A New Mossberg American Lever Gun

 

by L.F. Combs

photography by L.F. Combs

June 30th, 2008

 

 

 

There is a new lever action on the gun scene, Mossberg has entered the market with its Model 464 in .30-30, and it is a welcomed addition. It has traditional looks reminiscent of the best-known lever design of all time, the Winchester 94, but now donít get me wrong - it isnít just a clone of the old workhorse slapped on the market to live off the legend.

Mossberg really did a good job, and this design has some real modifications to the old design that sets it apart in the market. Everything concerning the modifications to this design speaks to a stronger rifle than the Model 94 that it so favors. This leads me to think, and hope that in the future Mossberg has plans of introducing more powerful calibers in their lever action.

The first modifications that will catch your eyes are the beefed up receiver with another band of steel at the back of the bolt. This not only strengthens the design, but also allows for a much simpler scope mount. Second in this first glance you will no doubt notice the bolt of the gun, and when you investigate further you will see that it is not the same old bolt that the 94 used it is actually closer to that of the Marlin 336. Rounded with the same basic look of the Marlin bolt, the inside of the receiver is also rounded to allow for a smoother action than the Model 94. The blued bolt slides up to the chamber where it is locked by the falling block at the rear pushing it into place where, due to its rounded bolt, sites inside a ring of steel. To me the more steel around the end of the bolt - the more steel holding the cartridge head - thus the more pressure the gun can handle.

The biggest and best feature of this gun is the way that the butt stock attaches to the tangs, and the receiver. Unlike the 94 and 336 this rifleís butt stock is attached much the same way a shotgun's attaches. A single bolt that runs through the butt stock and screws into a piece of metal connecting the upper, and lower tangs that are part of the receiver, and thus a stronger wrist, which means a stronger rifle. This is a much needed modification on lever guns; the wrist is a weak spot on almost all lever gun designs.

Now to a feature of the gun that no lever guy likes - the safety, and at first glance will make most die-hard lever action enthusiasts cringe. A large tang mounted safety that will make most pitch a fit, but its looks are deceiving. Its size actually makes it more functional, and reasonable. You see when you are shooting the gun it is hard to forget this big button. When it is in the safe position it sits right under your thumb, and when it is in the fire position you donít feel it under your thumb; it is in front of your thumb up towards the front of the hand in plain sight. This to me is better than the other safeties on the market. Of course that doesnít mean I probably wonít try and figure out a way to remove the dang thing.

Now letís address the one bad feature I found about the rifle. What?? Did you think it was going to be perfect? Not in this overly lawyered up nation. The rifle not only has the safety, but it has a rebounding hammer. It isnít as bad as the later Model 94ís, but it still is a rebounding hammer. This lends itself to a trigger that is less than perfect. I like the trigger - it could be cleaner, but still it is no worse than some on the market. Yes, many will want a better trigger, but I am OK with it.

The feel, and ease of packing is the same as the Model 94 with one exception: the red recoil pad on the butt of the gun gives it a little different feel to the shoulder. Cycling the lever you will notice how much smoother the action is over the Model 94, the stroke is shorter, and the guts donít fall so far out of the bottom of the receiver. Shooting the Mossberg lever gun is very reminiscent of the 94, the action being smoother helps to improve groups when rapid firing the gun by requiring less movement when cycling the action. This means that you will have less trouble staying on target between shots.

The button rifled barrel, a good crown, larger bead front sight, and a rear sight that is easily precisely adjusted more so then those on the 94 or 336 also helps with the gun's accuracy. On the bench it shoots as well as the Winchester or the Marlin 336, well at least in my shooting. I think that if you want to do any better, scope the gun with a small low power scope. A variable is OK, but to me more scope than needed.

This gun cycled a variety of ammunition just fine, and I really like the solid ejection that allowed the shooter to fling cases clean of the gun similar to a Winchester 94. I have had some trouble in the field with the Marlinís ejection, especially when using Winchester Power Points. The case seems to stick a little in the Marlin. I broke the Mossberg in using factory ammo with only a few complaints. The rifle prefers bullets above 150 grains, consistently knocking holes in the paper to create 1.5Ē to 1.75Ē groups using 170 grain round nose loads from a good solid bench rest. The 150-grain Winchester Power Points I used spread out to about 2Ē to 2.50Ē groups at 100 yards, hitting about an inch high. From a standing position, as this rifle is more than likely to be fired in the field, I was still able to make some good groups with loads using a larger grain bullet. Staying in the 1.5Ē to 2.50Ē range most of the time. The absolute worst group I printed was at about three inches from a standing position with the rain in my eyes, and my back killing me. Hornady Evolution ammunition did very well in this rifle, but seeing that the gun doesnít have a scope at this time, and that I have limited range (max. Earth at the range is about 125 yards) the best part of using the pointed flex tip bullet can not be documented at this time by me, and seeing that I use hand loads in most of my shooting I really wanted to see how some of my favorite loads would shoot in this rifle. The one that really got my attention is probably the hottest load I use in my .30-30ís. It is a 180 grain Hornady round Nose on top of Reloder 15. This load in the Mossberg showed only moderate pressure signs. I have a feeling that I will be doing some tinkering with this load / rifle combination to see if I am also able to improve my groups, tightening them to 1.25Ē at 100 yards. This gun to me is the best of both worlds- the traditional cowboy looks of the Model 94 with the smoothness, and strength of the Marlin. You might want to try one of these out when you can get your paws on one. For the price you canít beat it.

L.F. Combs

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Mossberg's new Model 464 lever-action rifle.