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Old 11-13-2005, 04:35 AM   #1
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Self-Defense: Lever Action or 7.62 Auto?

I'm looking at different rifle platforms for self-defense. The Marlin 1894 in .44 magnum interests me for a variety of reasons: light, compact, easy handling, 10 +1 rounds, no need for mag changes that can be fumbled.

On the other hand, a good 7.62 auto (in either .308 or x39) doesn't weigh that much more, can have 20- or 30-round mags, and is a little quicker for follow up shots.

Which one would you recommend? Also, what's the difference in stopping power between the cartridges?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-13-2005, 07:25 AM   #2
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Re: Self-Defense: Lever Action or 7.62 Auto?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyteP38
I'm looking at different rifle platforms for self-defense. The Marlin 1894 in .44 magnum interests me for a variety of reasons: light, compact, easy handling, 10 +1 rounds, no need for mag changes that can be fumbled.
Have you ever tried to "speed load" a tubular magazine with a loading gate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyteP38
On the other hand, a good 7.62 auto (in either .308 or x39) doesn't weigh that much more, can have 20- or 30-round mags, and is a little quicker for follow up shots.

Which one would you recommend? Also, what's the difference in stopping power between the cartridges?

Thanks in advance.
First of all, "stopping power" is mostly the ability to place a bullet where it's needed. Within 100 yds, any of the cartridges named should drop a man relatively easily if the shot is properly placed (and if he's not wearing body armor.)

An AK or SKS semi would be somewhat comparable to the '94 in handling qualities, but when you graduate to the 7.62 NATO cartridge, you're looking at larger and heavier guns. I have both a Win '94 Trapper in .45 Colt and a SA SOCOM 16. Believe you me, there's a WORLD of difference in handling qualities.

Ease of handling: advantage lever
Ease of reloading: advantage semi
Power of available cartridges: advantage semi

Speaking only for myself, I'd reach for my '94 for home defense before I'd reach for the SOCOM.
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:30 AM   #3
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It's often been noted that when people are shooting at you, you will cuss the buttons on your shirt-front for inhibiting your ability to get lower in the prone position. A semi-auto should be significantly better for firing from prone. Reloading a magazine fed semi (especially from prone) goes without saying. Even stripper clips (e.g., SKS semi) should be easier than a tubular mag.
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:38 AM   #4
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Re: Self-Defense: Lever Action or 7.62 Auto?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Jefferies
Have you ever tried to "speed load" a tubular magazine with a loading gate?
Nope. That's why I'm asking. I can't afford both, so I have to pick one. Info like what you've provided is exactly what I'm looking for.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Jefferies
Speaking only for myself, I'd reach for my '94 for home defense before I'd reach for the SOCOM.
So ... get both? If only I could ...
So at this point, advantage semi.
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:41 AM   #5
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Revolver-cartridge lever guns are also notorious for their ability to jam on the rim at the worst possible time.

If you're talking about in-home defense, the lever gun, with proven loads, should be OK. Outside, though, I'd opt for the semi-auto.
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:59 AM   #6
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Something I just thought of. I don't own a ranch; I'm in a rural area just outside town. Call it the Tween, as in 'tween city and country. Just a standard house on an acre of land. I don't hunt, so I wouldn't carry a rifle except to the range. For outside, I have my CCW. For home, I'd like a rifle as a companion to the SG and HG.

With a semi-auto, reloading means dumping the mag and inserting a fresh one. According to the FBI stats I've read, most civilian encounters consist of 2-3 rounds fired, but let's say you fire 4 rounds and then reload. That means you're dumping 6 rounds (assuming you started with 1 in the pipe and a topped off mag). Of course, you pop that mag into your pocket, assuming that you don't fumble it to the ground or otherwise leave it behind (which I've seen people do at pistol events such as IDPA). During the time of your reload, you have at most one shot, the one in the pipe.

With the lever action, you insert 4 new rounds. During the time of your reload, you have 6 shots ready to go (and more as you reload). Also, can't you pop in a fresh round anytime you want, which you can't do with a mag-fed weapon? And there's no chance of botching the mag switch.

I would think that either way, you're either moving to cover for your reload, or you're hunkered down in your safe room for your reload.

