A Lawman’s Carbine

Browning Model 92 Carbine in .44 Magnum A Lawman's Carbine

I have a little confession to make. I’ve never been a big fan of AR rifles. Now—wait a minute— I’m not knocking them and think everybody that wants one should own one. I’m just saying they never have really suited me. You see, I grew up shooting rifles that had wooden stocks and, quite frankly, most of them had levers, too.

Along in the early 70’s, I picked up a Marlin 1894 carbine, in .44 Magnum. We shortened the barrel and added a receiver sight to it. This became my companion on drug raids, stake outs, and felony apprehension assignments. It was a nice gun, but something was missing.

All of that was corrected in the early 80’s, when I had a chance to buy a Browning Model 92 carbine, also in .44 Magnum. The Browning was nearly an exact knock off of the Winchester Model 1892 carbine and I like the trim, less bulky feel of it.

My friend, gunsmith Ed Collett, shortened the barrel to 16 inches, so that it would be easier to manage in a car. Even then, the Mod. 92 still held nine rounds. And, when those nine rounds were 240 gr hollowpoints running at about 1500fps, I figured that was adequate for just about any job. Ed also removed the rear sight and installed a Williams Foolproof receiver sight in its place. The whole thing was exactly what I had expected it to be, short, powerful, and accurate.

My .44 carbine was my constant companion during the years that I was Chief Deputy and later Sheriff of Crockett County, Texas. Crockett County being somewhat of a gun culture, nobody thought twice about the sheriff pulling a lever-action carbine out of his car when things started to get dicey. Hell, what would you expect a Texas sheriff to be carrying?

The last time that I fired my .44 carbine for serious purposes was not long before I retired. A punk out of San Antonio stole a Mercedes and was running west on I-10. We chased him up one road and down another until I got tired and figured that we were fixing to see a bad wreck in the very near future. I can tell you that five or six 240 gr hollowpoints will do some amazing things to the front end of a Mercedes. It did, in fact, obtain the thief’s immediate voluntary compliance.

So I’m all for people owning and shooting AR’s. Heck, selectors and suppressors are okay with me, too. But I believe I’ll just stick with this old .44 carbine. We seem to suit each other.

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39 Responses to A Lawman’s Carbine

  1. Keith Miller says:

    I have an AR now; but only because someone owed me money and gave me a rifle to cover the debt. I had an Savage 99E in .308 Winchester and a 94 Winchester in .30-30 that I preferred.

  2. Sheriff, I concur!!! I tried to get our current sheriff to go buy Mod. 94 carbines when they were easily and cheaply had in 2005. The 30-30 cartridge was as cheap as the .223 in bulk and would punch through most auto sheet metal! Short enough to clear a building and “slice the pie” but with enough weight to “butt stroke” someone in close quarters. I have a few lever guns in different calibers. As for the AR’s…. I have some. Neat platform! But I don’t think they have (for lack of better words) A SOUL.

  3. I didn’t need another reason to want a pistol caliber lever action rifle, but I so enjoyed adding it to the list. Thank you.

  4. Drew says:

    And that is why a Browning 92 .44 rifle is parked next to my bed every night.

  5. John Odum says:

    I too am a lever gun fan. As a LSP Trooper during the 70s I carried a Win 94 30-30 as my duty rifle. Reliable and hard hitting. I would have liked to have had a 44 like you. Single action sixguns and lever action rifles. What else would a red bloodied American need?

  6. Heartland Patriot says:

    Now if someone could just get a major manufacturer to put out a quality lever gun in .357 and .44 Mag again in enough quantity that folks could actually find them in stores…

  7. John Odum says:

    As LA State Trooper in the early 70’s, our department issued nickel plated Winchester 94’s in 30-30 as a duty rifle. I carried one for several years till I too went to an AR. These beautiful pre-64 rifles were taken out of service around 1980. The department sold them to the officers that had them fo $18.00. I certainly wish I had not turned mine in. I still carry a Marlin 1894 in 357 magnum as a drag around and truck gun. Keep up the good articles. It is nice to read stuff written by one of us old guys. I tell folks that I policed when there was real JUSTUS. When you confronted a bad guy, there was JUST US out there.

  8. Michael D. Lawson says:

    44 marlin my favorite and I own an ar one could never replace the other..

  9. Michael D. Lawson says:

    By the way my Ruger super black hawk and my marlin 1894 are my constant companions. ( both in 44)The AR gets lots of rest in the safe most of the time.

  10. Hoss Dugger says:

    Me too, Sheriff….

