Tactical Lever Action Rifles

in Authors, Gun Reviews, Lever-action, Primary Arms, Rifles
Tactical Lever Action Rifles
Tactical lever action rifles are cool no matter who you are: a cowboy at heart or a historical firearm buff.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Some want to embrace their inner cowboy and others are just a big fan of historical firearms. No matter your motivations, lever action rifles are durable, all-purpose guns that never fail to put a smile on people’s faces. But compared to modern rifles today, lever actions don’t have the same versatility as an AR-15 does.

Lever action guns are fantastic rifles in their own regard, but the lack of modern furniture like M-LOK handguards or optic rails can leave something to be desired. As such, it’s hard for those who want to break tradition and accessorize their rifles with modern optics and specialty components.

Fortunately, one of the newest trends in the firearm industry is taking lever guns to the next level. ‘Tactical’ lever guns have recently become a popular option for lever-action enthusiasts. At one point in time, these were only offered by a small group of gunsmiths. Now, multiple companies have jumped in on the trend and are providing enthusiasts with aftermarket parts and complete tactical lever action rifles.

What Are Tactical Lever Action Rifles?

Simply put, a tactical lever action rifle is a modernized version of the classic lever action you’re used to seeing. They have updated the traditional wooden stock and grips with either polymer or billet aluminum stocks and full-length M-LOK handguards like what you’d expect to see on an AR-15. Besides the modern stocks and grips, some include an updated top picatinny rail, making optic mounting much simpler.

Tactical Lever Action Rifles

Most enthusiasts use traditional lever action calibers when building their tactical lever guns. The most common calibers include .30-30 Winchester, .45-70, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum, to name a few. These calibers are readily available and easily found at most gun stores. Some of the up-and-coming tactical lever guns are chambered in more modern, readily available calibers like 5.56x45mm and 9mm.

A Unique Skill Set

The ability to use modern accessories and calibers on the traditional lever action platform creates a unique shooting experience. Since they’ve boomed in popularity, more manufacturers are beginning to try their own take on the modern lever gun.

Companies like Midwest Industries, Ranger Point Precision, and Betsy Ross Arms each make M-LOK handguards and top picatinny sections for lever-action rifles. With the creation of adjustable stocks from Ranger Point Precision and adjustable comb stocks from Form Rifle Stocks and Chisel Machining, using your favorite optic on your lever gun is now a reality.

Tactical Lever Action Rifles

With so many options, where should you start? It’s hard to choose when there is so much to consider. Do you get a traditional lever action and upgrade it afterward? Or do you opt for one of the new production AR-style lever guns?

Don’t worry! We’re going to break down options that make building out a tactical lever gun as seamless as possible below:

Henry Model X

The Model X from Henry has quickly become one of the most popular series of rifles in their lineup. The X series includes the Big Boy X Model and the large-frame Lever Action X Model. Depending on the model, they either come with a 17.4-inch, 19.8-inch, or 21.375-inch barrel. Though it comes in different calibers, each model comes standard with a black synthetic stock and handguard. A fully adjustable rear sight, a fiber optic front sight, and a blued steel finish on the receiver. In addition to this, the barrel is threaded for 5/8×24 muzzle devices.

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Tactical Lever Action Rifles

Unlike other Henry rifles, the X series has a side gate for loading ammo instead of the traditional tube loading method commonly used by Henry. Though you can still remove the ammo tube to load it, it isn’t necessary if you want to do a quick reload.

Henry is renowned for making high-quality lever action guns, and the Model X is no exception. You can leave this rifle the way it is, but Henry makes it easy to swap out components to turn it into a true tactical lever gun. Since the barrel is already threaded, you can quickly and easily add muzzle devices or a suppressor to your rifle without having to send it to a gunsmith to have it threaded. Henry also sells a plethora of different mounts for scopes, including a picatinny rail section, making mounting modern optics as simple as can be.

Marlin Model 1895 Guide Gun

Marlin has been one of the most prolific lever action rifle manufacturers since their inception in 1870. The model 1895 Guide Gun, formerly known as the Guide Big Loop (GBL), has quickly become one of their most popular rifles among recreational enthusiasts and hunters alike. Now, it’s a great candidate for a tactical conversion.

Tactical Lever Action Rifles

Like the Henry Model X, it also feeds from a side gate and comes standard with a threaded barrel. Currently, it’s only available in one caliber, that being the incredibly versatile .45-70. This makes the 1895 Guide Gun perfect for hunting large game like deer and elk, or for recreational shooters looking for a heavy-hitting thumper. What separates the 1895 Guide Gun from other lever actions is its construction. The barrel is made from cold hammer forged steel, and since it’s 19.1 inches long, the rifle can hold 6 rounds in the magazine tube.

While this rifle is perfectly fine in its base configuration, adding a picatinny top rail and M-LOK handguard will transform it into a full-featured tactical .45-70 lever action. A further consideration: Marlin also has two other models available in their 1895 series, the SBL and Trapper. Both have threaded barrels and come chambered in .45-70, but the SBL comes standard with an upper picatinny rail and upgraded sights, while the Trapper features a shorter 16-inch barrel and a 5-round standard capacity.

