Gun Review: Henry Frontier Model Long Barrel 24″ (.22 S/L/LR)

For some lucky youngsters, a .22 caliber lever gun is their first firearm. Not me. My first gun was a .22-caliber bolt-action rifle. A firearm that made me concentrate on each shot, but was nowhere near as fun or cool as Lucas McCain’s weapon. So, with a chance to regain a bit of my wishful childhood, I embarked on a review of the Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Model Long Barrel 24″ . . .

There’s something about a lever-action rifle (LAR) that makes you stand tall, fingers indexed inside the lever’s loop, at the ready. It’s a firearm of action. The Frontier model especially.

Part of that’s down to The Frontier’s balance point: just inside the palm of my support hand. My control hand wrapped around the stock and through the lever loop with room to spare, and my thumb easily reached the hammer.

Bringing the stock of the skinny rifle to my cheek and shoulder, I welcomed the snag-less, smooth satin finish of the American walnut. After bouncing back and forth along the top of the blued steel barrel the sights came into focus, brass bead gleaming above the rear sight’s white diamond.

The fit was appropriate and comfortable. Cycling the action with the lever felt natural and sights remained on-target; more confirmation of a well-balanced firearm.

And that’s the first thing anyone wants to do with a LAR, right? Cycle the rifle over and over and over? Maybe sometimes one-handed, even? With plenty of room for three larger or small fingers and comfortable, rounded edges, the Frontier’s lever loop invites even the most timid hand to actuate the action.

The more I ran the rifle’s lever, the more it began to come to life. The crisp sound of the precise mechanics rang out with confidence. “Click-clack; Clack.” Music to my ears — not so much for small game.

The Frontier’s black-finished aluminum receiver can’t compare with its bigger-bore brass brethren. However, brass is overkill for .22 LR, hence “brasslite” and nickeled-alloy receivers on higher-end Henry rimfire rifles.

Aluminum suits this model just fine. Henry’s attention to detail, even on the basic models, is apparent in their high-quality, well-fitted and finished Frontier receiver.

Granted, Henry certainly isn’t aligning case screws on this entry-level rifle. But the Frontier’s action is a satisfyingly consistent set of mechanics. Impressively tight tolerances all-around, including only the slightest amount of side-to-side play in the lever and hammer.

The Frontier rifle lives up to its “Slickest Gun in the West action” reputation.

The Frontier rifle’s receiver plays host to a 3/8″ dovetail groove for easy scope mounting.

As befits a rifle called The Frontier, the Henry lever gun features a 1/4-cock safety. It can be enabled with either a round chambered or an empty chamber.

There are two ways to engage the rifle’s safety. One: with the hammer fully forward, bring the hammer back about 1/8-inch until you hear a click. Two: with the hammer fully cocked, hold the hammer with your thumb while releasing the hammer by pressing on the trigger momentarily. Then lower the hammer down to the “safe” position. [Careful! Manual de-cocking risks a slipped hammer and a fired gun)

With the hammer in the “safe” position (above, right), the hammer will not be released when the trigger is depressed, and a blow to the rear of the hammer won’t cause it to strike the firing pin. There’s no red/white indicator so you’ll need to study the slight difference in hammer position to know visually if it is in the “safe” position.

To fire the rifle, simply cock the hammer the remaining three-quarters of the way back and pull the trigger. Or actuate the lever and eject the cartridge to clear the chamber.

An operator may also hold the hammer, release the pressure on the hammer by depressing the trigger, and lower the hammer down.

A classic grooved curved-blade trigger sits fourteen inches from the end of the stock. While the relatively short length of pull helps children better control the rifle, it isn’t so short that it will keep adults from slinging lead just the same. Simply put, it’s both comfortable and controllable.

More importantly, the Frontier’s trigger also performs beautifully. The trigger sequence begins with just under 1/16-inch of somewhat sticky take-up, followed by near-zero creep. The trigger breaks very cleanly and crisply at 3.2-pounds, sending the hammer home with resonating force.

Technically speaking, the Frontier Model Long Barrel 24″ is a simple step up from the basic H001 Classic Lever Action rifle. As the name indicates, the upgrade features a high-grade 24″ octagon barrel with a 1:16 twist rate — a stylish change from the Classic’s round 18.25″ barrel.

A classically blued steel barrel with flat crown and 45-degree chamfer gives the rifle a desirable new look.

An adjustable semi-buckhorn rear and a tall beaded front sight sits above the octagon barrel on a dovetail fixture. The front bead is bright brass. The rear sight features a white diamond at the bottom of a traditional “U.”

Stack the brass bead on top of the diamond, then your target on the bead and you’re in business.

Adjusting the sighting system is straight forward. Front and rear sights can be moved side-to-side within the dovetail slot, the rear sight has six elevation step-adjustments, and the diamond inside the “U” allows for fine elevation adjustment.

The diamond contains two notch sizes. To switch between them, simply loosen the fine elevation adjustment screw, remove the diamond insert, flip it over and re-install it.

A field-grade American walnut stock set (foregrip and buttstock) ties everything together. A standard band ties the sleek foregrip together with the barrel and magazine tube.

