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Thread: Lever Action in .243

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    Lever Action in .243

    A friend's son bagged his first deer this year using a borrowed Rem 700 in .243 and fell in love with the cartridge. He had tried 30-30 and 30.06 but didn't like the recoil.

    He really likes the idea of a lever gun though and would like to find one in .243 and asked me for a suggestion. I know squat about lever guns on the market (the only one I own is a 30-30 Marlin bought in the 70's).

    Due to limited funds, I suspect he's not looking at top end gear.

    Any suggestions on who makes a good quality entry level lever gun in .243 would be appreciated!

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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    The only model I know of that's currently in production is the Browning BLR. The .243 won't work in a gun with an under-barrel tube magazine. I'm not sure if the Winchester 88 or the Savage 99 were ever made in .243, but they're both out of production anyway.
    Last edited by LHS; 03-09-12 at 08:43.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX Rancher View Post
    A friend's son bagged his first deer this year using a borrowed Rem 700 in .243 and fell in love with the cartridge. He had tried 30-30 and 30.06 but didn't like the recoil.

    He really likes the idea of a lever gun though and would like to find one in .243 and asked me for a suggestion. I know squat about lever guns on the market (the only one I own is a 30-30 Marlin bought in the 70's).

    Due to limited funds, I suspect he's not looking at top end gear.

    Any suggestions on who makes a good quality entry level lever gun in .243 would be appreciated!

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    What does he like about the lever? The looks or the handling. If he wants the western looks you are not going to get it in a .243. If recoil is a problem have him consider a lever gun in 357 magnum or .44 mag. If he needs the reach of a .243 then I think he would be better served with a bolt gun to have the accuracy to go with it.

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    Last edited by Alaskapopo; 03-09-12 at 17:34.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskapopo View Post
    What does he like about the lever? The looks or the handling. If he wants the western looks you are not going to get it in a .243. If recoil is a problem have him consider a lever gun in 357 magnum or .44 mag. If he needs the reach of a .243 then I think he would be better served with a bolt gun to have the accuracy to go with it.

    Pat
    Truth. None of the modern, box-mag leverguns that can handle spitzer bullets look like classic Western levers. The closest is probably the Winchester 1895, but I don't think that one comes in .243, if it's even still in production.

    As for accuracy, I am sorely intrigued by the Browning BLR. With a rotating bolt, it seems more like a lever-operated bolt action than a classic levergun. If it's reasonably accurate, having one in 7mm08/.308/.30-'06 and one in .450 Marlin seems like an interesting combination for most American hunting situations.
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    Thanks for the info guys.

    It is primarily the recoil, or should I say lack of, that he likes about the 243. I think the only other cartridges he's tried are 30-30 and 30-06 (and of course 22). The 30-30 was a lever action Winchester and the 30-06 was a bolt gun. In both cases he really disliked the recoil.

    As to why he zeroed in on a lever action, I don't really know. I suspect it's based on liking the looks and it's what his Father uses.

    I'm still going to try and guide him towards a bolt gun, but it's ultimately his call.

    Do you guys know of any other lever guns in calibers with similar recoil to 243? I've noted the suggestion of a 357 or 44Mag. and can let him try a Henry in 44.

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    Have you considered some of the managed recoil loads for the 30-30? I believe there are about 3 different brands, and they vary in recoil from "not much recoil" to "that's not really reduced much". This would allow the use of the levergun without buying a new BLR or bolt gun.

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    Savage Model 1899: lever action, striker fired, mag fed. Works with spitzer bullets, naturally. Available in .243 and many other cartridges as well, though .25-3000 would just be classy IMHO.
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    My cousin had a Winchester 88 in 243. It more than held it's own against the bolt actions. It was fast handling too.

    The Savage 99, Winchester 88, Browning BLR and the Sako Finnwolf are all fine rifles and will serve well for hunting and should keep within 2.5 moa even on a bad day
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    I have a 1964 made Savage 99F in 243, that I have shot quite a bit over the years. It wears a Bushnell 3x9x40 on Leupold rings.

    This rifle, with factory Winchester soft points, will give me 1.25" groups at 100yds all day long. Hot or cold barrel. The rifle DOES have pretty low recoil, due to the 243 caliber and the fact that it is an old school all steel and wood rifle and the trigger is fairly good. The lever is short and fast and can be cycled easily by smaller children or women shooters. If you ask me, the lever is easier than the Marlin 336 and Winchester 94's levers. For a lever action rifle, I am surprised at how accurate the Savage 99 really is.

