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I was looking forward to reviewing the Henry Big Boy Silver in .44 Magnum/Special. I’m extremely familiar with this rifle; I used to own a Big Boy in brass. My rifle was a real head turner and absolutely butter smooth. Like most of my guns, I sold it prior to my first tour in Afghanistan. To make ends meet, I sold just about all of my guns. I count my Henry .44 as one of the casualties of that war.

I have to say I was a little disappointed this wasn’t the brass edition. My disappointment faded the second this rifle came out of the box and I slipped the black felt protective sleeve from the receiver.

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The pictures on line did it no justice. This rifle shines. It gleams. Its mirror-like finish Just seems better — and far more durable than the examples of nickel plating I’ve seen in the past. According to the Henry website, they accomplished this by using:

a solid aluminum-bronze alloy that’s actually slightly tougher than the long-running hardened brass alloy in our popular brass-framed Big Boy lever actions, and that results in a through & through silver tone. Not a surface treatment that might wear or scratch through with years of use; these frame, barrel band, and buttplate surfaces can be cleaned up and polished at home if needed to maintain that brightly gleaming silver look for generations to come.

The result is spectacular. Henry uses nicely finished walnut on the Big Boy Silver’s straight grip stock and forearm. It’s good but not exceptional. I’d like to see a little more figure in the grain of such a pretty gun, but that would certainly increase its price. As it is, it’s a gorgeous piece.

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The Big Boy Silver boasts an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight. It sits on the traditional style elevator ramp for quick range adjustment. A particularly nice touch: the white diamond-shaped insert at the bottom of the rear sight. Especially in lower light, that really helps to keep a consistent point to line up the brass bead front sight up on.

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That front bead is pretty wide, and there are smaller versions on other rifles. I’d keep this one exactly as is. It jumps out in any light. Considering that the Big Boy Silver isn’t a long range caliber anyway, it’s plenty small enough to keep you inside the bread basket of any animal within the ballistic limitations of the .44 magnum round.

The barrel is classic. Twenty inches long, octagonal, all black and shiny like surface of a still pond. The barrel band is silver finished to match the receiver. The manufacturer and caliber and simply marked on a flat on either side of the top of the barrel.

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The receiver is ready to attach a rail for a scope — one that I hope you save for some other rifle. I’d happily commit to never ruining those classic lines with mounted glass. When my eyes go bad, I’ll just sneak in a little closer.

The Big Boy Silver don’t need no stinking recoil pad. Instead you’ll find a comfortable, fairly shallow curved matching butt plate. At 8.68 lbs. unloaded, firing a pistol caliber round, there’s minimal recoil. My 11-year-old son had no ergonomic issue running multiple 10-round strings of stout .44 Magnum loads. The Big Boy Silver is an excellent choice for a brand new or recoil-sensitive shooter.

I’ve gone through why I prefer the Henry tube style loading over the loading gate in a previous review. article. All of those reasons are amplified in a pistol caliber rifle like the Big Boy Silver. It’s much faster to load 10 rounds of .44 through the tube than one-at-a-time through the loading gate.

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If I need to throw one more quick round down range, I can always load it directly into the chamber with the action open. When I need to unload, the top tube uploading is safer, faster, and much neater than having to cycle through each round one at a time.

I know that some people have dented or bent their magazine tubes. That’s never happened to me. That said, with fumble fingers or careless handling, I can see how it might happen. If it does, a replacement can be had for a whopping $21.50 on the Henry website.

My son and I put 30 rounds of .44SPL LSWC hand loads and 120 rounds of very mixed .44Mag through the rifle. I had no loading or feeding issues of any kind with any round. The gun never had a bad cycle. I even mixed .44 SPL and the longer .44 Mags in the same tube. No hiccups at all. We were both rewarded with the familiar, butter-smooth action I’ve come to expect of a Henry.

I lubed the gun with Rogue American Apparel’s Diamond Back Gun Oil prior to the review, and never again throughout the process. No maintenance was necessary and none was performed. 100% reliability.

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As usual, I shot for accuracy after I gave the gun a day or two to rest. The day I spent putting 100 rounds through this gun for reliability testing I was dead on. My first five rounds standing at 100 yards all fit inside a 5″ circle, and that’s with one first-round flier in the group.

Two days later, I wasn’t on my game with anything I shot. (Sometimes the bear eats you.) Still, off a front bag at 100 yards, I was getting 3 1/2″ five shot groups using American Eagle 240gr JSP rounds. I shot four five-round groups, each using a different round.

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That 3 1/2″ is also the consistent average for all of them. The day before I shot a couple of 7″ 200 yard five round groups from the tailgate of my truck, so I feel like there’s more accuracy that could be wrung out of the gun than my 3 1/2″ groups represent. Still, that’s plenty accurate for any deer or pig, and not bad at all for an open sighted gun.

