The lever gun has had its day, and a hell of a day it was. But the present and the future belong to the bolt-action and the AR.
-David E Petzal, Field and Stream (link)
Well, I am not sure where ol’ David lives but it sure isn’t around here.
He is correct about some things. The increased interest in long range precision shooting tends to move people away from lever actioned rifles. The bolt gun tends to be a better platform for that particular sport. He is also correct that the AR platform is now incredibly popular and a new “wonder cartridge” is released every few years which tends to keep them selling. So, the days of a deer rifle in every pickup truck and every deer rifle being a lever action from either Marlin or Winchester are gone. That’s true as well.
It doesn’t take the incredible popularity or success Henry has had in recent years. with their lever actions. Typically you don’t see new models and new chamberings being released as often as Henry does in a platform that is dead.
Remlin sales are probably still suffering these days but that has more to do with their quality control and production issues than the the demise of lever action rifles. By the way, a quick check of the biggest sporting goods store in my area has the Marlin 336 as a top seller.
Winchester may have sent production to Miroku in Japan but I sure don’t see their prices falling or spare inventory sitting on the shelves. And we won’t even go into the replica manufacturers like Rossi, Uberti, etc. who also seem to be doing quick well selling this deceased platform.
Now let’s take a look over at the used firearm market. JM manufactured Marlins, especially pistol caliber carbines, sure do seem to be hold their value pretty well. I have seen worn out old Marlins and Glenfieds going for the same price as brand new bolt guns. Finding a pistol caliber carbine, especially chambered in .38/.357 for less that eight or nine hundred dollars. Go ahead. Try.
In the leftist occupied sections of the country there is a renewed interest in lever action rifles, especially in pistol calibers, as self-defense weapons. Because ARs are essentially banned in many of these locales.
Folks, these are not the signs of the end of the lever action rifle. It is a sign of a writer out of touch with the real world.
Take care and God bless.