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Kid Cali

Lever action choices - pros and cons

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Hi All-

 

I'm looking to make that next big purchase for my rig and would like to get some advice on the lever gun choices. Any thoughts about a Henry like the Big Boy Classic vs. an 1866 yellowboy or 1873 from say, Uberti?

 

Thanks,

Kid Cali

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If you would take a poll you would find that a majority of shooters would get an 1873. And most would not get a heavy / long barreled one.

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For this game, a 66 or 73 is much better suited for what we do. If you want to use your rifle for hunting as well, then a Marlin,Rossi  then the Henry big boy would be my choice.

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For CAS in order:

 

1a. 1873 Uberti

1b. 1873 Winchester(Miroku)

2a. 1866 Uberti

2b. 1866 Winchester(Miroku)

3 .  1894 Marlin

4.   1892 Rossi/Winchester/Chiappa/Other

5a. 1860 Henry Henry Repeating Arms

5b. 1860 Henry Uberti

7.   1883 Burgess (Uberti)

99. Henry Big Boy

 

For CAS AND Other

1.   1894 Marlin

2.   1892 Rossi/Winchester/Chiappa/Other

3a. 1873 Uberti

3b. 1873 Winchester(Miroku)

4a. 1866 Uberti

4b. 1866 Winchester(Miroku)

5.    Henry Big Boy

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I've used a Marlin 94, a Winchester 92 and 94, and a Winchester 73. Hands down the best for me has been the 73. No contest.

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The only Big Boys I have seen used broke in short order. Great guns but not for our game.

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73

66

Marlin

All the above I would be more than happy with.

After that.

92

 

Then it would be down between throwing a rock. Or the Henry Big Boy.

 

Really like there .22 but not the Big Boy for SASS.

Maybe plinking it would be fine.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Michigan Slim said:

The only Big Boys I have seen used broke in short order. Great guns but not for our game.

At the last EOT a fellow on my posse shot a Big Boy without a jam or breakage.  However, he worked the lever slowly and methodically.  He did not place in the top ten in his category but had fun.  If you want to stand up with the winners pick a rifle off the top off the preceding lists.  
 

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Yep. Good rifles. I could see one for hunting in a big way. 

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Thanks everyone. Confirmed some of the things I have heard before (1873 is the way to go and the Henrys not being a great choice for cowboy action). I also keep hearing about potential issues popping up with the 1866 yellow boy option. I sure do love the brass look of the Henry and 1866, though!

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Your only real potential problem with the '66 Yellowboy??

Is the loading gate.. If you like that brass look??

Get ya a '66 Yellowboy and reinforce the little tab on the loading gate..

It WILL bend or break off at the most inopportune  time... Just reinforce it..

many threads on this ol' wire on how to do it..

Only other thing is the '66 doesn't have a lever safety..

 

Rance ;)

Thinkin' that's just my 2 cents.. But then agin.. There's a coin shortage :huh:

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3 minutes ago, Rance - SASS # 54090 said:

Your only real potential problem with the '66 Yellowboy??

Is the loading gate.. If you like that brass look??

Get ya a '66 Yellowboy and reinforce the little tab on the loading gate..

It WILL bend or break off at the most inopportune  time... Just reinforce it..

many threads on this ol' wire on how to do it..

Only other thing is the '66 doesn't have a lever safety..

 

Rance ;)

Thinkin' that's just my 2 cents.. But then agin.. There's a coin shortage :huh:

 

Rance thanks for that...knowing there's a common fix for that '66 gate issue makes it tempting to go that route!

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Have you live fired any of the SASS rifles mentioned?

If NO-Don't buy till you try......;)

OLG 

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22 minutes ago, Rance - SASS # 54090 said:

Your only real potential problem with the '66 Yellowboy??

Is the loading gate.. If you like that brass look??

Get ya a '66 Yellowboy and reinforce the little tab on the loading gate..

It WILL bend or break off at the most inopportune  time... Just reinforce it..

many threads on this ol' wire on how to do it..

Only other thing is the '66 doesn't have a lever safety..

