Regular readers know that I’ve shot a lot of lever guns, a fair few of them Henrys. The Henry Big Boy Steel in .41 Magnum was a first. I’d never seen a rifle of any kind in this Goldilocks caliber. An oddity or a chance to own something rare, practical and desirable? A little history . . .

The .41 Magnum is,another magnum pistol round developed by the patron saints of packable pistol power, Elmer Keith and Bill Jordan. Unlike the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnums that preceded it, the .41 started life as a magnum cartridge, with a true bullet diameter of .410”. The first factory loadings released included a 210gr JSP moving at 1,350 fps from a 6” revolver, and a 210gr LSWC law enforcement/duty load moving right along at 1,000 fps.

Smith & Wesson’s 1964 N-framed Model 57 was the first gun released in .41 caliber. The revolver failed to catch on; the big frame wasn’t easily handled by officers with anything less than large hands.  It surely wasn’t due to ballistic inadequacy. A starting load with a 210gr JHP is moving faster than the fastest of the 180gr 10mm loads. The 220gr LSWC hits 1,360 fps when pushed to the limit. From a revolver.

In short, .41 caliber is a truly outstanding self defense round, as well as a more than capable woods hunting round in a packable, shootable pistol. When fired from a rifle-length barrel, things really get interesting. That same 210gr Gold Dot Hollow Point round that gives me 1,250fps from my Ruger Blackhawk produces a whopping 1,700 fps from a 20-inch Henry barrel.

All of that made me wonder why I hadn’t seen a rifle in this caliber. Henry told me that they’re quite popular, with Texas distributors accounting for the majority of the demans. Considering the fairly close-in hunting we do in all but west Texas, that makes sense.

Unboxing the Henry for the first time, I found an attractive, handy rifle. Like all of the Henry Big Boy lines, the 7 lbs. Big Boy Steel in .41 Magnum handles well and points quickly. Fast to shoulder, all of these guns move easily through woods and thickets, and carries easily.

The Big Boy Steel comes with sling studs already attached. A real shooter’s sling (not a carrying strap) would be an excellent addition to the rifle.

Obviously, the Big Boy Steel doesn’t boast the shine of the Silver Series or Golden Boy editions. The Big Boy Steel steel sports a more traditional business sense. While I prefer the other finishes, the receiver’s subdued blue finish and round barrel make the rifle a classic.

The checkered American Walnut straight pull grip stock is well fit into the receiver, finished with a quality recoil pad. Though well-made and well finished, the wood is good quality, not great.

As with the other Henry rifles, there’s no safety. Henry uses a patented transfer bar safety that’s been well proven over time. No “half-cock” position is necessary and the rifle is completely safe to carry with the hammer down. It will only fire if the hammer is fully cocked and the trigger pressed.

Like all the other Henry’s I’ve reviewed save the Long Ranger, the Big Boy Steel has a tube-fed magazine instead of a loading gate. This makes unloading safer; you don’t have to cycle every round. It’s also just as fast — if not faster — to load the full magazine with pistol rounds. And you can load an emergency round through the open action if need be.

As with most of the other Henry rifle’s I’ve reviewed, the Big Boy Steel’s trigger breaks cleanly at just over  four lbs. after a bit of take-up before engaging. As usual, the lever’s action is absolutely outstanding. After a quick lube, there were no significant catches or stops either opening or closing the action.

Recoil with the pistol caliber round is very light. Full magazines of commercial hunting loads were no issue at all, even for my 12-year-old son. This would be an outstanding rifle and caliber combination for a new or young hunter; even prolonged practice sessions are unlikely to produce flinching or poor habits. At the same time, the rifle is still capable of putting down deer, pigs, or black bear at reasonable distances.

The Big Boy Steel’s reliability was flawless. I ran a full 250 rounds through the rifle over two full days. The first 100 rounds were my own handloads: Speer 200gr SWC loaded with 21 grains of H110. The next 100 rounds through the gun were a mix of store bought rounds. I finished with 50 rounds of Winchester Platinum Tip 240gr. HP’s for accuracy testing. Throughout this entire cycle, I had no loading, feeding or firing issues.

The Big Boy Steel features the rear sight I’ve come to appreciate on Henrys: a fully-adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight with a diamond insert. Some models are wider than others, and this one has the fairly wide aperture. That lets you see a goodly amount of the target on either side of the bright brass bead front sight.

Without the diamond insert, this setup would be too broad for accurate firing at 100 yards or greater. However, Henry’s bright white insert allows for finer detail in slow fire or in dim light. Ignoring it still gets your front sight on target for quick shots on running game, as I often require for pig hunting.

Using that iron sight set-up I scored an average of 4.5” five rounds groups off of game. Since the Henry Big Boy Steel comes ready to mount a scope, I mounted a Weaver K6. Using the scope, the rifle scored a 2.5” ten round group at 100 yards off bags. Appreciating the accuracy, but abhorring the abomination that is glass on a traditional lever gun, I removed the scope, taking no pictures and hiding my shame.

