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Why didn't Ruger make a rifle-cartridge lever action?

This is a discussion on Why didn't Ruger make a rifle-cartridge lever action? within the Ruger Lever-Action forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; I am a fan of the Ruger Model 96 lever actions. I was wondering why in the 1990s Ruger didn't develop a lever-action rifle chambered ...


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Old December 5th, 2016, 08:59 AM   #1
 
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Why didn't Ruger make a rifle-cartridge lever action?

I am a fan of the Ruger Model 96 lever actions. I was wondering why in the 1990s Ruger didn't develop a lever-action rifle chambered in typical lever-action rifle rounds such as 30/30 and 35 Whelen, or even the 444 and 45-70. I understand that since the 96 is based on the 10/22, it would require a different/stronger rifle to handle the increased size and power of those rounds. Obviously, Ruger didn't consider it profitable enough, or else they probably would have made it. However, does anyone know Ruger's logic behind the 96 being their only lever-action? Perhaps Ruger didn't feel confident competing in a market dominated by Marlin and Winchester in the 1990s? I don't get it.



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Old December 5th, 2016, 09:16 AM   #2
 
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Along the same lines, makes sense to me that Ruger would have offered a lever action in 454 and 480. They would have made ideal companion guns to Ruger revolvers in those chamberings.
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Old December 5th, 2016, 10:13 AM   #3
 
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Google Winchester Model 88 and you'll get a pretty good idea why Ruger did not pursue a lever action rifle chambered for high pressure rifle cartridges.

Winchester introduced the Model 88 in 1955 and it used a rotating bolt actuated by a lever. It was a very state of the art design with good aesthetics and performance chambered in modern short action calibers. The .243 and .308 iterations sold fairly well while the .284 and .358 didn't, but the rifle over all just didn't have much of a market and it was discontinued in 1973.

Bolt action fans were never going to buy one, and lever action fans were happy with the Model 94, etc. Plus, the Savage Model 99 had a reputation for growing headspace with high pressure rounds and that reputation probably rubbed off on potential Model 88 customers who didn't understand the significant differences in the locking systems.

Not much had changed in the 20 years since the Model 88 was discontinued, so in effect, Ruger would have been competing with used Winchester Model 88 rifles and carbines for sales to what turned out to be a very, very small market that wasn't enough to keep Winchester in the game, let alone justify Ruger's development costs to get in the game.

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Old December 5th, 2016, 11:24 AM   #4
 
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Why didn't Ruger make a centerfire lever action? Lets see, Marlin, Henry, Winchester, Browning and Savage come to mind. Hard crowd to crack right there.
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Old December 5th, 2016, 11:33 AM   #5
 
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It would have made more sense to make a near copy of the savage 99
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Old December 5th, 2016, 12:15 PM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msp3903 View Post
Why didn't Ruger make a centerfire lever action? Lets see, Marlin, Henry, Winchester, Browning and Savage come to mind. Hard crowd to crack right there.
Yes, I know, I mentioned the tight competition. However, competition didn't prevent Ruger from getting starting and successfully venturing into pistols, revolvers, bolt action rifles, etc.

So, if Marlin and Winchester successfully developed and sold lever-action rifles chambered in typical lever-action calibers such as 30-30, 35 Whelan, and 45-70, why didn't Ruger do the same?

Does anyone know if Ruger considered it? Why would Ruger develop bolt action and semi automatics, but not lever actions? If Ruger based their bolt actions and semi-automatics on existing designs (Mauser, Garand, M14, M1 carbine), why not use the same approach with a lever action?
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Old December 5th, 2016, 12:20 PM   #7
 
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[QUOTE=Model 52;2586386]Google Winchester Model 88 and you'll get a pretty good idea why Ruger did not pursue a lever action rifle chambered for high pressure rifle cartridges.

Thanks, I looked it up and learned something interesting. However, my question was specifically about Ruger developing lever-action rifles chambered in typical lever-action calibers such as 30-30, 35 Whelan, and 45-70. If Ruger adopted proven designs such as the Mauser, Garand, M14, and M1 Carbine, why stop there? Why not come up with an adaptation of something that worked in a lever-action in these calibers?

