with proper ammo, the cartridge can handle anything in North America.

Best Henry Lever-Action Rifles | Outdoor Life Leave a comment

Benjamin Tyler Henry was not the daddy of lever-action rifles, however his improvement of a .44-caliber cartridge—and the lever gun he constructed to shoot it—did change the platform eternally. Solely 14,000 of Henry’s authentic rifles had been made, however you will notice the distinctive profile of his gun replicated in lots of lever-action rifles, significantly these within the Winchester secure of firearms.

The lifetime of the primary Henry rifle was quick (simply 5 years), however after greater than a century on the shelf, the corporate returned—in identify—when a father and son began a brand new lever gun firm in Brooklyn, New York, and settled on Henry Repeating Arms. Right now, there are numerous numbers of common Henry lever gun fashions. Dan Clayton-Luce is Henry’s communications director and unofficial historian. I requested him to assist me choose the highest six rifles from Henry—a tough job. He rose to the event, basing his selections on gross sales, originality, and historic significance.

Right here, in no specific order, are the six greatest Henry rifles at this second in time.

The Henry Lever Basic .22 is the one which began the corporate and continues to be a greatest vendor with over 1 million offered. Certainly one of my capturing buddies has the .22 Magazine model and I’ve shot it rather a lot. I can discover just one flaw with the rifle and that’s that it’s not mine. The Henry Lever Motion rifle is fitted with an American walnut inventory that mates effectively with the blued steel. The rifle has aspect ejection, an adjustable rear sight, a hooded entrance sight and a 3/8″ grooved receiver for mounting a scope. The barrel size is 18-½ inches, total size is 36½ inches and it weighs in at 5¼ kilos. The tubular journal holds 15 rounds of .22 LR, 17 rounds of .22 Lengthy, and 21 rounds of .22 Quick. It’s additionally obtainable in .22 Magnum and .17 HMR.

The Golden Boy is the rifle that really put Henry on the map.

The Golden Boy is the rifle that actually put Henry on the map. It seems to be prefer it got here out of the 1860s with a brass coloured body, walnut inventory, and octagon barrel. At first look it resembles a scaled down Winchester Mannequin 1886, the rifle the Native People referred to as the Yellow Boy. Each are rimfires, however the authentic used the .44 Henry Flat cartridge whereas the brand new Yellow Boy makes use of trendy rimfires. The rifle will take .22 LR, .22 Lengthy and .22 Quick. There are additionally variants in .22 Magnum and .17 HMR. There’s even a shortened youth mannequin. The rifle weighs in at a hefty 6¾ kilos. This too is traditionally correct as the unique 1866 was not a light-weight. It has an adjustable buckhorn-type rear sight. The .22 S/L/LR model holds 16 rounds of Lengthy or Lengthy Rifle, or 21 rounds of Quick. The .22 Magazine can carry 12 rounds and the .17 HMR holds 11.

A modern-day Henry rifle, as historically true to its 1860 design as possible.

It is a modern-day Henry rifle, made as traditionally true to the 1860 design as attainable. The Henry isn’t a straightforward gun to fabricate and most imported reproductions take shortcuts, this gun doesn’t. The one concession is it’s chambered for .44-40, the cartridge that changed the .44 Henry rimfire when the Winchester 1873 rifle got here out. That’s as a result of no one makes .44 rimfire and a rifle can be ineffective chambered for that cartridge for those who couldn’t purchase ammo. A number of ammo firms of observe make .44-40 and it’s simple to reload. The gun can be provided in .45 Colt. Each have 13 spherical magazines, as these cartridges are a bit longer than the .44 Henry. Traditionally, no Winchester rifle was ever chambered for the .45 Colt, principally as a result of it was tough to make it work in a rifle. However, as we speak’s engineers figured it out and it matches up simply with trendy .45 Colt handguns. That makes this rifle a very good choose for cowboy motion capturing, historic reenactments, or simply having enjoyable capturing.

The rifle has a one-piece 24.4-inch octagon barrel and integral journal, which is what makes it so exhausting to fabricate. Additionally fancy grade American Walnut shares, a folding ladder rear sight and blade entrance. As a concession to security the rifle has a half-cock security hammer notch, however it doesn’t have any of the silly, lawyer impressed trendy guide safeties.

A modern, “tactical” lever-action rifle.

