When I finally got invited I couldn’t figure out what gun I wanted to take. I’ve always been into lever guns — but was it the right choice? I needed something light, for climbing trees, for getting into shooting positions fast, that sort of thing. I needed something with enough accuracy and power to handle a black bear, but still quick enough for follow up shots. It’s the sort of quandary most shooters love to get into. “Oh darn, I gotta’ decide on what new gun I need to buy!”
After reaching out to avid hunter-friends, and doing my own research, I decided to take Mossberg’s 464 SXP. That iconic lever gun has been aptly dubbed the “Space Cowboy” — a sort of “Retro-Mod” of the lever guns we all love.
The 464 is the perfect fusion, if you ask me, combining the nostalgia of the lever gun — with cutting edge technology for accessories. Who needs an AR when you can be a Space Cowboy?
When the 464 SPX arrived, I was surprised by just how dare I say … tactical and practical it is! Having an overall length of just 34 inches, with a 16.25-inch barrel, all done up in matte blue, the 464 SPX weighs a comfortable 7 lbs. I call that easy to tote. The Picatinny rails are perfect for mounting lights or any other accessory, and why wouldn’t I want a light on my rifle? This proved to be the perfect combo of size and weight to sling across my back. I barely noticed it riding an ATV to the bear stand or climbing the ladder straight up a tree.
- Cartridge: .30-.30
- Capacity: 6 rds.
- Barrel Length: 16.25 in.
- Sights: Fiber-optic 3-dot
- Twist: 1:10
- LOP: Adjustable
- Barrel finish: Matte blue
- Weight: 7 lbs.
- Overall Length: 34 in.
- MSRP: $574
Shooting the 464 SPX was even more fun than I expected. I got the gun to the range and really started to enjoy the modern twists on this conventionally unconventional lever gun. The SPX model comes with an ATI adjustable stock, taking the length of pull from 10.75 to 14.25 inches with the click of a button.
Got a coat on? Need a shorter length of pull. T-shirt weather? Press the button for more comfort and instant adjustability. The fiber optic sights on the gun are super bright and very easy to pick up. The 464 is chambered in the full-blooded American .30-30 cartridge, making it very easy to shoot. I spent hours at the range getting to know my “new” rifle, dreaming of black bears — and enjoyed every minute of it.
I did some range work with a couple of manufacturers before settling on the Hornady 30-30 LEVERevolution. The 160 grain FTX is specifically designed for lever actions. The elastomer Flex Tip® bullets are designed especially for lever guns so as not to detonate the next cartridge in the tubular magazine off under recoil. The LEVERevolution ammo boasts 40% more energy. I knew I’d be up in that tree by myself…so I needed to make sure I had enough velocity to get the job done. This ammo paired with a 16.25” barrel in a 1:10 twist made 50 yards doable and 25 yards easy. After a couple of strings of shooting, I found a comfortable stride…even with the recoil reminding me it is a 160-grain bullet.
The Big Picture
I was worried about the sight picture. I knew this would be an area where lights are a no-go. As a matter of fact, they are illegal! So…the sights had to be bright all on their own. Luckily the 464 SPX comes with a big bright fiber optic three dot sight installed. I chose black splatter targets from Pro-Shot. They made my hits easy to see from the back of the range, not to mention they are just fun to shoot. This perfect combo is easy to pick up on the range and perfect against a black backdrop of a target…or fur.
I locked down my other gear and then it was time to figure out what I was going to be looking through; trying to identify the source of all the unfamiliar noises in the forest. I knew this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to take it all in…so to speak. I decided on the EL 8×32 binoculars by Swarovski. The EL 8×32’s combine an ample 423 ft field of view with an 8x magnification. These bino’s have a 90% light transmission…which is essential as the sun sets and you’re chasing sounds. Swarovski ensured I had a steady picture; at least as steady as my hands would allow! If you’ve looked through Swarovski glass, you know what I mean when I say, “it’s better than real life….”
I doubt there will ever be anything like the first time I was by myself 50 feet in the air in a creaky tree stand in Canada. When you’re waiting and hoping for a trophy bear to come into view, every noise sounds like an animal 100 times bigger than what you’re hoping — afraid? — of actually seeing.
When I saw my black bear, I felt excitement, confidence and will confess the need to take some deep breaths to calm my pounding heart. My adrenaline blasted through my veins and my senses were in overdrive.
The ATI adjustable stock comfortably met my shoulder and my eye easily picked up the fiber optic sights standing out in sharp contrast to that midnight black fur. The first squeeze of the trigger yielded a kick I never felt, followed by a swift cycling of the lever and a second shot — “just in case.”
Since returning stateside I haven’t stop enjoying the 464 SPX. I’ve since put a pressure switch light on the front and took it back to the range. I even took the 464 through a shoot house and thought, why not?
So ask me what my new home-defense rifle is these days.
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