Although I was surprised by the caliber, I wasn’t surprised by the quality or the performance of the rifle. Henry has turned out another classic with the Big Boy Steel, this one in an outstanding caliber.

Specifications – Henry Big Boy Steel:

Caliber: .41 Magnum
Capacity: 10 rounds
Length: 37.5 inches
Barrel length: 20 inches
Weight: 7 lbs.
MSRP: $850

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
I’d partial to the brass receiver and octagon barrels of the Golden Boy and Silver series. This steel version is actually a little lighter and has the working gun look many people prefer. The fit and finish is very good, and the wood to metal fit is perfect. Nothing gleams or shines, but it’s not meant to.

Reliability * * * * *
Zero issues whatsoever, in any round, in any way.

Accuracy * * * *
Good with iron sights and better with glass. At 100 yards, a competent shooter will be able to put it in the breadbasket of game without a challenge. On the downside, if you miss, you can’t blame the rifle.

Overall * * * *
A great gun in an easy shooting magnum caliber; 10 rounds of .41 Magnum moving at 1,700fps is nothing to sneeze at. Easy to move around, infinitely reliable and powerful enough to take thin skinned game at 100 yards.  A star off for the good, but not great accuracy, and good but, not great wood.

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42 Responses to Gun Review: Henry Big Boy Steel in .41 Magnum

  1. This may be a completely ignorant question, but is .41 Magnum similar to .41 AE? Are they similar enough to be fired in the same gun, similar to how .44 Special can be fired in a gun rated for .44 Magnum?

    • No. .41 AE is a semi-auto, rimless case.

      .41 AE and .41 mag are like .45 Long Colt and .45 ACP.

      They share a nominal projectile diameter, but are otherwise non-compatible.

    • 10 rounds in 2 1/2′ at 100 yards is very accurate for a pistol round, IMO. It’s a hunting rifle, for goodness sakes.

    • I would say so. It seems like pistols rounds just aren’t as accurate as rifle rounds. My guess is it has to do partly with the straight case being not as efficient and also the bullets not being as accurate.

      For a pistol round the 2.5″ at 100 yards is very good. The best bullseye smiths shoot for 1.5″ at 50 yards out of their 1911’s so for an $800 rifle firing handgun rounds what this Henry did is very good.

    • 2.5″ at a hundred yards with a pistol cartridge counts as having “accuracy issues”? That’s about as good as it gets in a PCC. This is a brush gun, not a beanfield rifle or precision varmint vaporizer.

    • Yes, the .41 Mag is known as a very accurate round, which is why I bought one back in the ’80s. My .357 Mag required certain loads to be accurate, made me happy because they tended to be max loads with jacketed bullets. But the .41 is generally very accurate with just any loading.

    • 10 rounds into 2.5″ at 100 yards is pretty accurate for a lever gun. When using pistol rounds and a tubular magazine, the basic of the round(s) in front presses against the bullet tip(s) of the rounds in back. The more rounds that are loaded, the more force occurs and the bullet tips and the greater potential for bullet tip deformation.

      A good lever bullet like Hornady LeverEvolution mitigates this bullet tip mashing by being built to deform and move back into its original shape. Somewhat, anyways. I’ve shot 1.5″ 3 shot groups at 100 yards with my Marlin .45-70 XLR 24″ stainless with LeverEvolution. Shooting 5 rounds seemed like a waste of ammo when I had other targets to hit. That load drops whitetails with resounding authority.

      Box magazines and rifle calibers will be much more accurate. However, lever guns typically are pushing big, fat bullets with terrible ballistic coefficients and shine at short / medium range. The 405 grain .45-70 may have been one of the original long range loads but much better choices are available today. There’s no need for a .357, .41, .44, .30-30, or .45-70 to be a 1/2 MOA gun.

      Henry’s are built well, and are pretty accurate lever guns. I’ve shot a few and always enjoyed myself. The guy with handloads and the 14 pound 6.5 will be more accurate, but won’t have a handy cowboy classic woods gun.

  2. Henry makes some really nice guns. They are doing one in .327 Fed, in a 16″ or 20″ barrel, and that will add a few hundred fps to the round.

    Marlin made their 1894 lever gun in .41Mag, briefly – hard to find and very expensive when you do. I am very glad to see an American manufacturer expand their line like Henry is doing. Funny how the record gun sales are happening even though “fewer american households own guns” (according to the Democrat Propaganda Ministry, aka MSM).

    • Same here. I’m curious if it will be capable of reliably firing .32 h&r mag, .32 long and .32 smith. It would pair nicely with a ruger single 7.

