Best lever gun caliber

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  • Leadeye

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    I've never shot an 1886, how do they compare to Marlin .45-70s in terms of recoil? I use a slip on recoil pad for the 1895 due to the steel butt plate.

    The 1886 is heavy 9-10 pounds, and even with an old steel butt plate that takes care of a lot of the punch. I have a Marlin 1895 also which is a lighter gun all around by comparison, you can tell the difference with the same ammo. Worst of all is the Marlin 444, very light and short. You pay attention to eye relief with that one, but it's easy to carry around.
     

    MrSmitty

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    Best... well that's a tricky word...
    Best for what?
    Hunting?
    OK... hunting what?
    Squirrels... (22LR) deer... (30-30, .44 mag) bear (45-70)?

    For me, I just want something that's good within close ranges. Say 150 yds or so. Most likely, 100 yds.
    Something I could go hunting with around here (Indiana) or use for self defense. I'm good with a .44 or .357 mag.
    That's best... "for me".

    I'm kinda big on defensive use in weaponry, and the magnum handgun rounds perform pretty well out of carbine barrels, yet are still short enough to give decent magazine capacity. Good in a slow feeding tube mag weapon.
    Got me one of each. Both are set up the same way, for defensive use.
    They both have red dot sights, a light, and carry extra ammo.
    The Rossi (top) is in .357 mag, the Chiappa takedown in .44 mag.

    They're also fun as hell to shoot. You know, the whole cowboy thing, and all.



    View attachment 216441
    Those look like Doc Brown's gun........
     

    DadSmith

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    Nearly all my lever guns are old, like 100 years and up. That said, I think my most accurate caliber is 32-40 in both the Marlin 1893 and Winchester 1894. I'm also partial to the 32 WS as it performs better with cast bullets than the 30-30. Pistol calibers in Winchester 1873 and 1892 44-40 would be my favorite, but I do shoot a fair amount of 32-20. For old school power in the 1886 45-70, and for the masochistic looking for a gun that kills on both ends there's the 1895 in 405 WCF.

    Modern guns like the Marlin 1895 can be loaded so they loosen you fillings and the 444 will guarantee scope cuts for the unwary.
    Buddy has a 444 Marlin.
    He loaded up some 300gr XTP and they had a velocity of around 2100fps 15ft from muzzle.
    Kicked like a mule too.
     

    jmarriott

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    The marlin 444 was made so you could buy factory ammo that could kill t-Rex. Different Sami specs from 45-70 which was used back in the day in older steel.
    It is a very underrated round. The issue causing it not to take off was bullet makers needed expansion in 44 mag at lower speed and they become explosives when launched from 444 velocity. You need to watch the bullet you use with them. Why make a different bullet for a round that was proprietary to marlin when they did not work well in 44 mag which sold 40 times more. Add in that marlins have slightly overboard chambers often needing slightly larger diameter bullets to get great accuracy.

    i get nearly touching groups at 100 yards handloaded with 300 grain bullets. These things are like shooting a 12 gauge sabot and they kick like a big shove not a quick kick. I use it mainly at the range on busy days where i want people to stay a bench away. The Marlin outfitter is ported and will blow targets and empty 22 shell offf benches to right and left of mine. Normally three rounds and they move down a bench.

    when I bought it wife asked me why another big lever gun. I said Bigfoot.
     

    two70

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    The 1886 is heavy 9-10 pounds, and even with an old steel butt plate that takes care of a lot of the punch. I have a Marlin 1895 also which is a lighter gun all around by comparison, you can tell the difference with the same ammo. Worst of all is the Marlin 444, very light and short. You pay attention to eye relief with that one, but it's easy to carry around.
    I've never handled one so I didn't realize they were that heavy. I've always kind of looked at them and the steel butt plate and thought, ouch!
     

    Leadeye

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    I've never handled one so I didn't realize they were that heavy. I've always kind of looked at them and the steel butt plate and thought, ouch!

    Really solid old guns, a tribute to John Browning. Uberti came out with a very close copy, but it's expensive.
     

    Leadeye

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    Doesn't Miroku put out a copy every so often as well under the Winchester brand? Quality usually doesn't come cheap.

