The blog I'm linking to below is a great blog in general, but I especially liked this article and related YouTube video regarding lever actions as suitable defensive firearms. The Winchester .357 Magnum carbine the author discusses (and shares pictures of) seems like a nice setup and I can definitely vouch for how easy to handle these little boomsticks are. I'm somewhat partial to the Marlins myself, but would certainly not say "no" to the Winchesters or Rossi versions of the pistol-caliber carbines either.
Read the article here: http://www.bugoutsurvival.com/2010/10/winchester-trapper-in-357-magnum.html
The YouTube video is here:
In addition, here is another YouTube video specifically discussing "Lever Guns for Survival Purposes":