The Henry Repeating Arms H001 Classic Lever Action .22 Caliber Rifle

Thanks to Henry, the western lever action rifle is back and here to stay.

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No discussion of ANY Henry firearm would not be complete without first explaining what a truly unique and marvelous company Henry Repeating Arms is. This is because of one man-Mr. Henry Imperato-Chairman of Henry Repeating Arms.

Mr. Imperato is an unabashed patriot and ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, who takes personal pride in the daily operation of his company. If you have a problem with a Henry firearm- which is unlikely-you may find yourself communicating via email with Mr. Imperato himself.

Mr. Imperato and his company is single handedly responsible for the resurrection of the .22 lever action rifle as a significant player in a world dominated by semi-automatics and bolt actions. And it all started with the H001 Classic Lever action-the subject of this review.

In 1996 when Henry began its operation, the western style lever action .22 rifle was all but dead as a rifle of choice among new shooters. The main western .22 rifles available on the market were the Marlin Model 39A (which was the first gun I ever shot) and the Winchester 9422-but neither are in production today. They just weren't as popular in the "post TV Western" era, and they were expensive in comparison to other .22 rifles then available. Then the Henry H001 hit the market and the western .22 lever action rifle was reborn!

Henry Rifles are "Made in America or not made at all", and their ownership imparts a sense of pride-if not a bit of awe. I found out why when I tested the H001 Classic five years ago, and added that test rifle to my collection. It was simply too good to let go.

What one first notices about the Classic is that it is equipped with a traditional WALNUT straight stock and splinter forend-which is as western as it gets. The beautiful walnut stock sets the tone for the entire gun and tells you that the Classic is a special rifle. It makes the Classic a gun that you want to shoot-and take care of! It is a potential heirloom rifle.

The Classic features a black alloy receiver and an 18 1/2 inch round blued steel barrel. Weight is 5.25 pounds-which makes it wonderful to carry and handle. Loading is accomplished through the tubular magazine-which can hold 17 rounds of .22 LR or 21 rounds of .22 Short. If you have some .22 Longs laying around, it can shoot those too! The Classic features side ejection, and the receiver is grooved for mounting a scope. It comes with a hooded front sight and ladder type adjustable rear sight.

The action of the Classic .22 Henry-like all Henry lever actions-rimfire or centerfire-is unparalleled in smoothness. As much as I loved that gorgeous 1950's era Marlin 39 that I first fired (and that my brother now owns), it is still not as smooth as the Henry Classic .22. When working at Vance Outdoors I watched people test cycle Henry .22 rifles in the store for the first time. Usually I heard the word "wow" while they tested it.

One of the many things I love about all Henry Lever guns is their LACK of an additional safety! These redundant safeties ruin the aesthetics of lever action rifles manufactured by other companies. Instead, Henry uses an automatic 1/4 Cock internal safety that is more than sufficient on all its lever actions. It meets modern safety standards without sacrificing traditional western looks.

The trigger on the Classic is crisp, and conducive to developing fine accuracy. As a starter gun for the new shooter, a manually operated repeater like the Henry Classic excels. When loaded up with .22 Shorts in particular and fired from the prone, it allows the new shooter to remain in position through a long firing string and more importantly, to focus concentrate on each shot rather than blazing away as they might on a semi-auto. However, the slick lever operation also allows for great rapid-fire fun when the time comes. It should please shooters of all ages.

I realized during the "great .22 LR ammo shortage" a few years ago that I could keep my Henry well supplied throughout since a manual .22 will cycle standard velocity or target ammo just as well as it cycles the high speed stuff-something which can't be said of the highly popular AR15 type .22's. A manual .22 repeater is essential to any survival battery.

Check out the Classic at the Vance Outdoors Obetz gun rental counter. You will be in for that same pleasant surprise that I had when I fired my first shots.

Thanks to Henry, the western lever action rifle is back and here to stay.