The Best Modern Lever Guns

in Authors, Lever-action, Rifles, Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

In an age where AR-15s rule, it’s easy to forget about all the other options out there. For me, some of the most enjoyable rifles out there have always been lever guns. Maybe it’s the wonderful tactile function of the lever that creates a fair bit of enjoyment between shots. Handling a lever gun is never boring. 

Lever guns are one of those rare American-made and designed firearms. They are deeply tied to our culture and are often seen as a representation of the American cowboy rifle. Lever guns have a rich heritage in the United States, and the fact they continue to be produced in the face of overwhelming semi-auto options is a testament to their quality. 

With that in mind, let’s look at the best modern lever guns on the market. 

What I Mean by Modern Lever Guns

Modern and lever rarely go together. Several current production designs are well over a century old. When I say modern lever guns, I mean the guns you can purchase right now. These guns are still in production and are the best production firearms on the market. These are the guns you can still get on the open market, and this is not a “best of list of all” of the lever guns to ever exist. 

Rossi M92 Series Lever Guns

Let’s start the list off with a rifle that’s fairly affordable as far as lever-action rifles go. The Rossi M92 series has proven itself to be deceptively nice and quite well made. Rossi cloned the famed Winchester 1892 action and wisely so. The John Browning designed 1892 action is well-reputed, durable, and reliable. 

Rossi Lever guns with wood furniture and gold barrel bands
The Rossi 92 series bring you an affordable lever action rifle based on a classic design

This series encompasses several calibers and designs. Shooters can choose from rounds like the .357 Magnum and .45 Colt, up to the more powerful .44 Magnum and .454 Casull. Variants include carbines with 16-inch barrels and full-sized rifles with barrels out to 24 inches if they so choose. We have various finishes and options, from the Triple Black optics ready to the beautiful hardwood and stainless option. 

Slick actions and top-ejecting designs make these guns a ton of fun to shoot. They deliver that tactile bliss of a lever action and unbeatable American styling. The Rossi M92 won’t break the bank, but I wouldn’t exactly call them modern, either. Shooters looking for a rifle they can use with magnified optics either need to be comfortable with scout scopes, side mounts or look elsewhere. 

See More – Rossi Roars Back into the Revolver Market!

Marlin 1895 

Freedom Group’s demise was a worthy sacrifice to get back the great Marlin guns of old. Ruger purchased Marlin and has been slowly getting their feet wet with lever guns. At NRAAM 2023, they released the Marlin 336, but time will tell if that deserves a spot on the list. The Marlin 1895 was revived first, and it’s proven to be an outstanding rifle that lives up to Marlin’s reputation. 

Marlin 1895SBL model lever guns with stainless finish

According to a friend at Ruger, these lever guns sell faster than they can make them. The Model 1895 is a big bore lever gun chambering the mighty .45-70 cartridge. Marlin’s new actions are smooth and slick. The wood is beautiful, and the gun shoots true. I won’t say it’s soft, but a suppressor took some sting out of the buffalo, slaying .45-70. 

Marlin is selling numerous models, including the famed SBL, but also a shorter Trapper and Guide Guns. The barrels are threaded for modern accessories, and the sights included are fantastic. The side eject design does make adding a rail and optic fairly easy. From dinosaurs to deer, the Model 1895 will get it done. 

Henry X Model Lever Guns

If one company has consistently kept up the quality, it’s been Henry. This American-made brand conjures up the name Benjamin Tyler Henry, the man who created the first lever gun and the famed Henry rifles of the civil war. Henry still makes those historically accurate lever guns and a bevy of other designs. One of their latest is the Henry X Model, which is a modern take on old guns. 

Henry X Model lever guns with all black furniture

The X Models, specifically the Big Boy X and the X Model .410 shotgun, tossed away the wood and blued finish of old. Instead, we get lighter, tougher polymer furniture. The front handguard features two M-LOK slots and a bit of Picatinny rail. The sights are a high visibility front sight, with an open rear sight for fast shots on target. 

The X Models feature both a side loading gate as well as the traditional front loading design Henry is famous for. Adding an optic is easy, and a red dot is perfect for this gun. A threaded barrel is begging for a suppressor. We get calibers including the aforementioned .410, but also .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. If you live in a state not so friendly to gun rights, the X Model might be the perfect home defense option. 

Browning BLR 

Browning wasn’t the first to figure out how to chamber proper rifle rounds in a lever-action rifle, but they are one of the few companies still producing such a rifle. It’s been in production since 1971 and has chambered just about every cartridge you could imagine. From .223 to .30-06, there is likely a BLR for you. 

Browning BLR lever guns with wood furniture and blued finish

The challenge with these lever guns is using a lever action design with spitzer-style projectiles. This projectile design doesn’t work with a tubular magazine, so the BLR series uses a detachable box magazine. These proper rifle calibers offer a greater effective range, and the BLR is certainly accurate enough to keep up. The trigger is absolutely outstanding, and the stock design, with its aggressive pistol grip, helps with full-powered recoil and control. 

The BLR series are easy to add optics to, and it’s almost a must for some of these calibers. Browning produces a ton of BLR models in various calibers, barrel lengths, finishes, and more. They even produce a takedown variant. The Browning BLR offers a little something for everyone.

See More – A Sub-MOA Takedown .30-06 Lever Action? The Browning BLR – Full Review.

Henry Axe 

One of the most fun I’ve ever had with a lever gun was with the Henry Axe. The Henry Axe is a .410 but don’t call it a shotgun. The Axe is a firearm, meaning it fires a shotshell from a smooth bore but doesn’t have and has never had a stock. That makes it a firearm, which means the barrel can be a short 15.14 inches long, and it has a pistol grip-only design. 

Henry Axe firearm with wood furniture

The Henry Axe uses a modern layout with both a side loading gate and a tubular loading gate up front. The sights are a simple gold bead, and the design is just simple, short, and light. Since the gun chambers the meager .410 round, its recoil is super light and very easy to shoot. Best of all, it’s a ton of fun! Is it super handy? Not really, and you can find uses, but for me, it’s all about the fun. 

Available on GunsAmerica Now

    The Henry Axe .410 is a five-shot gun with the same smooth lever action you expect from Henry repeating lever action firearms. It’s easy to shoot and, as you’d imagine, accurate at close ranges. If you need something that’s more fun than anything else, the Axe is for you. 

    Working the Lever 

    If you’ve never experienced the feeling of shooting a lever gun, you are missing out. So many shooters have only ever experienced the modern market and might not know the thrill of a lever gun. The big thumping calibers and the feeling of rapidly cycling the action are unbeatable. Get out there, grab one of these lever guns, and get after it. 

    *** Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE! ***

    Send this to a friend