I figure someone on this forum knows if Ruger considered it, and what his reasoning was for not pursuing it.
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Old December 5th, 2016, 04:14 PM   #8
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Same reason Marlin doesn't make single action revolvers or semi auto pistols. Most of the major gun manufactures have claimed certain segments of the market and tend to stay in their lane, so to speak.
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Old December 5th, 2016, 04:15 PM   #9
 
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If Ruger really have wanted to reengineer the Model 96 into a high pressure rated action for typical cartridges like .243, .308 etc they could have done so. But too much competition out there currently!!!
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Old December 6th, 2016, 06:59 AM   #10
 
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Yeah, but Ruger chose to dive into other markets with as much or more competition. Seems lever actions chambered in typical-lever action calibers would not have been any harder. I had hoped someone really knew Ruger's reasoning for not pursuing it.
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Old December 6th, 2016, 07:35 AM   #11
 
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because there was no particular compelling need, and not enough demand to expend the funds needed to bring it to market!
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Old December 6th, 2016, 08:09 AM   #12
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True, but those markets had excellent sales potential and Ruger knew it. That's not the lever gun market.

As always, it's a matter of sales. Hunting has traditionally been the marketing force behind lever actions sales, but hunting rifles and shotguns as a share of overall gun sales has been in decline for a long time. The gun market, especially in the 90s, moved away from hunting into the black gun, tactical gun and self-dense gun market, big time, and Ruger followed suit.

Even if Ruger had made a high pressure cartridge version of a 96, it would have likely suffered the recent fate of the Red Label, the No.1, the No.3, the 77/xx guns and other traditional hunting guns. Sales are just not there. Even in hunting country, most gun shops, today, would go out of business if they depended primarily on the sale of traditional hunting guns. Getting harder all the time to even find a wood stocked bolt gun, now, around here. Even in our very traditional north woods area, a lot of our younger generation of hunters are choosing to carry tactical style guns into the woods, not traditional hunting guns. True, the lever gun market got a shot in the arm with the rise of cowboy action shooting, but that's been a relatively recent phenomenon and that market is all about traditional lever guns, not Ruger 96/xx, Winchester 88 or Savage 99 style lever guns. As we all know, with Ruger, never say never, but my personal take, for what it's worth, is that the Ruger lever gun ship sailed a long time, ago, and won't be returning.

Excellent question, though.
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Old December 6th, 2016, 09:08 AM   #13
 
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Ok, now that makes the most sense. Lack of sales potential due to a changing market favoring more modern guns. Thanks to all of you for the discussion, was very enlightening.
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Old December 6th, 2016, 11:24 AM   #14
 
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Everyone told you the same thing, they just didn't spell it out. For all intents and purposes, Winchester and Marlin have owned the lever gun market. Savage did OK as did Browning to some extent.

The lever gun market is also somewhat small, especially in the centerfire ranks. So to attack that market would take something revolutionary and to most it STILL won't be a Winchester. So you are fighting for a tiny piece of an already small market. Would make zero sense for a primarily handgun company to jump into

Now this is just a personal thing for me...........but the Ruger 96 was butt ugly, as I feel the Savage 99 is. I like neither. While the Savage may have been one of the finest lever guns ever made, it simply didn't LOOK like a Winchester, which is what MOST lever gun aficionados prefer. Winchester, Marlin and Henry build lever guns they way most feel a lever gun is SUPPOSED to look. While a great gun, the BLR varies just enough from traditional to not make it a big player in the market either. So like I mentioned above, even if you did build something revolutionary, you would be hard pressed to crack that market if it didn't LOOK like a Winchester. And if you copy a Winchester.......well then, most will still buy the Winchester anyway

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Old December 6th, 2016, 11:54 AM   #15
 
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IvanRuger what I am now seeing is that Henry is starting to pickup on the lever action market where these other gunmakers have stopped like the Win.88 & Savage Mod.99
Henry is now making their long range lever actions chambered in I think 3 calibers .223 Rem. , .243 Win., & .308 Win. These rilfes to me look like the Browning Mod. 81 that is still being made!!! Just another copy but just different enough to have a patent on it!! The Henry Rifle's that I have mentioned you can find on Henry's online. They will cost just as much maybe a tad more then the Browning version, but made in USA vs Japan!!! I still have the Marlin Levers in 30/30 & .357 my .22Levers in Henry they do the job for my needs. I still want a lever in .243 my first choice would be the Savage 99 has a very strong action and easier to find then a Win. 88 and a tad cheaper maybe someday! There are plenty on nice options of lever actions out there find a JM stamped Marlin yes you will pay as much for a used as a new Marlin 1894 but to me its worth the cost unless you luck into one like I did. But Ruger will not make a Lever action centerfire its the competition that stops this. Ruger could make a very nice lever rifle but it would have a very nice high retail cost!!!
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