Why no lever-action rifle for Elephants?

fourfive8

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the ability to extract a cartridge due to rim strength is not the issue.
the real problem comes when you cannot pull the lever down.
bruce.
That's the biggest issue... a normal bolt will begin the extraction process imparting a large amount of force during the turn. A lever has only a fraction of a bolt action's leverage force during that same, critical beginning portion of the extraction process.
 

bruce moulds

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That's the biggest issue... a normal bolt will begin the extraction process imparting a large amount of force during the turn. A lever has only a fraction of a bolt action's leverage force during that same, critical beginning portion of the extraction process.
you nailed that one.
bruce.
 

Tam Dl

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Here are a short list of a few oddball advantages 1886s have:

-Here is something I didn't know, and I am about to unbox one. The 1886 holds 8+1 cartridges in the short rifle I just bought. Not even sure I approve of that. I don't like round 9 of a serious social to be shaken not stirred. But the Safari holds only 3 rounds.

- Lots of takedown options available. You can pack them in two pieces, and if you contact a gunsmith you could possibly run two cartridges... WWG has a .35, and 30 based on the 45-70 family so there should not be any feed issues, but I don't know for sure.

- You can add ammo to the rifle without taking it out of battery, through the loading port.

- If you are dry, you can toss rounds in the top and they will chamber easily, even though the gun is CRF from the magazine and can be shot upside down.

- The gun has several safeties: 1) a lot of the new ones have some kind of firing pin safety where a short drop won't dent a primer; 2) A lot of the new ones have a tang safety; 3) There is a hammer half cock; 4) they are so fast to charge that you can go empty chamber in any situation where the noise of cycling the rifle won't spook the game. If you do carry a round in the chamber, you have up to 3 safeties to stop mechanical accidents. Of course, in the first place, guns are never pointed at anything one is not willing to see destroyed.
 

crs

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Bruce,
Some years ago, Winchester changed their 1886 .45-90 rifle twist to match that of their .45-70 rifles and that is the twist of my 1886 .458 2.4 . That 1886 shoots bullets from 300 grains to 500 grains accurately. I found the 500 grain bullets not to my liking and prefer 450 grain Kodiak, Punch, or North Fork bullets for really big and dangerous game.
There are excellent 300 grain bullets at velocities below 2000 fps that are devastating on medium big game. A gunsmith friend told me that his modern 1886 shoots 300 grain solids nicely at 2800 fps, but so far 2600 fps has been more than enough for anything that I have hunted in North America. Our bullet test team used 300 grain .458 Nosler PP at 2200 fps MV on leopard in Africa and the cat died instantly without a twitch.
Truth is that most game taken in NA with my 1886 has been with commercial .45-70 ammo at velocities less that 2,000 fps. Most kills are complete shoot-throughs.

The only extraction problem ever was when shooting 300 grain ammo loaded too hot with the wrong powder by one of our team members. Once the rifle cooled, all was OK and I emptied the rifle, pulled all those bullets, dumped the powder, and placed the cases in the "ready for loading" box.
 
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crs

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Thank you , Tam, for you additions and clarifications on the 1886.
I am so accustomed to those features that I rarely even bother to mention them. The fact is, that these rifles are not well known by the general hunting and shooting population and this lack of knowledge has led to many unfortunate assumptions and misstatements .

PS both my 1886 .45-90 (.458 2.4) and 1895 .405 are takedown models as are most of my rifles and shotguns.

Just to close with a good pot-stir, I do frequent several other gun forums and one of them has a very long running thread on the .458 Win Mag where I (sarcastically) call my 1886 a .458 Mini Mag. A recent post over there answered a question by confirming that it is EASY to load an 1886 2.4 to standard .458 win Mag velocities. Of course, I have done that, but avoid really detailed discussions as the folks on this thread are VERY experienced with the .458 Boomers and post proof of their tests in great detail. That thread has been very educational.
 

Tanks

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Lever action rifles are fun though as a lefty I had to learn to roll the rifle to load it upside down in order to have access to the loading port.
 

457121

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Bruce,
Some years ago, Winchester changed their 1886 .45-90 rifle twist to match that of their .45-70 rifles and that is the twist of my 1886 .458 2.4 . That 1886 shoots bullets from 300 grains to 500 grains accurately.
Just to add, modern 1886's conversions to 50-110 WCF are rebarreled with 1-20" twists. And lever gun cartridges like the 475 Turnbull (and others loaded to equal pressure) with a MAP of 42K psi extract easily. But I totally get what Bruce is saying.
 

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with lever actions you have make sure of the COL and that the crimp is right, those are must have. for hunting i full lenth resize and after reloading i check to make sure of trouble free feeding, a PITA. and i keep my firearms clean and check for any worn parts. by doing that i have never had any problems hunting that were not my fault. these things i also check for my other rifle actions, bolt-pump-semi auto.
 

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when talking about the lever rifle cartridges being sufficient for DG, we all have to remember that a few people have taken the big 5 with a handgun.
 