 

Rance ;)

Thinkin' that's just my 2 cents.. But then agin.. There's a coin shortage :huh:

 

There's also an increased chance of out of battery discharge; lack of lever safety. I've had 2 with them and I think both were due to opening the lever a tad before I pulled the trigger.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, Kid Cali said:

Thanks everyone. Confirmed some of the things I have heard before (1873 is the way to go and the Henrys not being a great choice for cowboy action). I also keep hearing about potential issues popping up with the 1866 yellow boy option. I sure do love the brass look of the Henry and 1866, though!

Guess I’m odd man out on the 66 issue. Mines been a good reliable gun which I used to earn 1 1/2 state buckles with! The 1/2 of a buckle was when my “ backup” 66 carbine (45 Colt) replaced my broken 73 at my 1st state match. I managed to win my 1st buckle that year. The same 66 was my rifle of choice to earn a state title in Wrangler as well. I also like Marlins, but it’s too bad that 66’s aren’t  B-Western legal, cause I’d darn sure of used it if it was! 

OLG’s comment on try before you buy is one to listen to! 

Edited by Captain Clark
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1 hour ago, Tyrel Cody said:

For CAS in order:

 

1a. 1873 Uberti

1b. 1873 Winchester(Miroku)

2a. 1866 Uberti

2b. 1866 Winchester(Miroku)

3 .  1894 Marlin

4.   1892 Rossi/Winchester/Chiappa/Other

5a. 1860 Henry Henry Repeating Arms

5b. 1860 Henry Uberti

7.   1883 Burgess (Uberti)

99. Henry Big Boy

 

 

You didn't mention the Winchester 94.  OK, don't pick that one either. 

 

Get a 1873 or an 1866 and you'll have a rifle you can grow with.

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4 minutes ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

You didn't mention the Winchester 94.  OK, don't pick that one either. 

 

Get a 1873 or an 1866 and you'll have a rifle you can grow with.

Yeah, hard to find in a pistol caliber; but I'd put it just ahead of the HBB.

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I don't currently know of anyone using the Henry.  Everyone I've ever seen broke.  My personal preference is a 66 Carbine over a 73.  No reason, just personal preference.  After that Marlin, and there's a lot of folks who swear by them and do really well with them.  Then I'd say the 92 after that.  Best to try different stuff and figure out what you like.  Get's kinda expensive if you buy something, don't like it and buy something else.

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48 minutes ago, Captain Clark said:

Guess I’m odd man out on the 66 issue. Mines been a good reliable gun which I used to earn 1 1/2 state buckles with! The 1/2 of a buckle was when my “ backup” 66 carbine (45 Colt) replaced my broken 73 at my 1st state match. I managed to win my 1st buckle that year. The same 66 was my rifle of choice to earn a state title in Wrangler as well. I also like Marlins, but it’s too bad that 66’s aren’t  B-Western legal, cause I’d darn sure of used it if it was! 

OLG’s comment on try before you buy is one to listen to! 

 

Captain Clark thanks for your perspective. Did you have to do the loading gate fix everyone is talking about? Who makes the '66 that you like?

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24 minutes ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

You didn't mention the Winchester 94.  OK, don't pick that one either. 

 

Get a 1873 or an 1866 and you'll have a rifle you can grow with.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Winchester 94. Other than a lever throw that resembles a golf swing.

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I can't really add anything but agree with all the above. 73 or 66 I have both! I run the 73 a bit faster than the 66 but the 66 is just really cool!!

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I'll be different & say it just matters what you want to be.

If you want to be a speed demon, then go for a '73 or a marlin, & have it slicked-up by one of the "famous" gun mechanics this game offers.

But if you just wanna shoot cool guns, pick what you like.
While I have 92s, 66s, and 73s, I like 1860 Henrys the best, & have 4 of them.
I mostly shoot one of my Henry Transitionals in 44-40.

I'm not fast, but my guns are cool, & I have a lotta fun!

--Dawg

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There is a reason why the Winchester 73 is the most popular rifle in our game, and is the choice of most of the top shooters.  It's good.

