Lever Action Calibers

Apr 17, 2020
210
178
Hey everyone. So I've got to looking at lever actions. I feel like they could be something good for a light weight truck gun type thing. So far Henry looks like the best lever gun manufacturer, but i know very little about how lever action calibers perform.

Henry has options for .357 mag, .44 mag, .45 colt, .30-30, and .45-70. I'm pretty sure I don't need .45-70 level power, but I don't really know how these other calibers compare to each other. I would like something powerful enough for whitetail that can reach out to 100 yds as a maximum necessary range.

Any insights or experiences with these calibers?
 

mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,264
25
Pretty much they can all to 100 yards.

45/70govt and 3030 are good to 200, and some would say beyond. The nice thing with the 45-70, is a good blood trail if they don’t crumple right there.

All these calibers operate at lever action pressures, so your max velocity is probably 2400 with the 3030. Bullets are designed for ranges of velocity so they open appropriately. Run one for low speed at high speed and it may break apart, and the opposite you run a high speed bullet at low speed, it won’t open. There are many bullets made for 3030. All the makers seem to have something. The 45 long colt was the one I scratched my head on. I think of it like a 44 special vs 44 mag. That might not be good to 100. Maybe someone else can comment. I do have 3030 and 45/70, love them both.

Savage 99’s are a notable lever as you can get 308win, 243win, and I think a 35Rem. Rotary magazine feed vs tube.

300 Savage was the go to round until the 308win came out and upstaged it.

303savage is on par with 3030, most are 308 caliber, but some really are 310 caliber (British 303).


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Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
Deer at 100 yards with a lever gun....

357 mag, 41 mag, 44 mag, 45 Colt.... all of those, using the right ammo, at 200 yards, will have roughly the same killing potential as the venerable 44-40 had at the muzzle.

Then there's 30-30 and 45-70... both fine choices that will also do the job.

I chose the 41 mag...I like the oddball rounds... but for most, 44 mag or 45 Colt is a more reasonable option.

For a comparison... the 41 and 44 mag are equal when bullet weights are between 210 and 300 grains... with heavier bullets, the 44 has an advantage.

210 grains in 41 is comparable to 240 grains in 44 mag.

265 grains in 41 is comparable to 300 in the 44.

For deer.... any of those will work just as well as a 30-30 with the traditional 30-30 bullets (150‐170 grain flat or round nose) at any given range....Flex Tip bullets in 30-30 extend its range a bit.

My 41 put down a nice healthy 8 point last year at 125 yards... dropped him in his tracks with a 210 grain Swift A-Frame through his shoulders.... bullet kept on going.

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Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
The right bullet matters.... I use A-Frame bullets because they always work... no matter how fast or slow you fire them.

If they hit above 1,000 fps, they expand just like in the advertisements.

They'd do the same at 2,000 fps...

They expand, stay together, and penetrate...XTP bullets aren't as reliable, they're not terrible bullets... but they're not A-Frames either.

In my Henry... the A-Frame also shoots much smaller groups than the XTP.


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Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
A-Frame vs XTP.... fired into water jugs at over 1,700 fps.

Both 210 grains
A-Frame penetrated 5 jugs.
XTP penetrated 3 jugs.

The XTP is in 2 pieces, it falls apart if you turn it over... the lead falls out.

green shot

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bdbrown66

Handloader
May 16, 2016
713
105
Lynn, have you ever compared the AFrame to the XTP Mags? Tougher bullet than the regular XTP, designed for the boot 45 calibers, like 454 Casull, etc. I'm using them in my Henry lever this year for deer season. In my testing, they have held together very well.

IMG_20200608_073258.jpg

IMG_20200608_073206.jpg
 

Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
bdbrown66":jmxgpj5s said:
Lynn, have you ever compared the AFrame to the XTP Mags? Tougher bullet than the regular XTP, designed for the boot 45 calibers, like 454 Casull, etc. I'm using them in my Henry lever this year for deer season. In my testing, they have held together very well.

View attachment 1

No I haven't used them myself... but yes, you're right the XTP Mag bullets are much tougher than regular XTP's.

They'll likely do nicely as long as they hit with enough velocity to expand, but at extended ranges they might not expand when the velocity drops below 1,200 fps.... but that's only my guess, I haven't shot them into anything to verify my guess.

For pistol caliber carbines I like to know the bullets will expand down as low as 1,000 fps.... and hold together at up around 1,800 fps....an A-Frame or Partition style bullet is about the only way to get both those qualities in 1 bullet.

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bdbrown66

Handloader
May 16, 2016
713
105
Well, the one I showed came out of the dirt behind my target, at 100 yards. And I've got a bunch more like it, so seems to be pretty consistent. I'm not likely to shoot beyond 100-125 yards with that load, so it would appear that expansion is not an issue. I'm pushing them out at about 1750 fps at the muzzle.
 

Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
I'd say they'll work fine... being as its a 45, those are already pretty big even when they don't expand, but those look like they'll do great at that range.

Almost bought a Henry 45 Colt last week for my son for Christmas, but he decided he wanted a 44 instead.

I may yet get the 45 though, for myself...I do love a good lever gun.

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Ridgerunner665

Handloader
Oct 28, 2008
2,441
45
I don't go looking for 200 yard shots with this 41 mag setup....I try my best to get set up for 25-50 yard shots, but where I hunt is a large piece of property that is a lot of open river bottom that's really hard to pattern where the deer will show up.... they may come out at 25 feet, or it may be 800 yards away with no chance of stalking closer.

So I try to make the most of my limited days to hunt by being prepared to stretch it a bit if the need arises...often even taking 2 guns.... the 280 Ackley, and either the 41 Ruger Blackhawk or the Henry.

I do use XTP's in the Blackhawk... they're great in that one.

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bdbrown66

Handloader
May 16, 2016
713
105
Last year, I used the regular XTP's for deer season. They did the job, but at those velocities you're really pushing the limits on it. Here's a regular XTP that I dug out of the dirt. Compare to the XTP Mag pics I posted above.

IMG_20201018_184609.jpg
 

5shot

Handloader
Jan 13, 2016
638
0
For a lever gun, I would be inclined to just use a good old lead bullet. Nothing wrong with jacketed, but at lever gun velocities a good lead bullet will do the job. You can also get the 35 Remington if you find a nice Marlin on Gunbroker.
 

cloverleaf

Handloader
Sep 10, 2006
3,885
207
I was reading yesterday that Marlin will issue a 336 as a 150th year commemorative this year in 444. Would be super cool but I expect it will, be expensive. A model 99 savage could be an option too, if you can find one. CL
 

5shot

Handloader
Jan 13, 2016
638
0
My dad has a 444, but I don't think he has ever fired it. A good cartridge though.
 

Scrumbag

Beginner
Feb 22, 2021
113
24
The right bullet matters.... I use A-Frame bullets because they always work... no matter how fast or slow you fire them.

If they hit above 1,000 fps, they expand just like in the advertisements.

They'd do the same at 2,000 fps...

They expand, stay together, and penetrate...XTP bullets aren't as reliable, they're not terrible bullets... but they're not A-Frames either.

In my Henry... the A-Frame also shoots much smaller groups than the XTP.


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I wish it was easier / cheaper to get the A-Frames in the UK.

Munty
 
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