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Henry Golden Boy

There’s just something about a lever-action rifle. They’re ingrained in our history. They’re in every good western and even a few sci-fi flicks. The characters that preferred them are almost as well-known as the lever action itself. The rifle played a part in settling America’s frontier. In short, the lever-action is among a few gun designs that are practically built into America’s DNA. And yet, I had shot one but once . . .

Luckily for me, Henry Repeating Arms came to the rescue, sending me not one, not two, but three of their infamous lever action .22s; the H001, H001T Frontier with the octagonal barrel, and the Golden Boy.

While I’m still settling in with these rifles, there’s one thing I can say already — I really enjoy aspects of each one and would love to combine them into one perfect (in my opinion) Henry lever action. What would it take? I’d graft the hooded front sight of the H001 onto the heavier (and snazzier looking) octagonal barrel of the Frontier, and form it all into the overall shape of the Golden Boy.

Why? The hooded front sight is the best choice of the two (compared to buckhorn sights) to aim swiftly and more accurately while still looking at the target. The octagonal barrel was the precursor to modern bull barrels, and the extra weight adds to the balance and steadiness of the rifle and reduces recoil. It also keeps the barrel cooler when shooting multiple rounds swiftly. And we all know that’s half the fun of a lever-action.


The Golden Boy’s shape (stock angled lower than the H001 in relation to the barrel) is my preference with one important reason: I’m not in love the small stocks on these rifles. For me, it’s hard to get a comfortable head position and still see through and align the sites properly. Most times my head was floating, or just barely touching the comb.


With any of these rifles, I’d build up the comb to meet my cheek and fit my ideal head position and the Golden Boy’s design has the most promise for this. Unlike the other stocks, if I built up the Golden Boy’s comb, my head would be upright and very comfortable. That would allow for swifter sight acquisition, better eye alignment and improved balance in the shooting position.

Now to put a few hundred more rounds through these rifles. Not so much to test them, but to enjoy the beauty of these great lever-action guns.

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  1. That’s my only complaint about it. The drop.
    Otherwise, I really, really like my golden boy in .22 mag.
    I’m glad it’s extremely accurate too, I was not looking forward to getting rid of it.

    Looking forward to seeing you do some trick shooting with it Ms. Weiss.

  2. Annie Oakley didn’t need to customize her gear to shoot like a champ…>.>

    Jokes aside, I’d like to see what you are capable of with a bone stock rifle in something bigger than a .22.

    • Lol! But pictures show her head comfortably on the stock, not floating. Could be the comb was right for her 😉 and bigger than a .22 will come

      • Kirsten, you look (to me, gauged against other items in photos) to be, what, 5’6″ or thereabouts?

        Annie Oakley was, what, 4’11”?

        • Good eye! I’m a little over 5′ 7″. I was thinking this might make a significant difference too but wasn’t sure. She was really that small?? Recommend any good books on her?

        • I’ve got an old video of people like the Topperweins, Herb Parsons, Ed Mcgivern and Little Sureshot.
          Yup, she’s on a moving picture. Some dude is kneeling in front of her tossing up targets. Likely glass or clay balls.
          She was really petit.

        • One of the problems in researching Annie Oakley (and many other shootists of the 19th century) is that so many accounts published in books and especially periodicals of the day are pure fabrication.

          One of the reasons I admire Oakley has little to do with her shooting abilities. She took on the pernicious liars and frauds in the newspaper industry in no less than 55 libel lawsuits. She won 54 of them. Any time someone wins a lawsuit against a newspaperman, I smile. The only thing that would make me smile more is if the courts handed down a judgement requiring the newspaperman or “journalist” to be horsewhipped instead of monetary damage awards.

          To that end, to get serious and credible facts about Oakley takes more than reading on biography. I’ve had to read several to put together a more credible picture.

          The pity of it is that her real accomplishments were so impressive, there was never any need to embellish. But many of the newsmen and writers of the day all sought to one-up each other by publishing more and more outlandish accounts with only a passing relation to the truth, and that’s why so many biographies appear to suffer.

