It must have been the cowboy movies.
Some were in color, some in black and white (yeah, that was really a thing). A few featured singing heroes – those were the ones my dad liked – while others, those I preferred, were grittier. In most the defender of good righted a wrong.
But all were similar in some ways.
The good guys all wore wide-brimmed hats and spurs, shot straight and generally came out on top, if sometimes with scars.
The Henry shotgun is a lever-action that looks and feels like a fine rifle.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures
And they all carried lever guns.
Oh, those lever guns. I loved them then and I love them now, from their look to the way they feel in the hand.
So when Henry Repeating Arms – which just celebrated its 20th anniversary — announced it had come out with a pair of .410 gauge lever-action shotguns, I couldn’t wait to try one.
It didn’t disappoint.
There are two versions: one with a 24-inch barrel, single front bead sight and the ability to accept various screw-in choke tubes, another with a 20-inch barrel, buckhorn sights and a fixed cylinder choke.
I tested the latter and boy was it fun.
The guns – both versions – are limited to shooting 2 ¾-inch shells. They load into the tube under the barrel by pulling out a rod and dropping them into a slot a few inches from the muzzle.
Like all Henry lever guns, this one cycled beautifully, feeding shells in and out without a single hiccup. That was true even when firing quickly, This gun has little kick, so it was easy to shoot it, work the lever and shoot again, five times in a row, all while keeping it on the shoulder, and still stay on target.
That was a blast, if a bit expensive (the empties pile up fast and furious and before you know it you need to buy more ammo).
It was accurate, too.
I ran No. 9 shot through the gun to see how it would pattern. Out to 20 yards for sure, and perhaps to 25, it performed well enough to think you could take squirrels and rabbits pretty consistently.
The version with the longer barrel might offer even more reach, though I can’t say for sure.
Neither model right now comes with a plug – some states require shotguns to have no more than three rounds while hunting – but Henry is reportedly working on that.
The gun did well firing slugs, too. At distances you might shoot, say, a compound bow, it consistently punched holes in 2-inch groups. You could surely take a deer with this at such ranges.
This gun’s also a winner when it comes to looks. It has an American walnut stock with checkering on the fore end and pistol grip. There’s a rubber butt pad, too. It’s pretty heavy duty, especially for a .410 with so little kick, but not ungainly. The lever itself has rounded edges so it’s easy on the hand.
Toting this gun around is easy, too. It balances well – right about at the midpoint, like you’d hope – and at 7.3 pounds is solid, but not too heavy.
There’s one consideration, though. Price.
The 20-inch barrel version retails for about $750, the 24-inch barrel version for about $800. They’re not necessarily overpriced – though if they were a bit less expensive, that would be nice – but before buying one, you should consider your reasons.
If you’re primarily interested in getting a .410 for a youngster, with every thought that they’ll outgrow it and move to something else, this isn’t the gun for you.
Some have suggested this would be a good “barn” gun, handy for shooting rodents and the like. But if all you want is a gun to lean in a dusty corner, there’s surely something plainer and cheaper.
But if you want a handsome shotgun, unlike most everything else you’ll find out there, that shoots just fine, this one is hard to beat.
And if it makes you feel a bit like a cowboy, well, that’s OK, too.
Learn more about the Henry shotgun
Want to check out all the specs on Henry’s two lever-action shotguns? See them here.