The Best 30-30 Rifles [Hands-On Tested]

Today I’m going to show you the best 30-30 rifle.

In fact:

I’ve hand-tested over 10 guns alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the rifles by use. So whether you’re a beginner or need the best lever action hunting rifle, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

The 4 Best 30-30 Rifles

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best 30-30 rifles:

  1. Henry .30-30 Model H009: Best American-Made Rifle
  2. Winchester Model 94: Best 30-30 Lever-Action Rifle
  3. Marlin 336: Best Hunting Rifle
  4. Mossberg 464: Best .30-.30 for Beginners

1. Henry .30-30 Model H009: Best American-Made Rifle

There’s a reason Henry Repeating Arms Company has earned a place in the legendary gunsmithing halls of fame.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of firing a Henry, you know you’ll be handling one of the most accurate, reliable, and classy pieces of steel in the world.

The Model H009 is no different:

It’ll get you deadly accurate shots on deer, hogs, and even bears… all while feeling like an extension of your arm.

If you’re looking for a classic-looking, American-made rifle for hunting or home-defense, you won’t want to miss this affordable .30-30.

Let’s check it out…


The H009 is accurate.

Made with an incredibly designed steel round barrel, the 1:12 twist rifling and strikingly smooth action on the H009 will get you a kill shot every time.

When I took my Henry out to the range (without changing a thing from factory settings) I was getting an average of 1.5 inches at 100 yards.

I walked it out to 200 for long range testing purposes, and was still hitting the vitals of my target deer.

How is it that accurate?

For this model, it was the longer sight radius granted by quality XS Ghost Ring rear sights, the quick acquisition afforded by the blade front sight, and stabilizing weight of the steel barrel.

Like most owners of .30-30 lever-action rifles, I plan on using my Henry for whitetail and other larger American game. So, the accuracy of this H009 will get me home for supper with a fresh backstrap as long as there’s a deer to be seen.

What more could I ask for?


For hundreds of years, American marksmen have trusted Henry to make the shot they need, whether it’s bringing down food for the family or protecting their property.

And the durability of these lever-actions hasn’t changed over time. After cycling hundreds of rounds through my H009 flawlessly, I have to say my trust has been won as well.

Built with a steel receiver, steel-capped forend, and coated with a matte-blued finish, this rifle will most likely last longer than you or I.

It’s finished with a beautifully checkered American walnut stock that will draw even the most sceptical eye.


One thing that drew me to the Henry over a Marlin was the convenience of the internal transfer bar safety.

Its unique design doesn’t allow the hammer to make contact with the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled, making it safer and easier to pull off quick follow-up shots.

As far as the feel of the gun, I was very impressed with the balance as I picked mine up the first time. It felt lighter than its 7 pounds because of the excellent design.

One thing I found slightly off-putting was the clunkiness of the forend.

It was a little too thick for my petite frame. However, once I put a few shots through, I hardly noticed the forend as I looked downrange at my tight groups.


The pull of the trigger was crisp and clean, if not slightly on the heavier end (mine shipped with a pull around 5 lbs).

I did notice a slight bit of creep as I was firing, but not enough to be a deal-breaker. I’m considering upgrading the trigger assembly, however, just because I like a lighter pull.


The reload on this Henry is simple and quick.

All I had to do was twist off the stopper and pull out the tubular magazine, load my 5 (or 6) rounds, and replace the stopper, twisting to lock it.

Setting it apart from its side-port cohorts, this top-loaded Henry was more convenient when I had extra rounds left in the mag.

Instead of cycling through each round, I could just cycle the chambered round, then release and dump the unused rounds in a nice pile.


The compact size of the H009 with its 20-inch barrel, 39-inch overall length, and manageable 7-pound empty weight make this rifle perfect for using in a tree stand or ground blind.

I also found that the smaller size of this Henry was just right to throw in the truck, but would be a great bush or plane gun too.

Recoil Management

One thing that made this weapon so comfortable to shoot was the mild recoil.

There isn’t much kick anyway with a .30-30, but the weight of the barrel plus the well-designed shotgun-style rubber buttpad soaked up any remaining kick the H009 put off.

