New Rifles Spur Lever-Action Revival

The rifles of old Western movies are staking a claim on the modern firearm landscape.

New Rifles Spur Lever-Action Revival

For many, the lever-action rifle is just some old-fashioned gun of past centuries that has little use in today’s collection. But for others, the lever gun is an important part of Americana, allowing them to feel a little closer to their ancestors when they take their rifle to hunting camp or the rifle range.

Historians tell us the first lever actions to hit the market were way back around 1840, and they were cap and ball, not cartridge guns. Along came the Spencer and Henry rifles in 1860, moving the lever gun into the cartridge age.

Later, Marlin introduced its first lever-action rifle, which later morphed into the Model 1895, a predecessor of the famed Model 336 (remember this for later). Winchester introduced its first lever gun — the Model 1866 — in 1867. That company’s famed Model 1873, now known as “the gun that won the West,” was an instant success, mainly due to its ability to chamber a wide variety of popular pistol cartridges of the era. 

To be sure, the bolt-action rifle remains atop the list for the majority of hunters, as the accuracy and reliability of well-made bolt guns are hard to beat. But there are millions of hunters and shooters out there who still love the lever gun, and more recently, manufacturers have been giving them more to love.

So, let’s take a look at five new lever actions just introduced in the past year. Note that while some of the guns we’ll look at closely resemble your grandpa’s lever action, some have a distinctly more modern flair.

The Marlin 336

The Marlin 336 is one of the two most popular lever actions ever and has probably accounted for as many whitetail deer over the past several decades as any other rifle model around. In fact, about 4 million have been sold.

When Marlin’s last owners, Remington Arms Company, declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago, many 336 fans were disappointed. There was new hope, however, when Sturm-Ruger purchased Marlin in 2020. Now those hopes have been realized, as Ruger-owned Marlin is now manufacturing the new 336 Classic, making it not exactly a new gun, but at least “new again.”

Chambering the time-tested .30-30 cartridge, the new 336 is constructed of alloy carbon steel with a matte blued finish. Of course, the ever-loved pistol-grip shoulder stock and rounded forend are made of American black walnut, and yes, you’ll still find the Marlin horse and rider medallion inset into the grip.

With an overall length of 38.6 inches and a 20.25-inch barrel, the 336 Classic weighs in at 7.5 pounds empty, making it easy to carry for long treks through rough terrain. The gun’s tubular magazine holds six rounds, and sights are semi-buckhorn in the rear and brass bead with hood in front.

Your customers who are longtime lever-gun fans are likely to be asking for this rifle. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $1,239.

Rossi R95

Rossi has been building firearms for more than 130 years, and that fact shows in their new R95 lever action. The R95 is another classic-looking lever gun. Chambered in .30-30 like the Marlin, the R95 features a hammer-forged barrel, a smooth hand-finished lever action, a large loading gate, and it is drilled and tapped for mounting the optic of your customer’s choice.

Of course, the R95 sports walnut woodwork as a classic lever gun should, and the barrel and receiver sport a sleek black-oxide finish for protecting the gun from the elements. The gun features the classic side loading gate for filling the tubular magazine, which holds five rounds, giving a total capacity of six when a round is chambered.

The 16.5-inch-barreled model measures 35.5 inches in overall length, while the R95 with a 20-inch barrel is 39 inches long. The longer model weighs in at 6.85 pounds, while the 16.5-inch gun is a bit lighter at 6.7 pounds. Sights are an adjustable buckhorn rear with a drift-adjustable front, and the gun is drilled and tapped for mounting a telescopic sight.

MSRP for the Rossi R95 is $950, putting it closer to most people’s price range than the Marlin 336.

Henry X Model in .360 Buckhammer

Now, let’s move on to a more modern rifle that still maintains much of the classic look. The company says Henry’s X Model combines “modern performance with classic lever-action lineage,” and they’re right about that. This year, Henry is offering the X Model in the brand-new .360 Buckhammer chambering, which should appeal to a lot of hunters, especially in states restricting deer hunting to straight-walled cartridges.