    I have used this rifle to drop several coyotes and wild pigs, but not for white tail deer. (I have a 30-06 for that). for dropping coyotes and smaller pigs (100-150lbs) it works very well.

    If you can find one, I highly suggest a Savage 99 in 243. Mine is very accurate and a pretty well made rifle. The later made Savages showed more rough finishes but those made in the early 60s or earlier were very nice guns.

    Good luck in your search....the 243 Savage 99 has long been a favorite of mine.

    - Brickboy240

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    The Marlin 336 in .30-30 has almost no recoil. It's a little heftier than the Winchester 94 and the stock is configured a bit differently so that it isn't as direct and blunt with the force. I shot 94's growing up then bought a 336 about 5 years ago and have been simply amazed by the difference. That's an option that should be very easy for you to find.
    Last edited by yellowfin; 05-01-12 at 11:39.
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    I love my 336. Recoil isn't bad at all.
    Have you considered one if the recoil reducing devices that goes in the stock?


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    Quote Originally Posted by brickboy240 View Post
    I have a 1964 made Savage 99F in 243, that I have shot quite a bit over the years. It wears a Bushnell 3x9x40 on Leupold rings.

    This rifle, with factory Winchester soft points, will give me 1.25" groups at 100yds all day long. Hot or cold barrel. The rifle DOES have pretty low recoil, due to the 243 caliber and the fact that it is an old school all steel and wood rifle and the trigger is fairly good. The lever is short and fast and can be cycled easily by smaller children or women shooters. If you ask me, the lever is easier than the Marlin 336 and Winchester 94's levers. For a lever action rifle, I am surprised at how accurate the Savage 99 really is.

    I have used this rifle to drop several coyotes and wild pigs, but not for white tail deer. (I have a 30-06 for that). for dropping coyotes and smaller pigs (100-150lbs) it works very well.

    If you can find one, I highly suggest a Savage 99 in 243. Mine is very accurate and a pretty well made rifle. The later made Savages showed more rough finishes but those made in the early 60s or earlier were very nice guns.

    Good luck in your search....the 243 Savage 99 has long been a favorite of mine.

    - Brickboy240
    My dad has a Savage '99 from the early 60's and he has killed more deer than you can stack in a barn. Likewise my first deer was brought down with that same rifle. I liked it so much I bought the (at the time) modern version '99C. Both rifles are .243 and I use soft tail boat tips with amazing accuracy. My furthest deer was take at 400-425yds. It is my most favorite deer rifle. The .243 is very flat shooting and if you place the shot like you are supposed to it will do its job. As a side note the NRA has listed the Savage 99 as the best deer rfile for years. Finding one may be the hard part.

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    Yep...the Savage 99 is way underrated.

    Used to be you could find them cheap in the used racks of every gun store. Now...they are some sort of collectors item and scarce...sky high if you do find one.

    - brickboy240

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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowfin View Post
    The Marlin 336 in .30-30 has almost no recoil. It's a little heftier than the Winchester 94 and the stock is configured a bit differently so that it isn't as direct and blunt with the force. I shot 94's growing up then bought a 336 about 5 years ago and have been simply amazed by the difference. That's an option that should be very easy for you to find.
    That's the best suggestion imho.

    If the boy is looking for the authentic western look, the 99 isn't going to do it for him, and getting a clean one in .243 is going to be expensive.

    But the 99's are certainly classic deer rifles. This one's killed more deer than Aunt Edna's Studebaker....


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    Ive got a Winchester 88 carbine that dad and I have used since the early seventies on whitetail. Its been a great rifle, and I too have always loved the .243 round. Its a better cartridge than given credit.

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    my BLR in .243 was as accurate as my Remington 700 in .243 but it was kinda heavy. I eventually ditched all my BLR's because of excessive weight.

    Now I use a 6x45mm AR-15 for my .243 calibre fun. It's nowhere near as fast but still blows the snot out of bunnies and squirrels, hold gobs of bullets and is semi-auto and it's lighter than my BLR.

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    I understand his love for the 6mm. My wife drops every deer with a Model 70 Featherweight in .243 and it has never let her down.

    I can't really see how the 30-30 had any more appreciable recoil than the .243 though. Tell him to get a 336 or 30AS and stick a low fixed power scope on it or even a cheap red-dot on a receiver rail. It will kill anything he needs it to kill and do so cheaply. I am perfectly capable of 250 yard kills on whitetail with mine.

    As a last resort, go to managed recoil 30-30 ammo.

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