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The Six Best Lever Action Rifles (and When to Use Them)

I CAN EASILY measure a rifle's worth in cold mechanical terms, but not so the lever action. Let me put it this way: Can you picture John Wayne with anything but a lever gun? It's easier to imagine Roy Rogers accompanying himself on the harp, or the Lone Ranger yelling "Hi-yo, Titanium." The lever action isn't just a type of rifle; it's part of our American culture.

For all that, what was once the hunting rifle has faded in popularity. It was long ago up-staged by the bolt action, whose greater precision and power won our hearts and minds and wallets. The lever has also suffered from our current worship of long-range shooting, and the fact that we now hunt deer from trees, where its wonderful handling qualities are not appreciated, instead of on our two legs.

But is it obsolete? Not likely, pilgrim.

A GUN OF SIMPLE VIRTUES...
The first practical lever-action repeater—the Henry—appeared during the Civil War, and its successor, the Winchester Model 66, arrived just as our great westward expansion began. Soldiers and frontiersmen alike doted on the lever action because, unlike all other rifles of the day, it shot a lot without reloading—and it kept on shooting no matter what you did to it. So that is the first of the lever's virtues: It is dead reliable, even when neglected.

Levers came in all shapes and sizes, but the most popular were short barreled. Few firearms ride as well in a saddle scabbard. You could have it in your hand and on target quickly. And you could get off repeat aimed shots quickly, with a minimum of practice. A really skillful shooter could fire rounds so fast, they sounded like a drumroll.

...AND LIMITATIONS
Of course, the lever rifle had its drawbacks. It wasn't as strong as single-shots and bolts. In the era of blackpowder cartridges, for which levers were originally chambered, this didn't matter so much, but when smokeless powder became the standard, and higher pressures along with it, the lever action lost ground to the bolt gun. The old levers could not tolerate the pressures generated by modern cartridges.

Their tubular magazines complicated matters. To shoot at long range, you must use pointed bullets, but if you load a tubular magazine with spitzers, the point of each slug rests on the primer of the round ahead of it. When you pull the trigger, the round in the chamber may not be the only one that goes off.

Nor was the lever action designed for precision shooting. The trigger pulls were nowhere near as good as those of bolt rifles, and the way the guns were constructed meant they would never be as accurate. When you attach a magazine tube to a barrel, or attach a fore-end with a barrel band, you doom the gun right there.

Over the years, several manufacturers have attempted to produce lever actions without the lever's limitations. Probably the most conspicuous failure was the Model 88 Winchester. Arguably the best-looking lever gun ever made, it fed from a box magazine, so you could use pointed bullets, and had the same type of bolt lockup as a bolt action, so you could use modern, high-intensity cartridges. It had a truly dreadful trigger, however, and was capable of only mediocre (by bolt-action standards) accuracy.

Still, this rifle action should be appreciated for what it is. Here's a short review of the state of the lever

1 The Browning BLR
It set new standards for frightfulness of line and disharmony of shape, but the BLR is a good gun, and its appearance has been improved in recent years. It feeds from a box magazine and is chambered for high-velocity cartridges. Thanks to a ratchet system that runs its bolt back and forward, the BLR is extremely smooth and fast. It remains handicapped by a trigger that you can sort of live with, and accuracy that is, for the most part, okay but no better.

Takedown lever actions are almost as old as lever actions, but the idea has been reborn. This year, Browning is offering takedown models in all its BLR variants. Locked into the receiver, the barrel is released by a lever mechanism. And instead of mounting the scope on the receiver, you put a long-eye-relief model on the barrel, which should eliminate any point-of-impact shift when you reassemble it.

2 The Winchester Model 94
In production for 112 years, the Model 94 was the first sporting rifle to sell a million—and has now sold seven times that number. So anything I can say about it is moot. If it were my money, I'd look for a pre-64 model and be prepared to pay a few dollars. What I'm not crazy about are the host of commemorative 94s that have been produced—more than 90 models since 1966. Permit me to quote from the 2006 Standard Catalog of Firearms:

"The general liquidity of these commemoratives has not been as good as would be expected.... In our opinion, one should purchase weapons of this nature for their enjoyment factor as the investment potential is not sufficient reason for their purchase."

Which leads us to Winchester Rifles and Shotguns John Wayne Winchester Model 1892 100th Anniversary Rifle: a .44/40 lever action with all sorts of decoration and a price tag of nearly $3,500. If you'd like to own a gun just like the Duke carried in his movies but with far more bling, be my guest. I prefer to honor his memory by beating the hell out of someone whose politics are to the left of mine and who is much smaller than me.

3 The Winchester Model 71
Never popular, the 71 was made only from 1935 to 1957, in small numbers, and was chambered for an odd cartridge—the.348—that has never been used in another gun. All this aside, it is a superb and unique rifle that shares the virtues of the 94, but with a smoother action and a lot more power.

4 The Winchester Model 88
This sleek rifle lasted only 18 years in the marketplace and does not command a lot of money today on the used-gun market. If you find one in .308 or .358 Winchester, look hard at it, but I can't get enthusiastic. The trigger varies from poor to awful and can't be fixed. Accuracy is good at best, and often much less than that. The 88 is a lever gun that wants to be a bolt action but can't hack it

5 The Marlin Model 336/1895
There are more Marlin lever variants around than I can possibly go into, but a Marlin 336 in .30/30 or .35 is about as good a deer gun as you can get. And my heart goes out to the Model 1895 Guide Gun in .45/70—very short, very handy, and loads of muscle when used with modern ammo.

