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Are Lever Action Rifles Still Relevant?

Lever Action - Blog Feature 1

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy are going be examining lever action rifles and whether or not they are still relevant. These types of rifles have been utilized for generations for purposes such as hunting, target shooting, and have even seen martial and defensive usage. Our goal with this blog post is to provide an overview of what lever action rifles are and delve into traits and features that illustrate their relevance. Without further ado, let’s get into why lever action rifles are still relevant.


What is a Lever Action Rifle?

Simply put, a lever action rifle is a manual action rifle that requires the actuation of a lever to cycle and load rounds. These rifles are single action in nature and feature an external hammer at the rear of the receiver. Often times, these types of rifles lack external, manual safeties. Some offerings feature a safety atop the receiver towards the rear. Most shooters would simply thumb down the hammer on their rifle to render it “safe” in place of a safety while others would simply wait until the time arose to chamber a round. Lever action rifles will generally be fed from a tubular magazine. This tubular magazine will typically be fed from either a side gate or via a cutout towards the muzzle end of the magazine tube. While most rifles of this are fed via a tube, some models feature detachable box magazines. 


Various Chamberings

In today’s market, lever action rifles can be found in a variety of calibers. These calibers include both pistol and rifle calibers. Traditional pistol calibers for lever action rifles range from .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. Typical rifle calibers include .30-30 Winchester and .45-70 Government. Of course, rimfire chambered variants exist in .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, and .17 HMR. Of course, rifles chambered in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum will be able to shoot .38 Special and .44 Special ammunition respectively.

Some non-standard chamberings have become available on the market in recent years. Henry Repeating Arms manufactures a magazine fed lever action rifle in the form of their Long Ranger. This rifle is available in both 5.56x45mm NATO and .308 Winchester. While the Long Ranger is not the first lever action to be chambered in .308 Winchester, it is a modern production offering which is more popular than the older Winchester Model 88.

Henry Big Boy Model X .357 Magnum
Henry Big Boy Model X .357 Magnum
Henry Big Boy Model X .357 Magnum
Henry Big Boy Model X .357 Magnum

Who Makes Lever Action Rifles?

Presently, lever action rifles are manufactured by a number of manufacturers. Henry Repeating Arms and Marlin are two of the most notable producers of modern lever action rifles in today’s market. Both companies offer rifles in a variety of calibers and in different configurations.

Companies also offer a variety of traditional lever action rifles as well. Companies such as Winchester and Henry Repeating Arms offer models that adhere closely to older and more traditional designs. Henry’s Iron Frame and Winchester’s Model 1866 rifle offerings are good examples of traditional style lever action rifles. Many of these reproduction models are available in historic chamberings such as .44-40 WCF as well, adding an additional layer of authenticity.

Modern production lever action rifles are typically available with modern features that shooters find desirable. Henry and Marlin rifle offerings will typically include scope mounts or feature threaded mounting holes to install one. This makes it easy for an end user to install an optic and tailor the rifle to their use case or preferences. Extended optical rails from companies such as XS Sights allow an end user to mount everything from an LPVO to a holographic weapon sight. Many rifles are also available straight from the factory now with threaded barrels, making it easy to attach a muzzle device. With a threaded barrel, one can easily add a muzzle brake, flash hider, or suppressor to their rifle.


Aftermarket Accessories and Customizability

Suites of modernized accessories such as handguards, stocks, muzzle devices, and small components are produced by multiple companies for lever action rifles. Ranger Point Precision, Midwest Industries, and Form Rifle Stocks are among the companies who produce products which help modernize these classical rifles and bring them into the 21st century. M-LOK accessory compatible handguards and stocks with adjustable lengths of pull and comb heights are among some of the most commonly used modern accessories.

Simply put, if one wanted to “hot rod” a lever action rifle and modernize it, they will have no issue doing so. Between factory offerings and aftermarket accessories and components, it is very easy for a shooter to build the exact levergun that they want.


Lever Action Rifles for Hunting

Lever action rifles have been utilized for hunting for generations. Many deer have been harvested by the .30-30 Winchester cartridge alone. Both modern and vintage examples of lever action rifles are still taken into the field each season due to their reliability and effectiveness at dispatching game.

 Some states and areas have laws which restrict the use of traditional rifle calibers when hunting. This can either be an outright ban or a seasonal restriction. States like Iowa and Ohio would typically only allow for shotguns to be used for hunting due to geographic reasons. Many popular lever action chamberings encompass straight wall cartridges which are appropriate for hunting usage. These cartridges include the typical chamberings such as .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .30-30 Winchester, and .45-70 Government. Newer caliber offerings such as .350 Legend and .360 Buckhammer are also counted among straight walled cartridges appropriate for hunting usage in restrictive areas.


Restrictive Gun Laws

Certain states have very restrictive gun laws which make owning certain types of firearms a hassle or just outright illegal. States such as California and New York effectively require gun owners to neuter most semi-automatic rifles just to keep them legal and comply with ever changing laws. Lever action rifles are manual action firearms and obviously do not fall under the category of semi-automatic firearms.

Henry Big Boy X Model .357 Magnum
Henry Big Boy X Model .357 Magnum

Suppressor Usage

Many shooters have found lever action rifles to be optimal suppressor hosts. This is in part due to their manual operation. The lack of a reciprocating bolt like those found on semi-automatic firearms means that these types of firearms won’t feature “port pop” or additional sound leakage as the action opens. Essentially, these rifles represent a more closed system with fewer avenues for gasses and sound to escape from.

The manual action of these firearms also means that one will not have to worry about whether or not they can cycle subsonic ammunition. In semi-automatics, subsonic ammunition may have issues cycling slides and actions when fired. This is not the case on a lever action rifle as the user is responsible for cycling the action after each shot.



All in all, lever action rifles are still quite relevant and useful in today’s context. Whether for hunting, plinking, or collecting, lever action rifles will serve you well. These types of rifles are still employed by a variety of shooters. The recent trend of tactical leverguns has revitalized and introduced new shooters to the market of lever action rifles. We here at True Shot Ammo carry a wide variety of ammunition which would be great for use in lever action rifles. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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