Tactical Weapons Firearms

How effective are modern lever-action rifles?

Modern lever-action rifles, or tactical lever rifles, have been showing up a lot recently. But are they any good?
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
lever action rifle
Mad Pig Thumper package on a Marlin. (Courtesy of Mad Pig Customs)

Modern lever rifles, or tactical lever rifles, have been showing up a lot recently. Lever-action rifles have been around since the days of standoff duels, loud pianos were airing out the saloon, and cattle rustling being a hang-able offense. Lever action rifles are as quintessential to the wild-west as is the horse.

Think of how cool it was to watch John Wayne swing his Winchester 1982 around after killing a group of outlaws. Watching The Duke get into his gun battles was how most of us got into guns in the first place! Now, some new spins are happening on lever action rifles. They are being taken behind the bench and given a makeover to fit into the modern shooters’ wants and needs. And I must say that it’s burning a hole in my wallet.

But what’s going on? What are these so-called ‘lever gats’?

Let’s talk about whether modern lever-action rifles are any good

What is a Modern Lever Rifle?

Modern tactical lever rifles are precisely what the name says. The way the rifle itself functions isn’t different. It still uses the same lever action to chamber and eject rounds, and you must load rounds one at a time.

The differences are primarily visual and how you, the shooter, are able to handle the rifle.

Modern tactical lever rifles feature long picatinny rails for mounting different grips, lights, and anything else you wish to add on.

Of course, the top of the rifle has picatinny space for optics and lasers. And muzzle devices can vary from a standard flash hider to a Surefire Warcomp or any other device. You can have your rifle built any way you’d like, and some companies offer packages for you to consider.

But you still have to send in your rifle, which is how Mad Pig Customs does it with their Thumper package.

two modern lever action rifles
What a beautiful sight. (Via Reddit)

What can you use a Modern Lever Rifle for?

These aren’t going to be rifles you run around with like any other AR-15, but that depends on what round you have your rifle chambered in.

As I said before, tactical lever guns are usually sent in by the owner (you) and kitted out and sent back.

But there are a bunch of different usages you can get out of a lever gat, aside from being a beautiful bedside gun or wall candy. If you were to buy a Marlin chambered in .44 Magnum and send it in, you’d have a pretty handy rifle when you get back.

It could serve as a home defense gun, truck gun, yard gun, or whatever else you need it for.

The uses get slimmer when you chamber it in rounds like 45-70, where you start to see some usage dwindle away unless you want to blast through an intruder and the neighbor’s elephant.

It’s a big round.

I suggest getting your lever gun chambered in .44 Magnum or 30-30 if you want to put it to use around the property or simply to have fun. Keep cost per round in mind.

Outside of that, you can use it for multiple areas that are usually reserved for AR-pattern rifles and shotguns. Also, get yourself and your spouse comfortable manipulating that lever until it becomes muscle memory if you plan on using it as a home defense gun.

Are lever-action rifles still used?

That is entirely up to the shooter. This shouldn’t be your first firearm if you’re just getting into the game. Any gun can be proficient in a tactical scenario if you know how to use it correctly, but there comes a lot of training.

And your first gun should be something simple and efficient, like an AR-15.

But, again, that is totally up to you and your preferences. I am definitely putting a Thumper V2 on my Christmas list this year, but I also have my AR-15 and sidearm for most of the heavy lifting.

It may do well as a designated marksman rifle. But then again, rounds found in lever guns are hardly aerodynamic, but at 200-300 yards with a 45-70 should do the trick.

modern lever action rifle
They also serve a good purpose for great photos. (Courtesy of Mad Pig Customs)

Modern tactical lever action rifles are another way of paying respect to the older days of shooting when Picatinny rails and optics were unheard of, and you’re running away from Pinkertons.

Damn Pinkertons.

I would like to see these rifles chambered in modern rounds as well, something like .300 Blackout or something similar that isn’t hard to source and could give us some current advantage.

I could see these working wonderfully as a secondary rifle if you’re out there hunting the winter skinwalker and think you see something in the distance that your AR-15 just won’t reach out to. That’s my thought. Or boog.

What do you make of the new modern lever guns? Do you have space in the safe? Will you take them to the range? Or are you going to pass?

Be good and take care.