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Lever gun options

08 Feb 2020
@ 10:10 am (GMT)

Michael Roach

Hey everyone, I am in the market to buy a lever action scrub gun.
I was thinking of going heavier than a 30/30 win. ( I have read Nathans opinion of them) So now my options are 44 mag, 45/70 or I order a 35 Rem from the states and somehow find a way to provide ammunition for it (NZ).
I am looking for something that has some killing power in reserve to take deer out comfortably to 100m most of my shots would be in the 40-60m range.
So Im interested in peoples opinions on these 3 calibres.
for instance does the 44 mag have power out to 100m? (I like the Henry big boy),
is a 45/70 gonna be too much gun for the smaller deer species?
The 35 Rem in theory seems to be the best choice ballistically but I am gonna be practically forced to reload for it and even then its gonna be a fun game sourcing brass and projectiles for it, at least based on my last internet search..


09 Feb 2020
@ 11:11 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Lever gun options
Hi Michael, you will get runners at 100 yards when using the .44. Internal wounds will be adequate but dead runs are common. Accuracy issues can also occur at this range in some rifles. The .44 is a very able cartridge but if you are looking for a hard hitter (on the spot type kills), this is not the right cartridge for you. To achieve this effect, it can help to have 2100fps or faster at your max intended range with a .429" projectile. Above 1700fps, you will see dead runs, although the animals will not generally run too far. Internal wounding is immensely broad at this impact velocity.

As suggested, velocity is only one part of the equation, accuracy is a main factor. However in this case, I am referring to the accuracy potential of lever action rifles, not human error. All lever actions can suffer from harmonic distortion. Potent chamberings such as the .444 and .45-70 more so. Remedial steps can be time consuming, you have to be patient.

All I woulkd suggest is that you go into this eyes wide open. Levers can be fun, but they can take a bit to work through if you want to get the very best out of them (few people do). Wide bullets look the part, but they do not always kill like lightning. Modest expectations will ensure that you can set about such a project without being disappointed.

09 Feb 2020
@ 02:18 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Lever gun options
Michael, I hunt in almost the exact same range limitations that you do, 100 meters is not uncommon but the average is more like 40 to 60. I’ve played around with the big-bore lever action idea myself, and after much deliberation, here’s what I would do if I decide to go through with it eventually:

I would very like get a stainless Marlin 1895G, the Guide Gun, in .45-70, and run the Hawk (or Hornady or Sierra) 300 grain hollow point at a fairly mild 2,000 FPS muzzle velocity.

That MV won’t give you the bang-flop effect, but it will reliably penetrate any deer, at any angle (with the exception of tail-on shots on very large deer at point-blank), and with very mild recoil for the cartridge class. The 300 grainers at 2,000 is not bad to shoot, it’s just sort of a firm shove as opposed to the heavy magnums that can sometimes feel like a punch in the arm.

I would be happy to have a relatively compact rifle that’s not punishing to shoot, has readily available follow-up shots, and would be virtually guaranteed to give end-to-end penetration and a big exit.

Right now I’m using a 7mm Rem Mag to achieve that bang-flop effect, more food for thought. I don’t like dead runs because I’m quite close to a property fence line and several extremely brushy ravines.
09 Feb 2020
@ 04:54 pm (GMT)

Michael Roach

Re: Lever gun options
Thanks Nathan and Ryan for your insights, I am considering the 45-70 for sure.
09 Feb 2020
@ 08:43 pm (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Lever gun options
Hi Michael
Thought I would just throw in henry does long ranger model in 308win.
Also 223, 243 and I believe creed of a things but 308 would be the ticket.
Browning still does blr in 358win also.
Both above rifles would need to be treated like lever actions, and not expect long range bolt action accuracy.

Of course you could always dust off the old 3 oh most of us kiwis have at the back amof the safe for a brush gun.
09 Feb 2020
@ 10:59 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Lever gun options
Michael Its a sticky one..... How much do you want to spend? Many ways to skin this cat. Like Thomas my first thought was 303 job done. Something in 358 cal
A 358 Winchester might be good but cost and availability of ammo need to be considered.......

