I asked the same about Marlin vs. Henry.
Marlin - more practical "Working" gun, cheaper
Henry - smoother action, nicer to shoot
Just working each gun's action across the gun counter I could tell the Henry was smoother.
One notable downside to the brass receiver, is that it's inappropriate for tapping holes for a scope mount. That said, most lever gun calibers I would consider have a usable range out to 150 yards at the most. Given that, with some nice peep or ghost ring iron sights, I think I'd be happy. Besides, the topic is "option for home defense" where a magnified scope is not appropriate.