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Winchester Model 1873 Short Rifle 1495

The 1873 Winchester, one of the most famous lever action rifles

Lever-action is a type of firearm action which uses a lever located at the trigger to load new cartridges into the rifle ejecting the spent cartridge and cocking the hammer making the rifle ready to fire again. The lever-action is mostly found in rifles, shotguns and even some pistols. The most well known lever-action rifle company that produces the rifles is Winchester, although other companies such as Marlin also produce lever action rifles.


Throughout the early 1800's many had dreamed of a repeating rife that did not have to be reloading after each shot. In 1848 successful inventor Waltor Hunt created the first self contained metallic cartridge. He later created a cartridge rifle with a tubular magazine that had a lever and could fire multiple times without reloading, however the gun was weak and not robust. Later in the 1850's two men called Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson created a rimfire cartridge lever action repeating pistol called the Volcanic. Many quickly invested in their company with hopes of getting rich, one of the men was called Oliver Winchester. However, despite the gun's advantages it was far from perfect, the ammunition could sometimes explode in the gun causing all the rounds to explode. Later many of the investors left the company, even Smith and Wesson who would go on to create some of the world's most famous revolvers. Oliver Winchester soon took over and with help from B.Tyler Henry they perfected the lever action rifle and made the Henry repeating rifle.

This was the start of the Lever action era, many other inventors such as Christopher Spencer and later John Browning would help the lever action become famous.

The lever action, due to its rapid firepower made it popular with settlers, Indians and outlaws. At the battle of the little bighorn in 1876 the Indians armed with lever action Henry rifles defeated Custer and the 7th cavalry who were armed with single shot breech loading Springfield trapdoor rifles.

Although popular, not many armies adopted the lever action rifles. The Russians used some Winchester 1895 lever action rifles along with the Nagant bolt action rifle in World war 1.

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