Grandaddy of assault rifles

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by delta13soultaker, May 4, 2005.

  1. Just wanted to bring yall in on a little on-going debate I've had with some fellows at work.

    Now, I have a soft spot for Old West guns, and while discussing fighting rifles in general I made the bold statement that a good lever gun like a Winchester '94 loaded with .44 mag or maybe hot .45 Colt could hold its own in the right hands during a 21st Century gun fight (which mostly implies urban terrain). Well from the reaction I got you'd think I said a .22 LR is equal to .338 win mag for grizzly or something.

    Anyway, in my view a sturdy rifle/carbine like a Win '94 or similar gun with side loading gate (not like Henrys or anything with detachable mag), that holds 9+ rounds, in a good pistol caliber is a reasonable piece of hardware. I say that it can be steadily loaded on the move, hits hard enough, has low recoil, is a reasonably fast repeater, can share ammo with a sidearm, and (gasp!) a better than average shot can hit with one at 200+ yards enough times to be dangerous. The quick pointing handling has some of the same characteristics desired in a modern assault rifle.

    The opposition says that modern fighting iron like the AK, M16/M4, G3, and such will put the old Win '94 at such disadvantage through ballistic prowess and ergonomic brilliance that defeat for the cowboy gun would be just a matter of rabbit vs the turtle. They do have some historic data to back up their argument too (which I won't repeat). One good friend (who to give him his due, has probably forgotten more about assault rifles than most of us mortals will ever even know) tells me that any 'ol cheap 3rd world 9mm sub-machine gun in the hands of a novice will shoot rings around the gun that won the West (yeah, I know there was the '73 and all that).

    Just some thought. Opinions welcomed of course.

    **Disclaimer** For anyone offended by the combined words of "assault" and "rifle" or "fighting" and "gun" or similar useage please insert some of the following words as applicable so as to be less offensive.


    Use in any combination until political correctness is restored.

    LIKTOSHOOT Advanced Senior Member

    Apr 26, 2001

    This ole fart after pulling a 16 hour double shift will have to get back to you in the morning after a little rack time. I`m sure you`ll wait with baited


  3. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

    SURE, we will!!!!!!!!!!!!

    With baited breath - - - :rolleyes:

    :eek: ;) :) :D
  4. Jay

    Jay Active Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    Just curious....... would you "really" want to find out, if you had the "old west gun of your choice", and the guy trying to kill you had an M4? If that is true, I applaud your courage, but I fear you alone would incur some serious damage.
  5. GunnFixr

    GunnFixr New Member

    May 26, 2003
    Battle Creek, MI
    I beg to differ. Technology is no replacement for skill. A skilled marksman will win out over the novice even if he is armed with a Ruger #1 and the novice is armed with an RPK. That being said, I would still rather a proper magazine fed semiauto, or select fire rifle in a suitable caliber such as .308

    I wouldn't feel under armed with a levergun, I would just have to adjust tactics a bit.

    Make no bones about it, guns are made for killin. The joy derived from poking holes in paper, or knocking down a bowling pin is just a happy benefit. Look at th major shooting sports such as IDPA or IPSC....the targets are human shillouettes.
  6. Yeah it is a can of Not your average smoke break debate. And I haven't heard much middle ground.

    Now, the M4 has been my service weapon for several years now, so I'm pretty familiar with it, and can say with much assurance that I don't want to be on the other end of it in any circumstance. But this ain't about what anyone wants to do, or is "brave" enough to try to do; it's about whether the lever gun is so absolutely obselete in the face of highly evolved battle rifles or if the technological gap between the two types is not as big as it appears on the surface (no doubt the lever gun was hi-tech/state-of-the-art in its beginning days).

    I agree that skill cannot be replaced. That is sorta the foundation of my arguement: A good rifleman is as deadly today with that rifle as he was 100 years ago, and nothing invented in the past century really takes away from that. (Yes this is herasy and the laser dot/ghetto grip/ghost ring/gas operated/hi-cap mag fed Gods of War shall descend from Mt. Polymer Frame and chastise me for thinking it.)
    I understand the preference for a semi-auto .308 and agree it is a fine choice for many. You can put more steel down range in less time, with less "Kentucky windage", and with greater stand-off distance IMO.
    Tactics for a lever gun different? I think yes and no. More moving and less shooting. Engagment at closer quarters. But use of cover, "key-hole" firing positions, etc etc still pretty similar, just executed with a lot more intensity. The lever gun operator would really have to do it like he meant it against the true modern assault rifleman; the lever gun would make him work harder to a degree. But IMO the tactics would not be as drastically different as say with a 1911 (Now that would be outgunned! and I'm a die-hard 1911 fan). I'm saying the principles are the same and keep in mind I'm talking about in an urban area (a fact of our time, most places you find people are built up) where distances can be expected to be closer than further.

