Henry .30-30 Model H009B Brass/Octagon Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
The long awaited Henry .30-30 has arrived. Our test rifle is the deluxe brass receiver/octagon barrel (Model H009B) version and a handsome lever action it is. B. Tyler Henry was Oliver Winchester's plant manager and designer and his basic toggle-link action design formed the basis for the series of lever action rifles that established Winchester as America's premier rifle manufacturer. The best known of these being the Henry Rifle, Model 1866 ("Yellow Boy"), Model 1873 ("The gun that won the west") and Model 1876 ("Centennial"). B. Tyler Henry also invented the .44 Henry Flat rimfire cartridge and Winchester rimfire ammunition bore an "H" head stamp for over 100 years to honor Henry.
Beyond using the Henry name, the present day Henry Repeating Arms Company has no actual connection to B. Tyler Henry or Winchester Repeating Arms. Contemporary Henry rifles are modern designs manufactured in New York state, USA. The new Henry H009B .30-30 has a heavy, deeply blued, 20" octagon barrel and a solid brass barrel band, buttplate and receiver. A select grade walnut stock and forend completes the extremely attractive package. No sling swivel studs are provided. The forend is, thankfully, not as thick as the beavertail forend supplied on Marlin .30-30's, but it is not as slender as a Winchester Model 94 forend, either. We would like to see the Henry's forend slenderized. This would shave off a little weight and make this very heavy carbine feel more petite in the hand.
The butt stock has a straight hand. The top of the comb is flat for most of its length in order to blend with the rifle style buttplate that curves over the heel of the stock. We think the stock would be more comfortable for use with iron sights if the comb were rounded where the stock contacts the shooter's cheek. When using a scope, as we did, the higher sight line renders this a moot issue.
Externally, the receiver bears a vague resemblance to the shape of an original Henry. Inside the shiny receiver, the solid top, right side eject action bears no resemblance to B. Tyler Henry's old toggle-link action, which is not strong enough to handle modern smokeless powder cartridges. Instead, like the Henry Big Boy we previously reviewed (see the Product Reviews page), it is based on the familiar Marlin lever action mechanism, which it closely resembles in design and operation, only it is smoother than any recent Marlin .30-30 we have used. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope bases and accepts bases made for Marlin 336 rifles. We used a Weaver base for the Marlin 336 and it was a perfect fit.
Cleaning is the same as for a Marlin lever action. You can clean the bore from the muzzle, or remove the screw holding the lever in place, remove the lever and slide out the bolt to clean the rifle from the breech end. The ejector rides in a slot in the left side of the receiver and is retained in place only by the bolt. It is a good idea to remove the ejector whenever the bolt is removed to prevent its being lost.
One appreciated departure from Marlin operation is the deletion of the unattractive cross-bolt safety. The Henry .30-30 uses a transfer bar between the hammer and firing pin to render the gun safe until it is fully cocked and ready to fire. This is a much more elegant solution to protecting damm fools from themselves than the crossbolt safety adopted by Marlin and Winchester for their traditional lever action rifles at the behest of Company lawyers.
Out of the box, the Henry's trigger was heavy, creepy and gritty, typical of modern mass produced rifles. Caused, we believe, by an unholy combination of tort lawyers and production economies resulting in the failure to polish and hand fit critical fire control parts, notable the hammer and trigger in a lever action. This can be ameliorated, to an extent, in traditional, exposed hammer, lever actions by plenty of use to "wear in" the parts. The wearing in process can be accelerated in a new rifle by increasing the load on the trigger/hammer engagement. This is done by simply inserting a screwdriver blade under the hammer spur and lifting while pulling the trigger. You can gauge the force required on the hammer spur by the increase in the effort required to pull the trigger. Pry upward too hard on the hammer and it will be impossible to pull the trigger at all. After a little dry firing and the application of a screwdriver under the hammer spur, we measured the Henry's trigger pull at five pounds. It is still too heavy, creepy and gritty, but not as bad as it was.
Like all previous Henry rifles, the blued steel under barrel tubular magazine is loaded by sliding the inner brass magazine tube most of the way out and dropping the cartridges into a cutout in the outer tube, just like a tubular magazine fed .22 rimfire rifle. This system works fine, but is more time consuming than the loading gate in the side of the receiver used in Winchester Model 94 and Marlin 336 .30-30 rifles. Unlike those rifles, the Henry is out of service while being reloaded. On the other hand, the magazine holds six cartridges, so the hunter is unlikely to need to reload on the fly. To unload, cartridges in the magazine need not be worked through the action. Just completely remove the inner brass magazine tube and dump out the cartridges. The cartridge in the chamber, of course, must still be ejected by operating the lever.
The Henry lever action operates and feeds perfectly with either traditional flat point bullets or Hornady LeverEvolution (spitzer) bullets. As the Henry Instruction Manual points out, while the rifle is designed to function with all factory loaded .30-30 ammunition, not all ammunition produces equal results. As with any rifle, you must experiment with different loads to find the one your individual rifle prefers.