While extremely well-finished, they weren’t a perfect mate-up to the receiver on either end, leaving some room for debris and moisture to creep in.

On the positive side, Henry’s craftsmen matched The Frontier’s foregrip and buttstock color/staining extremely well.

Though perfectly attached to the stock, the plastic end plate doesn’t feel “frontier” to me. A matching aluminum end plate would be a better choice.

Henry's Frontier Model Long Barrel 24" includes a dovetail-fitted magazine tube guide.

On the firing line at the range, I flipped The Frontier upside-down (muzzle pointed up and outwards) and removed the magazine tube rod to uncover the loading port — after unlocking it from the standard steel magazine tube with slight pressure and a quick counter-clockwise turn.

Cartridges are loaded one at a time through the port, which is sized and shaped to help prevent anything except .22-caliber Short, Long, and Long Rifle cartridges from entering the tube.

The Frontier holds up to sixteen rounds of Long Rifle and twenty-one rounds of Short.

Shouldering the 24″ octagon-barreled Henry for the first time with live ammo gave me the itchiest of trigger fingers; thank God the range was hot because soon after the octagon barrel was, too.

The weight of the seven-pound rifle and density of the wood stock absorbed the energy of each round; recoil was merely a tap on the shoulder. The Frontier rifle swung with ease from target to target, the lever tossing brass to the right after each shot out front.

The iron sights needed only a slight adjustment and I was easily tagging three-inch bits of broken clay target on berms out to twenty-five yards. For accuracy testing I installed a Vortex Diamondback 2-7×35 Diamondback scope to the Frontier’s receiver using a BKL Technologies BKL-261 scope mount.

Scoping the rifle was a walk in the park and well-worth the effort. The correctly positioned optic left plenty of room beneath the ocular lens’ bell for my thumb to control and manipulate the rifle’s hammer.

Henry’s Frontier rifle proved itself a hungry little fella, eating everything in sight including American Eagle, Blaser, CCI and Federal without any issues. Alternating Shot and Long Rifle rounds proved no tall task; it cycled them impressively well.

LIke most firearms, The Frontier preferred certain types of ammunition. At 50 yards, the rifle delivered 1.20″ groups with American Eagle High Velocity 38 gr. (above, left), 1.28″ groups with CCI .22 Short HP 27gr (above, middle), and 1.43″ groups with CCI Mini-Mag 40gr (above, right).

Inclement weather may have skewed the results. After dodging raindrops and gusty weather during several trips to the range I feel tighter groups are easily attainable, regardless of the ammunition.

At less than $500 off-the-shelf, it’s easy to see why Henry Repeating Arms “starter” .22’s don’t stay there long. The Frontier’s octagonal barrel and not-so-easily-scratched receiver make it a suitable firearm for knock about kids. Or adults hoping to recapture a youth they never had.

Specifications: Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Model Long Barrel 24″

Price as reviewed (Model # H001TLB): $494.00 MSRP
Technical Specifications:

• Calibers: .22 Short / Long / Long Rifle

• Barrel Type: Octagon Blued Steel

• Barrel Length: 24″

• Rate of Twist: 1:16

• Overall Length: 42.5″

• Length of Pull: 14″

• Weight: 7.00 lbs.

• Receiver Finish: Black

• Rear Sight: Fully Adjustable Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert

•Front Sight: Brass Bead

• Optics Mounts: 3/8″ Grooved Receiver

• Stock Material: American Walnut

• Buttplate/Pad: Plastic

• Safety: 1/4 Cock

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Quality: * * * * *
Every part of the Frontier rifle meets or exceeds the quality you’d expect from a $500 lever action rifle. The plastic end plate is incongruous and disappointing, but other parts like the gorgeously blued octagon barrel and American walnut furniture make up for the shortcoming.

Reliability: * * * * *
This iconic lever gun showed no signs of difficulties across a variety of ammunition types and brands. With tight tolerances throughout, especially within the action, the Frontier rifle should run smoothly for a lifetime or more.

Accuracy: * * * * *
The Frontier Model Long Barrel 24-inch is more than adequately accurate with a variety of compatible ammunition brands and types.

Overall: * * * * *
An American classic. Everyone should have one in their collection.

comments

  1. avatar Rob says:

    The threaded barrel version is on my must have list. When I was looking for an up grade from a single shot .22 for garden pests I gave these a long look, very nice feeling and looking rifles. Only went with something else to due to price…but I will have a Henry at some point.

  2. avatar BLoving says:

    I hesitate to use the term “lower end” to describe anything from Henry… Everything that comes from them is simply superb…
    But regarding the aluminum receiver: are we saying straight aluminum and not ZAMAK? I was under the impression their… economical… lines had ZAMAK receivers.
    🤠

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      that word appears nowhere in last year’s catalog.

  3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    quarter cock safety sounds like it’s just the tip.
    seriously, i hate the hammer block safeties on my not early enough levers. good on them for ignoring the litigious society.
    the shorter, round barreled versions are over a pound lighter, but i don’t think you can go too far wrong with any of these.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    When I was a kid .22 rifles with 24 inch barrels were kinda common. With a kids eyes and that long tube even the iron sighted ones were usually tack drivers.

