Henry All Weather
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- Last updated: 23/12/2019
I was hoping to have a trophy picture of myself next to a freshly slain T-Rex, what with this rifle being a dino killer; well, the calibre at least! Now that my shoulder has fully recovered, let me introduce you to the Henry 45-70 All-Weather lever-action. Just like the aforementioned thunder lizard, this big calibre beast takes some feeding! And that doesn’t come cheap either, so it’s not exactly a plinking gun! But that said, pride of ownership certainly outweighs economics, because it’s just one of those calibres that you just need in your collection! Let’s take a good look at this Jurassic hunter in more detail.
Starting at the recoil pad, and trust me, it needs one! Those Hornady LeverEvolution 375-grain loads were really making this gun bounce in the shoulder! It is obviously rubberised to soak up the recoil and also ventilated with Henry’s logo on it. The butt is sleek and ambidextrous with a nice flowing pistol grip, like on all of the Henry range with an LOP of 14”. It is made from hardwood rather than a laminate and is stained with a durable, black, weather-proof finish, as is the forend.
I feel it would be better with some sort of chequering or stippling on the gripping areas, as being a serious thumper, it can get kind of slippery when it fires. After all, this is termed as an ‘all-weather rifle’ and I just think what with its heavy recoil, a better grip would be needed in wet conditions. A sling swivel stud is located on the underneath and you can find the other one up front at the end of the forend cap. The pistol grip is modern in looks and feel. I don’t really get on with the straight hand layout, as you see on the more traditional looking lever-actions. Comfort, for me, is important, especially on a big calibre rifle like this!
Unlike the rest of the considerable Henry lever-action portfolio, the All-Weather is offered in 45-70 Government and is also available in the classic 30-30 Winchester chambering. These two and similar models are labelled under the generic 30-30 and 45-70 section and differ considerably from the more prolific rimfire and pistol calibre options. Visually, the action build and stock layout are more reminiscent of Marlin’s 336 and 1895 rifles, regardless of finish and furniture, with one important exception. However, the flat topped, side-ejecting receiver does make scope mounting easy.
Moving forward to the receiver, the metal work, in fact, all of it, apart from the bolt and the sights, are what Henry call ‘hard chrome plated’ and is best described as a Cerakotelike finish, but far smoother to the touch. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped, so if you want to throw on an optic then you will need a suitable rail; Henry recommends a Weaver 63B type. Moving up the rifl e to the rear sight, it is a semi buckhorn type with diamond insert and fully adjustable. Well, there’s a sliding wedge that raises or lowers it accordingly and the whole unit can be drifted left or right for windage. Up front is a tall, black blade with brass insert tip in a dovetail for windage correction. Remember, when zeroing, it’s foresight into the error: gun shooting left, move sight left, which is reversed with the rear unit. As both are windage adjustable, you can balance out front and back, so that you do not have too much of an off set, which can be a bit off putting in the aim. Regardless, these traditional irons look the business, and offer a surprising amount of accuracy at the ranges they are intended for!
Being a more traditional build of lever-action, there’s no manual safety catch. Original lever-guns like Winchester’s 66, 73, 92 and 94 offered a half cock hammer position for a safe, loaded chamber carry. This required the shooter to thumb it back to full cock for the first shot. Marlin’s 1894, 336 and 1895 guns go belt and braces with a half cock hammer, backed up by a cross bolt safety. Henry use a transfer bar system, in that unless the trigger is pressed the bar will not rise and connect the hammer face with the tail of the firing pin. Horses for courses! So, you can carry it hammer down in safety and thumb it back as described. With few exceptions, Henry have resisted the ‘big loop’ lever fashion, which has its practical uses, certainly for a hunting rifle in cold weather, as there’s enough room inside to operate it with gloves on. However, the All-Weather has the more visually pleasing design that keeps the rifles lines easier with a slightly curved lever loop. Opening the action reinforces the fact that here you have a quality built rifle. No catchy metal sounds or stiffness, just a smooth operation. Of course, it’s to be expected from Henry!
The original Henry rifle from the mid-1800s used a fixed magazine that loaded from the muzzle, which was superseded by the inclusion of the more practical Hall, side gate loading system first seen on the Winchester 1866. This design has been carried forward in all traditional, centrefire lever-actions ever since, the only exception is rimfires that use a simplified version of the original Henry feed system with a pull-out follower.
The modern Henry company however, stuck with this system for all their guns be they rimfi re or centrefi re and the All-Weather is no different. The payload is 4 + 1 up the spout and loading is easy but a bit involved.
Push down and twist the knurled end of the pull-out the brass follower tube at the muzzle and slide it forward from the fixed out tube until the filling port is exposed. Then slide in the ammo at an angle (don’t drop them vertically) to capacity and return and lock the follower and you’re ready to rock & roll.
A tube magazine, centrefire rifle can really only safely use flat-nosed ammunition, as they stack tip to primer and a pointed bullet under recoil could detonate the primer above it with obvious consequences. This is called a ‘chain fire’ and once seen, never forgotten. Hornady however, came up with a solution with their LeverEvolution ammo, that uses more ballistically efficient pointed bullets with a flexible polymer tip and it works. However, at around £50 for a box of 20 they are not cheap and are primarily a hunting round, which here in the UK has little application, as does the calibre. If you fancy a big bore lever gun like the Henry, then reloading is the most cost-effective course, with cheaper, lead, flat-nosed bullets and more modest powder charges for comfort and economy.
Operating the lever chambers the first round and cocks the hammer. Brace yourself, as you are now ready to make some noise! Upon squeezing the trigger, felt recoil is somewhat noticeable! Probably about the same as a 12-gauge shotgun with a magnum load. With this All-Weather’s short 18.5” barrel and maximum length of just 37.5”, kick is somewhat exaggerated!
I set up a 10” steel gong at about 30 yards on my test range. Shooting the Henry in a standing position was a little more comfortable for me than off a bench because this cannon certainly bounces a bit in the shoulder! My first shot was a direct hit and it rang like a church bell! Shot after shot, they all connected. After just four rounds, the barrel was already hot to touch. Although a little bit kicky, it’s actually comfortable enough to shoot and everything is silky smooth; the trigger broke like a glass rod on my scale at just over 4.5 lbs. Ejection was okay, but you need to be fast and firm with it for positive operation, the same when chambering too. What I’m saying is; don’t baby it, work that lever fast and hard.
All in all, the ‘All Weather’ is all good, as I had no issues at all, but if I’d have been shooting in bad weather then I think the Henry would have acted more like a wet fish, what with its lack of grip, but that’s my only gripe! However, the rifle does have a Marmite feature and that’s the front loading magazine system. Coming out of the firing position and removing the follower tube, filling the mag and replacing it, is easy enough, but quite involved and certainly longer winded than thumbing the rounds in through a side gate. Not perhaps such an issue on a hunting rifle, but on the range it could become quite a pain. For the first time this year Henry will be introducing such a system; if you can’t beat them, join them!
If you like what you see, then there’s also the 30-30 Winchester option. Capacity is now 5+1 and the barrel 1.5” longer at 20”, weight is the same at around 8 lbs. Visually, the biggest difference is the straight hand butt. However, and like the 45-70, the 30-30 has little hunting application in the UK, but with Hornady’s LeverEvolution loads it might have just enough clout to make large deer legal. But even Henry only say it’s recommended hunting ranges should not exceed 100/125-yards at best, with just 100 for the 45-70. Safe shooting! – Rack