If you're afflicted with Bolt-Action Inferiority Complex, Marlin has a pair of lever guns chambered for the new .308 Marlin Express cartridge, which duplicates the ballistics of the .308 and features, it is claimed, an effective range of 400 yards. They are the MX model (blued, 22-inch barrel, walnut stock) and the MXLR (pictured above; 24-inch barrel, all stainless, laminated stock). As for me, I will stick with the traditional models. They're closer than anything else on today's market to the guns of the good old days—blued steel and walnut done right.

6 The Savage Model 99
Not only was this brilliant design a century ahead of its time, but it was around for a century—1899 to 1999—and was made in a profusion of models. The older, more desirable 99s have rotary magazines; newer, less sought-after versions have detachable-box magazines. Prices for used 99s are going up very sharply, and there is a lot of shuck, jive, and fraud out there, with people paying fancy prices for 99s that aren't worth it.

Look for a rotary-magazine model in .308 or .300 Savage, or—if you're willing to pay—hold out for a 99 in .250/3000 Savage. This wonderful little round drops deer with almost no recoil. Do not hesitate to take your 99 in for a trigger job. It's one of the few lever guns that can be given a decent pull. But some 99s are very accurate while others aren't, and never will be. Shoot the gun before you pay for it.

GOING LONG WITH THE LEVER
IF YOUR LIFE is a waking hell because you can't make long shots with your lever gun, Hornady may have the solution. LeverEvolution ammo consists of all the old, slow favorites—.45/70, .30/30, .35—loaded with newly designed spitzer bullets that have soft polymer tips, which will not detonate in a tubular magazine. I tried them in my Marlin .45/70, and my guess is they will add 100 to 200 yards to the effective range of any tubular-magazine lever gun. Price depends on caliber (hornady.com).

Comments (46)

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from MLH wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

Dave, I guess there are always exceptions, but my .32WSp M94 shot 2" 100 yd groups with reloads, and my .356Win shot 1" groups with factory loads. Trigger pull on the .32WSp was 12 pounds, though. My M71 shot, at best, 4" groups but I loved using it anyway. I didn't know the trigger on the M99 could be improved. I appreciate that info. Will someday, hopefully, snag one in .358. I am a sucker for old .35's. I keep looking at the BLR but can't get past the looks and the aluminum receiver. Yes, I do mostly woods hunting.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

Has anyone out there ever shot or owned a Sako Finnwolf? I've read several articles that mentioned this rifle breifly. I guess it never was very poular when it was still in production. It seems to have great lines.

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from herbie57_57 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I love Browning firearms but how is the model 94 not #1, with Savage 99 2nd and Marlin 336 3rd?

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from Jesse wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

the win m94 still is and will always be my favoret

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from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

I like em all and Dave did them justice on the reviews, the order could be change about 99 different ways but the characteristics are accurate. I had a BLR in 358 back when I was much younger and monetarily lighter. I sold it regretfully because I could stand paying GASP 40 dollars a box. I still pine for my little winchester 94 trapper that I let my Dad have, I did compensate myself though by replacing it with a Guide Gun in 45-70 and am currently on a quest to get it to shoot good groups!

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from infantry08 wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

Wonder what Dave will think of the new .338 Marlin Express...should be interesting.

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from buck hunter 17 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The Winchester Model 94 is the best

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from rrmont wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I love my BLR in .300 Win mag, I've shot deer out over 400 yds with it. So I can't complain about it's accuracy at ALL.

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from bomberpride wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I love the model 94 great gun

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from jamin wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I have Winchester model 94 in 30-30, 32 Win Spc, 25-35. M favorite deer gun is the 30-3-

I have Winchester model 92 in 25-20 SRC, 44 Mag. 25-20 is my small game gun.

I have a Savage model 99 in 300Sav which I hope to use for Elk.

I have a Marlin 1894 in 44 Mag, which is my home defence rifle.

Want to find a Winchester model 95 musket in 7.62x54R. Also am looking for a model 94 in 38-55, model 1886 in 45-70 and a model 87 in 10Ga.

I hope to buy a Marlin 1895 Cowbot in 45-70 soon.

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from s-kfry wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I sort of inherited my dad’s .30-30 Model 94 when I moved out to Colorado. Unfortunately I was dismayed a couple years ago to see that I could not get it to pattern even at 50 yards. Before pursuing a re-barreling job I called Winchester to get some more info on it and when I told them the serial number they told me it was made in late ’96 or early ’97, 1896! Needless to say I put the rifle back in the rack and don’t plan on doing anything to it. I have also looked at other modern lever guns but for hunting elk didn’t find anything that I felt was up to the task. I took a 5x5 bull this past season with my new Savage 111 in .30-06 and was glad for the range, accuracy, and hitting power that came with it at 175 yards. And it still took 2 rounds in the chest and 1 in the liver to put him down (he still managed to walk over 100 yards before he dropped).

