44 Magnum Lever Gun

44 Magnum Lever Gun

This is a discussion on 44 Magnum Lever Gun within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I've done my Search exercise and found some good input from previous threads. In considering a 44 carbine, I believe I've narrowed my options down ...

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Thread: 44 Magnum Lever Gun

  1. #1
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    44 Magnum Lever Gun

    I've done my Search exercise and found some good input from previous threads. In considering a 44 carbine, I believe I've narrowed my options down to 2 lever guns with a Ruger 77/44 bolt trying to push it's way into the running. I'm considering a Ruger 96/44 lever or a Marlin 1894 (pre -Rem and hopefully pre-safety). I'm fine in sticking with 240 gr loads so I'm not overly concerned about capabilities pushing or exceeding 300 gr. Both the Ruger and the Marlin lend themselves to mounting a scope, something that I'll end up doing sooner or later.

    This will be intended primarily as a field gun during deer season (here in brush country) and an all purpose gun for just having around out here on the farm. I understand that there are ammo capacity differences in the 2 rifles. The Ruger has less capacity with the rotary mag design but it's an easier unload. Trade off's for both the 96/44 and the 1894.

    No doubt there is a difference in the aesthetics of the two. The Marlins (and the Win's for that matter) are far more handsome animals than the Ruger. I don't care too much about that. You reach an age where function becomes more important than form.

    My primary questions are around dependability and accuracy. My impression is that both are dependable enough to put that concern to rest. Accuracy, then, becomes the focal point.

    I've got one Marlin in the safe and it's a fine rifle. I'd have no worries about adding another. But it's a 336 so not really comparable in many ways. The Ruger....I've no experience at all. I'd love to do a taste test with both, but I don't know how I could arrange that.

    I'm leaning towards the Ruger but just about the time I think I've got it nailed, more reading will tip me back towards the Marlin.

    Any help out there on comparing the two? Much appreciated.

    And BTW, I read one post "somewhere" with the author trashing the 96/44. Seems his buddy split the stock on his in the process of finishing off a downed deer. Ummmmm, I don't club animals with my rifle so that concern can also be put to rest.
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array GhostMaker's Avatar
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    There is a whole lot of wisdom and common sense in having a .44 Magnum lever gun. Particularly when you pair it with a good sixgun, like a Ruger, which would be my choice. Ruger's are over-engineered for their respective calibers. Frankly, if I were looking for a rifle/pistol combo in today's world it would be in this same chambering. You get a lot of versatility with the old .44, and a .44 Special is a down-right pleasure to shoot.

    Not long ago there was an article out on .44 rifles and if memory serves me correct the Ruger was mentioned in a very favorable light. I don't know if doing your research that you came across this website:

    Book Of The .44

    If you are looking for all things .44, this is THE site to reference with John Taffin. Also look for a fella' on there by the name Pacho Kelly. He is a virtual "oil well" of knowledge on sixguns and rifles chambered in the same caliber. Also, check out Mr. Taffin's article on .44 Long Guns: 38. THE MODERN 44 LONG GUNS

    If my 2 Cents worth means anything, I would pick the Ruger. Firing a .44 I personally like a platform engineered to "exceed the need" as for as durability and performance are concerned. Ruger's always have both in spades, as the old saying goes. By the way, I tip my hat to you on a fine selection of caliber and firearm.
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    Sorry, the website name did come through on the link....it's Sixguns.com.
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    I have a Marlin 336-44 Texan with iron sights from the early 1960s. I usually carry the Hornady 225 gr FTX LEVERevolution rounds in it and my revolvers. The round is much flatter shooting. The only drawback with a lever-action is you can't leave them loaded. The plastic tips tend to permanently flatten.
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    Oh yeah, by the way, if you check on Taffin's site look at the slide show he has there. If you want to catch sixgun fever to match that .44 Levergun illness you are about to cure, you will see some NICE sixshooters like the ones below.

    DSCN1772.jpg

    DSCN2294.jpg

    DSCN1773.jpg
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    I have no experience with the 96/44, but I do have that 1894SS. I've outfitted it with Skinner peeps and it's a good shooter. I'm very pleased with the rifle.

    However, I strongly recommend that you thoroughly check the 1894 for feeding before purchasing. The 1894's can be very picky with timing, and a slightly out of spec carrier or lever cam can cause major headaches. I would recommend that you take dummy rounds in both 44 SPCL and 44 Mag and make sure you can cycle the entire magazine. Cycle it fast, cycle it slow, and at varying (but reasonable) angles.