 

When all is said and done though, and speaking as a lower third of the pack shooter, I'd say that the most important thing to do is this game is to shoot what you enjoy shooting.  In other words, have fun.   And remember too, that there is a very real chance that, the longer you are in this game, the more rifles you will acquire.  One particular type will eventually become your favorite go to one that you shoot better with than anything else, but only comparing the different things will let you know which rifle works best for you.   With the proviso that, for many, the 73 is the way to go, let me offer the following assessments of rifles that I have tried.   Unless noted, these are guns I own, and are all unmodified.

 

Winchester 73.   .32-20  24" Octagon barrel.   One of the best rifles that I own.  I'd say it's probably my second favorite rifle.   There is just something about that metallic ping like sound that you get when you run the action that no other rifle has.  You can't go wrong with a 73

 

Uberti 66 replica by Navy Arms.  .44-40, 20" round barrel.  The 66 and the 73 are for all intents and purposes the same rifle.   The main difference is the brass frame of the 66 gives it a different look.   When I got this gun, the previous owner had clearly done a very poor action job to it.  It is very smooth, but the hammer was falling so slowly that it would often not hit the primers hard enough.   The lever safety had also been removed.   I took it to an excellent cowboy gunsmith and asked him to "return it to factory specs."   He did so, and it has run flawlessly ever since.

 

Uberti Henry.  .44-40  24" Octagon.   The Henry, that is to say the forerunner of the Winchester line, has the same action as the 66 and 73.  The main difference here is the way it is loaded.   In my opinion, this makes it not a gun for someone who is not already familiar with firearms in general and with cowboy shooting in particular.  It can be very confusing to someone who has never seen on before.   That being said, once you figure out the loading, it also has the "Henry Hop" that you need to master, or you need to get a spacer of some kind to do away with the need.  It's also heavy.   A great gun, but one I would recommend holding off on until you have a bit more familiarity with things.

 

Rossi 92.   20" round barrel, .44 Magnum.   This was my original Cowboy gun.   It's an older one, with no stupid safety.   Overall a very good gun, and once upon a time before the introduction of replica 73s, the most popular gun in the game.   Well made and rugged, they are a bit clunky, but not so much so that it screws you up.   In all truth, I didn't even realize mine was clunky until I compared it to other 92's.   More on that later...

 

Armi San Marco 92.  24" Octagon, .45 Colt.  A very pretty gun.  And out of the box it had an action that was so bad that it was almost unusable.  One pard who saw me shooting one at match said it was painful to watch me struggle with it.   It was so bad that I did something I've never done before, I had an action job done.  Now it runs great, as smooth as a real Winchester, and once I felt that, I realized the slight clunkiness of the Rossi, which I eventually had smoothed out as well.

 

Winchester 92.  17.5" Round barrel with John Wayne style big loop and tang site.   .44 Magnum.   This gun has been heavily customized by previous owners.  It is fun to look at and shoot, but the big loop lever is really not all that practical.  Great if you just wanna have fun, but a detractor for "serious" competition.

 

Winchester 92 20" Round .32-20  Works flawlessly.  A real Winchester 92 is a joy to shoot, and it is rugged and reliable.

 

Chiappa 92 Mare's Leg configuration. .44 Magnum.   Also works flawlessly.  As smooth and reliable as a real Winchester.  


Overall thoughts on the 92...    Both of my .44 Magnum rifles had trouble reliably cycling .44 Specials.   [Never tried them in the Mare's Leg]  Switching to downloaded Magnums took the problem away.   I don't think you can can go wrong with 92.   Other guns are probably faster in the hands of an expert, but that is something you need to decide on for yourself.  By the time you can outrun a 92, you are one of the topmost shooters in the game.   If you want a 92, unless you want to deal with having to have work done to it, find a real Winchester or go with the Chiappa.

 

Model 1865 Burnside Spencer Carbine  56-50.   Genuine US Army Surplus from the Civil War.  Converted to Centerfire.   Shooting this old warhorse is an adventure and an experience that everyone should have.  The seven shot magazine severely handicaps you, but the attention you get from trying to use one is well worth coming in dead last place.   It should probably remain a novelty that you take out once a year for the fun of it than a serious contender for your regular main match gun.