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Sako once made a beautiful lever rifle called the Finnwolf. It was accurate and of course could use pointed bullets due to the magazine. Also it was easily scoped. It was expensive to make, difficult to repair due to its intricate design, and now parts are extremely costly as are the remaining rifles.
I liked the '81 model BLRs and feel that they had better triggers than these ugly pieces in current production. I have a friend who shoots a BLR in .358 with success every hunting season.
I never had an 88 or a 99 but have seen some real shooters in both models insofar as the needs of a hunting rifle. The owners wouldn't use anything else. One old friend had an 88 rebarreled in 6 x .284 which made a great plains rifle but was hard as hell to work the lever. It sure was a shooter and I don't know where it went when he passed on to the big dawg town in the sky.
I've always been torn between the '94 and the 336 in that each has its own unique set of features that I like both neither is perfect. A nice thing about both rifles is that you can get a near mirror image in .22 LR to match the bigger bore. I always liked that possibility.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

You guys remember the M94 in .410 shotgun that USRA made shortly before their demise? My neighbor has a Marlin Model 36 type shotgun also in .410. I forget the exact model number. We shot it one day which showed us that function was flawless and it's fit and finish was plain but near perfect like most older Marlins.

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from em17 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

i have the marlin 336/1895 in 30-30 and it is a good deer rifle and a good wild hog rifle.

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from infantry08 wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I,too have a 336 except it's in .35 Remington. That one's put a lot of deer in my freezer.

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from dlbbarrel wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

I own one or more of every Winchester Model 88 that was ever produced in each and every caliber. SOme I've shot, some are unfired and never will be as long as I own them. I do huint with one carbine and one rifle both in .308 Win. Both have put a lot of deer meat in the freezer. I do reload for both and I use small base dies to keep the action working smoothly. The riofle will shoot 1 1/4" groups at 100 yds. and the carbine will keep them in 2 1/2" group at the same distance. Not bad for a lever action rifle Jim. If I intend to hunt where distance becomes a factor my Kimber in 7mm Mag. comes out to do the job. My Model 70 in .250-3000 isn't used for deer, I consider it a little on the light side but it's hell on woodchucks!

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

Lever guns are one of those historically bound American inventions that will be around long after we fly jet packs to work. God Blessed us hunters/shooters with the lever gun history. I own a Marlin 1895 in .45/70, and a Mod 94 in .44 magnum(,and other then the savage 99); these lever designs are the essence of lever gun history.I sickly passionate about those lever killers!

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from jmeerpohl wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

I own and hunt with four lever rifles. One is a .22 Henry with heavy Octagon barrel. I own a model 94 and model 71 Winchester. I handload for both, the 94 looks wore like a model 64 (another classic) with a 24 inch barel and scout scope set up. It is really handy in the Florida woods stalking both deer and hogs. The model 71 is my ultimate lever, If you have not owned and shot one and you are a lever fan, then you have missed the cream of the crop in smooth action, quick to point, and with a shotgun tyep buttsstock the recoil is really not noticeable. My fourth is a Browning BLR in 358 Winchester. It is becoming my favorite because of the short action, pistol grip feel, along with the way the BL Elite 1.5 -4.5 fits and feels on the rifle. Very well balanced, has a lot of power without too many bruises, and the 35 cal can be realoded from 150 to 250 grains and this firearm shoots al of them really well.

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from winchestersteve wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

I have had exactly 1 win. model 88, it was my first centerfire rifle and was a christmas gift from my dad when I was 14. I have read all the bad things people have to say about this gun , and dom not agree with any of them except possibly the trigger pull, which by the way has never bothered me. This gun is first and formost a hunting rifle. Mine is in .308 and has a now 40 year old bushnell banner 3-9 on ot and will keep al shots in about an inch and a half at 100 yards and that is as good as any bolt action made at that time.On top of that I can and have fired handloads through it that would blow all other lever actions except the Browning to bits. This is the only gun i EVER USE UNLEES THE GAME GETS DANGEROUS AND IT HAS SERVED me well for all these years. I have never had any problems with ti.

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from 13epross wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

i have seen a marlin 1895 shoot hole in a hole with handloads it has a kick to it, but it could take any north american game

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from bhyogy wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

When I was about 12 years old my uncle showed me his .300 Savage Model 99, my uncle lived with us in my parents house, he was a 30 year retired Navy man who served 20 years active and 10 reserve. Back to the .300 Savage model 99, I remember the rifle so well because I had made many returns to his closet to look at the rifle because I thought it was the most beutiful rifle in the world. Remember, I was 12 years old at the time. My uncle sold the gun to a friend and I guess I just sort of forgot about it. My uncle has passed since and his friend is now in assisted living. My uncles friend is having an auction to sell his home and all his belongings. And guess what? On the auction bill is a Savage Model 99 .300 Savage cal. Who do you think is going to be right there to be the first one to bid on and last one to bid on this rifle? I'm almost 50 years old now and I think it's time to revisit this fine rifle and put it in my display, where it should be, instead of a closet for who knows how many years. And I'll use this rifle also for deer hunting. I do not know of the serial number on this rifle or the age, that will be determined the day my hands are on it. My other rifle which is a 1962 Model 100 .308 that I had bought from my cousin who inturn had bought from my Father many years ago. I think that when I get the two family rifles together in a lighted gun case I'm going to leave the light on! Sort of like Tom Bodett !

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from platte river rat wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

I have a Marlin 336C (24" barrel) in 30-30 win... shoots my handloads with the new Hornandy FTX 160 gr bullets into an inch at 100yards. Also have two Browning BLR's a 358 win and a 308 win. both are one MOA's with handloads. The 308 has the aluminun receiver but I can't see any difference as the brass is inside the steel barrel. I own bolt guns TC single shots and a couple of Ruger #1"s. Love em all. Be thankful we can still shoot them in our great country.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

platte river rat,
I have a 336RC, 20" barrell I think. Don't know what RC means other than 'raised comb'. Maybe not. It is chambered for the .35Rem. I stumbled upon it in '73 right after I got out of the army. In fact I didn't stumble across it at all. A friend of mine going thru hard times brought it to me and asked if I'd give $75 for it. I didn't even have a deer rifle right then nor a place to hunt, but one look at the beautiful black walnut stock and I said OK. I found out it was made between '64-'68 and my largest buck to this date was taken with it.