Price and Ammo Recommendations

The Henry .30-.30 Model H009 retails for an affordable price between $780 and $850.

What’s better?

Even the best 30-30 ammo is some of the cheapest on the market, making it a great choice for a beginning or experienced hunter.

Here are the rounds I used for my smallest groups:

  • Hornady LeverEvolution 160 gr FTX: This round features FlexTip technology that gets you better ballistic coefficients as well as a flatter flight path for improved accuracy.
  • Federal Non-Typical Whitetail 150 gr: Specially designed to take down whitetail, this is my top choice for hunting because of its dependability and knock-out wound channels.
  • Winchester Silvertip 150 gr: I love this round for its polymer tip and rapid expansion that drop game quickly for a clean and humane kill.

Accessory Recommendations

Though the H009 comes with exceptional iron sights, it is drilled and tapped for any scope base that would fit a 336 Marlin.

It’s also fitted with swivel studs so you’ll be able to throw on your favorite sling.

Here are my favorite accessories for the Henry H009:

Is the Henry H009 Worth It?

If you need a rifle that will flawlessly fire every shot you take, whether it be at a whitetail or a home intruder, then look no further than the affordable H009.

Here’s why. It’s:

  • Accurate
  • Compact
  • Dependable
  • Well-balanced

All these features plus the drop-dead gorgeous design are what make me a believer of the Henry H009, my favorite American-made rifle.

2. Winchester Model 94: Best 30-30 Lever-Action Rifle

For over a century, gunslingers and hunters alike have turned to the Winchester 94 as one of the fastest, most accurate, and reliable lever guns out there.


Its unique design, top-quality components, and economic superiority― all features that still hold true today.

Let’s dive more in depth to the features of this .30-30 that will enhance your speed, accuracy, and ease of travel


The Winchester is the most accurate .30-30 lever-action on the market.

Built with a steel rifled barrel sporting a slower 1:12” twist, a Marble Arms bead front sight, and an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight, this weapon will dominate its competition every time.

Winchester Model 94 Front Sight
Via: Forgotten Weapons

For me, that looked like an impressive 1.25-inch average 5-shot grouping at just over 70 yards.

I was happy as a clam when I looked downrange, but what impressed me even more was the fact that (unlike most weapons that are fired in quick succession) the 94 actually improved in accuracy as the barrel heated.

Winchester Model 94 Barrel
Via: Forgotten Weapons

So, the more I fired my rifle, the better the rounds seemed to stabilize coming down the barrel.

If I had a table of lever action rifles laid out in front of me and had to choose the quickest one that would put down fast-moving game with minimal effort, I’d jump to the Winchester 94 every single time.


This rifle is beautiful with its polished Grade 1 black walnut stock and steel receiver.

Winchester Model 94 Receiver and Stock
Via: Forgotten Weapons

But will it do its job?

The answer: flawlessly.

I learned to shoot on the same Winchester as my father and his father, and I have no doubt I’ll be teaching my kids to shoot on that very same gun.

I’ve never had a misfeed or misfire from my 94, in part, because of the articulated cartridge stop that makes for smoother feeding and virtually no damage to the cartridges.

There’s a reason that out of all the lever action rifles, this weapon is called a heritage gun — it will last for generations.


With a traditional straight grip, the Winchester 94 feels comfortable in my hands.

Winchester Model 94 Grip
Via: Forgotten Weapons

What’s more? This rifle is one of the fastest lever-actions out there.

For that, I’ll thank the round locking bolt trunnions that make throwing the lever seamless and snag-free plus the well-designed bolt relief cut that lessens hammer drag.

Differing from its Marlin competitor, this Winchester sports an intuitive tang safety that feels way less clumsy than the cross-bolt style of the Marlin.


I had absolutely no problem with the reasonable 5 pounds of pull off this rifle’s trigger.

Winchester Model 94 Trigger
Via: Forgotten Weapons

The best part?

The trigger and trigger guard are both made out of durable high-grade steel.


Reloading is another area where Winchester stands apart.

The 94 comes with a full-length tubular magazine that holds 7 rounds. To load, all I had to do was feed the cartridges through the convenient right-side port.

