What is the best brand name .30-30 lever rifle to buy?
Well GTB how did that Marlin work out for ya ? I've got my dads model 94 and just use it for plinkin'. It has taken a few deer but not in my hands. For a lever gun I use the .444 Marlin, it's heavy but still comes up fast and on target. Very smooth, the trigger is good after a little honing, for knock down you would have to see it. Just don't spend to much time at the range, it will create flinches.
30-30 lever gun probably not the best first deer gun to choose from, personally Id look to a 7mm-08 or 308 bolt for a new gun owner. Way too many safety issues with a lever gun.
But if your hell bent for a lever gun stick with the Marlin brand.
That's what I like about the newer ones having the cross bolt safety. You engage the safety and then load or unload the gun and you keep it engaged while thumbing the hammer down to half cock. That way if your thumb slips or anything else, the gun cannot fire. They still are a little cumbersome to load and unload, so I got my kids a bolt action youth rifle rather than the Marlin 30-30.
Probably the only complaint I have with the levers are, although many young lads are started with them they really are about the most unsafe firearm carried. Never was a fan of having to release the hammer after loading and wasn't a big fan of cycling every round through the gun to unload it. Neither of the two are what I would consider a 150-200 yard gun but a very reliable 60-120 yard weapon...
All in all to answer your question, it would be the Marlin
If you want to use iron sights or you like the idea of a peep sight, then you can use either firearm with confidence. However, if you want to mount a scope, Marlin rifles are a better route to go with the flat top receiver and side ejection of the spent cartridges.
Winchester 94s are top eject and require a side mount, offset for the scope to clear the ejecting rounds.
Formerly Steve @ G & S