25 Years (and a Lot of Reviews) of Henry Repeating Arms

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Henry rifle hog hunt hunting JWT
Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Henry Repeating Arms turns 25 years old this year.  Oh, how time flies.

I first met Anthony Imperato for coffee in a hotel lobby off the banks of Lake Austin. I was recruiting companies to move to Texas, and by choice and by law, firearms companies were high on my hunting list.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

That was more than a decade ago, but I already knew who Henry Repeating Arms was. In fact, I was a big fan, and had a couple of their rifles.

Beyond just being a nerd who really loves lever guns, I was an economist. As such, I knew the value of Henry Repeating Arms went well beyond the initial production of rifles. Mr. Imperato was then, and remains, a deeply patriotic leader, focused on the welfare of his company and his country, and understands well how the two are linked.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Then, as now, Henry’s slogan of “Made in America, or Not Made at All” was more than just marketing hype. Doing my research, I found that Henry didn’t just assemble guns in the US. The company went through great lengths to make sure that everything they could get came from the US.

I don’t just mean raw parts. I mean all the way down to the cardboard their rifles are shipped in. It would be a huge win for Texas if I could get them to move here.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

I tried hard, extolling the state’s virtues of fancy boots and fine women. Alas, Mr. Imperato remained unmoved, and chose to increase the size of his Rice Lake, Wisconsin location instead of relocating to the Lone Star State.

Texas may have missed out, but America didn’t. Mr. Imperato started out by taking a loan against his house back in in 1993. He rolled the dice, rolled up his sleeves, and came up a winner.

Henry is now one of the larger firearms manufacturers in the US, with over 550 employees and three facilities in Wisconsin and New York. Five years ago, in 2017, they passed the mark of producing over 1,000,000 lever action .22LRs, and over 2,000,0000 lever guns.

Oddly enough, I’ve never reviewed one of their lever action rimfires, even though I’ve owed quite a few. (Quick review: they’re great.) I have, however, reviewed many of their center rifle rifles and shotguns, as well as the AR-7 Survival Rifle.

In fact, of the hundreds of guns I’ve reviewed here at The Truth About Guns, Henry Repeating Arms has more 4.5 and 5 star reviews than any other firearms brand. Most of the time reviewing guns is work, but I always look forward to shooting a Henry.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

I’ve done just about everything you can do with a Henry rifle. I’ve taught my kids to shoot with a Golden Boy. A .44 caliber Big Boy has been the “things have gone awry” gun for my home and truck and remains one of the most useful and versatile rifles a person could own.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

I’ve used a New Original Henry for the last two years for Cowboy Action Shooting, and I’ve hunted deer, pigs, bear, and antelope with various models in .30-30 Win, .45-70 Gov, and .308 Winchester.

This last duck season I cleaned up on Teal with a Henry Single Shot 12 gauge shotgun, and I look forward to doing so again with Rios in a couple of weeks.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Congratulations to Henry for keeping the name alive, and for producing a great American product. I don’t know what my next Henry will be, but I have no doubt there will be another one, and soon.

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79 COMMENTS

  1. Henry Repeating Arms make fine firearms. I personally own three . Now I’ll bet Riderless/ShootOff Canuck claims I said it was 5.

    • Only have two, all-weather .45-70 and a .45 Colt carbine, but love them both – the .45-70 is a thumper but fun and the carbine is light shooting and been great at some silhouette matches I’ve been to. Each a high quality and reliable firearm that hands-down beats any of the pre-Ruger Marlin garbage that was produced (based on my personal experience and loss of $$ when Remlin went belly up). Thinking of adding a long ranger model, .22, and single shot shotgun to my list at some point in the future.

  2. I really wanted a Henry 347 case hardened carbine but they weren’t making the side losing ones at the time. Went with a Winchester and while it’s a beautiful gun and I don’t retreat my decision at all, I would trade it it for a case hardened side loading Henry in a second. They are such beautifully made and smooth guns.

      • My Rossi was ~$300 (roughly $500 in today’s money). I considered it good out of the box. Even if I didn’t, I could have bought three AND had them slicked up by a professional smith for that.

    • Got tired of waiting for Henry to make what I wanted so I chopped a new 20″ side-gate walnut-stock case hardened 357 down to 16″ and threaded it. Definitely was a little pricey since I paid near full MSRP to start with but after waiting 18 months to get the model I wasn’t about to quibble. Jumped in the car the same afternoon that it appeared on Hyatt guns (Charlotte) and drove 3 hours to buy it.

      Was happy to find the 20″ because it made it easier to chop down to 16″ rather than start with the native 16″ carbine and work around the existing barrel cut that attaches the mag tube. With the 20″ you had total freedom for the new mag tube attachment point and the 20″ is the same price as the 16″.

      https://www.akfiles.com/forums/threads/official-lever-action-thread.428160/page-11#post-6571224

      Apologies to folks who can’t see post…. but what are you doing without an AKfiles account?

  3. Henry rifles are well made, it’s one of the few firearms that do not require an out of the box overhaul. We do not own a Henry because the one we purchase will fall into the display category and we already have firearms to feed and another on the way.

  4. JWT:
    Right now (sadly), Henry rifles seem to be made of unobtainium. I want a Big Boy Steel carbine in .44 Magnum with side gate so bad I can taste it but can’t find one. So… I spent the money on something else and will try again later.

  5. The pic at the top of the page made me wonder –

    Anyone seen ‘Tom in Oregon’ recently?