To aid in durability, this model features a steel loading gate and a barrel band support.


The lightweight and compact nature of the Winchester makes it the best .30-.30 rifle for hunting in thick brush or for use as a truck gun.

It’s got a 20-inch barrel, bringing the overall length to just at 38 inches.

Winchester Model 94 20-inch Barrel
Via: Forgotten Weapons

Weight is right at 6 pounds (unloaded) and honestly sometimes I have to work pretty hard to notice it on my shoulder when I’m in the field.

Recoil Management

As one of the softest-shooting rounds out there, this .30-30 doesn’t put off a ton of kick to start with.

But, if the steel carbine strap buttplate is starting to be a little much for, say, your 11-year-old to manage, they make some very comfortable slip-on recoil pads for this model.

Price and Ammo Recommendations

The Winchester retails for around $1200.

Winchester Model 94 Engraving
Via: Forgotten Weapons

Good news, though.

A box of .30-30’s is some of the cheapest ammo out there, so you won’t have to bite the proverbial bullet when it comes to high-quality rounds.

Quick side note: Since the 94 has a slower twist rate, I found that rounds needed to be at least 170 grains for the best accuracy.

Here are my favorites for the Winchester:

  • Winchester 170 gr Power-Point: My best groups were with these Power-Points. They kept a ton of velocity and seem to be made just for my 94 rifle.
  • Remington CORE-LOKT 170 gr: These Remington rounds are one of the most economical choices for .30-30 ammo. However, they still get the job done with their 2200 ft/s of muzzle velocity.
  • Winchester Power-Max Bonded 170 gr: This round is my top choice for more devastating wound channels because the jacket and lead are bonded to retain weight and drive further into the animal.

Accessory Recommendations

This lever gun comes tapped and drilled for two major add-ons―a hammer spur extension that is included with purchase and a scope mount.

If you’re planning on using a scope instead of the already-exceptional iron sights, the hammer spur extension is necessary if you want to actually be able to use your scope.

Here are my favorite accessories for the Winchester 94:

Is the Winchester 94 Worth It?

The Winchester Model 94 has been used to take down whitetail, bear, and hogs for over a century. Its superior build design and quick precision make it my top choice for a .30-30.

Here’s why. It’s:

  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Compact
  • Accurate

For fast-moving prey, this classic, pass-it-down-through-the-generations lever gun is my favorite predator.

3. Marlin 336: Best Hunting Rifle

The Marlin 336 is one of the best hunting rifles of all time.

It’s been around for over 125 years, which proves just how well-loved and widely used this rifle is.

How has it remained so popular for such a long time?

Keep on reading and all will be revealed.


The 336 is incredibly accurate.

In fact, from 50 yards my average 5-shot grouping was just over 1.5”, with my smallest single-shot group being .5”.

Even from 100 yards, I was able to maintain an average of just under 2”.

The barrel is micro-grooved for optimum accuracy, and the semi-buckhorn, folding rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage.

Marlin 336 Rear
Via: p99shooter

The brass bead front sight is covered with a wide-scan hood, which isn’t ideal for hunting, as it can easily get in the way, but the standard iron sights are still very effective.

Marlin 336 Front Sight
Via: p99shooter

This lever gun is designed for hunting, and the impeccable accuracy it offers allows you to hit your target easily.


I’ve shot over 300 rounds through the Marlin 336.

Every time, it has functioned perfectly.

It’s proven dependable with every type of ammo used. No failures to chamber, fire, or extract whatsoever.

Marlin has been known to build dependable, solid lever guns, and the 336 is no exception.

Reliability is essential with a hunting rifle.

You don’t want any failures or malfunctions to occur and alert your target to your presence. You don’t have to worry about any of that with this rifle.


The Marlin 336 features a pistol grip and hardwood stock.

Both the stock and fore-end have a textured black finish, which provides a surface that’s easier to grip than wood alone.

Marlin 336 Grip and Stock
Via: p99shooter

There’s also machine-cut checkering on the stock and fore-end, which goes even further to provide a fantastic grip.