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Not only is the Big Boy Silver plenty accurate, it’s plenty of bullet. The pistol caliber rifle is an old concept, one that’s perfected in the .44 Magnum cartridge. The rounds are easy to find at most places that sell ammo in a wide variety of loads. I’ve got everything from rat shot out to 300 grain hard cast hunting rounds.

Out of six- or seven-inch revolvers, I’ve taken plenty of game out to 100 yards with the round. Lengthen that barrel to 20″ as it is on the Big Boy, and what were OK ballistics before become more than enough for the job. You’re delivering around 1,000 ft/lbs of energy out to 100 yards. Even at 200 yards, the .44 Mag is carrying over 600 ft/lbs.

For thin-skinned game like our Texas white tailed deer, that will do the job — as long as your shot placement is good. At 100 yards, that’s enough to take down any deer, pig, or black bear in the country. As for human predators, the .44 SPL will be effective, but that 300 grain hard cast .44 magnum will do just fine against your attacker…and the four thugs behind him, too.

Should that 10 rounds of .44 Magnum not do the job, you can quickly transition to the wheel gun I’m sure will be riding on your hip for an additional six. If you haven’t gotten the job done with 16 rounds of .44 magnum, it’s time to reconsider your life choices.

I had a lot of fun shooting the Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy Silver. But the real joy was handing it to my 11-year-old son. He’s is a kid that shoots quite a bit, already has his name in the trophy books for his Dahl ram, and is generally ho-hum on ARs. This gun, though, he asked to shoot.

Seeing him rapid-fire rounds like Lucas McCain, ringing steel over and over, put an even bigger smile on my face than it did his, and he had a big, goofy grin. It’s rare that an heirloom quality gun can be had relatively inexpensively, one you can actually use for hunting. The Big Boy Silver will be enjoyed by multiple generations. It’s a great gun and an even better experience.

Specifications: Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy Silver

Model Number: H006S
Action: Lever
Caliber: .44 Magnum/.44 Special
Capacity: 10 .44 Magnum/.44 Special
Length: 38.5”
Pull Length: 14″
Barrel Length: 20”
Weight: 8.68 lbs.
Stock: American Walnut
Sights: Rear sight is Semi-Buckhorn and front sight is Brass Bead
Finish: Polished
MSRP: $990.00 (easily found online for much less)

Appearance and Style * * * * 1/2
Gorgeous shine. I thought I was sold on the brass, but that silver series finish is absolutely perfect. The sights are perfect, the lettering ideal, all around great. Half a star taken off for good wood, but not amazing wood. Note, for a little more cash, you can get better wood. Call Henry.

Customization * * * * *
Through the Henry website or by contacting them directly, you can change just about anything on this gun. Henry offers engraving on the receivers. You can order custom wood, add swivels, add a hammer extension, swap out the lever for a large loop lever, even ruin everything by mounting a scope on the pre-tapped receiver. The stock shape lends itself to checkering or engraving, and the number and quality of laser engraving services out there makes it cheap and easy.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect with any round, different shooters, different cartridges even different cartridges in the same tube. Zero issues feeding or cycling, without maintenance, and my .44SPL hand loads get guns absolutely filthy. And yet the gun ran flawlessly.

Accuracy * * * *
Three and a half inch groups on an open sight gun ain’t bad at all, and certainly good enough given the ballistic limitations of the round. And, as noted above, that wasn’t my best day of shooting. Still, it is what it is: very, very good, but not exceptional.

Overall * * * * 1/2
I’d walk out with this rifle on any hunt in the Texas Hill Country on any day and hold my head high. It is an outstanding firearm. It oozes integrity. Honestly, I look for reasons for guns to keep guns out of the five star rating; I took half a star off for not breaking the 3″ mark on the 100 yard accuracy on a bad day of shooting with a filthy bore.

45 Responses to Gun Review: Henry Big Boy Silver .44 Magnum/Special Rifle

  1. The sight picture looks like the receiver has a mirror finish. How’s the glare off of that in open sunlight?

    • It was pretty bright the day I shot it and I didn’t have a problem. I could see how it could be one, if the sun was at just the right angle.

  2. Holy cow! A 3.5 inch group at 100 yards with open sights?!?!? I personally consider that outstanding.

    I would consider that rifle an ideal choice for societal collapse. Being able to put rounds into a 10 inch circle at 200 yards is plenty accurate to put meat on the table … or a bad guy on the ground. And make no mistake: a 240 grain, .429 caliber bullet is going to put you down on the ground even if it has slowed down to 1,000 fps at 200 yards … assuming that you put that bullet anywhere near the center of the bad guy’s torso of course.