      • Nice to see Henry making a whole bunch of rifles that would pair nicely with a whole bunch of Ruger revolvers. Henry & Ruger, two quality American Made guns that can’t be beat.

  3. I’d love to see you rate and compare the Henrys against each other. Right now it’s basically, “JWT reviewed another Henry? I want that one too!” I’d love to hear which ones you like best and why. Right now the .308 and a .22LR are my two front runners for a new lever action when I finally get to that part of my wishlist.

    • Ditto. I’ve been thinking about getting an engraved Henry Big Boy chambered in .44 Magnum alongside a Smith & Wesson Model 29 in the same chambering. But I’m not above getting a rifle/revolver pairing chambered in .41 Magnum, either. So I’d love to see a side-by-side review of Henrys.

      I’d also love to see an article on rifle/revolver pairs in the same chambering. It used to be commonplace in the 19th century, and especially on the frontier; no, not so much.

      • Oooh, yeah. Reviews of lever and revolver pairings that share a cartridge. That’s something I didn’t know I wanted to see until you mentioned it.

  4. Buford Pusser, the legendary Tennessee lawman of “Walking Tall” fame, carried a .41. Intrigued by this, and all Henry rifles. I will own one, just trying to figure out which. if it’s mine, it will be hunted with, not a safe queen.

  5. Love the 41 mag. Has never failed to amaze me. Got one in a Blackhawk. Wouldn’t mind having one in a Henry either. The 41 really isn’t as well known as the 357 or the 44,but still just as powerful.

    • To suggest that the .41 Magnum is “just as powerful” as the .44 Magnum is demonstrably and mathematically incorrect.

      • Many 41 loads are the same weight and are traveling the same speed as many 44 loads. And the diameter difference is not that great .429 vs. .41. So muzzle energy is very comparable.

        • Back in the day (haven’t looked in years), .41 factory loads were close to max loads and .41 was not, the .41 was more powerful unless you handloaded. But I betcha the .41 is regularly more accurate.

    • There’s an episode of the Netflix series Longmire where Cady is behind a door that is being beaten down, and she grabs the Henry rifle that was a gift to her. In her panic, she says “where’s the loading gate?”

      You’ll have to watch it to see what happens.

  6. You’ve posted enough of these Henry rifles with sterling reviews that you either have a serious hardon for Henry or they make a great rifle. I suspect the latter.

    I love me some lever gunning so Henry goes to the top of my “get these rifles” list. Now I’ll just have to pick a caliber and test it side by side with my Marlins.

    • You’ll see all the writers have their nitches. I’m just more used to the leverguns than most. I’d review more company’s repeaters if they would make anything new.

  7. The carbine version with the big loop and 16.5″ barrel is on my short list. Preferably in .357 but possibly .44 magnum. .41 is a great caliber if you have neither .357 nor .44, but if you already have both it seems a little redundant, which is why I don’t think it’s ever caught on like the other two. The better part of it’s market already has both of the others.

  8. I owe you a Thanks, JWT. I have to say at first i had a huge aversion to the feed tube, being an 1892 fan boy and all,,, but your Henry 45-70 post got me thinking about the whole feed tube thing differently… and sure as sh*t, my next lever ended up being a Henry 45-70 all weather! Love the thing. It’s a beast. Very well made. And for hunting, which is what it’s for, the feed tube works great. If i cant do what i have to in 4 to 5 rounds of 45-70, then what the hell am i doing anyway? (and i could always just quickly drop one more in the side in a pinch anyway). I’m taking it out to Tioga with me this year and planning to anchor a big boar in it’s tracks. Anyway, thanks for helping me get past the whole feed tube hang up. I still love my 92’s, but if i’m taking a lever out to bag something, the Henry is coming with me.

  9. The 44 May be mathematically more powerful than the 41, but I would still rather have it than the 44. Just my preference. There may not be as many bullet choices but I still like it anyway.

  10. Just ordered one of the rifles and one of the carbines…in 327 Federal.

    His and hers. Rifle for me (I also have the Ruger SP101) and carbine for her (the 327 LCR is her EDC).

  11. “The Henry Big Boy Steel in .41 Magnum was a first. I’d never seen a rifle of any kind in this Goldilocks caliber.”

    So, you never saw the Marlin?

  12. Love my .41’s – the Henry and S&W Wheel guns. Love your comment – on the Accuracy rating – “On the downside, if you miss, you can’t blame the rifle” Oh so very true.

  13. 41 mag is an orphan caliber. Expensive ammo, few guns, rare ammo……almost no LGS carry it. Youngsters are fun………..but stupid.

  14. I purchased a big boy steel in 41 mag in October of last year. There is no question about the accuracy of this rifle! I scoped it because my eyes aren’t worth a hoot. With my hand-loads at 100yds I shot a 11/16 ” 5 shot group off the bench. hornady 210 gr. xtp 18grs. 2400 powder

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