Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Rifleman's Rifle

Earlier, we talked about one of the classics of American television: The Rifleman. Here's the introduction to the show:

A couple commentors added some clarification about McCain's rifle. Earl said:

With care one can modify a lever action rifle to fire semi-automatically. The work is not something that a garage level gunsmith could handle. John M. Browning used a Winchester lever action rifle for early experiments in developing a self-loading rifle mechanism.
In The Rifleman, the rifle was a Winchester Model 92 with a lever fitted so that as the lever was closed the trigger was pulled. Such a rifle was not a semi-automatic but a manually cycled rifle. A semi-automatic rifle uses either gas pressure or recoil energy to operate the mechanism of the rifle.

Jeff the Baptist wrote:

You can't modify a lever action rifle to fire semi-automatically. By definition, it would cease to be a lever-action rifle at that point.The '92 used on the rifleman was reworked so that it could fire whenever the lever was closed. The prop gun used a set screw so they could turn this feature on or off.His rifle also had the classic big loop lever. What's funny is that this feature was not added for the rifle-spinnging trick shots, but because Chuck Connors had such huge hands that he couldn't fit them in a standard lever.

Here's a video of trick shooter Mike DiMuzio using the same model rifle:

I have nothing to add except that my fondness for the show is probably coloring my consideration of a first gun: the Marlin 1894C .357 lever-action rifle, pictured below.

My father-in-law thinks that I'm not being practical and should just get a shotgun. Well, it's a pipe dream anyway. I can't afford either gun and don't have the time to learn how to use it.

Jeff the Baptist has thoughts about first guns, which influenced my thinking, as well as Westerns.


Jeff the Baptist said...

BTW, never work a lever-action by spinning it like that. It is practically impossible to do the spin without sweeping yourself or something equally important with the barrel.

But yeah, I'd love a good lever-action. I'm partial to the Winchesters, but the Marlins are better guns at this point. I'd even consider getting rid of my M1 to finance it.

Earl said...

No, No, No! Do sell your M-1. You will only end up buying another one! Just save your money and wait till a nice Marlin turns up. Just after deer season is a good time to do some looking. In my experience the Marlins do seem to give better on target results but of course the ability of the marksman is a large part of the accuracy equation.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Yes, "don't sell good guns" is generally sound advice. Lots of people sell and then wish they hadn't. Then they buy a new gun just like the old one for less than they made selling the old one. Not the brightest idea.

That said, my AR-15 has proven to be the gun I should have bought instead of the M1 carbine. It's just better in every way. I'm not in a hurry to sell, but when I think about which gun in my collection I could sell without missing it, the M1 is the obvious choice.

To_m_ Jackson said...

Just guessing, but it seems to me that political restrictions on ammunition, should they come about, would probably start with handgun ammunition. If that happens, you might wish you'd bought your rifle chambered for some traditional hunting cartridge, rather than .357.

Anonymous said...


I just posted on Jeff's blog. However, I will repeat a bit of my advice here. 1. I think you are on the right path for home defense. Buy the Marlin in either a .357 (my choice) or a .44 Magnum. You can't go wrong with either of these two rifles. The .357 will shoot both .357's and .38 Specials. IIRC my Marlin can hold ten .357 rounds, more than enough to stop a home invasion.

Second, once you get the rifle, or before you buy it, go to a NRA gun saftey course. Learn the basics of gun saftey and practice them each time you take the gun out.

Third, go out at least once a month and shoot a box of ammo through your rifle. If you want to be able to hit something past your arm length then practice. I like starting with ballons at say about fifteen yards. When you are consistently hitting them 100% of the time then move them out say ten more yards. When you get to fifty yards and you are hitting 100% of the time then you have developed some good hand and eye coordination.

Be sure to get good hearing and eye protection and use them each time you got to the range.

I would shoot a minimum of 100 rounds of ammo per outing. Work on the fundamentals of safe firmarm handling, breathing, trigger control, and sight aligment.

If you want to discuss this further you can email at drjosephrcathey@alltel.net I would be happy to give you further advice.

Kind Regards
Dr. Joe

Jeff the Baptist said...

"Just guessing, but it seems to me that political restrictions on ammunition, should they come about, would probably start with handgun ammunition."

Maybe, but the last few times congress has looked at ammunition restrictions, it has been based on bullets that would penetrate police officers ballistic vests. This would outlaw almost all rifles but leave most handgun rounds untouched.

John said...

I was thinking about cost. Just glancing around the Internet, the cost of .30-.06 ammo was prohibitively expensive, where as .357 was about half as much.

Thanks for the advice, guys. I wouldn't even consider pointing a gun at anything without the proper training from the NRA.

DannyG said...

I've got my Winchester put up in a safe place. I bought it from an old Vermont farmer in '74 and he had had it since the 1920's. It's a great deer rifle, especially in the thick forests we have here in the mountains of S.W. Virginia.

John said...

Thank you all for your advice.

It's good to hear that the .357 is enough. I was concerned that it wouldn't have the stopping power. I've heard it said that any caliber purchased for protection should begin with the number 4.

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