    A lot of these were single shot bolt guns. Great training guns and hunting guns for new shooters.

  5. avatar Art out West says:

    I love my H001 (the base model). I’m a cheapskate, and the base model is a lot less expensive, with a msrp of $299 (mine was $249 at Bi-Mart). I also prefer an 18.5″ barrel on a .22lr to a 24″ one.

    It scratched my itch for a lever action rifle, and pairs well with my Heritage Arms single action .22 revolver to fulfill the need for “cowboy guns” on a budget.

    Lucas McCain may have had something to do with me wanting a lever action rifle.😀

  6. avatar Steve says:

    Is a 24 inch barrel too long for a .22? Would a 24 inch barrel actually have a lower muzzle velocity than a 18 inch barrel?’

    Ballistics by the inch only goes to an 18 inch barrel for .22 lr, and from what they show there isn’t a huge difference between 16, 17, and 18 inch barrels.

    So maybe someone who knows more than me can answer this, but would you actually get better velocities with a barrel shorter than 24 inches?

    1. avatar Tom of Toms says:

      No idea, but I can say that a 26″ .22LR with standard velocity loads is as quiet as a suppressed 10/22. Mega fun. And that those Colibris get stuck a few inches from the end of the barrel. Not fun.

    2. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      You may be right about the velocity, but I can tell you that the extra sight radius will set a new shooter up for success in terms of accuracy.

      1. avatar TruthTellers says:

        That’s not necessarily true. I have two .22 rifles, one an 18″ barrel, the other a 22″ barrel. You would think that the 22 inch barrel would mean it’s easier to hit with, but it’s not for me because I can barely see the front sight and because of that my groups increase by about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch and it’s not the rifle because when I have a scope on it, it shoots just as tight as the 18 inch rifle.

        Maybe this Henry and its brass front sight will be better, but it’s not a guarantee that the longer the barrel and thus sight radius means it’s an instant improvement of accurate shooting.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          Yes, it IS necessarily true given the same sights. If you have a gun where you can’t see the sight, cool story but not relevant.

    3. avatar TruthTellers says:

      IMO it’s way too long for .22 as most .22 ammunition, with the exception of hyper velocity stuff like CCI Stinger/Velocitor or Aguila Supermaximum, hit its max or close to its max velocity potential out of a 10 to 12 inch barrel.

      There’s speculation that 20+ inch barrels for .22 mean that the powder gets time to completely burn and not be deposited in the barrel, that it may be more accurate, and that the noise will be lower, but for anything other than competition and match shooting, it’s not necessary. If you’re looking for pure velocity and power, a 24 or 18 inch barrel will hit just as hard as a .22 out of a 10 inch barrel, with standard .22 ammo. With hyper velocity… it will hit a little bit harder, but is an extra foot of barrel length worth it? Imo, no.

      1. avatar Cole says:

        Your right with a .22 you may not get any extra velocity with this long a barrel but that’s not the main point on most long barreled .22s. It’s the increased sight radius that makes all of those competition .22s and this one seem more accurate. Also sometimes the increased muzzle weight is advantageous for aiding in accurate shooting.

  7. avatar ironicatbest says:

    TTAG well it is, as much as I likethe Henry rifle ,I am not impressed with it s guts, if you know what I mean, unless they’ve changed that pot metal insides that is wayyyyyy to much money, I ain’t shitting Marlin 39a blows Henry ought of the water. Why doesn’t TTGA do more for the real guns. Crap company’s wanting my money, crap, my son’s youth model trigger spring was to week and he ND when cycling the action. Henry’s or Marlin, I will take a Marlin

    1. avatar Tom of Toms says:

      Here here!

    2. avatar Corey says:

      Yeah, heres the problem with a 39A. They dont make them anymore. Henry actually is making them, and they are pretty good. If Henry would start putting loading gates on the sides of their rifles, Id own 3-4 Henry’s, and I think they would sell alot more rifles.

      I have a 39A and its a fantastic shooting little rifle, easily shooting 1/2″ groups at 50 yards. It was made in 1982, back when Marlin was a quality company. That company doesn’t exist anymore.

  8. avatar Randy Sandyson says:

    If you are interested in scoping this rifle, you can order a Henry Varmint stock directly from Henry for $75. It has a higher comb and fits directly on the Frontier.

    It’s nice walnut and looks way better than any rigged up fabric, neoprene, or plastic cheek riser. Swaps out with one screw, too.

  9. avatar Don from CT says:

    I love the henry rifles. But for me, the small game rifle with its enlarged loop and aperture sights is the way to go. I’ve always loved lever guns, but hated their sights.

    The small game addresses this.

  10. avatar PRO2AGuy says:

    I have the octagonal barrel model and it’s truly one of my favorites–First off, it’s very well-made and constructed given its relative pricing. The traditional walnut furniture had from good old American Missouri trees is absolutely Gorgeous and is indicative of the overall quality. Its reliable and accurate is simply as fun as it gets for plinking. Lever gun–Murica!

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