 

The Henry Big Boy:   I do not own one of these, but do to a malfunction at a shoot once, a pard loaned me one so I could finish the day.   I don't like it.   Being a lefty I find the hot gasses on my right wrist from the ejection port to be unpleasant.   This is the same reason why I don't like Marlins.   That being said, I have to admit that I had no problems with the gun, it worked fine for me and I could tell that it is a very well made firearm.   Others will tell you it is impossible to run fast, but I am a slow shooter.  All I can say is, it worked.   Personal preferences cause me to not like it, not anything I found wrong with the gun itself.

 

And now for the minority opinion...

 

AWA Lighting .45 Colt.   I first wanted to get a Lightning, just to have one.  I had a chance to compare the AWA, Taurus and Beretta.   Long story short, I bought the AWA.   To my shock, it has become my favorite main match rifle.  I am faster with it than any levergun, it is fun to shoot, and I have found it to be super accurate.  Note, especially in this caliber, it must be kept clean in order to work right.   I have so fallen in love with the Lightning that I have obtained another AWA in .44-40, a real Colt in .32-20, and another Colt in .44-40.   That last one is Costa Rican Army surplus, and is the only one I have not yet shot a match with yet.   I even found one of the very rare AWA Lightning Bolt pistols.  I've shot three clean matches with the .45, including End of the Trail, my first, and the MA/CT/RI Tristate.   The Lighting is a love it or hate it kind of rifle, but you run the risk of getting infected hard by the Lightning Bug.   And if you do, you are hooked for life.   If you want a Lightning, I can only recommend the AWA or a real Colt, as that's all I've worked with.  The Wire will tell you that the Pedersoli version is excellent, but since I've not handled one,  can not confirm.   All of the others, especially the Taurus [run away] have various problems.

 

So those are my opinions on the various leverguns that are available for our game, and the pump, based solely on my experiences of owning and shooting them.   I offer no opinion on guns I have not shot at a shoot, which may very well be excellent or no so good.  I know others can provide that info.

I hope this gave you useful data.

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45 minutes ago, Kid Cali said:

 

Captain Clark thanks for your perspective. Did you have to do the loading gate fix everyone is talking about? Who makes the '66 that you like?

I put JB weld on /behind my tab as a precaution for the future. My 66 SRC carbine is Navy Arms marked Uberti, well used  when I acquired it years ago to be a backup to my 73. It quickly became my main match rifle when not shooting B- Western!

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3 hours ago, Prairie Dawg, SASS #50329 said:

I'll be different & say it just matters what you want to be.

If you want to be a speed demon, then go for a '73 or a marlin, & have it slicked-up by one of the "famous" gun mechanics this game offers.

But if you just wanna shoot cool guns, pick what you like.
While I have 92s, 66s, and 73s, I like 1860 Henrys the best, & have 4 of them.
I mostly shoot one of my Henry Transitionals in 44-40.

I'm not fast, but my guns are cool, & I have a lotta fun!

--Dawg

Couldn’t agree more!  If you want to be competitive or do you want to walk around shooting guns you like and don’t care about scores?  I like my John Wayne 92 Commemorative with a large loop that makes me slow, but it is so much fun to go heeled with guns like the Duke used in his movies!  I have a Winchester 1866 & 1873 and have yet to shoot them. But don’t let the gin snobs get to you either. Shoot want you want to shoot and have fun!

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First rifle was a Marlin 94 in .45 Colt as did not like the Winchester 94. Second was a Rossi Model 92 Short Rifle in .44 WCF.  Then a Uberti 66 in .44-40 (didn't like so sold it).  Uberti 73 in .44-40 then a USFA Lighting in .44 WCF the one I use the most.  If buying today it would be my Lighting and an Evans.  Nether one is going to run with the fast dogs and I am not either.  I like the .44 WCF for my cartage gun and the Navy .36 for my pistols but the .44 WCF can standby. 

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Posted (edited)

Just order a modified Model 1873 Win from one of the Cowboy gunsmiths, already set up for CAS.........period!!!

.......WHATEVER YOU ORDER, be sure the magazine will hold AT LEAST ten (10) rounds of the caliber ammo you use.

