The lever action rifle is a part of America. It helped tame the west and was a brilliant design in its own right when it was first produced. I personally was taught to shoot on a Marlin golden Mountie in .22 LR as a child. There are several manufacturers in the USA who produce a lever action rifle chambered for the old but powerful .45-70 caliber. One of these is the Henry repeating Arms Company. They’ve produced a well-made lever action and today I’ll talk about my initial impressions regarding this rifle.
The fit and finish is well put together from my initial inspection of the rifle. The wood is an American walnut with checking, which provides a slip free grip in adverse conditions. The barrel is an 18.43 inch barrel with a brass bead front sight and a semi-buckhorn rear. The rear sight was the first thing I didn’t like about the rifle. If the sight had been set back on the receiver the sight radius would have been increased leading to a higher potential accuracy utilizing iron sights. A rear sight mounted on the receiver instead of the barrel also gives the rifle a better look in my opinion which is why I opted to remove the rear sight and install my own on the receiver. To Henry’s benefit the receiver is already drilled and tapped for scope mounts or a rear sight, which made installing an aperture rear sight from Skinner Sights a breeze. With the Skinner sight installed the rifle came to bear more easily on target for me.
The accuracy from this Lever Action Rifle is superb utilizing Hornady LEVERevolution 325 grain ammunition and I’m sure can be improved as I work my handload recipes. Off the bench at 100 yards I’m averaging around 2.5 MOA utilizing the aperture rear though I’m sure I could do better with handloads and a magnified optic. The recoil from the .45-70 is pleasant if you’re used to shooting .30-06 (owing in some part to the generous rubber recoil pad on the buttstock) and I’ve found the muzzle report to be tame making for an overall more pleasant experience when sending 325 grain pills down range. Once you finish firing the 4 rounds that the Henry H010 holds you’ll find that loading is a bit of a pain. The Henry rifle is loaded via a tubular magazine instead of the more common loading gate seen on most large caliber lever action rifles made today. I’ve found the loading tube to be cumbersome and on my particular rifle – extremely stiff. It’s something that I feel should absolutely be changed on the Henry lever actions. Without the loading gate it’s extremely hard to top-off the magazine tube on the fly which is essential when hunting hogs. Not to mention it’s just generally harder to reload under stress or in awkward positions.
The Henry lacks a safety and personally I’m a fan of this. The hammer is either full cocked or forward. I always found that the cross bolt safety on the Marlin 1895 got in my way and would end up getting accidentally bumped in adverse conditions (Quick note: The safety on the Marlin 1895 can be removed via some retrofitting kits available online). With the Henry H010 Lever Action Rifle, I’m confident that when the hammer is back it’s going to fire. The Henry features a firing pin block unless the hammer is depressed which makes for a simple straight forward operation with clean lines.
I’m not a fan of the loading procedure on the Henry Lever Action 45-70, however this could loosen with time and end up being easier to load. The excellent fit and finish and overall better feel compared to other .45-70 rifles makes me like this rifle more than I thought I would. The handling and length of pull on this rifle just feels right to me and I’m looking forward taking it out hunting. Stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks.