I stopped by to see my friends at Silverado Arms Ltd. and picked up possibly one of the toughest big game lever action rifles on the market. One look at this beautiful all business hunting rifle and I was in love. What this all made in America rifle deserves and needed was range time and ultimately rough weather hunting for big game.
First things first let’s check out the features of this big bore lever action rifle.
The rear sight is a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn with a diamond insert. Did I mention this rifle is chambered for the old school big bore blaster the .45/70 Government Cartridge? Whether using old school loads or the modern dinosaur stoppers there’s a lot of power in each shot. This rifle holds four cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber. That is a whole lot of insurance in a quick lever gun.
The receiver finish is Industrial Hard Chrome Satin and the round barrel is Hard Chrome Plated Steel. That combination allows weather repelling performance without the bright shine of traditional hard chrome application. As witnessed in the below picture it just blends in well without any bright shiny color that may alert wary game.
The barrel length is 18.43″ long and has a Rate of Twist of 1:20. The overall length of this 7.08 lbs. rifle is a handy 37.5″ long. In a thicket this boom stick will be quick to maneuver in a hurry.
At home in the rough elements this All-Weather rifle makes rain, sleet and snow look good!
The stained hardwood stock is heavily sealed against the elements. There is no checkering on the stock or forearm. This in my thoughts keeps mud and other debris from packing into those little crevasses causing cleaning issues like those of checkered gun stocks.
Check out that large loop for the lever. Using heavy gloves or mittens now isn’t a problem when temperatures plummet. The length of stock pull is at a correct 14″ and sling swivel studs allow for sling carry when dragging that big buck back to camp. Check out that beautiful wood grain hiding just under that dark weather proofing stain and finish.
The butt plate is adorned with a very functional black ventilated rubber recoil pad. When using the modern heavy kicking .45/70 loads your shoulder will certainly thank you.
On an foul weather hunting rifle open sights will never fog up at the worse possible moment. If you do prefer an optic that can be accomplished easily since the top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for using a Weaver 63B scope mount. The choice is ultimately yours.
The traditional tube loading feature is still there on the All-Weather Lever Action Side Gate Rifle. I personally prefer it after a day’s hunt to unload the rifle quickly without the need of cycling live cartridges through the action. The competitor’s rifles are only able to unload that way and a slip of a finger on a trigger might leave a big problem to say the least. Long live the traditional tube feed option, there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.
The brass bead on the front sight allows positive and quick identification against a game animal or target. Check out the business end of that cavernous bore!
Notice the clean lines with no cross bolt safety that clutters competitor’s rifles? Well that is all due to the Transfer Bar Safety that allows the hammer only to contact the firing pin when the trigger is pulled. No drops or hard knocks will set this rifle off. Also, there are not those lawyer ordained safeties that get in the way of fine performance. Now that is a big plus in my game getting and range time fun play book.
A couple days after receiving the Henry Arms All-Weather Lever Action Side Gate .45/70 Rifle I braved the frozen Ohio tundra and function tested at 6 degrees Fahrenheit in a strong wind. First I loaded a full magazine load of four rounds through the side gate. As fast as I could I cycled them out ejecting them onto a handy dry tarp. I did this test twice. I then did the same test but loading from the magazine tube itself. Once again, all of the cartridges cycled through smooth and in quick succession. Everything looked good so it was live fire time. I picked various leftover cartridges from previous range trips and reviews for this test. One of the targets was an old empty thick metal canteen placed at 25 yards away at my buddy’s backyard range. I felt my preliminary shots should be two clicks up on the rear elevation. The first two shots made an absolute mess out of the canteen at that adjustment. Now that’s the power of the venerable .45/70 cartridge!
While I fired at other targets the metal canteen’s destruction by far was the most impressive.
Until the weather warmed up and the local gun club road was plowed this was the best I could do during Ohio’s mid-winter storms.