Certainly, on a battlefield the lever action is significantly wanting compared to a semi. I'm just wondering whether that difference is all that great for inside, home-defense scenarios.
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Old 11-13-2005, 09:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wuzzagrunt
It's often been noted that when people are shooting at you, you will cuss the buttons on your shirt-front for inhibiting your ability to get lower in the prone position. A semi-auto should be significantly better for firing from prone. Reloading a magazine fed semi (especially from prone) goes without saying. Even stripper clips (e.g., SKS semi) should be easier than a tubular mag.
This statement is true if you are outdoors, but in a building you will more than likely crouch than lay prone.
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Old 11-13-2005, 10:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wuzzagrunt
It's often been noted that when people are shooting at you, you will cuss the buttons on your shirt-front for inhibiting your ability to get lower in the prone position. A semi-auto should be significantly better for firing from prone. Reloading a magazine fed semi (especially from prone) goes without saying. Even stripper clips (e.g., SKS semi) should be easier than a tubular mag.
I have heard that lying prone can be hindered by rifles with detachable magazines, especially big ones. One reason why the Garand was liked by some is it's easier to lay prone with than the M-14.
To me, I would think the size of the mag would be determinative. A AK type with a large banana mag, yes, that could make prone position difficult.
Having both semiautos and lever rifles one thing I agree with; semis are easier to reload. While I can stuff bullets in rather quickly on some leverguns, in the anxiety of a defense situation, where adrenaline is going through my blood, I can well imagine this turning into a situation where I'm all thumbs. A magazine OTOH is a bit easier in this respect. You may also not be counting the shots as well as you think you are, so maybe reloading a levergun in midfight may be chancy; you may find the hammer going "CLICK!" before you think it will!
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Old 11-13-2005, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyGunn
While I can stuff bullets in rather quickly on some leverguns, in the anxiety of a defense situation, where adrenaline is going through my blood, I can well imagine this turning into a situation where I'm all thumbs. A magazine OTOH is a bit easier in this respect.
Point well taken; I've wondered the same myself. That's why I chose the '94 for HOME defense; at in-the-house ranges with .45 Colt, I doubt I'd have to reload. If I have to leave the house, I'd rather have a semi. (Of course, in either case, the long gun would be backed up by my 1911.)
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:12 AM   #10
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Nobody loves lever guns more than I do, but for self defense the semi-auto is way ahead of any manual action rifle. When it hits the fan, the ability to pour on ACCURATE fire is paramount. To begin with, you may not have the initiateive, but with a steady stream of accurate fire, you can steal the initiative away from an aggressor.

Reality shows that you may not be able to put a round onto your foe, but if you can suppress him enough, you may be able to keep him from shooting you, which is a mission kill for your foe.

No one has ever won a battle by reacting to what the other guy is doing. You need to steal the initiative and get them to be reactive.

In almost any combat situation, a semi-auto is superior to all other firearms. But only if accuracy doesn't suffer.

So, now that I have said that...If I didn't have a good semi-auto available, I'd reach for my Winchester 94 in a heartbeat. I have yet to see ANY rifle shoulder and point more naturally than the humble '94. Makes those first round hits (you know, the important one) much easier.
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Old 11-15-2005, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR
Revolver-cartridge lever guns are also notorious for their ability to jam on the rim at the worst possible time.

If you're talking about in-home defense, the lever gun, with proven loads, should be OK. Outside, though, I'd opt for the semi-auto.
Inside the home? I'd personally go for a 12 gauge.
Outside? 7.62x51 semi. FN/FAL
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Old 11-15-2005, 10:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyGunn
I have heard that lying prone can be hindered by rifles with detachable magazines, especially big ones.
Get that low, (during a firefight), and have to cock a lever after every shot. Should get interesting. Especially trying to keep the sight picture.

Measure a lever at fullest cocking, and an FN FAL with 20 round mag, and see which one is tallest. Top of rifle to tip of mag & furthest portion of the lever.

Should give an idea of which would be easiest. IMHO.
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickb308
Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyGunn
I have heard that lying prone can be hindered by rifles with detachable magazines, especially big ones.
Get that low, (during a firefight), and have to cock a lever after every shot. Should get interesting. Especially trying to keep the sight picture.Measure a lever at fullest cocking, and an FN FAL with 20 round mag, and see which one is tallest. Top of rifle to tip of mag & furthest portion of the lever.
Should give an idea of which would be easiest. IMHO.
That's a good point too. But you can turn the levergun sideways to cycle it; the magazinegun really needs to remain upright.

In the final analysis I must agree with Gungeek; the semiauto is the better for when the SHTF. You can make allowances for magazines and cover/concealment, but the lack of need to manually cycle the action with quick follow-up shots seems to be the winning factor.
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Old 11-19-2005, 02:24 PM   #14
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Savage Model 99C!!!!!!!



Lever action box magizine .308.

