8 Best Tactical Lever-Action Rifles Available In The Market Today

Posted by Mandu Moses on Feb 5th 2024

Lever-action rifles have seen numerous enhancements over the years since they were first introduced in the 1860s. Starting with the legendary Henry's Model 1860, these firearms have maintained their relevance to date. Maybe, it is because of the slick operating features that have made them a must-have for home defense and hunting.

Image By: Eliza_sy

Lever-action riffles are available in all budgets, from premium to budget options and those for seasoned gunmen. Some have fully adjustable features to fit the preferences of the modern-day gunman, while others have classic aesthetics that fit the edge of any game hunting. While it is a bit tricky to rate these firearms based on their unique operating mechanisms and manufacturers, we have compiled the greatest value tactical lever action rifles, and here is a rundown. But first:

Why Do You Need A Lever-Action Rifle?

In recent years, dozens of US states and municipalities have taken a crack on popular firearms, none more so than the semi-auto carbines. This situation has had Americans and gun manufacturers alike pondering what could be a suitable stand-in for a semi-auto carbine.

As legislation or preferences continue to steer shooters away from semi-auto carbines such as AR15s, some are forced to go for alternatives that offer matching flexibility and similar performance. These include tactical lever-action rifles.

Lever-action rifles have a long history of relevance, tracing back to the American West. One key advantage of tactical lever-action rifles is their versatility. These firearms are not only uniquely American, but they are chambered in popular calibers such as .357 Winchester, .223 Remington, and 7.62x39mm, which allows users to select ammunition suited to specific applications.

Whether it's competitive shooting, safari hunting, or suburban home defense, these rifles can adapt to various scenarios. They also boast the ability to switch calibers seamlessly, and that makes them attractive propositions for shooters seeking a blend of flexibility and performance. In their modernized forms, tactical lever action rifles can tackle virtually any scenario.

The decision to buy a lever-action and not other firearms is indeed a personal one and is influenced by other factors such as local gun regulations. Though, considering how flat and skinny they are, lever-action riffles are a lightweight firearm you can throw over your shoulders when going hunting. They balance well and you can walk with them the whole day with little fatigue.

That said, here are five reasons you need a lever action rifle:

1. Personal Defense

Tactical lever action rifles are highly regarded as viable options for urban and home defense scenarios. Their lever-action carbine platform strikes a unique balance between firepower and handling, which makes them suitable for shooters of different skill sets. Notably, their ability to quickly cycle rounds and engage targets with precision. This makes these firearms ideal candidates for self-defense situations.

2. They are handy

Lever action rifles, especially in carbine configurations, are extremely compact and lightweight. Handgun cartridge iterations such as the .44 Remington Magnum, .357 Magnum, and .45 Colt come with a magazine capacity of 8 – 12 rounds, which is sufficient ammo to perform any task at hand. Besides their ability to hold plenty of ammunition, these firearms are easily maneuverable and reliable, and include a host of accessory rails where shooters can attach tactical lights, optics, etc. to enhance effectiveness.

3. Performance and accuracy

Despite their lever-action mechanism, tactical lever-action rifles continue to morph with the evolution of technology and are quite excellent in terms of performance, precision, and accuracy. Due to modern manufacturing techniques, these guns feature improved barrels and trigger systems. Therefore, shooters can achieve impressive precision in both short-range and long-distance shooting.

Winchester 1894 Lever Action

4. Ideal for shooting sports

Thanks to technology, lever-action rifles have evolved both in design and functionality, and it is no surprise these firearms are becoming increasingly popular in shooting sports. These guns are commonly used in disciplines like the Cowboy Action Shooting, 3-Gun, and Precision Rifle competitions.

5. Great for hunting

Do you long for a truly exciting and memorable hunt? Chambered in hard-hitting and fast-cycling .45-70, 500 S&W, and .348 Win. cartridges, these rifles offer plenty of knock-down power on targets at various ranges. Moreover, they are fully capable of rapid follow-up shots, if necessary, which makes them ideal weapons to keep up the old-school American hunting technique.

6. It embodies the American Cowboy Cool

For starters, the lever-action rifle is all-American in both design and uniqueness. If you needed any convincing to own one, this could be it. Save for the appeal of the Cowboy movies, there is something incredibly satisfying about cocking a lever-action rifle. In his later years, Theodore Roosevelt – a notable patriot – used one as a safari-gun. So what better way to express this Cowboy heritage than to own one?

Here's a video illustrating how a lever-action rifle works;

The Best Tactical Lever Action Rifles

Invented in the mid-19th century, the lever-action mechanism revolutionized the world of firearms, bringing forth the beloved lever-action rifles. These guns found numerous historical applications, especially in the expansion of the American frontier. They were especially popular among lawmen and outlaws alike and instantly became synonymous with the Wild West.

Today, tactical lever action rifles still represent the perfect fusion of the classic design and more futuristic features. However, what makes them stand out from the rest is their unique blend of snappiness, responsiveness, reliability, versatility, and performance.

