Lever Actions


solid fixture here in the forum

most lever actions were and are designed to provide a hunter with the potential for several rapid repeat shots, accuracy is generally very good in the more modern lever guns, certainly a 2" or smaller 100 yard group with the better ammo is available from most brands currently made.
the older cartridge options like the 30/30 are effective but no where near the potential of many of your options in modern lever actions like the BROWNING BLR, (the cartridges in bold are ones I have hunted with rather extensively and successfully)
the load used for the 450 marlin was a 405 remington bullet over 50 grains of imr 3031 and a 215 fed primer.
the load used for the 358 win was a speer 250 grain over 44 grains of imr 4064 and a 215 fed primer,
I've found these to be some of the most accurate loads in my BLR,s and both are certainly is effective even at 200 yards
I speer makes and sells a very similar projectile for the 450 marlin
its hardly rare to have some guy strike up a conversation, about hunting and once he finds out your going ELK and mule deer hunting ,
out in colorado or wyoming, almost invariably, the conversation will revolve around the "need" to upgrade to a 7mm or 300 mag once he sees the 450 marlin or 358 winchester BLR, I generally get a chuckle out of that because most of the experienced guys I hunt with all started out with a 30/06 or a 7mm or 300 mag, now damn near everyone's swapped to a remington 7600 in 30/06 0r 35 whelen or a browning BLR in 308 or 358 win
simply because we have all realized the vast majority of the game we see is in heavy timber , aspen , conifer and oak brush and while ranges tend to be well under 150 yards and realizing that you need to take quick and accurate shots and having a rapid second shot MIGHT be beneficial,carrying a 10 lb bolt action gets old fast in steep canyon country (especially once your 50 plus years old and realize you spend 90% of your time very slowly walking the aspen and oak brush in steep terrain, where the game actually is!
in fact I'm the only guy who still carried a magnum bolt action occasionally (I REALLY LIKE MY 340 wby and 375 H&H sako)
and recently several guys bought and use marlin 45/70 or browning BLRs in 450 marlin caliber,
as the 458 caliber lever actions have developed a reputation for dropping game rapidly

Cartridges available in the Browning BLR:[7]


BTW in the BROWNING BLR chambered in 450 MARLIN ,
View attachment 19272
a good deal of testing having been recently done it seems the HORNADY round nose HORNADY 350 grain bullet is proving to be both exceptionally accurate and consistently deep penetrating.

47.6 grains of h4198

51 grains of RL7 with a 215 fed primer,

have proven to be excellent loads in the 450 marlin chambered BLR
ever wonder about the 30/30 ballistics, that for decades was considered one of the better,
or at least more popular, standard deer hunting cartridges"
(personally I think the MARLIN 336 in 30/30 was about the best lever action you could own)
in a short easy handling carbine that will rarely be used at ranges over 120 yards
(typical of the areas I hunted hogs and deer in for decades)

I preferred a marlin 44mag throwing a LEE 310 grain hard cast bullet over 21 grains of H110 powder
both the 30/30 and 44 mag carbines are best used as 100-150 yard deer rifles,( sight in to hit 3.5 inches high at 100 yards) (if you think the deers at 130 yards plus aim a bit high on the shoulder, with range practice youll get the hang of it) and while they will kill elk and bear with precise shot placement neither is nearly as effective as the 45/70 or 450 marlin loaded with 400 grain bullets as a defensive carbine option.

