The Greatest Henry Rifles of all Time

The ‘Ole Classics that are still Relevant as ever

When you long for the good old days, out on the frontier, when you dream of being a western hero, when your role model is John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, then eventually you will find yourself in the market for a Henry rifle. The iconic brass and hardwood and lever-actions immediately brings back memories of the old west. They are tried and true and fun for everyone. 

The New Jersey-based firearm manufacturer has become a legendary name rather quickly – they have only been producing these weapons for 25 years. The success of the Henry rifle was unexpected, but they quickly rose to meet the demands of the American western audience. 

#1 Henry All Weather

If you are out in the deep woods and you happen to encounter a brown bear or big, antlered bull elk, you’ll be glad you carried your All-Weather Lever-Action .45-70 Government. It’s possible that Henry’s All-Weather Lever-Action is the ideal delivery system in more situations than this hypothetical dangerous scenario. Although it is configured as a guide gun, the 18-inch steel barreled rifle is nimble and agile, allowing shooters to deliver 300 to 500 grains of heavy metal round on target, accurately and quickly. A semi-buckhorn rear sight adds accuracy to that task, especially with their diamond insert that draws the eye intuitively to the sight notch while also providing the possibility of more precise work at greater distances. The rifle comes drilled and tapped, so adding a scope or optics requires just minimal effort for the owner.

Some gun owners might complain about the four-round lever-action because the metal components are hard-chrome plated, not stainless steel. Yet this treatment, when done properly, reduces friction and adds hardness to the surfaces of the metal components. It also proves more resistant than some stainless steel, making it an advantageous trade-off. The dark furniture makes this rifle look drastically different than most Henry rifles; the jet black finish might not look as authentic, but it is because of a unique treatment to the walnut to help it resist temperature, moisture and abuse. Some might like the idea of polymer furniture better, but the hardwood is a great compromise between functionality in extreme conditions, and authentic appearance and style.

#2 Henry Long Ranger

The Henry company listened to the desires and needs of the modern, all-American cowboy. Although it is a recent addition to their inventory, and a radical change in design from traditional Henry rifles, the Long Ranger has succeeded impressively in sales and performance. As its name suggests, this rifle increases the range of Henry’s previous lever-action rifles, which forced the company to redesign the platform from square one. The receiver is longer and made of aluminum, and features a six-lug rotating bolt as well as a removable box magazine. The results delivery as intended and are more than adequate for its desired purpose, giving the Long Ranger the capability of MOA performance with the benefit of lever-action speed.

Despite those changes, Henry didn’t compromise in creating what is fast becoming a favorite among enthusiasts. The modernization fails to take anything away from the authenticity and appeal, and the Long Ranger is completely American made and retains the attractive aesthetic features common to Henry rifles. The rifle’s straight grip, excellent walnut stock and sharp checkering in both fore-end and grip result in a beautiful and classic look, which is what the authentic collector really wants. The rifle is available with or without iron sights and it comes drilled and tapped, so adding a scope is a simple user modification.

The mild recoil and highly effective .243 Winchester round makes it comfortable and easy on the shooter, yet gives a serious punch from the 20-inch barreled rifle and can potentially bring down anything from deer to small game. There is nothing to complain about with either the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO and .308 Win. options, which give the rifle options and customization for nearly any application short of large game hunting, for which you will need another rifle.

#3 Henry Golden Boy

This is perhaps the finest .22 LR in production today, or maybe even in firearm history, and there is plenty of evidence to support this claim. Even those who disagree with this claim have to admit that the Golden Boy is fun and exciting to operate for shooters of all ages, and all levels of experience and expertise. No other gun will give quite the same Hollywood Western appearance and combine it with fast action, accuracy, and durability. The brass-frame rimfire will always fascinate shooters of all ages and backgrounds. In experienced hands, the 20-inch octagon barreled lever-action is nearly as fast as any semi-automatic rifle being sold today. The rich walnut finish is more attractive, in a gunslinger sort of way, than anything else you can buy. It is easy to see why the Golden Boy is one of the most popular of all Henry rifles on the market.

But if you really want the authentic appearance and cowboy tradition, you have to pay for it - and not just on the price tag. The rifle is heavier than other rimfires, just a few ounces under 7 pounds. This will make it wearisome for younger or smaller shooters, carrying it through the underbrush and timber looking for small game like rabbits and squirrels. The price must be considered also - it runs nearly twice as expensive as most Ruger 10/22s. But don’t think that you aren’t getting value for this price tag - the high-quality features more than justify the $587 suggested retail price. A few of the commendable features on this rifle include a semi-buckhorn rear sight, tapped and drilled receiver (for scope or optics) and a transfer-bar safety for safe transport, even with a round in the chamber.

#4 Henry Big Boy

Pistol-caliber long guns may not be universally popular, but there are no complaints about Henry’s Big Boy line of lever-actions, which appeals to almost everyone. Chambered in a wide selection of handgun magnums, the rifle has some serious power and punch, and in many cases will substantially enhance the cartridge’s ballistics compared to a revolver or pistol. The muzzle velocity is increased around 300 to 400 fps, for example, when making the switch from a 4-inch barreled handgun to an 18-inch barreled rifle. Ultimately, you’re left with a manageable firearm for home defense, that you can also take hunting with your buddies. On top of that, the authentic cowboy look and style of the Big Boy will cause envy in all of your gun-owning associates and western-watching friends.

Out of their nine models in their catalog and seemingly endless customizable variations, the Big Boy Classic has the greatest balance between the aesthetics and flexibility. It has the traditional Henry company brass-frame and rich walnut, making this an absolute beauty. The semi-buckhorn rear sight and octagon blued steel barrel make this model the epitome of the company’s consistent professionalism and quality manufacturing. Additionally, your five caliber choices (.44 Mag., .45 Colt, .357 Mag., .41 Mag., and .327 Fed Mag.) will allow you to use this rifle for any purpose that suits you. Although of the options are solid, if you’re buying a Big Boy, you might as well go the whole nine yards and chamber it with the .44 Magnum.

#5 Henry AR-7

The U.S. Survival AR-7 is the most practical Henry rifle, and has the potential to save your life in the wild outdoors. Designed by Eugen Stoner as a wilderness survival gun and optimized for rugged performance in the most hostile of environments, this semi-automatic rifle will never let you down, wherever and whenever you might need it the most.

This light-weight rifle is only 3.5 pounds, and when broken down and stowed in the buttstock, roughly 16-inches in length. This size and compactness make it ideal to stash in a rucksack for a deep backcountry hike, camping, or as an emergency gun in a boat, car or trailer. Additionally, the AR-7’s light weight means you can carry much more ammo - you never know when you might need it.

Constructed of ABS plastic and foam filled, the stock gives the rifle a unique quality – it floats in water. When broken down and stowed in the watertight stock, it is buoyant enough that you don’t have to worry about diving overboard in search of it. The 16-inch barrel is steel, but covered with corrosion-resistant ABS plastic which attaches to the receiver with a barrel nut. Using a set screw to hold it in place, the receiver then slides directly into the stock. Full assembly from its broken-down components can be accomplished in less than a minute.

The blowback rimfire loads 8-round steel magazines and has a 3/8-inch accessory rail to add an optic if the shooter desires one. Without any added accessories, this semi-auto weapon comes outfitted with a rear peep-aperture and front blade. Best of all, the AR-7 is the cheapest in this article, for the casual or first-time gun owner.

Written by Sgt. Gunner

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