From my measurements, the trigger pull ranges anywhere from 4.5 – 5.5 lbs.

It’s a bit inconsistent, but I’m hoping it’ll loosen up and become more consistent with continued use.

The trigger is surprisingly smooth for a lever-action rifle.

Marlin 336 Trigger
Via: p99shooter

It breaks clean, and there’s no creep, overtravel, or slack at all.

As a safety mechanism, the trigger stop pin prevents the trigger from being squeezed until the lever is closed completely.

The trigger allows for quick follow-up shots, which is a must-have with hunting firearms.

While the trigger isn’t perfect, it serves its purpose and is very good for a lever gun .

Magazine & Reloading

Capacity for this rifle is either 5+1 or 6+1, depending on the variation you get.

The lever-action makes the 336 very quick to load.

In fact:

The lever is incredibly easy to deploy, and the rifle features a side loading gate you can load your ammo directly into, one round at a time.

Marlin 336 Lever
Via: p99shooter

This is very good for hunting, because you can simply push each round in as needed instead of loading and unloading an entire magazine at once.

At first, I was having some trouble loading the final round into the magazine.

However, this was easily solved with a more forceful loading procedure.

The loading gate is also a bit tight at first, but it loosens up over time.

Length & Weight

The barrel length varies from 16.25” – 24” based on the model you have.

I’m using the 336W, which has a barrel length of 20” and an overall length of 38.5”.

Marlin 336 Barrel Length
Via: p99shooter

Empty, it weighs just about 7 lbs. This is just about the same weight as a standard brick.

For a lever-action rifle, it’s very lightweight and comfortable.

It’s nimble, easy to shoulder, and light to carry around for long periods of time.

Recoil Management

There’s no recoil pad on the 336, and the buttstock is made of plastic.

Marlin 336 Buttstock
Via: p99shooter

Still, the recoil is very manageable.

It definitely packs a little bit of a punch and some muzzle flip can be expected, but for what it is, the recoil is manageable.

Ammo Recommendations

Since the Marlin 336 is a tube-fed rifle, I’d recommend using ammo with rounded tips rather than pointed tips.

Here’s what worked well for me:

If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, you could try Remington Core-Lokt .30-30 Winchester 150-grain.

Recommended Accessories

The 336 has a top rail and an XS lever rail. It’s threaded for a suppressor and a thermal scope.

I’d recommend upgrading the front sight with a Vortex Crossfire red-dot.

I’d also recommend getting a sling for easy carry while trekking through the woods.

I got a Brass Stacker RLO No-Drill Harnessed Rifle Sling made out of brown leather that’s both durable and great looking.


Depending on the model you choose, the 336 MSRPs for anywhere between $500-$1000, but you can find certain models for less at some retailers.

Marlin 336 Length
Via: p99shooter

Which leads us to the final question…

Marlin 336 Review: Is It Worth It?

The Marlin 336 is the perfect lever-action rifle for hunting.

It’s ideal for deer, hog, and bear hunting at close to medium range. To recap, here are the best features:

  • Accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to load

The 336 has been in the game for over 125 years and is one of the all-time best hunting weapons. You simply can’t go wrong with one of these.

4. Mossberg 464: Best .30-.30 for Beginners

The Mossberg 464 is the best .30-.30 for beginners.

It’s lightweight, reliable, and at under $600, affordable.

But is it worth the money?

Let’s find out.


The 464 performed accurately with all loads tested.

My average group from 100 yards was just under 2”. More than accurate enough for a lever gun at long range.

It features a gold bead front sight and an adjustable rear sight, both dovetailed into the top of the barrel.

Mossberg Model 464 Front Sight and Barrel
Via: rmwtsou

Additionally, the 464 offers a non-slip buttpad for a better shot at your target.

This rifle is designed for hunting moving game, so it needs to be decently accurate. You won’t have any problems hitting moving targets with it.


This rifle is nearly indestructible.

It’s durable, no jam or malfunctions to speak of, and I’m positive it’ll have a very long working life — just like my best 7.62×39 rifle.