  3. I learned this trick with the hooded front sight on a Mosin Nagant. I’ve never tried it with a Henry(never had a chance to shoot one). Up to 50 yards don’t even use the rear sights. Center the circle of the front hood on the target and fire. You won’t get precision, but you’ll get hits on the target.

    Russian NCO’s told their men,”At 50 yards put the circle on Fritz and fire.”

  4. famous: known about by many people.
    infamous: well known for some bad quality or deed.

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  5. I think of these rifles as more of a carbine than a rifle – probably because of their smaller stature in size; the stocks seem extra small to me too particularly with the heavy octagonal barrel; I’m shooting the .357 and .44 mag Big Boy. The package does seem to work well enough, though. I tend to conform to the firearm and adjust for whatever its limitations and capabilities are.

    Very handsome rifles. If Kirsten were to step up to a heavier caliber, I’d suggest the .357 Big Boy. It’s very tame and won’t beat up your shoulder like the .44 does.

  6. “Now what does that make us?”

    “Big damn heroes, sir!”

    “Ain’t we just?”

    Couldn’t resist a Firefly reference.

    • Go Browncoats!

      I am willing to bet if they did a thing to make another film they would make their goal.

  7. I guess with the accuracy sought by Kirsten it might be important, but most of me wonders what the heck she’s talking about with recoil on a .22 rifle.

    • This is slightly confusing to me as well since it seems as though working the lever would cause more movement of the rifle than the recoil from a .22 LR round.

      • Understandable. It’s not the movement of the gun I’m concerned about. Every off hand hold has natural movement anyway. It’s the pattern, “feel”, and consistency of the recoil I’m looking for. Lighter barrels tend to have a lot of jump. Think of it like a pony compared to a Clydesdale. Heavier barrels have smoother recoil and better consistency in off hand positions in general.

      • As Kristen indicates, it is a “feel” thing. When you start getting better as a shot, you start to “call your shots.” You know by feel when you were dead-on. You don’t even have to look at your result, you know from how it all came together when the trigger broke. You mentally go “Ohhh yeesss… that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” and sure enough, you’ve nailed what you were aiming at – perfectly.

        Then you seek to repeat that feel – from how it felt leading up to the break to the follow through.

        When I miss with any of my target .22’s, I don’t have to look to know I’ve missed. I know from the feel that I sucked the chrome off a bumper hitch. About half of the time, I can feel when I nailed the center of the target. The other half still surprises me and causes me to wonder “WTF?”

        Heavier rifles and pistols, IMO, give a more consistent “feel.” IMO, the “feel” coming off an Annie rifle is so much better than lighter .22’s like a Ruger 10/22. You can take this too far: The “feel” coming off my Win52B, by comparison, is heavy and ponderous – like mounting a flak cannon to my shoulder. It is accurate, it just feels ponderous.

  8. I have trouble with the Golden Boy’s stock. The guns themselves are quite lovely – a little too flashy for my tastes – but still very nice. But I also find myself looking at the back of the hammer if I shoulder one and get a good cheek weld. I’d rather deal with the shorter stocks of the other models than with the exaggerated drop of the Golden Boy’s stock.

    My favorite lever action .22 was the old 94/22 Legacy I foolishly sold in my youth. Maybe some day I’ll track another down or find an old Marlin 39A.

    • Exactly. I have the same issue (that’s what I was referring to) But if the comb was just higher, the head is actually more upright than the other designs which is really great. If you’re just kind of plinking around cheek weld doesn’t matter. But then, why not go for the most?

