Henry Arms has just released their new Garden Gun.
This smooth bore .22 caliber lever action is for up close and personal.
I got a chance to test out the Henry Arms Garden Gun and here is what it can do.
During a trip to see my good friends at Silverado Arms I first laid eyes in person on Henry Arms new Garden Gun. This little lever action long gun is nothing like anything Henry Arms has manufactured before.
I knew exactly what it was for and how the next review would unfold before the first round was fired. This was going to be a lot of fun and I looked forward to stepping back to the barn for my “first hunt” with it.
So what happens when less is more is still too much gun? When European starlings, pigeons, rats and mice take up residence in your garden or barn what do you do? That is exactly what a Garden Gun is for.
What is a Garden Gun anyway? Well historically it is a small bore shotgun with a smooth bore that fires a very small charge of tiny lead shot. In Europe years back .22 caliber smooth bore cartridges were just the beginning. Sizes went up from there but here in the states the .22 smooth bore was all the rage quite awhile back. With many farms around and gardens pests abounded in destructive numbers. A quick shot at mere feet away will end a vermin’s theft of precious food for the livestock. Now a standard .22 bullet would make a nice hole beyond the targeted pest. That projectile might tag another farmer or Bessie the cow. Using a conventional shotgun? Well might as well hang a window in the big hole from the shot blast you just sent into the barn wall. Why not a BB gun or a pellet rifle? That ricocheting steel BB or pellet might take out a window, or your eye. It might also give your egg laying hen a lethal smack when it bounces off the chicken coop wall. What is needed is a tiny load of let’s say #12 lead shot from a .22 caliber cartridge. Now that would be a winning combination.
Problem solved right? Just head on over to the local gun shop and pick up a box of the ole tradition .22 rat shot right? Well not exactly. While you can safely fire the .22 shot cartridge in a rifle or pistol you run into a serious problem: the rifling in a traditional rifle or handgun spins the shot payload and essentially destroys the pattern. Widely spread patterns and even patterns with a “donut hole” of no shot hits present in the center are common place. Enter the smooth bore Garden Gun. Yes no rifling is present inside the barrel. A smooth bore then acts as a traditional shotgun, but instead with a tiny load of #12 lead shot. Building walls and roofs are now safe. Vermin pigeon size or smaller are now in danger anywhere within range of the smooth bore Garden Gun in your hands.
Various manufacturers load .22 shot (or rat shot) cartridges. In my previous testing in a vintage 1940’s era single shot Garden Gun I found the CCI 22LR Shotshell load of 1/15 ounce of #12 lead shot marked “1000 FPS” to perform the best. This is undoubtedly due to the blue plastic cap holding the shot instead of the more traditional crimped cartridges. The crimped loads tend to have more open patterns. Still they could be useful and possibly be priced cheaper. I would rather use the more quality cartridge given this occasion for the review. With a supply of the good CCI loads already present in The Classic Woodsman’s den the Henry Arms Garden Gun was going to get a thorough work out to say the least.
This Garden Gun will hold 15 shells and lay down lots of pest dropping firepower up close. The 18.5″ round blued steel barrel is combined with a black ash stock and forearm along with a plastic butt plate.
The black ash stock and forearm have a raised almost rustic look to them. I really like the looks and feel of that style and it really sets the Henry Arms Garden Gun apart from the conventional .22 lever action rifle at a quick glance.
The black finished receiver is grooved for a 3/8″ scope mount (maybe a small red dot scope would be a nice add on) and fully adjustable rear sight with a hooded front blade sight.
Overall length is 36.5″ and the weight is 5.25 lbs. Length of pull is a handy 14″ and the safety is a 1/4 cock of the external hammer. Now that’s how a safety should be without the annoying extra ones on other competitor’s weapons.
For testing I chose to fire at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 feet increments. One blast per target was the rule. This would give a good starting idea of how well the little shot shells pattern in this fast firing lever gun.
Stepping back to 20 feet I was still impressed with how many tiny shot pellets hit in a good cluster.
The last distance target I shot at was 25 feet away. At this distance lethal groups are still clearly there. Past that distance remember the ultra small #12 shot has lost more power but any vermin still will get pelted.