Henry Big Boy Carbine .44 Mag. – Classic Looks & Ranch Rifle Function – Full Review

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The Henry Big Boy Carbine in .44 Mag. is a powerful and capable modern-day lever action with a lot of classic charm.

For more information, visit Henry Repeating Arms.

To buy a Henry Big Boy Carbine on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Henry%20Big%20Boy

The octagon barrel is a nice classic touch.

The octagonal barrel of the Henry Big Boy is a nice, classic touch.

Henry Rifles have been around since 1860, but this rifle bears very little resemblance to the original. Other than having a brass-colored alloy frame and, of course, being a lever action, this is a completely different animal. Actually, the action on The Henry Big Boy Carbine has more in common with a Marlin. These are not bad things, and from a functional and useful perspective, they are very good things. The Original Henry Rifles were quirky and that is part of its historic charm. If you would like to read more about the New Henry Original you can find a review I wrote with my father at this link.

The Pistol Caliber Carbine

Also comes in 44 Colt and .357 Mag/38 Special. Some tired and true pistol calibers.

While the author tested the Big Boy in .44 Mag., it also available in .45 Colt and .357 Mag./.38 Special.

There is nothing new about a pistol caliber carbine. As soon as reliable cartridges were being made, manufacturers and consumers were looking for a good pistol and rifle combination. Take a look at two iconic guns that came to market in 1873: A lever gun from Winchester, which was an evolved original Henry, and the Colt Single Action Peacemaker. It didn’t take long for Colt to start building revolvers that would chamber the Winchester cartridges.

So other than the convenience of only having to carry one type of ammunition, is there really any significant usefulness of the pistol caliber carbine? I say “yes,” when it is used within its limitations. These are not going to be a reach-out-and-touch-someone at long distance rifles. But, they are great at 150 yards or less and will hit hard at that distance and do so in a compact package with low recoil.

The Henry Big Boy Carbine

Henry offers the Big Boy Carbine in three chamberings. They are available in .44 Mag., .357 Mag. and, .45 Colt. The .44 Mag. and .357 will both also chamber the .44 Special and .38 Special, respectively. Other than caliber, the Big Boy Carbines are all pretty much identical. The all have an MSRP of $899 but will be found for less in stores. Here are the specification on the .44 Mag. Henry Big Boy Carbine, which is what the review gun is chambered in.

Marbles Buckhorn Sights, they are adjustable.

The rifle comes with adjustable Marbles buckhorn sights.

SPECS

  • Caliber: .44 Mag./.44 Special
  • Barrel: 16.5 inches
  • OA Length: 35 inches
  • Weight: 7.76 pounds
  • Stock: American Walnut
  • Action: Lever-action
  • Finish: Brass-colored receiver, blued steel
  • Capacity: 7
  • MSRP: $899.95

Function

Obviously, a rifle that looks good, and sounds good on paper also has to function to be worth its salt. The review Henry Big Boy Carbine is a pleasure to shoot. The recoil is mild even with the magnum loads, and the Marbles sights are easy to get on target, especially with the contrast of the front brass bead.

The cap on the loading tube turns and pulls up to allow loading.

The cap on the loading tube turns and pulls up to allow loading.

Loading the Henry is a little different and can be a bit of a pain until you get used to it. When Winchester added the side loading gate to the lever action rifle, the stars, planets and universe aligned, dogs and cats moved in together and Congress got along and passed meaningful legislation. Okay, that is a bit of a stretch but it was the best improvement to happen to the lever gun since, well, the invention of the lever gun.

But the Henry does not use the side-loading gate. It does give you a cleaner and smoother looking profile on the receiver than a rifle with side-loading gate. The Henry instead uses the tubular magazine under the barrel, but it loads from the muzzle end by twisting and pulling up the brass tube and plunger. It is a simple enough operation but when pushing the plunger tube back down after loading it can catch on a cartridge rim. With a bit of wiggling and pushing, the tube will pass. It is quirky and slower than a side loader but is still functional.

In the Field

This is a gun that belongs in the field. A bit heavy, it weights about a pound more than a 94 Winchester, but not so heavy to be cumbersome. Especially in .44 Mag, the Henry Big Boy Carbine would make a great brush gun. I am talking about thick underbrush whitetail hunting in the South and other places where your shots will be under 100 yards and more like 40 at the most. And also where those shots will be through brush and briars that are more likely to deflect a lighter bullet.

The Henry Big Boy Carbine. It's short, like a carbine.

The Henry Big Boy Carbine. Note the traditionally styled, brass-colored frame that matches up nicely with the blued steel and the American walnut stock set.

