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With all the emphasis today on modern long guns in home defense roles, it's easy to get confused about what is an ideal rifle for these types of scenarios. Well the thing is, you may already have a hard-hitting short-action rifle already in the back of your gun case that can fit the bill just fine.

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Using a long arm for home defense

Any time you encounter the prospect of using a firearm inside a home, you have to worry about two things: over penetration and functionality. Any cartridge fired inside an enclosed space can and will penetrate interior walls made of paneling or drywall. Even a .22LR can penetrate seven sheets of drywall ...which is food for thought.

With this in mind, its hard to define "Too Much," as far as use of a firearm inside the home although "Too Little" is clearly defined by possibly ending up dead at the hands of an assailant. If you ask yourself, "will a .30-30 penetrate interior walls?" the answer is yes.
Ballistics expert Paul Harrell demonstrates how well a wall protects against a Marlin .30-30 rifle

With that being said let's look at the 30.30 round itself

At the muzzle, this hundred-year-old round packs a heck of a punch and is still capable of taking down deer-sized creatures out to two football fields away (or double this with improved ammunition). The 30.30 in common loadings is equipped with a flat-nosed 150-170 grain bullet. This will in general produce an energy at the muzzle of about 1600-1800 ft. /lbs. This is enough at very close range (i.e. 50 yards or less) to take moose as proven by Canadian rifleman Thor Strimbold who harvested no less than 20 of those huge beasts with one-shot kills using standard 30.30 rounds.


In fact, when you compare it to modern rimless rounds, it approximates the Russian 7.62x39mm (which is typically around 1900-2000 ft. /lbs. at the muzzle). As that round is what fuels and feeds the popular SKS, AK-style, Saiga, and Mini-30 rifles, many of which are used for home defense across the country, you see the caliber choice is solid in theory. Further, since you have a larger round on the 30.30, generally always designed for rapid expansion in hunting situations, the odds of over penetration when using a lever gun is much less than using a fully jacketed East European round.

So you have the 30.30 round and realize that it is amazing devastating at close range, and, while it likely penetrates less than a 7.62x39mm, it still will penetrate an interior wall, which means you need to consider that danger if you plan to use it in fighting inside a house. Be aware of the wall (and what's behind it) that your threat is standing in front of, as you almost surely will be firing through it as well.


The overall length of the Marlin 30.30 is comparable to many short action carbines that tactical pundits advocate for self-defense. Your standard 336C runs 38.5-inches long overall with a 7-pound weight, 20-inch barrel and the capability to carry six rounds in the mag and a 7th in the pipe. Ruger's Mini-30 with a comparable round is a near mirror image of this while the Smith and Wesson MP-15 is only a couple inches shorter. With this being said the Marlin ties in the length category.

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The other rifles, being detachable box magazine semi-autos, are faster to reload and have a faster auto loading action, which is a tactical advantage to the user of one of these guns. However, a lever-gun user, with 6-7 reliable shots of extremely effective ammunition is better armed than if he was standing there with a golf club. Further, lever-guns can be fired very rapidly when needed if the user has some practice. In fact, it was the fast reload of lever guns that proved them a winner in many military conflicts in the late 19th century.

Ideally, you will never get in a gunfight, and further never get in a gunfight inside your own home, but if you do and all you have is a trusty old thuddy-thuddy, you aren't that badly equipped.

Let's face it; coming around the corner with a Marlin 30.30 is a throwback to the same home-defense tactic used by homeowners, farmers, and ranchers for at least the past century.

If it aint broke...
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