History of the Lever Action Rifle

To understand the history of level-action shotguns, we must look back to the 1800s. According to records, the first lever-action guns were Colt’s 1st and 2nd Model Ring Lever rifles, which entered the market between 1837 and 1841. Since then, we’ve witnessed significant changes in the gun; let’s take a closer look at its history.

Antique 1876 Lever Action 4

Colts Lever-Action rifles

The Colts guns appeared on the market with a significant development for the industry: a lever that changed the face of hunting and warfare overnight. On a lever-action rifle, the lever is located next to the trigger guard area – sometimes including the trigger guard, too – to load and dispense the spent cartridge and load a fresh bullet in just one action.

After the two Colt models came out, more models were developed with different loading styles. Among the various mechanisms were the magazine fed lever action Spencer repeating rifle introduced in 1860 and The Henry Rifle, invented by Winchester employee Benjamin Tyler Henry.

The Civil War Brings Change

The U.S. Union Army adopted the Spencer rifle during the civil war and bought 20,000 units, while the British chose the Henry rifle in 1870 and used it all the way through WWI.

The main difference between the two was that the Henry rifle cocked the gun while it replaced the spent cartridge, while the Spencer rifle only replaced the cartridge, forcing the rifleman to cock the gun in a separate action.

In 1881, Marlin Firearms introduced the Model 1881 lever-action repeating rifle, this model led to the development of the more popular model 336. Many users today will be familiar with the Model 1894, which is still in production.

Differences Between the Marlin and Winchester Rifles

The Marlin and Winchester rifles might seem similar, but internally they differ. The Winchester employs a double-stage lever that releases the entire trigger, unlocking the bolt which is then moved back to eject the spent cartridge. The Marlin only uses a single action lever.

Lever Action

The Savage Arms Company

Between 1895 and 1899, The Savage Arms Company developed the hammerless lever-action sporting rifles, a popular model 99 which remained in production until the year 2000.

Comparing the Savage and the Winchester and Marlin models, the main difference is that Savage developed a rotary magazine that would use Spitzer pointed cartridges that provide increased accuracy. More recent models moved away from the rotary magazine, replacing it with a detachable box magazine. However, the Model 99 was an expensive gun to manufacture, and this led to their eventual closure of Savage.

Today, the only new models being introduced into the market are the products of Sturm Ruger, which includes three models, the Ruger No 1. Model 21317 30-30 Win Caliber, 21318 257 ROB caliber, and 21313 single shot Marlin 450 Caliber.

In Conclusion

Since the 1800s, lever-action rifles have changed beyond recognition. Still a popular gun, it’s certain we’ll continue to witness developments in these guns in the future.

To understand the history of level-action shotguns, we must look back to the 1800s. According to records, the first lever-action guns were Colt’s 1st and 2nd Model Ring Lever rifles, which entered the market between 1837 and 1841. Since then, we’ve witnessed significant changes in the gun; let’s take a closer look at its history.