This rifle, in .44 Mag., could also be a contender in bear country. A 240-grain Federal Hydra Shock is moving about 1,650 feet per second out of a 16.5-inch barrel. That is right at 1,400 ft-lbs.of energy from the muzzle. Not too shabby. Especially when you have 7 more rounds on tap if you are carrying one in the chamber.

At the Range

I averaged about 1725 f/s with the Hornady.

I averaged about 1,725 feet per second with the Hornady ammo.

This is not really a range rifle. I do not mean that in a negative way, but this is not the type of rifle that is fun to poke holes in paper with from 100 yards. For one, working the lever when it is in a sled in a royal pain. But that aside, it is capable of respectable groups. From 100 yards, with the stock iron sights, I was able to wring groups just under 2 inches. Of course, the hole a .44 projectile leaves in a target is almost a half inch. The bottom line here is that this rifle is more than capable as a short-range, hard-hitting carbine. That is what this rifle is meant to be and it delivers that. And 2 MOA is still well within the kill shot zone on a whitetail at 100 yards.

Thoughts

The not so new, but newer than the original brass framed Henry, action open.

The not so new, but newer than the original brass framed Henry, action open.

It is pretty easy to see that I like this rifle. I am a confessed lover of things that are old and things that are nostalgic of old things. This is what the Henry Big Boy Carbine is. It is not really an historic firearm, but it has some looks of one with a more modern (ok, it isn’t that modern) action. It does have its quirks, the loading being the biggest one. The side-loading gate is the easier to use of the two loading systems. But remember that the iconic “Gun That Won The West” is now made in the East. If you want a new, well-made, American-made lever gun, Henry is where it is at.

Bolt back, coking the hammer.

Bolt back, cocking the hammer.

Ejection port.

Ejection port shown with action open.

The brass bead makes the front post stand out on the rear sight.

The brass bead makes the front post stand out on the rear sight.

Closer look at the rear Marbles sight.

Closer look at the rear Marbles sight.

Brass buttplate.

Curved brass buttplate on the walnut buttstock.

Walnut stock.

American walnut stock of the Henry carbine.

Large lever loop on the Big Boy Carbine, good for gloved hands or playing John Wayne.

Large lever loop on the Big Boy Carbine, good for gloved hands or playing John Wayne.

The brass band is a nice touch against the blued barrel and walnut.

The brass band is a nice touch against the blued barrel and walnut handguard.

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{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Billybob January 9, 2017, 11:57 pm

    Jersey Company Henry is to DUMB TO OFFER THREADED BARRELS !

  • JD January 9, 2017, 9:12 am

    I registered a Big Boy mares leg as a SBR because I wanted to duplicate the look of the old trapper models. Henry sold me the rifle stock with all the hardware for $75 delivered which was an unbelievable deal. To add to the authenticity of the trapper I added a set of Skinner Black Gold sights and it’s become one of my favorite rifles to beat around the woods with. 44mag out of a 12″ barrel returns very acceptable velocity, even better than the 16″ does.

  • JR January 5, 2017, 12:39 am

    Bought a Henry Big Boy .44 Mag 12″ Barrel Sawed off Stock, today, My first Henry, My first 44 Mag…
    JR Hooker

  • Lloyd Dumas November 18, 2016, 6:11 am

    Between my son and I we proudly own three of these works at art, a 22LR, a 22Mag and a 44 Big boy they are all golden boys so we have bragging rites. The 44 is the 16 inch barrel with the large loop. I hope Henry never change anything, I love the tradition they have kept also the quality and commitment they have made to their customers, if they made changes other than quality I would not buy them. If people want all the fancy working stuff that do not work let than go buy a Marlin. Keep up the good work Henry, hold fast to tradition.

  • Roy Heape August 8, 2016, 10:08 pm

    I own 3 Henry’s. .357 Bigboy, .17 cal. And a .22. I Invision all 3 being shot by by Grand Kids someday. Works of art, that are just fun to shoot.

  • Carroll Earl Griffin July 6, 2016, 4:15 pm

    Your .22 Lever gun is a great tool to use in training my Grand Daughter on. I’m happy to see you branch out with your detachable box magazine LONG RANGER. With this you will start taking some of BROWNING’s Business away from them. Hope you include some long action calibers in that line such as .30-06 in the not two distant future. I’m saving up to purchase BLR 81 in .30-06 but I would prefer a HENRY LONG RANGER. Keep up the good work. America needs your products more each day.

