Lever Guns
Gun World|February 2018
Lever Guns

AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE AND BASEBALL

Jeff Quinn

No other rifle action in existence is more American than the lever-action. While bolt guns and semiautomatics win in popularity with today’s shooters in the United States, the lever gun still has a large following. No other rifle action drips with the history of 19th-century America as does the lever-action.

There are some generalities about lever guns that merit discussion: reliability and accuracy. It is true that lever-action rifles are more complicated than bolt guns—and maybe even semiautomatics.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

A bolt-action rifle is about as simple as a repeater can be, and the mechanics of even a semiauto are pretty simple. A traditional lever-action has to be timed perfectly to accomplish firing, ejection and feeding a cartridge from a tubular magazine without something going wrong.

A good example is the Winchester Model 94 I own. It is chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, which is a dandy cartridge when fired from a rifle-length barrel. Even better is the .357 Maximum cartridge. The Model 94 action is plenty long enough to handle the extra length of the .357 Maximum cartridge, so I figured the .357 Max in that handy carbine would be an ideal lever gun.

Not so simple. That little rifle has been to four of the top gunsmiths in the nation, with each trying to get the rifle to feed reliably. So far, none was successful. It feeds .357 Magnum cartridges flawlessly, but the longer Maximums will not feed. The timing is off.

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February 2018