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from WestGaHunter wrote 5 years 4 days ago

Hog hunting was mighty slow a few weeks ago when four of us went hunting in the Chickasawhatchee Swamp in Southwest Georgia.
As close as I got to a wild hog was about 15 yards when I heard one crashing through the palmettos headed my way. The swamp was silent except for the wild thrashing sounds and the pounding of hooves of an animal I could not see.

I snapped my Marlin 336 to my shoulder and stood rigid, waiting to send a flat-nosed, 150-grain .30-30 slug into the brain of that charging beast.
As his luck would have it, that pig must have winded me and went crashing off in another direction.

I was flat disappointed. I had my go-to brush gun stoked with handloads and was poised to make a harvest. The old Marlin, vintage 1967, would have served me like George Hamilton's 1894 carbine in "Home from the Hill."
Later, when I checked the tracks in the mud at the edge of the water, the big hoof prints showed it definitely my quarry of choice.
The worst thing ... I could almost taste that boar sausage before I realized that hog had slipped away.

That 42-year-old lever gun ... once a rusty refuge I saved from a dingy pawn shop: $96.20.

My own rebluing, restoration, refurbishing ... another $100.

Holding an American classic lever gun and feeling the adrenalin rush of a hunting adventure ... priceless.

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from Bob Sawyer wrote 4 years 47 weeks ago

From ; Bob Texas;
Those Levers..God Bless them and John Wayne ! My First Rifle at the age of 13 was a Winchester .30-.30 model 94 loved it, today i have a Marlin MXLR1895 .45-70 Stainless and love it too death !
I plan on purchasing another Marlin soon in the same catagory in the New .338cal. , i have plenty of Bolt Action Rifles But still have a deep Love for the Lever Action , they take me back to when AMERICA belonged to AMERICAN's !
LOVED YOUR COMMENTS !!!!

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from Ed Mademan wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

The Marlin 45/70 is the meat hunter's dream. When you clean the animal, you can eat, "right down to the hole".

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from hjohn429 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Great article. I have both the Marlin Guide Gun in 45/70 and the 1895 35 Remington. The 35 is extremely accurate and has never failed. The Guide gun is great for blasting somehting that you want to totally destroy.

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from climate_zero wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I own 4 model 81 BLR's I have them in 7mm-08, .308, .358, .243. They are with out question the best lever-action ever made in terms of quality and out-of-the-box accuracy. They are however a bit on the stiff side for recoil especially the .358 chalk that up to the straight stock. For a long time they were the lefty's saving grace. Good to pack too, on your back or in a saddle scabbard since they're very flat and light.

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from cootie wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Where is the winchester model 1873 ?

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

The Winchester Model 1892 was a good choice. I believe the Rossi Puma 92 in .357 Magnum is still in production, though the sample I tried wasn't as smooth as the well-worn Winchesters I've fired. Given time (or polished metal-to-metal surfaces), I think the Rossi lever action would be glass-smooth. The .357 Mag chambering (of the Rossi) makes much more sense to me these days than the .38-40, .44-40, .32-20 or .25-20.

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from bassgittinart@b... wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I love the lever action rifles, brings out the cowboy in me!

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from Greg23 wrote 4 years 36 weeks ago

ive heard that the winchester 94 has taken more deer than any other gun out there and to prove that point out of all my rifles my .30-.30 has taken more whitetail than any browning or marlin i have. when i go deer hunting it always comes along for the hunt

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from WestGaHunter wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

Jim in Mo ...
RC in Marlin's designation stands for Regular Carbine. There are other designations like SC for Sporting Carbine, 336T for a short-barreled "Texan" model and a few others ... most were RC.

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from WestGaHunter wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

Jim in Mo ... let me correct something I just said.

Marlin 336T were not all short-barreled. Most have 20-inch barrels but have a straight-grip stock.
I didn't want to create any unnecessary confusion. Check this site for a greatly definitive article on Marlins:
http://www.pmulcahy.com/lever-action_rifles/us_lever-action_rifles_marli...

WestGa

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from 788Ham wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I own 2 Savage 99's, one is a .300, and the other is an .250-3000. Both of these rifle belonged to my Pop, I received them when he passed on. The .250 is a hard shooting, accurate rifle, am going to take it deer hunting this next year. The .300 is a hard shooter also, I know it will bring down elk and deer, my Pop used it hunting since 1947, both of these rifles are in fantastic condition. I reload for both of these calibers, fun to work up loads and still be able to shoot them.

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from wwells wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I to love lever guns and own several winchesters and marlins. Also own a henry 44/40 which works well on deer under 100 yards. They all preform great back here in eastern Ky.where most shoots are under 100 yards but i also love to elk and mule deer hunt when sometimes shoots may be 300 or more yards and that is why i have a 300 win. mag. But now thanks to Marlin i'll be able to get back to using a lever gun in the rookies. I'm going to buy the new 338mx. I would give anything to be able to get the 338 cal. in the model 1895 cowboy because it looks just like a cowboys rifle with it's octagon barrel and straight grip stock and holds 9 shots.If anyone has any commits on the 338 cal. i'd sure like to hear them, good or bad.