    I had two 1894's in .44, and one I had to make some carrier adjustments to get it to feed both 44 SPCL and 44 Mag reliably. So I really did not change the timing, but by slightly bending the carrier a few hundredths of an inch, all the jams disappeared and it never jammed again or hitched again.

    I do prefer the lever actions in pistol cartridges; the idea just appeals to me.


    EDIT: Also, I agree - stay away from the new Remlins. Lots and lots of problems with them...
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    I think a .44 mag lever gun is a GREAT utility carbine. If home defense is part of the criteria, then I'd lean toward the Ruger 96/44 because a couple of extra roto-mags make for MUCH faster reloading & simplicity unloading. However, from an esthetic POV, a high quality Winchester 92 clone (Browning?) is IMHO about as slick as a carbine can get. Winner? Ruger 96/44.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    The companions for my Marling 336-44 Texan:

    Colt Anaconda - 8”
    Ruger Super Blackhawk - 6 ”
    Ruger Super Blackhawk - 10 ”
    Smith & Wesson 29-2 - 4”
    Smith & Wesson 29-2 - 8 3/8”
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimaCharlie View Post
    The companions for my Marling 336-44 Texan:

    Colt Anaconda - 8”
    Ruger Super Blackhawk - 6 ”
    Ruger Super Blackhawk - 10 ”
    Smith & Wesson 29-2 - 4”
    Smith & Wesson 29-2 - 8 3/8”
    Okay, I'll be admitting to a little wheelgun envy right about now.....fine setup there.
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    I used to have a Browning model 92, 44 mag. I found it to be a marginally effective deer gun at 100 yards in the west on the mule/black tail deer. The three deer I shot with it (Wyoming Mule deer) needed a couple of put down shots. All shots were less than 100 yards with the 240 grain bullets, into the heart lung cavity and I was not impressed.

    I had to kill a great dane dog that was attacking a cow having a calf and it took 4 shots, through the chest to kill the damn thing. After that I sold it.
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  12. #12
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    The carbine will match up with the first 44 that came home, a S&W 629 4". Sorry ghost, not a Ruger. But an excellent shooter. When they start knocking out Redhawks again, there'll probably be one here. I'm gonna head out to the barn in a bit and check out the website you offered. The wood stove is cranking, we just swapped cows with the neighbor and I got the tractor tire back on the bead (front tire thank goodness).

    Henry didn't make the short list for a couple of reasons, though they're excellent rifles. First they're approximately 3 pounds heavier than the rest with the octagon barrel. More importantly, they're too damned handsome for practical use IMO. I've owned one and sold it for that reason alone. I couldn't bring myself to take it in the field and I can't afford safe queens so it went down the road. Really a shame. I saved my coins for that one.

    Ghost, you're right on the Ruber mags. Low capacity but easily comped with the mags.

    Lima...do you roll your own with those Hornady's?

    PEF, thanks for the heads up. Duly noted amigo.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by svgheartland View Post
    Lima...do you roll your own with those Hornady's?
    No, I don't reload.
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    I'll make an Easter basket for you if I ever swap the press. At the price of factory ammo, I'd better stop talking and just do it.
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    VIP Member Array GhostMaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by svgheartland View Post
    The carbine will match up with the first 44 that came home, a S&W 629 4". Sorry ghost, not a Ruger. But an excellent shooter. When they start knocking out Redhawks again, there'll probably be one here. I'm gonna head out to the barn in a bit and check out the website you offered. The wood stove is cranking, we just swapped cows with the neighbor and I got the tractor tire back on the bead (front tire thank goodness).

    Henry didn't make the short list for a couple of reasons, though they're excellent rifles. First they're approximately 3 pounds heavier than the rest with the octagon barrel. More importantly, they're too damned handsome for practical use IMO. I've owned one and sold it for that reason alone. I couldn't bring myself to take it in the field and I can't afford safe queens so it went down the road. Really a shame. I saved my coins for that one.

    Ghost, you're right on the Ruber mags. Low capacity but easily comped with the mags.

    Lima...do you roll your own with those Hornady's?

    PEF, thanks for the heads up. Duly noted amigo.
    Hey, my first .44 was a 4" M629. As good as a person could reasonably as for. I must admit, I do like their triggers more than the Redhawk.
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