Semi-automatics are not ‘assault’ rifles – just good defense

There is only one type of firearm that was not originally designed as an assault weapon.
I’ll let you try to figure that one out and let you in on the single style of firearm that was NOT first designed to “assault” our fellow humans with – at the end of this article.
The semi-automatic rifle has incorrectly been defined as an “assault rifle” for a few decades now.
However, there is a very good option to any kind of semi-auto rifle for defensive use. A couple of years after I had completed everything but the finish on mine, a customer from Washington looked at it and decided he needed one too, albeit somewhat different.
In this type of build there are a multitude of options but here’s how I decided to make my version. Mine is the gray and black one on top in the photo; his is black with wood stocks.
First off, I chose a lever action because of its fast-handling, lightweight and has a short overall length. The first rifle I ever purchased myself (at age 11) was a 30-30 and I still really like that caliber, so I went with it.
There is a good argument in favor of a lever rifle in a revolver cartridge but I wanted the longer- range performance of a true rifle caliber. In addition, the LeverEvolution ammunition manufactured by Hornady has extended the useful range of many lever gun calibers, especially the 30-30 Winchester and .32 Winchester Special.
Most rifles used for self defense will be used at relatively short range, and a 38/357 or .44 version would work well out to 100 yards or so – plenty for defense use.
The pistol calibers also have the advantages of reduced cost of practice, lower recoil and less noise – all things to take into account.
An advantage to the lever action (and traditional pump and auto loading shotguns) is the ability to top off the magazine. If you shoot a couple of rounds, you just stick another couple in to bring the long arm up to full capacity. Try that with your AR or Mini-14.
I have talked to many people who used such arms during natural disasters and riots. Usually, they were firing warning shots (NOT a good idea under normal circumstance, despite what our current president has told people to do) to warn potential looters to stay away and it was an advantage to them to be able to quickly up-load.
The choice of rifle was a no-brainer for me. That first rifle of mine was a Winchester, and I still own a few vintage 38/55s, but the Marlin has so many advantages it had to be chosen.
Actually, mine is a Revelation, a cheaper version made for a chain store by Marlin. It is identical to an older 336 model and since they are getting rather pricey, or even collectible,

TWO RIFLES built by the author: his is on top, customer’s is on bottom.

I felt no guilt about choppin’ ’er up. The forend was split all the way up and it had rust pitting all over the outside, but that just made it more perfect for my intentions.
I had been thinking about this rifle for a few years, but customers’ guns always took priority and “Old Ugly” just sat in the corner, fully neglected. I gradually accumulated all of the parts and finally made time to build it.
First, I ordered Ram-Line Cadet stocks. Luckily, my rifle is one of the rarer ones with a barrel band instead of the forend cap. For some inexplicable reason, this older style is the only one Ram-Line made stocks for. The Cadet version is a youth length stock, which is to say it has a shorter length of pull.
Most lever actions’ butt stocks are too long and make it a stretching maneuver to work the lever fully forward on rifle caliber length rifles. I like to be able to reach out and slam the action back without really trying; this short stock lets me do that.
An added benefit is the ability to use the rifle comfortably while wearing body armor. Hey, you never know!?
I installed sling swivel studs in the butt and forend band. I wanted some extra ammo on board, so I added a black leather lace-on Galco Butt Cuff. It doesn’t hold as many rounds as the nylon nine-rounders and costs way more, but it doesn’t move around or drop my shells on the ground.
Some day I’d like to add a trap door-style ammo carrier with a progressively sliding lid instead.
I made sure I could still shoot the rifle left-handed, if necessary, even with the Butt Cuff on, but the trap-door would absolutely complete this rifle.
BTW, if bullets are incoming, it seems very practical to shoot left handed from cover and stay as much out of said bullets’ path as possible.
One other reason I chose this rifle is that it has no manual safety. These devices are superfluous on hammer guns and are only there to thwart lawyers and cause misfires by being left on by accident (happens a lot).
This old rifle also has a steel magazine follower instead of the plastic one newer rifles are equipped with.
Of course, the action was polished to provide smooth operation and the trigger was worked over for a crisp, clean pull. The rear sight I chose is a Williams Guide Sight. These things are great. They cost about $40, mount in existing holes and don’t protrude off of the side of the receiver. A cut-down Weaver scope base was also installed so that I can quickly mount a Burris Speed-Dot if I feel the need.
The front sight is a fiber optic protected by a hood with the center cut out so as not to block the ambient light powering the bead.
If a rifle is to be taken seriously for defensive use today, it must have some way of attaching a white light. Weapon light technology is so good now that not having one is a serious liability. They are not heavy, expensive or fragile any more and the benefit of being able to positively identify your target is worth way more than the monetary cost.
To this end, there is a light rail on the left side of the forend on my rifle to which I can slice an M3 light. It is positioned so that my off-hand thumb falls right onto its controls.
The biggest, and most time- consuming modification is also my favorite: cutting the barrel down from 20 to 16 inches. This cost me in the correspondingly shorter magazine tube, but it made the rifle sooooo much handier and, well, meaner-looking.
I didn’t add a large loop lever to mine as I fail to see the benefit and definitely see the down side. With all apologies to John Wayne, the lever openings on these rifles was well-thought-out, so that you can keep your dominant hand in position for rapid manipulation and firing.
Since I have no plans to twirl a loaded rifle around, I’ll stick with what works. If you think I’m wrong, try actually firing a large-loop rifle quickly from the shoulder.
The larger one shown on my customer’s rifle is not too bad and gives an advantage if you are wearing gloves, but I’ll stick with the standard one, thank you very much.
The last thing was the finish. I knew I was going to ceramic coat it and my customer was going to have his done as well, so I just left mine in pitted blue as I was building his.
His build was pretty extensive, with many parts that had to be modified, as they were intended for other firearms. But when finally it was finished, the rifles went off to Firearms and Industrial Coatings in Vicksburg, Miss. Kevin always does a good job for me and these two were no exception.
My customer’s was done in Black Armory Coat and mine in a dark blue/gray that contrasts very nicely with the black stocks. There was never any doubt for me about using a ceramic coating, since this rifle was intended for hard use and to be a constant companion.
Old Ugly has been transformed into one of my all-time favorite firearms, one I could hardly do without. The original high-capacity “assault rifle” was definitely the Henry of 1860 and my rifle is about 100 years newer, but even 150-plus years after the inception, the lever-action rifle has been holding its own in three different centuries.
Your guess on the NON-assault weapon?
Muzzle loader? No way!
Lever Action? Nope, specifically designed for combat.
Bolt action? Better check out history; they took over from lever actions and single-shot firearms as martial weapons.
Pump shotgun? Well, kinda, but it was immediately used for fighting, just like every other form of shotgun at the turn of the century or before it was expected that shotguns would be used for defense of hearth and home.
In fact, the shotgun is the true “gun that won the West.” The only exception is the over/under style.
Yes, they have been used for self defense, but was designed as a sporting arm specifically.
So dear reader, every other single firearm ever designed is technically an “assault weapon.”
So think about what the gun ban crowd really wants.