Its short overall length, good balance and heavy octagon barrel make the Henry a good handling and smooth swinging rifle/carbine. It should be excellent for running shots on game or other moving targets.
Here are the specifications for the Henry H009B .30-30 brass/octagon rifle:
Any good hunting rifle deserves a scope and for the Henry .30-30 we wanted a light, compact, low mounted, zoom optic somewhere in the 1-3x to 2-6x range that would not unduly affect the rifle's handling. We prefer a wide field of view to high magnification for a .30-30 deer rifle. We also felt that the scope should have a traditional gloss black finish (rather than a dull matte finish) to match the polished finish of our Henry rifle.
Our friends at Leupold provided us with the perfect solution in the form of a VX-3 1.5-5x20mm Gold Ring scope. This high performance scope is also a lightweight beauty that is available in gloss black. We chose the standard Duplex reticle, which in our opinion remains the best general purpose hunting scope reticle ever devised. A full review of this excellent Leupold scope can be found on the Product Reviews page. Suffice to say here that it proved ideal for the Henry .30-30 rifle.
Our first choice in scope mount bases, a Leupold STD, was not immediately available locally, so we settled for a Weaver rail. We used low Leupold QRW detachable steel rings with a polished blue finish to complement the scope and the base. Unscrewing a finger lever lets these rings be removed from the mount base without tools, allowing the use of the Henry's iron sights in an emergency.
The heavy octagon barrel makes the H009B muzzle heavy. Since the scope sits behind the balance point of the rifle, it actually improved the balance of the rifle, moving the fulcrum rearward to about ½" behind the front of the receiver.
Guns and Shooting Online Managing Editor Chuck Hawks, Editor Gordon Landers, Technical Assistant Bob Fleck and volunteer novice shooter Gina Fleck did the test shooting with our Henry .30-30. As usual, our shooting was accomplished at the Izaak Walton rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. All shots for record were fired at 100 yards from a Caldwell Lead Sled weighted with 50 pounds of lead shot. Groups consisted of three shots on Hoppe's 100 yard "Crosshair" sighting targets. It was a chilly, damp day in January when we got to the range, but it was not raining and the wind was negligible.
We used the two kinds of .30-30 ammunition that we had on hand, many types of factory loaded ammo still being scarce in local stores due to wide spread anxiety about the Obama Administration's anti-gun policies during their first year in office. These were Winchester Super-X with 150 grain Silvertip flat point (FP) bullets and Hornady LeverEvolution with 160 grain Flex-Tip (FTX) spitzer bullets. The catalog muzzle velocity of these loads is 2390-2400 fps from a 24" test barrel and both loads have previously given good accuracy in a variety of .30-30 rifles.
Without further ado, here are our shooting results:
Once again, a traditional lever action carbine dispels the myth that these are not accurate rifles. For an out of the box hunting rifle, this is excellent accuracy. Except for a single 2-1/8" group fired by our novice shooter, all other groups fired for record at 100 yards were less than 2". We have no doubt that with some experimenting to ascertain the rifle's preferences in powder and bullets, a hunting handload could be developed that would allow this rifle to shoot consistent MOA groups. Gordon Landers shot the smallest groups with both brands of ammunition, an impressive performance.
Due to the Henry's heavy weight and relatively mild mannered .30-30 cartridge, recoil is not a problem. Even our novice shooter, who had never before fired a centerfire rifle, was not bothered. It is an enjoyable rifle to shoot, even with full power factory loads. The smooth lever action makes fast follow-up shots easy. We all felt that we could have shot better groups with a better trigger release and this rifle is definitely accurate enough to make a trigger job worthwhile.
As a plinker or at the rifle range, the brass/octagon Henry .30-30 is great. Its spectacular good looks draw favorable comments from other shooters, its low recoil makes it pleasant to shoot and it is accurate. Single cartridges can be loaded directly into the chamber when the magazine is empty.
Load plinking ammunition using 100-110 grain .30 Carbine bullets at 1800-2000 fps to really minimize recoil for informal target shooting. Such loads are also deadly on varmints and small predators.
The full power .30-30 cartridge is a natural for shooting medium size big game, such as deer, feral hogs and black bear; the Henry H009B can be used to drop such critters with aplomb. Its short overall length makes it handy for use in ground blinds and tree stands and its accuracy is a plus. Ditto its fast second shot capability.
On the other hand, although it handles well, its considerable weight makes it tiring to carry all day in the field and the lack of any provision for attaching a sling accentuates the problem. Its highly reflective brass receiver and fittings could potentially reflect sunlight and spook shy game animals, if the hunter is not careful. (Photographers dulling spray might be effective here, but we have not tried it in the field.) The H009B would not be our choice for a still hunting (stalking) rifle.
As a serious big game hunting rifle, the standard, blued steel, round barrel Henry Model H009 .30-30 is probably the way to go. However, for putting some extra zest in your shooting and pride of ownership, the brass/octagon Henry H009B .30-30 is hard to beat!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
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