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from mvacdude wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

i own a marlin 444mx and love the balance, feel, and accuracy. this is one of my all time favorite guns. simple design makes for easy maintainability. with open sights i'm able to keep a 2" group at 100yds. it is quick to shoulder and fire which has put a few hogs and deer on the table that i might have not gotten otherwise. the hornady leverevolution ammo is the bomb! the energy and accuracy makes trailing game as easy as walking to point of impact! i have 24 assorted rifles at my disposal, but if i could only have 1 it would be this 1! love it(my marlin 308mx is a close 2nd)! i am thinking about the 338mx but don't think i need it and the 308mx. decisions, decisions! i love america cause you can't do this in france!

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from WesMcCormick wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

I have a 336 30-30, my first deer rifle and i still love it to this day, tried some 125 HP's this past year and wrecked a doe.
Also have an 1894 C.C. in 41 Rem Mag., that is just a good time to shoot, aint got a deer with it yet but hopefully soon.

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from Pecos Flats wrote 3 years 47 weeks ago

I have five marlins. Two Cowboys in .44 mag and 45/70, one 336 flat bolt 30/30 made in 1958, one 1894 saddle-ring 44mag and one 1895 45/70. I don't own any Winchester's right now, but I have had a few and they are fine rifles to be sure. The first white tail I killed with a lever action was with a Winchester 30/30. We could do worse than to only hunt or shoot with lever actions. It is how many of us got started shooting and hunting. My first deer rifle was a Marlin .35 Rem and was a devastator on white tail deer with 200 grain slugs. I wound up giving it to my brother (ten years younger) when he came of age to hunt. He still has and cherishes that rifle today.

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from hfedder40 wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

winchester 88 and 94 pa deer season

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from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I shot my first deer this past season with a savage m99 in .300 savage. Needless to say i now am in love with this gun!

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from coosabass2012 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I've had a 1974 model Winchester '94 with iron sights in .30/30 since it was new. I love it and, for the woods I hunt, it's my first choice as a deer rifle as well as a coyote gun. The only reason I wouldn't grab it on the way out the door as a survival gun is the limited availability of ammo but I'd probably cry as I left it behind in favor of my 12 gauge pump and .22LR.

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from Sam Walker wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

As for Marlin triggers, you can EASILY drop them to 2-3 lbs with no special gunsmithing tools and without touching the sear. The Marlin owners forum has instructions on doing this. In fact you can often take 2 lbs off the trigger pull on a Marlin by bending only one spring. Pretty easy.

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from TinEagle wrote 12 weeks 23 hours ago

The Winchester 94AE (AE for angle eject) is my favorite brush gun. The angle eject allows a scope mount which was not a big deal until I tried the Hornady LeverEvolution round. That round made the gun reach out to 150 yards with precision and helped my old eyes at that distance.

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from Chris Woodson wrote 9 weeks 4 days ago

I've had and used several different lever guns. For beauty, smooth operation, and accuracy, the Browning blows the rest away BIG TIME!!!!

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from Doug Leichliter wrote 6 weeks 6 days ago

From the comments I've read here, I guess I better plan on hanging onto Granddad's old Savage 99 until they pry it from my cold dead hands. You see, it's a 250 Savage, and, better yet, in a take down model with the rotary magazine. I shot my first buck with it, a little 3 point back in the fall of '72 and little bro' shot a nice 8 point with it back in '75, his first and only buck. He flushed it by chucking rocks into the head of a brushy hollow and followed with 4 measured shots, only one of which hit the throat as it was the only mark on the buck when we skinned it out. Iron sights, no less at about 75 yards to where the deer fell.

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from MLH wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

Dave, I guess there are always exceptions, but my .32WSp M94 shot 2" 100 yd groups with reloads, and my .356Win shot 1" groups with factory loads. Trigger pull on the .32WSp was 12 pounds, though. My M71 shot, at best, 4" groups but I loved using it anyway. I didn't know the trigger on the M99 could be improved. I appreciate that info. Will someday, hopefully, snag one in .358. I am a sucker for old .35's. I keep looking at the BLR but can't get past the looks and the aluminum receiver. Yes, I do mostly woods hunting.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 13 weeks ago

Has anyone out there ever shot or owned a Sako Finnwolf? I've read several articles that mentioned this rifle breifly. I guess it never was very poular when it was still in production. It seems to have great lines.

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from jmeerpohl wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

I own and hunt with four lever rifles. One is a .22 Henry with heavy Octagon barrel. I own a model 94 and model 71 Winchester. I handload for both, the 94 looks wore like a model 64 (another classic) with a 24 inch barel and scout scope set up. It is really handy in the Florida woods stalking both deer and hogs. The model 71 is my ultimate lever, If you have not owned and shot one and you are a lever fan, then you have missed the cream of the crop in smooth action, quick to point, and with a shotgun tyep buttsstock the recoil is really not noticeable. My fourth is a Browning BLR in 358 Winchester. It is becoming my favorite because of the short action, pistol grip feel, along with the way the BL Elite 1.5 -4.5 fits and feels on the rifle. Very well balanced, has a lot of power without too many bruises, and the 35 cal can be realoded from 150 to 250 grains and this firearm shoots al of them really well.