Id point out that where I've hunted for decades a 100-120 yard shot opportunity was very very RARE
running, or walking game shots made at 30-60 yards were far more common,
If I thought I needed more reach my BLR in 358 win, or my BLR in 450 marlin got grabbed as I went out the door
and I certainly used my marlin 45/70 with hard cast cast check 400 grain bullets rather successfully for decades,

before upgrading to the BLR /450 marlin which has similar ballistics to the 45/70,
but adds about 50 extra yards with any bullet weight used.
typically Id load a 450 marlin with a 405 grain jacketed bullet over 50 grains of IMR 3031

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personal experience, gained hunting elk in COLORADO, leads me to strongly prefer the 45/70 ,
or 450 marlin BLR sighted in to hit 3.5" high at 100 yards, you'll be close to dead on at 135 yards,
in the thick timber and aspen you'll rarely get shots at a longer distance than 150 yards,
and a center chest hold directly behind the front leg works very effectively
loaded with a 405 grain hard cast gas check bullet sized .459 loaded over 45 grains of IMR 3031 in a 45/70
or 50 grains of IMR 3031 in a 450 marlin BLR
alloy 95% WW and 5% pure tin
i used a MARLIN 45/70 for several decades,
but upgraded to a browning BLR in caliber 450 marlin that allows use of 50 grains of imr3031
and pointed cast bullets easily extending the range at least 50 yards in a stronger BROWNING BLR rifle action
yeah everyone tells you you need a long range magnum,
in 50 years of hunting I've . only very rarely had a shot at elk over 200 yards

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the most popular by far calibers among the group of guys I hunt with,
are the BROWNING BLR rifles in calibers 450 marlin, 358 win and 30/06 caliber
the 358 rifles love the speer 250 grain bullets over 44 grains of imr 4064
sight that 358 win BLR in at 3.5" high at 100 yards your dead on at 200 yards and only 10" low out at 300 yards.
the marlin 450 rifles like the speer and remington 400-405 grain bullets over 50 grains of IMR 3031
not as flat shooting as the 358 but inside of 200 yards that big 400 grain bullets devastating

and if you want longer rance the 30/06 BLR rifles like the 165 grain speer or hornady bullets over 56 grains of ww760
all use federal 215 primers
you select a lever action for its fast handling and rapid repeat shot, characteristics
many guys think your limited in range with those lever action,rifles,
but there are options in the BROWNING BLR like 30/06, 300 win mag and 7mm rem mag.
but experience Ive had has been that most shots are taken at well under 150 yards.
the BLR in caliber 358 win has gained a very good reputation as has the more newly available 450 marlin BLR
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those earlier BLR rifles ,similar too the photo above, with the mag extending below the receiver
are in my experience very accurate with the correct handloads, one hunting partner owns one in cal 308 and my late hunting buddy owned one in cal 358 both would routinely group 5 shots off the bench at 100 yards in under 1.3" rather consistently with selected hand loads,
the best load we found for the 358 was a Speer 250 grain over 44 grains of IMR 4064 the 308 preferred a Speer 165 grain, and 45 grains of BLC-2 both preferred fed 215 primers.
btw many of my hunting buddies, were originally rather concerned with a BLR carbine , in 358 or even 308 ,having rather limited range, (back in the 1970s-1990s) this proved to be a non-issue as most of the areas we hunted are sparsely to heavily wooded and steep or rolling terrain and in 4 decades the opportunity to make any shot over 250 yards just rarely if ever presented itself
the newer versions with the less exposed mag are just as or more accurate , as I own two, one in 358 win, which likes the same handloads and one in 450 marlin that likes a 405 grain rem bullet over 50 grains of imr 3031 and a 215 fed primer, I site all my big game rifles in at 3.5 " high at 100 yards,
this places the 358 with the 250 grain load dead on at 200 and about 10" low at 300 yards
this places the 450 marlin with the 405 grain load dead on at 186 yards, and about 10" low at 270 yards
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I site all my big game rifles in at 3.5 " high at 100 yards,
this places the 358 with the 250 grain load dead on at 200 and about 10" low at 300 yards
this places the 450 marlin with the 405 grain load dead on at 186 yards and about 10" low at 270 yards
both options are good heavy cover deer/elk hunting rifles
trust me when I state that out at 200 yards and less where I've used these rifles on both elk and deer a 358 or a 450 marlin is,
100% lethal with a single well placed shot in repeated personal hands- on field testing



