Lever Action Rifles for Home Defense

This is a guest post by Andrew Bettslever action rifles

You’ve got to admit that at the very least lever action carbines are seven gallons of fun in a five gallon bucket. It is a real joy to shuck that lever, ring steel and launch empties. It is difficult to explain but easy to understand, if you do it. One of those things that you just have to do, to really get it. As fun as they are, is a lever action rifle really a good choice for a home defense gun?

They are certainly powerful enough. Magnum handgun cartridges transcend pistol power levels and approach intermediate rifle cartridge territory. .357 magnum behaves almost as if it were an entirely different cartridge when it is fired from a 16” barrel. The 600 fps added to the velocity by that longer barrel is far more than the difference between .38 spl and .357 mag. The difference in tissue damage is every bit as dramatic.

If a 158 gr .35 caliber bullet was impressive at 1,800 fps, a 240 gr .44 caliber bullet at the same speed is even more impressive. Expanding to 0.73” and penetrating 21” means it has the horsepower to get the job done with authority.

Despite all that power, lever action rifles chambered in magnum pistol cartridges are surprisingly controllable. Handling is quick and precise and they point naturally. When chambered in a short cartridge like .357 mag or .44 mag, they also hold enough ammunition to be useful for defense. That is not to say that the old standby .30-30 is unsuitable for defense, of course. It has the power and accuracy to make it a classic for deer hunting in close terrain, but the longer cartridge does reduce capacity a bit in a tubular magazine.

It is true that lever guns do not come equipped with rails and collapsible stocks from the factory. While most of those extras are not important for home defense, the one mandatory accessory for home defense is a bright, reliable light. To that end, it is easy enough to attach a single section of rail, either to the stock, or clamped to the magazine tube.

With that one addition, a lever action carbine chambered in a magnum handgun cartridge can become a very solid choice for home defense. A home defense gun must be accurate enough to put holes in bad people. It must be fast to operate and it must hold enough ammunition to put more than one hole in more than one bad guy. It should be powerful enough that only one or two holes are needed. It must have a light. Most importantly, it should be a gun that you shoot well. If you are quick and competent with a lever gun and confident in its capabilities, then perhaps you should consider it for defense.

Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

Photo credit – Andrew Betts


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