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Bolt Rifle vs Lever Rifle

This is a discussion on Bolt Rifle vs Lever Rifle within the Broken Arrow forums, part of the Gun Forum category; Since the Bolt Battle Rifle thread was moved here, I posted this thread here. For some FRIENDLY discussion, consider the following. For a lower cost ...

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Old January 13th, 2013, 05:13 PM   #1
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Bolt Rifle vs Lever Rifle

Since the Bolt Battle Rifle thread was moved here, I posted this thread here.

For some FRIENDLY discussion, consider the following.

For a lower cost rifle, to be used primarily for personal protection, as a backup to your primary rifle, as a vehicle rifle, as a stash rifle [stash rifle being one that you leave out of the safe to be quickly avialable], in say the house, garage, boat, RV Cabin, etc...

Which is the best choice, a military bolt rifle, or a store bought bolt rifle, or a lever action?

The Military bolt rifle does have ruggedness on its side. few guns are as tough as a WWII military bolt rifle. They are plenty powerful, and their ammo an be bought in bulk. However, you will not find thier ammo everywhere you look.
Their sights are crude by modern standards [but rugged], and it is usually not possible to mount any kind of optic/red dot with out some costly gunsmithing, or a mount that removes the rear iron sight.

The bolt must be open to reload the rifle, but if you can get some stripper clips, it can be reloaded fairly quickly, if shot totally empty.

The traditional lever rifle in 30/30 [or maybe even 44 Mag], is most often lighter and handier than a military bolt rifle [MBR]. They can be fired a little faster, and be reloaded, and "topped" off with the action closed, and cocked with a round in the chamber. 30/30 and 44 Mag ammo can be found at nearly any sporting goods store, even many WalMarts.

The lever is less powerful than most MBR's but at close range combat, is that really an issue?, and in fact sporting ammo in 30/30 and 44 Mag will be more effective on "tissue" than military ball ammo, and still shoot through vehicles and light cover pretty good.

It is easier to mount optics/red dots on levers if you need or want to use them.

They cannot be had in 308, but the fact that they take current, easy to find hunting ammo, somewhat overcomes this deficency IMHO.

A lever is also just about as politically acceptable a rifle as there is, important for some places you might live in, or travel through/to.

When the weather warms up in a few weeks or so, I am going to need some projects to get me out of the house.

I have access to a MBR in 308, and a 30/30 Lever and a 44 Mag Lever, and I think I will do a little test of them and report back.
I will also shoot an AR-15, M1 Garand, and a M1-A in the same tests, just for "scientific" info.

Until then what are some FRIENDLY thoughts, experiences, from you guys?

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Old January 13th, 2013, 05:56 PM   #2
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Terrain where you live & where you travel should make a difference in what you choose.
I like the capacity of the 9+1 with my lever 44mag. But the Spanish FR8 was half the price & shoots the same ammo as my M1As.

An option you left out is the old, reliable M1 Garand. Even better if altered for use of your M1A ammo. And even better if you turn it into a shorty. Not much more weight then a military bolt rifle & even lighter then some. Alittle practice & they are quite fast reloading.

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Old January 13th, 2013, 06:04 PM   #3
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bolt action will have the advantage in shooting from mid to far distance,say 50-500 yds. lever action for close up to mid range say 15-200 yds (44 mag or 45 colt may may have a less of an effective range).

reliability both could function flawlessly for a hundred years

if i were getting this as a back up rifle i would get it in the same caliber as my primary rifle or if i had a 44 mag pistol i would get the 44 mag lever action.

if for defense of the house, vehicle, cabin get the lever action its shorter more manuverable

as for ammo when everything is sold out on the shelves you can usually find some 30/30 ammo . it would be cheaper to buy military surplus rounds.a mosin nagant and 1 tin of 440 rds would be around $ 300.00 maybe less, a used marlin 30/30 also in the $300.00 range ,but ammo would be $ 13-17 bucks a box/20

my 2 cents


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Old January 13th, 2013, 06:08 PM   #4
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I agree entirely with your thoughts on the M1 Garand. Whether in 30/06, or 308, in full size or Tanker/Mini-G form they make a great rifle.

I just thought they might be just a little too expensive to be considered "Low Cost", compared to a MBR or a Lever.

However, I do believe even for their additional cost, a Garand from the CMP, is a Best Buy, ESPECIALLY, when you consider dollars spent, for performance recieved.

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Old January 13th, 2013, 06:55 PM   #5
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I gotta tell you, this is a fun topic. Mostly because there isn't a perfect answer. I don't know about all your questions, but as for the inexpensive / stash rifle, I chose a lever action. Hey it surprised me too!!! Last spring around these parts we had hundreds of tornados across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas one night. It was like Tornado-A-Rama. It was something else. Made the national news again. Wichita had a big one go through the south end of the city.
Well, anyway we were all hunkered down in the shelter and I was going through all the mental checklists a guy goes through about shelter, portable water, batteries, etc. I decided right then and there if God forbid our area was hit, and again God forbid looters or crazy SOB's started coming around, I reckoned that a lever action would be the least neighbor alarming, most politically correct thing I could have stashed until authorities came around. I also found out in that moment in time that the cheap ol marlin 30/30 I had was something where if it got all beat to heck, I wouldn't care as much because it was just a cheap ol hunting rifle I picked up years ago. So for that matter I reckon it would make a good truck gun too. But not sure if those leverguns will hold up to a lot of rattling around in a truck.
And hey, our local stores around here got empty shelves of ammo, except 25 acp, 38 spcl, 357 mag and.... 30/30 !!!!! Man you nailed that one.
Thanks for the topic. Well I wrote too much again as usual.

