7 Best Lever Action Rifles: Ultimate Guide

by Travis Pike

June 16, 2022

0 comments

5
(1)

In terms of range, most lever-action rifles are limited to a few hundred yards. The powerful calibers are not designed for long-range performance and often feature round nose style bullets or use handgun rounds. Spitzer-style bullets cannot be used safely in tube-fed lever guns. 

With that being said, there are exceptions. Browning famously produces a lever action that uses box magazines and fires popular traditional rifle calibers out to real rifle ranges. 

Being forced to cycle the action between shots also makes it tough to shoot in low positions. The lever coming down and out means shots in the low prone are quite difficult.

Below we’re going to break down our top picks for Best Lever Action Rifle by category;

Best Lever Action Rifles Table

Henry .22
  • Light And Short 
  • Affordable 
  • Classic Henry Design
Check Price
Henry X Model
  • Tactical Lever Gun
  • Available in Most Popular Revolver Calibers
  • Easy to Use
Check Price
Browning BLR
  • Magazine Fed
  • Chambers Standard Rifle Rounds
  • Designed for Longer Range Shooting
Check Price
Citadel LevTac 92
  • Modern Furniture
  • Affordable Design
  • Numerous Caliber Options
Check Price
Marlin 336
  • Classic Hunting Rifle
  • Modern Ergonomics
  • Sideloading and Ejecting design
Check Price
Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper
  • Classic Gun that Won the West
  • Optimized for Competition 
  • Beautiful Design
Check Price
Big Horn Armory
  • Chambers 500 S&W 
  • Semi-Custom options 
  • Beastly Design
Check Price

Best Lever Action Rifles

  1. Henry .22 – Best Rimfire
  2. Henry Big Boy X Model – Best Tactical
  3. Browning BLR – Best Long Range
  4. Citadel LevTac 92 – Best Budget Ready
  5. Marlin 336 – Best Hunting
  6. Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper – Best For Playing Cowboy
  7. Big Horn Armory – Best Big Bore

Best Lever Action Rifles Specifications

Below is a list of our Best Lever Action Rifles. So we can compare and line up the specs from each of the products and help you make the best decision possible.

RifleBarrel LengthOverall LengthWeightCalibers
Best Rimfire - Henry .2218.5"36.5"5 lbs 4 oz.22 LR
Best Tactical - Henry Big Boy X Model17.4"36.3"7 lbs 5 oz357 Magnum, 45 Colt, 44 Magnum
Best Long Range - Browning BLR20", 22", and 24"40"6lbs 8 ozToo Many Too List
Best Budget Ready - Citadel LevTac 9216.5 to 18"33.6"5.9 lbs.357, 44 Magnum, 454 Casull
Best Hunting - Marlin 33620 to 24"38.5 to 42.25"7 lbs.30-30 or .35 Remington
Best For Playing Cowboy - Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper18"36"7 lbs 4 oz.44-40 45 Colt
Best Big Bore - Big Horn Armory16, 18, 22"35, 37, 41"7 lbs 10 oz500 S&W

Best Lever Action Rifles Reviews

Now that we’ve run through the overview and looked at our list, let us take the time to individually review each item. In this section we’ll be revisiting our specs, speaking about the product, and looking at the pros and cons.

1. Henry Lever Action 22LR

Henry Lever Action 22LR

There are few things more satisfying than a lever-action 22LR.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Henry .22 Specs

  • Barrel Length 18.5″
  • Overall Length 36.5″
  • Weight 5 lbs 4oz
  • Calibers .22LR

Henry .22 Review

When it comes time to blast away with a bucket of .22 LR, there is no better lever-action option than the Henry. The Henry Classic offers you a cowboy-style gun that’s affordable, easy to use, and fairly lightweight. It’s ergonomic and fits both grown-ups and kids without much issue. 

The design harkens back to the lever guns used in western after western. Any cowboy fan will feel right at home with the Henry classic in their hands. Henry doesn’t waste time with fancy features no one wants. You get a rifle with a lever, a hammer, and a trigger, and you get it at a great price. 

The affordability of the gun doesn’t mean it’s cheap or crappy. The action cycles smoothly, and the lever runs well. Even though it’s just a .22 LR, you get that tactile feeling that no other weapon in the world delivers. The sights might be simple and open, but the gun’s accurate and can ring a bull’s eye or hunt squirrels without much difficulty. 