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from bhyogy wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

When I was about 12 years old my uncle showed me his .300 Savage Model 99, my uncle lived with us in my parents house, he was a 30 year retired Navy man who served 20 years active and 10 reserve. Back to the .300 Savage model 99, I remember the rifle so well because I had made many returns to his closet to look at the rifle because I thought it was the most beutiful rifle in the world. Remember, I was 12 years old at the time. My uncle sold the gun to a friend and I guess I just sort of forgot about it. My uncle has passed since and his friend is now in assisted living. My uncles friend is having an auction to sell his home and all his belongings. And guess what? On the auction bill is a Savage Model 99 .300 Savage cal. Who do you think is going to be right there to be the first one to bid on and last one to bid on this rifle? I'm almost 50 years old now and I think it's time to revisit this fine rifle and put it in my display, where it should be, instead of a closet for who knows how many years. And I'll use this rifle also for deer hunting. I do not know of the serial number on this rifle or the age, that will be determined the day my hands are on it. My other rifle which is a 1962 Model 100 .308 that I had bought from my cousin who inturn had bought from my Father many years ago. I think that when I get the two family rifles together in a lighted gun case I'm going to leave the light on! Sort of like Tom Bodett !

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from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

I like em all and Dave did them justice on the reviews, the order could be change about 99 different ways but the characteristics are accurate. I had a BLR in 358 back when I was much younger and monetarily lighter. I sold it regretfully because I could stand paying GASP 40 dollars a box. I still pine for my little winchester 94 trapper that I let my Dad have, I did compensate myself though by replacing it with a Guide Gun in 45-70 and am currently on a quest to get it to shoot good groups!

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from buck hunter 17 wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

The Winchester Model 94 is the best

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from em17 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

i have the marlin 336/1895 in 30-30 and it is a good deer rifle and a good wild hog rifle.

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from infantry08 wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I,too have a 336 except it's in .35 Remington. That one's put a lot of deer in my freezer.

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from dlbbarrel wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

I own one or more of every Winchester Model 88 that was ever produced in each and every caliber. SOme I've shot, some are unfired and never will be as long as I own them. I do huint with one carbine and one rifle both in .308 Win. Both have put a lot of deer meat in the freezer. I do reload for both and I use small base dies to keep the action working smoothly. The riofle will shoot 1 1/4" groups at 100 yds. and the carbine will keep them in 2 1/2" group at the same distance. Not bad for a lever action rifle Jim. If I intend to hunt where distance becomes a factor my Kimber in 7mm Mag. comes out to do the job. My Model 70 in .250-3000 isn't used for deer, I consider it a little on the light side but it's hell on woodchucks!

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from WestGaHunter wrote 5 years 4 days ago

Hog hunting was mighty slow a few weeks ago when four of us went hunting in the Chickasawhatchee Swamp in Southwest Georgia.
As close as I got to a wild hog was about 15 yards when I heard one crashing through the palmettos headed my way. The swamp was silent except for the wild thrashing sounds and the pounding of hooves of an animal I could not see.

I snapped my Marlin 336 to my shoulder and stood rigid, waiting to send a flat-nosed, 150-grain .30-30 slug into the brain of that charging beast.
As his luck would have it, that pig must have winded me and went crashing off in another direction.

I was flat disappointed. I had my go-to brush gun stoked with handloads and was poised to make a harvest. The old Marlin, vintage 1967, would have served me like George Hamilton's 1894 carbine in "Home from the Hill."
Later, when I checked the tracks in the mud at the edge of the water, the big hoof prints showed it definitely my quarry of choice.
The worst thing ... I could almost taste that boar sausage before I realized that hog had slipped away.

That 42-year-old lever gun ... once a rusty refuge I saved from a dingy pawn shop: $96.20.

My own rebluing, restoration, refurbishing ... another $100.

Holding an American classic lever gun and feeling the adrenalin rush of a hunting adventure ... priceless.

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from Ed Mademan wrote 4 years 45 weeks ago

The Marlin 45/70 is the meat hunter's dream. When you clean the animal, you can eat, "right down to the hole".

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from hjohn429 wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Great article. I have both the Marlin Guide Gun in 45/70 and the 1895 35 Remington. The 35 is extremely accurate and has never failed. The Guide gun is great for blasting somehting that you want to totally destroy.

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from cootie wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Where is the winchester model 1873 ?

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from herbie57_57 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I love Browning firearms but how is the model 94 not #1, with Savage 99 2nd and Marlin 336 3rd?

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from Jesse wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

the win m94 still is and will always be my favoret

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from infantry08 wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

Wonder what Dave will think of the new .338 Marlin Express...should be interesting.

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from rrmont wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I love my BLR in .300 Win mag, I've shot deer out over 400 yds with it. So I can't complain about it's accuracy at ALL.

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from bomberpride wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I love the model 94 great gun

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from jamin wrote 5 years 8 weeks ago

I have Winchester model 94 in 30-30, 32 Win Spc, 25-35. M favorite deer gun is the 30-3-

I have Winchester model 92 in 25-20 SRC, 44 Mag. 25-20 is my small game gun.

I have a Savage model 99 in 300Sav which I hope to use for Elk.

I have a Marlin 1894 in 44 Mag, which is my home defence rifle.

Want to find a Winchester model 95 musket in 7.62x54R. Also am looking for a model 94 in 38-55, model 1886 in 45-70 and a model 87 in 10Ga.

I hope to buy a Marlin 1895 Cowbot in 45-70 soon.