    • Especially with those full-house hardcast rounds from companies like Buffalo Bore.

      (Singing) “Reach, out, reach out and thump someone…”

    • Yup, for those seeking the latest in 19th century firepower. Fortunately, the rest of us have lighter and more effective options.

      Lever and wheel guns can be cool little toys, but let’s not pretend that they are effective weapons by modern standards.

      • Because 19th Century designs won’t kill you anymore. /sarc

        If you are going to war the lastest in 19th Century designs isn’t a good choice in an infantry rifle but I don’t expect to be going to war. The AR is not the end all/be all of rifles. If we spent less time at kneeling at the alter of the MSR the gun grabbers wouldn’t notice that these guns exist.

        And remember, “it’s not the crate. It’s the man in the crate.” In a shootout between you with an AR and JW with the Henry my money is on JW.

      • … Tdvinna… Are you really saying that the gun grabbers would chill if we just toned down on ARs? Really? Did you notice austrialia is trying to ban lever actions? And Britain banned everything not a break action? And since when do we give a flying f**k what the gun grabbers think?

        • Nope, what I am saying is that we, the gun community, are locked in almost symbiotic relationship with the gun grabbers. We see the MSR as “the gun” and they see it as way to attack us. They would find some other reason to go after gun owners but the scary black rifles gives them something to focus on. Without such a specific target they would be forced to make general attacks on gun owners which would unite all the firearms subcultures. We wouldn’t have the Fudd v self defense v competitive shooter friction because they would not be able to run a divide and conquer campaign.

        • Tdiinva is right. I’m reminded of Open Carry Texas the year before toting their MSRs around. A few lovely Henrys tactfully sling over the shoulders would have brought around a convert or two rather than polarized even more. Luring flies with honey and all that…
          Still, it ended well. We can open carry now and the Henry would be very nice jewelry indeed. I’m off to go cry for a bit BECAUSE I STILL DON’T HAVE ONE!!!

        • The mistake your making is you think the FUDDs will ever have our back. They won’t. The minute a high profile crime occurs with a lever action that is smeared all over media, the FUDDs will start talking about how a break action was good enough for them back in the day.

      • Well, the 8.68 pound weight is a drawback and seems unnecessary. Aside from that, I like the simplicity, reliability, and ruggedness of a good lever-action rifle. In a scenario where you do not have access to spare parts or cleaning supplies, I’ll take a good lever-action rifle over any modern rifle. Same goes for a companion revolver in the same caliber.

      • This is why no one likes you. Comments like this. No one is trying to pretend that a Henry Big boy is an AR or an AK. We all know what a lever action gun is for. We don’t need your condescending attitude nor your poorly formed insults. You talk down to gun-lovers as if you were the very elitists we’re committed to defeating.

        In conclusion I encourage you to eat a plate of dog poop.

      • I don’t feel slighted one bit. I’m a mediocre shot and it took me decades to get that good. I know plenty of guys that would feel ashamed to post a 3″, 100 yard open sight group anywhere people could see it.
        One of my favorite memories was watching an uncle take people’s money left and right, betting them $100 per shot that he could hit his target. He was shooting an open sight Winchester model 70 in .30-06, 1,000 yards away, at an 18″ target. He cleaned up that day.

  3. Henry rifles are amazing. I just wish they’d make versions that loaded from the side of the receiver as well.

    • What I really want is a lever gun version of the Raging Judge. Gotta love a pistol that can take .45LC, .454 Casull, and .410 shot shells.

        • I was looking specifically for .45LC as the base. It’s a very versatile cartridge and if the chamber will accept .460 S&W, so much the better. The biggest mistake I think S&W made with their .460 pistols is the inability to accept shot shells. If it would, I’d own one of those wheel guns. Right now, I’m happy with my 6″ Raging Judge for my wheel gun hand cannon needs.

        • Agreed. That’s sort of my problem. In a .44 magnum gun, .44 magnum is the ceiling of your performance. In a .45 LC / .460 S&W / .454 Casull, you START at something that can be made comparable to a .44 magnum (with cowboy loads for the recoil averse) and goes UP to the thresholds normally seen in rifle cartridges.

          .460 S&W out of a ~8″ barrel can deliver ~2800 ft-lbs of energy. For comparison a 7.62×39 delivers 1600 ft-lbs out of a full blown RIFLE. That’s more comparable to a top end 45-70.

          If you need a versatile lever gun or hand cannon, a .460 S&W chamber will give you a plethora of options not really found in any other caliber.

        • From what I gather, the .460 does it’s magic at pressures less than friendly to traditional lever designs and tolerances. It is, as your 7.62×39 comparison illustrates, pretty stout even for a rifle round.

