I will state for the record, I have a strong affinity for lever-action rifles. Most likely it started with the spate of TV Westerns and movies as I was growing up. And virtually every farm had a Winchester 94, Marlin 36 or Savage 99 in .30-30, along with a shotgun and likely a .22 in the home gun rack.
My first .22 was a lever-action from Ithaca that accounted for a squirrel or rabbit every time I pulled the trigger. Over the years I have had and let go of a number of firearms, levers included, but my collection never seems to be complete without a lever action in it.
With the abundance of bolt rifles and long-range cartridges, MSRs in a variety of guises, I decided I wanted to do a throwback piece. While I was doing research on a review of one of their Patriot series rifles, I noticed the listing for their model 464 series in .30-30. They seemed to be the perfect call of nostalgia, so I contacted Linda Powell at Mossberg and asked if I could have one for review. A request she graciously fulfilled.
Unboxing the rifle on arrival, I was struck by the classic lines and heft of the 464. Birch stocks fore and aft, bead front and adjustable rear sight and that classic lever and exposed hammer. I also noticed some additions from the levers I remembered from my youth.
The 464 has a couple of extra safety features that do not appear on older versions of lever rifles. The 464 has a lever safety that will not allow the hammer to drop unless the lever is held firmly against the stock. Like the Winchester 94 and similar in operation to the grip safety on the 1911 pistol.
There is also a tang safety that blocks the firing pin when engaged. Both of these reduce the likelihood of an accidental discharge substantially. Despite these additions, the 464 still has the same profile and lightweight handling characteristics that have made the lever-action popular for over 100 years.
With a couple of boxes of Hornady LeveRevolution 160-grain FTX rounds, I headed to the range to wring out the 464. Setting up at the bench, I pushed a round into the loading gate, worked the lever and touched off a round.
I was immediately impressed with the feel of the rifle and the trigger. No creep and a crisp let off. I slowly levered the action open to catch the empty brass and thumbed another round into the tubular magazine. I jacked the round in the chamber and pulled the trigger. Another satisfying boom and another hole in the target.
Mossberg has three variations of the Model 464 — a birchwood straight grip, a pistol grip version with machined checkering on the forearm and grip, and the straight grip-based 464 SPX with a decided tactical look.
The traditional wood stocked versions feature a rubber buttpad that is comfortable and does a great job of absorbing recoil. The wood to metal fit was good, no major gaps. Barrel bands were tight and all variations of come with sling attachments standard. Cycling the lever was a smooth operation, one that undoubtedly will get smoother over time. The spent cartridges are ejected with authority — an angle eject system that allows for optics to be mounted atop the action.
Now the classic lever guns were never 600-yard tack drivers. But collectively they put more game in the larders of folks who knew how to use them than pretty much any other rifle. Then, as now, the ability to drop game every time was important.
The .30-30 round is also thought of as being limited in range. However, with the exception of the western states, most shots on deer are not at long range. The LeveRevolution ammo developed by Hornady gives the venerable .30-30 a bit longer range – stretching it out to around 150 yards.
The Flex-Tip bullet technology provides higher ballistic coefficients and velocity increases of up to 250 fps over traditional flat-point loads, while providing shock-absorbing safety in tubular magazines.
The Hornady ammo acquitted itself nicely, providing just over a half inch group at 50 yards with open sights. With a low power scope or a red dot sight such as the Trijicon MRO, that group would probably shrink significantly. Yet even with open sights and doubling the 50-yard group to one inch, that is still sufficient accuracy for putting venison or feral pork on the table.
In a time when more and more design and ballistic innovations are happening in long range shooting, and it’s hard to keep track of the latest entries in the modern sporting rifle categories, it’s nice to know there are still manufacturers turning out tried and true homages to rifles that have been more than mere stepping-stones to our current cornucopia of rifle capabilities and designs. Let’s not forget, the early lever rifles were the tactical innovations of their day. As such, they are still more than capable of providing the same journeyman service that their ancestors did.
Overall, Mossberg’s 464 series are everything one could expect from a modern recreation of a vintage design. The Model 464 retails for $568 in the straight grip configuration and $610 for the pistol grip version. Definitely affordable enough for any hunter to be able to add one to their collection for use as a truck gun or hog buster.–Randy Gibbs