Mossberg Model 464 Trigger and Lever
Via: rmwtsou

Mossberg is known for building high-quality firearms with reliable materials. The 464 is no exception.

Even with heavy use, you can still expect this rifle to last a very long time. It operates using a simple mechanism but is still incredibly effective.


The Mossberg 464 offers a walnut pistol grip with diamond-patterned fine-line checkering.

Both the walnut material and the checkering extend to the stock, with edge-to-edge checkering on the forend as well.

Mossberg Model 464 Stock
Via: rmwtsou


The trigger pull is a reasonable 6.25 lbs.

It’s a decent trigger, better than any other tube-fed lever-actions I’ve used.

Mossberg Model 464 Trigger
Via: rmwtsou

It’s crisp, clean, and not too heavy.

You may notice that the trigger feels somewhat mushy at first, but this improves after shooting a few rounds through the rifle.

Magazine & Reloading

The 464 has a magazine capacity of 6+1.

You load the rifle through a spring-loaded gate on the right side, which feeds into a full-length tubular magazine.

Mossberg Model 464 Lever
Via: rmwtsou

Loading ammo into the side is very easy.

You just extract the push tube, then load each round into the notch. The round bolt handles chambering and ejection very smoothly.

The ability to cycle quickly, just like the ability to shoot accurately, is important when you’re talking about moving game. You’ll be able to achieve this easily with the 464.

Length & Weight

The length of the 464’s barrel is 20”, and the overall length is 38.5”.

Mossberg Model 464 Length
Via: rmwtsou

It’s a reasonable 6.75 lbs, about the same as your average brick.

It’s lightweight and handy, which is great for carrying the gun around for long periods of time while hunting.

Recoil Management

There’s pretty low recoil with the Mossberg 464.

The grooved layer plate and the adjustable, non-slip buttpad lock the rifle to your shoulder, and the buttpad absorbs a great deal of the recoil.

The buttpad is pretty thin, but still does a decent job of mitigating felt recoil.

It’s very comfortable to shoot, and the recoil is entirely manageable.

Ammo Recommendations

The 464 is intended first and foremost for hog hunting, and Hornady has some very good ammo to offer for this purpose.

I used Hornady LEVERevolution 160-grain FTX to get an average grouping of 1.7” from 100 yards. They’re spitzer-style, polymer-tipped bullets you can depend on to achieve some fantastic groupings.

If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, I also had great results using Hornady Full Boar 140-grain MonoFlex. From 100 yards, my average grouping with these was 1.9”.

Recommended Accessories

The 464 features a 175mm Picatinny rail. The receiver is also drilled and tapped for scope bases.

Mossberg Model 464 Scope Mount
Via: rmwtsou

It’s easy to attach long-distance sights with these features, which can come in handy if you’re looking to do any long-distance hunting.

I’d recommend getting an Aimpoint Micro H-2 red-dot sight optic, which is ideal for this purpose.


The Mossberg 464 MSRPs for around $575. It’s relatively inexpensive for a tried and true gun from a reliable manufacturer.

Is the Mossberg 464 Worth it?

The Mossberg 464 is an excellent lever-action rifle that’s worth the money.

Here’s what I like about it. It’s:

  • Fast shooting
  • Light
  • Accurate
  • Handles very well.

In short: If you’re looking for a firearm that is ideal for hunting, home defense, or even a truck gun, I highly recommend the Mossberg 464.

It won’t let you down.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best 30-30 rifle guide.

So as a recap:

Looking for an American-made rifle that can be used in hunting and self-defense scenarios alike? Get the Henry .30-30 Model H009. It’s accurate, reliable, and affordable.

If you’re looking for a highly accurate, fast lever action rifle that is dependable, and will last for generations, I’d recommend the Winchester Model 94.

If you’re looking for an exceptional hunting rifle, the Marlin 336 is your best bet. It’s extremely accurate, always reliable, and affordable. The weapon is also lightweight and fast, giving you the advantage while hunting game.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a beginner friendly hunting rifle that is accurate, lightweight, and affordable, the Mossberg 464 is the perfect 30-30 rifle for you.