    Yes they do and I've never seen a bad one. Again expensive, but like you said the good stuff always is.
     
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    Hookeye

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    Buddy had a Miroku 1886. Tank, wasnt bad to shoot w moderate loads.
    Think that was early 90s when they came out w em.
    They did a 71 and forget what else.

    He had a Marlin w crescent plate and w kinda hot stuff was nasty.
    Hate those plates on anything though.

    Ruger #1S w maxd stuff was no fun at all.

    Am no fan or rimmed cartridges, or .45-70.
    Thought maybe a #1 in .460 Smith.
    Briefly.
    The .44 mag version looks off to me, the bbl 20" not 22".
    Think the .460 was stubby too.
    No thanks.
     

    two70

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    Buddy had a Miroku 1886. Tank, wasnt bad to shoot w moderate loads.
    Think that was early 90s when they came out w em.
    They did a 71 and forget what else.
    I'd love to own a 71 but they don't seem to produce them very often, the originals are stupidly expensive and the repo ones are nearly as bad after they sell out of a limited production run.

    I have a Miroku built 73 and that thing is incredibly smooth. I'd almost swear it is smoother when feeding ammo than just working the action. The .44-40 cartridge probably plays at least some role in the smoothness though, that tapered case just looks like it wants to jump in the chamber all on its own!
     

    Spring1898

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    Couple thoughts

    30-30 rifles are the most plentiful and cheap. It should not be terribly difficult to find one in today's day and age in the neighborhood of $500. You may have a larger budget, but it may mean you will be able to pick more than one off your list.

    If you are not partial to brand or action, there are several rebrands and clones out there that might be cheaper. Rossi made the rio grande line which copies the Marlin. Winchester and marlins were sold under hardware/department store brands. Mossberg threw their hat in the ring a couple times with both a 336 and 1894 copy. So numbers are in your favor if you know what to look for.

    The pistol calibers have merit if you already own one in the caliber. Some claim for carry reasons, in today's day and age I don't see that being useful, but having fewer calibers to feed, or already having the reloading ability has merit here.

    All pistol calibers are going to be about the same in ballistic trajectory. All the pistol calibers will range between about 1700-1900fps out of a rifle length barrel. At that range BC really doesn't play a part, and so velocity is the primary determinate of range or about 150yds effecitvely. Going larger 357, 44mag, 45 Colt/Casull each retains higher energy due to the larger projectile. Recoil is noticeably lighter with 357, but none are punishing (except for a 45 Colt/casull loaded to low end 45/70 loads in an 1892 action)

    45-70 is without a doubt the most versatile rifle caliber if you load.

    Henry/Marlin/Winchester comes down to preference. They can all be good, though I haven't seen any genuine Winchesters that are bad.
    Henry is the heaviest out of the pistol caliber actions, by a good 1/2-1lb depending on the model since they use the 336 style action shortened. If it is going to be a 7+ lb rifle, I would prefer Marlin or Winchester actions in a larger caliber.

    The benefit of the pistol calibers rifles is that they should be light and hold a lot of rounds. Winchester wins here by a good margin in the 16" category (sub 6lbs), but marlin is pretty close.

    But really what reason you have for purchasing is the biggest factor for fun and utility.
     
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    firefighterjohn

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    Couple thoughts

    30-30 rifles are the most plentiful and cheap. It should not be terribly difficult to find one in today's day and age in the neighborhood of $500. You may have a larger budget, but it may mean you will be able to pick more than one off your list.

    If you are not partial to brand or action, there are several rebrands and clones out there that might be cheaper. Rossi made the rio grande line which copies the Marlin. Winchester and marlins were sold under hardware/department store brands. Mossberg threw their hat in the ring a couple times with both a 336 and 1894 copy. So numbers are in your favor if you know what to look for.

    The pistol calibers have merit if you already own one in the caliber. Some claim for carry reasons, in today's day and age I don't see that being useful, but having fewer calibers to feed, or already having the reloading ability has merit here.