  • Joe s July 5, 2016, 9:11 pm

    I have a Henry in 22 magnum, and it is nice. I imagine the buckhorn rear sight is for authenticity, but I would rather have a peep sight, or a rear vernier sight that I will add anyway. The bluing leaves a bit to be desired as it seems painted on and doesn’t really look blued. Oddly I have several Marlins, two in 45-70, and one in 44 magnum that matches my ruler 44 mag pistol. Convenient for running about mounted, or even walking about.

  • Joe Latino July 5, 2016, 5:38 am

    This rifle needs a pistol grip.

  • Larry July 4, 2016, 6:16 pm

    Maybe a .357 as a compromise. Cheaper ammo, higher velocity, less drop? Not as good a brush gun, but not a bad all-around caliber either….

  • Roe elkins July 4, 2016, 4:24 pm

    I love all three of my Henry they shoot very good with no problems

  • Why should I have to fill out the makers of my underware to comment July 4, 2016, 11:45 am

    A brass receiver for a magnum cartridge. Not very smart.

    • Adam July 4, 2016, 12:58 pm

      You know the bullet goes in chamber made of steel, right? Im sure they put 10-15 minutes of testing into it.

    • Troll Hunter July 4, 2016, 4:53 pm

      First, it’s spelled underwear. Second, every forum requires registration, get used to it.

      That said, the cartridge is fired from the rear of the barrel, which is steel, in an area called the “chamber”. Learn about guns before you post your ignorance all over the internet. Even so, a box of “brass” for a receiver, especially one with side-eject, is PLENTY for a magnum HANDGUN round.

      FYI, people have been making guns, mortar, and cannon out of brass for hundreds of years. AND if you did your homework you’d realize the “brasslite” used by Henry is an alloy, not solid brass… not that it would matter, either.

      The only thing “not very smart” on this post is you, sir.

    • Michael D. Geiger July 5, 2016, 2:57 am

      You need to research the rifle and material used before you make remarks about something you obviously know nothing about.

  • Frank p pierce July 4, 2016, 11:33 am

    I would like to buy one .

  • Ed July 4, 2016, 11:29 am

    I too love the Henry brand rifles. I got my wife a golden boy for Christmas two years ago. We all liked how smooth it was and how accurate and fun to shoot it was. This last Christmas, she bought me the Big Boy in .44. I love it.

  • Wheelspinner July 4, 2016, 11:15 am

    If “the action has more in common with a Marlin” why not save some money and get the Marlin. They been around forever and make a really nice lever action pistol round rifle. I know I got one……saved enough to buy several hundred rounds of ammo. I wanted a Henry. Still do. But money is tight on fixed income. If I ever find a nice used Henry…..priced right I’ll be the first one standing at the counter. Seems lately that S&W, Springfield, Kimber and Sig are pricing themselves out of my range.

    • Sam July 4, 2016, 1:13 pm

      Why not buy a Marlin? Because their current workmanship can’t hold a candle to a Henry. Neither can their customer support since Freedom Group put Marlin under Remington’s wing.

  • DocRoy July 4, 2016, 10:31 am

    I love Henry lever action rifles. They are made in the USA and I had trouble with a Henry 22 once. I called, they said send it in. I did and they returned it as good as new. I have purchase several Henry’s since and they are reliable, accurate and fun guns to shoot.

  • Homer July 4, 2016, 6:19 am

    To bad Henry can’t even offer a threaded barrel or even a take down !

    • Dave Hicks July 4, 2016, 10:24 am

      Homer That take down rifle is a good idea. Why not write or email the company about it.I’m going too . I own 2 of their lever guns and would buy a take down.

  • Jay Andre July 3, 2016, 8:44 pm

    If you want a lighter weight Henry .44 get the Big Boy Steel like I have. It’s 1lb less, at 7 lbs. And I personally will take a tube fed rifle over a loading gate any day!! All you need to do is make a simple brass speed loader for any caliber you own. I have 10 for my .44 magnum, and 16, for my .22 magnum. I carry them in a Plano arrow quiver.

    • Carroll Earl Griffin July 6, 2016, 4:25 pm

      I like the speed loader idea. Exactly what do you make them out of, and how do you plug up the ends?

    • Mike Candella September 19, 2016, 9:51 am

      @Jay Andre. Jay, where could I buy such a speed loader in 44magnum cal.?

    • Phillip January 21, 2017, 10:40 am

      How would you make a simple speedloader?

  • Shawn Hedrick July 3, 2016, 5:51 pm

    I like all the Henry Rifles and love the idea of having one ammunition to fit pistols and rifles no confusion for my wife to load in case of emergency 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  • Franklin R. Gutheridge July 3, 2016, 4:40 pm

    I have a 44mag. Love but think I,ll, get a 357 for my wife.

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