Lever Monstrosity

Reader John C sends me a pic (with all sorts of apologies) and a plaintive cry of “How can anyone do that to a lever gun?”

Strangely enough, I don’t think it’s completely horrible, especially given the times we live in.  If you take away the lever action and replace it with a bolt action, it becomes a simple “chassis” rifle, e.g.

Is it ugly?  Oh hell yes, and I’ve made my feelings clear about this plastic nonsense on many an occasion.

If we are going to level criticism at the chassis lever rifle (CLR), it would be this:  note that while the CLR has a bipod, it’s fitted with a red-dot sight and not with a scope — and for good reason, because at its heart, the primary terrain of the lever rifle is in the deep woods, where a scope is more often than not counterproductive in that it can limit the shooter’s field of vision.

The second criticism is this:  removing the standard wood stock and adding a bipod and chassis must add weight to the rifle, which therefore takes away the lever rifle’s most important features:  its lightness and handiness.

All that said, I don’t have a problem with adding a bipod to a lever rifle;  there are times when I, for one, would have found it quite useful — i.e. when faced with a 100-plus yard shot across a clearing in the woods.

(As an aside, if you do a search for “lever rifle with bipod”, there are precious few pics thereof, which might mean something.)

Lastly, I would suggest that unless the bipod is extended quite substantially (as in the above pic), the downward drop of the lever will slam on the ground and prevent the action from cycling properly.  Shooting from prone, therefore, would be awkward.

Also, I quite like the idea of adding a red dot sight to a lever rifle, although it compromises the clean, classic shape of the thing.

So yes, the chassis lever rifle is as ugly as Nancy Pelosi with a hangover, and definitely falls foul of the maxim that “even if you can do something, there’s no reason why you should.  Frankly, though, I think its impracticality is more of a reason why it should be ignored with extreme prejudice.


  1. > because at its heart, the primary terrain of the lever rifle is in the deep woods,

    The alternative place for a lever gun–because there’s damn few pump/slide action rifles (https://www.remarms.com/rifles/pump-action/, they used to make one in 5.56 that took AR mags)–is in authortarian states that ban magazine fed semi-autos.

    In those places a lever gun makes sense as a self-defense firearm, and having a RDS and a flash light onboard make sense.

    This would be a better way to mount the light though: https://hillpeoplegear.com/Products/CategoryID/8/ProductID/135

    A bipod on most lever guns doesn’t make sense though–they aren’t generally precision rifles. IIRC there’s one that can be had in a .308, and that would have the legs for a reasonably powerful scope and bipod.

    I’m not the classicist that you are, and I see no reason why a rifle that is intended to be beat around in a truck, and then carried through dense brush shouldn’t be stocked in a utilitarian synthetic stock, but at some level I think things should be what they are, and that top picture is not that.

  2. A levergun in 30-30 or .357 with a red dot is the quintessential “Cowboy assault rifle”, and my recommendation for an East Coast interstate traveler’s trunk gun. It threads the many needles for travelers who cross many jurisdictions with wildly different biases and requirements.

    This of course, excludes the Dark & Fascist Jurisdictions that will inprison you for having the temerity to be armed at all. Jersey, we’re always lookin’ at you on this, but NY and MA are similarly perilous to the health and liberty of the free man.

    Speaking of which, isn’t SCOTUS due to rule on the scope of “and bear” around now?

  3. Ehh, I have both a scope and a bipod on my .30-30 Marlin lever.

    However, the scope is 2x scout scope, and the bipod is a swivel attached model that removes in about 3 seconds with no extra hardware left behind. I’m not sure you would be as hostile to that setup.

    1. Nope, nothing wrong with that rig — especially if you suffer from Olde Phartte Eyesyte, as I do.

  4. I will admit that I’m not an expert on lots of things. But seeing the picture of the lever action assault rifle shows me that just because you’re stupid doesn’t mean you have to prove it.

  5. Maybe the hand stop is a bit much, but as long as no permanent damage is done to the rifle, besides, as long as you stick to an intermediate pressure round (never heard anyone accuse 45/70 of being weak) a lever is darn fast and maneuverable, the ability to top up the magazine while still ready to fire is also a nice feature.
    Praying for the day when something like this is a personal decision and not a work around for ridiculous gun control laws.

  6. Hahaha, I’m John C that sent that to Kim because we both have a love of effective firearms (Kim’s well known love of the AK-47- I remember his write up from the old Nation of Riflemen “The action sounds like a refrigerator pushed down a flight of concrete stairs.” Well something like that, my memory isn’t so good.

    And we both have a love of the classics (guns, cars, architecture) and that lever gun offended my aesthetic sensibility. But I will admit getting the one I just purchased because I like the rear peep sight and the rail for a red dot. 20” SS Barrel in 357 magnum with gray laminated stock.

    I guess it all depends on where you decide to draw the line. Giving up buckhorns for the peep? Mounting a red dot? Hand stop? Bipod? I guess it’s all good.

    Wish I could post a photo of my gun but not sure I can. One thing I will say, as we creep toward the second revolutionary war, I will become more interested in practicality and less in aesthetics.

    Anyway whatever works going forward. And sounds like a refrigerator pushed down a flight of concrete stairs. 🙂


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