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Sometimes we all need to slow down, take a deep breath and do something fun for a change. Gun folk can get a little worked up over what, or who, makes the best carry pistol, or if we should chose an AK or an AR to bury in the woods from when the feculent effusion contacts the unidirectional air current origination device. That is not even taking into account all of the worrying about the-powers-that-be in Washington and what they might be cooking up in regards to the 2nd Amendment.
We could all stand to have a little fun. Fun at the range, that is. I usually have fun at the range, no matter what I am working on. Running an AK with a bump stock until the forearm catches fire isn’t exactly the worst way to waste an afternoon. But what if you want a low-key, relaxing way to kick back? I may have found the perfect rifle for this, the Henry Pump Action Octagon.
Step Right This Way
“Hey folks! Step right on up and see if you are up to the challenge. Hit the targets and win a prize! Everyone is a winner… except the losers!” I wish there were still real shooting galleries at state fairs and carnivals. There are still the ones that are video games or lasers, but they don’t use real guns. It used to be a right of passage to try to win your gal a prize with your shooting skills at the fair, but those days are long gone.
I can recall seeing one when I was a kid. I have no idea where it was, but I remember the soft pop of the .22 shorts, the plinks of the bullets on the metal targets, and the sounds of bells and buzzers when someone scored a hit.
I wish my daughter could experience the awesomeness of a true shooting gallery. Hell, I wish I could too (and not by reminiscing about some fleeting memory from when I was 6). Now you could build your own, but that is a lot of work (but if you do, let me know). Or just get out and do some old-fashioned plinking. That is how I learned to shoot and I suspect that was the case for a lot of us. It is good to get back to your roots, back to where you once belonged. But we need a gun.
Faster Than Lightning
The Henry Pump Action Octagon Rifle is just the ticket for the shooting gallery theme. Though not all of them were pump actions, you may see these old guns referred to as carnival guns, parlor guns, saloon guns, gallery guns, or Flobert guns. Flobert was a 19th century French dude who invented a round that was (somewhat) safe to shoot inside. Rich people would set up indoor ranges in their homes. There were even indoor ranges at saloons. The round was hearing safe as it was little more than a percussion cap with a bullet on the top.
The Henry is reminiscent of the old Colt Lighting pump action rifle. The Colts were probably the most popular rifles used in the old shooting galleries. They were marketed and sold for this use when chambered in 22 short. The Henry is not an exact copy of the Lightning, but it is functionally the same. One of the main difference is in the loading. The Colts have a loading gate on the side of the receiver while the Henry loads through the top of the tube magazine.
Here are some specs on the Henry
- Action Type Pump
- Caliber .22 LR/.22 long/.22 Short
- Capacity 15 rounds LR, 22 Short
- Length 38.5″
- Barrel Length 19.75″
- Weight 6 lbs.
- Stock American Walnut
- Sights Adjustable rear Marvel, beaded front sight
- Finish Blued
- M.S.R.P. $550.00
Henry also offers this rifle in 22 Magnum with an MSRP of $590. Of course the magnum round is a bit much for our shooting gallery theme, but if it shoots and functions as well as the review gun, it would be a great option for those in the market for a 22 Magnum rifle.
Out of the box, the Henry feels good. It shoulders well and quickly. The semi-buckhorn rear sight is quick to acquire. The deep V allows you to find the front post in a hurry. The action was a bit stiff when I first worked it. After about 100 rounds it had gotten a lot better and continued to do so during the 500 or so I put through the Henry.
The fit and finish is well applied and executed. The receiver is made from an alloy with steel parts on the inside. There is no external safety on this Henry. There is a half cock notch on the hammer to keep it from resting on the firing pin if you needed to carry the rifle with a round in the chamber.
The action also locks, much like an Remington 870 shotgun. There is a release lever that will unlock it so you can eject a live round if need be. However, when you shift your grip to reach the lever with your trigger finger–look out. I was bitten a couple of times by the bolt coming back on my thumb. See the picture. I don’t recommend bleeding on your rifle.
Speaking of the action, this is what makes this rifle what it is. We do not see a whole lot of pump action rifles anymore. When I think of pumps, I usually envision the long stroke on a shotgun. That is far from the case here. The action on this Henry only travels a bit over 1 1/4 inches. Once the action loosened up a bit and with some practice I was able to keep the sights on target while cycling the gun. Of course the lack of recoil from .22 Shorts also helped. While it isn’t as effortless as the Evil Roy .22 lever-action Henry we ran a couple of months ago, it isn’t hard to master.
The Fun Part
So how does she shoot? Like a Shooting Gallery Champ! Or probably better, as I think some of those guns were less-than-accurate to prevent crack-shots from taking home all of the prizes.
Once the action loosened a bit I was able to work the action fast and still hit the target from 25 yards. I am not talking sub MOA shooting, but that is not what this is about. However, 2 inch groups from 25 yards off the shoulder is not impossible with this Henry. I am sure they could be a lot tighter off of a bench. The ejection is strong and throws the empty cases 6 or so feet to the right and slightly behind the shooter.
I ran a lot of different .22 ammo through the Henry Pump. There are some other .22 rifles on the market that claim they will shoot and feed .22 Shorts and Longs but will, in reality, only reliably function with .22 Long Rifle. The Henry ate .22 Short, Short CB, Long and Long Rifle cartridges without issue.
I was curious if accuracy would be diminished on the .22 Short. On a firearm chambered for .22 LR, there is a decent amount of space in the chamber for the Short to have to travel before it goes into the barrel where the bullet engages the rifling. I did not notice any difference in accuracy from any of the rounds. This was not a scientific test, though, to see if that is the case. There could very well be a bit of difference between them, and I sure there would be at distances over 25 yards. But remember, we are having fun! This little Henry is a lot of fun and might just be my new favorite plinking 22. And it is one hell of a sharp-shooting gun.
I like this gun. A lot. It is fun and a pleasure to shoot even if it did cut my thumb up. I shoot a lot. Between writing reviews and shooting for my own training and hunting, I sometimes forget how fun it can be. Remember your first .22 and the joy of blasting tin cans? I sure do, and thanks to Henry I felt like a kid again. Speaking of kids, if you have one on your Christmas list this year one of these Henry .22 pumps would be a great way to introduce them to this great sport of ours.