In this section, we highlight the best lever action rifles that possess a great hint of tactical twist.

1. Henry Big Boy X Model .357 Magnum

Henry Big Boy X Model .357 Magnum

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 1080.99 NOW $1,399.99

A true legend and a household name in the action lever rifles business, this gun is the Henry Repeating Arms reincarnated in the present day. Boasting a 160-year-long history and manufactured in North America, the Big Boy X is largely unchanged from its original design.

The Model X Series, introduced in 2020, comes with a modernized pistol-caliber twist. Besides the tactical black synthetic stock and matching black finish, the lever-action mechanism, tubular magazine, and loading gates, everything else remains unchanged. Whether you want to accessorize it for deer hunting, target shooting, or self-defense, it is up to you. However, rest assured it will turn heads at the ranges.

Key Features
  • M-LOK accessory slots and 5/8x24 pre-threaded barrel for suppressors.
  • Picatinny rail on the fore-end with fiber optic sights.
  • A removable 7-round tubular magazine.
  • A comfortable, manageable recoil pad and muzzle flip.
  • A bolt safety indicator that lights up red when ready to fire.
  • Has a crisp trigger break and a short, carbine barrel length of 17.4 inches.

2. Rossi R92 Tripple Black .44 Magnum

Rossi R92 Tripple Black .44 Magnum

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 1060.99 NOW $849.99

Weighing 6 pounds, the Rossi R92 Tripple Black Series is among the most lightweight lever-action rifles available. This fully blacked-out lever-action rifle is cost-efficient and available in the standard .357 as well as the .44 pistol-caliber chamber.

The series is based on the Winchester 1892, and as an homage to this timeless style, this portable lever-action rifle comes in a tried and tested durable mix of polymer and furniture fabrics. Its recoil is manageable, despite its lightweight body. Shooters can also get surprisingly precise follow-ups beyond 100 yards.

Key Features
  • Has a 16.5-inch barrel that makes it extremely nimble.
  • Its oversized loop lever and leather paracord wrapping make it ideal for use with gloves.
  • Its internals are made from stainless steel.
  • Its loading gate comes with sharper edges.

3. Marlin 336 Dark Series .30-30 Winchester

Marlin 336 Dark Series .30-30 Winchester

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 1,379.00 NOW $2,351.99

Marlin is another prominent lever-action brand with over 150 years of manufacturing quality under its belt. The Dark Series went tactical with Model 336 in its 1895 edition. This model reminisces the original and is a tactical lever-action traditionally available with .30-30 Winchester chambering, but the 1985 Model is in .45-70 Govt. However, weighing in at 7.6 pounds, the rifle is pretty hefty.

Key Features
  • Picatinny optics rails and an all-black tactical finish.
  • M-LOK handguard and 5/8x24 TPI threaded muzzle.
  • 16-inch barrel length and a Marlin-certified Micro-Groove rifling.
  • A bolt safety indicator that lights up red when ready to fire.
  • Generally larger than the Henry rifle series.

4. Citadel LEVTAC-92 .357 Magnum

Citadel LEVTAC-92 .357 Magnum

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 900.00 NOW $728.67

Cambered in the standard .357 Magnum, Citadel LEVTAC-92 is considered an offshoot of the Marlin brand which is a good thing. The latest iteration of this model was announced in 2020, and most hunters regard it as a perfect precision shooter.

The gun comes with an oversized loop lever, modular M-LOK attachment points, iron sights, and Picatinny rails for optics located at the fore end of the carbine receiver. Along with its 8 + 1 magazine capacity, this rifle ticks all the boxes for a lever-action weapon. The gun is ideal for tactical home defense and competition shooting.

Key Features
  • 18-inch threaded barrel.
  • 8-round tube capacity.
  • Oversized lever loop.

5. Mossberg 464 SPX 30-30 Winchester

Mossberg 464 SPX 30-30 Winchester

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 569.99 NOW $549.99

Introduced in 2012 and chambered in the .30-30 Winchester caliber, the Mossberg 464 SPX is a tactical lever-action rifle with the feel of an AR. The gun features a 6-step adjustable stock, which is compatible with the AR-15.

It comes with a 6-round tubular magazine capacity, fiber optic sights, a thick rubber pad for comfort and convenience, and a premium finish of polymer furniture. It is also threaded for an AR-style muzzle suppressor.

Key Features
  • Premium Mossberg quality.
  • AR-style smooth lever action.
  • Quite hefty at 7.3 pounds of weight.
  • 6-round mag capacity and a barrel length of 16 inches.

6. Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 Stainless Takedown 30-06 Springfield Rifle

Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 Stainless Takedown 30-06 Springfield Rifle

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 1,499.99 NOW $1,325.99

The Browning lever-action probably offers the fastest lever-action in the business. The BLR Lightweight '81 Stainless Takedown is unique and is among the few lever action weapons that come with a flush-mounted detachable box magazine.

