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Thread: Advice on first CF Lever Action

  1. #1

    Advice on first CF Lever Action

    Hello all,

    The club I am hoping to get accepted as a full member of this month coming and as part of it is a gallery rifle section that might be fun to join.

    As such, I was wondering about a .357 lever action or .45 Colt (No .44Rem Mag due to not being historic enough). I'd ideally like something that I could use on the occasional muntjac so would like to be able to mount a scope reasonably easily.

    Was thinking about .45 Colt but as most of these seem to struggle to make the ME requirement for a lot of loads I've seen but .357Mag seems to do it quite easily (I've been reading Ballistics by the Inch as my data reference)

    So, folks of SD am looking for your advice on a few points:

    1) Makes - Marlin, Winchester, Rossi and Chiappa seem to be the main options
    2) Marlin vs Winchester - Is the Marlin 94 (provided on a poorly QC'd one) much better than a Win 94 AE?
    3) Is the Marlin that much better to scope than the Win AE?
    4) Win 92 type actions (mainly thinking Chiappa clones) - are these scopeable with a regular type scope mount or do you have to go for a forward "scout style"
    5) Any thoughts on calibre choice - Decent .357 Munty load? Anything from the list below I'm missing out on be not considering? (I really don't want to go .45-70 or the ilk. My 9.3x62 does big stuff well enough )

    Thanks in advance for you input folks!

    ATB,

    Scrummy

    ‘TRADITIONAL LEVER ACTION RIFLES - PISTOL CALIBRES’ – These should be deemed to include, as well as .25-20, .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, such calibres as .38/.357, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, but not .22 rimfire (too small), .44 magnum (too late). Calibres such as 45-70 & .30-30 WILL NOT be treated as ‘Pistol Calibres’ even if you used to have a Thompson Contender chambered for them! N.B. Maximum M/E 2028 Joules (1496 ft/lbs).

  2. #2
    Go .357 mag. At least you will be able to moderate it's cricket ball trajectory with judicious reloading . The .45 long colt is a bit of a mortar round past 100 yds.
    It is a shame the .357 maximum isn't available in LAs.

  3. #3
    I shoot a Win 94AE in 44 mag. Had a job to convince the FEO that it could be made deer legal but finally succeeded.
    The trigger action requires a real hard tug so you do need to do some work (Wolf spring set) on the Winchesters to get them to shoot consistent for stalking.
    I did have a Marlin ages ago and don't recall this being as bad.
    I have been told that getting spares for the Winchester U/Ls is almost impossible now. Not had to test this out so can't say for sure.

  4. #4
    SD Regular Greener Jim's Avatar
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    You could go 44 Magnum and trim the brass down to 44 Special length which is easily old enough.

    Then you can use 44 Magnum for hunting aswell.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Greener Jim View Post
    You could go 44 Magnum and trim the brass down to 44 Special length which is easily old enough.

    Then you can use 44 Magnum for hunting aswell.
    Might be an idea... wonder if we could float it....

  6. #6
    Avoid "new" post 2007/8 Marlins unless you've examined it thoroughly and happy it's working as the manufacturing quality has dropped with the new owner.
    I've owned 357 and 45 LC: both are good and accurate with the 45LC being well capable IMO in the Marlin (mine was a 2006) of "dropping a donkey" with loads for that rifle type. I found Accurate #7 particularly good.
    The 357 is cheaper to run and if for paper punching I'd go that way.
    Also consider Uberti...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingsnake View Post
    Avoid "new" post 2007/8 Marlins unless you've examined it thoroughly and happy it's working as the manufacturing quality has dropped with the new owner.
    I've owned 357 and 45 LC: both are good and accurate with the 45LC being well capable IMO in the Marlin (mine was a 2006) of "dropping a donkey" with loads for that rifle type. I found Accurate #7 particularly good.
    The 357 is cheaper to run and if for paper punching I'd go that way.
    Also consider Uberti...
    Hi there, I hear they are starting to get back on track with the quality of Marlins. Any truth in this?

    Scrummy

  8. #8
    They are all over the racks in the USA. I will go handle some.
    I have Marlins from 1890s, 1920s, 1930s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, to compare.

    The modern Winchesters are good, too. I have M94 Saddle Ring carbines in .44 Mag and .357. They have a sturdy front blade rather than a bead, like the Marlin, just like the originals, for standing up up to sliding in and out of a scabbard. The Big Bore in .375 Win or .444 is a good woods rifle.

  9. #9
    I bought my marlin 1894 (in 44 mag) new in 2006, it's one made by marlin rather than Remington , the marlin made rifles were stamped JM. I sent mine off new to Rimfire magic where they did their "trick and slick" action and trigger job on it, so it cycles beautifully and has a really nice trigger pull. I also had the trigger blade smoothed and polished as I found that the bottom of the trigger blade has fairly sharp edges.

    From what I have read, Marlin did a lot of hand fitting of parts to their lever actions, rather than simply assembling a mass of parts produced on ageing machinery with varying degrees of tolerance. If this is true, then it would certainly account for the better build and fit quality of the older Marlins. Good conditioned genuine Marlin lever actions (pre Remington) often fetch more money than brand new Remington produced Marlins... I have seen videos on youtube of poorly fitting wood, canted front sights and poorly timed actions on some of the newer guns.

    I chose the 44 to use mainly as a fun gun, I usually load 44 magnum cases to 44 special power levels using hard cast lead bullets. Anything over about 1000fps really needs jacket bullets or leading of the barrel can occur quickly apparently. I have loaded some hot 44mag rounds using reloading data specifically for rifles and these are quite potent. It is possible to load bullets to 1700ftlb (for the UK) from the 44 magnum rifle. Energy levels (on paper) favour faster moving bullets due to the energy calculation where the velocity of the bullet is squared.

    The 44 magnum version has a very slow 1 in 34 barrel twist rate and so struggles to stabilise really heavy bullets (300 grn plus). As such for a hunting rifle, the 45 colt with its much faster twist rate seems to be a better choice for handloaders in the states, hunting larger than deer sized game as it can handle a wider variety of bullet weights and match the power levels of the 44 magnum.

    Obviously the lever action is available with much more potent calibres than either of these two for really big, tough or dangerous game.

    For plinking, I find the 38 special round to be (dare I say it) a bit pip squeak in comparison to the 44 special. Though the 38 is undoubtedly easier to shoot due to negligible recoil in a lever action rifle. I must admit I enjoy a bit more recoil, though the 44 special itself in a rifle is very easy to shoot..... You will however experience a lot more recoil when you drop the hammer on a full powered 44 magnum load in a rifle like the marlin which barely weights 6.5 lb. (357 magnum will have far less recoil)

    The marlin is very easy to scope having a flat top to the action that is fully enclosed. I have fitted two Warne (weaver style) steel bases to mine, as such I can remove my scope which is fitted with QD mounts and go back to using the open sights in seconds.... For the purist, I must admit that a scope just doesn't look right on a lever action rifle, to my eyes as well as many others!

    One thing that still impresses me with the design of the lever action is that even today, you have a rifle that is capable of holding up to 10 rounds plus (depending on magazine length and calibre) and will produce an accurate rate of fire that will leave a bolt action rifle well and truly trailing in its wake
    Last edited by paultap; 02-03-2015 at 19:50.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by scrumbag View Post
    Hi there, I hear they are starting to get back on track with the quality of Marlins. Any truth in this?

    Scrummy
    Ask Roger at Rimfire Magic. My old secondhand 2006 Marlin 45Colt went for just over £700 out of his shop...he's had to send a lot of the more recent ones back.

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