Henry’s famed front-loading tube design makes it easy to load the rifle and empty it when the shooting is over. The lack of a side gate might be bothersome, but it’s tough to do with a .22 LR. 

As you’d expect, it’s scaled down for a .22 LR. The little Henry weighs only 5.25 pounds. Even though it’s small, it’s not too small for adults to pick up and plink with either. It’s that just-right size that makes it an endearing weapon. 

The Henry 22LR also made our Best 22LR Rifle List. To see what else made that list you find the Best 22LR Rifles article here.

Product Pros and Cons

  • Light and Small
  • Fun to Shoot
  • Affordable
  • Rear Sight Is Difficult to Adjust

Henry 22 Deals

2. Henry Big Boy X

Henry-Big-Boy-X-Featured-Image

Henry Big Boy X

A lever action-styled PCC chambered in 44 magnum that provides plenty of opportunity for customization and accessories.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B
  • Ergonomics B
  • Reliability A+
  • Value C
  • Accuracy B

Our Grade

B

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 3 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Henry Big Boy X Model Specs

  • Barrel Length 17.4″
  • Overall Length 36.3″
  • Weight 7 lbs 5oz
  • Calibers 357 Magnum, 45 Colt, 44 Magnum

Henry Big Boy X Review

X gonna give it to you! I think warrior-poet DMX would appreciate the Henry X Model. The Henry X Model takes shooters on a different route from the traditional wood and cowboy lever gun. The Henry X Model offers shooters a premium grade, modern, tactical lever gun. It’s complete with the modern bells, and whistles shooters would want.

Yep, a tactical lever gun. This modern lever-action rifle is perfect for states with restrictive weapon laws that make semi-auto rifles difficult to own. The Henry’s Big Boy X rifles feature modern polymer furniture that features a combination of M-LOK slots and rails for adding lights, lasers, and more. Light is a must-have on any home defense rifle. 

Mounting an optic rail for a modern red dot is an option, and the high visibility sights come standard. The barrel is threaded for a modern muzzle device and is perfect for tossing a suppressor on. 

To keep your gun running, a side loading gate makes it possible to top the gun off and add more and more rounds to the 7-round tubular magazine. Speaking of rounds, you can choose between a .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or .45 Colt gun. All of those rounds are proven man stoppers. 

Henry’s Big Boy X Models offer you a rather interesting take on the lever gun. It’s complete with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a modern rifle, just with a not-so-modern action. The calibers are all man stoppers, and the weapon can be quick to top off even though it has limited capacity. The Henry Big Boy X Models are the most modern lever guns out there. 

To read about some more pistol-caliber carbine firearms, be sure to check out our Best Pistol Caliber Carbine article.

Henry Big Boy X Pros and Cons

  • Setup For Modern Needs
  • Variety of Calibers Available
  • Great Sights
  • Side Loading Gate
  • Not SASS Approved for Competition

Henry Big Boy X Deals

3. Browning BLR Lightweight

Browning BLR Lightweight (275 × 84 px)

Browning BLR Lightweight

Lever-action rifle with heavy-duty rack and pinion design. Gloss finish walnut pistol grip style stock and Schnabel forearm. Precision barrel and lightweight aluminum receiver with blued finish.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Browning BLR Specs

  • Barrel Length 20, 22, and 24 inches
  • Overall Length 40″
  • Weight 6 lbs 8 oz
  • Calibers Too Many To List

Browning BLR Lightweight Review

The tubular magazines of most lever guns ensure you cannot use spitzer-style rifle rounds like 223 and 308 Winchester. The Browning BLR resolves that by using an internal magazine and allowing shooters to use whatever caliber they want. Like most Browning products, the BLR is nothing but high quality. This rifle provides an accurate, reliable shooting rifle platform with the combined benefits of a traditional rifle round and lever action. 

Caliber-wise, Browning seems to make the BLR in everything for everyone. This includes calibers like the little .223 all the way up to the mighty .300 Win Mag. Every gun comes with a four-round detachable magazine, and each caliber demands a different barrel length, from 20 to 24 inches. The simple open sights make fast shooting possible, and this gives you rifle range with lever gun speed. 

The BLR hits hard but also hits accurately. Shooting at a deer at 200 yards won’t be a tough shot. The light and smooth trigger, combined with the precision-oriented construction, makes accurate shots easy. Plus, you can always add a scope should you so choose. What is surprising is Browning’s ability to make this weapon so lightweight. You won’t exhaust yourself on a stalk with a 6-pound, 8-ounce rifle. 