Only 5 round mag tho....
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Old 11-20-2005, 01:47 PM   #15
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My .02

Agreed with all points above.

Have both types of actions.

Wouldn't feel undergunned with either. Ten rounds of .44 mag should settle any problem you will get into at home without needing to call for an airstrike. Can get a buttcuff to carry more ammo onboard gun. Also the levergun will be much more PC during the legal investigations/actions that will follow use of said rifle.

That being said my bedroom gun is an AR15.

Get the Marlin first, if the gunbug bites you, you'll have an AR eventually anyway.
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:00 PM   #16
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I have had a FN/FAL, a scout length M14 and several lever guns. The short 44mag with the 16" bbl is a sweet package and for basic home defense would be better on your pocket book than the M1A or poly M14 with a short bbl. also as said before looks better in front on the jury and judge than a "commando/paranoid want-to-be assault rifle" as the liberal pinko lawer would try to paint it as.

you could argue over going prone ( great positon for fighting a longer range battle very accurate and less target exposed- but think about the most likely scenario in and around your home. where cover is avail and doing a pie on the corners/doors of your rooms to clear, etc.... I don't think I'd be lying down to clear my house maby a crouch, but I'd want to be able to move faster in the event of multip perps invading my residence.

I live in the country and my home defense is a 12ga pump with birdshot first and backed up by 00 then last rds are slugs if the perps get embedded somewhere! if you have houses close to yours you may want to think about overpentration. A friend of mine had a .308 round come through her (brick) house outside wall, come across her living and dining room and finally stopped inside the studs on the far opposite wall. knocked out a chunk of brick and insulation, drywall on both walls. Her neighbor had a A.D. while getting his rifle out of his truck after a trip to the range. Luckly no one was hurt, Those high powered rifle rounds just take a lot of mass to stop them.

My choice for SHTF --M14. inside the Home- defense --12 ga. #6 or #4s, rural defense - around the house and barn the 44 mag. carbine length. (you may want to look at the Ruger 44 mag auto I have never owned or fired one, but played with one the other day at the gun shop looks kinda cool. get some feedback on it, may get you what you are looking for.
just my .02, good luck and I hope you never have to use it for anything more than just for FUN use.
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Old 12-11-2005, 11:00 AM   #17
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My primary HD gun is a Marlin 38/357 lever gun.

Buffalo Bore 357 Mag ammo:

125 GD 2300 fps
158 GD 2100 fps

Rem 165 JHP Core-Lokt 1720 fps

Rem 38 Special 125 +P SJHP 1330 fps

Win 145 Silvertip 1880 fps

Fed/Rem/Win 125g SJHP 2000+ fps

If I need heavier artillery, I have a Marlin 30-30 w 150g Fed Fusion SPs or PMC Starfire copper HPs.

Can't wait to try some of the new Hornady Leverevolution ammo. A 160g ballistic tip in 30-30.

I'm really having a hard time coming up w a home defense scenario where I can't do the job w 6 - 9 rounds from either. Even a Walter Mitty saves the day outside the home scenario...
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Old 12-12-2005, 10:07 AM   #18
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My primary HD gun is also a Marlin. A cut down 336CS with a slicked up action and trigger, 16 inch barrel with an 11 degree target crown. Super accurate. 5+1 capacity of .30-30.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:40 PM   #19
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I was at a flea market last week in Virginia and this guy had a Marlin w/ 16" barrel and straight grip stock in 35 Rem. Looked like a nice hard hitting little combo but I did not have the money. He wanted 400.00.

I have a Marlin lever gun in 35 Rem and I like it because I can load 180 gr. Sierra pistol bullets in the 35 Rem for cheap shooting.
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:26 AM   #20
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Skimming through this thread, the quote about 2-3 shots per encounter struck me. That figure hasn't been valid for decades because of all the other incidents that were included with what we'd consider actual police shooting encounters. Such as AD/ND, suicides, putting animals down etc.

We shouldn't depend on stats (source is NYPD Firearms Discharge Reports-which is where most of the FBI stats came from anyway), but for what they may be worth:

1 good guy vs 1 bad guy in a shooting incident (good guy only shooting) runs 3.5 to 4.7 rounds per bad guy.

1 good guy vs 1 bad guy in a gunfight (bullets going both ways) runs 6.2 to 11 and a fraction per bad guy.


Having said that, depending upon the area you may live in, a lever action will present a much better image than an evil assault rifle and present a whole lot less headaches and paperwork even without involvement in a defensive incident.

Last edited by William R. Moore; 09-02-2011 at 05:38 AM.
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