1dirthawker

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this thread started by asking why the lever gun was not used on elephants and we gun geeks then started dissecting the lever gun and why it is inadequate for any dangerous game.

first, the disclaimer, i own a 45-70 stainless laminated marlin 1895 so might be a little biased.
the lever gun WAS (past tense) not used during the heyday of elephant hunting because much like the black powder express guns, the bullets and powders that would be proper for headshots on bull elephants had not yet been designed.

then, after the proper solids and propellents had been discovered, they were not much used in lever guns and certainly not in the calibers that would be proper for elephants. the lever gun was primarily an american weapon, and no elephants here. ALSO there were of course, fantastic alternatives for elephant without a bunch of custom work (at the time)

currently, there are several lever rifle/cartridge options that would do a fine job on all things dangerous. although i am sure that pro's like IVW are not slobbering to trade in their 500 jeff's for a "puny" lever gun, there is no question that the current rifles with good bullets are fully capable of meeting energy/power levels required to kill a bull elephant.

@crs has gone thru all this before in this thread, there is no need to repeat what he has said so well. hunters don't shoot a bunch of elephants in todays hunting world, just the deal. so, a 9.5-10 pound lever gun in a 45-90, or 475 turnbull can, will and HAS done fine work on dangerous game. if a powerful, fast shooting open sighted rifle is not your thing, don't get one.

@Alaska Luke, i also have a 375 ruger, love it. but, i would not want to shoot THAT gun in a 458 win level performing rifle. its too light and would kick the $%&* out of you. my 45/70 is pretty snappy already.

back in the day, the answer was, they didn't exist in a proper format, today, lever guns would do a fine job. hunters also use remington's, sako, and other "sub standard" big game rifles to shoot their dangerous game, they have a PH that sorts out any issues that come up. a lever gun is a pretty reliable performer in my experience. mine has never jammed (i've owned 2, both marlin 1895's)

i believe it was tony makaris i watched hunting cape buffalo on a hunting show with a 475 turnbull, he shot two buffalo, in the space of what seemed like 5 seconds, i think he shot 3 times. very fast, very efficient, very effective.

re: teddy roosevelt who used a lever gun in africa, the times were different back then and a little grace should be allowed for those hunters back then. also, TR was a great man, forward thinking about wildlife conservation, he was NOT a great shot, but he had an iron will. he was also something of a badass! look up the speech that he was about to deliver, and an assassin shot him in the chest. the bullet penetrated thru his notes and penetrated into his chest. he continued to the podium, gave his speech and cut it a little short as noticed the bleeding and decided it was time to have a physician look at it!
 

Doug Hamilton

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well that might sum the man up.
he also thought he had the right to shoot in national parks.
and people used to chase bears for him to shoot.
bruce.

That might not quite be fair. Remember that National Parks didn't exist in this country until he signed them into law, it was kind of a new concept. Game drives were, and are, customary here, and when one guide managed to rope a young bear for him to shoot he refused as it was not sporting and hence the creation of the "Teddy bear." He was also a founding member of the Boone and Crocket Club, an organization that developed the idea of fair chase hunting. Before that any method of getting an animal down was good enough. Modern ethics had nothing to do with it. Even market hunting was still legal. The past was a different place, and you really can't discount Roosevelt's contribution to what we have now adopted as ethical hunting.
Doug
well that might sum the man up.
he also thought he had the right to shoot in national parks.
and people used to chase bears for him to shoot.
bruce.
 

bruce moulds

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doug,
you might make a good point, but the man was pre eminent in p.r.
we must always beware of pr, particularly from rich twits that believe their own.
bruce.
 

Alaska Luke

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1 dirthawker my 375 Ruger is 6.8 pounds or 7.5 with a scope. Yep it kicks. But the main comparison is that a 45-70 is no 30-30. Usually it's a serious step up in weight and recoil. A big lever action won't be much easier to carry or shoot.

You and I know a 45-70 is no joke but I've heard plenty of people treat it like a glorified 30-30. I even shot with a guy shooting heavy handloads in a 45-70. He refused to try my 375. Funny thing is it probably kicks less then his 45-70.
 

Tam Dl

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Tam D good points. I don't think the stocks of traditional lever actions can be made stronger with a thru bolt but I believe that is the design on the Henry Ling Ranger and BLR.

In the fantasy world where Blaser sees the light and comes out with a lever that is a variant of the R8, they would come up with something more efficient. But one can install a drawbolt in the Marlin, and the Winchester, as McPherson says. McPherson has just published a book on customizing the Marlin that is the size of a medium sized phone book. I have a copy, but I have only poked through it slightly. He is what he used to have on his Website:

"The next weakness is the two-piece stock. With only the conventional tang bolt attachment, any such stock is prone to failure. Considering the limited amount of wood reaching forward of the tangs and the stresses associated with side loading, we are not surprised to see longitudinal cracks reaching rearward of the tangs in older, well-used guns.

The other problem with the two-piece stock is that this system makes it impossible to isolate the barreled action from the bench and associated variations in shooter hold, etc. Firing good groups with any such gun is an exercise in patience and in paying attention to details that even many serious benchrest shooters might not have even considered.