Bond Arms LVRB

Coming to the market in Q1 2024, the LVRB from Bond Arms is in a class of its own. While it keeps the action of a traditional lever action rifle, it’s chambered in modern rifle calibers like 5.56x45mm, 300AAC Blackout, and 9mm, with .450 Bushmaster and 12.7×42 (.50 Beowulf) currently in testing.

Essentially, the LVRB is a 5.56 lever action AR-15. The lower receiver is very reminiscent of the AR-15, using similar controls for disassembly and for the mag catch/release button, as it uses a standard AR-15 magazine. This gives the LVRB a standard capacity of 30 rounds with the option of using extended magazines, or smaller ones, for hunting. It also has a full-length, continuous 1913 picatinny top rail along with a full-length M-LOK handguard.

Mounting optics and other accessories are simple with this rifle, and it’ll be a great option for those looking for essentially a lever action AR15.

Fightlite Herring Model 2024

Just like the Bond Arms LVRB, the Herring Model 2024 from Fightlite is another modern rifle that blends the traditional lever action with the AR-15. This maintains the versatility of the AR-15

The Herring Model 2024 can be chambered in a multitude of different calibers, with the primary calibers being 5.56x45mm and 300AAC Blackout. Fortunately, because of its construction, it’s going to be easy to swap the upper to different calibers. Fightlite plans on having a multitude of conversion kits available, allowing you to use calibers like 6mm ARC, .450 Bushmaster, 9mm, 10mm, .45ACP, 5.7x28mm, and .22LR.

Like the LVRB, it also has a full-length 1913 picatinny rail along the top of the rifle, as well as a free-floating M-LOK handguard. Adding muzzle devices is easy too; the muzzle has a 1/2×28 thread pitch for the 5.56 variant, though it will vary depending on which caliber you choose when they’re available.

POF USA Tombstone

Perhaps one of the most unique lever guns to hit the market in recent times, the Tombstone from POF is a 9mm tactical lever action rifle. Being magazine-fed, it comes with either 20-round or 10-round magazines depending on state restrictions. It’s also one of the lightest rifles on this list, weighing in at just 5.75 pounds unloaded. Though it only comes in 9mm currently, there will be more calibers available in the future.

The Tombstone has an oversized throw lever that makes cycling the action smooth, and it also comes with a non-adjustable 3.5-pound trigger. Though the Tombstone doesn’t come with a continuous top picatinny rail, it has enough space to mount small and large optics, with an additional upper picatinny section at the end of the handguard. Its 10.5-inch M-LOK handguard is rounded for comfort and has a lower picatinny rail section at its front end. Strong barrels are important for repeated use, and the Tombstone features a 4150-steel barrel with POF’s dual-port muzzle brake. This muzzle brake can be removed and replaced with other ones, so long as they have a 1/2×28 thread pitch.

If you’re looking for a tactical lever gun in a more common, easier-to-shoot caliber, the Tombstone 9mm lever action is a great option for you. While it can be customized further with additional attachments and optics, it comes ready to shoot from the factory with integrated ghost ring sights and a Magpul 870 stock.

Choosing Your Tactical Lever Action

Choosing a lever action comes down to what your needs require. Tactical lever actions are seen by many as a novelty rifle that’s meant for range fun, but many enthusiasts often use them for other purposes like hunting since they have more options for optics and other accessories; so long as there aren’t any state restrictions barring them from use.

Tactical Lever Action Rifles

For the best of both worlds, we recommend you choose any of the larger caliber rifles like the Henry Model X and the Marlin 1895 variants. While the Model 2024 and LVBR will soon be available in 5.56 and 300AAC Blackout, their larger caliber variants aren’t expected to be available for quite some time, making the Henry and Marlin rifles the better option. Both the Model X and 1895 variants come in calibers that are more than capable of taking down large game like deer and elk.

If you don’t hunt, any of the options from the list above are great. Each model from the list is easily customizable and ready to shoot from the factory. The LVRB, Model 2024, and Tombstone make great range guns since they come chambered in modern ammo that’s produced on a much larger scale, but that choice is yours.

READ MORE: The New Original Henry In Hunt Camp

Lever action rifles are some of the most fun firearms to shoot, and fortunately, there is a myriad of options available. Customization of your lever action can be a fun DIY experience if you’re comfortable with doing slight fitting.

If not, you can find numerous companies such as Louthan Gun Works, OSS Outfitters INC, and Mad Pig Customs, that offer services such as barrel threading, action smoothing, and high-quality cerakote services to get you a truly one-of-a-kind custom rifle.

Tactical Lever Action Rifles

Conclusion On Tactical Lever Action Rifles

The lever-action rifle will continue to be one of the most iconic firearm types ever created, with many enthusiasts adoring the heritage and versatility of the platform. As firearms have progressed though, firearm and parts manufacturers have been able to develop new ways to blend modern comforts with the traditional rifle.

Though trends in the industry come and go, it doesn’t look like tactical lever actions are leaving the spotlight soon. They’re a fantastic blend of modern technology and traditional firearms design, making them an awesome choice for your next range build.

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