester lever-action rifles in this caliber have slowly crept up in price over the years, so Mossberg came out with their model 464 in 2008. Is it any surprise that Mossberg would be the company to step in and keep these guns affordable? The 464 is made in America of course, with a hardwood stock and blued steel everywhere else, and holds 7 rounds in its magazine. Best of all, right now the Mossberg can be yours for only $333.65, undercutting its Winchester and Marlin competitors.

.22 LR Lever Action and Beautiful Work of Art

Henry lever actions are famous for their high quality and good value. Their .22 LR versions are a lot of fun for the money and will reliably shoot the cheapest ammo available. They start at less than $250, but the version I want to show you is the top-of-the-line, legendary, incomparable Henry Golden Boy. Yes, a .22 LR lever-action that costs over a thousand dollars, with no expense spared and no holds barred. The stock is beautiful American Walnut, the receiver is polished and engraved brass, and the octagon-shaped barrel a high polish blue. Each of these Deluxe Engraved II models receives a special serial number from 1 to 1000. These are the rifles that men of taste will buy for their great-grandchildren as family heirlooms. More than a .22 LR rifle, they are truly works of art.

Marlin’s 336Y “Youth” Model: Not Just For Youngins

One of the best things about the classic Winchester ’73 and the guns patterned after it is the balance point, right where the forend meets the receiver, resulting in a rifle that feels light and points naturally. Improving on an already good thing, this “Youth Rifle” from Marlin chops the barrel to 16 -1/4 inches and the length of pull on the stock to just 12”. Marlin advertises the 336Y as perfect for young hunters to start on, but in my book a shorter, lighter carbine has a lot to recommend it even if you’re a grownup. It still holds 5 rounds of ammo and weighs only 6-1/2 pounds. At $355.65, the Marlin Youth looks like a heck of a value to me.

Fill Your Hands… with a Large Loop Winchester

Some folks don’t get too excited about any lever gun that doesn’t have “Winchester” engraved on it. The Winchester ’92 was used by John Wayne in so many cowboy movies that its hard to picture “The Duke” without one. In a few of those movies, such as True Grit, Rio Bravo, and El Dorado, his Winchester had an extra-large lever loop. The large loop made manipulating the rifle’s action easier when on the back of a loping horse or while wearing heavy winter gloves, but the real reason it was cool was because John Wayne always carried the only one in town. Now we all can have the same configuration, direct from the Winchester factory, holding seven rounds of .45 Long Colt. Speaking of which, how did “The Rifleman” manage to fire twelve shots through his large loop ’92 without reloading?

Browning BLR .300 WinMag– Not Grandad’s Lever Gun

Traditional lever guns are limited in caliber choice for two reasons. The lever-action’s relative lack of locking strength limits the chamber pressures possible, and the tubular magazine means using only round-nosed bullets. See, if a bunch of pointy-tipped “spitzer” type bullets are squashed front to back in a tubular magazine, they can impact the primers of the rounds in front of them, exploding the gun. The Browning BLR avoids these issues by using a detachable 3 round box magazine, like a bolt-action gun would have, and a multi-lug rotating bolt for superior locking strength. The result is a lever-action rifle that weighs just 7 pounds 12 ounces, balances wonderfully, and is chambered in mighty .300 Winchester Magnum! With a grey laminate stock and satin nickel plating on the metal parts, the BLR doesn’t look like a traditional cowboy gun. It doesn’t function like a traditional lever gun either—the trigger comes down along with the cocking lever when you work the action. The BLR also does something else the cowboy guns never did—the barrel and forearm easily detach from the receiver for compact transportation. It’s a lever-action hunting rifle for the 21st century.

Do you enjoy shooting lever-action rifles? What is your favorite lever action? Let us know in the comments section below!

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. I use a lever action and have quite often, although lately I’m having trouble finding any ammo. for it. It’s a Savage 250/3000 rifle, It was handed down to me some 52 years back, by my Grand father. I have hunted with it off and on. But now I have a problem, It’s the only rifle I have left, and now I find I’m not able to find any ammo for it. It uses either 87 grn. or 100 grn. which it prefers. Now I’m unable to find any ammo at all. If anyone is able to help please let me know? I would greatly appreciate it.. Thank you

  2. I have a puma 92 in 357 mag and I have had feed problems with it since I got it new! it shoots good when you get it to feed! it jams 30% of the time!

  3. If anybody questions the ability of the 30-30 as a deer rifle, they need their head examined. My caliber of preference has always been a 30.06 for most everything, but I took my first deer, and many others using a 30-30 Winchester Model 94. I have taken my share of Elk with one as well. You need to keep them under 200 yards, but they’re an excellent brush gun.

    The best thing about the Model 94? A person’s size doesn’t seem to matter. The second the gun hits your shoulder, you’re on target.

    All of that said, I should point out that whenever I hunt my favorite heavy brush area these days, I carry a 460 S&W Mag from Magnum research. Fantastic handgun cartridge.

  4. I just picked up a 16″ bbl Puma 92 in .357 Mag. Overall length is about 33″, and it’s quite maneuverable. It has a fiber optic front sight, a peep rear sight, and has been tuned by one of the better ‘smiths. The only problem I have with it is at 50 yards, .38 plinking ammo hits about 6-8″ lower than .357 hunting ammo…

    Lever actions are a blast!

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