Two Letters Re: Advice on a Multipurpose Rifle

While I do basically agree with your statements on rifles for defense, I think you should rethink your comments about the lever gun in 30-30 or 45-70. You mentioned several drawbacks to the lever gun that I’d like to address if I may:

1) Slow reload time: While it is quite true that a 20 round detachable magazine is faster than any other empty reload method except a second gun, the trick to the combat use of a lever gun is to continuously reload. While my combat experience is over 3 decades old now and I was using an M16 at the time, I don’t ever remember a fire fight where it would not have been possible to slide rounds into a magazine during lulls in the shooting and there were always lulls. Unless you’re going full auto (a horrible waste of ammo) there will be little difference in rate of fire between a good lever gun and any battle rifle.

2) Power and carry: My wife who is a petite 4 ft. 11 in. and older than Criss (please don’t tell her I said so) likes a Marlin carbine in .45 Colt. Not a long range Elk rifle by any means but ample hitting force for most things out to 50 or 100 yards and she will carry it and practice with it where she won’t carry the 7 MM Rem Mag and won’t shoot the .375 H&H Mag (both bolt guns). Marlin makes a guide gun that will chamber .45-70 Marlin or .45-70 Govt. Yes, store rounds are expensive but hand loads are easily done on the .45-70 and it can be tamed down to .30-30 ballistics for practice and most shooting. In bear country it is possible to leave the chambered round for what you’re hunting for and the next one or two (paranoia dependent – I’m very paranoid) for the bear.

3) Styles: As to styles, I’ve had to clear [stoppages in] semi-autos and bolt actions but I have never had to clear a lever gun in 30 years of shooting them. I’m not saying it can’t happen but it has never happened to me and I really like shooting lever guns and shoot them a lot. Marlins can be had in calibers that cover everything from.22s to pistol cartridges to buffalo, bear, or anything else in North America. Since Marlins function all alike, the shooting skills acquired on a .22 lever gun work on the .444 Marlin. While the .30-30 for deer is light for bear, it was originally intended as more punch for use in bear country than the .44-40 and with the 170 grain round or Hornady’s new LEVERevolution ammo it is good for Black Bear at some range and Grizzly up close. If the Grizz is to far out for the lever gun, we aren’t going to be talking to each other. Here are two nice articles:
Hunting with the .30-30 Today
Levergun Loads .30-30 Winchester

You are correct about learning the proper use of the lever gun but the same comment applies to the bolt action on a movement that is not as natural (in my not so humble opinion) as the action of a lever. A great many of the bolt guns don’t allow for a continuous reload either. Neither my 7 mm nor my .375 H&H have detachable magazines so reload for them is the slowest.

4) Accuracy: While not as accurate as some bolt guns, at under 200 yards a lever gun can be much more accurate than say an AK-47. With proper ammo they don’t have to apologize to any gun on accuracy. They are also a simple gun to get started in reloading with. The only drawback is that with the exception of Hornady’s ammo I only feed blunt tip rounds in the magazine or only have one in the chamber and one in the magazine. I’ve never had a magazine detonation, don’t know if they really happen (bet they do) but I don’t want to roll that set of dice.

While I agree that a semi-auto (M14 or M1 would be my choice) in .30-06 or .308 is a preferred battle rifle, I look at the ubiquitous nature of .30-30 ammo, the reliability, the skills transfer, ability to and ease of carry and the commonality (every town has one or more .30-30’s somewhere in it) and think this may indeed be a good choice for the conditions Criss set out. It is a compromise and is therefore not perfect but to my mind it is a better than 98% solution. Unless she envisions shots in excess of 200 yards at targets larger than man sized or intense infantry action, it appears to me that the lever gun might work well. With the prices as they are, even a couple of lever guns could make a complimentary battery for a homestead for the price of a good-to-go battle rifle. You have to prepare for what you think is most likely and what you can afford. For me that points to several really nice lever guns, some in 30-30, some in other calibers. Respectfully, – LBH

I think the lever action .30-30 would serve you well, but reloading time is a factor. One rifle platform that is not mentioned on the survivalblog is the DPMS panther they come in a bunch of configurations. I own 2 in 308 win, one is the LR-AP4 the other is a special order LR-308c. I suggest the LR-AP4 for you. They cost around 1100 to 1300 but the magazine are in the 20$ range for 20 rounders (MAGPUL).and it has a six-position stock. DPMS also makes a rifle and upper in .338 Federal that would be better for bears. You could purchase a LR-AP4 in .308 Winchester and then purchase a. 338 Federal upper giving you more versatility for bear defense or hunting but remember a DPMS lower will only accept DPMS uppers, with a few exceptions. – Curtis