Some (more) thoughts on the defensive lever action.

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Seems a lot of people are interested in the lever action as a home defense weapon. Any choice of defensive armament has pros and cons, so let’s consider the lever action chambered in a pistol cartridge. Some of these are true of all long guns (rifles, shotguns) while some are specific to the one under discussion.

Pro: Good power level, likely to stop a threat with a minimum of shots.
Pro: Not overly powerful like a full sized rifle cartridge, less likely to over-penetrate target.
Pro: Good magazine capacity – nine rounds is the norm.
Pro: Generally ambidextrous operation.
Pro: Simple manual of arms for the less dedicated in the household.
Pro: Long sight radius results in better accuracy than a handgun.
Pro: Low recoil level makes it easy for everyone to shoot.
Pro: Increased lethal range over a handgun.

Con: Harder to maneuver in confined spaces than a handgun, is easier to take away in a struggle.
Con: Harder/slower to reload, on the slim chance that it be necessary.
Con: Requires some practice and dexterity to operate lever efficiently.
Con: Slower to deploy/employ than a handgun.
Con: Missed shots will penetrate typical exterior walls.
Con: Difficult to use with flashlight.
Con: Hard to run efficiently one-handed.

These are just off the top of my head; I’m sure you can come up with others.

Is the lever action right for you? That depends on the circumstances; in cases where the long gun makes sense the lever action is often a good choice.

If you live alone (or with your spouse), and won’t be faced with the need to travel through your house to gather up loved ones, the long gun is ideal for defense of a barricaded position. If you have kids at home, and thus a very real need to bring them into the safe room which you control, the long gun is less than ideal. (Of course you can mix and match: use a handgun to get the kids back to safety, and switch to the long gun once you’re in your safe position.)

If you live on acreage, especially if you have livestock that is subject to predation, a long gun might be an excellent choice as a “perimeter defense’ tool.

If the long gun is appropriate for the intended use, the pistol caliber lever action has some advantages over the other choices in the category.

Compared to a regular rifle cartridge the pistol caliber lever action has less recoil, less muzzle blast, and substantially greater ammunition capacity. It’s more than powerful enough for any plausible defensive use, enough so that it can even be used for hunting deer.

Compared to a shotgun it’s easier to shoot. Even the light 20 gauge, of which I’m a huge fan, is substantially harder on the shooter than the lever action – there’s more recoil and the manual of arms is a little more complicated (you don’t have carrier releases on lever actions, for instance.) I’ve found that the pistol-caliber lever action is a gun that even the least experienced and most sensitive shooters like to use. If you have non-enthusiasts in your household, having a gun that they actually like to practice with will go a long way to helping maintain their proficiency!

Again, the lever action isn’t perfect for everyone or every situation. It is, however, a compelling choice for many.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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