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The Best Six Lever Guns On The Market Right Now

The best rifles for lever-gun fanatics everywhere.

The Best Six Lever Guns On The Market Right Now

I’m about to make myself sound old. When I was a kid, hunting rifles and truck guns wore wooden stocks and blued steel. Black Guns were cool to look at and fun to shoot but you weren’t likely to see them in a hunting camp or a friend’s gun rack. Things changed as they always do and, today, AR-15-style hunting and utility rifles are incredibly common. They have their virtues and I use them regularly. Still, a part of me yearns for the guns of my youth—the guns that won the West and dominated the American outdoors for more than a century. Give me a lever gun.

Like revolvers, lever guns nearly died a slow death in the 90s and early 2000s but, like sixguns, the pendulum has begun to swing back in a nostalgic direction. It’s no different than lusting after a ’72 Bronco, even if it won’t likely be your daily driver. The success of Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone has only poured gas on this lever-gun fire. The market has responded in the way markets always do and several companies are now producing lever-action rifles ready for the field. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.

Marlin 1895 Trapper

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After the disastrous purchase of Marlin Firearms by Remington, the brand nearly perished. Ruger saved the day, purchasing the company’s assets and eventually returning Marlin lever guns to the market. Unlike some of the junk that came out of Ilion after the Remington purchase, these Ruger-built Marlins are befitting of the name.

My favorite of the new crop of Marlins is the utilitarian 1895 Trapper, a compact and powerful carbine chambered in .45-70. The Trapper is made from stainless steel with a low-glare bead blasted finish. The barrel is 16-inches long and threaded at the muzzle. The two-piece stock is made from a weather-resistant laminate and the lever loop is oversized to accommodate heavy gloves. It comes with Montana-made Skinner Sights, which are some of the finest on the market. This handy carbine is just 34.25-inches long and weighs in at 7.1 pounds. A better rifle for bear country, I cannot envision.


$1,449; marlinfirearms.com

Winchester 1892 Deluxe Octagon

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Part of seeking out a traditional design is finding one with classic looks; look no further than this high-grade rifle from Winchester. The 1892 was designed by the great John Browning, which speaks volumes. This take-down rifle is fit with a 24-inch polished blue octagon barrel, a case-colored receiver and satin-finished high-grade walnut stock. The top-eject 1892 is available in cartridges that do double-duty in your sidearm: .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44-40 and .45 Colt. This is a rifle built for both style and function and is one that you might find in John Dutton’s saddle scabbard.

$2,359; winchester.com


Browning BLR Lightweight

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So, you want to hunt with a lever action but not with a slow straight-wall cartridge? The BLR Lightweight is your rifle. The BLR uses a box magazine so it is compatible with modern rifle cartridges using spitzer-style bullets. It is currently chambered in 13 hunting-appropriate cartridges ranging from the .223 Remington to the .300 Winchester Magnum. Barrels are 20, 22 or 24 inches depending on the chambering. Iron sights are included and the aluminum receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. The gloss-finished walnut stock is checkered with a Schnabel forend tip and a curved pistol grip.

$1099; browning.com




Henry Color Case Hardened Lever Action Side Gate

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This all-American-made rifle combines some modern features with classic design elements. The steel receiver is actually case-hardened, not just made to look that way. The 20-inch octagon barrel is topped with a brass bead front sight and an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear. The 5-round magazine can be unloaded without cycling the rounds through the receiver, which is a handy safety feature. The side-eject receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope mount, making this a capable hunting rifle in its .30-30 or .45-70 chamberings.

$1,198; henryusa.com

Browning BL-22 Grade II

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Is there anything more American than a lever-action .22? This Grade II rimfire from Browning harkens back to the good old days where fit and finish were important elements. For a $150 upgrade over the base model BL-22, you get a well-finished and 20 lines-per-inch cut checkered walnut stock along with an engraved receiver and the distinctive gold trigger. Lever throw is a short 33 degrees so you can empty the 15-round tubular magazine at a rapid pace. The BL-22 weighs just 5 pounds with a 20-inch barrel.

Recommended


$979; browning.com

Big Horn Armory Model 89

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No list of rifles would be complete without including a high-grade custom. Big Horn Armory’s Model 89’s steel receiver is CNC-machined and includes design elements of both the classic Winchester 1886 and 1892. Thanks to the modern 17-4 stainless steel used in its construction, the Model 89 can be chambered in the mighty .500 S&W Magnum. As a true custom rifle, various options are available including barrel lengths of 16, 18 and 22 inches. Stocks can be standard or fancy walnut as well as laminate. A Skinner aperture sight comes standard but scout-style and red dot scope mounts are available. Magazine capacity is 7+1.

$2,699; bighornarmory.com

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