          When the .500 S&W first came out, I wanted to get a short, stubby double rife chambered for it, as the ultimate take anywhere close range stopping gun. But it seems those hand cannon rounds aren’t too friendly to break open actions, either.

        • I know Rossi makes a .454 lever gun, but it has issues running most 45LC due to overall length issues.

  4. Get rid of that loading tube and I’ll buy right now. I’m sure these some reason why they don’t incorporate a loading gate (other than ascetics) but damned if I know why.

    • From the article:
      It’s much faster to load 10 rounds of .44 through the tube than one-at-a-time through the loading gate. If I need to throw one more quick round down range, I can always load it directly into the chamber with the action open. When I need to unload, the top tube uploading is safer, faster, and much neater than having to cycle through each round one at a time.

    • A 99 in 7mm-08. Man that would be a great rifle.
      One of these days I’ll get a Ruger 1 with very nice wood and a little engraving, in 7mm-08. I have to wait to do it because it will probably be the last gun I ever hunt with.

      • Even better, a Winchester 1885 in 7mm-08. Better looking and more accurate than Bill’s single shot, the best of both worlds of tradition and function.

  5. Beyond thoughts of bigger is better, I’d be interested in hearing some thoughts on the .357 variant (which was my next purchase until I decided an 03A3 needed to be bought first, which was also pushed back by an upcoming AR build).

    The upside for me with the .357 is the reference to switching to a revolver in .357, the S&W 687 also living on the list of future purchases. Of course,I haven’t committed to a round yet, and could be talked into .44…

      • The .44 is THE Big Brother to the .357.
        But, that said, my Rossi ’92 .357 would be a finalist for last gun standing/ first gun saved in a boating accident.
        From THAT first shot… oh my gosh… made me a better shooter.
        Immediately.
        F l a t shooter.
        Iron sights forever!!
        Tied for top grin getter from shooters.
        (The other gun is an AK pistol. Just stupid. Really stimulates the grin reflex though.)
        Thnx JWT

  6. The 44 might outperform the 357, but the 357 is easier on the wallet (especially if you want to plink with 38 spl). I have a brass Big Boy and I agree wholeheartedly with your review JWT. It’s a fine, heirloom quality rifle that is fun as hell at the range. At a range full of black rifles, and Remington 700s, it will turn heads.

    Also, 357 is no slouch in some hunting loads like Buffalo Bore. Ohio has oddball deer hunting caliber laws. They didn’t allow rifle until recently, and now all they allow are pistol caliber and big loads like 45-70. I used my Big Boy 357 last fall and dropped a white tail in it’s tracks.

  7. I admire all lever guns, as I grew up around them in deer camp as well as on TV at the time. No doubt the Henrys are fine guns, I think we all agree, but why that shiny stuff on a hunting rifle? When deer are already cautious and wary, isn’t sending out loud reflections off the receiver just a bit much?
    Make it with a matte black finish and a loading gate option and count me in..

    • It’s a valid question. They make steel and “all weather” black rifles that are more for working and it’s something I considered before buying mine. For me though, the gold was just to purty to pass up.

  8. Very cool. I want one of the black receiver 44’s. I have an affinity for pistol caliber carbines, specifically 44magnum ones.

  9. The Henry is absolutely way prettier than the Rossi 92 (though the stainless 92s are quite handsome, if somewhat rough upon closer inspection), but why the heck is it more than two pounds heavier? Great for recoil absorption, not so great for lugging around in the woods.

    Now, Henry, y’all need to make a color case hardened version of the Big Boy Steel, and I’ll overlook the fact that you forgot to cut a hole in the side of the receiver.

    • I think it’s mainly due to the thick octagonal barrel. I have the 357, which I think is even heavier because the bore is smaller. You definitely have to hasty sling it, or your muscles will start shaking quickly (that presents a whole other problem when the rifle isn’t pre-drilled for sling swivels and you don’t want to ruin the nice wood).

      • I think the Rossi with the 20″ octagonal barrel is still only 6.5 or 7 pounds, though. The round-barreled ones are even lighter (around 5 lbs for a .44 w/ 16″ barrel). Is the bronze alloy receiver that much heavier than steel?

  10. Does anyone have a Henry Long Ranger in .308? And if so, do you like it? Also what scope have you used? Thanks in advance.

  11. A great review and a lovely rifle.

    I would spend the extra and upgrade the wood. If going for a flashy finish then then the wood should be more flashy too.

    I think the stamping/engraving on the barrel is way too big and needs to be toned down to 1/3 of the size.

    Case hardened would be my first choice.

    44 Magnum – great 30yd-75rd round. Light recoil and great knockdown on hogs.

    So to sum up for me (anyway). Better stock wood, case hardened receiver, less aggressive barrel engraving and if they could do a full length octogonal barrel it would be just about perfect

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