10 Greatest Lever-Action Rifles of All Time
September 16, 2014
If numbers excite you, you probably aren't into lever guns. Bolt-action rifles are generally more accurate than lever actions, and lever actions will never match the rate of fire achieved by a semiauto.
That said, if you appreciate history and nostalgia, you probably have a soft spot for the beleaguered lever gun. Your more practical friends will note the gun's weak points, but if you grew up watching John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn or held your breath when Augustus McRae made a stand against an armed posse with only his Henry rifle and a dead horse for cover in Lonesome Dove, you probably own a lever gun. Maybe two.
The lever action played a very legitimate role in America's westward expansion. It could bring meat to your table or protect your land and assets against rustlers.
Nostalgia aside, the lever gun is an effective hunting tool for those willing to live within its limitations. While it can't beat a bolt gun with a light trigger and free-floated barrel in a long-range shooting competition, a lever action in the right hands can be rather accurate, especially given new advancements in rifle design and bullet technology.
Here's a look at ten of the greatest lever actions of all time, from those designed 150 years ago to more modern offerings. Be sure to vote for your favorite below.
Winchester Model 73
“The gun that won the West” most definitely warrants a mention here, not only because it was a very successful model for Winchester but also because it represented a step forward in rifle design. Unlike the brass-framed Henry before it, the Winchester 1873 featured an iron frame. With a long barrel it was a big, heavy, smooth, relatively accurate rifle, and with a short carbine barrel, the 1873 was highly maneuverable. It was also chambered for pistol cartridges like the .44-40, so the big ’73 helped eliminate the burden of carrying two different types of ammo, which was of special concern when riding many miles in rough terrain. The ’73 deserves a spot on the list for the role it played in Westward expansion, but you can still purchase an 1873 from Winchester today, though they are now made in Japan by Miroku.