Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #6 Choosing Your Rifle

~October 30th, 2012

While the handguns are a lot of fun to shoot, the rifle and shotgun are what folks reached for when they knew a gunfight was coming up.So when your Caper involves stopping that truck full of hooch or “liberating” some gas money from the local bank, grab your “big gun”!

Right now, we have very few non-lever action rifles to choose from as we use straight walled or pistol cartridges.

The Winchester 1907 firing the .351, the Spanish Destroyer Carbine, a baby Mauser that fires the 9mm Largo, our beloved Thompson and the M1 Carbine are just about the only choices we have today. The 1907 Winchester is a superbly built semi auto rifle but ammo is horrible to find, this is realistically a handloader’s gun, so if you roll your own this could be a top choice.

The Spanish Destroyer uses a bolt action and is a very fun little gun, but it’s ammo 9mm Largo, is tougher to find, it will only be in well stocked gun stores with a heavy emphasis on surplus guns, but it is still available and you can order it shipped to you.

The Tommy we have already discussed, so I won’t go into it here, but also check out Race Bannon’s [our own Enforcer] Blog on it, it was excellent.

The M1 Carbine, not to be confused with the M1 Garand, is a sweet little shooter and a definite war hero. Firing the .30 Carbine round, ammo is plentiful for practice, but you will have to load your own to make the proper velocity for Zoot Shooting and right now getting one to run reliably with the downloaded ammo is very tough. These rifles are still available from the Civilian Markmanship Program and are easy to find in gun stores. These are light, mild recoiling and great little rifles.

Okay, now onto the lever guns. These are so much fun to shoot and handle they should be very high on your list for consideration. Usually weighing in at 6-8 pounds, they are a joy to handle and the few extra pounds over a handgun makes recoil no problem. Winchester and Marlin made literally millions of these in calibers from .22 to the monster .50-110 and are still turning them out today. The ones we will use are in pistol calibers, so don’t buy a .30-30 for this sport! The Winchester 73 & 92 , their clones and the Marlin 1894 are the ones to look for. The .357 Magnum ones will handle .38 Specials and the .44 Magnum ones will handle the .44 Special. A rifle like these, firing pistol rounds are just plain delightful to shoot.

Now, how do you choose? First, look at your budget, a good used lever gun will cost half of a Thompson. The M1 will be somewhere between these in price. Then, decide what you like. There is nothing worse than spending money twice to get what you really want. The advantage to buying used guns is that the initial depreciation has already been eaten by someone else and if you decide to sell later, you will get most of your investment back! If you find one at a really great price, you can always buy it with the plan of using it for trade bait, this is how I got my Thompson. I bought a beautiful Smith and Wesson Model 29 [Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum] on a great deal just for trade and turned a good deal on it. How big/strong are you? Petite? A short barreled Model 92 may be just the ticket for you. Your heart set on a Tommy, but the 11 pound weight is a little much? Save up and get one of the aluminum framed ones being built today. How well does the gun fit you? How do the sights work for you?

Choosing by ammo type can make a lot of sense too. Shooting a wheelgun? Find a levergun in the same cartridge and it makes loading up for a shoot much easier, just like 1911 shooters using a Tommygun.

Now onto the rifle chambered guns. These use “bottle neck” cartridges, that usually hit a LOT harder than our pistol chambered rifles. These will be used in side matches only, so don’t make this a priority purchase yet. .30-30 lever guns are everywhere and a very friendly shooting gun. Surplus rifles can be a superb bargain for their quality and if you need advice, please drop in over at to check out your choices.

One Response to “Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #6 Choosing Your Rifle”

  1. bret says:

    Good read, thank you!

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