The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Chiappa, Marlin, Mossberg and non-Rossi Manufactured Pumas plus anything else with a leveraction.

The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Archer » 22 Nov 2019 14

So I was at the big box gunstore last week and the salesman was showing me several Marlins and was commenting on the big loops being smoother and easier to lever than the standard loop.

Now I've always been a Winchester guy from way back when there was a Winchester. My first rifle was a 94 in .30-30. I just recently got a couple Marlins and I have never used them as much as the Winchesters in part because of time and in part because of ammunition expense since the Marlins I own are in .444 and .45-70. I have however noticed that the Marlin 336 action doesn't flow as well as the Winchester. I have friends who complain that the Winchester 94 action is a series of clunks and they may be right but it still flows from one clunk to another without jarring stops at the clunks. This has been true for the .30-30s and the .44 Mags and the single .357 I've shot in a Winchester 94.

The 336s with the standard curved lever I tried at the shop showed a distinct tendency to hard stop with the lever about 25 degrees cracked open. You would often sweep through the stop but it required effort and was never what I'd call smooth. With the large lever on the same rifle the action tended to flow through the stop without the tendency to stop or require extra effort.

I have a .444 Marlin which is essentially the 336 in a big bore with the standard curved lever and also a .45-70 1895 Marlin which has much the same action with a big loop. I came home after talking to the clerk at the shop and tried those rifles back to back and found similar results although my .444 was somewhat better it still showed the distinct increase in effort once cracked open.

I have only handled the Mossbergs at a shop and have not shot them. I haven't even seen one in a while.
My impressions of them were that they were an attempt to slip a Marlin bolt into a Winchester shaped receiver and reviews have been mixed on them.

I have comments on a number of other models but I'm going to reserve them for the moment to concentrate on the .30-30 class lever actions for the moment.
I'd like to know what the rest of you think.
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Arroyoshark » 22 Nov 2019 18

For whatever it might be worth, waaaaaaay back in the last century I used to run a "lever action silhouette match" at our local shooting club. It was a standard 40 round match, 10 rounds at each distance from 50 meters to 200 meters. In those days it was bring whatever lever ya got, as it was a match geared towards what most every gunny might have leaned up behind the door, generally a .30-30, .32 Spl or 35 Rem. - and it was meant to be fun. It was before the trend to custom lever silhouette guns in .25 caliber. I recall more alibis called for malfunctioning Marlin 336's than the Winchester 94's. There were only two brands seen at line, Marlin or Winchester, tho one competitor showed up occasionally with a Uberti clone Henry. Seems the Marlins were more prone to double feeding or ejector issues. I started with Winchester 94, as hunting rifle, used it for silhouette competition, and I mostly have stuck with the brand, even if it might be Miroku manufacture today.

I had a less than satisfactory experience with late model Marlin clone Rossi Rio Grande .45-70, and it has moved along. I've used a late 70's Marlin 1894, .44 which was miserable jammer and feeder, until I upgraded the cartridge elevator to a current design. I believe the Winchester lever action design, whether it be 1873, 1886, 1892 or 1894 to be a more durable design than the Marlin action. The Marlin lever has a wear point in its travel, where it levers up the cartridge elevator, with much written about it.

Overall I have more confidence in the J.Browning designed Winchester Lever Actions.
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Archer » 22 Nov 2019 23

I don't know that I've used any of them enough to put enough wear on them to worry about broken parts.

I don't know if there were many competitors to the Winchester and Marlin in .30-30 until recently with Winchesters only coming as Mirkus at a grand to $1300 and Marlin being unavailable until Remington managed to figure out how to manufacture them. If the Winchester 94 was still coming out at reasonable prices the Mossberg would have probably never have happened. I had a couple friends in high school who had the Marlin when I bought the Winchester. I think Marlin was making inroads even as it was a little more expensive because it was easy to mount a scope where the Winchester had to have a side mount. The XTRs may have slowed that down but they were late to the game. Not that you typically needed a scope where a long range shot was 100 yards.

The Winchester 1873 was pre-Browning. I've heard several comments about the action simply being too weak for higher power cartridges. The Miroku 1873s were last I knew only available in .357 but not in .44 Mag and the big bore 1876 versions from back in the day could generally be beat by the single shots with bigger more powerful rounds.

I think Browning designed Winchesters started with the 1885 single shot High and Low walls. That was the design that Winchester sent agents to Browning trying to get him to shut down and ended up buying the design. The Browning designed Win 1886 big bore followed and was then scaled down to the 1892. Both of them a step up in strength from the 1873/76 designs. I haven't used the Win 1873 but I've heard they are pretty smooth and quick.