  9. I was thrilled to get a surprise Big Boy .44 for Christmas. I took it to the range at my gun club Christmas day. At 50 yards, my first three shots did not cut the paper! I brought the target back in to about 25 yards, and it was shooting ten inches high and twelve to the left! I e-mailed Henry, who said to adjust the sights. I went back to the club today with tools. With the buckhorn all the way down and the blade in the buckhorn all the way down and tapped with a hammer, I moved the whole sight to the right until there was about an 8th of an inch of barrel showing in the dovetail. Using a six o’clock pull, I can finally get all the shots in the black at 100 yards, from a Lead Sled. Needless to say, I am very disappointed in my new rifle. Anybody got any idea why the sight is so far out of alignment with the barrel? Should I return it to Henry?

    • That sounds like a major error.I would definitely call Henry again and tell them about your problem. Sounds like it needs to be sent back.

    • Yeah that’s strange. Dyspeptic Gunsmith? You seeing this? Care to chime in? I just shot a Henry .44 golden boy and didn’t encounter that. Let them know and I’m sure they’ll work through the issue with you.

    • Anthony Imperato owns Henry repeating Arms, and he’s been known to personally contact a Henry owner who voices a problem. Outstanding customer service is a hallmark of Henry. Contact them and explain the issue the way you have here and they’ll make it right.

      (I don’t work for HRC, I just own two and frequent the Henry section on RFC.)

    • That’s so far off that, yes, I would return it to Henry. Leave the sights as you adjusted them to get it onto the paper, and write up the results of what you were seeing before you got on the paper. There’s something way out of whack there, and without seeing the gun, all I could offer are hypotheticals, which are useless from this remove.

    • I’ve shot a friend’s 44 mag Henry. We were absolutely destroying clay targets at 50-100 yds. Something must be wrong with that rifle. On the upside, HRC’s service is impeccable. I purchase a used 22LR a few years back that was made in Brooklyn NY. Had an issue feeding Winchester Bulk ammo. HRC had new parts to me in a day. Also received a 2nd set of parts with a “just in case the 1st one didn’t make it” note. That kind of service is tough to beat.

  10. I love me some lever action rifle. Me and my “80’s” Marlin 336 have taken more than a few white tail. Of all my guns she is the one I will never give up. Cowboy dreams fill my head when I take her out on the family ranch to do some shooting, just like they did 30 years ago.

    Indeed lever action guns are part of America’s culture.

    A few years ago I put some Skinner Alaskan peep sights on the gun, making her look even better.

  11. I’ve got a Henry in .22 magnum (sadly not the octagonal bbl) and an older (pre-Freedom Group) Marlin 1894CSS in .357. The older I get, the more I really appreciate the feel, usability, and general reliability of old school. In fact, were I limited to only one firearm, it would be the Marlin 1894. Give me another one and it would be my six-inch S&W Model 19. I would consider myself well armed with that pair.

    An earlier comment said that they are more carbines than rifles, and I agree. I’m a tall guy (6 2) but don’t have an issue with the stock length. Just something about a shorter rifle that I truly love. Am looking at getting an aperture sight for the Marlin as I love them – have them on a variety of other rifles.

    I do feel a bit sorry for Henry, though, as Ms. Weiss is going to push them on accuracy, though I’ve got no complaints with mine, but my expectations are somewhat different as they are based upon my abilities and older eyes.

  12. I like lever-guns in general, but once I found one that really fit well, I quit shooting just about all others in my collection, which include a bunch of Winnie 94’s. They all sit in the safes, doing pretty much nothing.

    The one that fits really well? A Browning BLR in .308. More than any other rifle I own, that BLR snaps up to my shoulder without effort, without needing thinking or squirming around. I barely even need to use the sights, it mounts so well.

    When I’m out in the sagebrush and snap-shooting coyotes, that’s the rifle I like to use. .308 is obviously more than enough gun for ‘yotes, but as long as I police up my brass, I don’t care. The downside of the BLR is the super-cheezy box magazine, and the retention mechanism for the magazine, which both feel cheap and sloppy.

    • Thanks DG.
      I’ve been trying to figure out what the last gun slot in my safe should hold, and a BLR in 300 win mag is right up there with a crusader weaponry wrath.
      I’d actually prefer an old worked over Ithika 37, but can’t find them for love nore money.

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