Henry Big Boy .44 Magnum Review

Henry Big Boy .44 Magnum Review

BB_1 copyEver since Dirty Harry, the .44 Magnum cartridge has captured the imaginations of millions. At the time of film's release, .44 Magnum was considered the most powerful commercially available handgun cartridge on Earth. While it no longer retains that title, the .44 Magnum is still incredibly powerful, but, sadly, can be too punishing for smaller shooters to handle out of revolver. Thankfully, Henry Rifles has tamed the mighty .44 Magnum with their Henry's Big Boy Steel 44 Mag.

The Big Boy Steel 44 Mag is a lever-action, magazine tube-fed, repeating rifle chambering in .44 Magnum and .44 Special. Unlike its flashier cousin, the Golden Boy, this carbine forgoes a brass receiver for a blued steel one. It feeds from a removable brass magazine tube that holds either ten rounds of .44 Magnum or 11 rounds of .44 Special.

BB_2 copyHearkening back to the days of cattle rustlers, outlaws and six-guns, the Henry elicits a warm fuzzy John Wayne feeling when a shooter picks it up. Thankfully, it's more than simply a nostalgic wall-hanger, a fact reflected in the rifle's handsome, yet utilitarian, matte blue finish. Another departure from the flashier models is the omission of the heavy octagonal barrel. Instead, the carbine features a much lighter standard round barrel that greatly reduces shooter fatigue both during extended firing sessions and long treks through the woods.

It was on one of these woodland strolls that I had chance to truly appreciate the weight savings of the thinner barrel profile. My wife and I decided to take a moderate hike with the Henry at a friend's 200 plus acre ranch and help look for wild hog and coyotes. Since it was more than 80 degrees outside that day, we both brought plenty of water as well as some protein bars.

BB_4 copyLong story short, the moderate hike ended up as a lengthy one, due to sudden severe showers and a dense blanket of fog. After a nine-hour hike with the Henry slung over my shoulder, my feet were much more sore than my back. A fact attributable to the Henry steel knocking nearly two full pounds of weight from the original, heavy-barreled design.

Handiness and weight aside, the Big Boy Steel 44 Magnum makes a great companion to a large-frame hunting revolver in the same caliber. This greatly simplifies the logistics of carrying two types of ammo into the field and makes a great combo for hunting. This is especially true when stalking wild hog, whose tough hide is often too much for common pistol calibers to defeat, effectively giving a stalking hunter a bit of insurance should a large sow decide to charge in defense of her young.

Unlike handguns chambered in the impressively powerful .44 Magnum round, the Henry has mild recoil with either full-powered Magnum or .44 special loads. Accuracy from the carbine was impressive, and more than enough for hunting large game within the cartridge's effective range. Though the carbine did present one problem. It's dangerously enjoyable to shoot, but the rounds it uses are prohibitively expensive to plink with. Thankfully, this cost can be significantly reduced by a reloading press and die setup.

BB_3 copyWhich opens the rifle up to all sorts of different possibilities. Since a shooter can load very hot rounds without worrying about felt recoil or very mild ones, knowing that the manual action of the rifle will still function. One of my favorite low-recoil recipes is one I learned from an article by fellow author Patrick Sweeney in a piece on the .44 Magnum. Basically, a 240 grain lead semi wadcutter is loaded to only 900 fps basically reproducing very hot .45 ACP loads. These are incredibly soft-shooting, and would make an excellent home defense or coyote round from either a pistol or rifle - without as much danger of over penetration as full-powered loads.

With the extensive amount of reloading data available for the cartridge, shooters can dial a perfect load for their Henry and turn it into a lever-action tack driver. The only thing standing in their way are the diminutive iron sights the rifle ships with. Patterned after traditional ones, the Henry features buckhorn post and notch iron sights adjustable for drop and windage. These are reminiscent of the stock iron sights on a Ruger 10/22 and, just like them, begs to be replaced by something more effective and forgiving to older eyes. I, personally, would have liked to see the same sights featured on Henry's 30/30 on this carbine, but, thankfully, the receiver comes pre-tapped from the factory for a weaver scope mount.

BB_11 copyTopped with a personal favorite, the 50mm Leupold VX-1 scope, the Henry Big Boy Steel was capable of raining destruction on the countless tin cans set up at 100 yards. When half-filled with water, these cans spectacularly launch their contents airborne, giving a glimpse of the power of the .44 Magnum cartridge.

Retailing for well under $1,000, the Henry Big Boy Steel 44 Mag is an affordable option to hunters and cowboy enthusiasts alike who wish for the perfection powerful companion. Whether they're riding into the sunset, harvesting game from a treestand or helping defend the ranch from cattle thieves, shooters will love their experience with the all-American Henry Big Boy Steel 44 Mag.

If you'd like to see our coverage of another popular Henry rifle, as well as other lever-action rifles, pick up a copy of this month's newsstand issue today.

Recommended for You


Review: SIG SAUER P320

Joseph Von Benedikt - September 13, 2018

Is SIG's P320 modular pistol the best polymer-framed high-capacity sidearm ever designed?


Accuracy: It's All Relative

Terry Wieland - May 09, 2019

Like situational ethics, standards of accuracy vary according to circumstances.


Review: Stoeger STR-9

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 17, 2019

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable,...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Springfield Armory Saint Victor

The SAINT' Victor Rifle delivers a lightweight and agile rifle solution while maintaining effectiveness at extended engagement distances.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Danger Tamed: Hornady DGX Bonded Hunting Ammo

Joseph von Benedikt - May 23, 2019

A half-century in the making, the new DGX Bonded is Hornady's best-ever dangerous-game bullet.


Harvey Donaldson: Pioneer Benchrester

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 07, 2019

Harvey A. Donaldson may be best known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp wildcat cartridge, but...


Review: Stoeger STR-9

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 17, 2019

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable,...

See More Stories

More Rifles


Bolt-Action .22 Rimfire Beauties

Layne Simpson - April 12, 2019

While bolt-action .22 Rimfire rifles are commonplace today, it took quite a long time for that...


All That's Old Is New Again

Terry Wieland - August 12, 2019

An old gun that's new to you can be loads of fun. For some shooters, it can be as interesting...


Review: Rock River Arms RRAGE 5.56mm NATO

Steve Gash - March 07, 2019

Instead of a heavy, bulky AR with lots of sharp edges and protruding parts, the Rock River...

See More Rifles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.