I've got three of the Rossi 92s. I'd have had a 1892 Miroku or two but never had the money at the right time.
I do have a Miroku 1886 and it is a joy to shoot but it is a bit heavy with a 26" octagonal barrel.
I have a rimfire 1885 Winchester Miroku and it's quite nice. I don't know how it compares to the centerfires as I have rarely had the chance to handle one. I do find the repeaters more fun than the single shots most of the time. I was once told I couldn't shoot the 1885 at a range when I pulled it out. The range master thought it had to be a center fire but I told him it was a rimfire and he took a closer look he backed off. Something about a half octagonal bull barrel on that .22 that makes it look like a cannon.

The Winchester 1895 Miroku in .30-06 is fun and it's pretty light weight but the action is not what I'd call particularly smooth. Something about the split square lever and the amount of travel you need makes it more awkward than any of the other Winchester levers I've shot.

I have cycled the current 1894 Marlins a little and they seem ok. I don't much like the squared off lever on the straight grip but I didn't notice much about the action. I've seen large loop versions of them with the pistol grip and laminated stock. I have heard multiple complaints about the lifter on the 1894 Marlins breaking. I was not aware of a redesign other than the reblueprinting done by Remington after they bought Marlin and discovered how bad the machinery and the prints were.
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby GasGuzzler » 23 Nov 2019 05

I much favor the '92 design to the '94/336 both for strength and smoothness. The only advantage to the '94 is they are way easier to tear down and reassemble. My 336 is 68 years old so it doesn't fall victim to the same manufacturing issues a Marlin from the last two or three decades may. It's very smooth.

I will never buy a lever action in stainless, with a synthetic OR laminate stock, with a scope, or with anything but a standard lever but don't mind if others do. :)
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby rondog » 23 Nov 2019 06

Perhaps it's just me, but I've chopped about 1/4" off of the coil hammer springs on all my leverguns, and that seems to smooth 'em up right nicely. When the bolt pushes the hammer over and cocks it, it's a lot easier with a lighter spring resistance. Still have plenty of smack for the firing pins, I could probably take off more.
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Arroyoshark » 23 Nov 2019 12

Archer commented:
"I have heard multiple complaints about the lifter on the 1894 Marlins breaking. I was not aware of a redesign other than the reblueprinting done by Remington after they bought Marlin and discovered how bad the machinery and the prints were."

Newer cartridge carriers have slightly different design than older carriers. Among other things, it does much better job of preventing another round from tube mag from sliding in under the carrier causing a jam. Replacing the carrier on late 70's 1894 with new production replacement part fixed it. At the time I could order the carrier from MidwayUSA.

Fixing the Marlin Jam
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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Ohio3Wheels » 23 Nov 2019 16

Guess I'll jump in here. I have 2 Rossi 92s (45 Colt and 357) 2 Marlin 336s (35 Rem '75 and 38/55 '83) and 1 Henry Big Boy steel in 44 Mag. All have standard levers and maybe I'm just not picky enough but they all run fine. Years back we had an IHMSA club down in northern KY that after the pistol portion was over we went to lever guns and single shot rifles. I never had ant problems with the 35 Rem and the Sharps 40/65 worked great, never damage a target but a solid hit would knock a chicken most of the way to the pig line. I like all my levers though lately the 44 mag and the 38/55 have been getting the most shooting, getting ready for deer season.

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Re: The force and smoothness of lever actions...

Postby Archer » 25 Nov 2019 12

Went to a private range on the backside of a fellow's place in the hills sometime around 2006 or 8.
Had a former coworker with a couple of his young interns and their boyfriends with us.

The ladies had the balls to fire the 1886 Winchester in .45-70 but their boyfriends were wimps.
Each girl put 4 rounds through the Miroku and the first shot took out a steel gong about a hundred+ yards away. Busted it off the mount.

The girls shot all the handguns and then gravitated to the ones in .45 ACP and the .44 Mag while the guys mostly shot .22LR and 9mm. And they loaded their own magazines at least except for the last round on the CZ-97. One young lady got 8 rounds in the mag the first time and her boyfriend was able to get the 9th in it whereupon it came to me for the 10th. The second time around she was able to get the first 9 in the mag herself and skipped the boyfriend.

I still get a chuckle out of the memory of the girls rocking back to the recoil on the .45-70 and giggling as they levered another round into the chamber.
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