Black Bear vs. the Mossberg 464 SPX Lever Gun

I’ve always dreamt of going on a black bear hunt. Go ahead, admit it … bet you have too?

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.

The 3-dot fiber optic sights made target acquisition, especially on dark bruins, easy.


  • 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.

Range Testing

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.

Keeping an eye on things

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….”



Lasting Impressions

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.”

Unprecedented elation might not under-represent my state of mind! Everything came together —  and the 464 SPX was a perfect choice.

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.

For more information about Mossberg firearms, click here.

***Check out GunsAmerica for your next Mossberg Lever Action.***


About the author: Aimee Grant testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text testing user profile text

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Aaron Matthew Freeman June 24, 2019, 3:19 am

    I have a 464 SPX, and I have to say, that I don’t like the ATI srock… so, I replaced it. I’d like to swap the front grips with the older ones, or take those tiny rails off altogether! With longer rails, I can put rail bumpers over the rails, and not tear my hands up! Those small rails are awkward!

  • EDGY April 6, 2019, 7:09 pm

    I dont get where the 460 comes in? You seem to be talking about a 30-30 please explain ..

  • hugo April 3, 2019, 5:38 pm

    I know it’s ugly but I’d buy one in 5.56, 7.62×39 or .308.

  • Mike in a Truck April 3, 2019, 6:43 am

    Happy to see ladies involved in hunting and shooting.Growing up in 50’s- 60’s all the girls in my family hunted and used firearms. Then the Feminist movement came along. No bras and no guns. Glad were getting back to basics. I have no use for the subject levergun pictured. If its your thing fine go in peace.

  • Travis March 4, 2019, 11:20 am

    Could you do a review on the following firearm?
    Iver Johnson 1911A1 Carbine Semi Auto Rifle .45 ACP 16.125″ Barrel

  • The Rifleman January 24, 2019, 3:23 pm

    Lots of old men leaving rude comments due to their insecurity in an ever changing world. Look, the rifle was made for fun. I have old Marlins, 3030, 35, 4570, and 444, all are great. Nothing wrong with a plastic mossberg lever actions. Stop crying and get off the couch. I know that is where you are. You get out once a year and shoot a deer. Whooptie doo. I’m probably considered an old man too and shoot almost daily. Yeah your comments pissed me off, tired of reading old men comments about how the neighborhoods used to be safe and you could leave your doors open haha

  • August Bender April 25, 2018, 5:11 pm

    Fifty feet does seem a bit high for a tree stand, but I wasn’t there. Nice black bear. The rifle is something else. Why the flash hider? It seems unnecessary. The AR-15 type buttstock with adjustable LOP is functional but OMG that is one homely rifle.

  • Haus April 24, 2018, 12:10 pm

    I have all types of stocks, mostly gun specific. like this author I am a lever gun person too. I have taken many deer sized game with 30-30, 32 W/S, and lots of practice with 22LR lever just for fun. I have wood stocks, I have plastic stocks, I have laminate stocks, and I have fiberglass stocks. all serve a purpose. I will admit that all my lever guns wear a walnut stock. my other guns could wear anything from an Arimid re-enforced fiberglass to a laminate stock. they all work, they all do what I have asked. for this hunt I think I would have chosen my either my 270 WSM or my 444 Marlin for this hunt. Although I might not have chosen this particular gun/cartridge combo, I do not criticize her for her choice. if it is comfortable for her to shoot, it is right for her.

  • Winston April 23, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Gratuitous killing trophy hunting should be banned. Hunt for food not for wall-mounted heads. The bear needs an AR for self-defense just like the rest of us.

    • Big John April 24, 2018, 12:02 pm

      Winston, “trophy” denotes size, no where in the article does it say that she is intends to use the bear for a head mount (generally bears are not head mounted by the way) and not as a food source. Your ignorant comment marks you as another foolish troll who emotionally opines on unfamiliar subject matter. You need to go out and hug a tree and get over yourself, NO ONE here cares what you and your ilk think. I applaude this young lady for getting out there and harvesting her own game; something fools like you would never have the courage to do. Keep harvesting your Tofu using your “smart phone”…we don’t mind. We will lead our own lives as we decide and without the need of your scholarly approval.

  • Bob White April 23, 2018, 10:29 pm

    Honestly, Until I played with one I thought the rifle was a joke. But after playing with it, I would buy a used one for kicks and giggles.

  • Bile April 23, 2018, 7:33 pm

    Well done. It is always nice to see the conclusion of a successful hunt. The 30-30, as always, is up to the task. Few would object to shooting a small black bear at 250 yards with a 300 Win Mag – which the 30-30 is at 50 feet. And its a lot easier to place the shot just right at 50 feet – so, good job.

    Some folks like maple stocks, other like walnut, some laminated wood, and others plastic. The gun is the same, and the rest is simply style. I own many 30-30s, but not this particular one, but wouldn’t kick it out of the safe because of its looks. Have fun.

  • Boris April 23, 2018, 12:37 pm

    A perfect example of teets on a bull. I wonder if the Springfield Trap Door and the Remington Rolling Block versions are on the drawing boards yet… Hey! How about a tactical Brown Bess? … with a picatinny rail and a flash suppressor the size of a tomato paste can… Sweet!

