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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Caliber: .44 Magnum/.44 Special
Capacity: 10 .44 Magnum/.44 Special
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
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.