I put it to you that every red-blooded American man should own a 30-30 levergun. Growing up in Missouri, everyone who hunted either had a Marlin 30-30 or a Remington 30-06, so I've spent a lot of time with both, but never owned either.
I prefer the 30-30 for my needs, though the '06 is the better all-arounder. What my heart lusts after is the Marlin "Spike Horn". Behold:
This little spud holds five rounds, and is less than 34" long, which is just shorter than an M4 with the stock fully extended, and weighs just over 6lbs, which is also comparable to a naked M4.
Now let me explain why I like this caliber and platform, before you insist I start taking my brain pills again.
The 30-30 Winchester (previously the 30 WCF) was the first sporting round developed for use with smokeless powder, and dates back to 1895. Load data is plentiful, and you can even load lead bullets for shooting very small game, or just plinking without breaking the bank. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of great soft point bullets out there capable of delivering ~2000 ft/lbs--and they're fairly inexpensive. If you reload (and you should), this is a very capable intermediate rifle that is inexpensive to shoot. Also, the 30-30 is proven medicine for deer and antelope. If you hunt the rolling hills of southern Iowa, or brushy woods of north central Missouri, a compact 30-30 is about as good as it gets. While I'm at it, the 30-30 is very light-recoiling, and those lead bullet loads would be about ideal for taking the kiddos deer hunting.
Yes, the 30-30 is not particularly good at long distance shooting. I'll admit I wouldn't take a shot much past 200 yards unless I had spent a lot of time practicing at longer distances. And used a scope. Long shots are hard to come by in my neck of the woods anyway.
I'm a tactical hipster. I'm sick of black guns with tons of bells and whistles. I want a rifle with NO accessories. You pick up the rifle and put bullets in and go. The only modification I would make to the Spike Horn is an improved set of sights, switching from the "buckhorn" style to a receiver-mounted peep sight. I could keep it in a very small soft case with a box or two of cartridges and be totally set.
Lastly, you can get 30-30 ammo (current crisis aside...) just about anywhere in North America. So if I don't feel like reloading, I can go get a modestly priced box of hunting ammunition at Wal Mart and continue on my merry way.
Stay tuned for a quick look at my Model 39.