Light rifles are quick to your shoulders. What his rifle isn’t light on is price. It’s one of the more expensive lever guns on the market. That’s certainly a turn-off for some folks who prefer a classic lever gun’s rugged simplicity and low price. If you want the speed of a lever gun with the range of bolt action, this is your only choice. 

The BLR aims at a few of the lever gun’s common disadvantages and rectifies them with a detachable magazine and standard rifle rounds. If you go with the BLR range won’t be an issue, and you can use the most common rifle rounds out there. Plus, you’re getting an extremely well-made lever-action rifle. 

Browning BLR Lightweight Pros and Cons

  • Uses standard rifle rounds
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate
  • Expensive

Browning BLR Lightweight Deals

4. Citadel Levtac 92

Citadel Levtac 92

The Citadel LEVTAC-92 Lever Action Rifle brings modern improvements to a classic design. This Model 92 lever action rifle is chambered in .357 Magnum with an 8 round magazine tube and an 16.5 inch barrel.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Citadel LevTac 92 Specs

  • Barrel Length 16.5 – 18″
  • Overall Length 33.6″
  • Weight 5.9 lbs
  • Calibers .357, 44 Magnum, 454 Casull

Citadel LevTac 92 Review

Lever guns have had a sharp increase in price since the massive rise in popularity of semi-auto guns. Sometimes it can feel tough to find a good deal on a lever-action rifle. The rather new Citadel LevTac 92 will certainly give you a good deal for your money. The LevTac 92 is a non-traditional ever gun available in most common lever gun calibers, with a ton of tactical ready features to make it a modern choice. 

The LevTac 92 costs about 700 bucks, which can be considered affordable for a magnum-powered lever gun these days. What makes it a great deal is the number of features included in the weapon. It’s not your standard lever gun and includes several features you’d spend a fortune on. These features would cost well over a few hundred dollars. 

Those same features make the LevTac 92 standard out. This includes a lightweight and very modern M-LOK rail system. It’s super long and gives you plenty of slots for lights, foregrips, and similar must-haves. Across the top, we have an optic rail for adding red dots or long eye relief scopes. On top of that, we get a rear peep sight and standard front sight. 

From a tactical perspective, a few features stand out. The open ejecting design allows you to port load should the gun run dry. The side-loading gate makes it easy to keep the gun topped off and loaded. On top of that, the gun comes with a huge lever for quick action working. The .357 Magnum version uses a 16/5 inch barrel, and the 44 Magnum and 454 Casull use an 18.5-inch barrel and has an eight-round magazine capacity. 

All in all, the Citadel LevTac 92 provides you with a great little lever gun with a ton of modern features. Citadel might not be the most well-known company, but the gun uses a classic 1892 lever action that’s long been a proven option. 

Citadel LevTac 92 Pros and Cons

  • Great Price
  • Feature Filled
  • Perfect For Plinking and Tactical Use
  • No Cowboy Options

Citadel LevTac 92 Deals

5. Marlin 336

Marlin 336

Marlin 336

The Model 336 is fast handling and is an icon of the deer woods. This lever-action rifle is chambered in .30-30 Win. and .35 Rem.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 3 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Marlin 336 Specs

  • Barrel Length 20 to 24″
  • Overall Length 38.5 to 42.25″
  • Weight 7 lbs
  • Calibers .30-30 or .35 Remington

Marlin 336 Review

The Marlin 336 hit the market in 1948, and it’s one of the more modern lever-action rifles, believe it or not. Marlin built the 336 for hunters and wanted to provide them with a modern design in classic hunting calibers. Since 1948 the Marlin 336 dominated the deer blind and tree stand with its .30-30 or .35 Remington calibers, although the .30-30 has long been the choice of hunters. 

The Marlin 336 modernized things a bit and improved on the 1893 action. You get a rock-solid setup with a side ejecting design paired with a side loading gate. Shooters can easily attach a rail on the top of the receiver to mount an optic of any type. A set of open sights sit across the top of the barrel and make snapshots in the brush easy and quick. 

A lever gun in .30-30 excels for close-range killing power, and the sights support that kind of shooting. Your cheek finds a natural rest on the brilliantly designed stock over and over, and it aligns perfectly with your sights for quick snapshots on target. 

