question about Henry rifles


July 9, 2007, 11:15 PM

got a question about hunting rifles. now, i don't know much at all about hunting, or guns, but i am willing and trying to learn. hopefully, by the time my as-yet-unborn son gets of age, i'l be ready to take him hunting myself. anyway, i was wondering how good a hunting rifle a lever action Henry rifle would be, starting out with a .17, and then to a .22, and on up to a .45 caliber. the reason i ask is because i heard a lot of good things about henry rifles, and pretty keen on the fact that they're made right here in the US. also, i must humbly admit that price has to be taken into account. i'm not looking for the cheapest guns, just the best overal, when used for hunting, home, family and self defense, and maybe even triple duty as a cowboy action rifle. just not sure if i can pry the checkbook open enough to get that much out of it for all the guns i want, let alone talk the wife into them all.

any hints, tips or suggestions are more than welcome.

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July 9, 2007, 11:29 PM
I just bought a Henry H001 and I love it so far. I would recomend you get the 22 before you get the 17 HMR or Mach II. The 22 will be much cheaper to shoot and you may discover that for general use you don't need a .17 caliber rifle. I have yet to find a need personally for a 17 HMR.

My H001 seems to be very well made and it is a descent shooter to boot. I would give it a solid recommendation as a first rifle. Be prepared though, that lever action 22 is a blast to shoot and you will go through ALOT of ammo.

July 9, 2007, 11:36 PM
The .17 is a great caliber if you already own three guns in every other caliber.

Expensive, non-reloadable, varmint bullets can trash meat in small game, and in the Henry, the things aren't that accurate from what I've read. The .17HMR is a bolt gun round; otherwise, it's a waste of money. It's capable of tiny, tiny groups. But to practice, plink, hunt small game, shoot varmints, etc., .22LR will work fine or better for 1/10 the price.

Now the .17HMR is a great little round. It's just expensive and very specialized. Not a good first, second, third or fourth gun unless you have a very specific need (i.e. 100-yard pest control, and then get a bolt gun with a good scope).

Get a .22LR first, and only dabble in .17HMR or even .22WMR if you find that you still want them.:)

July 9, 2007, 11:38 PM
I agree with both above posts on this one for sure, go with a 22 first, ammo is only 2cents a round where we live.
We have a Henry Golden Boy 22 or I should say the lady of the house does and she loves it. ON paper with the iron sights it will do better than my old eyes can, and every bit as accurate as my Marlin 39 which I know shoots great. I would need to scope them both to tell if one was better than the other.

Gosh marksman13, I got cornered huh? LOL, have a good day both of ya:)

July 9, 2007, 11:50 PM
well, thank y'all kindly for the quick responses. now that i am ready to get a .22LR henry, would it be as good for hunting as it weould for defense, and maybe a little cowboy action shooting to boot? or am i pressing my luck. i am looking to get into reloading myself, also.

July 9, 2007, 11:57 PM

Welcome to THR.

Ihave been looking into Henry & Marlin as my next rifle purchase. I think Henry makes a fine classic lever action rifle.

I personally will be looking into .357 & .44 to go along with my S&W 686 & 629. I hunt and camp and would under certain circumstances rather bring along one type of ammo for both rifle & revolver.

July 10, 2007, 03:52 AM
Henry has a long and great tradition in this country. and they are famous for their butter smooth lever actions. If i remember right, started off with grand dad, who got his idea for the lever, and put it in the old Ithaca brand rifles. Then son left ithaca, started Henry, then their lever action was perfected by son and grandson. If you notice any of the old Ithaca lever actions, especially the old 22 single shot, the henry's look a whole bunch like them.
I would start with a 22, they will be the cheapest, and so is the ammo.

July 10, 2007, 03:54 AM
besides which, with the fragmenting round, the 17hmr and mach 2, is designed to blow up small game out to 150 yards, pretty much. But their accuracy is well documented.

