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Thread: lever action advice please

  1. #1

    lever action advice please

    Hi all,
    I hope that some of the members on this great site may be able to help. I will soon be in the market for a lever action rifle but i'm unsure of the make, model and caliber for woodland stalking. I have been looking at a merlin in .444, but I dont want to buy a rifle that turns out to be a lemon, or i can't get the ammo for, or is difficult to reload . So if you have, or have ever had, a lever action rifle in any centre fire calibur or make, I would appreciated your input . I have mainly Roe and Red on the land that I shoot....... thanks

  2. #2
    I have lever guns in calibers from 22LR to 45-70 so I might be able to offer something. I have done extensive reloading for the .444 in the past, but not in a lever gun.

    Firstly, I'm curious as to where this "2400 ft/sec" rule falls when you're talking lever actions and relatively antiquated calibers. Does it still hold?? If so, there are darned few "traditional" lever rifles that will get there. A 30-30 with 125 or 150 grain bullets might. Never the .444 or .45-70.

    As to the .444 Marlin it is a fine cartridge. There are a wide variety of .44 caliber pistol bullets on the market to use tho I don't know about the brass situation in the UK but it can be made (with some dificulty) from 9.3x74R brass. If I was choosing, I'd go with a 45-70. Brass is a bit more popular and .457" diameter bullets are widely stocked. Performance range is the same as for the .444. meaning, that 150 yards is the maximum range.

    Either cartridge is easy to reload and Marlin lever rifles are seldom "lemons". My son has a Marlin Model 1895 "Cowboy" 45-70 with a 26" octagonal barrel. It is a screamer with 330 grain cast, hollow point bullets. ~Muir

  3. #3
    In the UK we have a legal minimum velocity for use on deer. From memory win is 2,450 fps in Scotland, 2,400 fps in England / Wales so the big calibres - aka 470 NE, 458 Lott etc for use on buffalo, elephant etc are not legal for use on deer in the UK.

  4. #4
    THen if this fellow is hailing from the your neighborhood he is sorely out of luck unless he goes with a 30-30 and opts for 125 or 150 grain bullets.~Muir

    LEt me modify that: Marlin has come out with some snorty, bottle necked cartridges for their leve guns over the last few years. (eg: .338 Marlin) but I'm guessing brass and components are going to be scarce.

  5. #5
    Why not go a Browning Lever action .308 and use RN bullets?

    No issues with velocity then.

  6. #6
    Hi, thanks for your replies. Is the .444 marlin not legal in the UK for deer stalking, even though if produces roughly the same energy as the 30-06 in the region of 2500-3000 ft/lbs?. If not, what calibur in a lever action can then be used in the UK?. I'm not for one second suggesting that the marlin is a lemon!. T hanks PJ.

  7. #7
    I think this thread went a bit AWOL regarding the calibre/energy/velocity requirements for use on deer - the main species anyway - there is no velocity limit in England/Wales just calibre/muzzle energy.

    In England and Wales:

    The round must not be having a calibre of less than .240 inches or a muzzle energy of less than 2,305 joules (1,700 foot pounds).

    Muntjac & CWD only:

    (a) a rifle having a calibre of not less than .220 inches and a muzzle energy of not less than 1,356 joules (1000 foot pounds), and
    (b) a soft-nosed or hollow-nosed bullet weighing not less than 3.24 grammes (50 grains)..

    In Scotland:

    For the shooting of deer of any species, a bullet of an expanding type designed to deform in a predictable manner of not less than 100 grains (6.48 grams) with a muzzle velocity of not less than 2,450 feet per second (746.76 metres per second) and a muzzle energy of not less than 1,750 foot pounds (2,373 joules) must be used.

    For the shooting of roe deer only, a bullet of an expanding type designed to deform in a predictable manner of not less than 50 grains (3.24 grams) with a muzzle velocity of not less than 2,450 feet per second (746.76 metres per second) and a muzzle energy of not less than 1,000 foot pounds (1,356 joules) may be used.

    If you're not worried about having a magazine, how about a single shot falling block like a Ruger No1? This one is in the next Holts sale on the 17th - the calibre and price look good to me - 'scope is included . 'Unfashionable' rifles like that might even not attract a bid, so the low end of the guide might yield a result - and there are others in the same sale:

    Sale A1034 Lot 1138

    A 7X57mm 'NO.1' FALLING-BLOCK SPORTING RIFLE, serial no. 132-30170,
    22in. blued nitro sighted barrel (fore-sight element removed), fitted with an Apollo 3-9x40 telescopic sight, blued receiver, 13 1/2in. figured pistolgrip stock including 1/4in. rubber butt-pad, chequered grip and fore-end.
    Estimate 250-350

  8. #8
    I had a scare for a moment there too. I'm not aware of a minimum velocity for England, Wales or NI. Only Scotland, which is 2450fps.

    I am certain the the Home Office guidelines state that .45-70 is suitable for Deer, and I'm nearly as sure that .444 is in there too. It wouldn't be the first time that forces contradict each other, but I've never heard of the guidelines being wrong!

    My small and unhelpful addition to this is that if you go for a .444 make sure it's a newer one with the 1-20 twist rifling. The 1-38 old style .444s don't like leverevolution or heavy bullets which makes them far less useful. My mate has a new .444 and it's great. If I could think of something I could use it for I'd ask for one! .45-70 is a heavy bullet and the trajectory is appalling. The .444 is pretty lobbed but the .45-70 is just silly. For a smaller Deer target I would go for the .444 simply because it gives you more room for error in your range estimation. If you get it a bit wrong with either on something like a Roe it will still go down due to the huge trauma these big bullets impart, but it will trash the carcass I'd have thought!

  9. #9
    The 45-70 is deer legal in England but not in Scotland. I have a 45-70 for deer and, if you reload the cartridges yourself, it is a cracking round.

    Stick to bullets no more than 300gn and you can expect reasonably flat shooting out to 100yds.

    I zero mine at 50yds and it will take a deer from 25-75 without thinking of hold over/under

    If you intend to use it in woodland, you will not be disappointed

    My rifle is a Marlin

    Be very wary when buying a rifle and reloading 45-70's as there are 3 different sets of reloading data which can be used dependant on the rifle

    Buy a modern, high pressure action, 45-70 and you will be fine

  10. #10
    SD Regular
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    East Midlands M1/M69 Junction 21
    Two sorts of lever action. The traditional Marlin and Winchester (except Model 88) kind that have rear locking lugs. Generally lower powered cartridges of which 30-30 is about the maximum. You'll struggle to be Deer Act legal on velocity.

    Other kind. Browning BLR and Winchester 88. Basically a conventional front lock bolt action rifle that replaces the knob and handle of the bolt with a lever. Fire high velocity cartridges 308, 358 and even more velocity!

    Then the odd-bods. The Winchester 95 and modern replicas that fire 30-06 (or 303 if you can find one) and those little made Winchesters that fire 307 Winchester (Google'll like it).

    Finally things like 7-30 Waters!

    If I had to use a lever action I'd use a 307 Winchester.

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