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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been lurking here for some time and I get the distinct impression that lever action rifles are great fun but not the most reliable of firearms. Is that a fair statement? It seems like a bolt gun would be more reliable if that is what you are looking for. I understand that there is some variation from rifle to rifle and maintenance can make the difference, but am I getting the wrong impression? How do others see it?

Thanks for the input!
 

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In a high stress situation a levergun is more reliable. Now granted there are some leverguns out there that arent reliable but that is the case with all types of guns.

I have 6 leverguns and all are 100% reliable.
 

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Had a bolt act up while tracking a wounded deer last year. When I had a shot the thing would not fire. While carrying it the bolt lifted a bit. Any of any levers would have fired under similar circumstances. Not at all happy about losing that deer. Cannot say I have ever had any of my levers not work in the field. About the only issue I could see as a problem is that all the new ones come with a "safety" like the cross bolt in the Marlin. Still have not had a problem with one as they stay in place when set. Levers generally should be worked rigorously. I had a Model 12 Winchester pump 12 ga that gave me problems because I did not work the pump stiffly enough as a similar example.

I use a bolt action over a hay field stand. I was using a 243 but have now switched to a 6.5 Creedmoor. I will admit that I could have killed any of the deer easily with a good scoped 30-30. One time I shot a deer and the cartridge would not eject. I had cleaned the rifle the previous winter, and the ejector dropped out. Due to work and other issues I just grabbed the rifle loaded it and went out and shot the deer. In its own way that's reliable as the rifle held its zero for that one shot I needed. The ejector loss was not its fault.

DEP
 

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I have had problems with pump rifles, lever rifles, semi-auto rifles, and bolt rifles. Never had a problem with a single shot--but I bet they will break too. All types of rifles will give one fits.
 

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Short stroke a bolt and just like a lever gun it might not cycle correctly. I would say semi autos might be the most finicky, but bolts, pumps and levers are about the same. Most cases are either operator error or bad maintenance. I think Henry has a commercial where thousands of rounds are fired through a lever gun. But maybe we should spread the word that old Marlins and Winchester’s are prone to problems so we have less competition for these old treasures.
 

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All kinds. Enamored of their mechanisms! Worked as an engineering
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Bolt guns are simple mechanisms compared to lever, semi autos, or pump guns. Especially reliable are military bolt actions such as Mausers, Enfields, and Springfields. Easy to maintain and clean from the breech (Marlins are a lever action exception that can easily be cleaned from the breech).

Reliabilty is more of an operator issue if the gun has no faulty parts. I agree with the above posts.

AC
 

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maybe you're referring to some of the Marlin rants..?

So many times you hear about guys wanting a lever action rifle as their truck gun, trapper rifle or guide gun. I don't think guys in Alaska would be using/calling them "guide guns" in Grizzly country if they weren't reliable. I don't think they would be called truck guns or trapper rifle if guys didn't find them dependable/reliable when they're riding around in the field or in the woods and had to dispatch something.

There was a TV show (Kodiak) where there was two hunting guides (partners) for Grizzly hunts in Alaska. While on a guided hunt w/ a client. The client shot a grizzly, but did not put it down & the grizzly charged. The one guide tried to shoot it but his "bolt action" rifle was jammed and his partner had to shoot & kill the charging grizzly.

I'm not saying lever guns are the best thing since slice bread. But they have been around a long time & has taken many buffalo's.

I've hunt with lever actions, bolt actions & pump action (it depends on where I'm hunting or what I'm hunting.)
Know your gun, clean your gun, maintain your gun, practice with your gun. If you can't depend on your gun when you're in the woods ("middle of no where".) Then all you have is a heavy stick.
 

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Those are some good replies and true, all guns can fail. The reason I initially asked was due to threads like the carrier button plunger being a usual thing. Or the Marlin groove. Or the hangup on certain types of ammo. And the list goes on, but you get the point. Even revovlers fail, but are there other rifle types more dependable than the lever? I suppose, like most things in life, you need to use and maintain them to get the best reliability out of them. Levers are probably right up there with bolt and pump actions for reliability statistically. Semi-autos are likely slightly less reliable and single shots slightly more.