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from s-kfry wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I sort of inherited my dad’s .30-30 Model 94 when I moved out to Colorado. Unfortunately I was dismayed a couple years ago to see that I could not get it to pattern even at 50 yards. Before pursuing a re-barreling job I called Winchester to get some more info on it and when I told them the serial number they told me it was made in late ’96 or early ’97, 1896! Needless to say I put the rifle back in the rack and don’t plan on doing anything to it. I have also looked at other modern lever guns but for hunting elk didn’t find anything that I felt was up to the task. I took a 5x5 bull this past season with my new Savage 111 in .30-06 and was glad for the range, accuracy, and hitting power that came with it at 175 yards. And it still took 2 rounds in the chest and 1 in the liver to put him down (he still managed to walk over 100 yards before he dropped).

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Sako once made a beautiful lever rifle called the Finnwolf. It was accurate and of course could use pointed bullets due to the magazine. Also it was easily scoped. It was expensive to make, difficult to repair due to its intricate design, and now parts are extremely costly as are the remaining rifles.
I liked the '81 model BLRs and feel that they had better triggers than these ugly pieces in current production. I have a friend who shoots a BLR in .358 with success every hunting season.
I never had an 88 or a 99 but have seen some real shooters in both models insofar as the needs of a hunting rifle. The owners wouldn't use anything else. One old friend had an 88 rebarreled in 6 x .284 which made a great plains rifle but was hard as hell to work the lever. It sure was a shooter and I don't know where it went when he passed on to the big dawg town in the sky.
I've always been torn between the '94 and the 336 in that each has its own unique set of features that I like both neither is perfect. A nice thing about both rifles is that you can get a near mirror image in .22 LR to match the bigger bore. I always liked that possibility.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

You guys remember the M94 in .410 shotgun that USRA made shortly before their demise? My neighbor has a Marlin Model 36 type shotgun also in .410. I forget the exact model number. We shot it one day which showed us that function was flawless and it's fit and finish was plain but near perfect like most older Marlins.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

Lever guns are one of those historically bound American inventions that will be around long after we fly jet packs to work. God Blessed us hunters/shooters with the lever gun history. I own a Marlin 1895 in .45/70, and a Mod 94 in .44 magnum(,and other then the savage 99); these lever designs are the essence of lever gun history.I sickly passionate about those lever killers!

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from winchestersteve wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

I have had exactly 1 win. model 88, it was my first centerfire rifle and was a christmas gift from my dad when I was 14. I have read all the bad things people have to say about this gun , and dom not agree with any of them except possibly the trigger pull, which by the way has never bothered me. This gun is first and formost a hunting rifle. Mine is in .308 and has a now 40 year old bushnell banner 3-9 on ot and will keep al shots in about an inch and a half at 100 yards and that is as good as any bolt action made at that time.On top of that I can and have fired handloads through it that would blow all other lever actions except the Browning to bits. This is the only gun i EVER USE UNLEES THE GAME GETS DANGEROUS AND IT HAS SERVED me well for all these years. I have never had any problems with ti.

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from 13epross wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

i have seen a marlin 1895 shoot hole in a hole with handloads it has a kick to it, but it could take any north american game

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 1 week ago

platte river rat,
I have a 336RC, 20" barrell I think. Don't know what RC means other than 'raised comb'. Maybe not. It is chambered for the .35Rem. I stumbled upon it in '73 right after I got out of the army. In fact I didn't stumble across it at all. A friend of mine going thru hard times brought it to me and asked if I'd give $75 for it. I didn't even have a deer rifle right then nor a place to hunt, but one look at the beautiful black walnut stock and I said OK. I found out it was made between '64-'68 and my largest buck to this date was taken with it.

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from Bob Sawyer wrote 4 years 47 weeks ago

From ; Bob Texas;
Those Levers..God Bless them and John Wayne ! My First Rifle at the age of 13 was a Winchester .30-.30 model 94 loved it, today i have a Marlin MXLR1895 .45-70 Stainless and love it too death !
I plan on purchasing another Marlin soon in the same catagory in the New .338cal. , i have plenty of Bolt Action Rifles But still have a deep Love for the Lever Action , they take me back to when AMERICA belonged to AMERICAN's !
LOVED YOUR COMMENTS !!!!

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from climate_zero wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I own 4 model 81 BLR's I have them in 7mm-08, .308, .358, .243. They are with out question the best lever-action ever made in terms of quality and out-of-the-box accuracy. They are however a bit on the stiff side for recoil especially the .358 chalk that up to the straight stock. For a long time they were the lefty's saving grace. Good to pack too, on your back or in a saddle scabbard since they're very flat and light.

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from bassgittinart@b... wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I love the lever action rifles, brings out the cowboy in me!

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from 788Ham wrote 4 years 29 weeks ago

I own 2 Savage 99's, one is a .300, and the other is an .250-3000. Both of these rifle belonged to my Pop, I received them when he passed on. The .250 is a hard shooting, accurate rifle, am going to take it deer hunting this next year. The .300 is a hard shooter also, I know it will bring down elk and deer, my Pop used it hunting since 1947, both of these rifles are in fantastic condition. I reload for both of these calibers, fun to work up loads and still be able to shoot them.

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from wwells wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

I to love lever guns and own several winchesters and marlins. Also own a henry 44/40 which works well on deer under 100 yards. They all preform great back here in eastern Ky.where most shoots are under 100 yards but i also love to elk and mule deer hunt when sometimes shoots may be 300 or more yards and that is why i have a 300 win. mag. But now thanks to Marlin i'll be able to get back to using a lever gun in the rookies. I'm going to buy the new 338mx. I would give anything to be able to get the 338 cal. in the model 1895 cowboy because it looks just like a cowboys rifle with it's octagon barrel and straight grip stock and holds 9 shots.If anyone has any commits on the 338 cal. i'd sure like to hear them, good or bad.

