After interviewing the good folks at Smith and Wesson at the 2024 SHOT about the new 1854 lever gun in .44 Magnum, I immediately requested a test sample. Not long after my sample arrived, we began the review.

The flat trigger breaks about five and a half pounds; a flat trigger on a lever gun is different from what I am used to, and it took a few rounds for me to get the hang of it. The synthetic stock and forearm are well textured to keep a solid purchase on this all-weather rifle. The trigger had the right much take-up, broke clean, and had a bit of overtravel. For a hunting or duty rifle, this trigger is perfectly suitable. The furniture pattern is Marlin 1894 .

The front sight is a shade higher than some sights and incorporates a gold bead, which I love. It naturally draws your eye to it and makes it easy to center in the rear sight for a fast sight picture. The muzzle is threaded 11/16 x 24 to accept accessories such as a muzzle brake or silencer. Since the front sight has a little height, I could use it without issue with a larger silencer installed. Note the locking end on the magazine tube just below the muzzle. This allows the entire magazine tube to be easily removed as an additional way to unload this rifle safely but it is a bit more awkward than thumbing out the rounds from the loading gate.

The adjustable rear sight is an XS ghost ring aperture paired perfectly with the front sight. Out of the box, the rifle was dead on at 50 yards. There is also a section of Picatinny Rail over the receiver if you elect to add an optic. In my opinion, the included sights are perfect for about 100 yards or so.

The stock incorporates a soft recoil pad. While you may not think this is necessary when shooting some of the heavy .44 Magnum rounds, such as the Doubletap 320gr hardcast, you will indeed be thankful. A rear sling swivel stud is present on the stock, as are provisions for a sling swivel on the forearm, just ahead of the MLok at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.

The stainless steel receiver incorporates a typical cross-bolt safety, so the manual of arms of 1854 is the same as any other lever gun you would be used to.

The photo courtesy of Smith and Wesson shows the first S&W lever gun, The Volcanic, introduced in 1854, hence the model number of the new S&W vegan.

3 round groups fired from a rest at 50 yards

The 1894 Suppressed well, I think the heavy .44 Magnum surprised Chad a bit.

We shot well into the sunset, banging steel from Andrew Barnes’ front porch while the grill was tended. Bringing friends together for some recreational shooting and some hamburgers on the grill is truly a Saturday well spent.

Conclusions 

Well, not to put too fine of a point on it, I like this rifle. I am a fan of lever guns and a fan .44 Magnum, and I am thankful Smith and Wesson combined these two in a rifle with a traditional silhouette with some modern features tucked in. Accuracy was more than acceptable with irons, and there were zero issues in some 400 rounds. I estimate fifty to seventy-five were .44 Special and the rest mild to wild .44 Magnum from various manufacturers and bullet weights.

The 1854 handled the heavy .44 Magnum well and was a dream to shoot with .44 Specials, especially suppressed.  It makes sense that S&W introduced their lever gun in the .44 Magnum; well, truthfully, they reintroduced it. To be honest, I would like to see this rifle in .45-70 and .30-3,0, and I believe, read hope, those calibers will be forthcoming. With that said, I get why S&W started with the .44 Magnum. The big .44 is tremendously popular and will serve a wide range of uses; adding the rifle will reliably chamber the .44 Special just adds to the platform’s versatility. Many who hunt, camp, and hike carry a handgun in .44 Magnum; adding a rifle in the same caliber as your trusted sidearm increases your capability without increasing your load out. With this rifle, you gain magazine capacity, sight radius, and velocity over your .44 sidearm.  Increased sight radius allows for more precise aiming, and the additional barrel length increases velocity, giving you an advantage on terminal ballistics with most rounds. So, it makes sense for your sidearm and long gun to be chambered in the same round. I am very satisfied with the new S&W 1854 despite it taking me a few boxes of ammunition to get used to that flat trigger.

Specifications 

WIDTH 1.6 in
LENGTH 36 in
WEIGHT 108.8 oz
CALIBER44 MAGNUM
CAPACITY 9+1
BARREL LENGTH 19.25
GRIP POLYMER
SIGHTS GOLD BEAD
OPTIC READY YES
SAFETY CROSS-BOLT
COLOR/FINISH BLACK/SILVER
THREADED BARREL YES 11/16 s 24″
BARREL MATERIAL 410 SS
FRAME STAINLESS STEEL
MSRP $1279
Acknowledgments 

By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

2 thoughts on “Smith and Wesson Model 1854, what is old is new again.”
  1. I thank you for another nice product review. In your opinion, how does this compare to the Marlin 95 in 45-70 Gov’t and Win 92 in 44mag?

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