I'm looking forward to more points of view.
 

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I've been lurking here for some time and I get the distinct impression that lever action rifles are great fun but not the most reliable of firearms. Is that a fair statement? It seems like a bolt gun would be more reliable if that is what you are looking for. I understand that there is some variation from rifle to rifle and maintenance can make the difference, but am I getting the wrong impression? How do others see it?

Thanks for the input!
What do you mean by "unreliable"? As in a lever gun can fail to function? Or that they are unreliable accuracy wise? I personally own around 40 lever guns, and ONE bolt action rifle...if ANY of my levers were not reliable either in function or accuracy (I'm talking accuracy of deer, not sub-moa) I would either fix it, or sell it off.
Now, that said, "I" can make a mistake, like "short stroke" the lever and cause a jam....but I can do the same sort of thing with a bolt action too...user error is always there! Although I do shoot any rifle I plan to hunt with to make sure it does perform as expected! :)

Guess we were both typing at the same time! Well, any rifle you do need to shoot first to see how it performs! I have 30-30 Marlins that like 170gr bullets better than 150gr....some can hang up with the Hornady Gummi tips, but that is usually just a magazine follower change from plastic to metal. But bottom line....no common inherent flaws that I've come across, and I've got marlins from the '50's to the 2000's. I'd have come across issues by now if they were that common!
Cheers!
mazer
 

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Those are some good replies and true, all guns can fail. The reason I initially asked was due to threads like the carrier button plunger being a usual thing. Or the Marlin groove. Or the hangup on certain types of ammo. And the list goes on, but you get the point. Even revovlers fail, but are there other rifle types more dependable than the lever? I suppose, like most things in life, you need to use and maintain them to get the best reliability out of them. Levers are probably right up there with bolt and pump actions for reliability statistically. Semi-autos are likely slightly less reliable and single shots slightly more.

I'm looking forward to more points of view.
This is a Marlin site. The vast majority of firearm problems that are discussed here are about Marlins. It doesn't mean that Marlins are better or worse than any other firearm out there. I wouldn't be making any assumptions about lever gun reliability using this place as a statistical model or data source.
 

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The lever action rifle has been around for many years. A lot longer than a bolt gun. I'd say it is reliable enough. Everyone's perception of reliability is different. Something that works 50% of the time may be reliable to one person, but unreliable to another. You have to ask yourself what your definition of reliability is. Do you mean something that will never ever, ever, jam, break, or stop working. Everything mechanical made by man at some point in time will break. So we can say that no firearm made is reliable in the sense that it will eventually, with time, break. But is reliable at the time it is being used and is functioning correctly. Hopefully you understood the point I was trying to make.
 

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This is a Marlin site. The vast majority of firearm problems that are discussed here are about Marlins. It doesn't mean that Marlins are better or worse than any other forearm out there. I wouldn't be making any assumptions about lever gun reliability using this place as a statistical model or data source.
Zackley. This is where owners come with problems,inquiries,seeking knowledge or advice,and prospective owners get a feel for our style. Some rifles need a gentle tweak,and some owners are all thumbs, they could screw up an anvil,so they come here and complain,but it's not the rifle's fault. Leverguns aren't for everybody,but for every problem rifle discussed here,there's 15,000 or 20,000 trouble-free Marlins out there working ranches,hunting camps,competition,and killing tin cans.

So the OP shouldn't get the impression of unreliability. If these firearms were unreliable,Old West Cowboys,modern hunters,and homeowners wouldn't stake their life on them. From the 1881 until today,Marlin has been known for accuracy and dependability.

One thing is for certain: If there's a Marlin-related problem,we've already seen it,lived it,solved it,and will give our knowledge freely if we're approached with respect.
 

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Those are some good replies and true, all guns can fail. The reason I initially asked was due to threads like the carrier button plunger being a usual thing. Or the Marlin groove. Or the hangup on certain types of ammo. And the list goes on, but you get the point. Even revovlers fail, but are there other rifle types more dependable than the lever?

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Gotta keep in mind that a lot of lever gun guys shoot a heck'uva lot more than your average hunter too.



Vooch

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