Manipulating the lever is easy, smooth, and provides that tactile satisfaction you want from a lever gun. The Marlin 336 puts rounds tight where you want them and can be quite accurate with high-quality ammo. The popularity of the 336 also ensures you have a massive aftermarket for all the parts and pieces you could ever want. To make your Marlin truly yours, you can add scopes, extended hammer spurs, new handguards, stocks, and more. 

When it comes time for a no-nonsense lever-action rifle, the Marlin 336 occupies that space with class and charm. It’s a simple lever-action rifle that functions easily and works brilliantly. It’s a classic lever gun perfect for taking North American medium game.

Marlin 336 Pros and Cons

  • Accurate and Reliable
  • Awesome Ergonomics
  • Modern Design
  • Only Two Caliber Options

Marlin 336 Deals

6. Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper

Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper

Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper

The Texas Brush Popooer model’s light weight makes it a good fit for all ages, without compromising quality, speed, or accuracy.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper Specs

  • Barrel Length 18″
  • Overall Length 36″
  • Weight 7 lbs 4 oz
  • Calibers .44-40 45 Colt

Texas Brush Popper Review

The cowboy is a western American icon. He is often armed with a six-gun and lever-action rifle. If you want to play cowboy at the range or compete in the single-action shooting society, then I have a lever-action rifle for you. The Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper. The Model 1873 Winchester is the gun that won the west, and the Cimarron replica of that gun brings a new level of beauty to the platform. 

The Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush popper is a carbine variant of the rifle with a short 18-inch barrel and chambers either 45 Colt or .44-40. This beefy lever action was built with input from top SASS competitors to make a refined rifle for competition that remains true to the original. 

Plus, it’s just awesome. The action is super slick and fast to work. Pulling that trigger delivers you a refined feeling with a smooth pull and a light break. The dark wood stock locks into your shoulder with a classic design, and you’ll have no issues finding the forward-mounted iron sights. Combined with the awesome trigger, those sights ensure you’ll hit where you’re aiming. The barrel goes from octagonal to round, and the case-hardened finish is brilliant and beautiful. 

This is one of those few guns that function as nice as it looks. The downside? Well, the price for one. It’s not a cheap gun, and that will turn some away. However, for those looking for the classic cowboy lever gun, the 1873 Texas Brush Popper gives you a Cadillac of a gun.

Cimarron 1873 Texas Pros and Cons

  • Beautiful
  • Slick Action
  • Awesome Trigger
  • Accurate
  • Expensive

Cimarron 1873 Texas Brush Popper Deals

7. Big Horn Armory Model 89

Big Horn Armory Model 89

Big Horn Armory Model 89

Built in the USA, the Big Horn Armory Model 89 lever-action rifle in .500 S&W Magnum continues the rich legacy of American firearms design and development.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value C

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Big Horn Armory Specs

  • Barrel Length 16, 18, 22 Inches
  • Overall Length 35, 37, 41 inches
  • Weight 7 lbs 10 ounces
  • Calibers 500 S&W

Big Horn Armory Model 89 Review

Do you want a big bore lever gun? Well, that’s easy. So many lever guns chamber calibers beginning with four that it’s easy to find a ‘big bore lever gun. What about the biggest bore lever gun? Well, that’s where the Big Horn Armory Model 89 comes into play. This gun is beastly and chambers the 500 S&W Magnum round, the most powerful production handgun cartridge on earth. 

To do so, Big Horn Armory has made a truly awesome firearm. It combines the features of the Model 86 and Model 92 lever guns. The end result is a semi-custom lever-action rifle that allows users to tailor the gun to their needs and wants. This includes options for scout scope mounts, an octagon barrel, mini red dot mounts, and more. 

The side gate is pushed back on the receiver to accommodate the huge and powerful round, and the top eject design makes it easy to clear the massive round during ejection. Big Horn Armory maximizes your sight radius and, therefore, accuracy by pushing the rear sight back as far as possible. It moves during the ejection process, but that’s not a problem. 

Big Horn Armory offers the gun in various barrel lengths, including 16 inches, 18 inches, and 22 inches. Barrels can be threaded as well for suppressors or muzzle devices. The trigger and action are wonderful, as is the accuracy. If you’re big-game hunting, you’ll find it hard to miss. The main downside will be the punishing recoil. It’s brutal and can leave you feeling beaten and bruised. 

From the ground up, this lever gun is built to be different. The BHA Model 89 exhibits the classic reliability, accuracy, and quick action of a lever gun with a custom fit and perfected design. That comes at a high price point, but for those picky shooters, that won’t be a problem.

