Big Boy Steel .357 Review

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by cat_IT_guy, Jul 18, 2016.

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  1. cat_IT_guy

    cat_IT_guy Member

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    At long last I got my newest Henry to the range. Its a big boy steel carbine in .357. Barrel is 16" long. Im not much of a photographer, but here is below its big brother, the big boy in 45-70.

    henrys_zpsaiar2qen.jpg

    The wood on the henry is really pretty. Very nice color and grain. The fit isnt as good as my 45-70. Theres a bit of a "lip" especially at the front end of the fore stock. Maybe 1/8th inch - enough to notice. The action is very nice and smooth - just like the 45-70 but with a shorter throw. The sights are ok - quick, but hardly precise. I think in time I'll either add a Skinner rear peep, as on the 45-70, or a small scope.

    Shooting it was great fun. The weather was less than pleasant - 87 F and so humid that you could almost drink the air. Cycling was very smooth. A few times I had the gun canted on its side and it was difficult to chamber the round - maybe its a lever gun thing, or just mine - not sure. As long as the gun was upright, I had no issues with .357 rounds. .38, on the other hand, didnt like to cycle much. Now, the .38s I load are short - about 1.35", or at least 0.2"-0.25" shorter than most of the 357s I load. The .38s would often double feed (not sure on terminology, but new round would be all the way rear and another from the tube mag would get stuck, bullet up, preventing cycling. Not cool. I hope to try some longer bullets in .38s, as I like them for soft & cheap shooting fun.

    As a handloading geek, of course I had to bring the chrono along. I compared each of the following loads, first out of my S&W 686 6", then out of the Henry. All velocities in fps.

    Load #1: .38spl 125gr MBC over 3.2gr Bullseye
    686: 788, 765, 790. Avg: 781
    Henry: 1007, 947, 911. Avg: 955.

    Load #2: American Eagle (factory) .357, 158gr Jacketed SP
    686: 1295, 1289, 1293. Avg: 1292.
    Henry: 1668, 1616, 1683. Avg: 1656.

    Load #3: 158gr Hunter LRNFP over 8.4gr HS6
    686: 1079, 1061, 1104. Avg: 1081.
    Henry: 1394, 1416, 1386. Avg: 1399.

    Load #4: 140gr XTP over 18.1gr H110
    686: 1316, 1277, 1314. Avg: 1302.
    Henry: 1731, 1722, 1733. Avg: 1729.

    Load #5: 180gr XTP over 12.3gr 2400
    686: 1186, 1133, 1132. Avg: 1150.
    Henry: 1419, 1284, 1390. Avg: 1364.

    Of the loads tested, Im really starting to like the 158gr with HS6. Its enough oomph that you know its a step up from a .38spl but isnt punishing and is quick, cheap, and easy to load. The 140 XTP seems like it will be tough to beat for top end out of a .357 carbine.
     
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  2. ECVMatt

    ECVMatt Member

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    Great write up and thanks for the load info. I love the .357 out of a rifle; it is a whole different animal.
     
  3. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

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    Thanks for the review and ballistics report! Any particular reason you went with the steel
    version instead of the classic one w/ brass receiver?
     
  4. dpsurveyor

    dpsurveyor Member

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    Both rifles in the picture are real purdy. You have every right to be proud.
    I'll bet the .45-70 kicks like a mule due to a light weight rifle.
    I can understand not going with the brass frame - too flashy for hunting in the woods.
     
  5. cat_IT_guy

    cat_IT_guy Member

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    Bull, honestly, the brass receiver just doesnt do it for me. I suppose hunting with the steel is probably a bit more subtle, but really it is just my preference for the look of blued steel and wood. All my opinion :)

    dpsurveyor, yea, 45-70 you know something came out if its loaded to full potential (1700+ with 405gr cast bullet). The cowboy loads I've settled on, however, are a lot of fun and not punishing to shoot. Off the top of my head, its a 300gr MBC LRNFP over 14.2gr of Trail Boss. Runs a bit inside of 1200fps out of that gun.
     
  6. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    I'm glad to hear your action was smooth. The steel I handled in the gun store had a horrible gritty feel to it. Even worse than a new marlin or rossi, which is not what I typically associate with henry.
     
  7. Apple a Day

    Apple a Day Member

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    I just came back from the range with mine (brass).
    I'd shot it before with some 158 grain soft nosed reloads that worked very well with iron sights. This time I added a scope and bought some 125 grain FP magnum-flavored (1515ft/s advertised) Freedom Munitions. It was all over the page. I was going bonkers trying to figure out whether it was the rings, the mount, or the scope.
    Then I grabbed some different boxes of ammo.
    The first group was with the previous 158 grain reloads. It was a 1" group at 50 yards.
    I threw some 158 grain .38 Specials (910 ft/s advertised) from Freedom Munitions and it gave me a 1.75" group at 50 yards.
    I switched to some hot 125 grain reloads and I got a 1.5" group at 50 yards.
    Maybe I can use the new magnum ammo in a revolver but the Henry sure doesn't like it. I've got some other random boxes of magnum ammo I need to try to see what it likes best.
     
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