 

That way, you’ve spent your investment now.......and not for a gun you probably won’t like later.......with all the extra investment for a rifle that will sit around later, or that wind up selling for a significant loss later.

 

However, it’s your call.....you’ll have to decide.

 

Cat Brules

Edited by Cat Brules
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Tyrels list is pretty spot on IMO.

 

Only I'd drop the second list, get another gun for hunting.  You want a lever gun get a Marlin 336 I think is the model in 30.30.  

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If you decide between a 66 and a 73 you should look at and get the feel of the different stock angles first! If you like both, then you can choose your favorite frame color/Metal ;)

 

Equanimous

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73, either short rifle or carbine. Some like the pistol grip and others do not. The 73 has the lever safety while the 66 does not. May be lighter than 66.

66. Attractive. May be heavier than 73. Not  lever safety. I've seen out of battery explosions that were very scary. I've heard of others that bent or broke parts.

Marlin 94. Carbine can be cramped for larger folks. Some models are way expensive.

Others except:

No Henry BB or Winchester 94 ever. Don't even think about it.

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4 hours ago, Go West said:

73, either short rifle or carbine. Some like the pistol grip and others do not. The 73 has the lever safety while the 66 does not. May be lighter than 66.

66. Attractive. May be heavier than 73. Not  lever safety. I've seen out of battery explosions that were very scary. I've heard of others that bent or broke parts.

Marlin 94. Carbine can be cramped for larger folks. Some models are way expensive.

Others except:

No Henry BB or Winchester 94 ever. Don't even think about it.

Sure think about it!  My first was a 94 in .44mag with the big loop. My friend, not in the game, just bought an all weather big boy!  When I started Marlin was the only rifle to have back in the late 90’s. If we had all followed that advice look at all the choices we wouldn’t have today to pick from. Go West is correct if you are going to be competing for trophies and match wins. Otherwise enjoy and get whatever guns you want. I do also suggest shooting before you buy just so you know what you are getting. 

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Kid Cali,

the biggest 'con' will be not taking the wise advice given above.

 

the biggest 'pro' will be listening to the advice above and making a wise choice FOR YOU!

 

No doubt, I love the Marlin.  But, in our present day situations, checking out a nice 73 would probably be your wisest choice.

1.  Marlins are no longer made by 'Marlin' but rather made by Remington..... which started out being a rocky road but has improved.

 

2.  there are just to many Top Notch 73 mechanics that know how to set you up a rifle you will be proud to own and reliable

enough for years of tough competition.

 

Personal thoughts:   If you are only wanting your rifle for SASS/CAS competition, I think your choices are obvious.... a quality 66, 73 or 

properly worked and tuned 'JM' branded Marlin.

If you want your rifle for other outdoor activities, such as hunting, your choices will expand greatly, not only with name brand

rifles, but calibers and barrel lengths.

 

$800 - $1400 is a lot of $$ so make your choice wisely.    And from my experience..... you'll get what you paid for.

 

..........Widder

 

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After 17 years in the game,  I’m Still a firm believer in the Winchester 1873 Deluxe Sporting rifle.

I started with a Marlin 1894 in 2003,  Within a year I switched to an

Uberti 20“ deluxe sporting 1873 from EMF.   
In 2018 I Switched to a Carty tuned  Winchester.  I love the Carty rifle.   Worth every penny !

 

 

Good Luck

 

 

3GC

58378E51-6457-4749-B0B6-384A660A306A.png

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Then once you decide on a '73, all you have to do is figure out which configuration.  These are all Uberti '73's currently listed:

 

Carbines: round-barrel

16"

18"

19"

 

Rifle, half octagon

18" Straight stock

18" checkered pistol grip

24" straight stock

24" checkered pistol grip

 

Rifle, full octagon

18" straight checkered

20" straight

20" checkered pistol grip

24" straight

24" checkered pistol grip

30" straight

30" checkered pistol grip

 

1866's are simpler, just 16" and 19" carbines and 20" and 24" rifles.

 

(And then there's the Mirokus).

 

There's no way you will find all of these to try out, but the 18-20" are most popular for a reason and you should easily find some of these to try out.

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