Big Horn Armory Model 89 Pros and Cons

  • Excellent trigger
  • Brilliant Action
  • Hard-Hitting Caliber
  • Tons of Custom Option
  • Rough recoil

Best Lever Action Rifles – Buyers Guide

The biggest consideration you need to make is what do you plan to do with the rifle? IF you want to hunt, then you need to know your game and the caliber necessary to take it. If I want a small game rifle, I will pick a .22LR – if I want to hunt bear, then maybe a .444 Winchester. 

A home defense rifle in 500 S&W would work, but it’s a lot cheaper, lighter, and easier to find ammo for a .357 Magnum, which has long been known as a man stopper. If you want to compete in Cowboy Action shooting, you need to make sure your rifle will fall within their bylaws and rules regarding calibers and rifle types. 

Choose your task before you choose your rifle, and let those choices guide you. 

Rejecting Tradition 

Traditionally the lever-action rifle is seen as a cowboy’s gun. A gun that won the west and di so with blued steel and wood furniture. It’s an iron-sighted rifle designed for iron-sighted tasks. Sure, that’s all well and good, but why keep a platform in the 1800s? 

Lever action rifles can be versatile and handy weapons, and the market for upgrading the old lever guns has opened up substantially. You need to choose your lever gun wisely if you want to add optics, maybe an M-LOK rail, lights, lasers, kitchen sinks, and suppressors. 

A lot of these upgrades seem to apply to specific companies’ guns and are not universal. You should research the upgrades you wish to add and then see what weapons they work with. You don’t want to be stuck wishing you bought a Henry when you purchased a Cimarron because you might not be able to modernize the Cimarron. 

Some of the upgrades that may be possible for your rifles could be;

  • Optics Ready 
  • Threaded Barrel 
  • M-Lok Rails 

Loop Size 

The lever on your lever gun has an oval portion we call a loop. Loops come in standard and larger, and each offers its own strengths. If you plan to shoot SAA competitions or want to shoot fast, you might want to go for the larger loop. This loop allows you to work the action without rotating your hand, and this makes it a lot faster to cycle the weapon. 

The standard loop gives your gun a lower profile and makes it easier to work the action in a low position. Prone firing a lever action isn’t easy, but it’s a lot harder with a large loop. 

Side Gate or Front Load 

When it comes time to load your rifle, you’ll have three options. The main two are a side gate load and a front load. The other option is magazines, but that’s fairly rare. Lots of Henry rifles feature a tubular magazine that can only be loaded from the front. The user removes the top, exposes a loading chamber, and drops rounds down the tube to load the gun. 

Front-loading takes a bit more time due to the extra manipulation needed to load the weapon. However, you can unload the weapon safely and quickly without needing to work the action. In rimfire guns, a front-load is a must-have. The main reason is the fact that side gate loading can dislodge the projectile or damage it. 

Side gates are placed on the receiver and allow the shooter to load into a tubular magazine one at a time. It’s much easier, and the shooter doesn’t have to dismount the rifle to top it off. It’s more ergonomic and more common. These rifles from Henry come with both side loading gates and front-loading tubes. 

Top Eject or Side Eject 

Lever action rifles come in two flavors in regards to ejection. Some guns eject through the top of the gun, notably the Browning-designed Winchesters like the 1894 eject from the top. The other option is ejection from the side like most traditional, modern firearms. 

The top eject is fairly simple and quite robust, plus it allows for bigger, longer cases to eject with ease. A top eject gun lets you get inside the gun and get it nice and clean. You can also port load through the top, much like a shotgun. Should the gun run dry, you can toss a round directly into the chamber. The downside is that adding a scope can be tricky. 

A side eject keeps the receiver most enclosed and exposes it to minimize the entry of dirt and debris when working the action. The side ejection allows the receiver to be solid and makes it much easier to mount an optic. Side eject makes adding an optic much easier and allows you to add any number of optics. Accessing the inside of the receiver tends to be a little trickier, though. 

All American 

The first lever-action might not have been an American invention, but Americans sure as heck took it over. The lever-action sits beside the cowboy-style six guns as a weapon of pure American iconography. While lever actions are historically cool, they still have a modern role to play and offer a manually operated, fast-firing, hard-hitting rifle. For some, that’s the perfect option for their task. 

Rate

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]