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keep in mind the BLR is basically a front locking bolt action, magazine fed repeater ,with a lever actuating the bolt ,
for a marginally faster repeat shot than most people can duplicate with a bolt action,
and the box magazine that allows pointed projectile designs
most other lever actions are rated for significantly lower cartridge pressure levels.
you can do FAR worse than hunt with a BLR,
you could do far worse than a BLR in chambered in 325 mag, 358 mag or 30/06 or 450 marlin as a near universal hunting carbine

Cartridges available in the Browning BLR:[6]
.22-250 Remington
.222 Remington
.223 Remington
.257 Roberts (Discontinued)
.25-06 Remington ( Limited Run of 150 for Kones Corner)
.243 Winchester
.270 Winchester
.270 Winchester Short Magnum
.284 Winchester (Discontinued)
.30-06 Springfield
.300 Winchester Magnum
.300 Winchester Short Magnum
.308 Winchester
.325 Winchester Short Magnum
.358 Winchester
.450 Marlin
6.5mm Creedmoor
7mm Remington Magnum
7mm Winchester Short Magnum
7mm-08 Remington
See also
hardcastonly is online now
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its hard to think of any hunting rifle style more uniquely AMERICAN than a larger bore lever action

I've owned and used , and hunted with several marlin and BROWNING lever actions over many decades,
the marlin pistol caliber carbines are very useful. but in my opinion the BROWNING rifle cartridge lever actions,
are some of the most consistently accurate and durable made rifles,
I've owned, certainly the 257 Robert's , 30/06 Springfield's and 358 win chambered browning's (BLR's) make excellent deer rifles
and cartridges like the 450 marlin , 30/06, 300 mag, and 325 mag, are good for thick timber elk, and even , in some chambering's ,
for extended ranges, that in some cases traditional lever actions were never considered to be used for.
yes your choice in optics and mounts and ammo choices mater.

CALIBERs BLR's were or are now available in
  • 22-250 Rem (4)
  • 222 Rem (1)
  • 223 Rem (4)
  • 243 Win (4)
  • 257 roberts
  • 270 Win (4)
  • 270 WSM (4)
  • 30-06 Spfld (4)
  • 300 Win Mag (4)
  • 300 WSM (4)
  • 308 Win (4)
  • 325 WSM (2)
  • 358 Win (4)
  • 450 Mar (4)
  • 6.5 Creedmoor (4)
  • 7mm Rem Mag (4)
  • 7mm WSM (4)
  • 7mm-08 Rem (4)
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I found this video rather interesting

obviously if you can measure and fabricate , you can build your own
308, 243, or 358 versions as they are based on the basic 308 win case and cartridge
similar custom magazines, could be built, so its a welcome option

I can easily see a tig welded, extended magazine version
if you can measure and fabricate ,and tig weld

or if your not up to cut and weld they sell for $130 each :facepalm:

I can't see the need or usefulness of that size mag in a hunting rifle,
as the original 4-5 shot capacity seems more than adequate
If I need a great personal defensive rifle I'd vastly prefer grabbing the M1A1 OR FAL over a BLR


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In my state Pennsylvania you are limited to a 5 shot magazine. I have only used a second shot 1 time in all my years of hunting
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after rather extensive testing I found the accuracy of my browning BLR with the hornady 350 grain bullets,
to be very good, but the 400 grain remington bullets was very marginally better if used on ELK but with noticeably increased recoil
as either the 350 grain or 400 grain bullet in the 450 marlin BLR is devastating on deer if correct shot placements used.

Id suggest the 350 grain for deer or elk, but the 400 grain really excel at penetration on ELK
the load I found best for the 400 grain was a 215 fed primer and 50 grains of IMR 3031

the load I found best for the 350 grain was a 215 fed primer and 56 grains of IMR 3031
keep in mind the marlin/ruger rifles in 45/70 are designed for a max chamber pressure of about 38000 psi
the browning BLR can handly significantly higher pressure much more safely.
the SAAMI specs suggest the 45/70 is limited to 28000 psi
Another major difference between these cartridges is the maximum safe chamber pressures per SAAMI specs.
The 450 Marlin is rated at 43,500 psi compared to 28,000 psi for 45-70 Gov.
thats roughly a 45% higher pressure on the 450 marlin
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the two most used and trusted lever actions among the guys I hunted with for 5 plus decades were the browning BLR in calibers 358 win and 450 marlin and the MARLIN 45/70 or 450 marlin calibers.
(keep in mind the area we hunt for 5 decades is remote steep wooded canyons where shots over about 150 yards are very rare as most shots are taken at well under 150 yards)
as is true with most cartridges you might want to pay a great deal of effort in selecting the best projectile and powder charge if you reload or the brand and bullet weight, if you use commercial ammo, as that projectile and its velocity and accuracy, in your rifle have a huge effect on your rifles performance.
for both the 45/70 and 450 marlin (both 458 caliber rifles) the best bullet weights
(those that provide best average accuracy and deepest penetration with decent expansion)
tend to be in the 350-405 grain weight range.
now Id point out different bullet manufacturers bullet designs tend to perform differently, so a bit of testing in your rifle is warranted, and both cartridges provide good accuracy and very good performance on game with HARD CAST GAS CHECK BULLET DESIGNS, if the alloy used
and velocity and bullet diameter and lube used are correct.
(and of course cartridges must be loaded to the correct length to function)

bullet designs like this work great for elk hunting
the 450 marlin with a hard cast gas check bullet tends to work well with a powder charge of 50 grains of IMR 3031
the 45/70 marlin with a hard cast gas check bullet tends to work well with a powder charge of 45 grains of IMR 3031
any difference in performance on game is debatable.
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keep in mind the AMERICAN LEVER ACTION RIFLE is rather unique,
as only in AMERICA is the lever action deer rifle anywhere near as popular as it is here!
AMERICANS seem to really appreciate a light weight, fast handling rifle with a 4-18 shot capacity,
that can be very rapidly accessed, many of these rifles are designed for deer hunting,
but they have been very popular since about 1867 or so ,
as the first really effective versions were available in the AMERICAN CIVIL WAR,
and they rapidly improved almost every rear since!
I know the MARLIN 22LR model 39 was almost the gold standard 22LR when I was younger,
and the MARLIN 30/30 or 35 rem, or winchester 94 or 1895 was about the standard deer rifle you saw in the woods for decades
I've used the winchester 94 , in both 44 mag and 30/30 chamberings
never had good accuracy, with either one both consistently shot about 3"-4" 100 yard groups at best
I've used the MARLIN lever actions chambered in 444, 44 mag, 45/70
the marlin lever actions were all reasonably accurate most shooting 2"-2.5" groups or smaller with some ammo, at 100 yards
never buy a marlin built by remington (many have issues with fit & finish)
I've used the BROWNING BLRs in 257 roberts 30/06, 358 win and 450 marlin chamberings
they all work, if the user understands the rifle and cartridges limitations,

most BLRs would with good ammo shoot 1.2"-to-2" groups off a bench rest consistently at 100 yards
but I prefer the brownings but they are more finicky about ammo quality.
use good ammo and they are great rifles

BTW in the BROWNING BLR chambered in 450 MARLIN ,
a good deal of testing having been recently done it seems the HORNADY round nose HORNADY 350 grain bullet is proving to be both exceptionally accurate and consistently deep penetrating.

the 405 grain remington bullets over 50 grains in IMR3031 works very well,
the 350 grain round nose hornady bullet over
47.6 grains of h4198

51 grains of RL7 with a 215 fed primer,

have proven to be excellent loads in the 450 marlin chambered BLR
and shoots bit flatter than the 400 grain
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