Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

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Crash
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Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#1

Post by Crash » Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:38 pm

Which, in general, is more reliable, a lever action or a pump action rifle? And, if you had a misfeed in one or the other due to a short shuck or a short stroke, which would be easier to clear and get back in the fight?
I've often seen pump action shotguns in use by law enforcement or the military, but I don't think I've ever seen a pump action rifles used by either of these groups. However, lever action rifle have been used by many law enforcement and military groups (not lately, of course).

Thoughts?

Crash

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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#2

Post by puma guy » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:36 pm

I have several pump shotguns and I can't recall ever having a malfunction. Sears 20 (High Standard), Winchester a Model 12, 2 Model 1200 and a Model 1300, a Remington 870 (all 12 ga) and two Mossberg Shockwaves 12 ga and 20 ga. I learned to shoot skeet with Model 1200 pump, so I made sure I never short stroked. I'm old and that was long ago, so I may indeed have had a mis-feed or FTE once or twice that I just don't recall. I have a .410 Rem 870, but haven't had a chance to take it to the range. I only have two pump rifles both .22 caliber Model 62A Winchesters. The only malfunction I've had was one had a pin holding the firing pin work it's way out, easy fix. I have an old Remington pump Model 14 in .25 Rem caliber, but I've never shot it. I have seven lever actions 6 Marlins; a 1894 .357, a Marlin .444, two Model 39 .22 cal, two Model Model 336 30-30 and a Winchester Model 88 .308. All have been extremely reliable. The Model 1894 has an extremely stiff loading gate and is very difficult to load. I have to issue a caveat on Marlin lever guns, though. Mine are all vintage manufacture, but the new Remington made Marlin levers are not especially reliable from what I've read and it's hit or miss as to quality/reliability with them. BTW The Model 88 Winchester is the slickest action of all my center fire lever guns and is very accurate.

I can't say that short stroking a pump or lever is really a reliability issue, but clearing a mis-fed round or a failure to eject in a lever action would be more difficult I think.
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Crash
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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#3

Post by Crash » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:02 pm

puma guy wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:36 pm
I have several pump shotguns and I can't recall ever having a malfunction. Sears 20 (High Standard), Winchester a Model 12, 2 Model 1200 and a Model 1300, a Remington 870 (all 12 ga) and two Mossberg Shockwaves 12 ga and 20 ga. I learned to shoot skeet with Model 1200 pump, so I made sure I never short stroked. I'm old and that was long ago, so I may indeed have had a mis-feed or FTE once or twice that I just don't recall. I have a .410 Rem 870, but haven't had a chance to take it to the range. I only have two pump rifles both .22 caliber Model 62A Winchesters. The only malfunction I've had was one had a pin holding the firing pin work it's way out, easy fix. I have an old Remington pump Model 14 in .25 Rem caliber, but I've never shot it. I have seven lever actions 6 Marlins; a 1894 .357, a Marlin .444, two Model 39 .22 cal, two Model Model 336 30-30 and a Winchester Model 88 .308. All have been extremely reliable. The Model 1894 has an extremely stiff loading gate and is very difficult to load. I have to issue a caveat on Marlin lever guns, though. Mine are all vintage manufacture, but the new Remington made Marlin levers are not especially reliable from what I've read and it's hit or miss as to quality/reliability with them. BTW The Model 88 Winchester is the slickest action of all my center fire lever guns and is very accurate.

I can't say that short stroking a pump or lever is really a reliability issue, but clearing a mis-fed round or a failure to eject in a lever action would be more difficult I think.
puma guy,

I have a Browning M92 and, while I've never had a misfeed, it might be easier to clear one because of the open-topped receiver--that is, if you can work the lever. Same goes for other lever actions with an open top. Marlin 336 and such-like might be harder. I've never had a misfeed in a pump action shotgun, but because you can remove the barrel, it might be easier to fix a misfeed, but of course it would take a while.

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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#4

Post by Soccerdad1995 » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:31 pm

I have 3 lever action rifles. 2 Henry's (a .22 and a 30-30), and a JM stamped Marlin 336. I have more than that number of pump action shotguns (at least 5 but less than 10, not near my gun safe at the moment). I don't have any pump action rifles, so can't speak to those specifically.

Malfunctions on both platforms are extremely rare.

I have had a misfeed in the Henry 30-30, that was undoubtedly a user induced error. That was a pain in the Pelosi to clear. I ended up having to disassemble the action. I have had 2 malfunctions on my pump action. Both of those were light primer strikes on the same Kel-Tec KSG. Those were "revolver easy" to clear. Just pump the action, and next shell fired just fine.

So net-net, I'd say both are very reliable, but if you do have an issue, the pump action may likely be easier and quicker to clear.
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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#5

Post by Deltaboy » Sun Mar 31, 2019 2:36 pm

I seen Cops in Arkansas use lever rifles 30/30 and pump Remington 760 in 30-06!

I see them is about equal.
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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#6

Post by WildRose » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:53 pm

Crash wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:38 pm
Which, in general, is more reliable, a lever action or a pump action rifle? And, if you had a misfeed in one or the other due to a short shuck or a short stroke, which would be easier to clear and get back in the fight?
I've often seen pump action shotguns in use by law enforcement or the military, but I don't think I've ever seen a pump action rifles used by either of these groups. However, lever action rifle have been used by many law enforcement and military groups (not lately, of course).

Thoughts?

Crash
Police all over the country used Remington 760's for many decades. Incredibly reliable and accurate rifles.

They actually cycle faster than lever actions and you're less likely to short stroke it and jam with a pump vs a lever action.

In general though I'd say the biggest difference is in who manufactures the rifles you're looking at and when they were made. I love Malin Lever actions but there was a lot of problems in the first five years or so after the company sold which is why you pay a premium for JM stamped Marlins.

Browning BLR's are very well respected.
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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#7

Post by crazy2medic » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:58 pm

I had a Remington 760 in .243 when I was 15, it was reliable and very accurate, I took several deer, two turkeys and a javelina with it!
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Re: Reliability: Lever Action vs Pump Action Rifles

#8

Post by The Annoyed Man » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:34 pm

I have 3 lever action rifles, and one pump action shotgun. The lever actions are a Henry .22LR, a "Remlin" Marlin 30/30, and a JM stamped Marlin .45/70. The shotgun is a Mossberg 590A1. I have never short-shucked any of the lever actions. I HAVE short-shucked the shotgun a couple of times.

I admit to having more time on the rifles than the shotgun, and so I’m sure that familiarity probably plays a part in that, but I have personally found the lever action to be more intuitive, in no small part because it feels to me like a more rapid and economical motion than pumping the shotgun does. Less effort is required.

The loading gate on the Remlin was quite stiff out of the box, but I replaced it with a lighter one from Ranger Point Precision, and problem solved. The loading gate on the older JM stamped Marlin is just fine as is. In terms of mechanical reliability, they are both perfectly reliable ... the difference between the two being primarily in quality of assembly and fit and finish. The pump action shotgun is reliable too, but seems to take more effort to cycle the action. I’ve only ever shot a pump-action rifle a couple of times in my life, so I can’t really give a thorough answer.

In a general way, I think I prefer a lever action to a pump action, but I don’t think one is inherently more reliable than the other. In the end, I think it boils down to training. If I trained more with my shotgun, I’d probably never short-shuck it. I’ve spent more time behind the rifle than the shotgun, and I’m therefore better with the rifle.

It just goes to show that there’s no substitute for training.
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