Hunting With A Henry
by Tom Berg
There is just something about hunting with a Henry lever-action rifle that stirs my soul. I like the way they look and the way they feel. I especially like the smooth action when you cycle the lever and chamber another round. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I grew up watching westerns on television – westerns starring John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Connors, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper and others. Sure, not all of them carried lever-action rifles, but many of them did. John Wayne certainly did. I always thought he was the greatest western actor of all time. Who didn’t want to be a cowboy like John Wayne?
When I started hunting whitetail deer several years ago, I used a shotgun with a slug barrel. But what I really wanted to do was hunt deer with a lever action rifle. Sure, Indiana allowed rifles for deer hunting as long as you used handgun ammunition, like the .44 caliber (for example). But I wanted to use something with more power. Indiana changed the deer hunting regulations three years ago. The new rule allowed higher powered rifles, like the .30-30, .308 and others.When this new rule was put in place I knew I was interested.
I knew that Henry Repeating Arms makes a wide variety of lever-action rifles. I also knew I wanted to hunt deer with a Henry. Enter the Henry Long Ranger rifle. The Henry Long Ranger is available chambered in .223 Rem, .243 Win, .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor. It was custom made for shooting longer distances. I decided the .308 caliber was perfect for me. I don’t hunt in close, dense woodlands. Usually I hunt private farm land, where fairly long shots over harvested corn fields or bean fields are normal.
When I received my Henry Long Ranger, I was happy with the overall look and feel of the gun. At seven pounds, it has just the right heft. The lever action operation is very smooth and effortless, too, which is important when hunting and concentrating on your target. The machined and chromed steel bolt extends out as it locks the exposed hammer in one smooth operation, and the next round is delivered from the detachable flush-mounted magazine. The release button for the magazine is also flush, so it looks good.
Safety is always an important issue, and it’s nice that the Long Ranger incorporates an in-hammer sliding transfer bar as a safety instead of a manual safety button that can be hard to operate while wearing gloves in cold weather. The transfer bar will not allow the rifle to fire unless the trigger is pulled, even if the hammer accidentally falls. The exposed hammer has a serrated edge, which makes it easier to lock the hammer or lower the hammer as needed.
Mounting a good scope on the rifle is easy since it comes pre-drilled and tapped for optics. I mounted a Hawke Endurance 3-9X40 riflescope on the gun and it has performed flawlessly. Other features include swivel studs for attaching a rifle sling, and a solid black rubber recoil pad for both recoil control and non-slip anchoring on the shoulder. After a day at the range, I knew the recoil pad did its job because my shoulder was not sore!
The accuracy of the Long Ranger is excellent. Henry advertises the Long Ranger as “bolt action performance with the speed of a lever action”, and it is very true. I sighted-in the rifle with the Hawke scope at 100 yards using Winchester Super X 180-gr. Power-Point ammunition and the groupings were impressive. Even with very windy conditions the groupings were within two inches, which ultimately translates into venison in the freezer.
The Henry Long Ranger is also a great-looking rifle. The two-piece American walnut stock is beautiful, with its detailed laser-cut checkering on the forearm and the shoulder stock. Besides looking good, the checkering provides an excellent grip for more stable shooting.
Overall, the Henry Long Ranger is an excellent rifle that is perfect for deer hunting. According to the Henry website: “From coyote to whitetail to bear, the new Long Ranger is a logical evolution in lever action technology.” I couldn’t agree more.
Hunters and shooters who are interested in learning more about the Long Ranger or any of the other fine rifles made by Henry can visit the Henry Repeating Arms website at: www.henryusa.com. You may request a free catalog from the website and find the Henry dealer which is closest to you.