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  12. Hey Jim, Very much enjoyed reading ” A Lawman’s Carbine ” As I enjoy most of you writings!! Being a licensed guide most of my life and hearing far too many unbelievable stories. I much appreciate your no nonsense approach to writing!! You articles are always believable!! From a man who has lived it!! I grew up into a family of northern Maine deer trackers/stalkersd and the 16 inch barrelled Winchester lever guns in models 1876, 1886, 1892, 1894, in calibers from .44 mag to .45-70!! Have always been our weapons of choice!! Like the Winchester model 97 Riot gun, our shotgun of choice, the lever action may be looked at like a dinosaur but they are very handy and dependable tools that get the job done!! Keep up the good work my friend!!

  13. Mark Bolin Lewis says:

    I had an original ’92 converted to 44 Mag. when I was in college. Great rifle. Later, when I was shooting Cowboy action shooting, I found a brand new in the box Browning ’92 that I still have and like. I will say as an FBI Agent, I really liked the MP 5 and M-4 for CQB.

  14. clair rees says:

    I, too, confess I don’t much care for today’s AR-15 style rifles. I’ve used a few over the years, but none remain in my gunsafe. Give me honest walnut in lever or bolt-action rifles

  15. Shirley Johnson says:

    I love my model 92 as well. It’s very accurate and fun to shoot. If you can handle the kick and the noise, it can help even a beginner be a great shot at a long distance. It’s a beautiful rifle and the lever action is smooth enough for a small woman to work. Makes me wish I lived way out in the way out so I could shoot it every day.

  16. Cameron Ammerman says:

    Very interesting read. I too am having some work done on my Marlin 94 44 mag. Had RPP Custom shorten barrel, smooth up action, and install some good peep sights. Cant wait to get it back.

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  18. Jesse says:

    I recall a certain Presidio Co Sheriff always carrying a lever action. He switched to AR after him and a Border Patrol agent were ambushed along the Rio Grande. The BP agent was wounded and if I rember right the bad hombres from across the river had automatic weapons. Sheriff you probably recall this incident. I love Winchesters but I sure like my AR my son gave me for my BD.

  19. Shirley Johnson says:

    I must confess I would love to be able to work with someone knowledgeable to build an AR or a 300 Blackout. I would like to choose the lower/ receiver, and the trigger, the barrel etc. I would love to have the money to do that as well! I think an AR would be fun to take to the range. I’d hate to see how fast I could burn through the ammo though.
    Took my Browning Model 92 to the range today and shot in the cold and it knocked the snow off the tin roof above us. It’s a fantastic weapon and I think our shooting buddy is going to buy one now that he shot mine.

  20. Danwin22 says:

    I’m with you on the lever action love.
    Seems like I’m the only one around her that isn’t dazzled by the
    AR-15 style guns.

    I don’t dislike them but have zero interest in getting one. I don’t even enter free give-aways if it’s for one.

    • JP says:

      Same here! I work in the arms industry making kydex holsters and find myself surrounded by polymer pistols and AR’s on a daily basis.

      Sorta makes me the odd one out, as I carry a wheelgun in leather, and a slicked up lever action behind the seat of the truck. Both in .357 Mag.

      Wouldn’t trade ‘em for the world though! Both are sweet shootin’ irons, and it’s like I tell the folks here at work

      “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  21. JOE GEORGE says:

    What is not to love about a slick little Lever Action? I have a Winchester 94 Trapper with the Williams Fool Proof sight on it and a NIB Browning 92 which is going to the smith to be shortened in the very near future. The Winchester is a constant companion. Thanks for the great read Sheriff.

  22. Scott Massie says:

    I wish someone would put out a good American made 92 clone in .357, .44mag, and .45 colt. Plenty to be had from Japan or Brazil, but no American made as yet. Shame. A 92 was easy to make work as slick as oiled glass on ice.

  23. Rick says:

    Love the lever guns in the bigger bores, .444, .450 and such! My absolute in pistol caliber is the Henry in .41 magnum. Nicest finished, and slickest one of the lot. And THE absolute most accurate of the bunch!

  24. Thomas W. Evans says:

    enjoyed the read….and the additional comments

  25. Jerry H says:

    Great article. Love my Rossi 92 in .357

  26. Carl Dodd says:

    Great minds think alike. I also carried a .44 Magnum lever action saddle carbine in a police vehicle for years and loved it. Mine was a 1894P Marlin lever action. It was fairly short, thin and easy to store just about anywhere in the front passenger area of the police vehicle. It never got in my way but it was always ready “for dancing” when I needed it.

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