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from Pecos Flats wrote 3 years 47 weeks ago

I have five marlins. Two Cowboys in .44 mag and 45/70, one 336 flat bolt 30/30 made in 1958, one 1894 saddle-ring 44mag and one 1895 45/70. I don't own any Winchester's right now, but I have had a few and they are fine rifles to be sure. The first white tail I killed with a lever action was with a Winchester 30/30. We could do worse than to only hunt or shoot with lever actions. It is how many of us got started shooting and hunting. My first deer rifle was a Marlin .35 Rem and was a devastator on white tail deer with 200 grain slugs. I wound up giving it to my brother (ten years younger) when he came of age to hunt. He still has and cherishes that rifle today.

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from TinEagle wrote 12 weeks 23 hours ago

The Winchester 94AE (AE for angle eject) is my favorite brush gun. The angle eject allows a scope mount which was not a big deal until I tried the Hornady LeverEvolution round. That round made the gun reach out to 150 yards with precision and helped my old eyes at that distance.

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from platte river rat wrote 5 years 3 weeks ago

I have a Marlin 336C (24" barrel) in 30-30 win... shoots my handloads with the new Hornandy FTX 160 gr bullets into an inch at 100yards. Also have two Browning BLR's a 358 win and a 308 win. both are one MOA's with handloads. The 308 has the aluminun receiver but I can't see any difference as the brass is inside the steel barrel. I own bolt guns TC single shots and a couple of Ruger #1"s. Love em all. Be thankful we can still shoot them in our great country.

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

The Winchester Model 1892 was a good choice. I believe the Rossi Puma 92 in .357 Magnum is still in production, though the sample I tried wasn't as smooth as the well-worn Winchesters I've fired. Given time (or polished metal-to-metal surfaces), I think the Rossi lever action would be glass-smooth. The .357 Mag chambering (of the Rossi) makes much more sense to me these days than the .38-40, .44-40, .32-20 or .25-20.

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from WestGaHunter wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

Jim in Mo ...
RC in Marlin's designation stands for Regular Carbine. There are other designations like SC for Sporting Carbine, 336T for a short-barreled "Texan" model and a few others ... most were RC.

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from WestGaHunter wrote 4 years 32 weeks ago

Jim in Mo ... let me correct something I just said.

Marlin 336T were not all short-barreled. Most have 20-inch barrels but have a straight-grip stock.
I didn't want to create any unnecessary confusion. Check this site for a greatly definitive article on Marlins:
http://www.pmulcahy.com/lever-action_rifles/us_lever-action_rifles_marli...

WestGa

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from mvacdude wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

i own a marlin 444mx and love the balance, feel, and accuracy. this is one of my all time favorite guns. simple design makes for easy maintainability. with open sights i'm able to keep a 2" group at 100yds. it is quick to shoulder and fire which has put a few hogs and deer on the table that i might have not gotten otherwise. the hornady leverevolution ammo is the bomb! the energy and accuracy makes trailing game as easy as walking to point of impact! i have 24 assorted rifles at my disposal, but if i could only have 1 it would be this 1! love it(my marlin 308mx is a close 2nd)! i am thinking about the 338mx but don't think i need it and the 308mx. decisions, decisions! i love america cause you can't do this in france!

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from WesMcCormick wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

I have a 336 30-30, my first deer rifle and i still love it to this day, tried some 125 HP's this past year and wrecked a doe.
Also have an 1894 C.C. in 41 Rem Mag., that is just a good time to shoot, aint got a deer with it yet but hopefully soon.

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from hfedder40 wrote 3 years 9 weeks ago

winchester 88 and 94 pa deer season

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from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I shot my first deer this past season with a savage m99 in .300 savage. Needless to say i now am in love with this gun!

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from coosabass2012 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I've had a 1974 model Winchester '94 with iron sights in .30/30 since it was new. I love it and, for the woods I hunt, it's my first choice as a deer rifle as well as a coyote gun. The only reason I wouldn't grab it on the way out the door as a survival gun is the limited availability of ammo but I'd probably cry as I left it behind in favor of my 12 gauge pump and .22LR.

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from Sam Walker wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

As for Marlin triggers, you can EASILY drop them to 2-3 lbs with no special gunsmithing tools and without touching the sear. The Marlin owners forum has instructions on doing this. In fact you can often take 2 lbs off the trigger pull on a Marlin by bending only one spring. Pretty easy.

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from Chris Woodson wrote 9 weeks 4 days ago

I've had and used several different lever guns. For beauty, smooth operation, and accuracy, the Browning blows the rest away BIG TIME!!!!

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from Doug Leichliter wrote 6 weeks 6 days ago

From the comments I've read here, I guess I better plan on hanging onto Granddad's old Savage 99 until they pry it from my cold dead hands. You see, it's a 250 Savage, and, better yet, in a take down model with the rotary magazine. I shot my first buck with it, a little 3 point back in the fall of '72 and little bro' shot a nice 8 point with it back in '75, his first and only buck. He flushed it by chucking rocks into the head of a brushy hollow and followed with 4 measured shots, only one of which hit the throat as it was the only mark on the buck when we skinned it out. Iron sights, no less at about 75 yards to where the deer fell.

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from Greg23 wrote 4 years 36 weeks ago

ive heard that the winchester 94 has taken more deer than any other gun out there and to prove that point out of all my rifles my .30-.30 has taken more whitetail than any browning or marlin i have. when i go deer hunting it always comes along for the hunt

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