The Lever Action Rifle for Prepping and Survival

1873--outside-spurs-etcThe subject of weapons for survival is hot and heavy in the prepper community. Magazines and blogs offer all kinds of opinions and solutions. If you follow the mainstream “Prepper press” you would be convinced that unless you own the most modern military style battle rife, then you are SOL when SHTF. Not necessarily so.

There are as many opinions about which firearms a prepper should acquire to survive a SHTF episode or even TEOTWAWKI as there are firearms. I have written about building a survival battery for beginning preppers as well as oldie military rifles for preppers. But there is one class of firearms that is often overlooked. And that is the lever action rifle. Now, before you start laughing, some very serious weapon instructors such as Gabe Suarez have dusted off the lever-action and shown how it has the capacity to be an effective fighting rifle.

There are basically two type of lever-action rifle generally available to the public. Those with open top receivers and those with closed top receivers. Both eject out the right side.

Winchester Mod-94

Winchester Mod-94

The Winchester Mod-94 is an example of an open top receiver.

Marlin 336

Marlin 336

The Marlin 336 is an example of a closed top receiver. Open top receivers are easier to access the chamber for single round loading. There are other lever-action manufactures such as Mossberg who makes a factory built combat lever-action and Rossi. Winchester bookAlmost all lever-action rifles that are suitable as prepper rifles will have the loading gate on the right side of the receiver and use a tube under the barrel as the magazine. So what makes a lever-action rifle a viable prepper rifle?

  1. In many localities where “Black Guns” are severely restricted, they seem to ignore the lever-action. After all, it doesn’t have those serious “criminal” features such as detachable magazines, or God forbid, a bayonet lug. It is reminiscent of all the “good guy” cowboysMarlin book the sheeple have seen in the movies.
  2. Ammunition is in common civilian calibers and easily obtained. These cartridges are succesful game and defensive rounds and have been for a long time.
  3. They are ambidextrous.
  4. The typical sporting versions have short 16″ barrels which make them highly maneuverable in close quarters.
  5. They are light weight and easy to carry if you are bugging out on foot.
  6. With practice, you can pump out more rounds faster than a bolt-action.
  7. The weight and size allow quick target acquisition.
  8. They are easy to train novice shooters on.
  9. They are relatively inexpensive. You can get usually get a used one for much less than you would invest in a modern style battle rifle.
  10. They are extremely reliable and simple to maintain.
  11. They can mount scopes or other optical sighting devices.


The lever-action can be had in two large rifle calibers and a number of pistol calibers. The two larger re the .30-30 Winchester and the .45-70 Government. In handgun calibers they can be had in .357 Magnum, .44Magnum, and .45 Long Colt, depending on manufacturer and model. Personally, I think the only advantage to having a lever-action in a pistol cartridge would be if you were carrying a revolver as a defensive handgun and wanted interchangeability of ammunition. However this seriously limits your range with the rifle. The .30-30 Winchester would be my choice in a lever-action. This cartridge has ballistics very similar to the Russian 7.62×39 round chambered in the AK. The 45-70 is an excellent cartridge and was designed to take animals as large a buffalo. But I personally feel that the .30-30 is a better choice for the prepper due to availability and cost of ammunition.


Most lever-action rifles come equipped with “Buckhorn” style open sights. These are perfectly adequate but a ghost ring aperture sight would be an improvement. Also, an Aim Point type sight could prove to be aimpoint carbineuseful at relatively close range. I am not a big fan of bandoliers as they expose your

Tactical Tailor Dump Pouch

Tactical Tailor Dump Pouch

ammunition to the elements, but many people do like and prefer them. I prefer a dump pouch similar to one that Tactical Tailor makes. Slings should be a simple two point strap sling.

The standard lever-action carbine with 16″ barrel in .30-30 could be a serious asset to your survival armory.

18 thoughts on “The Lever Action Rifle for Prepping and Survival

  1. The 30 30 lever action hard to find in current sales market the 357mag and 45 long colt and 44 mag still available; that’s so.ething think about at 100 yards the damage a 44 mag does is almost same as 3030 rifle


  2. You can also get older rifles in pistol caliber such as 38-40, 44-40, 32-20, 25-20 and larger calibers like 38-55, 45-90, and 50-110


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