    • Alex April 23, 2018, 7:04 pm

      With the gun laws the way they’re going, this might just be what we all end up with. Personally, I like it and will probably pick one up.

  • W.P. Zeller April 23, 2018, 12:27 pm

    I consider myself a huge Mossberg fan as well as being an aficionado of leverguns, but… jeez, is that thing is simply unbearable to look at. Good heavens!

    • FirstStateMark April 23, 2018, 8:09 pm

      I damn near cried when I saw that lever gun. Damn shame what they did to an American classic.

  • Big John April 23, 2018, 12:02 pm

    If they put a proper looking set of furniture on that thing and removed that foolish flash hider I think they’d have something there. As it stands it looks like a “wannabe” rifle who’s owner would get laughed out of any serious hunting camp. The only thing missing from this beauty is a laser and a bumpfire stock.

    Why some manufacturers feel the need to whore up their products with “tacticool” nonsense never ceases to amaze me. The only thing this design accomplishes is putting lever guns on Diane Feinstein’s radar.

  • John April 23, 2018, 11:44 am

    One word—–UGLY!!!——– My 55 year old Marlin 336T with a beautiful walnut stock and blued steel 20 inch barrel would have killed that bear just as well. (with a sense of pride in ownership no black gun can generate!)

  • John Bibb April 23, 2018, 11:17 am

    Looks like the bruin was about to climb up the ladder for a snack!
    When you go into the woods–you aren’t always on the top of the food chain. The claw marks on the tree bark are a clue for sure.
    John Bibb

  • Orlando H April 23, 2018, 11:07 am

    I own this tactical/practical fun rifle. Got it two years ago or better. As far as performance and accuracy, well at a hundred it did well. I used both Winchester 150 and 170 grain. I also used Remington 170 interlock. No glass just the sights that came on it. This made it harder to group, don’t ask me about the specifics just that it was all in the bread basket. I would feel very comfortable taking a large Axis deer or white tail buck with it. I haven’t used Buffalo Bore 190 gr. But would guess that the performance would be close to my Marlin 336W with open sights and would use it on Moose one Brown Bear.

  • vic vapor April 23, 2018, 10:50 am

    Well done.

    Proving the 30-30 in a deployable mechanism still gets the job done.

  • Norm Fishler April 23, 2018, 10:42 am

    It looks like something that belongs in a zombie movie. Not saying it wouldn’t work, just sayin’ it is a visual assault upon a gun owner’s senses

  • Morey Smith April 23, 2018, 10:36 am

    I\’m looking to purchase a Glock 9mm with a 22lr adapt and Three(3) large mags and Three(3) 9mm mags.

  • Dave April 23, 2018, 10:07 am

    I don’t get people that are so negative. I bought one for these reasons. It’s perfect for my grandkids to hunt with. The stock can be adjusted for any size shooter. Also, if they ever try to take Ar’s, lever guns are excellent defensive weapons. It is a bit shocking to look at, but hugely practical. My only complaint is the lever, a bit small for my hands, (as are most levers) I’ve been holding out for an oversized lever, hoping someone would make one.

  • Al April 23, 2018, 9:26 am

    HOOWEE!!! Haters gonna hate, ain’t they?

  • Jerry S. April 23, 2018, 9:13 am

    Now look, they’ve gone and made it one of those “scary rifles”……..and ugly as the last woman candidate for President.

  • Bob April 23, 2018, 8:49 am

    Let’s see where should I begin?A tree stand 50 feet in the air?? Not likely at all. Using a .30 caliber rifle to go bear hunting?? Wow, a 160 grain bullet to kill a bear?? Maybe a cub bear. BS story all the way. Don’t you think it’s a little late for April Fools Day???

    • vic vapor April 23, 2018, 10:46 am

      Saw an opportunity to insert some non- knowledge, did ya.?

    • Z April 24, 2018, 10:13 am

      Lol, you dumbass. How is it that you can’t figure distance to an animal unless it’s horizontal?

  • MadDog Mike April 23, 2018, 8:15 am

    “Who needs an AR”? That’s a pissy little comment to have in a “gun oriented article”. Some of us like the MSR, hell some of us like all guns. Don’t think I’ve ever read an article where someone said “who needs a lever action rifle”. Divided we fall!!

  • Infidel762X51 April 23, 2018, 7:48 am

    That is one butt ugly rifle. I’ll stick with my Henry 45-70 or my AR-10.

  • Flatiron April 23, 2018, 7:39 am

    Fugliest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

  • martianone April 23, 2018, 4:30 am

    Ugly gun.
    See a target with a few bullet holes, no accuracy testing ?
    Short barrel with the Hornady FTX, any actual velocity testing ?
    Why binocular info in a firearm review.
    All too much commercial, too little actual test.
    Poorly written.

    • vic vapor April 23, 2018, 10:47 am

      You are anti- binocular.?

    • Z April 24, 2018, 10:22 am

      “Why binocular info in a firearm review(?)”
      Because it’s a sales piece in the form of a story? Because Guns America sells Swarovski, Mossberg and Hornady? Because hunts cost money and if you aren’t selling a guide service you need to sell the gear?

  • Luke April 23, 2018, 4:07 am

    Gun control: firm grip, steady aim, deep breath, focus, exhale, squeeze gently. . . NICE bear! And, pretty brave posting a picture like that online these days!

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