Best Saddle Gun

Danielle Fletcher
• Thursday, 26 November, 2020
• 9 min read

And ever since I grabbed a catalog during the Hunter Ed class that featured a Marlin 336CS on the cover… I had to have one. This love affair began way back in 1848 when the Volition Repeating Rifle was the first lever gun to receive a patent.

saddle ithaca gun
(Source: www.gunsamerica.com)


They bought the patent and with help from several investors created the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855. He brought on a man by the name of Benjamin Tyler Henry to rework the Volcanic Rifle design.

For those in the south it was better known as “that damn Yankee rifle you load on Sunday and shoot all week”. When you watch classic westerns if you pay attention you’ll see a lot of Winchester models 1894’s and a few 1873’s.

But go back in time and tune in to the Big Valley and you’ll notice all those boys in the Barkley family are toting Marlins. As mentioned earlier the big difference in Marlin and Winchester lever guns is the ejection.

In the early Winchesters, the spent case was ejected straight up as the action opened. This made mounting optical sights impractical until Angle Eject was introduced in the 1980s.

There is no hammer, so the lock time is a bit faster than the Winchesters and Marlins. As American and traditional as the lever action rifle is, there is a bit of an interesting twist concerning the Winchester Model 1895.

ithaca saddle gun userimages gunsamerica
(Source: www.gunsamerica.com)

At the time the United States was a neutral country and Russia went to Winchester and ordered 300,000 musket versions of the Model 1895 chambered in 7.62×54mmR and complete with bayonet lugs. If you are an avid reader of safari lore you will recognize the Model 1895 in 405 Winchester as Teddy Roosevelt’s “’medicine gun for lions”.

Maybe you live in one of the not so gun friendly states that don’t allow dangerous things like removable magazines or pistol grips. Grab yourself a lever gun in .38 Special/.357 Magnum and you now have 10 rounds of stopping power in a very light, very fast platform.

If the 38 calibers are not to your liking you can step up to .44 Magnum or .45 Colt and make a lot of big holes very quickly. If you want a smooth as silk action in an American made rifle you need to treat yourself to a Henry.

Whether you choose a svelte little 22 Long Rifle or a center fire cartridge you cannot go wrong investing in a Henry lever gun. Side-eject, magazine tube loading port and no lawyer inspired safety mechanism mean you are getting a good old-fashioned lever gun the way Benjamin Tyler Henry intended.

I like classic blued steel and walnut so my choice would be the Color Case Hardened 45-70. But Henry has dozens of options to choose from, so they are sure to have a lever gun to meet your idea of the perfect rifle.

saddle ithaca gun
(Source: www.gunsamerica.com)

With a brushed stainless finish and handsome checkered walnut, this rifle would be right at home sneaking through thick whitetail timber or waiting for an elk at a wallow. With 6 rounds in the tubular magazine, you’ll be prepared for a great day in the field.

Chambered in 30-30 Winchester with open sights, walnut stock and richly blued steel you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time a bit when you pull this rifle out of the safe and head to the range. You will find a tang safety, Angle-Eject and the receiver is drilled and tapped for mounting optics.

Marlin started a trend years ago when they rolled out the Guide Guns. These were short barreled, ported, peep-sighted guns for guides to back up clients taking on big bears or other toothy critters.

A little side-by-side look at an older Marlin Model 1895 in .45-70 Gov’t and the new Dark Series version. They are a part of who we are and have played a major role in the development of the firearms we enjoy today.

Then check out our Editor’s Picks for more of our favorite guns and gear or Best Rifle Scopes for your perfect glass. The American Quarter Horse was a breed that proved fitting transport for the wide, open frontier, making saddle guns a necessity.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Produced in Italy by Berth, the commemorative is manufactured of industrial grade brass and gun steel, and is machined on state-of-the-art, computer-driven CNC devices. Artisans then hand finish the rifle to produce a polished, nickel plated, 20-inch octagonal barrel (carbine length), lever and hammer.

The sporting rifle’s enhancements include a receiver styled with laser assisted hand engraving in the elegant Victorian-era scroll design. Overall, the American Quarter Horse Association’s 75th anniversary commemorative rifle maintains the appearance of a presentation-grade Winchester from the Golden Age of 19th-century firearms.

If, like me, you have a fond appreciation for the American Quarter Horse and for Old West firearms, this 75th Anniversary commemorative rifle will suit your saddle. The Aqua wanted to present a rifle that represented the lasting and historical partnership of the horse and rider, and the 1866 model is significant as a classic saddle gun of the Old West.

The first rifle to bear the Winchester name, the 1866 model was favored by frontiersmen of all breeds, especially horsemen, due to its relatively light weight, easy handling and slab-sided design that made for comfortable carry in saddle scabbards. Here, famed Ankara scout Bloody Knife, who died with Lt. Col. George A. Custer at the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana, packs his tacked ‘66 rifles in this 1873 photo.

Chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, this brass-framed, lever-action “Yellow boy” saddle gun also sports a nickel plated, 20-inch (carbine length) octagonal barrel, lever and hammer, with deluxe wood stocking. I've been thinking a lot about what would be a good (opticless) saddle rifle capable of killing elk within the distances timbered mountains provide.

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(Source: www.royalenfields.com)

The obvious choice would be a 30-30 lever action with modern loading or hand loads. So, I then began considering the BLR, but I find them to be rather ugly, especially the pistol grip versions.

The only one I find bearable is the stainless laminate straight stock version, but I don't think I would feel comfortable paying over a grand for something that's going to be pulled in an out of a leather case repetitively and probably knocked around a lot. I think if I bought the synthetic model and stuck some aftermarkets laminate furniture and a peep sight on it is would be a sweet weapon.

However, I'm somewhat concerned about the slide possibly opening while in a scabbard. Already comes with nice irons, rugged, reliable, accurate and powerful.

The Ruler Gun site is an option as would be any compact bolt rifle. I own scoped bolt rifles in 308 that are lighter and more compact than a 30-30 lever action is with no optics on it.

Not a Remington Slide action, something I don't remember seeing John Wayne with, ever. The Browning 1886 saddle ring carbine in .45/70 would do the job for reasonable distances.

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(Source: www.fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)

The 405gr Hawk bonded or Buffalo bore 350gr load would work well. I've been thinking a lot about what would be a good (opticless) saddle rifle capable of elk killing in the distances timbered mountains provide.

The obvious choice would be a 30-30 lever action with modern loading or hand loads. No disrespect, but I think you're trying to reinvent the wheel while engineering a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

I've been thinking a lot about what would be a good (opticless) saddle rifle capable of elk killing in the distances timbered mountains provide. I loved the feel, look, and action of that rifle, but the barrel was in such awful condition that I sold it at a loss.

I think if I bought the synthetic model and stuck some aftermarkets laminate furniture and a peep sight on it is would be a sweet weapon. However, I'm somewhat concerned about the slide possibly opening while in a scabbard.

Also, I've ridden many a rough mile on horses carrying various rifles in saddle scabbards. I suppose if you had a scabbard that was really tight around the pump fore end, it might chamber a round, but I kinda doubt it.

saddle horse gun barrel sight saddles proven
(Source: nationalsaddlery.com)

Of course, anything can happen, but I'd not worry about that non-problem so long as you were careful when placing the 760/7600 in the scabbard. German Army has special scabbards for their HK G36 they use in their tragtiercompany of the gebirgsjager.

Unless you somehow accidentally bump it while putting it into the scabbard, it will stay closed. Iron sights or something hard mounted with a very low profile over the barrel.

Down here, hogs or stray dogs or other 4 legged pests are the most likely things to shoot. If my intent is elk hunting I'm probably going to have a scoped bolt with the rare exception being a Marlin Guide Gun while still hunting in fresh snow (very exiting knowing when the tracks were made).

An alternative would probably be a 99 Savage or old style BLR in 308 or 358 with a good peep sight. The Rem 760 pump in carbine configuration is a fine gun as well but I believe it would require a custom scabbard to be carried properly, just to tight on the forearm IMO.

The oversights are more rugged but I think that model is a bit overpriced. Unless you somehow accidentally bump it while putting it into the scabbard, it will stay closed.

rifle saddle 1874 sharps rifles long range express caliber
(Source: shilohrifle.com)

You cannot open the breech of a pump as long as the gun is cocked. The slide can certainly be locked on the Rem pump but I'm still of the opinion that you will want to make sure it will fit in your particular scabbard.

You will want to make sure and pay attention to disengaging the magazine when cocking prior to sliding in the scabbard as well, it should go without saying but... As one post mentioned the scabbard you choose is important, in so that the front sight does not catch on anything.

Savage 99, Browning BLR, Ruler #1, or a 1885 Highball of some make all come to mind when I think perfect, high power non bolt gun to hang off a saddle. Now, if Savage would just start making these again in stainless steel, cartridge counter rotary magazines with standard comb composite stocks and iron sights as standard.

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1 www.equestrianmovement.com - https://www.equestrianmovement.com/blog/girthy-horse
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3 everythinghorseuk.co.uk - https://everythinghorseuk.co.uk/different-types-of-girth/
4 westernshoppe.com - https://westernshoppe.com/product/snowbee-memory-girth-cover/
5 warmbloodtackstore.com - https://warmbloodtackstore.com/
6 www.horsedream.co.uk - https://www.horsedream.co.uk/collections/girths