An Outstanding Lever Action Made for Us in America Like It Should Be
As I have stated before, I am a huge lever action rifle fan. I have several different brands. My favorite lever actions are ones showing their age and use in the field. I search for these but buy few as they demand a tidy price. On occasion I find a buy and act accordingly.
However, I love the more modern lever actions as well. Henry Repeating Arms, to my joy and excitement, makes many different models of lever actions. Their “New Original Henry” in 44-40 WCF is the real deal. A very popular model is their .22 LR line. I gave one to my nephew for his three sons. Uncle Clint is making sure our legacy of owning and using firearms continues.
For me a larger caliber is my ticket, for hunting, survival and backpacking in bear country. For Henry the obvious choices for a larger bore lever action are the .357 magnum, .44 magnum, .45 Long Colt and the butt kicker for the last continuous 148 years, 45-70 Government. With modern powder and rifle designs, the 45-70 Government is a force to be reckoned with.
Our T&E model of Big Boy Steel Side Gate comes in regular loop and large loop, in calibers .357mg/.38spl, 44mg/44spl, and .45 Long Colt. The model I am testing has a 20-inch barrel with the same model coming with a shorter 16.5 barrel. When I shoot a Henry lever action with a regular loop and then a large loop, for me the large loop is much easier to handle and cycle the rounds through the firearm. I just love the lever actions of Henry Repeating Arms.
As I stated, this model of the Henry Big Boy Steel Side Gate (H012GML) comes with two different barrel lengths. For me, I prefer the 20-inch barrel length. I have a longer sight radios, more velocity from the ammo I am shooting, 10 rounds and better balance. For the 16-inch barrel version (H012GMR), a good use would be shooting from a tree deer stand, or carrying in a gun sling of your pickup seat-covers, saddle scabbard or ATV scabbard. A downside to consider is the 16-inch barreled Henry holds seven round instead of ten.
The question could be, what can a .357 magnum rifle be used for? Can the .357 magnum in a 20-inch barreled rifle be effective to take large game and even dangerous predators? In my way of thinking and one who has carried a duty four-inch .357 mag revolver and experienced its performance and raw power, I say hell yes. As I always say, the right tool and accessories for the right job. In this Henry Big Boy Steel Side Gate, I was shooting Hornady 125gr XTP HP .357 mag. An outstanding round for handguns. In a factory test barrel, the velocity is around 1,500 fps. This equals 710.40-foot pounds. In this 20-inch barrel Henry I had a five shot average velocity of 2,106 fps with a 1,231-foot pounds of energy. This means the very protenant .357 mag out of the Henry has about 42% more energy which in my book means more damage to the intended recipient.
At 100 yards, with the 42% increase energy this Henry .357 mag would be capable of taking large deer, elk, black bear, cougar and other like sized game. Wild hogs could be taken with a proper shot placement of the Hornady 125gr XTP HP round. As for a backpacker in brown bear country, this Henry would work if one would shoot them in the head or heart. In a charging brown the heart and brain are smaller targets than I would like to be forced to hit. If you are bound to go into brown bear country and possibly become bear-poop, I would move up to the Henry Steel Lever Action .45-70 Side Gate which holds four rounds. (https://www.henryusa.com/rifles/steel-lever-action-45-70-side-gate/)
This Henry I am reviewing, can be loaded through a side-gate in the receiver. In testing this rifle shooting over 100 rounds, thank you Hornady, I found it was easier to load with the Henry tube method. Actually, faster for me. Some may prefer the side-gate, cowboy shooters and the like. I can see side-gate being handy to pump in a couple rounds while keeping your eye on the snarling, teeth snapping giant highspeed ball of fur, teeth, and claws as it is lumbering 35 mph at you. A pucker factor of 12 on a scale of 10.
Shot grouping for me, was one inch with open sights, bifocals and left-handed. I fired two bench rest rounds and decided to quit while I was ahead. I have no doubt with added optics, this Henry can get one-inch groups at 100 yards. I am planning on going back to my eye doctor to have him construct a pair of corrected shooting glasses. He will be happy and so will his Mecedes Benz dealer.
Another gun club member Rick, saw me shooting this Henry Big Boy .357 magnum rifle. Rick, like me, has aged eyes but wanted to give it a go. Rick fired five rounds of the Hornady 357 Mag 125 gr XTP® American Gunner® ammo at 50 yards. Rick’s first shot went right and high. The other four were about a 3.5-inch group. Rick said it would be okay for shooting a deer. I was thinking a scope would be best for one inch grouping at 100 yards.
As you would expect, the recoil was minimal. One of my helpers, Larry, said there was no recoil. I suggested he place the buttstock plate up against his huevos for a scientific experiment. Larry declined. However, for a young shooter who you would deem worthy and capable, this Henry Big Boy Steel .357 mag would make a great first-time deer rifle and general all-around predator deterrent.
The Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy Steel Side-Gate lever action is a well-made piece of American craftmanship. Made in the USA by fellow, lucky, American workers. I am a huge fan of lever action rifles and a huge fan of Henry rifles and shotguns. The Henry’s are practical and high-quality firearms. They are very competitive in their pricing. At this writing they are the only production western lever actions being made in the USA under $1,200. The retail price listed below can be negotiated by your Henry Dealers. So, check this lever action out at your dealer and ask them for a price quote.
Henry Model H012GML Specs
- Action Type: Lever Action (Large Loop)
- Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Spl
- Capacity: 10 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 20 inches
- Overall Length: 37.5 inches
- Barrel Type: Round Blued Steel
- Rate of Twist: 1:16
- Weight: 7.00 pounds
- Receiver Finish: Blued Steel
- Rear Sight: Fully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
- Front Sight: Brass Bead
- Scope-ability: Drilled and Tapped
- Scope Mount Type: BB-RSM
- Stock Material: American Walnut
- Buttplate/Pad: Black Solid Rubber Recoil Pad
- Length of Pull: 14″
- Safety: Transfer Bar
- Best Uses: Target/Hunting/Large Game
- Embellishments/Extras: Swivel Studs, Side Gate
Henry Model: H012GML .357 mag
357 Mag 125 gr XTP® American Gunner®