After years of serious testing, I have concluded that how the shooter holds his tongue probably matters! For sure, how solidly the shooter holds the gun and presses his cheek against the stock will significantly alter the zero. In a related characteristic indicative of just how significantly these guns interact with shooter and bench, on a good day, I can call high and low hits when testing a Marlin 45-70 and I can do so without looking at the target — all I have to do is look at the chronograph! If shot velocity is slower than mean velocity the bullet will hit low; if shot velocity is faster than mean velocity, the bullet will hit high.

I mitigate these problems by installing a throughbolt that runs from near the rear of the buttstock to a hanger that I install on a replacement, hardened-steel tang bolt. With proper glass bedding, this modification allows me to significantly compress the wood of the stock along the grain (with more than 1000 pounds of force). Such compression monumentally reduces the potential for lateral loading to result in a crack in the stock. It also allows me to bring 100% of this force to bear on the front flats of the stock, where it should be, so that the buttstock and receiver are bonded in both the vertical and the lateral plane, to the extent possible. Finally, because the tightened throughbolt bends and stretches the tang bolt, it automatically clamps the rear of the tangs onto the corresponding flats in the stock, which further improves vertical buttstock attachment rigidity.

I owe this idea to my friend Steve Meacham, who used a more elegant version in his excellent reproduction 1885 Winchester rifles. In those rifles, with the right chambering and best loads, I have proven consistent varminting accuracy with the 225 Winchester consistently producing 100-yard, five-shot groups in the 2s (less than 0.3-inch separation of centers between any two shots in the group). This would simply not be possible if buttstock and receiver were not so well bonded."
Now all that said the idea of building a big lever action and shooting something big and scary does appeal to me. I wasted an hour last night looking up the new Winchester Model 94 available in 450 Marlin. Not an elephant gun but I'm not going to hunt elephants anytime soon. It looks almost perfect as the basis for a project. Maybe after I pay off my land and buy a boat I'll try it. With a laminated stock and some bedding it could be made reasonably weather proof. There is even a take down version.

Why not the 1886, it come in the 45-90, and it provides a lot more headroom. They are heavy, but that seems to be a good thing when full charges are let rip.

This is the Brockman Marlin, and I think it has a glass stock. Most of his rifles have laminated stocks.

12_3899dfe821816fbcb3db3e3b23f81585_m.jpg


M Loc handguard below, I think it makes all kinds of sight placement possible. I think it alllows the barrel to free float, but if it doesn't it certainly could, if it is worth the receiver being redesigned. The first thing like this that came out retail was a Zombie gun, but a tubular forend is the holly grain on a gun like this, if you want to step forward and solve a lot of traditional problem, such as magazine durability, sight placement, and free floating the barrel. Levers are a good design, but so far they are still hanging back 125 years. And visually if one wanted to make it seem in line with the past, it could certainly adopt this change and still look a lot nicer than the average Blaser. And mounting decent sights wouldn't cost you 500 dollars. But at the moment, cowbow action shooting seems to be carrying the weight for sales.

MI-MARMR-6__96947.1543772809.jpg


Now going totally crazy I wonder if a traditional Marlin or Winchester could be made with an aluminum reciever. Might save some serious weight. I'd put the weight back in as a heavier barrel. So theoretically more accurate.

Certainly not with the Winchesters as they have a strong rear lock, so the whole receiver is stressed. I would imagine the BLR would be OK, it has a turning bolt arrangement, I believe. I think there is some maker that has an alloy receiver out.

The big excitement will be to see what Ruger comes out with now that Remington has handed them the batton. I don't expect much, but they might make something available in the 50 Alaskan, or something like it. There seems to be some demand. It's a digital weapon after Ruger finished with it, so making changes is not going to be impossible.

----------------------------------------------------------

Let me just state again that I realize the bolt is the proven repeater in this field. Which not only points to it's superiority, but it also means than in any area where a lever excells it will either be regarded as cheating, or as something one does not need or the bolt would not already occupy the field, so there is not really any place for forward movement.
 
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Alaska Luke

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Tam DI I'd like a 45-90 to! But even if I had an unlimited budget I don't have unlimited time. A Model 94 in either 444 or 450 would be enough for Alaska and it would be handy to carry when I'm bumming around the woods. If African dangerous game was the plan I'd love to try a 45-90.

I might have to grab that Marlin book. I could imagine going down a real rabbit hole there.

And if Blaser would make a lever action that would be very cool. With a lever and straighter stock their rifles could look almost traditional.

I do thinkthe Henry Long Ranger does most of what we'd want a new lever action to do. It's just not a bear stopper. I wonder how easy it would be to recharge it to a short magnum or a wildcat.
 

Don458

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I 100 % agree. We also must judge Mr. Roosevelt by the laws of his own time and not our time . Speaking about myself , half the things l did 50 years ago , like shooting game at night with a torch light or using human corpses as bait for man eating royal Bengal tigers and panthers , would be perceived as unethical today . But times change . I have been a massive admirer or this great American President.
Exactly . Well said. Too many people use today’s standard to judge people’s actions in the past .
 

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