Lever action rifles are truly American firearms. They won the West, and you can not help but image the well over 100 years of history involved when shooting one.
For a time, the lever action fell out of favor with hunters. However, many sportsmen are returning to their roots; finding a lever action rifle is the perfect choice for many situations and a lot of fun to shoot.
But before you rush out and add this iconic American rifle to your arsenal, let us share the 7 best lever action rifle cartridges.
7 Best Lever Action Rifle Cartridges
Over the years, there have been dozens of lever action cartridges, but it is hard to overlook the “one that started it all.” The .45-70, or .45 Government, was the original lever action rifle cartridge.
This round won the West, fed the settlers, and represented what a big caliber lever action rifle is supposed to be. Today’s hunters will find that the .45-70 can take down any North American game if you can get close enough.
Plus, the wide range of modern ammunition lets you take advantage of how capable this round can be.
Although the .45-70 started it all, there is probably no lever action round that has taken more game than the .30-.30 . There was a time when almost every young hunter harvested their first deer with a .30-.30 lever action from the local hardware store or Sears catalog.
It is still a very capable cartridge that is a lot of fun to shoot. Anyone who will be hunting in wooded areas where the typical shot is less than 200 yards should consider dusting off the old Marlin 1893 or Winchester 94 and relive the thrill of their youth.
A lever action rifle chambered in .22LR provides an all-around workhorse for the homestead. Will it be taking you never trophy whitetail or stopping the bear from decimating the beehives?
No, but it will harvest a pot of fresh squirrels, stopping the groundhog in its tracks and provide an economic platform for range training.
Even If you want to spend an afternoon relieving stress by plinking cans, you will enjoy having this adult version of the Red Ryder by your side.
The .357 Magnum is an excellent pistol round and an even better lever action rifle round. With the longer barrel and heavier platform, you can take most medium-sized game, and the round becomes more manageable.
It is especially popular with shooters who want to carry a rifle and handgun that will both use the same ammunition.
Plus, the round is an excellent self-defense choice so that you can tackle multiple tasks with only two platforms.
Like its smaller brother, the .357 Magnum, the .44 Magnum can be used in both a lever action rifle and a pistol. However, the .44 Magnum packs a little bigger punch, making it suitable for a broader range of game.
The increased power makes this the go-to round for Alaskan guides looking to protect clients from nosey, sometimes aggressive, Grizzly bears. Even in the larger lever action rifle platform, the .44 Magnum will kick, and the range will be limited to less than 200 yards. Unless you want to wait for an up close and personal shot on your next party crasher, be sure to practice before carrying this round in the field.
When first introduced in 1964, the .444 Marlin was considered the most potent lever action round available. Although this has changed over the years, it is still considered one of the big boys regarding lever action rifle calibers.
With over 3000 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy, you will have more than enough gun to drop whitetails and feel confident should you encounter any of North America’s big game species, friends, or foes. Again, the recoil will be substantial, so practice is essential for accuracy and confidence.
Also known as the .32 WDF, the .32-20 was developed as a small game rifle rounds. It was later adopted for close protection use in a pistol as well.
Although its fast, flat trajectory was initially considered a good deer round, especially for smaller shooters, it was soon discovered to be too light. However, it has found renewed interest among modern varmint hunters and silhouette shooters.
Both groups needed an accurate, fast shooting round that was comfortable to shoot, and they found it in the .32-20 Winchester.
Whether you will be plinking cans, taking out coyotes, or putting dinner on the table, a lever action rifle with the correct ammunition can meet your needs. Plus, shooting one lets you reconnect with an icon symbol of American history.
Whether unboxing a new Marlin .30-.30 or slinging a Winchester 94 passed down through the generations, it is hard to escape the nostalgia of experiencing the rifle that built the old West.
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