THE HENRY SIDE GATE LEVER ACTION - A FIRST FOR HENRY REPEATING ARMS
Henry Press Release w/Comments by Chuck Hawks
Henry Repeating Arms unveiled the latest addition to its lineup of American made firearms to the public today during the opening day of the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Indianapolis, IN. The introduction of the Henry Side Gate Lever Action rifle marks the very first time the company has offered a lever action rifle with a loading gate. The rifle can also be loaded through a removable magazine tube, making it a unique proposition in lever action offerings.
The side loading gate below the ejection port offers the best worlds. It allows the user to fully load the rifle's 5-round magazine or keep it topped off without removing the magazine tube. The rifle's traditional Henry removable magazine tube provides another method of loading the rifle and a safe, efficient way of unloading the rifle without having to work the action to cycle live rounds through the action.
The new Henry Side Gate is offered in calibers .30-30, .38-55 and .35 Rem. True to Henry form, the Side Gate Lever Action features exquisite attention to detail and a level of craftsmanship rarely seen in other modern firearms
The receiver of the rifle utilizes Henry's signature hardened brass, which has the same tensile and yield strength as steel. It comes drilled and tapped to accept a scope base. The American walnut stock is laser engraved with deep checkering and scrollwork, with the forearm inset with the "HENRY" name. The round 20-inch blued steel barrel uses rifling with varying twist rates depending on the caliber and features a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight and an ivory bead front sight.
There are no external safety features on the Side Gate Lever Action rifle. A patented in-hammer sliding transfer bar safety guarantees the rifle will not fire unless the hammer is cocked and the trigger is pulled. The manufacturers suggested retail price is $1,045.
"The advent of the new Henry Side Gate solidifies Henry Repeating Arms as the first name in lever actions. For those who have been patiently waiting on a Henry with a loading gate, we have delivered and then some," says Henry President and owner Anthony Imperato.
The Vice President and General Manager of Henry Repeating Arms, Andy Wickstrom, continues, "It is no accident that our modern lever action rifles take inspiration from the legendary 1860's era Henry rifle that started it all. Today's Henry firearms retain classic looks, but take advantage of state-of-the-art technology to build reliable, accurate and modern lever actions that are second-to-none. However, there has always been a segment of the market that prefers a loading gate. With the dual loading options, it's the best of both worlds."
Henry Repeating Arms resurrected the legendary Henry name in 1997 and for the past 22 years built a line of lever action rifles based on the tubular feed design, as incorporated in Benjamin Tyler Henry's original Henry rifle. Patented in 1860, the original Henry lever action rifle was the first repeating rifle and is America's unique contribution to international firearms design. Henry Repeating Arms will continue to offer its classic lineup of tubular fed rifles in honor of this legacy.
Being lever action rifle fans here at Guns and Shooting Online, a new Henry rifle model is always of interest to us and we have written about and reviewed a considerable number of Henry centerfire rifles over the years. (See the Product Reviews and Rifle Information - Reviews index pages.)
What immediately caught my eye when I read the Henry Press Release above was not the addition of a side loading gate, although it is a worthwhile feature, but the addition of .35 Remington and .38-55 Winchester to the cartridge offerings. To the best of my knowledge, neither of these medium bore calibers have previously been offered in Henry rifles.
Actually, I had never been particularly impressed by the performance of the .35 Remington (200 grain RN bullet at 2020 fps and 13.2 ft. lbs of recoil energy in a 7.5 pound rifle), until Hornady introduced their LeverEvolution load using a 200 grain FTX bullet (SD .223) at a MV of 2225 fps and ME of 2198 ft. lbs. Better yet, at 200 yards the remaining energy is 1317 ft. lbs., making this a decent load for Class 3 animals at that distance. In addition, Buffalo Bore offers a Heavy .35 Rem. load using a 220 grain (SD .245) flat tip bullet at a MV of 2200 fps and ME of 2364 ft. lbs. (1450 ft. lbs. at 200 yards.) These loads get the .35 Rem. up off of its knees.
Late in life I discovered the versatile .38-55 Winchester and immediately became a fan of this classic cartridge. Shooting standard velocity factory loads it is the mildest medium bore rifle cartridge with which I am familiar. The Winchester Super-X load uses a 255 grain Power Point bullet (SD .256) at 1320 fps MV and 987 ME, loaded at black powder equivalent pressure levels. The remaining energy at 100 yards is 802 ft. lbs., making this load a 100 yard deer cartridge. The big, heavy bullet is a good brush-bucker and the recoil is a soft 7.8 ft. lbs. in a 7.5 pound rifle. That is less than a .243, making the .38-55 just about the only medium bore, hunting rifle cartridge suitable for young and very recoil sensitive shooters. Anyone who reloads can easily and safely increase the power of the .38-55 without exceeding the SAAMI maximum average pressure limit, if desired.
Even better, anyone with a .38-55 Winchester Model 94 Angle Eject rifle, Winchester Model 94 in .375 Win., or equally strong single shot .38-55 rifle can safely use the Buffalo Bore Heavy (+P) Load. This is loaded to .30-30 pressure levels and drives a 255 grain bonded JFN bullet at a MV of 1950 fps and ME of 2153 ft. lbs. The remaining energy at 200 yards is about 1240 ft. lbs., making this a competent elk cartridge and, at 100 yards a serious Alaskan moose and grizzly bear cartridge. The .38-55's larger (.377" diameter), heavier bullet mean it will outperform the .35 Remington with heavy loads. The recoil in a 7.5 pound rifle is up to 17.4 ft. lbs., which is roughly comparable to an 8.0 pound .270 Win. rifle.
Perhaps you can now see why I am so excited by Henry adding these two medium bore cartridges to their lever action line. I sincerely hope that the .35 Rem. and .38-55 Win. will quickly become available is other Henry rifles based on their .30-30 length action.