October 15, 2021
The 464 wasn’t Mossberg’s first lever-action centerfire rifle. Do you remember Montgomery Ward’s Western Field Model 72? It was a Mossberg, and not to be confused with the Western Field Model 33, which was a private-labeled Marlin in .30-30 Winchester. The Model 72 was the result of a dinner discussion between Alan Mossberg and Montgomery Ward’s buyer Van Bethurem, who already did business with Mossberg for private-label centerfires. A year after that dinner, Mossberg presented a prototype and a deal to drop the Marlin for Mossberg’s Model 472 was sealed.
The name “472” came from the year it was introduced, 1972, just as the “94” in Winchester and Marlin’s levers. However, Mossberg’s Model 472 wasn’t cataloged until 1974. The Model 472 was traditionally styled and offered with either a straight- or pistol-grip stock. It came available in three barrel lengths and offered in just two chamberings: .30-30 Win. and .35 Remington.
The 472 featured a disconnecting trigger system, like the one found on Browning’s 1960s-era BLR that avoided pinched fingers when working the lever quickly. The 472 also incorporated a hammer-intercept notch to protect the firing pin from the rebounding hammer. Though gun designers at the Bellmore Johnson Company focused on improvements beyond the Winchester and Marlin 94, the Mossberg 472’s receiver featured a side-ejection port machined into the side of the receiver like the Marlin Model 336. The Mossberg Model 479 followed in 1979 and introduced a hammer-blocking crossbolt safety at the back of the receiver. The standard line, however, was discontinued in 1982 except for special commemoratives sold under contract until 1985.
On March 31, 2006, Winchester’s New Haven, Connecticut, manufacturing facility was closed, and there were rumors that Marlin might do the same. Rumors became reality in December 2008 after Remington purchased Marlin. Mossberg considered reviving a lever-action rifle a worthwhile project, and the timing was perfect with Hornady’s successful marketing of its LeveRevolution ammunition that features a gilded-metal bullet topped with a pointed, flexible tip.
The first receivers were made by Mossberg in August 2007 and introduced in time for the 2008 SHOT Show. The “464” name was assigned for no apparent reason, according to Mossberg, and Mossberg historian Cheryl Havlin emailed Guns & Ammo, “Nothing magical, simply the next sequence in our Product Review and Acceptance Form (PRAF) system.”
Like the outgoing Winchester Model 94, Mossberg’s 464 is marked “NORTH HAVEN, CT, U.S.A.” on its barrel, but the 464 has also been made at the Maverick plant in Eagle Pass, Texas. Like the U.S. Repeating Arms’ (USRA) Winchester Model 94 and Winchester’s current Japanese-made Model 94, the Mossberg 464 features an angle-eject (AE) action. AE was introduced in 1983 by Winchester to make it easier to install and use a scope mounted on top of the receiver without concern for ejected brass hitting the scope or being tossed back at the shooter’s face. Being able to mount a scope to a lever-action’s receiver extends the range and practical accuracy of cartridges such as the .30-30 and has long been a key selling point for Marlin-made lever guns.
Marlin followed Mossberg’s lead with regard to the Model 479’s crossbolt safety and introduced its own crossbolt safety in 1983. This unpopular trend eventually caught up with the Winchester’s Model 94 in 1992, which was especially loathed by Winchester’s customers. When Mossberg introduced the Model 464 in 2008, it featured a two-position tang safety to complement the internal hammerblock, and a lever safety that must be engaged in order to squeeze the trigger. Knowing its customers, Mossberg emphasized “familiarity” in marketing this feature. Mossberg’s tang safeties also appear on the company’s shotguns, so this style of safety was met with little blowback. (Interestingly, a tang safety also appears on current-production Winchester Model 94s.)
Though the 464 SPX exists with adjustable, synthetic furniture, the more traditional 464 is standard with either a pistol-grip or straight-grip stock of walnut. The wood is quite nice and complements the blued steel of the barreled action. The 464’s pistol-grip model is checkered at the forend and at the grip. The straight-grip model’s stock is plain, in comparison, and costs $42 less at $568.
On the topic of price, it’s worth comparing the Model 464’s to other new-manufactured Model 94-style rifles. Winchester reintroduced the Model 94, now made in Japan, in 2017, and offers several grades and variations with a straight-grip stock. Winchester’s Model 94 Carbine retails for $1,240. Marlin was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2020 by Ruger, so no comparison was available at the time of this writing. Henry’s Steel Lever Action in .30-30 sports a Marlin-style, side-ejection port with a checkered grip at the forend and on the straight stock for a retail of $969. Therefore, even the pistol-grip-stocked and full-checker-spec’d Model 464 at $610 deserves a closer look on price alone.
The Model 464 comes with a Williams Streamlined Ramp front gold bead and Williams equally legendary buckhorn-style, adjustable rear open sight. Worth noting, Williams Gun Sight Co. (williamsgunsight.com) offers gunsmithing services that include installing a Quick Convertible Side Mount to 94-style rifles to permit use of both the scope and iron sight. Alas, if you don’t intend on adding a cheekpiece to the 464, consider using the existing tapped and threaded screw holes designed to accept a Weaver-style 403 top-mount scope base ($9, weaveroptics.com), which is also used for scoping the Winchester Model 94 AE.