If you’re of the mindset that Henry lever motion rifles are nostalgic echoes of the previous purchased by getting old boomers, you have to take a look at this rifle. There’s a trendy motion that has developed the idea of a “tactical” lever-action rifle. Many acknowledged {that a} lever motion rifle, specific one in a potent pistol cartridge, is usually a viable dwelling protection gun. In actual fact I devoted a complete chapter to this in my ebook, “Prepper Weapons” to that very topic.

This gun is obtainable in .45 Colt, .357 Magnum/.38 Particular and .44 Magnum/.44 Particular. Clayton-Luce stated that the .357 Magnum, which may additionally use .38 Particular, is by far one of the best vendor. With good cause, the .357 Magnum is formidable when utilized in a rifle. It’s even efficient for deer looking at shut vary. As a defensive spherical it’s almost an ideal stability of energy and controllability. This rifle has a threaded muzzle to permit for a suppressor. There are M-Lok and Picatinny attachment factors so as to add a light-weight or laser. It is a critical rifle with a lighter enjoyable aspect.

with proper ammo, the cartridge can handle anything in North America.

OK, so not loads of creativity went into naming this gun. The .45-70 was developed in 1873 for the Springfield “trap-door” single shot rifle. In reality, it ought to have died there. Besides that the lever motion rifle got here together with life help. Winchester chambered it of their 1886 rifle and it turned arguably the preferred cartridge in that rifle. Sadly, the Nice Despair killed off the 1886 in 1935.

That might have been the tip for the .45-70. Besides that in 1972 Marlin launched their trendy Mannequin 1895. (They made an 1895 within the 1800s too.) The brand new rifle relies on their 336 body and chambered for .45-70, which saved the cartridge. In regards to the time that Remington purchased Marlin, the .45-70 was changing into a greatest vendor. Most patrons had been in search of a shorter barrel and extra compact gun for looking and bear safety. Then Remington went bankrupt and manufacturing stopped. Ruger had only in the near past launched a brand new Marlin .45-70. However, within the meantime, these shooters in search of a top quality, drama free, lever motion in .45-70 turned to Henry.

This mannequin Henry in .45-70 has an 18.5-inch barrel so it’s quick and helpful. Like all of the aspect gate loading Henry rifles, it additionally maintains the choice of loading by the highest of the tube. This gun weighs in at seven kilos so it’s simple to hold and received’t beat you up with sizzling masses.

The gun can deal with trendy .45-70 ammo, which suggests it should cease a charging grizzly. I’ve used the .45-70 on two bison in addition to black bears, whitetails, hogs, and different sport. It’s all the time spectacular. This rifle is nice for looking within the thick stuff and it could be a strong selection for deer season. The reality is that with correct ammo, the cartridge can deal with something in North America.

The .45-70 is authorized in most “straight walled cartridge” looking areas and you’d be effectively served with a Henry rifle. There are 16 different variants, together with stainless-steel, artificial inventory fashions; and a coloration case-hardened receiver with straight or curved lever choice.

To be a modern rifle company, you have to offer an option in 6.5 Creedmoor.

If you wish to be the fashionable chief in lever motion rifles, it solely is smart to have a lever motion rifle chambered in trendy cartridges. This rifle is obtainable in .223 Rem/5.56 NATO, .243 Win, .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor. I don’t know what their greatest vendor is, however everyone I do know who purchased one in all these rifles has a 6.5 Creedmoor, after all. The Lengthy Ranger has an uncovered hammer with a switch bar security system. It makes use of a geared motion and a chromed metal bolt with a six-lug rotary locking head. The lock up is just like a bolt motion rifle which is the way it can deal with the strain of recent cartridges.

It options aspect ejection for straightforward scope use. The receiver is light-weight aluminum alloy. The gun makes use of a steel-bodied, flush-fit removable journal. It has a five-round capability in .223 and four-round for all the pieces else. The Lengthy Ranger features a 20-inch free floated barrel, apart from the Creedmoor which makes use of a 22-inch tube.

The rifle brings new stage of accuracy to the lever motion design. It’s an excellent selection for giant sport hunters anyplace. Now if we might solely persuade them to make it in .358 Winchester.

If there is a veteran in your family, this is an ideal gift.

There’s a custom courting again to the Civil Conflict, for ornately engraved Henry rifles to be introduced to veterans as tokens of appreciation. The Navy Service Tribute Version retains that alive and is an efficient selection for anybody in search of a present for a veteran. It’s based mostly on the Golden Boy and chambered in .22 Lengthy Rifle, .22 Lengthy, and .22 quick.

