What if you were in the process of deciding which long gun to purchase for home and personal defense just before massive gun control and bans were announced? You may have been contemplating an AR15 or Ruger Mini-14™ as your choice for a ranch or home rifle. Both guns offer the advantage of low recoil with reasonable levels of power, and a high capacity magazine for use in urgent situations. Because of bans that have been proposed by the President and Diane Feinstein, these rifles are essentially unavailable in the majority of jurisdictions in which they remain perfectly legal. And, four of the most popular calibers for these firearms, .22LR, 5.56mm, 7.62x39mm and 9mm, are also in short supply.
Everyone is waiting for production to catch up with demand, but are there other effective long gun options with more capacity than a double barrel shotgun? Of course there are.
From regular checks at my main gun emporium, one type of long gun capable of personal defense (I will only cite American made options) is the lever action carbine. There are plenty of these guns left on the racks. Not just for the great sport of Cowboy Action shooting or hunting, these guns chamber cartridges of more-than-adequate power and availability, making them a great personal defense option. Marlin and Henry Repeating Arms manufacture two of my favorite models.
Under the Marlin banner, my favorite choice for a handy, reliable, and powerful rapid fire lever gun is the model 1894C in .357 Magnum chambering. I recently tested a blued steel variant and was highly impressed. Holding 8+1 .357 Magnum rounds or 9+1 .38 Special rounds in the tubular magazine, the 1894C is easily loaded via the traditional loading gate on the right side of the receiver. While an optical sight may be added, I like the easy-to-acquire brass bead front sight, which is protected by a hood, and the elevation adjustable rear sight. What really took me by surprise was firing full power .357 Magnum cartridges. I expected some recoil, but was rewarded by a very light, very gentle push when firing Magnum loads. Firing .38 Special loads produced absolutely zero recoil. This is why I prefer the .357 Magnum over the.44 Magnum in this gun. The .357 Magnum is perfectly adequate for hunting deer or hogs when fired from a carbine length barrel, and personal protection at longer range. For smaller game and shorter personal protection range, the .38 Special will work just fine, and one additional round will be available to the user due to the shorter cartridge length. The one feature that I have mixed feelings about is the cross-bolt safety that was added to the right side of the receiver some years ago for liability reasons. On the one hand, it could be accidentally left on when needed. On the other hand, it makes lowering the exposed hammer much safer.
If you insistent that only a semi-automatic rifle will meet your requirements, there are two that are not on the current Feinstein ban list that are much more available than AR’s or AK’s: the venerable .30-06 M1 Garand and the Auto-Ordnance .30 caliber M1 Carbines. The Springfield M1A is not on the Feinstein list, but is also in short supply. There were a couple of Garand’s and an Auto Ordnance AOM160 M1 Carbine with the black synthetic stock in the rack. Auto Ordnance also makes the AOM130 carbine with the original walnut stock, and the outstanding folding stock AOM150 Paratrooper™ model (my personal favorite). I suspect the Garand’s were overlooked because they “only” have the 8 round “en-bloc” loading system. The fifteen to thirty round magazine capacity carbine was likely overlooked because it “only” shoots the “wimpy” .30 U.S. Carbine cartridge-which has the kinetic energy of TWO 9mm bullets striking simultaneously.
I have used, fired, and own all three of these home defense rifles. They are all capable and accurate, legal in most jurisdictions, and most importantly, available. If you can’t wait for that AK or AR, or if you need a ranch rifle right now, you can’t go wrong with any of these fine options.