What Goes Around Comes Around: Lever Actions are Back
Dr. John Woods 10.01.19
Interest in certain guns and calibers ebbs and flows among shooters, hunters, and collectors. One type of gun becomes popular, runs its course, and plays out over time. Often that interest gets rekindled again later, sometimes over and over. The same happens with various calibers and cartridges. I guess that is just the way it is in the gun/shooting/hunting world. And it’s a good thing, too.
Over my own span of years, I have seen much of this coming and going. There have been odd sorts of guns and calibers I’ve witnessed rise to the top and fade, only to be resurrected years later. Of the many cartridges I remember, there was the 38-55, 257 Roberts, 284 Winchester, the 358 Winchester, the 44 Special, 44-40, 38-40, and 35 Remington.
The guns I have seen become king of the mountain and then virtually retire include the Winchester 94. I killed my first whitetail with one nearly 50 years ago. Over time it has just lost its shine. Nearly the same for the Marlin 336, it seems. The Winchester 1885 is about extinct, as are the Henrys, the 1873s and the 1886s.
The Sharps and Remington Rolling Blocks are idle as are some more-modern rifles like the Remington 600, 660, and Nylon 66. Handguns like the older double action Smiths and Colts collect dust in gun cabinets. Pistols like the Lugers, P-38s, Hi-Powers have dried up as have many others.
However, as I said, things do change, and one is coming. Just in the past six months I have read more about new interest in classic lever action rifles. Guess you can’t keep the good ones down. Renewed interest has been growing for Winchesters 92, 94, 66, 73, and 86.
Shooters are once again wanting to shoot classic six-gun cartridges in rifles. Also newer versions of Marlins are really catching fire especially the Model 1895s like the new 1895GBL and 1895SBL. The Marlin 336 in stainless steel sells well, too. Other lever actions are also gaining ground.
Cartridges on the rifle comeback trail include the 35 Remington, 44 Magnum/44 Special, 250 and 300 Savage, 6.5×55, 7×57, 7.62x54R, 35 Whelen, and even the 45-70 which has never quite gone away.
So, if a bit of a classic rifle that is fun to shoot and just as productive, reconsider a lever action afield this year. You might just find yourself becoming an active part of a returning trend.