By Major Van Harl
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- I was trying to pass a brand-x lever action rifle on to the daughter.
When she went off to graduate school I sent along a couple of 38 Spl revolvers for social purposes. I had this lever gun in 357 mag and figured she could shoot 38 Spl ammo out of both the handguns and the rifle.
You know, the “old west” concept of only one cartridge for your long gun and your handgun. It is a frontier logistics thing.
The concept was fine until I crushed a finger this spring in a log splitter and injured other fingers in the process. Of course it had to be my right hand.
So I get the daughter to come out to the farm. My plan was to introduce her to the lever action 357 mag rifle. When you have a metal splint on your dominate hand and you are trying to load small diameter 357 mag cartridges into the loading gate of the brand-x rifle you do not function so well.
After finally getting the rifle loaded I found I could not get my splinted finger in the lever in order to cycle the rifle.
I looked at the daughter and told her if I had a Henry lever action rifle with a large loop lever I would not be constrained by the metal splint. Also I could simply twist the loading tube open and slide the cartridges into the rifle. Loading gates are a pain when you have a crushed finger.
To be honest I think I turned the daughter off on the idea of the brand-x rifle I was planning on sending her back to school with. In fact, she did not take it with her. Not to worry she does a have a shotgun just in case.
Back in 1976 I bought a “Made in the 200th Year of American Liberty” Ruger Blackhawk single action revolver in 45 Long Colt. Because the handgun is so well built and strong I hand loaded very warm ammo over the years for that Ruger, but I never had a lever action rifle in 45 Long Colt to pair the revolver up with.
Henry Repeating Arms has a Big Boy brass receiver lever action rifle that is chambered in 45 Long Colt. Add a replacement large loop lever for folks like me with splinted fingers and even with my temporary disability I would able to successfully load, work the lever action and fire the Henry Big Boy with accuracy.
Back in the olden days as the history goes, Colt came out with its 45 Long Colt, but because it was a proprietary cartridge Colt did not allow other gun manufacturers to chamber their firearms in 45 Long Colt. Unlike the successful combination of the 44-40 Winchester cartridge that was chambered in both a handgun and a lever action rifle, 45 Long Colt handgun owners could not match up a 45 Long Colt rifle with their handgun. The average American shooter wanted to be able to carry and use with ease, the same ammo in both firearms, but 45 Long Colt rifles were not developed for the 1870s-1890s commercial market.
Lever action rifles in 45 Long Colt are a relative new concept on the market. Henry Rifles worked overtime to get this venerable old cartridge into a modern lever gun that could handle high pressure ammunition.
The standard 45 Long Colt ammo that is sold on the market is manufactured to safely shoot in the many “weak” black powder era handguns that are still out there in modern shooter’s hands. You do not have to stick to the “weak” stuff if you have a Henry Big Boy chambered in 45 Long Colt.
Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore Ammunition (www.buffalobore.com) has developed 45 Long Colt + P ammo that will greatly enhance your Henry rifle and your matching Ruger Blackhawk handgun. His 3C 260 gr J.H.P. ammo moves out at 1450 FPS. If you need lead free 45 Colt ammo his 3G 225 gr Barnes XPB (bullet) is leaving the handgun at 1500 FPS. Mr. Sundles has a 3D 300gr J.F.N that reaches 1200 FPS. If you like a large lead bullet for your 45 Long Colt firearm then the 3A 325 gr HC LBT-LFN cruising at 1325 FPS, meets that need.
I have to admit I like Mr. Sundles’ 3K/20 260 gr Medium Cast HP-GC that is expelled from my Ruger handgun at 1500 FPS. However, the name of this ammo catches the eye, the 45 Colt + P Deer Grenade. Being an old soldier who on occasion has actually used a grenade I am drawn to the name of the ammo. Mr. Sundles makes Deer Grenades in 44 mag also.
Always remember when I quote the velocity of Buffalo Bore 45 Long Colt ammunition I am talking about handgun velocity. You can add an extra 400 to 500 FPS to any of the above rounds when you shoot them out of a Henry Big Boy rifle.
I am getting old, but I am not quite ready to put a scope on my lever action rifles, so I got a hold of Andy Larsson at Skinner Sights out in St. Ignatius, MT and ordered one of his very fine aperture / Peep Sights for the Henry Big Boy.
Pete Swanepoel of Safari Bwana, an African hunting guide company (safaribwana.co), advised me he has hunted with Mr. Larsson’s Skinner Sights in Africa numerous times. Taking large dangerous game up close where you might not want to lose sight of the animal aiming through a scope at 50 feet. The Skinner Sights let you keep an eye on the charging rhino.
Mr. Imperato at Henry Rifles likes the Skinner Sights so well that a number of Henry rifle models leave the factory with Skinner Sights already mounted on the new rifles.
The Big Boy brass 45 Long Colt rifle does not come with installed sling swivels and there is no way I am going to take a drill to the gorgeous wood that Mr. Anthony Imperato puts on his lever rifles. I am also not carrying a rifle all day in my hands because I do not have a sling. Brass Stacker has as very sharp looking harnessed rifle sling that is cut to fit close and offer great style for the brass Big Boy, but can be removed and does not scar the finish on the wood or the metal. The Brass Stacker sling does class up the act.
Due to old age and creaking bones on occasion I needed some other way to carry (other than a belt holster) my Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Long Colt when I take the Henry rifle to the woods. Chesthosters.com (chestholsters.com) made me a rig for carrying the big old Ruger on my chest that in fact really works for me.
I field tested the Chestholsters.com rig by wearing the Blackhawk 45 Long Colt revolver for 11 hours without taking the rig off once. After a while you forget the over 2 and a half pounds of handgun and spare ammo is riding on your chest. You just get on with your daily tasks. Comfortably armed but ready.
Some quick sewing skills on my wife’s part assisted me in adding two elastic cartridge holders onto the straps of the holster.
Logistics in the “woods” means never running out of ammo.
Evil could be standing by your truck as you walk back from a successful hunt. A couple of loose 45 Long Colt rounds in your pocket could come in handy some day.
A Henry Big Boy brass rifle, my old Ruger Blackhawk revolver riding in a Chestholsters.com rig, Buffalo Bore 45 Long Colt + P ammo, a Skinner Peep Sight and the Brass Stacker harnessed rifle sling, all add up to a excellent package for deploying into the hunting fields here in Wisconsin this deer season. There isn’t a white tail deer or a black bear in the Badger State that this combination could not stop.
Now if evil were to step into the way of the honest Wisconsin (or any other state) citizen I am sure the above grouping of “tools” would help stem the tide of that evil. Throw in my favorite Milwaukee Nail knife and the “package” is complete.
45 Long Colt is old but not an antique. With modern firearms and modern ammo the cartridge will still be used when my great grand-daughter inherits my Henrys.
Henry Repeating Arms has just announced that their 1860s Original Henry rifle will now be available in 45 Long Colt, along with the current 44-40 model.
Go hunt with your Henry rifle in 45 Long Colt and always have one eye open to evil’s ever presence.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]