Shooting the Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg

by Vern Evans

My dad raised me on Clint Eastwood and John Wayne western movies. Because of him, I have always appreciated revolvers, break-action shotguns, and good old-fashioned lever-action rifles. The Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg is a lever-action .22 LR rifle that’s gorgeous to look at and fun to shoot.  It’s not a gun you see everyday, but one you can appreciate for the nostalgia it brings of the Old West.

Shooting the Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg

The Mare’s Leg is a chopped-down lever-action rifle, so it has the speed of a lever action in the package of a holstered pistol. The purpose of the Settler Mare’s Leg is for quick shots at wily varmints or just to enjoy shooting at the range. What makes this lever-action so fun to shoot is deploying it from an old Western leather holster, and bonus points if you can do so from the back of a horse. This cut-down version of a lever-action rifle, combined with it being chambered in .22 long rifle, makes it easy and fun to shoot one-handed. If none of that excites you about this gun, I don’t know what else to tell you. This was one of my favorite guns to review as it was something I wouldn’t normally pick up or use, but a gun I truly enjoyed shooting.

How to Load the Settler Mare’s Leg

While the Mare’s Leg isn’t a muzzle-loaded rifle, it can feel similar to the muzzle-loading process. Under the muzzle is the tubular magazine that holds the .22 LR cartridges in a line, with each round stacked on top of the other. A pin holds the tube in place. Simply turn the tube until it releases from the locked position. It then moves freely upward as it’s under spring tension after unlocking. With the tube out, drop in 10 rounds of .22LR with the bullets facing upward in the same direction as the muzzle. Then you’ll put your tube back in and re-lock it into place. Now, you’re ready to lever the gun and load a cartridge into the chamber.

It’s extremely important during this procedure to make sure your gun is completely empty before loading the tube. This is because your hands will most likely be near the muzzle, so always check that your gun is clear and empty before loading it back up. If you have rounds in the tube you don’t want to shoot, simply work the lever up and down, expending live rounds of ammunition until the chamber and tube are empty of any ammunition. That’s the safest way to unload the gun, even with live ammunition in the tubular magazine.

Ammunition Selection

Some .22 LR pistols and rifles I’ve owned have been super picky regarding ammunition. There are various grain weights, bullet profiles, and more when it comes to .22 LR cartridges. It’s important always to test whatever ammunition you plan to use in your firearms before entrusting them to protect you. If the Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg is a lever action you plan to use for protection when working on your farm or in your garden, for example, make sure the ammunition cycles right. 

I tested the Federal 36-grain copper-plated hollow points, CCI Mini Mag 40-grain copper-plated round nose, and Aguila 40-grain copper-plated Super Extra ammunition through this rifle. I had zero issues with any of the ammo, which speaks volumes about the gun and the ammo. Another essential thing to remember when using a lever-action rifle is to work the lever hard. If you do not work the lever downward all the way, you can prevent the spent brass from ejecting properly out of the rifle. Similarly, you can cause failures to feed if you don’t work the lever properly up. Guns aren’t meant to be babied, especially lever actions, so don’t be afraid to work that loop hard.

Holster Compatibility

There is a very specific holster that works well for the Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg rifle. Just as you would with any other firearm, it is safest to pick a holster that covers the trigger guard of the rifle. There are a few leather holster manufacturers that make Mare’s Leg holsters, but not all are specifically for the Heritage or have loops for .22 long rifle ammunition. One such holster that will work is the Ranchero by DeSantis. The holster embodies the Old West in its design and is built from premium Saddle leather and Center Cut Steer Hide. The ambidextrous design mounts to your belt to keep the gun vertically on your side.

Features and Functions of the Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg

I mentioned at the start how beautiful this lever-action rifle is, and Heritage knocked it out of the park with the design. While the frame is made of aluminum alloy, it has a simulated case-hardened finish. The barrel is alloy steel but has a polished black oxide finish. Finally, the stock features real wood and ties the whole look together. Anyone who has watched westerns or worked on a farm has seen the branding of calves and can appreciate the Heritage logo stamped into the rifle stock.

The rear sight is a Buckhorn rear sight that can be adjusted for elevation, while the front sight can be adjusted for windage. This allows you to sight the gun into you and for the specific ammunition you plan to use. The front sight also features a gold bead for easily picking it up when aiming and firing the gun.

The Mare’s Leg utilizes a cross-bolt safety, preventing the gun from firing when the hammer is cocked. This is an external button located on the side of the rifle in line with the trigger. You depress the button on one side to engage the safety or the opposite to turn off the safety.

The other unique feature of the Settler Mare’s Leg is the saddle ring on the side of the gun. This ring accommodates a specialized sling for the rifle or to tie the gun to your saddle. If a cowboy was riding a horse, this was a good way to secure the rifle to the rider so it wouldn’t get away if dropped.

Passing On the Passion

I remember my first experience with a lever action rifle with my dad and grandpa. It was some of the most fun times I had shooting growing up. The Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg is a gun many adults can appreciate, but it is also a great option for teaching kids how to shoot a lever action. The .22 LR makes recoil management easy for any age and, with the short overall length of this specific gun, a simple one for kids to hold. It is essential that we older generations pass on the knowledge of how firearms function to younger generations and ignite that same passion we have in them. Especially for guns of the Old West so that they are carried on and enjoyed forever.

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Heritage Settler Mare’s Leg Specifications

  • Caliber: 22 LR
  • Capacity: 10 rounds
  • Barrel: 12.5 inches
  • Twist Rate: 1:16 RH
  • Overall Length: 23.25 inches
  • Width: 1.55 inches
  • Height: 7.35 inches
  • Weight: 67.37 ounces (unloaded)
  • Sights: Drift Adjustable Front Sight, Buckhorn Rear Sight
  • Action: Lever
  • MSRP: Starting at $484.99

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