Henry Pump Octagon .22 LR Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Henry Repeating Arms (www.henryrepeating.com) has earned an enviable reputation for honest, reliable, accurate and affordable rimfire rifles. Most are lever actions, but the subject of this review is reminiscent of a 20th Century pump action .22. It is supplied with a straight hand walnut stock, grooved pump handle, external hammer, open sights and a polished/blued octagon barrel. The aluminum receiver wears a gloss black finish that complements the polished barrel finish and is grooved on top for tip-off scope mounts. Like all Henry rifles, the pump .22 is "Made in America, or not made at all."
This Henry's receiver looks much like their lever action receivers and, in fact, is adapted from the same design. The difference being that the action is operated by sliding the forend instead of cycling a lever; a single action bar operates the action as the forearm/handle is stroked. Internally, both lever and pump handle appear to be operating the same basic action. The extractor is a spring loaded hook at the right side of the bolt and the ejector is a spring loaded lever pinned to the left side of the bolt. Ejection is to the right side through an oval ejection port in the receiver. Safety is provided by a quarter-cock hammer notch. Interestingly, the hammer follows the bolt forward if the action is cycled with the trigger held back.
Cartridges are fed from an under-barrel tubular magazine that holds 15 Long Rifle cartridges or 21 Short cartridges. Remove the brass inner magazine tube far enough to allow cartridges to be dropped into the outer magazine tube through the cartridge shaped cutout in its bottom side.
The wide, gently curved trigger is grooved. The clean, single stage trigger pull measured 2-7/8 pounds on our RCBS pull gauge. This is one of the lightest triggers we have encountered in any rimfire hunting rifle, regardless of price.
Pulling the trigger unlocks the pump action so it can be stroked. If you need to cycle the action without pulling the trigger, there is a grooved release lever at the right front of the trigger guard. When pressed all the way back against its stop, the release lever unlocks the forend, allowing the pump handle to be retracted. This is similar in operation to the system used for practically all pump action shotguns.
The rear sight is a Marble's semi-buckhorn type that is step adjustable for elevation and drift adjustable for windage. The front sight is a dovetail mounted brass bead type. The front bead fits harmoniously in the rear sight's "U" notch. Despite the useless "ears" sticking-up on both sides of the rear sight notch and blocking the view, these are functional sights, if the shooter has excellent vision with plenty of accommodation and no need to shoot at moving targets. Most modern shooters will opt for a telescopic sight mounted in tip-off (3/8" dovetail) rings, as we did.
Modern Henry rifles are well known for integrity and value; you generally get more than your pay for. Our test rifle is no exception. It is stocked in standard grade American black walnut (not cheap "hardwood" or plastic) and the external metal parts are nicely polished. The barrel roll stampings are gold-filled, with "CALIBERS .22 S/L/LR" on the right and "HENRY REPEATING ARMS-BAYONNE NJ-MADE IN USA" on the left. The wood to metal fit is excellent. The inletting of the buttstock to receiver is tight with the wood slightly proud, just as it should be on a new rifle. The clear, satin finish completely fills the pores of the wood. The checkered, black Henry buttplate fits perfectly. (The wood to metal fit is better than on the $2300 Original Henry rifle we were concurrently reviewing--see the Product Reviews index page for details.)
Pumping the action requires somewhat more effort than we expected. This is probably at least partly because the new action is tight and partly because the single action bar is essentially operating a lever action mechanism. It is not a problem, because the grooved, hand filling forearm handle gives the shooter plenty of purchase to operate the action. One of the advantages of a pump gun is that the strong hand never changes its grip on the stock as the action is cycled and the action is easily operated with the rifle at the shoulder, making for fast, aimed repeat shots.
For our test shooting we mounted a Sightron 3-9x36mm AO rimfire target scope in Simmons tip-off rings. This previously reviewed Sightron (see the Scopes and Sport Optics index page) is a lot of riflescope for any rimfire rifle and it has served us well on a couple of test rifles.
As usual, we did our shooting at the Izaak Walton outdoor range south of Eugene, Oregon. This rifle range offers covered bench rests and target stands at 25, 50, 100 and 200 yards. We chose 50 yards as an appropriate distance to shoot a small game hunting rifle for record. The Western Oregon winter weather was partly cloudy, damp and chilly, with a high temperature of 28-degrees F. Fortunately, the wind was nil. Our targets were Hoppe's sighting-in targets. Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Rocky Hays and Jim Fleck handled the shooting chores.
We used .22 LR ammunition we had on hand for our test shooting. The loads included CCI Stinger hyper-velocity 33 grain HP (MV 1640 fps), CCI Mini-Mag high velocity 36 grain HP (MV 1260 fps), Remington Golden Bullet high velocity 36 grain HP (MV 1280 fps) and Winchester Super-X high velocity 37 grain HP (MV 1330 fps). All of these hunting loads use copper plated bullets to minimize lead fouling. We prefer high velocity hollow points for hunting edible small game, reserving the more expensive hyper-velocity loads for use only on larger varmints. However, every .22 rifle is different and the wise shooter lets the rifle choose its standard load.
50 Yard Shooting Results
AVERAGE 50 YARD GROUP SIZE FOR ALL LOADS TESTED: 1.8"
This time out, Rocky shot the smallest single group. Our Henry Pump Octagon rifle clearly did not like Stinger ammo, which in our experience is not unusual. Remington Golden Bullets provided the best and most consistent groups, so this is the ammo we would adopt for use in this rifle.
The excellent Sightron target scope and the rifle's light trigger enhanced practical accuracy. Both were praised by our shooters. We experienced no malfunctions, as long as the action was pumped briskly. Like modern Henry lever action rifles, this pump likes to be stroked quickly and positively in both directions.
The Henry Pump Octagon is an attractive, well made, traditional style rifle that is fun to shoot. We think pump action fans will be pleased with this well made .22. Its only American made competition that we can think of offhand is the Remington Model 572 BDL Fieldmaster and the Henry is about $170 less expensive (based on 2013 MSRP's). That much savings will buy a lot of .22 LR ammo!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
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