The rifle we are about to describe combines characteristics that can usually be found in very different guns: the power of a big game rifle, often used to hunt game at close range; the reliability and ease-of-handling of “lever action rifles” based on the original American design, real work tools for people living the outdoor life; the precision that results from the combination of three elements - aiming/ammo/gun - in so-called “scout rifles” ideal for instinctive shooting, and for shooting medium-range targets when used with a scope
Obviously, such a complex design is the result of a trade-off in terms of construction that does not come cheap. Whilst this gun has a vast range of uses, there is one particular area where its specific characteristics make its performance shine.
Hunting medium to big game in the forest anywhere is where this gun comes into its own.
The name “Boarbuster” says it all, hailing in fact to the game that comes to mind, but the combination of gun/ammo, with the high power .444 Marlin and the well-balanced and popular .45/70 cartridges, mean the gun can be used to hunt a wide range of game both in Europe and America.
The gun that inspired the Boarbuster design is considered by many to be the last real “big game lever action rifle”; the Winchester Model 71.
Some, when referring to the previous custom adopted by the New Haven gun makers, may think this model number refers to the year in which the gun was introduced, but it actually dates back to 1935. Therefore "71" is the number of the Winchester project that came after the famous Model “70”, a hugely successful Winchester bolt-action series.
The "71", which fired the .348 WFC medium bore cartridge designed for use with smokeless powder, and had a cylindrical 24” barrel, was the gun the Americans called an “All-around woods weapon”, but the “Rifle” version with its short 20” barrel is closer to the “working gun” concept, with its main strength, then and now, being that it is easy-to-handle.
From a constructional point of view, the Boarbuster has the same mechanism as the 1886/71 Winchester Model 71 it is based on, except for the caliber used.
At first glance, the notable size of the receiver and the section where the grip joins the stock are quite different to the typical straight design of a standard 1886.
Its particular design, as mentioned by some American specialists, was originally intended to add structural strength, but regardless of whether this is the case or not, most people tend to appreciate the ergonomic qualities, as we did after trying the gun.
The barrel and 5-shot tubular magazine are screwed on to the front of the receiver.
To the rear, you will find the upper tang and the trigger plate, fixed to the receiver by a fit and screw-in system.
Part of the trigger system is fixed to these two elements, in other words the trigger itself, the hammer spring with its guide rod and manual safety slide catch.
The receiver is milled on the outside and inside and holds the double guide rail of the extractor, the closing system with twin vertical sliding lugs, the mobile tilting feeder ramp actuated by the loading lever that also acts as a trigger guard.
On the right, the hinged magazine feeder plate is held closed by a leaf spring.
On the left there are two threaded holes for mounting a Lyman "Receiver Peep Sight" but for aiming the gun the best accessory is without a doubt the Weaver – Picatinny base on which a telescopic scope or other optical aiming system can be mounted.
The barrel, with a muzzle diameter of approximately 18 mm, is 19” long and has a traditional broach rifled system called “P.M.G.” (Premium Match Grade).
For .45/70 cartridges, a system of six right-handed 1:18” twist rifling grooves is used; for .444 Marlin cartridges a system of twelve 1:38” twist rifling grooves is used, which guarantees a muzzle velocity of around 700 m/s with 240 grain commercial ammo.
VIDEO: Pedersoli Boarbuster
The muzzle has a ramp front sight, while the fast target acquisition rear sight is fixed on the rail at a distance of 22 cm. Colored fiber inserts make aiming much easier in low visibility conditions.
The shape of the stock is practically identical to that of the 1886/71: the forend is slightly rounded with high sidewalls; the semi-anatomic grip of the stock has a flat decorative base plate, at a distance from the trigger (with the butt mounted) of 370 mm and the drop is equal to 20 mm at the heel and 45 mm at the comb.
Chequered side grips give added adherence on the grip and forend.
Out of the box, the rifle is 973 mm long and weighs 3.5 kg, which makes it ideal for game shooting in the forest, with an optical scope mounted on the rail and a full mag.
The manual safety slide catch is very useful when carrying the gun through the woods: the safety is activated by hand when the hammer is down, sliding into the relevant notch to prevent accidental arming of the weapon.
In this lever action, the firing pin is armed against a spring but remains inside the extractor, so even if the gun is dropped, it will not go off. This means you can keep one in the chamber in total safety when using the Boarbuster, and all you have to do to shoot is disengage the safety and pull back the hammer to arm it.
After letting off the first shots on the Pedersoli rifle range we took the rifle to the "L'Isola del tiro" shooting range which is part of the "Cieli Aperti" complex in Cologno Al Serio (BG) to try the gun on the running target, which is surely the best way to test its hunting credentials.
We concentrated on the .45/70 as this is the most widely available ammo and because these cartridges, "Made in America", offer truly exceptional power.
We used three types of cartridges: Hornady 325 g “Lever Evolution” FTX; classic Winchester 300 g JHP; and LCM 345-grain soft lead suitable for this type of target. The spread we obtained was very satisfactory when target shooting from 50 m using the front and rear sights.
But it is when you shoot at a running target that this gun really comes into its own. The hunter's experience will also count of course.
The shooting rhythm and placing of the shots depend a lot on the stance and skill of the person using the lever action. We managed to obtain excellent results, with shots placed perfectly on target at a very satisfactory speed.
We tried carrying the arm slung from the shoulder with the manual safety engaged, flicking it off while aiming, and shooting was fast and comfortable also thanks to the curved grip.
It is worth mentioning the stock of the Boarbuster, with its effective recoil-dampening butt, and the impact of the "fearsome" .45/70 on the shoulder was quite effectively dampened, which also helps when firing again without letting the target out of your sights.
Despite the fact the gun has quite a short sight line, the combination of front and rear sights works very well when swinging. Those who prefer a red dot can purchase the Boarbuster with a works calibrated Konus Sight Pro.
The ease-of-handling is another essential quality of this rifle, and even though it is not a featherweight, it is very easy to handle and track the target.
From a practical point of view, the rifle has certain affinities with the latest generation scout-rifles that are so popular today, both in terms of construction and use, but it has one distinct advantage over these: the intrinsic ease with which you can repeat a shot, which is much more marked when using a lever-action than a bolt-action.
It must be said that the comparison is not entirely appropriate, but it does make sense when considering a limited number of shots fired at medium range, where the difference in performance between one cartridge and the next is less noticeable. In any case, this is a gun that lives up to its name. Boars have been warned!
At IWA OutdoorClassics 2017, Pedersoli presented the new version Pedersoli Boarbuster Mark II. Click here for the article.