Lever-action firearms use a lever situated around the trigger guard area (or the lever forms part of the trigger guard itself) to load rounds into the barrel chamber when the lever is cycled. It is a type of repeating firearm such as a bolt-action rifle or pump-action shotgun.
Although the lever-action is usually associated with rifles, there are some lever-action shotguns in production today that are mainly used for hunting and sport shooting (probably not going to be the most popular gun in pink. The first types of repeating firearms were lever-action rifles, so when shotguns started to emerge as a distinct entity they naturally followed the design trend of using a lever fire action.
Shotguns had to be repeating in order to compete with rifles at the time so the first successful repeating shotgun was a lever-action Winchester Model 1887, probably the most famous lever-action shotgun of all time.
Around the time that the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (famous for its lever-action rifles) had plans to develop a shotgun, it was suggested by certain firearms designers that a pump-action or bolt-action would be the most appropriate type of loading mechanism. However, because Winchester was known as a “lever-action firearm company” they decided on developing a lever-action shotgun to maintain their brand recognition. Of course with something this fast you’ll want to practice extreme firearm safety.
Generally speaking, lever-action shotguns aim easily and are faster than bolt-actions but slower than pump-actions. They tend to have sleek designs mimicking the looks of rifles and are usually shorter than pump-action shotguns, often by up to 10 inches.
Check out these most classic looking models:
Henry Repeating Arms Lever Action .410 Shotgun
Part of a new introduction of sleek .410 bore models, this Henry Repeating Arms lever-action shotgun is a small gauge, blued steel-framed beauty designed to be quick-handling and similar to more powerful rimfire and centerfire field versions.
This .410 is ideal for small game hunting or camping. It is simple, rugged, and beautiful. This variant has a stock and forearm made of dark straight-grained American walnut, a pistol grip wrist, sling swivel studs, and a robust non-slip rubber recoil pad.
Additional specs: 24” round barrel for longer ranges (shorter version is a 20”), removable invector-style full choke, and a 5-shot tube-loading mag chambered for 2.5” shells.
Henry Repeating Arms Side Gate Lever Action .410 Bore Shotgun
This beauty combines the best features of Henry Repeating Arms’ Lever Action .410 shotgun and its brass-framed Side Gate Lever Action rifle.
The result is one of the most perfect lever-action shotguns in the world. The Side Gate Lever Action .410 has a 5-shot removable tube mag and a rifle-inspired side loading gate for loading up to six 2.5” .410 shells. This model also includes a rifle ivory bead frontsight with an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear. A cylinder choked smoothbore barrel provides a controlled shot pattern.
Perfect for clay shooting or close-range hunting where swift point-and-shoot is required. It will definitely draw attention from your camping peers.
Chiappa 1887 Lever-Action Shotgun 12GA/22″BBL
The Chiappa 1887 Lever-Action is a faithful reproduction of the classic Winchester Model 1887 from the late 19th century.
If this vintage looking model seems familiar to you it may be because it is the iconic shotgun from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That film, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger expertly operates the lever-action, is probably the best showcase of the awesome effectiveness of this firearm.
The Model 1887 was the first successful repeating shotgun in the world. This reproduction utilizes the original solid lever design and includes an innovative internal safety mechanism. A beautiful European Hand Oiled Walnut finish on the stock and forearm, along with a color case finished receiver, compliments the beautiful form of this highly functional firearm.
Additional specs: 12 Gauge, 2.75” chamber, 22” barrel length, 39” overall length, Beretta/Benelli Mobil Choke Thread MC-3, overall weight of 9 lbs.
Lever-Action Shotguns – Conclusion
Lever-action shotguns are popular because of their graceful and classic designs that provide the shooter with a relatively lightweight, easy-to-aim, and robust feeling firearm.
They are portable and reliable as well. They may not be as fast as pump-action types but they are adequate enough for those who carry them over their shoulder.
Lever-action shotguns were among the first repeating firearms and this legacy is attractive to recreational shooters, hunters, and those wanting an accurate, well-balanced firearm that offers the right amount of firepower and practicality.