    My disclaimer is just for humor. Don't take that too serious. That being said, I really did have a gunshop owner look me in the eye and advise me agaist saying "assault rifle" because it gave sport shooting a bad image and was not good representation of the gun culture, then explained to me how assault rifles have select fire and all that. And I have to find something there funny that things have gone that far; sorry.
  7. stash247

    stash247 New Member

    Oct 18, 2003
    Central Texas
    Delta, let me offer a couple of ideas.
    The lever gun that you could "load on Monday and shoot all week", became the tool of Indian fighters, in the West, because prior to it, they were outgunned by the Indians; with a bow, the second and subsequent shots were a lot quicker than with a single shot rifle. Range was seldom an issue.
    If range, in your scenario, IS an issue, perhaps changing the number from 1894 to 1886 (Winchester), or 1895 (Marlin) is the trick! In, say, .45-70, or .333, or .348, the energy is still there, even though the trajectory is somewhat extreme; a 300-500 grain bullet could wreck your day, even before you heard the shot.
    If this does not make sense, ask any Russian soldier who served in their Afghanistan campaign how effective an old .303 Brit rifle, a real " high performance" round/platform, was, when used against them from horseback!
    Tactics is the essence of your question, however; and no one but a fool would consider a rifle squad, armed with lever guns of the era of which you speak, the equal to a squad armed with M-4's, M-16's, Steyr AUG's, of the like, in CONVENTIONAL warfare: On the other hand, a guerilla force could do one heck of a lot of damage with almost any weapon.
    I was taught, years ago, by the best of the best, at Camp McCall, that "only a fool joins a battle he cannot win", and it's an accurate observation. Given the limitations of any particular weapon, one ought to pick his battles wisely, and optimise results.
    Consider the choice of the USMC in the M-42( I think) Sniper rifle System; in a contest of firepower, at close to intermediate range, that bolt gun loses, every time. But, used to it's strength i.e., accuracy at longer range, it's a winner, in the hands of a skilled operator, because few, if any, 'assault rifles' can do much damage to the sniper, at 600 yards! You gotta pick yer battle!
    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  8. Okay. Right on.

    I haven't really thrown the effective range side out there. Simply because there are several cowboy rounds out there that can reach way way out and make a big hole (no doubt at all there), but like you said the trajectory is tricky. The fact is that it takes lots of practice to be effective. Lots and lots. On the other hand, I know very well that you can take pretty much any kid off the street, give him an M-16, and after just a few days of simple instruction and practice he/she will be consistantly hitting out to 300-400 meters (that's nearly a quarter mile btw). Which is what my buddies keep saying "any cherry with a 16 can whack anybody with a Winchester", which I won't agree with.

    I'm not really trying to get into good and bad decisions and picking battles and all that because when it comes down to it, sometimes other people pick the time/place first and that's that. I'm talking more of a "meeting engagement"; sorta like the bullets are already in the air and you got what you got. Now if you're going squad on squad, bring what you want, I'm calling 155 and air anyway, so no problem. But out of a military scenerio, you have a Winchester in your truck and find yourself mixing it up with a guy with an SKS or Mini-14; are you certainly dead because the Winchester is obselete? I'm saying no, it still has the same strengths that made it a winner 100 years ago.
  9. stash247

    stash247 New Member

    Oct 18, 2003
    Central Texas
    Delta; My Truck gun is a 1983 vintage M1894 Win in .45 Colt. 16in barrel, with nearly 1/2 inch hole in it.
    It will handle ammo I would never put thru a revolver; and, accurately.
    Given your scenario, NO, I do not feel handicapped by the weapon.
    My FAL is marginally quicker, for me, in accurate fire, but too long, at 45 inches, to be handy. I'm in your camp, to be sure
    If only there were a "Trapper" length lever gun, in 45-70, it would be the ultimate in urban survival weapons!.
  10. 45-70 is a hell of a round. The fact that it still has such a market speaks more than anything I can say here. Marlin makes the 1895G in 45-70 and with the 18 1/2 inch barrel it is almost a "trapper" size. I held one once (wish I coulda shot it) and was impressed. It's light too and I remember thinking it would be worth the money to port it and get a good after-market recoil pad. It's about the most handy sized 45-70 I can think of besides a T/C.