John Browning designed it to be portable and a powerhouse when it comes to swift takedowns. With a flip of the lever, you can easily twist the receiver and barrel at a 90-degree angle. Essentially, taking it apart and reassembling it can be done in an instant.

Key Features
  • Has a matte finish with a stainless 20-inch barrel package.
  • Has checkered grips and an angled forearm for improved handling.
  • Available in multiple calibers and models.

7. Taylor’s & Company 1892 Alaskan Takedown .44 Magnum

Taylor’s & Company 1892 Alaskan Takedown .44 Magnum

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 2,226.99 NOW $1,590.99

The Alaskan Takedown tactical lever-action rifle is not only expensive but rare to find. It has fancy aesthetics and costs more than its competitors. However, it ticks all other requirements for a portable survival tactical lever-action rifle.

Weighing a mere 6.5 pounds, the rifle is not only lightweight but boasts up to 10 rounds of capacity. Due to its rarity, it can be difficult to find its aftermarket support. However, its supreme takedown capability is highlighted by the fact that you can easily flip and separate the gun into two halves without a fuss.

Key Features
  • Has a 16-inch barrel package.
  • 7+ 1 round capacity.
  • Tuned for the Hornady Lever ammo for reliable recycling and moderate recoil.
  • Weather-resistant finish.
  • Forward-mounted rail drilled in the optics.

8. Winchester Model 94

Winchester Model 94

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 1,450.00 NOW $1,749.99

The Winchester Model 1873 is regarded by many as an iconic gun that won over the hearts of the Western frontiersmen. However, it was the Model 94 that has inspired the hearts of deer hunters in North America for generations. The rifle has undeniably cemented its place as a first choice among deer hunters.

Several iterations of this true classic are available, including the .30-30 Win, .38-55, and .450 Marlin.

Key Features
  • Mag capacity of 8 + 1
  • Quite hefty at 7.5 pounds of weight.
  • A barrel length of 24 inches and an overall length of 42.5 inches.

General Key Features Of The Tactical Lever-Action Rifle

The first practical lever-action rifle called "The Henry," was developed in 1960 by a guy known as Benjamin Tyler Henry. Later iterations were modified and upgraded by John Browning. However, advancements in gun-making technology have brought us the present-day lever-action rifles that many are familiar with.

When it comes to Tactical Lever Action Rifles, there is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes one. While many dismiss them as polymer-stocked versions of the originals, that generalization isn't accurate.

Beyond the manufacturer's efforts to modernize and reinvent the wheel, these rifles retain the 160-year-old carbine receiver concept. Essentially, what these customizations do is make the rifles more versatile. However, their operation is still one of the fastest and most versatile on the market, offering a range of features that are best suited to modern-day preferences and applications.

Image Courtesy: Lever-action Rifle

In particular, a lever-action gun would typically feature a combination of the following features:

  • Accessory mounting options: As with most AR-style rifles, modern lever-action guns come with railings and M-Lok slots that allow shooters to accessorize with optics or tactical lights which can be extremely effective in low-light situations.
  • Threaded muzzle: This feature allows users to attach a suppressor, which is quite useful in close-range personal defense. The effectiveness of a suppressor is aided by the fact that the breach remains closed after each round, avoiding the noise of the action cycling every time you pull the trigger.
  • Optical sighting systems: Most, if not all modern lever-action weapons feature faster-targeting systems, as well as rail hinges for more customization.
Pros And Cons of Tactical Lever-Action Rifles
  • The rifles have been around for a century and a half and are extremely reliable.
  • Works well within a range of 125 yards, but even more with better optics and ammunition.
  • Offers relatively faster follow-up shots, and you wouldn’t even have to take the rifle off your shoulder.
  • It comes with barrels as short as 16 inches, is lightweight, and, therefore, easy to carry around.
  • Provides moderate recoil and knock-down power similar to the AK-47 ammunition.
  • The aftermarket offers plenty of inexpensive used options, all with numerous accessories to tailor the rifle to your tastes and applications.
  • From a civilian perspective (not speaking militarily), lever actions tend to offer more accurate and rapid follow-up shot potential.
  • Most don’t look tactical enough, and that can be a turnoff.
  • Some are accessorized with cheap polymers and don’t offer that premium feel.
  • Its range of 125 yards, which is okay for most situations, can be limited for certain applications.
  • May not possess sufficient take-down power for the big polar and grizzly bears.
  • Generally, more expensive.


Tactical lever-action rifles date back to the mid-19th century, but it is amazing how these beloved weapons still maintain their relevance to this day. They fuse the classic design and modern gun features to provide a unique combination of reliability, versatility, and performance. Their ability to fire rapid shots with quick follow-ups makes them suitable for applications in different scenarios.

While they do possess certain limitations when compared to semi-automatic rifles, lever-action rifles perform just fine. Today, some are being treated as collector's items, and that is a testament to their rich history and timeless charm.