The rifle contains a highly-polished nickel-plated receiver cowl with intricate scrollwork and a bald eagle surrounding a protect bearing the phrases, “In Recognition of Navy Service to our Nice Nation” on the appropriate aspect. The left aspect has the Statue of Liberty subsequent to the Liberty Bell. All photographs and the laurel leaf borders that encompass them are selectively plated with 24K gold. The correct aspect of the fore-end has a banner studying, “Saluting our Navy Heroes.” The buttstock has an American flag and “God Bless America” on the appropriate aspect.

Henry donates hundreds of {dollars}—and lots of weapons—to veteran’s causes and to navy veterans, in addition to many different worthy causes every year.

B. Tyler Henry Labored for the Greatest Lever-Motion Gunmakers in Historical past

The historical past of the lever motion began with Walter Hunt in 1848 when he developed the “Rocket Ball and Volition Repeater.” This was a lever motion, breech-loading, repeating rifle with an under-the-barrel tube journal—a design most lever actions adopted. That rifle used a cartridge of types. It featured a hole base, conical bullet with the powder cost contained within the base. A separate primer ignited it, so it wasn’t precisely a self-contained cartridge, however the bullet and propellant had been a single unit. However it was not very highly effective.

Hunt later teamed with George Arrowsmith and Lewis Jennings and was granted a patent for the Jennings enchancment in 1849. 5 thousand of the Jennings repeater had been contracted to be manufactured in Vermont (solely about 1,000 had been produced). The foreman in that manufacturing unit was Benjamin Tyler Henry, a person that will later show crucial within the improvement of the lever motion rifle.

In 1854 Smith & Wesson developed the lever motion, underneath the barrel tube journal pistol to be made in Norwich, Connecticut. Their store foreman? None apart from B. Tyler Henry. After the manufacturing of about 1,000 of those weapons, the identify of the corporate was modified to Volcanic Repeating Arms Firm.

Becoming a member of this firm as an investor was a males’s garment maker named Oliver F. Winchester. In 1856 a brand new plant was inbuilt New Haven, Connecticut. By 1857 Winchester owned a lot of the inventory for the corporate manufacturing lever motion Volcanic rifles and pistols. The identify of the corporate was modified to The New Haven Arms Firm. The store foreman: B. Tyler Henry.

Henry’s First Lever Gun

The original Henry rifle was chambered in .44 Flat.
An authentic Henry rifle chambered in .44 Flat. Henry Repeating Arms

Henry later developed a profitable rimfire .44-caliber cartridge that was highly effective sufficient to draw the eye of significant shooters. He additionally developed a brand new lever-action rifle referred to as the Henry to go together with that bullet. Manufacturing began on the 16-shot Henry rifles in 1860. By 1862 there have been sufficient within the discipline that the rifle gained a fame as a formidable firearm.

The primary 300 weapons made in 1860 and 1861 had iron frames. After 1861 the gun featured a brass body. There have been about 14,000 rifles made in whole. Early manufacturing used a rounded heel, crescent formed buttplate. Rifles made after 1862 had a sharper heel, crescent formed buttplate.

The Henry rifle used a rimfire cartridge with a copper case, referred to as the .44 Henry Flat. This featured a 200-grain heeled lead bullet with 26 to twenty-eight grains of black powder. That produced 1,125 fps and 568 foot-pounds of muzzle power. Instances later had been created from brass and there was additionally a load with a 216-grain heeled bullet in some unspecified time in the future. There have been apparently two completely different size circumstances used throughout the lifetime of this cartridge which was loaded by Winchester till the Thirties.

Henry’s rifle had a 24-inch octagon barrel with an integral journal tube beneath. That journal held 15 .44 rimfire cartridges, giving the rifle a 16-shot capability. Nevertheless, the hammer had no half cock and rested on the firing pins, which had been involved with the cartridge. That was harmful, because the gun would hearth from any blow to the hammer. So, one may speculate that it was widespread to hold the gun with an empty chamber. In that case, the capability was 15 rounds.

The Henry used two opposing firing pins to assist guarantee ignition. There was no forend on the rifle, so gripping the barrel in a firefight was a scorching occasion.

To load the gun, a lever protruding from the journal was pulled up a slot operating the size of the journal towards a spring after which turned with the highest of the journal, pivoting on the barrel to lock it in place. The cartridges had been inserted into the journal by the highest, and when full, the highest of the journal tube was turned again into alignment with the primary tube and the follower was launched to contact the cartridges and apply spring strain.

