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I have an old, deep-seeded love for the lowly rimfire. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there. Call it nostalgia from the tin can plinking of our youths or the joy of teaching a new generation our wonderful shooting sports, the .22 has ingrained it’s self into our culture. But that is not to say that the .22 is only for youth or can blasting. Henry has a couple of rimfire lever guns that are geared towards small game hunting. But have no fear, the are still a heck of a lot of fun.
The Henry Repeating Arms Company builds a lot of different lever guns for a lot of different purposes. They are even making a reproduction of their namesake’s rifle, The Original Henry Rifle. They’re dominating the rimfire lever-action scene.
Here are some specs on the Small Game Carbine:
- Model Number H001TMLP
- Caliber .22 Magnum
- Capacity 7 rounds .22 Magnum
- Stock American Walnut
- Length 33.75″
- Barrel Length 16.25″
- Weight 5.75 lbs.
- Sights Fully adjustable Skinner Peep Sight and brass beaded front sight
- M.S.R.P. $590.00
The Small Game series are also available in .22 Short, Long and Long Rifle and in a rifle length with a 20″ barrel. Other than caliber and length all of the lever guns are set up the same.
So what exactly makes this one a small game gun? Caliber is of course the biggest contributor. Shooting a squirrel with a .45-70 doesn’t leave much meat on the bone. Don’t ask me how I know this. Let’s just say that the .22 is more suited for this application.
But what else sets this rifle apart from its tin can busting brethren? It really comes down to the sights. These rifles are all set up with a nice and small peep sight from Skinner. This sight comes with a .096″ aperture that can be removed to make more of a ghost ring style sight. I personally prefer the smaller peep over a ghost ring. Couple the Skinner Peep with small brass bead front sight and you have a set up for some precision work.
If you’d rather have a scope, there’s a 3/8 scope rail on top of the receiver.
But there is a lot more to this long gun than just as a small game rifle. The 22 mag offers increased range but is still a a very soft shooting rifle. I am thinking about how this could be a great platform for teaching new and younger shoots some of the fundamentals of long range shooting. I am not talking super long ranges, but 100 to 200 yards would be possible. A 40 grain .22 mag is flat out to 100 yards and has about 6″ of drop at 150 yards. This would be a good way to teach hold-over and some of the theory behind ballistics. That whole gravity thing, it is really a downer.
We saw stellar accuracy from the 40 grain CCI Varmint rounds. Extraction and ejection were both strong and positive. We did have one failure to fire but that can easily be attributed to rimfire cartridges not being as reliable as centerfire. The firing pin strike on the misfire was nice and deep and not unlike the fired casings.
We ran our typical 500 rounds through the Henry Small Game Carbine without a hitch. After punching a few paper varmints, we took it into the woods. That’s where the carbine really excels. This is a great walk-around gun. And the flat shooting magnum rounds mean there’s no complex math involved for those estimated distances you find when you’re picking up random targets. That’s the es essence of plinking and of hunting–improvisational shooting.
The fit and finish on this Henry is very well done. The bluing is a deep glossy black and the satin finish on the walnut stock is well applied. The wood to metal fit is precise with no real gaps between them.
All of the rifles in the Small Game Series have an oversized lever loop. This is not one of the Hollywood loops that John Wayne made famous. Henry describes it as being made for cold weather to fit a gloved hand. It was in the 70s at the range so I didn’t try a gloved hand but I am sure it would fit.
One thing to note about the loop–it doesn’t act as a safety, at least not in the traditional sense. Many lever-actions have a safety that will keep the gun from firing if the lever isn’t squeezed down tight. The lever depresses a pin behind the trigger. This lever doesn’t even make it to the stock–it stops about 1/4″ shy.
The Henry Small Game Carbine is a shooter. The trigger pull was nice and broke around 2.3 pounds. The take-up was minimal, and predictable. The Skinner Sight and the front brass bead were pretty close to zeroed out of the box. With a little bit of adjustment we were able to get a little over an inch group at 100 yards off a rest and well under an inch from 50 yards. All of which are under minute-of-squirrel.
This is a great shooting little rifle that offers a little more pop than its 22LR brother. It was a fun rifle to run and would excel at its intended function, small game hunting. I mentioned it above and I am going to return to it here, I think this would be a great educational rifle. The peep sights are a great beginner tool as they instinctively center your eye on the front sight. Couple that with the light weight, quality construction and light recoil and you have a winner. And all Henry Rifles are made right here in the good old U.S. of A.