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

Posted by Mandu Moses on May 31st 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. Their slick operating features have made them a must-have for home defense and hunting.

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Lever-action rifles are available across various budgets, from premium to more affordable options, catering to both seasoned gunmen and beginners. Some come with fully adjustable features to suit the preferences of the modern-day gunman, while others boast classic aesthetics ideal for game hunting. Although rating these firearms based on their unique operating mechanisms and manufacturers is challenging, we have compiled the greatest value tactical lever-action rifles. Here is a detailed rundown:

Why Do You Need A Lever-Action Rifle?

In recent years, numerous US states and municipalities have imposed stricter regulations on popular firearms, particularly semi-auto carbines. This has led Americans and gun manufacturers to seek suitable alternatives. Tactical lever-action rifles offer a viable solution, providing similar performance and flexibility.

Lever-action rifles have a storied history, tracing back to the American West. One significant advantage of these rifles is their versatility. Chambered in popular calibers such as .357 Winchester, .223 Remington, and 7.62x39mm, these firearms allow users to select ammunition suited to specific applications, whether for competitive shooting, safari hunting, or suburban home defense. Their ability to switch calibers seamlessly makes them attractive propositions for shooters seeking a blend of flexibility and performance. In modernized forms, tactical lever-action rifles can tackle virtually any scenario.

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, making them suitable for shooters of various skill levels. Their ability to quickly cycle rounds and engage targets with precision makes them ideal 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, sufficient for most tasks. Besides their ample ammunition capacity, these firearms are easily maneuverable and reliable, including accessory rails for attaching tactical lights, optics, etc.

3. Performance and Accuracy

Despite their lever-action mechanism, modern tactical lever-action rifles excel in performance, precision, and accuracy. Improved barrels and trigger systems, courtesy of modern manufacturing techniques, allow shooters to achieve impressive precision in both short-range and long-distance shooting.

Winchester 1894 Lever Action

4. Ideal for Shooting Sports

Lever-action rifles have evolved in design and functionality, becoming increasingly popular in shooting sports. These guns are commonly used in disciplines like Cowboy Action Shooting, 3-Gun, and Precision Rifle competitions.

5. Great for Hunting

Chambered in hard-hitting and fast-cycling cartridges such as .45-70, .500 S&W, and .348 Win., these rifles offer plenty of knock-down power at various ranges. Their capability for rapid follow-up shots makes them ideal for traditional American hunting techniques.

6. It Embodies the American Cowboy Cool

The lever-action rifle is an all-American design, steeped in history and tradition. Its appeal is enhanced by its use in classic Westerns and by figures such as Theodore Roosevelt. There is something incredibly satisfying about cocking a lever-action rifle, making it a symbol of American heritage.

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

The Best Tactical Lever Action Rifles

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, the Henry Big Boy X is a modernized version of the iconic Henry Repeating Arms rifle. Manufactured in North America, this model remains largely unchanged from its original design, boasting a tactical black synthetic stock and matching black finish.

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.
  • 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 Triple Black Series is one of the most lightweight lever-action rifles available. This fully blacked-out rifle is cost-efficient and available in .357 and .44 pistol-caliber chambers.

Key Features
  • 16.5-inch barrel for nimbleness.
  • Oversized loop lever and leather paracord wrapping for use with gloves.
  • Internals made from stainless steel.
  • Sharper edges on the loading gate.

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 a prominent brand with over 150 years of manufacturing quality. The Dark Series went tactical with Model 336, offering features like Picatinny optics rails and M-LOK handguards.

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 Marlin-certified Micro-Groove rifling.
  • Bolt safety indicator.

4. Citadel LEVTAC-92 .357 Magnum

Citadel LEVTAC-92 .357 Magnum

BUY NOW! MSRP $: WAS 900.00 NOW $728.67

Cambered in .357 Magnum, the Citadel LEVTAC-92 is ideal for tactical home defense and competition shooting. It features an oversized loop lever, modular M-LOK attachment points, iron sights, and Picatinny rails.

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, the Mossberg 464 SPX is chambered in .30-30 Winchester and features an AR-style adjustable stock. It comes with a 6-round tubular magazine, fiber optic sights, and a thick rubber pad for comfort.

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 BLR Lightweight '81 Stainless Takedown is unique with its flush-mounted detachable box magazine. Designed by John Browning, it is portable and powerful, ideal for swift takedowns.

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 is a rare and expensive tactical lever-action rifle, weighing 6.5 pounds with a 10-round capacity. It features a forward-mounted rail drilled for optics and a weather-resistant finish.

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, inspired by the iconic Model 1873, has been a favorite among deer hunters for generations. Still in production, it is available in several iterations, including .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, "The Henry," was developed in 1860 by Benjamin Tyler Henry. Later iterations were modified and upgraded by John Browning. Modern advancements have brought us today’s versatile lever-action rifles, retaining the 160-year-old carbine receiver concept while incorporating contemporary features.

Image Courtesy:  Lever-action Rifle

Typical Features

  • Accessory mounting options: Railings and M-Lok slots for optics or tactical lights.
  • Threaded muzzle: Allows attachment of a suppressor.
  • Optical sighting systems: Faster-targeting systems and rail hinges for customization.
Pros And Cons of Tactical Lever-Action Rifles
Pros
  • Effective within 125 yards, with potential for greater range with better optics and ammunition.
  • Quick follow-up shots without needing to remove the rifle from the shoulder.
  • Lightweight with barrels as short as 16 inches.
  • Moderate recoil and knock-down power.
  • Numerous aftermarket options and accessories.
  • Superior accuracy and rapid follow-up shot potential for civilians.
Cons
  • Some may not look tactical enough.
  • Use of cheap polymers in some models.
  • Limited range for certain applications.
  • May not have sufficient power for large game like polar and grizzly bears.
  • Generally more expensive.

Conclusion

Tactical lever-action rifles, dating back to the mid-19th century, continue to maintain their relevance today. They offer a unique combination of reliability, versatility, and performance, capable of firing rapid shots with quick follow-ups. While they have certain limitations compared to semi-automatic rifles, lever-action rifles perform admirably. Many are treated as collector's items, a testament to their rich history and timeless charm.

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