Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yeah, I know you didn't ask, part II.

In another installment of this series (I have no idea if there'll be any more parts or not), I have decided to address the best choice for those who both want to keep things simple and who don't want to pay an exorbitant price for a semi-automatic centerfire rifle in military-like configuration, also mistakenly known as an "assault" rifle. (True assault rifles have the ability to switch between semi-auto and full-auto fire at the flick of a lever.)

As you can tell from the photo, I've chosen a lever-action rifle. Specifically, I've chosen the Marlin 1894C carbine in .38 Special/.357 Magnum. With its 18.5" barrel, it handles easily and really steps up the performance of both the .38 and the .357. Except for extremely rare scenarios, it will do as good a job as a high-dollar "assault" rifle in the hands of a competent operator. Besides that, it's a whole lot of fun to shoot.

Does this mean I am against the "assault" rifle? Heck no! If a person wants one, or a dozen or more, more power to him. Nor does my endorsement of the 1894C mean I think it is the equivalent of an "assault" rifle, for they are two different bullet-launching platforms. I'm speaking merely from a price/simplicity (it has its own internal magazine) standpoint.

As far as performance, I can remember chronographing some factory 158-grain JSP .357 Mag. ammo and getting several hundred more FPS than I got with the same load in a revolver. With my softball .38 Spl. handloads I was able to get nearly 200 FPS more than out of a revolver. Plus, the accuracy was excellent at the range I usually shoot this rifle, 25 yards (yeah, I know accuracy should be good at that short of a range; when the weather warms, I'll have to try it at 50 and 100 yards, but I have little doubt it will perform well at those ranges too).

One concern/complaint I've heard about using lever-action rifles for self-defense is, especially with a true rifle cartridge such as the .30-30, that they tend to heat up quickly and they aren't robust enough for long strings of fire, which is no doubt the truth. But the 1894C is chambered for a pistol cartridge, and I've fired several dozen .38 Spl. rounds in quick succession without any problem. Besides, how many rounds are you likely to need in the average (outliers be damned) self-defense situation?

If you're intent on getting an "assault"-like rifle, by all means, get one. If, however, you are balking at the prices they are going for these days, or you just want a simple, dependable repeating rifle that will serve you well, within its particualar limitations, of course, take a close look at a lever-action rifle chambered in a pistol caliber, especially if that caliber is .38 Special/.357 Magnum.

Take care.

1 comment:

theotherryan said...

My one concern with pistol caliber lever action guns is the inherent ballistics of the round itself. If I need a long gun it is because distance and stopping power of a rifle cartridge is required. A more stable platform and better sights will mean one of these is accurate farther then a pistol. That doesn't mean the round will do what you want when it gets there.

Not sure how much one of those could do at under 50 yards that a shotgun would not do better. If I need to shoot something past 50 yards not so sure that would be what I would choose.

I would take a 30-30 over a pistol caliber weapon in the same platform any day.

One of these could have a good niche in a collection but it would not replace a shotgun or a rifle.