I know this isn't a Cal you asked about but. I still second that vote for the 303..... with 180gn or 150gn lead tip ammo. Cheap fast and rugged. Easy out to 100 yards no issues. A jungle carbine if you want it short and faster. Will cost more..... If it has to be a lever What about a 308 BLR

A lot more $$$$ than the trusty old 303......

It'll be interesting to see what you decide? All the best Warwick

10 Feb 2020
@ 02:40 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Lever gun options
In the US you can buy grandpa's model 99 all day long, mostly in 300 savage, but others, too. Should be good to 100m. Hornady, federal, winchester, remington all make 300 savage ammo.
19 Feb 2020
@ 09:41 am (GMT)

Michael Seager

Re: Lever gun options
I have a 20" barrel 44 mag lever action that I have used on muntjac in the UK - not very large. Worked fine for that but I worry about the SD for getting into bigger deer. Roe not an issue but fallow could be. Also, if you want speed, it is not your friend.

.30-30 seems to be a love or hate. I've seen that Nathan doesn't rate the .30-30 but there are plenty of people will tell you that it's great. I have a mate who very successfully knocked over lots of fallow and roe with it (And some wild boar in France).

The .444 / 45-70 / .450 Marlin cartridges are all quite interesting but as others have said, can be a bit of a challenge to shoot where you want. Also can be quite punchy in terms of recoil if loaded to full potential.

Pointy bullets and lever actions

There are a few options here.

Savage 99 - interesting rotary magazine in early versions, quite a few useful chamberings for a "brush gun" - 308W, 284W and 358W spring to mind. Can be scoped in later versions and I think .303 Brit for the Montreal police (If you find one of these take it to Canada and sell it. Fund decent 3 week hunting trip and good flights)

Winchester 1895 - Really the lever that started using "pointy" bullets. Origninally made in interesting chamberings
38-55, 30-40 krag, 7.62x54r, .30-06, .270W .405W (That would be fun for brush gun) and .303 Brit (Again I think largly for the Mounties)

Winchester 88 - Like a Savage 99 but rather less reliable as I understand. Didn't sell so well either. (My dad knew a guy with a 308 Winchester 88 - Apparently handled beautifully but did not like sand. A problem as it lived in the Kalahari)

Browning BLR - Lots of interesting chamberings, WSMs, .308, 30-06, 450 Marlin, 300WM (Why they don't make a 9.3x62 version of this is beyond me). Most modern lever design some would say. Can have a heavy trigger I understand.

Henry Long Ranger

Very like a BLR but not in many chamberings yet

A couple of points about lever actions.

1) Do not expect bolt action like accuracy from them - Also, they seem to need to be shot not directly on a bag or rest. At least wine wouldn't group a damn until I realised that after a few boxes of ammo

2) Optics

Quite a lot of the current "Italian" production models are either based on the following actions:

1886 - 45-70, .444 and other more exotic large black powder derrived chamberings
1892 - Pistol Calibres .44 mag, 45 colt
1894 - rifle like .30-30 length

Are top eject meaning mounting a scope in the conventional style over the receiver is difficult (The Winchester 94 AE and I think current production Mossbergs do "Angle Eject" which sort of spits the spent casing out the top of the action sidewats") But with most of these top eject designs, you are limited to red dots or scout scopes forward of the receiver - Might not be a problem for a Brush gun but make sure you are comfortable with it.

Best wishes,

24 Feb 2020
@ 09:19 am (GMT)

Michael Roach

Re: Lever gun options
Thanks for the input guys, food for thought, I am in no rush at the moment so I think I will seek out some people with lever guns and try and get some shots down range. I will make a decision from there.
26 Feb 2020
@ 02:00 am (GMT)

Michael Seager

Re: Lever gun options
Enjoy the search, matey!


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