Home Defense Firearms: Are Lever-action Rifles Reliable?

  • by Casy Smith
Home Defense Firearms: Are Lever-action Rifles Reliable?

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The lever-action rifle has been a staple of American firearm culture for more than a century. Its popularity grew throughout the latter half of the 19th century as hunters, farmers, cowboys, law enforcement and travelers made it the go-to gun of the Wild West. The lever-action rifle's mystique grew as the Winchester Model 92 and other similar firearms were featured in Western films, making it the gun of many firearm owners' childhood dreams. 

While the lever-action is still used for hunting and target shooting, it may be easy to overlook this rifle format for self-defense. However, a renewed interest in lever-action rifles has grown over the last few years. Firearms manufacturers are bringing new ideas to build excitement for this famed manual firearm. 

You may be wondering, "are lever-action rifles reliable enough to protect myself and my family?"

Our short answer: yes! Stick with us to see why we think this rifle can be your go-to home defense weapon and explore the importance of this firearm's revival.

How Does a Lever-action Rifle Work?

A lever-action rifle is a manual firearm, meaning it must be cocked between each round fired to chamber the next cartridge. Lever-action rifles use a lever underneath the gun that doubles as a trigger guard. You pull the lever down and push it back up to discard the previous cartridge, cock the weapon and load the next round into the chamber.

Classic lever-action rifles have a tubular magazine that sideloads ammunition, while newer models may incorporate detachable magazines. A lever-action may seem simple in comparison to semi or fully-automatic firearms you see today, but its development took decades of iteration to attain its status as a classic. 

The History of the Lever-action Rifle

The lever-action repeating rifle has a long history that several excellent firearm historians have documented. According to this article from the American Rifleman, the lever-action rifle was initially patented in 1848 as the Volition Repeating Rifle. However, this model was highly complicated and was never brought to market. 

The patent was sold to Oliver Winchester in 1855, and he brought in Benjamin Tyler Henry to refine the rifle's design and develop new cartridges to optimize the form factor. The Henry rifle was a huge step for lever-action rifles moving forward and was a commercial success. The Henry rifle then morphed into the Winchester Model 1866 and was slowly iterated on by other firearm manufacturers over time. 

Today, lever action rifles remain similar but offer a wide range of caliber and tactical options. While this firearm carries a storied history, is it right for you?

Home Defense and Beyond: Are Lever-action Rifles Reliable? 

Let's dive into why the lever-action rifle could be a good fit for your home defense strategy over other rifles. To answer the question, "are lever-action rifles reliable?" In most instances, yes, they are reliable. Like all other types of firearms, jams can occur but are less likely when you purchase from a reputable manufacturer. 

Here are the six distinct advantages of using a lever-action rifle over other rifle formats for home defense:

  1. Ambidextrous use - Unlike other manual rifles that isolate the action to one side of the firearm, you can cock a lever-action with either your left or right hand. 
  2. Rate of fire - Lever-action rifles allow you to maintain your firing position between shots as you use your firing hand to cock the gun. With plenty of practice, a seasoned lever-action rifle user can deliver a rate of fire comparable to a semi-automatic firearm.
  3. Wide caliber range - Lever-action rifles can use larger rifle-caliber rounds or pistol cartridges. You can share ammo between your concealed carry pistol and rifle, which could help you save on your ammunition expenses.
  4. Capacity-  Lever-action rifles offer a higher capacity than manual rifles and may be compatible with larger magazines, depending on your chosen model. It's always essential to check your state's laws about magazine size.
  5. Ideal home defense caliber - When you use pistol caliber cartridges, you lower the chance of overpenetration, reducing the likelihood that a bullet will hit something or someone beyond your target. 
  6. Compact - Lever-action rifles are generally more compact than bolt or pump-action rifles. This can make them ideal for home defense as you have to navigate through hallways and other tight spaces.

Regardless of your final decision on a personal defense weapon, you need to make sure you store your gun in a secure, concealed location. Liberty Home Concealment offers a wide variety of concealment options for your home, so you always have your personal defense weapon nearby. Browse our collection today. 


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