At The Range No other chamberings to the 464 are imminent, but Guns & Ammo would encourage Mossberg to look at expanding this line to include carbines in pistol calibers such as .38 Special/.357 Magnum, and a long action for the .45-70 Government.
The Model 464 is only offered in .30-30, which is a long-respected rimmed cartridge for deer. The original load called for a 160-grain, .30-caliber round-nose projectile backed by 30 grains of smokeless powder, hence the name. The original load offered a muzzle velocity of 1,970 feet per second (fps), and it was the first new cartridge developed for smokeless powder. As many lever-action fans already know, bullets had to have a soft, round or flat nose to be safely loaded against the primer of another cartridge in the magazine tube.
Advancements in bullet design within the last 20 years seems to have helped carry today’s interest in the .30-30 and lever actions afield. Federal offers a variety of loads for the .30-30 ranging from a 125-grain Power-Shok with a muzzle velocity of 2,570 fps to 170-grain loads such as the Federal Premium line with a Nosler Partition and a velocity of 2,200 fps. The most common grain weight for the .30-30 is 150, and Federal’s Fusion purports an advertised muzzle velocity of 2,390 fps. New to the Federal line is HammerDown featuring a bonded soft point. HammerDown was specially designed for lever actions and offers the .30-30 a 150-grain bonded soft point that leaves the 464’s muzzle at 2,390 fps.
For this evaluation, G&A used Federal Premium Trophy Copper load with a 150-grain polymer tip that travels 2,305 fps according to Labradar. It produced the smallest standard deviation (SD) at 11.2 and was the most consistent. It was the only load on-hand for our test that featured a nickeled case (and the most expensive at $44 a box). The Trophy Copper bullet offers near 100 percent weight retention and deep penetration. The tipped cavity expands the spitzer bullet well across the .30-30’s effective velocity range, too.
We can’t talk advancements without mentioning the Hornady LEVERevolution. LEVERevolution was developed in part with G&A’s Dave Emary, then Hornady’s chief ballistician, and released in the fall of 2005. The LeveRevolution advanced lever-action cartridges by combining a spitzer bullet with a soft elastomer tip for improved aerodynamics versus flat nose bullets. The polymer tip also meant that the risk of recoil driving the pointed polymer tip into the primer of a cartridge in front of it in a magazine tube was eliminated. LeveRevolution resulted in the effective range for the .30-30, typically 100 to 150 yards, for example, to be extended to 250 yards or more. At 200 yards, Hornady’s 140-grain Monoflex carries more than 1,300 foot-pounds (ft.-lbs.) of energy on a flatter trajectory and more than 1,000 ft.-lbs. at 300 yards, which is considered plenty for deer.
Since Hornady’s clever approach, other manufacturers have developed their own recipes for a more effective bullet for lever actions. Winchester’s Deer Season XP, for example, was G&A’s 2017 Ammo of the Year. It features a large-diameter polymer tip on a 150-grain bullet constructed of a lead-alloy core inside a contoured copper jacket. The bullet produces large wound cavities and quick energy transfer after leaving the muzzle near 2,390 fps with 1,902 ft-lbs. of energy. For this evaluation, G&A also tested Winchester’s Power Max Bonded with a rapid-expanding 150-grain bonded-core hollowpoint. This bullet is heavy enough and fast enough, carrying 1,900 ft.-lbs. of energy from the muzzle, to be ideal for hunting either deer or black bear out to almost 200 yards.
In the Field
During a fall 2020 trip to Wyoming, G&A Editor Eric Poole hunted with a box-stock Mossberg 464 (without a scope). He sighted it in and loaded it with Hornady’s LeveRevolution 160-grain Monoflex FTX bullet. Having purchased a second game tag for the possibility of encountering a bear, he carried the 464 into the woods for several days. On Day 5, he spotted a black bear from 250 yards before retreating to circle and flank the unknowing boar. Crawling along a canyon to a distance of 70 yards, he used brush and pines as camouflage. He fired one shot, which turned the bear around while Poole racked the lever and made two additional follow-up shots. The first bullet broke its shoulder before disrupting the vitals, and the second pair anchored the bear. This experience served to reinforce the staying power of Mossberg’s 464 and demonstrated the effectiveness of modern ammunition available for the .30-30. May the lever live on.
Mossberg 464 Specifications:
- Type: Lever-action
- Cartridge: .30-30 Win.
- Capacity: 6+1 rds.
- Barrel: 20 in., 1:10-in. twist
- Overall length: 38.5 in.
- Length of pull: 13.88 in.
- Weight: 6 lbs., 12 oz.
- Stock: Walnut
- Finish: Blue (steel)
- Manufacturer sights: Williams Streamlined Ramps bead (front); Williams adj. buckhorn (rear)
- MSRP: $568 (straight grip); $610 (pistol grip); O.F. Mossberg, 800-363-3555, mossberg.com
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