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Old January 13th, 2013, 08:01 PM   #6
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They do make lever action .308s

For instance:

Savage model 99
Winchester model 88
Browning BLR

Thanks from wetdog1911 and Robert14
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Old January 13th, 2013, 08:06 PM   #7
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Marlin 308MX
Marlin 338MX
Marlin 444

I have all three, and they are very handy, quick pointing, quick follow up shots etc.

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Old January 13th, 2013, 08:10 PM   #8
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I like a good quality lever gun in .30-30 or .300 Savage, but operating a bolt vs. lever in the prone position is a consideration for me.

Thanks from dwight55
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Old January 13th, 2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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Yes, I noticed the emphasis on FRIENDLY...LOL!!!

OK, this is what I have always had as a "stash rifle"

Rossi carbine in 357 mag. It has 11 + 1 for 12 rounds of 158 JHP at approx (I am guessing) 1400fps in an enclosed 18 inch barrel. Read that to mean LOTS OF HURT. The remington scalloped HP are the nastiest 357 rounds I have ever used in a carbine of any caliber.

I call it 357 RESONANCE. There is something of a perfect storm of velocity, bullet diameter, and the scalloped HP that are just plain scarry. I made this claim in a previous post, but it is so true. I wonder if any physicists would like to tackle this as a thesis? Maybe an episode of Big Bang Theory?

Just my FRIENDLY 2¢ worth

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Old January 14th, 2013, 03:23 AM   #10
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I have never owned a lever action rifle. At one time a very good friend of mine, who was widely known in his AO as being a very good shot and a very good deer hunter, was asked every year, by a lot of folks, to either sight in their deer rifles or confirm they were still sighted in. I know how silly that sounds but understand that many "deer hunters" don't do much shooting and don't really know how to shoot very well.

Over the years of shooting so many different rifles in different calibers with different ammo some very strong opinions developed concerning all three (rifles, calibers, brands of ammo).

Lever action rifles work but were usually the least accurate of all the types shot. So we never bought any for ourselves. They are also not as easy to scope as bolt action rifles (civilian versions anyway).

Some semi autos end up being as accurate as a bolt action rifle (when you get lucky and pick a good one off the rack).

Ammo makes a big difference in group size sometimes.

As strange as it may sound to you at this time - when you think of having a rifle for SHTF situations, remember that doesn't mean varmints or wild dogs exclusively. It means making sure you and yours survive - even it means putting that old fasnioned bayonet on the end of that old surplus rifle and using it to end (permanently) a lethal confrontation. That old bayonet might save your life up close and personal against a club, a knife, a machete, a piece of pipe or a club. It might save you a precious round, or two, of ammo for your rifle or handgun.

If I can't keep one of the AR15's in the corner of the garage, under the table in the shed, in the rafters of the barn, etc. I'll keep an M1917 or 03A3 (or one of the Garands) with a bayonet on the web belt along with the ammo pouches.

By the way, any of you guys buy those reproduction ammo belts for the M1 Garands or the Enfield/Springfields? I've bought some and so far they work great. While you can use the M1 style belts the reproductions for the WW1 rifles have a small strap/snap inside the pouch that secures the second 5 round clip after your remove the first one (so it doesn't fall out/get lost if you forget to snap the pouch shut after you remove that first clip).

Oh, practice shooting with those belts. Practice removing the clips (5 round or 8 round, depending on your rifle) and reloading the rifle with them.

And hope you never need to really use them.

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Old January 14th, 2013, 08:22 AM   #11
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In line with this thread, I would consider a Ruger Gunsight Scout in .308, bolt action, ten round magazine. The main criticism I have heard is from folks who don't like laminated stocks. Any opinions on the Ruger Scout? Probably not cheap at $900.

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Old January 14th, 2013, 09:17 AM   #12
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Your 44 mag would be my first choice followed by the 30-30. Simple to use like a revolver and quick handling style. You already own them so spend money for ammo.

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Old January 14th, 2013, 11:40 PM   #13
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What about Remington 760 pump rifles? I have a old 760 in 270 Winchester.
I have a couple of stock 4 round mags and a Ramline 10 rounder, It will shoot 2 MOA at 100 yards if I do my part. I think Savage made a pump in 30-30 win but I have not seen one in years, I have been looking for a Timber wolf .44 mag pump but have not seen one for awhile, I would even take one in 357 mag.


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Old January 17th, 2013, 01:01 AM   #14
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Remington was making a Pump in 223, that took a standard AR 15 magazine.

They were trying to sell them to Police Depts. that did not want to issue semiautomatic
223's to their Patrol officers.

Another advantage touted was that most officers are still trained with a pump shotgun.

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Old January 17th, 2013, 04:50 AM   #15
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you left out the prettiest one, SAKO Finnwolf!

Originally Posted by Butzbach View Post
For instance:

Savage model 99
Winchester model 88
Browning BLR
SAKO Finnwolf, most accurate of them. I have Win88, A couple of savage 99's in 308 and a couple of Finnwolf 308. The Sakos and the Win 88 will put 3 rounds in 1.5" or less consistently. Sweetest lever of all is the Winchester 71 in 348 Winchester. My Browning Carbine version with 5 rounds of 250gr Barnes original on board is my "by the cabin door " rifle up in the mountains. Lots of bears black and grizzly in the neighborhood. Never felt undergunned with that combo if there's a bump on the front stoop at night.

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