All 4 of these lever guns passed my exhaustive testing (over 300 rounds spent through each one) and proved to be reliable. Just pick one based on your need and budget — you won’t be disappointed.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which rifle will you pick for your 30-30?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

18 thoughts on “The Best 30-30 Rifles [Hands-On Tested]”

    • I’ve just bought a marlin as I always liked the solid receiver. Love the look of the Henry but find the magazine fiddly.
      Will report after some use of the marlin. Cheers Jeff.

      • I love both of my 336 Marlins. My Win94 and Henry are not chambered in 30-30 but they are great too. So it’s likely if you own either, the quality is good in any chambering.
        30-30 is a fun,effective cartridge. By today’s measures it’s a slow poke. Ironically it was the speed demon of its day when introduced.

  1. My father gave me a 66 centennial addition Winchester. It’s never been out of the box. His only request was to shoot the hell out of it. So I intend to. Really enjoyed the read about lever actions.

  2. I seem to have 7 Marlin lever guns. 5 of which are 336/30A and one of those in 35 Rem. 4 30-30’s and 2 of those in the Glenfield variant. But I will say that Henry is a sharp looking rifle. Always room for 1 more! Great synopsis of the top 4!

  3. I own a Henry 44mag and I’m going to buy second Henry gun , the 22 lever action, to me there is no better made gun , hands down…
    I have own many different guns over the last 40 years all makes and calibers Henry just stands out in all categories , your report was spot on regarding the Henry rifle…great job….


  5. Pretty good read, with the exception that one cannot compare accuracy over different distances. An edit would be appreciated shooting all rifles at 100yds.

  6. I have to disagree with this “report” “classifications” list. First off, what makes a Henry lever action any better suited for home defense than a Winchester 94 or a Marlin 336? These 3 are all fantastic actions, the older the better in my opinion. I won’t consider that Mossberg when for similar money I can buy a nice Marlin and on occasion a nice used Winchester 94, I have plenty trigger time with both models and can tell you they’re pretty evenly matched. The Marlin’s biggest advantage is the solid receiver makes mounting scopes look nicer. I would be careful what I claim is affordable too, few years ago Marlins could be had from Walmart for around $350. They were out of reach for some. I only got a chance to shoot a Henry lever action in 22lr but it was a nice action.

    • Realistically I wouldn’t recommend a 30-30 for home defense due to something called over penetration. A shotgun or pistol in typical handgun cartridges are better options and if you don’t already have a shotgun those can be had for inexpensive used in pawnshops and gunshops around the country. It’s not uncommon to find break actions sitting in a dusty corner for $125. New break and pump actions are available for really low prices in big box stores like Walmart because they’re mostly Turkish made imports. All are better options for home defense because they are less likely to over penetrate and carry a deadly threat to another (possibly occupied) room. Still the 30-30’s are fantastic for range fun and hunting.

  7. I have a Marlin 336 I bought this in 2007 brand new for $450 including tax I have hunted deer, bear, moose, coyotes and wolves with the 336 And I have put down deer bear, moose, coyotes and wolves with just one shot. To me it’s the best bush gun and if you know how to shot you can not go wrong with the Marlin 30-30- 336 lever action. It has never failed me Like to buy an old 30-30 but hrad to find.

  8. I’m not knocking Marlin lever-actions, but which Marlins are you referring to? The “Remlins” are cheaply made compared to the real Marlins. Hopefully Ruger can turn it around and bring back the quality Marlin use to have. Henry all the way for me with Marlin a close second, Winchesters are nice but too much $$$. Mossberg is a great company, but I don’t know enough about their lever guns, so I won’t comment. Just my 2 cents, I’m not trying to bash anyone’s favorite rifle.

    • My stainless Remlin is much better than you describe. Although it is a replacement. The first one had a warped barrel. Marlin exchanged it over time and the second is fantastic.

  9. to be honest, there seems to be little difference between the four guns. All very capable weapons. My preference would be the Marlin 336, as it receives the best continuous recommendations for hunting, – accuracy, and adaptability regarding scopes, and also the side ejecting chamber. It seems to be the perfect hunting rifle as you also stated. It would be my first choice, but would happily take any of the four guns.


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