Father Knows Best
July 10, 2007, 09:44 AM
1. The modern "Henry" company and its rifles have nothing to do with the legendary "Henry" rifles of Civil War and Old West fame, and nothing to do with Ithaca arms. The "Henry" rifle used in the Civil War and old west was the first successful repeating rifle. It was based on a Smith & Wesson design that was originally marketed as the "Volcanic" repeating pistol. It failed, however, and the Volcanic company went bankrupt. A successful shirtmaker by the name of Oliver Winchester bought the assets, including the SMith & Wesson patent on the Volcanic action design. He then set up a company called New Haven Repeating Arms Company, and hired a gentleman by the name of B. Tyler Henry as its shop foreman. Mr. Henry made some improvements to the Smith & Wesson design, principally by adapting it for use with metallic rimfire ammunition. The rifle that resulted became commonly known as the "Henry" as a result. It was produced by New Haven Repeating Arms, which would later be renamed for its owned, Mr. Winchester. Thus, the "Henry" rifle you see in civil war and old west movies was the first Winchester. Its nicknames included "that damn Yankee rifle" and "the gun you could load on Sunday and shoot all week."

The modern "Henry" company and its products have absolutely nothing to do with the famous Henry rifles of Winchester and company. They are modern designs, produced by a new company. They just use the Henry name for the historical connotations it brings. The actions are completely different, other than the fact that they are lever operated repeaters.

2. In general, you could not use a Henry .22LR rifle for cowboy action shooting. With the exception of youth categories like "Buckaroo", the rules require centerfire, pistol caliber rifles of at least .32 caliber. The most commonly used are .38 special, .357 magnum, .44-40 and .45 Colt. The Henry "Big Boy" rifle in .45 Colt would qualify, but not the various .22 versions such as the Golden Boy and .22 lever.

3. There are lots of good choices in pistol caliber lever action rifles, and the Henry would not be on my list. Marlin, Winchester, Uberti and others offer lots of great guns.

July 10, 2007, 09:59 AM
nothing to do with Ithaca arms

Other than the design of the .22 lever gun, which AFAIK they acquired from Ithaca (the old German-made .22 lever action). That's a good thing, BTW.

But I'm a Marlin guy.:)

July 10, 2007, 10:04 AM
their accuracy is well documented

Oh yes. First .17HMR gun I ever saw was a CZ boltie. An old and very skilled rifle shooter at the range bought one. He showed me his targets (100 yards as I recall). 10 shots covered by a nickel, maybe better.

The Henry leverguns don't produce that kind of accuracy. That's not an insult to them; they're a different sort of gun. It does however make me question the value of a .17HMR in them. Why not just get a .22WMR, a far more versatile round, if you must have a magnum .22? You'll likely get the same accuracy, but with bullets better suited to harvesting small game, etc. And they'll still kill pests just as dead.

Father Knows Best
July 10, 2007, 11:29 AM
Other than the design of the .22 lever gun, which AFAIK they acquired from Ithaca (the old German-made .22 lever action).
I stand corrected. I knew that the modern Henry company had bought a design that was previously made in Germany. I didn't know that it was an Ithaca design. Thanks for the info.

July 10, 2007, 12:19 PM
buy the cheapo henry lever at walmart and never look back . they shoot very well, have no problems, and exceed the accuracy potential of most shooters.
love mine.sold all my other 22s.

July 10, 2007, 12:35 PM
I guess the .17 and .22 are OK, but I don't like the idea of loading a larger caliber using the spring loaded tube that you pull out to drop the bullets down into. I prefer the old loading gate system. Something about watching John Wayne movies...Thus, I went with a Uberti.

Father Knows Best
July 10, 2007, 12:42 PM
That's a pretty rifle, Scott. I have the same one -- a Uberti 1866 "yellowboy" short rifle. Mine is in 44-40, and I use it for cowboy action shooting with black powder cartridges. It is smooth, fast, accurate and a hoot to shoot!

July 10, 2007, 12:46 PM
All I needed was .45LC to keep the frog at bay!

July 10, 2007, 01:25 PM
Can't beat it. Have a Henry H001 and the thing is accurate... Better then me actually. While it's not that expensive it is reliable and pretty durable. I'd find a decent condition .22 and go to town

Mat, not doormat
July 10, 2007, 11:16 PM
As has been stated, the .22 won't get you into cowboy action, unless you are about twelve, and qualify for the buckaroo category. As far as other uses go, it probably won't get you very far in home defense, either. I did have a Henry Golden Boy, .22LR that I bought as a practice substitute for my CAS rifle, an 1866 Uberti. I found it to be remarkably accurate, but unsuitable for SASS practice, due to the stiff action. I then discovered an actual 1866 Uberti, in .22LR, and swapped the Golden Boy for it. Much more suitable for SASS type shooting, but a LOT less accurate than the Henry. Anyhow, if you're set on a levergun, here are my general recommendations, for what they're worth.

