January 28, 2021
By Anthony Licata
Lever gun fans tend to fall into two camps: Those who love having a few in regular rotation and those who go very deep. For some it’s an occasional taste, others a compulsion, but there is something about the history, beauty, and utility of lever guns that speaks to people. As passionate as lever gun folks are, and despite the fact that you can find us anywhere, it’s still a niche in the firearm market. There’s never a flood of new models, and this year is no different. However, there are plenty of cool new rifles to satisfy lever gun junkies.
Henry All-Weather Picatinny Rail .45-70 Side Gate Lever-Action Rifle
There’s no mistaking a Henry lever action. This small, American gun company builds a unique lever gun with a removable tube magazine, a design that has been proving itself in the field since the 1860s. That classic design is getting a major update, as Henry is replacing all steel-framed centerfire lever-action rifles to include a side loading gate while still retaining the removable tube magazine based. This design change not only adds the convenience of side-load for those who want it, it makes the rifle an even better fit for special deer seasons that allow straight-wall cartridges.
One of the coolest models this year is this scout-rifle inspired version (pictured above), which has a long Picatinny rail for mounting a scope farther forward on the barrel to help you be quicker picking up that buck bounding through the brush. The rail also has a peep sight, and both the stock and steel feature Henry’s all-weather finish. Available in .30-30 Win, .35 Rem., and 45.-70 Gov’t. $1,109 | henryusa.com
Henry X Model .30-30 Lever-Action Rifle
I bet you don’t see too many lever guns with a suppressor in deer camp. Henry introduced the X Model in 2020, and they’ve added some cool modern versions to the line this year, including this .30-30 with a threaded barrel, synthetic stock, integrated sling swivel studs, Picatinny and M-Lok accessory slots and it’s drilled and tapped for scope mounts. The rifle uses Henry’s 5-round removable tubular magazine and the side loading gate and is a very modern take on a classic design. $1,019 | henryusa.com
Winchester Model 94 Deluxe Sporting Lever-Action Rifle
If you’re the type to go deep into lever guns, this is your kind of thing. The Model 94 is, of course, a classic, “the rifle that won the west,” but even after 120-plus years and seemingly infinite versions and variations, it still draws a crowd. This drool-inducing version is a 2021 SHOT Show Special, and both wood and steel are looking fine. The Grade V/VI walnut stock and case-hardened finish on the receiver are gorgeous but not too showy. It comes with very good Marble Arms iron sights (and that’s probably how it should stay) but it’s drilled and tapped and comes with a hammer spur if you feel a need to put a scope on it. Available in .30-30 Win and 38-55 Win. $2,039.99 | winchesterguns.com
Browning BLR White Gold Medallion Maple Lever-Action Rifle
Browning’s slick lever action isn’t saddled with as much fame and history as the Winchester 94, but the BLR has its share of fans. It uses a detachable box magazine, so unlike some other lever guns, you don’t need to stick to flat-nosed ammunition and can use spitzer bullets in magnum calibers. This limited edition is for the lever gun fan who wants something unusual but still classy. It has a highly figured maple stock, rosewood pistol grips and fore-end caps, and an engraved, satin nickel receiver. Available in .243 Win, 7mm-08, .308 Win, 30-06. $1539-$1,600 | browning.com
Uberti 1866 Yellowboy Lever-Action Rifle
There isn’t much new about the Yellowboy, but that’s kind of the point. With its distinctive brass frame and butt plate, there really isn’t much you want to change about this rifle, which first showed up on the scene in 1866. Uberti focuses on making the best version of this classic as possible, and it’s hard to top the carbine. The 19-inch barrel makes for handy shooting and is a perfect match for the short-range calibers for which it’s chambered: .45 colt, .38 spl, and .44-40. $1,239 | uberti-usa.com
Marlin Dark Series 1895 Lever-Action Rifle
The lever gets tactical, with this black, tricked-out version of Marlin’s 1895 (big bore) lever action. The parkerized finish and black-webbed hardwood stock makes this a rifle that can stand up to some abuse in harsh conditions. It has a pile of modern features: threaded barrel, a rail for mounting optics with a ghost ring peep, and big-loop lever. Available in .30-30 Win and .45-70 Gov’t. $949 | marlinfirearms.com
Henry Magnum Express .22 Magnum Lever-Action Rifle
Do even like lever guns if you don’t have a couple chambered for rimfire loads? Grab a hold of this rifle and you’ll be just itching for a varmint to cross your path. Designed for optics with a Picatinny scope base, this is a fast-handling .22 mag is a serious vermin rig. A Monte Carlo style stock gives a higher cheek weld than most lever actions, which improves accuracy, and Henry’s 11-round tube magazine gives you plenty of follow-up shots for groundhogs, prairie dogs, squirrels, rabbits, and other small game. Use it on the ranch, keep it in the truck, take it to camp, or carry it in the squirrel woods—there are a lot of places where this rifle would be at home and quickly earn its keep. $622 | henryusa.com
If you're looking to hunt with a lever-action rifle, then you've got to check out our article: Six Great Lever-Gun Hunts of North America.