Less than a week later after watching the weather reports I saw a glimmer of hope. It was a balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit one morning without any wind or snow fall. The gun club range road was plowed and all was good! What better way to test out an all weather rifle than test it in freezing cold right? When the sun came out after I set up my targets I knew I was in for a treat. Bright sun glare off of snow is not the right combination for precision groups for rifle shooting. Well, this is not for competition but to show in inclement hunting conditions what this all weather rifle would be up for. The northern woods are known well for days like this one, and for this range trip the weather was almost pleasant compared to what it has been and what was coming in for the next couple weeks. Deep snow and sub-zero temperatures were at my heels. The ultimate test would be now for distance shooting.
With a large sheet of paper set behind a 12″ circle target out at 100 yards away on the backstop I bedded my rifle in my trusty vintage Boyt gun rest. Ammunition I was using was the previously reviewed Buffalo Cartridge Company Deer Dropper .45/70 300 Grain Jacketed Hollow Points. The first shot was low and to the right. With an rear sight elevation adjustment the second was at the correct height. I adjusted the rear sight for windage by loosening the small set screw and tapping the base with a brass punch just a nudge in the correct direction. After tightening the set screw and firing the third shot I was on target and directly under the bullseye too. Now that satisfaction is what I was looking forward too. Squinting through the snow glare at the small target fully covered by the front sight bead I carefully squeezed off the best shots I could under such conditions in slow succession. The resulting 5 shot group would have been all within a buck’s vitals at that range and was at the widest 5.75 inches. Was it the rifle’s fault for the wider group? No, it was admittedly the shooter’s fault and I am not bashful about stating that fact. The human factor in inclement conditions will not necessarily give a straight shooting rifle the fairest shake. Remember though, this is a foul weather rifle and it is being tested in those conditions and not on a pleasant spring morning with a scope mounted. Winter in Ohio is when deer gun season is, and that is when this rifle will be in it’s true brutal elements. The real world results are actually up to you. This will determine how well you can physically shoot in such conditions when using a rifle that can far exceed your shooting abilities on even a pleasant day.
Another target I fired at was with the Hornady Lever Evolution 325 Grain FTX .45/70 cartridges. Interesting enough the shots just touched the bottom of the target, a full 6 inches low of the Buffalo Cartridge Company Deer Dropper loads. Since they were off the target a group was not achieved but for reference I figured I would add that occurrence in case that is your favorite load as many deer hunters prefer. When switching loads always sight in your rifle for the new load and never guess it will shoot to the same spot as the previous load did.
With the testing complete just in time before a major winter storm hits I can sit down and tell you what I honestly think about the Henry Arms All-Weather Lever Action Side Gate Rifle. First off I love the smooth action I have come to expect from all Henry lever action rifles. I also feel the addition of the side gate feature while keeping the classic tube feed feature was a brilliant decision. What about the All Weather finish on the stock, barrel and receiver? I feel the satin no gloss finish is perfect to keep the rifle corrosion free and out of the vision of wary game. The rubber butt pad soaks up the heavier kicking .45/70 loads. The semi-buckhorn sights are perfect for shots at deer in rough weather when scopes would fog and are quick to find when moments count. Handling this short quick action lever gun is nothing short of fantastic. Paired with my favorite (Ohio deer legal) and powerful big bore cartridge the mighty .45/70 cartridge anything from deer to the great northern bears (not in Ohio) would be properly served. My only regret is Ohio’s deer gun season is over until next November so that part of the testing will have to wait until then. In testing I found nothing that I honestly would change in this hard use rifle.
If the last paragraph wasn’t enough positive attributes of the rifle I have one more. Henry Repeating Arms are all built in America by American men and women who are expert craftsmen. The pride of owning such a proudly built weapon whether for target shooting, hunting or collecting just has to be experienced. Henry Repeating Arms will certainly put a smile on your face and will become instant heirlooms to generations follow us.
Be sure to check out all of the classic Henry Repeating Arms and the exciting new offerings that are available to see on the Henry website. They certainly offer something for everyone.