Lever-action rifles are making a comeback for use as defensive armament. Especially in the pistol calibers—chiefly .357 Mag. and.44 Mag.—short(er)-barrel, lever-action rifles are in high demand. Maybe folks are nostalgic, or maybe the MSR market is cooling and folks are looking for the next big thing, or perhaps people have come to realize lever actions are cool and useful as defensive and hunting tools. Regardless, lever actions certainly have a place in the defensive battery. At Gunsite Academy we run several defensive lever-action classes and demand has increased to the point where the school will be offering a defensive-lever-action rifle and single-action-revolver class in 2019.
This month’s skills drill is one I think we’ll be running as a standard exercise in our training, because it includes accuracy, gun-handling and reloading skills. I’m going to call it a Demi-Presidente, as it’s similar to the abbreviated, six-shot El Presidente we run in pistol classes. To run this you’ll need a lever-action carbine, six rounds of ammunition and three silhouette or Option targets placed 15 yards downrange.
Start by loading the carbine with four rounds in the magazine tube, chamber empty and hammer down. You’ll need two additional rounds in a pocket or in cartridge loops on your belt. Starting from a muzzle- depressed position, run the lever as you point in and fire two shots on the first target and two on the second. Now here’s the interesting part: You have to load two more rounds and fire them on the third target. Do you want to load them in the magazine or drop them in the open action and load and fire them one at a time? Which way is quicker? Which way is easier? Try both ways and find out what works best for you.
So here’s the drill: Shoot two on target number one, shoot two on target number two, load and fire two more rounds on target number three. If you want to score it the par time is 10 seconds, with five points deducted for every second over 10 seconds and five points added to your score for every second under. The target is scored as five points for every center hit and two points for hits outside the center-scoring ring. While 30 points in 10 seconds is a perfect score, you can exceed it if you’re quick and accurate. Variations of this drill can include running it at greater distances, say 25 or 50 yards, and adding a few seconds to the par time to compensate for the greater distance.
Before the advent of the MSR, Western lawmen were known to keep a short-barrel, lever-action carbine handy. They were a particular favorite of Texas Rangers and sheriffs who worked the border regions and knew a handy, fight-stopping lever action was just the thing when dealing with bad men or mad beasts. As such, you might be well advised to follow their example.