If you are the type who doesn’t take every gun purchase seriously, then the Henry Axe .410 might just be for you. This isn’t a terribly practical or necessarily useful gun for most people, but man is it fun.
The Henry Lever Action Axe .410 isn’t really a shotgun. It’s a firearm — technically a non-NFA firearm — much like the Mossberg Shockwave or Remington TAC-14. Like most Henry guns, it’s a lever-action model, this one with a side loading gate.
The barrel is 15.14 inches long and the axe has an overall length of 26.4 inches. The gun weighs a hefty 5.75 pounds making it heavier than the 12 gauge Mossberg Shockwave. The gun gets its name, of course, from its axe handle-style pistol grip.
While the Henry Axe isn’t a gun that’s necessary useful for a wide range of applications, it could be a heckuva snake gun and would dispatch small pests with ease. It would probably go well in a backpack or scabbard.
There is also its capability as a small game hunter. It would make squirrel and rabbit hunting a bit more challenging since the gun lacks a proper stock. The .410 load is OK as a defensive weapon, but at that point, a PCC is likely a better choice.
The Henry Axe is topped with a polished brass bead front sight and no rear sight. It can be loaded via the side gate, or you can remove the cap of the magazine tube and drop rounds in like most Henry models.
The Lever Action Axe holds five rounds of 2.5-inch .410 ammo in its tube magazine. Three-inch is a no go with this gun. The Axe even comes with a threaded bore and uses Invector-style chokes. It’s topped off with sling swivels on the grip and the forend.
…And My Axe
The Henry Lever Action Axe is a cool gun, and Henry is nearly legendary for making some very fine, very fun firearms. The Axe is the traditional mix of American walnut and blued steel. The combo gives it that classic lever gun look that’s unmistakable.
One of the few knocks I have on the gun is that I would love to see some checkering on the grip. It’s not needed for a practical reason, I just think it would look nice and add to the gun.
The Henry Axe is a very refined gun. Each and every part of it operates smoothly and clicks carefully as you work the gun. This includes the lever, the hammer, and the loading gate.
Game Time With the Henry Axe
If you’ve never fired a .410, it’s a cartridge best described as mild. Even in this fairly small gun, I had no worries about recoil or discomfort. Especially with the gun’s 5.75-pound weight.
That means the Axe eats up recoil like a champ. Buckshot and slugs are still mild shooting from this gun, and I haven’t found a 2.5-inch load I couldn’t fire one-handed. Although I wouldn’t recommend trying to flip cock it unless you are T-800.
I’m a big guy who actually enjoys harsh-recoiling weapons. My girlfriend, who weighs all of 114 pounds, doesn’t feel the same. Yet she handles the Axe like a champ and enjoys shooting it. We blasted away at self-healing targets, clay pigeons (on a berm), and some soda cans.
Recoil is mild and the gun doesn’t buck, jump, shuck or jive when shooting it. Working the action is a lot of fun and feels oh so satisfying. The only issue with the action is, without the (stockless) gun being braced into your shoulder, it can be a bit awkward to work at eye level. If you lower it a bit, working the action is a little more intuitive.
Shooting from the hip like I’m Chuck Connors is a blast. You can fire away quite quickly and have a ton of fun. That’s assuming it’s safe to do so with a high enough berm, and you aim low. I did it with birdshot to see how fast I could go, and I never short stroked the gun. I’m guessing the short 2.5 inch shells help in this regard.
The lone front sight bead is more than enough for the Henry Axe, and it’s an easy-pointing gun. The grip angle of the “axe handle” stock is quite comfortable and ergonomic. It’s an interesting design that keeps the same downward curve that the Raptor grip use, which helps support the weapon and dissipate recoil.
The trigger is also impressive as shotguns go. It’s much closer to a rifle trigger than the oft-forgotten about shotgun trigger. It’s short and crisp like any Henry rifle trigger out there. It’s better than it needs to be on a gun like this.
Reliability has been a non-issue. Manually-operated weapons tend to be quite reliable as long as their mechanics are sound and Henry Repeating Arms does an excellent job of building in sound mechanics, just as with their lever-action rifles. They’re masters of the lever gun.
Specifications: Henry Lever Action Axe .410
Caliber: .410, 2.5 inch chamber
Barrel Length: 15.14 inches
Overall Length: 26.4 inches
Weight: 5.75 pounds
Capacity: 5 2.5-inch rounds
Sights: Front brass bead
MSRP: $970 (about $775 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * *
It’s quite easy to aim and shoot. Loads hit right where you aim them, even with the lone front sight. Slugs were less forgiving and a little trickier with just the bead and no stock. Your effective slug range is limited with this gun to about 25 yards.
Reliability * * * * *
Cycle the action and pull the trigger and the gun goes bang. The Henry Lever Action Axe is a reliable gun and built to last. I would go as far as to say it’s overbuilt and will likely be a gun you’ll pass down.
Ergonomics * * * *
I knocked off one star for the awkward feeling of trying to work the lever while the gun is at eye level. Other than that the ergonomics are spot-on for such a unique firearm. The gun is comfortable to hold, handles well, and its simple nature makes things streamlined.
You can add a sling and change out the chokes. You can mount an optic, too, but why? A gun like this doesn’t need much customization.
Bang for Your Buck * * *
This is a tough one. Without a doubt, this gun is built extremely well and built to last. Henry didn’t sacrifice any quality control to make the Axe. However, with a street price of around $700, I can see a lot of people finding it hard to justify what they’ll consider essentially a fun plinking gun for that much money.
Overall * * * * 1/2
This is the most fun I’ve had with a gun in a very long time. The Henry Lever Action Axe .410 is a unique firearm and a joy to shoot. Every friend and family member who’s gotten their hands on it has agreed. It’s a well built, high quality firearm that happens to be a ton of fun.