    Hope he’s O.K…

  6. A New Original is definitely on my “if-I-ever-hit-the-lottery” list. My Golden Boy is definitely my favorite gun to shoot in the meantime.

  7. my friend works at the rice lake facility.
    he gets two items per year for something like 40% off, i’m not sure if that’s msrp or what. but my new .22lr mare’s leg was very reasonable. what a neat little useless thing.
    if he offers again i will have a tough time deciding.

  8. Regrettably I do not own a Henry. A friend owns three. Two rimfires and a centerfire. He believes they are great carbines. I like leaver guns. A lot. A Henry just went on the very short list. Just have to decide model/caliber now.

  9. After taking apart a youth model Henry Lever Action .22 to repair a weak trigger spring I wasn’t impressed with the pot metal innards.
    Quite disappointing really, for the money I should have bought a used Marlin 39a.
    BTW the weak trigger spring would not reset the trigger and upon closing the action the rifle would fire.

    • Damn Possum, after that comment I’m glad I have that 39A leaning in the corner I bought a couple of weeks ago. I think I sent you a picture. Still wouldn’t mind having a Henry, though.

    • ^^^
      This x 1000.
      I was incredibly unhappy to see that Ruger kept the crossbolt safety on the first Marlin they released. Thank gawd my Model 39 is old enough to not possess such nonsense.

  10. The “space gun” is here. Welcome the lever gun into the 21st century. I’m not a strict traditionalist when it comes to guns. If it works use it. If it improves it, use it. And always train with it.

    “This Ain’t Your Grandaddy’s LeverGun: Marlin 336” video 13 min long

    • Yeah Henry just did a whole thing with “tactical lever guns.” I have to admit to their utility, but I still kinda hate them.

    • I like traditional guns, but I’d also love to see a lever or pump rifle along TS12 lines.

      [Some] bullpups have issues that limit their appeal to military forces, but none of those issues apply in any way to hunting, target, or plinking rifles.

  11. I love my Henry lever gun in 22 long rifle. It was the only gun I could shoot for nearly two years during the last ammo shortage, back in 2012. Those Aguila Colibri Low velocity (420 fps) ammunition works just fine.

  12. The AR-7 is the only semi auto gun that Henry makes. And I have that one too. It makes a great truck gun.

  13. The 1985 version of Silverado has several mentions of a Henry rifle.
    Since Henry Repeating Arms in only 25 years old, have they been sending their rifles back in time?

    Or….

    Was there another Henry rifle company?

    • Life. The 1860 Henry repeater was actually the first rifle produced by Oliver Winchester. It was an already existing, but commercially unsuccessful gun. Winchester had a factory. I think they made shirts. and he put his plant supervisor to work on the design to make it viable. Guys name was Henry. Winchester put his own name on the ‘improved Henry’ the model 1866.

      Most guns were single shots and the Henry held 16 pistol caliber cartridges. The .44 Henry rimfire. The new Henry company has no connection.

        • I sometimes sell to a local jewelry store owner. He invited me into his gigantic underground vault. Maybe a DOZEN ancient Henry & Winchester lever guns were there! As well as a ton of WW I & WWII guns. Way too much Nazi chit. I am not easily impressed as I’ve been around forever but dam! Wish I had something he wanted…

    • https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/gun-review-new-original-henry-rifle-in-45-colt/

      “Obviously, the modern Henry Repeating Arms company didn’t make the original 1860 Henry. If you want a direct lineage back to those original guns, don’t look for a company named Henry. Anthony Imperato, prince of a man that he is, secured the rights to the Henry name in the late 90s, and didn’t produce firearms under that name until more than 130 years after Oliver Winchester stopped making the original 1860 model.”

      A little history in that review.

  14. I have 3 henry rifles and they have all been great. One 22lr and two side gate 44 magnums an X- model which I hunt with and use for home defense and a wood stocked rifle. They all seem well-built with tight tolerances, they shoot well and the price is right also!

  15. There was a time when my store had a couple of Henrys and a Remlin Marlin side by side in the gun rack. The Henry was made like a fine watch. The fit and finish was superb and the action was glassy smooth. I sold a lot of them.

    The Marlin exhibited the fit and finish one expects from a Kyber Pass rifle. I couldn’t tell whether the forestock was misaligned or the barrel was bent. The wood was flush on one side with a measurable gap on the other. Nobody bought that gun after I showed it to them.

  16. Wish they’d make a 12 or 20 ga lever model, while I like the idea of the .410 I’d rather have a larger round.

      • I would guess about 1.9 million of those 2 million Henry has made.

        Edit: Didn’t scroll down before my reply.

        • Matt, you did not answer my question. Care to try again? Let me be more specific if you did not understand the question.
          WHAT MODEL Henry does not have a side gate loading port?

        • Lever action magnum express
          Classic lever action 22
          Classic lever action 22 carbine
          Classic lever action 22 magnum
          Lever action octagon frontier
          Varmint express 17hmr
          Small game rifle
          Small game carbine
          Frontier model long barrel
          Frontier model threaded barrel
          All the golden boy models
          All the new henry original models
          Etc etc…..
          Granted, you can load rounds from the ejection port directly into the chamber, but that is not a loading gate.

  17. The vast majority of them do not have a side loading gate. They only started making models with the side loading gate a few years ago.
    How many did you say you own?

  18. My biggest issue with Henry was their refusal to have a side gate. Now they do, but I already have a Marlin 1895 XLR. I would love to see a Ruger / Marlin or Henry in .460 Smith or .500 Smith for a somewhat reasonable price.

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