The toggle hyperlink motion of the Henry rifle was not a brand new idea, however it was perfected sufficient that it labored reliably. It additionally created the enduring profile of the motion; simply recognizable and utilized in a number of Winchester rifles to observe.

In an odd flip of occasions, the Union Military appeared on the Henry and determined {that a} trap-door Springfield rifle can be higher for battle. Chief Ordinance, Brigadier Common James W. Ripley didn’t like repeaters and informed Lincoln that “single shot weapons might be loaded and fired shortly sufficient.” He was additionally low cost, because the Springfield was far inexpensive than the Henry.

Nonetheless, some Henrys made it into motion throughout the Civil Conflict, prompting a Accomplice chief named Mosby to name it “a gun they wind up on Sunday and shoot all week.” He added that it was ineffective to struggle towards them.

The Henry Rifle Legend

One extensively publicized incident helped to promote this rifle. Captain James M. Wilson of the twelfth Kentucky Cavalry was accosted by seven males whereas eating at dwelling. They entered his home, weapons blazing. All they hit was the glass his spouse was ingesting from.

Wilson satisfied them to kill him outdoors so his household wouldn’t have to observe. As soon as outdoors, he ran by a storm of bullets for canopy in a crib he had close to his home. There he grabbed his Henry rifle and killed the seven dangerous guys with eight pictures, proving past all doubt that the Henry was the gun to have when your life trusted capturing quick and effectively. Even the additional shot counted because it eliminated a number of fingers from one of many dangerous guys as he grabbed the saddle horn to mount his horse. The subsequent shot ensured that he actually didn’t thoughts.

In 1866, the New Haven Arms turned Winchester Repeating Arms. They launched an up to date and improved Henry-style rifle referred to as the Winchester Mannequin 1866 lever motion, nicknamed the Yellowboy. The first distinction was that it loaded by a gate within the aspect of the receiver and had a wooden forend so the shooter didn’t burn his hand on a sizzling rifle. The largest legacy of the Mannequin 1866 is that it changed the Henry, which was taken out of manufacturing. It’s stated that Winchester additionally cheated Henry by doing an end-run on his patents with the Mannequin 1866.

The Henry Rifle burned brilliant, however flamed out shortly with solely a 5 yr life span. It was, nevertheless, a massively necessary firearm and it’s imbedded deeply into the Nice American Story.

New Henry, New Weapons

Henry also makes pump action rifles.
The writer’s pump-action Henry rifle. Bryce M. Towsley

Quick ahead to 1996, 130 years after the final Henry rifle was made. Anthony Imperato owned Colt Blackpowder Arms in Brooklyn, New York. He and his father Louis determined to start out a brand new gun firm. Anthony took out a second mortgage on his home and put all the pieces he owned on the road for the brand new gun firm.

“My father had owned Iver Johnson and nonetheless had the rights to the identify at the moment. We argued a bit about utilizing it for the brand new firm, however I prevailed,” Anthony stated. “We would have liked a reputation and as we had been going to provide lever motion rifles, what better option than Henry? The lever motion is the American rifle. Many of the different rifle designs initially got here from some place apart from America, however the lever motion was invented right here and has been America’s rifle. Henry actually began the lever motion in America and that identify simply felt proper. It looks like America. So we discovered it was obtainable and that turned the identify of our new firm.

“I prefer to assume my father is sitting with B. Tyler in heaven and watching over the corporate carrying his identify and his imaginative and prescient.”

In speaking with Anthony it’s clear that he cares very deeply about his firm, merchandise, and clients.

“It’s easy,” he stated. “I knew that launching a brand new firm wouldn’t be a 9 to five factor. It will imply lengthy hours and few days off. I wished to find it shut sufficient to my dwelling in order that I might have time with my household as effectively. I wished a spot shut sufficient that I might not have to waste time commuting once I might spend that point with my household.”

Anthony and Louis began Henry with a lever motion .22 rimfire and a few distinctive approaches to promoting and promotion. They promised that the weapons and all of the elements can be made within the U.S. and that the standard can be high of the road. The rifle was not low cost in comparison with different .22 rifles, however you get what you pay for and the capturing world took discover.

Learn Subsequent: Greatest Lever-Motion Weapons of All Time

Now, 25 years later, Henry is the nation’s largest producer of lever motion firearms, with so many fashions I can’t depend all of them. In addition they have a pump-action rimfire rifle. I’ve one, it’s excellent. They make shotguns, together with a lever motion .410 in addition to conventional single-shot shotguns. In addition they make some single-shot rifles, bolt-action youth rifles and even the AR-7 Survival rifle.

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