This Old Gun

The Story of Me and My Henry Rifle

This Old Gun 2THE DUKE……not too many nicknames garner as much of a mental image as John Wayne’s. In my mind, Wayne was the walking, talking embodiment of the American Man. The swagger, the confidence, the fairness, and the rowdiness he portrayed on screen was almost patentable. So much of who we are or who become can be tied to the things that influenced us when we were young. I’m no different.

One of the other great icons of the western movies and, in many cases, the real western expansion, is the Henry rifle. There is a film called The Quick and The Dead (not the one with Sharon Stone), and the Henry Rifle premiered in this movie. McKaskel (The good guy) had his Henry from the war and never intended to use it on another person, but the bad guys with their Gallagher rifles had other plans. The movie came out in 1987 and I was about 8 or so and remember thinking, “that is what it must be like to get the best of the best.” So in my mind, The Henry Rifle symbolized the uncompromising best in American Firearms.

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Original 1860 Henry Rifle

Benjamin Tyler Henry had no idea who I was when he designed and produced the first Henry Rifles in 1860. Heck, I was over a century from being invented myself, but I always felt that the rifle spoke to me. When I came of age to purchase a rifle, the Winchesters were always on my mind. Mostly because The Duke used a Winny, but also because the Henry Rifle hadn’t been produced in my life time. Ultimately, I had to find my own way and the Winchesters just weren’t my thing; I never really lusted after them like I did the Henry. Then the prices on the vintage model Winchesters went berserk. Enter Anthony Imperato.

In 1996 Henry Repeating Arms began producing the H001 .22 Rifles. These rifles did not make it to my zone assessment for several years. I saw my first Golden Boy in 2001. I didn’t research the company or look into it very deep. I assumed they were another Italian or South American company using the Henry name without the Henry spirit. They looked well made, but that wasn’t enough to get me to stop judging the book by a presumed cover. If only I had gone into that shop a few months later and saw the next step for The Henry Repeating Arms Company.

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The Henry Big Boy 1st Generation rolled out in 2001. They were chambered in .44 Magnum which fits in with the original, as it was chambered in .44 rim fire. I ran across my first Henry Big Boy in 2003 while stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. At the time, I was almost completely focused on pistol shooting and the 1911 platform, but the Big Boy Henry turned my head enough to take a long look into the company.

The Henry Repeating Arms company was not what I so ignorantly wrote them off to be. They were, in fact, an American company producing firearms in America of the greatest quality with a warranty to match. I was almost shocked to find this out, but I knew right away that I had to have one. It took a decade before I was able to turn this wish into reality; however, “You usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for.” Craig Bruce.

After I separated from the service, finding work wasn’t quite as simple as I hoped, in part, due to the 2007 recession. The lack of good career choices led me to seek my Bachelor’s degree in 2010. I finished by BA in Political Science in 2013 and felt pride in the accomplishment for the first time since I left the military. I wanted to mark the occasion in a big way, and I could not think of any better way than by satisfying my desire for the Henry Big Boy in .45 Colt.

Now, after five years, it is time for my Henry to find its purpose in my collection. I am going to develop a 50 yard deer hunting load using a 250 grain hollow point bullet. So, follow along as we go through the load development process with this rifle; it’s sure to be a BLAST.

The Reloadin Room


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Measure In Grains
Measure In Grains

Wonderful read…. I was “8 or so” as well. If bylsome slim chance I ever got into casting.. I would probably go the same route. I have a Henry frontier…nice gun. In hindsight though if I were to get another lever gun that’s gonna be a big bore.

Loads of Bacon
Loads of Bacon

“If” I get into casting…..that really should say “when” I get into casting