with a powerful rimfire cartridge and modern manufacturing methods.
Lever-action rifles have endeared themselves to American shooters since their introduction in the late 1800s. One of the earliest names associated with lever actions is Henry, which is considered by many to be the first truly successful lever-action design. That name endures to this day as Henry Repeating Arms Co. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the company produces quality lever actions ranging in caliber from .17 to .44.
Shooting Times recently received one of Henry’s octagon-barreled .22 Magnum rifles for review. This gun embodies the handling qualities and styling that make lever actions so popular, and it combines them with a powerhouse rimfire cartridge and modern manufacturing methods to create a rifle that Henry properly calls “Made in America and Priced Right.”
The most significant manufacturing feature that lets Henry make the “priced right” claim is the use of a zinc/aluminum alloy outer cover surrounding an internal receiver in lieu of a traditional machining-intensive solid-steel receiver. Functionally, the receiver cover helps guide the bolt, and it covers the internal receiver proper. Five simple screws–two on each side of the cover and one at the rear of the top tang–secure it solidly in place.
|Manufacturer:||Henry Repeating Arms Co.|
|Model:||H001TM Lever Octagon .22 Magnum|
|Operation:||Lever-action repeating rifle|
|Barrel Length:||20 inches|
|Overall Length:||38.5 inches|
|Weight, empty||6.25 pounds|
|Sights:||Brass bead on post front, stepped elevator-adjustable rear, 3/8-inch dovetail scope rail|
|Length of Pull:||13.88 inches|
Cosmetically, the cover has a tough, baked-on black enamel finish that has the appearance of deep, high-gloss bluing, especially when contrasted against the well-figured two-piece walnut stock. Its top is grooved with a 3/8-inch rail for directly mounting a rimfire scope.
Beneath the cover, the internal receiver contains all the action parts. As you lower the finger lever, the locking block drops out from underneath the bolt. Then as the lever is fully lowered, its upward leg engages a cutout in the bolt, pushing the bolt to the fully rearward position.
As the bolt moves rearward, it pushes back, then passes over the hammer, compressing the stout coil mainspring. At the same time, the large hook extractor removes the cartridge case from the chamber. Just before the bolt reaches the limit of its rearward travel, the sear catches the hammer in the cocked position and sets the trigger. Also at that point, the rim of the extracted case hits against the solid ejector, causing the case to fly out from the ejection port and land a few feet to the right of the shooter.
Lifting the lever back up closes the bolt while feeding a fresh cartridge. In the last inch of the lever’s travel, it cams the locking block up into a wedge-shaped cutout in the bolt. That method of lockup couldn’t be simpler yet is extremely effective. Once the rifle is cocked, the hammer can be lowered to the halfcock notch, which functions as the rifle’s safety.
The 20-inch octagon barrel is press-fit into the receiver. It is equipped with Marbles adjustable sights, which are some of the most traditional and rugged iron sights you’ll encounter on a currently produced rimfire. The front sight is a simple steel post with brass bead, dovetailed into the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a steel leaf with a stamped-steel stepped elevator. The elevator provides approximately 9 inches of elevation adjustment at 25 yards. A steel insert in the rear sight can be reversed for either a “U”- or a “V”-shaped notch, and it provides additional elevation adjustment capacity to fine-tune the Henry’s sights for any load or practical shooting distance.
We fired the Henry Lever Octagon .22 Magnum for accuracy at 100 yards using a 4X Bushnell Banner .22 scope. Some shooters have reported that the .22 Magnum is lacking in the accuracy department, but the accuracy we achieved with the Henry suggests those complainers may have been using the wrong gun to make that determination.
Five-shot groups of less than 1.50 inches were possible, and the average of five groups for all three types of ammunition used was a very respectable 2.29 inches. That’s plenty accurate for the Eastern groundhogs and similar-size game upon which the Henry will see field use. Accuracy testing showed a clear preference for CCI’s 40-grain TMJ load, even though it clocked an unusually high velocity extreme spread of 110 fps.
Functionally, there were no surprises. On the Henry microsite (see side note), you’ll find a past article on the .17 HMR version of this rifle, in which short stroking the lever resulted in the empty cartridge case falling into the receiver and causing a double-feed malfunction upon closing.
There does not seem to be the potential for that same malfunction on the .22 Magnum version. The straight-walled case is fully supported through all but the last bit of cycling, so the mouth of the case is never free of the chamber long enough to get loose.
|Shooting The Henry Lever Octagon .22 Magnum|
|Factory Load||Velocity (fps)||100-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Federal 30-gr. Sierra JHP||1806||3.00|
|CCI Maxi-Mag 40-gr. TMJ||1806||1.78|
|Remington 40-gr. PSP||1672||2.09|
|Accuracy is the average of five five-shot groups fired from an MTM Predator Shooting Rest at 100 yards. Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured 15 feet from the gun’s muzzle. Abbreviations: JHP: Jacketed Hollowpoint; PSP: Pointed Softpoint; TMJ: Total Metal Jacketed|
As we’ve experienced on other Henry rifles, the release of the grooved steel trigger was at a reasonable 5 pounds pull with no take-up and about 1/8 inch of creep. Operating the lever revealed a silky smoothness familiar to shooters who’ve worked a broken-in yet well-cared-for lever action. There was plenty of clearance between the scope and the hammer for lowering the latter to the halfcock position and for recocking, but those with thick fingers or who may use the Henry while wearing gloves would do well to invest in an aftermarket hammer extension.
Overall, the Henry Lever Octagon .22 Magnum exhibits in form and function why lever actions are favorites of American shooters. It’s accurate, reliable, operates new out-of-the-box with the smoothness of an heirloom passed down through the generations, and it is made with attention to detail that ensures the Henry will be passed on to future generations.