    How is your 1894 for reliability? I recently heard that the 1894 was built for longer cartridges and the 1892 is more reliable with shorter shells. This struck me as odd and I'd never heard anything bad about the Winchester 1894 except that the Marlin has a simpler mechanism.
  11. stash247

    stash247 New Member

    Oct 18, 2003
    Central Texas
    The '94 continues to be a flawless performer; don't know where the 'length' issue began.
    If the '94 would work, with the .44 Mag, flawlessly, why should the .45 LC be a different deal??? WRA only did it for three years, as I understand, because the market was soft/sales poor, but the caliber, in a rifle like this, is well the ballistic better of the .44 Rem Mag, by virtue of both caliber, and capacity.
    The loads I use in the rifle would likely wreck a Colt Rvolver; so much for the 'interchangability' of ammo, but, so what???
    It's a little 'long gun', with a lot of potential!
  12. Jay

    Jay Active Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    I think that all the comments thus far are accurate/correct. HOWEVER....... the original statement...

    I still feel that even with all the venerable qualities of the vintage Winchesters, when you consider the amount of ammo that can be carried per person, the ballistics of the ammo and the maximun effective range at which the enemy could be engaged, modern weaponry would prevail.
  13. Maybe this is kinda like what my performance car friends call "A drivers' race", meaning that once there are two very different vehicles that have been modified until their power/torque/traction/handling/endurance characteristics are so similar that a clear victory on the pavement will be decided finally by flesh and blood, not just iron and fuel.

    I could argue the point of how much ammo can be carried, but it is a bit too hypothetical to run with. At the ranges I'm talking about (which I'm trying to stay in a practical distance i.e. typical urban) ballistics are not a major factor. There's really no arguement about .44 mag/.45 Colt vs 5.56/7.62 after 200 meters on this. Maybe it would be more valuable to compare the lever gun to modern semi-auto carbines chambered in 9mm/.40/.45acp; then again if you think about it the selection of semi-auto carbines is far less than the lever guns and maybe that says something.

    At one time, the longsword was the peek of fighting iron in Western civilization. In it's own time, the lever gun was the most evolved fighting piece for the technology available in a different West. Today, our most effective long arm is one of a large selection of rapid fire rifles launching projectiles not even dreamed of 100 years ago.

    I think now it's a bit of a shooters' race. Once the peek of technical evolution has been reached for weapons of two different eras, then it will be skill and not magazine capacity, judgment and not MOA ability, speed of hand or eye and not velocity of metal that wins when it counts.

    One day I'm going to find time and I'm going to test this theory out. I'll get together some skilled shooters and run some lanes against the plywood horde or balloons or something simple, Win '94 vs bring your best, and see what the time scores look like.
  14. GunnFixr

    GunnFixr New Member

    May 26, 2003
    Battle Creek, MI
    One thing that should be pointed out, most modern armies field their troops with some sort of body armor. 80% of them (I'm plucking this number out of the air, I have nothing to back it up save for my own travels) have at least level two body armor that will defeat the 44mag and the 45 colt.
  15. Gunn, if you read up a bit you notice I'm not trying to validate the lever gun for 21st century military equipment or discuss it in an organized military role where it will face down body armor etc. Yeah I know it could happen anywhere because lots of people now have vests and you could see it in any situation(I keep my interceptor body armor in the car cause I usually find out we're hitting the range with no notice and we usually have to wear it to fire) but I'm not trying to get neck deep in ballistics/penetration/stopping power simply because we are comparing pistol rounds to rifle rounds that have nothing in common accept being fired from a long barrel weapon. Purely talking about the gun here; if we're going to get on all the variables to include what equipment the opponents are wearing then we'll need another website and several books to reach a conclusion. If any Americans right now are fighting a modern Army somewhere with their personal weapons, let me know and I'll retract, but I'm not trying to go that route because it will go in circles until we are bringing in tank specs, FO's, and naval fire. That being said, I think if you are seriously seeking protection from .44 rem mag or better you need at least Level III or maybe IIIA.

    Stash, that's what I expected to hear. I figured the '94 is still around because it is reliable and durable enough to hang in there. As far as cartridge interchangability, just cause you can't put the hot carbine rounds in the pistol don't mean you can't fall back on the pistol rounds when the carbine goes my thinking.
    I always figured the .45 favors a reloader, cause he can tailor make his rounds as he needs to (he knows if his guns can handle hot loads or should stick with the blackpowder pressure). But for the non-reloader, I think the .44 mag might be better because of availability of full powder loads off the shelf. It seems that one has to look around to find .45s loaded to near full potential because so many old guns are still out there and the danger for a catostrophic cylinder/chamber failure is very real.