For just general plinking, and the occasional squirrel or other small critter, Henry Golden Boy, .22 LR.

For hunting bigger stuff, and home defense with an eye towards casual use in SASS, Marlin 1894 in either .357 or .44 Mag. Both very strong, and with real magnum ammo, potent little rifles. Can easily be downloaded, or stoked with specials for use in SASS.

For more or less dedicated use in SASS, I'd say get one of Uberti's toggle link guns, i. e., an 1866 or 1873, in .38/.357 for cheapness and light recoil, or .44-40 or .45 if you're bound and determined to shoot a big bore, or select a category which requires such. The short-stroked toggle links presently rule the roost in SASS, as they are smooth, fast, and pretty reliable. However, the actions are not strong, and shooting anything much more potent than the general SASS loads is going to make for a short lived rifle. They are also heavier and more expensive than the more modern guns.

As for the big bore Henry, I've not seen them used to any great effect in SASS. They tend to be rougher and less reliable than a Marlin, and a great deal clunkier than one of the toggle link guns. They probably don't show their flaws as badly outside the competitive arena, however.

One could also toss the Winchester/Rossi/Uberti 1892 into the mix, but I'll leave them for someone else to comment on, as I have no experience with them.


July 10, 2007, 11:44 PM
I'd go with the .22 LR Henry. Bullet diameter's smaller with the .17... but I understand that it's just a necked-down .22 Mag.
A .22 LR levergun handles shorts, CBs, longs, long rifles... you've got a lot of different ammunition power levels covered. Cheapest ammo out there, and a lot of fun to use.
I'd move up to a .357 levergun later on... price of .38/.357 is usually much lower than .45 Colt.

July 10, 2007, 11:55 PM
For a first rifle to get yourself started shooting, a Henry H001 in .22LR is a great choice. It works well, looks cool, uses cheap ammo, and is very affordable. (While the Golden Boy looks even cooler, I'm not a huge fan--when you start getting into that price range, a Marlin 39 is more attractive to me.) Stick with .22LR. For a first gun, a .17 or .22 magnum isn't the best choice. Ammo is much more expensive, which will limit how much practice you get.

Home defense with a .22 is a very controversial issue, and I for one don't want to open that can of worms.

I would say get the H001 and get started. You can do your own amateur cowboy action with some spinner targets, etc., and hunt small game with it. Down the road you can pick up a lever action rifle in a pistol caliber, like .357 or .45, which really COULD be the all-around gun you're looking for. Marlin is a good choice if you want to buy American. Then turn the Henry over to your son, and you can shoot together.

Father Knows Best
July 11, 2007, 08:12 AM
I think Mat, not doormat, gave great advice. The Marlin 1894 is an excellent all-around rifle. It is compact, handy, lightweight, relatively inexpensive (under $500 new), reliable, and available in several versatile calibers, i.e., .357 magnum and .44 magnum. While .357 and .44 mag can be hard on beginners out of handguns, they are easy to shoot out of rifles, especially since you can buy light "cowboy" load ammunition for them. They are well suited for cowboy action shooting, and with heavier loaded ammo are also excellent for home defense and even deer hunting.

A lot of people seem to think that everyone shoot start out with a .22 rimfire as a "first gun." I don't. I think anyone can easily learn to shoot with centerfires. .22's have their advantages, including low noise and cheap ammo, but if you think you will eventually be moving up to a centerfire rifle, anyway, why not just start there?

July 11, 2007, 12:07 PM
Eliphalet, something must be wrong with us because we have now agreed on two separate issues. Wow! If this keeps up we might even start to like each other.:D

As far as using the 22LR for defense, it's been hashed out on this board a million times and the general concensus is that if a 22 is all you got, you might as well make do with it. That said, if you really want a lever action and it is going to be your first gun, and you really intend on using it for hunting, self defense, and CAS, I think you would be better served with a Henry, Marlin, or Winchester chambered in 357 Magnum. You could stoke the rifle with the magnum loads and defend yourself from most any two legged or four legged predator around, or load it with 38 specials and practice til your hearts content. Loaded with the 357 magnum loads you could even (put your blinders on, Eliphalet:D:neener:) hunt most any deer species in North America.

I think you would get more trigger time and enjoyment with a 22LR, but if you truly want an all purpose, versatile rifle, I think it's hard to beat a 357 lever gun. Just my opinion and it's worth every penny you paid for it.

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