    All pistol calibers are going to be about the same in ballistic trajectory. All the pistol calibers will range between about 1700-1900fps out of a rifle length barrel. At that range BC really doesn't play a part, and so velocity is the primary determinate of range or about 150yds effecitvely. Going larger 357, 44mag, 45 Colt/Casull each retains higher energy due to the larger projectile. Recoil is noticeably lighter with 357, but none are punishing (except for a 45 Colt/casull loaded to low end 45/70 loads in an 1892 action)

    45-70 is without a doubt the most versatile rifle caliber if you load.

    Henry/Marlin/Winchester comes down to preference. They can all be good, though I haven't seen any genuine Winchesters that are bad.
    Henry is the heaviest out of the pistol caliber actions, by a good 1/2-1lb depending on the model since they use the 336 style action shortened. If it is going to be a 7+ lb rifle, I would prefer Marlin or Winchester actions in a larger caliber.

    The benefit of the pistol calibers rifles is that they should be light and hold a lot of rounds. Winchester wins here by a good margin in the 16" category (sub 6lbs), but marlin is pretty close.

    But really what reason you have for purchasing is the biggest factor for fun and utility.
    Great post Spring 1898! I just got my first lever action rifle a few months ago; JM-stamped Marlin 336 in 30-30, but I've longed to get one for years. I always preferred the side-eject over the top-eject..and Winchester prices were WAY out of my budget. Over that time, I've seen the prices on Marlins rise substantially and the number of them in pistol calibers has really dried up at gun shows and LGS. I haven't seen even a rebrand anywhere near the $500 mark where I've been.

    I've seen some new Henrys around but most are $850+. Even the used Henrys bring big bucks. I should have jumped on a used Henry .22 back in March at a gun show but by the time I thought about it, it was gone! I also really like the Henry X models, but they're all priced right at 1K and never seem to last long on the shelf

    Anyway, thanks for the great advice. I really enjoy shooting my Marlin and can now see what the 'buzz' is all about. The action on my Marlin is very smooth, recoil is mild and running the lever brings back memories of all the old western shows I used to watch as a kid.
    Plus, they are an American icon and sharp looking! I'll have to keep on the lookout for a decent price .22 and the elusive .357's if I ever run across one.
     

    Cozy439

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    Others have said this.... What are you using it for? Once you decide that you know which gun to pick for that task (Or you may find you discovered a reason for more than 1 lever gun;)).

    I got a 45-70. LUV IT. Have used it for INDIANA Deer, I rarely have LONG shots here. Will use this for boar, and bear if I get to do that again.

    It would be fun to have a 22 for plinking.

    Down side of too many different calibers is having to feed them.

    Ask yourself a few questions and pick accordingly.
     

    woodsie57

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    I'm a big fan of peep sights. They keep the low profile, balance, and fast target acquisition of your standard levergun, and you gain quite a bit of sight radius over the barrel-mounted factory offerings. I've found that I can be almost as accurate with them at practical levergun distances as I can be with a scope.

    This .44 has been a bit of a fight to get zeroed...the sights are way off. Even with the rear adjusted all the way up (rear sight appears to have been modified at some point), it's hitting over a foot low at 50 yards, and a few inches right. I even swapped in a rear sight from a .45 and it's still not quite right. I'm thinking a Skinner peep and new front blade may be in its future.
    Just file some off the front??
     

    92FSTech

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    Just file some off the front??
    It was a gold bead front sight, so that wasn't a good option. I ordered a Skinner peep and a patridge-style front sight and just got them in Tuesday. That style is easier to adjust with hand tools, and the sight picture is also more similar to what I'm used to shooting ARs and milsurps.

    I cranked the peep up a couple of turns so that it would leave some room for downward adjustment with different loads, and had to file the front sight a good bit (I could have probably bought a shorter one to start with, but I wasn't 100% sure what I needed, and figured it was better to buy tall and file down than be too short), but I was able to produce a cloverleaf 3-shot group in the 10-ring with my favorite handload at 50 yards off a bench.

    The gun is kinda picky about different loads...heavier bullets are impacting to the right, which is odd, and others are grouping really bad, but it loves my 215gr handload with my cast bullets, so I'm pretty happy about that!
     
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