Henry Repeating Arms just made the biggest lineup overhaul in its recent history. The US-based gunmaker now has loading gates on the receivers of all its lever-action rifles with steel receivers, including rifle and pistol calibres.
Traditionally, the vast majority of centerfire lever-action rifles have had their magazines filled by a loading gate on the side of the receiver. Shooters simply press the cartridges in, one after another, until the tube mag is filled. For the past few years, Henry’s been building centerfire lever-actions differently. Henry rifles use a tube mag that loads from the end, similar to rimfire rifles with tubular magazines. Twist the end cap on the tube mag, and remove the inner magazine workings. Then, you can drop the cartridges into the magazine one by one, replacing the magazine cap when it’s all done (see YouTube shootist Hickock45 demonstrate here).
There are advantages to this, as you can unload the rifle quickly, without working each shell through the action. However, shooters used to loading from the side of receiver (as you’d see on a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336) often found the Henry’s loading process awkward. Loading from the end of the tube mag was especially awkward if the shooter was trying to top up the magazine after firing a shot.
In 2019, Henry released some rifles with a hybrid loading system. These had a loading gate on the side of the receiver, as well as the end of the magazine. This is the best of both worlds, as it allows faster loading and easy top-ups through the side of the receiver, but also allows the shooter to quickly unload the magazine by dumping all the cartridges at once.
Now, that loading gate is standard across the entire Henry centerfire line on rifles with a steel receiver. The Big Boy, the All Weather and the Lever Action .410 come with loading gate on the receiver.
The brass-framed New Original models still have traditional-style Henry magazines that load from the end. This design has no removable inner magazine parts, as it’s mostly true to the original 1860 Henry action. Of course, Henry’s rimfire rifles still retain their end-loading magazine tubes.
Why the change? Henry’s president/owner Anthony Imperato said that “Ever since our fans and customers got a taste of a side loading Henry, the requests started rolling in immediately to include this feature on their favorite finish or caliber. These new models are going to make a lot of people very happy.”
At this point, we haven’t seen Canadian MSRPs or availability for these rifles and shotguns. See more details here.
Single shot changes
Along with the updated lever-action rifles, Henry also announced .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster calibres added to its single-shot rifle line. Henry also added a new single-shot 12 gauge slug shotgun, with fully rifled barrel and fibre optic sights. With H&R out of production for years, there’s definitely a market for these rifles and shotguns that can cleverly skirt hunting calibre restrictions in US jurisdictions. Even in Canada, the slug gun may find fans in areas with bans on rifle hunting.