by Scott Crawford - September 1, 2023
I have been a traditional lever gun owner/user for almost 1/2 a century and that translates to straight wall cartridges for the most part. So when Henry & Remington announced at the 2023 Shot Show that they were bringing out a .35 caliber straight wall, I just had to have one.
My favorite rounds for lever guns are the venerable .45-70 Gov't., .450 Marlin, the .444 Marlin followed by the .45 Colt, .44 Magnum & finally the .38Spl/.357Mag. Yes, there are others not mentioned, however these are the primary ones I love and use. So why would I want another mid-sized cartridge? The ballistics on this new .360 Buckhammer are quite impressive.
I always thought the .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington were great North American deer cartridges however I have always preferred a straight wall. Yes, I have/had both cartridges in lever guns, I usually give them up for another straight wall. This new cartridge fixes my dilemma and even gives me more than either of the two bottle necks I just mentioned.
The New Henry .360 Buckhammer
Why a new lever gun cartridge and why now?
The combined team of Remington and Henry are trying to offer up yet another solution for those states that greatly limit centerfire cartridge deer hunting. States like Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan allow centerfire, straight walled cartridges albeit shorter than what standard cartridges offer like .45-70 and .444 Marlin. Otherwise, hunters are limited to shotgun slugs or archery hunting. This offering matches and beats earlier options such as the .350 Legend and others. Those were not available in a lever action and the .360 Buckhammer solves that. Be sure to check your state laws before hunting with a .360 Buckhammer.
The table below represents velocity and energy across both the 180 & 200-grain Buckhammer and the .30-30 Winchester & .35 Remington. This comparison shows that although the .360 BH has a shorter case, they either meet or beat the two bottle neck cartridges.
Since Henry partnered with Remington Ammunition, they of course came out with the first rifles chambered for the new cartridge. Their initial offering includes the model I am testing which is the H009G-360BH. A traditional Walnut stocked & blued steel side gate. They also offer a H009X-360BH X Model with black Synthetic stock, Large Loop lever, Picatinny Rail, threaded barrel & side gate. I am sure more options will be available at a later date.
When this rifle arrived at my FFL, I couldn't wait to get it back home and check it out. While it is not my first Henry, it certainly was the first chambered in a new-to-me cartridge. The checkered walnut stocks and blued steel greeted me as I opened the box. It was a great looking rifle that felt good when I picked it up to shoulder it. The 20.00" barrel felt exactly right for the types of hunting I do (fairly tight timber in NW Georgia) and as always, I was very happy that it was drilled & taped for mounting glass.
The Henry H009G-360BH is a beautiful rifle!
You could tell how excited I was about this new cartridge based on my online ordering of dies as soon as they became available. This was long before the rifle made it to my FFL. If I am going to test a rifle, I want to be able to use both factory and my hand loads. More on that later.
This rifle comes with a rear Fully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert and a brass bead front sight. I installed a scope on it right away because I knew I would be hunting with it later this fall. I am using an older Bushnell 1.75 x 4.5 power wide angle that was given to me by a good friend. I typically mount low power scopes on all my centerfire lever guns.
Wood to metal fit is well done on these Walnut Stocks
On with the details. The rifle holds five rounds of .360 Buckhammer in the magazine tube and one in the chamber. The side loading gate is very easy to depress & load your ammo or you can load/unload through the tubular magazine access towards the muzzle of the rifle.
The lever is a comfortable fit for non-gloved hands and is probably the smoothest action I've ever worked out of the box on any lever gun! Crisp & smooth with no hang-up opening or closing.
The Recoil pad on the butt of the rifle stock easily cushioned the factory 180 & 200-grain loads I used making this rifle comfortable to shoot standing or seated at the bench.
The Front & Rear Sights on the Henry H009G-360BH
The stock and forearm are constructed of American black walnut with deep cut checkering. The wood to metal fit was particularly good and the end cap on the fore stock gives a great look to the rifle.
The rifling twist on this model is 1:12 Right Hand which works well for a .35 caliber projectile. I found the rifle to be very accurate, when sighting in on paper I was able to maintain a .59" grouping at fifty yards with a front only rest from the bench.
The muzzle on this rifle is a typical non-threaded, with a round 20.00" long barrel. While many shooters prefer the ability to readily add a can or muzzle brake this rifle lacks that ability without modification. The X-model by Henry gives this opportunity with a threaded muzzle.
Now let’s talk ammo. Initially I shot factory rounds from Remington in both the 180 & 200-grain Core-lokts. I did use a chronograph to validate muzzle velocity and true to their word, Remington was right on with their advertised speeds. For the 180-grain we were measuring an average right at the 2,400 fps and 2,200 fps for the 200-grain Core-Lokts. That is zipping right along for a straight wall cartridge in a lever gun!
Eventually I loaded 50 rounds of my own using available Hornady .35 caliber 200-grain Interlocks over LIL'GUN powder. I developed the load on my own with some research while I was waiting for load data to get published by Hodgdon Powder. While I did receive 30 some varying loads from Hodgdon Powder, I'm still sticking with my load for now as it is giving me almost identical velocity and accuracy as the Remington factory rounds.
For hand loading data for the .360 Buckhammer cartridge click here.
The Bolt movement is effortless when working the lever
At 7.00 lbs., naked, this model is about average for a lever action. At 39.00" overall length, this rifle is handy, yet the 20.00"-barrel length gets you the velocity you really want out of a lever gun.
The price is on par for most new lever action rifles of good quality, and I found the rifle to be worth it. The MSRP for this rifle is $1,057.00 which you can find cheaper at your local dealer.
I am very excited about the performance of this rifle & cartridge so far at the range and can't wait to get it into the timber on a deer or hog hunt. It will be the first rifle in the woods with me this fall.
I wanted to summarize what I thought of the overall package compared to my other lever action rifles. Number one on my list is functionality. This rifle primarily meets that requirement however I did occasionally experience a spent casing not fully ejecting from the receiver. While these did not create a jam, it was annoying to have to manually remove the spent case. It did not happen every time, however, enough for me to make note of. Right out of the box you will appreciate the smooth action, the easy to load side gate & deep checkering. The wood to metal fit is genuinely nice.
Overall I'd say this new Henry rifle and Remington cartridge combo handles well, provides very good grouping and ranks high on my must have list of lever guns. I am expecting other ammo manufacturers to start shipping this cartridge soon providing the shooter with even more options. A big thank you to Hodgdon Powder for jumping on the reloading data. At the time of publishing this review they had not listed the data on their website however it was available if you asked for it.
Would I buy one? Well, yes, this one will be with me in the woods this fall and likely many more seasons to come"
IN THIS ARTICLE
Henry Rifles Bushnell Rifle Scopes Remington Ammunition Hodgdon Powder Hornady Bullets