It’s not an AR-15 or a semi-auto rifle. It is, however, a crossbreed of the Old West and the modern functionality of the AR-15. In fact, the AR-15 inspired everything that went into making this new hybrid rifle.

So when I had a chance to hunt whitetails in southwest Texas, I couldn’t decide which to hunt with. Thankfully, Mossberg had my answer with a smooth combination of both: the 464 SPX tactical lever-action rifle.

I was hunting Vatoville Ranch, owned by Steve and Michelle Anderson and located somewhere outside Eldorado, Texas. This place has thousands of acres of private property and is home to a massive number of free-range whitetails. The ranch is strictly regulated by a deer harvest management program, which requires the Andersons to harvest a calculated allotment of mature bucks and does to maintain an ideal whitetail population.

Because of drought conditions, rugged terrain and scarce water sources, growing food plots is simply not an option. Instead, the ranch relies on corn and mineral feeders to keep the herd healthy. These tools also draw deer into the open in order to carefully select and harvest specific animals. Ranchers employ guides that are trained to properly age deer in order to achieve the annual harvest requirements.

This means that hunters are able to see a ton of deer while on the hunt and are very likely to get a shot at a mature buck. I was excited to have the opportunity to harvest my first Texas whitetail at this amazing ranch and with this unique and aggressive lever-action. But I knew it would not be easy. I would still need to have proper shot placement on a smallish-bodied Texas deer with a short-barreled rifle at 75 to 100 yards.

On the first night of hunt, the guide and I set up in a large box blind overlooking Feeder Station No. 13. Soon more than a dozen deer poured in from all directions, followed by a large-bodied buck with a wide rack.

“He’s a shooter,” whispered the guide, and that’s all I needed to hear. My decision to shoot was made. But since the night was young, we watched this buck and waited for a possible second option. More big bucks and does came in, but none were old enough.

Once the shooter buck cleared away from the rest, I steadied the crosshairs and dropped the buck.

The lone star of this hunt was the Mossberg 464 SPX. It’s not an AR, but its impressive design features were inspired by an AR. Its accuracy and performance exceeded my expectations. Both the rifle and buck I harvested with it were talked about for the rest of the night as we celebrated around the campfire, under the big Texas sky.

An Old, Yet New Design

Mossberg’s SPX line of rifles combine the fast-handling capabilities of a lever-action with versatile features of an AR-style rifle. I interviewed Linda Powell, director of media relations at Mossberg, to find out more:

Reich: What design elements make the 464 SPX a “tactical” gun?

Powell: The tactical features added to this lever-action rifle provide improved functionality and fit. Similar to an AR rifle, its buttstock can be adjusted several inches with a simple touch of a lever. The Tri-Rail forend allows for the addition of accessories, such as lights, lasers or other accessories.

Reich: How was the concept of the 464 Tactical Lever-Action born?

Powell: Our executive team meets weekly with team members from sales, marketing, manufacturing and engineering to discuss new product ideas. In the fall of 2011, our President and CEO, Iver Mossberg, came up with the idea of a tactical lever-action with an AR-inspired adjustable stock. The concept was quickly prototyped and field-tested. It was officially introduced in the spring of 2012.

Reich: What is the intended purpose/function of this firearm?

Powell: This rifle is great for plinking and hunting — the 22LR for small game, and .30-30 Win. for hog, deer or bear. Other customers view this as an alternative for self- and home-defense use, especially in states with prohibitive semi-automatic firearm laws.

Reich: This rifle is available with or without the flash hider; which one is most popular?

Powell: Mossberg prides itself with offering its customers diverse product options, such as rifles with and without threaded barrels for flash suppressors or muzzle brakes. There is definitely a division between individuals who like these features for reduced muzzle jump and recoil reduction and those who don’t like the increased percussion. The reduced flash also helps a hunter’s ability to see in low-light conditions.

Reich: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about the 464 Tactical Lever-Action?

Powell: Its adjustable fit is perfect for youth and smaller-stature shooters, or for hunting in colder weather when adjusting for a thick jacket. The comb of the stock is also adjustable for proper eye alignment when using optics. The tri-rail comes with rubber, ladder-style rail covers for a more comfortable grip. The 464 also features adjustable three-dot fiber optic rifle sights and is also drilled and tapped to mount a scope.

Reich: What has been the public reaction to this unique rifle?

Powell: The 464 SPX was greeted with mixed reactions, but for the most part, extremely positive responses. It’s no question that the majority of people think its “tacti-cool.” Some traditionalists were horrified that we would deface a time-honored platform like the lever-action. However, even most of those individuals appreciate the advantages of a firearm that fits and has features for improved performance. All in all, the 464 SPX has far exceeded our initial sales forecasts and we plan to expand the calibers and grow this rifle line.

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