by Scott Crawford - November 7, 2022
I've waited a good amount of time to receive my first "Test & Evaluation" rifle from Henry Firearms and I'm not sure why I waited. Yes I've been a Marlin Firearms user for half a century but somehow when Henry opened their doors twenty-five years ago I didn't jump on the band wagon. What was I thinking?
I mean I've shot numerous Henry firearms while at the range or out hunting with friends but I just never gave them any consideration beyond pulling the trigger on a firearm handed to me to try. I have family members that own Henry's and they love them. I even had two Henry Axe's loaned to me a few years back when they first came off the factory floor. They were serial numbers 010 & 011 - beautiful 410's! Those I had a ton of fun with.
So when I finally had a chance to request a Test & Evaluation rifle from Henry I had to choose their All-Weather Picatinny Rail 45-70 model. After all I am the 45-70 guy.
The Henry All-Weather Picatinny Rail .45-70 Side Gate
If you haven't picked up on it previously, I have a long manufacturing, quality assurance, production background from sheet metal, machining, welding, electronics, non-destruct testing, system engineering and final assembly and testing of medical devices to advanced fighter jet platforms. So with all of that history, when somebody tells me they have a Hard Chromed rifle they like to call their All-Weather rifle, I had to get my hands on one.
When this rifle first arrived and I opened the box I was blown away with the quality of the exterior finish. I've been around enough platting issues in my life that I was really impressed with their finish quality. The exterior metal finish just goes so well with their stained hardwood stock and forearm. It makes a very distinctive package like no firearm I've previously handled or owned.
The Henry All-Weather makes a handsome rifle for the big bore lover
The All-Weather is available in their Big Boy model with choices of .38/.357, .44 Spl/.44 Magnum or the .45 Colt and in their rifle Side Gate calibers of .30-30 or .45-70 and finally this Picatinny Rail model which is available in .45-70. So if you live in or around a geographic area with inclement weather while you hunt, you have numerous calibers to choose from.
This rifle comes with a rear peep sight behind the Picatinny rail although the first thing I did after pulling the rifle out of the box was to install a 1.5 x 4.5 power scope. This required me to remove the peep sight for clearance as I wanted the scope mounted as low as possible. My intent was to get this sighted in the next day to begin "Test & Evaluation" at the range and ready for deer hunting in the NW Georgia woods.
While a lot of users enjoy a peep sight on a lever gun I prefer a low powered scope, especially for hunting with these older eyes. The Picatinny rail is elongated allowing plenty of room for a scout scope setup however I prefer a traditional scope mounting. The rail will support glass, red dots, etc. making it an ideal lever gun option.
Loading & Unloading the Henry All-Weather 45-70
Being a Marlin man for the last fifty plus years had me well trained on the side gate loading and unloading process. The option with the Henry to load / unload through a removable tubular magazine was new to me with a 45-70. As with any lever gun nut I of course was familiar with this on rim fire lever guns but never a centerfire before. I found this alternate method to be somewhat of an advantage over just the loading gate.
The unloading of the Henry can be accomplished two ways, either working the action until the magazine and chamber is empty or removing the tubular magazine tube and letting the rounds fall out. I tried to depress the loading gate with rounds in the magazine however I couldn't get the rounds to come back out through the gate which is possible with the new Marlins.
On with the details. The All-Weather holds four rounds of 45-70 Govt. in the magazine tube which should get about anything you need done. The side loading gate is very easy to depress (burr free) to load the rounds.
The lever when worked with deliberate forceful action is just as smooth as any other lever action that I've used. After loading and firing 100 rounds I did not experience any fail to fire or fail to eject issues. The action was as smooth on the last run as it was on the first. A pleasure to work (and listen to).
I did find the length of pull, although a bit longer at 14.00" than Marlin to be comfortable for this 6' 2" frame. The Recoil pad on the butt of the rifle stock easily cushioned the heavy loads I used and left me without any shoulder bruising.
The factory sights on this model consist of a rear peep sight and blade front sight making for quick target acquisition. This design is very functional however as mentioned previously I opted for a scope setup.
The Front & Rear Sights on the All-Weather (the rear peep was removed for clearance)
The stock and forearm are constructed of stained hardwood and perfectly fitted to the metal receiver. There is an absense of checkering on the stock and forearm which is something I'm not use to however the slim forearm makes a tight grip easily obtainable.
The edges of the lever, trigger & loading gate were well rounded with all burrs removed during their finishing process. My first thoughts when handling the rifle and running the action were very appreciative to their attention to detail.
The rifling twist on this model is 1:20 Right Hand which works well for a heavy .45-70 load. I found the rifle to be extremely accurate, when sighting in on paper I was able to maintain a 1.00" grouping at fifty yards.
The muzzle on this rifle is a typical non-threaded, with a round 18.43" long barrel. While many shooters prefer the ability to readily add a can or muzzle brake this rifle lacks that ability without modification. Henry makes several calibers available with threaded barrels in their X model rifles.
Now let’s talk ammo. I shot hand loaded 300 grain Hornady JHP's over Hodgdon H4198 powder in Starline Brass with Winchester Large Rifle primers. I started with 50 grains of H4198 and worked my way up to 60 grains (max load for the 45-70). The later running right at 2,400 fps muzzle velocity. Again the rifle handled those warm rounds very well and with good accuracy. I did find the sweet spot to be 55 grains of H4198 right at 2,200 fps and great groupings of 1.00" at fifty yards from the bench.
At 7.10 lbs., naked, this model is about average for a big bore lever action. At 37.50" overall length, this rifle is about the perfect size for deep woods, tight brush or tree stands.
The price is on par for most new big bore lever action rifles of better quality and I found the rifle to be worth every cent. The MSRP for this rifle is $1,282.00
I'm extremely pleased with the performance of the rifle so far at the range and can't wait to get it into the timber on a deer hunt.
I wanted to summarize what I thought of the overall package compared to my other lever action rifles which I absolutely love. This rifle is almost identical in weight and overall length, carries one less than the standard five rounds I'm accustomed to. The wood to metal fit is every bit as good if not better than some of my other lever actions and the action is just about equally as smooth out of the box.
Overall I'd say these Henry-built rifles handle well (with good balance), provides very good grouping and ranks high on the overall finish of metal to wood fit. I have learned during the "Test & Evaluation" phase that I have been missing out on another high quality U.S. made rifle manufacturers products. I intend to change this moving forward. Thank you Mr. Imperato for allowing me this opportunity.
Would I buy one? Absolutely. This will be in the field with me this deer season!
(some parts represent other models of the 45-70)
1895Gunner sighting in the new Henry on steel
IN THIS ARTICLE
Henry USA Bushnell Rifle Scopes Starline Brass Hodgdon Powder Hornady