Developed in partnership with Remington Ammunition, the .360 Buckhammer was optimized for lever-action rifles, giving accuracy out to 200 yards and beyond, higher velocity and less bullet drop than most competitors. For your customers looking for a straight-walled hunting cartridge, this one should definitely be on their radar.

The X Model is a perfect complement to the new chambering. A synthetic stock and forend shave off some of the weight associated with wood, with the forend even boasting a Picatinny rail. The rifle features a round blued steel barrel that measures 21.4 inches and is threaded for a suppressor or other muzzle device.

The X Model also features a bright-contrast green and orange fiber-optic front sight for getting on target quickly, even in low light. The tubular magazine holds five rounds, and the gun features the classic side loading gate. Overall length is 40.5 inches, and the gun weighs in at 7.3 pounds. MSRP is $1,091.

Bond Arms LVRP 

Now, on to the much more modern — and modern-looking — models. Bond Arms is well-known for its top-quality derringers and offers many models of those to choose from. Now, the company has jumped into something completely new and different.

If a lever-action rifle and AR-15 had an affair, the love child might look a lot like the Bond Arms LVRP. It features a Magpul buttstock and a short lever throw much different than those on classic lever guns. Since it is designed to use removable magazines like an AR-style rifle, it can also be chambered in more modern calibers than many lever guns. It is initially offered in 5.56mm and .300 Blackout.

The gun is compatible with the AR-15 platform in components critical to changing calibers, including barrels, bolts and magazines. There is also compatibility with AR-15 upper receivers and handguards. A linkage results in a magazine release location and feel familiar to AR-15 shooters, while also having an ambidextrous release. The system also utilizes the out-of-battery safety inherent in conventional AR-15 bolt carriers, as well as both manual and grip safeties.

The LVRP should start making its way to retailers’ shelves soon, and it is likely to be a hit among those who fancy both lever actions and AR-style carbines and rifles. MSRP for the gun is $1,500.

POF-USA Tombstone

For a lever-action rifle even further off the beaten path, look no further than Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF-USA). This Arizona-based company, known for its high-quality AR-15 offerings, has announced the new Tombstone, and it has to be seen to be believed.

First, the gun is chambered in 9mm, the most popular pistol caliber on the planet, but that’s not all that is different about this lever action. To feed the Tombstone the company uses its proprietary detachable magazine that comes in 10-, 20- and 35-round versions. Yes, you heard right: A lever-action rifle that can hold 35+1 rounds of 9mm.

Featuring a polymer Magpul SGA stock and black finish, the Tombstone has a beveled lever that offers a large-loop design for added comfort and control, especially while wearing gloves. The stock offers two inches of length-of-pull adjustment with stock spacers, making the gun suitable even for youngsters just starting out.

For sighting, the Tombstone features adjustable XS ghost-ring sights, and it also has a rail for installation of an optic if desired. The 16.5-inch, fluted, free-floated barrel is threaded and comes with a dual-chamber muzzle brake. A 10.5-inch modular receiver rail surrounds the barrel and offers M-Lok attachments at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. MSRP is $1,926 for the black model or $2,097 for FDE.

Bonus Gun: Tristar LR94

Of course, rifles and carbines aren’t the only lever actions on the scene, although they are by far the most common. Lever-action shotguns have been around nearly as long as rifles, and the first commercially successful repeating shotgun — the Winchester 1887 — was a lever gun.

Tristar is now making the LR94 lever-action shotgun, which the company touts as “a blend of old world style with new world beauty.” Chambered in .410 bore, the scattergun is loaded with great features including a top-mounted safety, blade/bead front sight and a cool leather lever wrap.

The LR94’s stock and forend are made of oil-finished Turkish walnut, and barrel and receiver are available in three different finishes including matte black, case-colored and nickel. The tubular magazine is loaded through a right-side loading port, and an easily removable shot plug comes standard installed. While the primary safety is located on the top of the bolt, a secondary safety is located on the bottom tang and is activated when the lever is closed and the bolt is locked.

Barrel length for the LR94 is 22 inches, and overall length is 40.75 inches. The matte and nickel version weigh 6.3 pounds, while the color-cased version comes in at 6.4 pounds. MSRPs are $990 for matte, $1,100 for case-colored and $1,070 for the nickel-finished model.


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