Among the first rifles many of us own is a lever-action rifle.
A good .22 or .30-30 lever-action rifle will bring home the meat, either small game or deer-sized game.
By the same token, the lever-action rifle in a pistol caliber is an attractive proposition for some of us.
With the short handgun cartridges, the design of the lever-action rifle allows for fast bolt travel.
Work the lever vigorously, press straight forward, not down, and you may be surprised how fast you can get with the lever-action rifle.
With proper loads, especially carefully thought-out handloads, the pistol-caliber carbine offers excellent performance.
The shooter whose personal scenario means shots inside of 100 yards may make good use of a pistol-caliber carbine.
I like the .45 Colt because I own several quality .45 Colt revolvers.
It is nice to have a revolver and rifle combination if the shots needed from the rifle are not long range.
For medium game and personal defense, the .45 Colt makes sense. The .45 Colt is a hard-hitting cartridge.
Originally intended to give western troopers a fighting chance against long odds, the .45 Colt was designed to offer sufficient power to drop an Indian war pony at 100 yards.
The cartridge earned an excellent reputation for effect on both four-legged and two-legged threats.
Nothing wrong with the ’92, but the Henry offers a stronger action and greater accuracy than most lever-action rifles.
The U.S.-made rifle is similar in operation to the Marlin lever action. It handles much the same, with some differences.
The steel-framed rifle is so named to differentiate it from the original brass-framed Henry.
The Big Boy Steel weighs about eight pounds loaded with its 20-inch barrel.
The rifle also features a modern transfer-bar system that makes the Henry Big Boy Steel safe to carry fully loaded.
Overall, the Henry centerfire rifle offers excellent value and is a thoroughly modern lever-action rifle.
Features and Specs
An important difference between the Henry and most lever-action centerfire rifles, is that the Henry .45 loads through a loading gate under the barrel.
Rotate the magazine tube out of its notch and move it outwards, then drop cartridges into the magazine itself and replace the spring-loaded tube.
For many shooters, this makes loading easier.
It is a trade-off, as the rifle cannot be easily topped off with a round or two during firing as a side gate may be, but on the other hand, the magazine tube is easily unloaded.
The sights are pretty standard fare at first glance, but offer a closer sight picture than some.
The front post sight features a brass bead and the rear of the front post is nicely serrated.
It isn’t difficult to properly sight the rifle in at 50 yards, even 100 yards with proper loads.
Leverage is excellent and the rifle stays on target with modest recoil as the rifle is operated.
Cowboy-action loads breaking 700 to 900 fps are a joy to use and fire, but not the most accurate loads.
A hard-cast 255-grain semi-wadcutter at about 1,100 fps is a sweet spot for accuracy in the rifle.
A stout charge of Titegroup powder is a good starting point.
As for factory loads, most are intended for use in modern double-action or single-action revolvers, but are not loaded to the cartridges full potential.
Full potential means Ruger Blackhawk or Redhawk. As an example, the Remington 230-grain jacketed hollow point averages 850 fps in a revolver.
This load gets a jump start to over 1,050 fps in the Henry rifle. The powder burns more completely, resulting in greater velocity.
A 250-grain bullet at 1,000 fps is nothing to sneeze about in a handload.
Buffalo Bore offers a hard-cast 255-grain SWC at 1,160 fps from the carbine.
Recoil is stout in a revolver, but nothing but pleasant in the Henry rifle.
While hard-cast bullets at modest velocity are a lot of fun and these are the loads that I most often use, for serious use, such as hunting medium game, a heavier load is needed.
Either a hard-cast SWC or the Hornady 250-grain XTP is ideal for this use.
As for personal defense, there is nothing wrong with a reliable hard-hitting lever-action rifle.
As an experiment, I mounted a TRUGLO red dot after ordering the Henry accessory rail.
This results in a very fast sight picture at typical defense range. I also mounted a set of XS Sights backup sights.
Originally designed for the AR-15, these sights may be mounted on shotguns and lever-action rifles as well, providing they have rail space.
The XTI DXW sight offers an emergency sight, particularly in dim light.
If you keep the rifle at home ready for personal defense fully loaded, you may make the rifle ready with a quick lever throw.
If you have light, the red dot is fine. If not, the XS backup sight is a wonder.
It is also useful if the red winks out on you. Quite a few folks keep a lever-action rifle around the ranch or house.
The lever-action pistol-caliber carbine has been called the Brooklyn Special.
This is because the rifle is easily obtained in jurisdictions where AR-15 rifles or handguns are not easily obtained.
I prefer to use my Henry rifle for more sporting purposes.
It is good to know it will do what is needed in personal defense against home invaders or dangerous animals as well.
Henry .45 Specifications:
- Caliber: .45 Colt
- Length: 38 Inches
- Barrel Length: 20 Inches
- Weight: 7 Pounds 4 Ounces (Unloaded)
- Stock: American Walnut
- Sights: Semi-Buckhorn Rear with Diamond Insert and Brass Bead Front
- Finish: Blued Steel
Accuracy and Firing
As for accuracy, with a good quality loading, the rifle will practically make a one-hole group at 25 to 50 yards.
Some of the recreational loads have put five bullets into less than two inches at 50 yards.
What do you think of the Henry .45 lever-action rifle? Let us know in the comments section below!