When folks see a lever-action rifle they think hunting, probably deer hunting, maybe hog hunting. Just the same, the lever-action rifle has been the go-to rifle for personal defense in many camps for well over 100 years. I kept a Winchester ’94 in the cruiser for years. The LAPD and Washington State Patrol issued these rifles well into the 1980s.
During World War II, the famous Canada Rangers were armed with the .30-30 rifle, patrolling territory not far from Japanese incursions.
The Mossberg SPX is a modern rifle that may look quite different and specialized. It seems that it’s a survival rifle intended for personal defense.
It is, but it also takes the place of a youth model lever-action or a light, handy carbine for hunting. It does a lot of things well, and for the most part, better than most rifles.
Mossberg 464 SPX Features
The Mossberg 464 SPX features an AR-type rifle stock with six adjustments. It will fit shooters of all sizes and can also be adjusted for different levels of clothing depending on the season. The three-railed forend will accommodate lights and lasers. Unlike many lever-action rifles, the Mossberg 464 easily accommodates a scope mount.
This isn’t a cowboy lever-action rifle, but anyone who has used a lever-action rifle could pick up the Mossberg and fire it — as long as he or she understands the new style of manual safety.
The Mossberg is available in traditional models, if you prefer that style. The rifles look a lot like the Winchester 1894.
The bolt locks up tightly and operates smoothly. The lever-action is best handled by quickly moving the lever forward, not down, and the return is smooth. The feed mechanism is a little modified and may be superior to the original 1894 design.
The Mossberg is drilled and tapped for easy scope mounting. The bolt is round, rather than the 94’s square bolt. This means the bolt may be more like a bolt-action rifle bolt, and the bolt ejects cartridges smartly to the right, as an angle-eject Winchester will.
Ammunition for the Mossberg 464 SPX
The rifle feeds handloads smoothly. The same rules apply to any tubular-magazine rifle. Do not use pointed spitzer-type bullets, as they will butt into the primer of the cartridge ahead. The result could be the ignition of a cartridge in the magazine, bad news for all. Use round-nose factory-type bullets, such as the Winchester Power Point.
For a pure hunting assignment, I have used spitzer bullets, but only one in the chamber and one in the magazine. Considering the ranges at which the .30-30 is used, Spitzer bullets are not needed. The old round-nose bullets are designed to expand at .30-30 velocity and do a good job on game at 50 to 100 yards.
The rifle features a tang safety that is easily operated before firing. Another safety prevents the rifle from firing unless the lever is closed. A lot of folks don’t even notice the second safety.
SPX Lever-Action Accuracy
The rifle features excellent sights. The front is red fiber-optic and the rear is a green fiber-optic. This is an excellent combination for most uses. The rifle holds six rounds in the magazine, enough for practically any emergency.
The forend was tested with a number of combat lights, including TruGlo, with good results. Firing the rifle was pleasant. The rifle weighs just at six pounds. Recoil isn’t unpleasant, but more noticeable than a full-size rifle. On the other hand, the recoil pad keeps things bearable.
Firing quickly at man- and boar-sized targets at 10 to 25 yards, the rifle proved to be an excellent close-quarter rifle.
I adjusted the stock several times, giving the rifle an overall length of 33 to 37 inches or so, and it proved to be easy to adjust. Most of us prefer the full-length adjustment for accuracy and handling. A youth would use the shorter adjustment. For storage, the rifles short overall length is handy.
After firing a couple of boxes of handloads, I elected to use the Winchester 150-grain RN loading in accuracy testing. I settled down in a solid firing position at the 50-yard line.
Firing five rounds carefully gave me a 2.35-inch group, with the tightest three in 1.9 inches. That is accurate enough for iron sights and for an emergency.
If you are accustomed to the lever-action or if you are a new shooter, the Mossberg 464 SPX offers a great deal of security for a modest price.