Terril James Hebert reviews the suppressed Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Threaded Barrel Rifle.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The firearms world is driven by trends. In recent years, getting a rifle or handgun that comes with a threaded barrel from the factory has become all the rage—and it should be.
Who doesn’t like to shoot quietly? No longer do we have to contract with a machinist to chuck that barrel on a lathe and turn some threads. We can get it right at the point of sale.
The lever action rifle market, thoroughly traditional in its appeal, is the latest to get this discreet but useful update. Henry Repeating Arms produces some fine lever guns and in 2017 they unveiled their Henry Frontier Suppressor Ready Rifle—a baseline for lever guns to come that are threaded in house.
Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Threaded Barrel Rifle – Suppressor Ready
The Henry Frontier has been around for a while now. What we have as a base is a 22 caliber lever action rifle that uses a heavy, blued octagonal barrel—that differentiates it from other models. The rifle has a straight gripped walnut buttstock and a checkered plastic buttplate. The fore-end is also of matching walnut and is secured by a steel barrel band. The iron sights consist of an adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight and a front beaded post. The aluminum alloy receiver uses a grooved top strap that allows for the mounting of an optic. The gun’s action has only a half-cock safety and running the gun is accomplished by running the lever loop down smartly then up. The extruded steel bolt pushes a round fed from the carrier via the tubular magazine into the chamber, lipping over the extractor. You are ready to go.
What makes the suppressor ready Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Threaded Barrel Rifle different is that the muzzle end has a knurled thread protector. It turns off, revealing ½ x28 inch threads for mounting a suppressor of your choice. The rifle’s barrel has been extended to twenty-four inches. Though there is little to gain ballistically with this barrel length, the primary benefit is loading. Like all tube fed 22 rifles, the magazine tube is pulled from under the barrel to load—meaning that on a normal rifle the suppressor would have to be taken off to reload. The longer barrel is only part of the fix for this issue. The magazine tube itself has been shortened to help. It holds ten rounds of 22 LR instead of the usual fifteen found on most Henry lever guns.
You will still have sixteen rounds of 22 Short on tap if you choose to go that route. If you opt for the 22 Magnum version, you will get eight rounds of ammo at the ready.
Shooting the Henry Repeating Arms Frontier Threaded Barrel Rifle – First Impressions
When I first laid my eyes on the Henry Suppressor Rifle, I thought it looked rather ridiculous when I fathomed putting a suppressor on such a lengthy rifle, a 22 LR rifle at that. It is essentially the same rifle as the Henry Frontier Long Barrel, whose only difference is that it has a normal fifteen-shot capacity and is not threaded. That was a good shooting rifle that had the cursory look of a buffalo rifle. The same can be said for the Threaded version.
The heavy octagonal barrel betrayed the pipsqueak round it fired. But overall, the build quality was very good. There was no perceived wood to metal fit gaps or loose parts. The action was as smooth as ice. Though I was never a huge fan of the alloy receivers on 22 rifles, they hold up well and it is well executed and finished with a black enamel on the Henry. The sights are utilitarian, but high profile. The semi-buckhorn rear sight might cover up too much of a target—a common criticism. But for a small game type rifle, these sights have and still work. While a little heavy in the hand, this rifle has a classic half-magazine style and I couldn’t wait to shoot it quietly—in my first foray into suppressed firearms.
Slinging Suppressed Lead
Given the time, energy, and money it takes to buy a suppressor in the United States, if I had to own one can—it would be built around the 22 rimfire rounds. The guns are economical and you don’t need to go through a boutique to get subsonic 22 caliber ammunition. The cans available in 22 are also the most economical and one can gauge the obvious benefits. A suppressed 22 is about as close as one could get to a firearm that is “Hollywood” silent.
With that said, I decided to start testing the threaded Frontier with a can right out of the gate. I came into my first test session with one hundred rounds of CCI Pistol Match ammunition. These 40 grain lead bullets are running at an advertised 1080 feet per second—at the threshold for the speed of sound. Why is that important? The crack of a gunshot comes from the bullet going faster than the sound barrier. Suppressors can hush up higher velocity rounds, but not as effectively as lower speed rounds. Though I wasn’t shooting a pistol or a match, these rounds would do well for the test.
After a bit of familiarity with the rifle, I unscrewed the knurled thread protector at the end of the octagonal barrel, threaded on an adapter to take the suppressor. Ordinarily, a 22 caliber can will screw right on the end of the muzzle, but the Yankee Hill Phantom 2 available to me is a 30 caliber can and needed an adapter to work. After twisting the can on the rifle, I proceeded to load.
Like all Henries, loading the tubular magazine is accomplished by turning the knurled magazine knob counter-clockwise and pulling out the brass magazine spring tube. Drop in ten rounds of 22 LR one at a time and then replace the tube. You can do this all without removing the suppressor, which was a real issue on suppressed 22 lever guns in the past as the tube spring would strike the can and there wasn’t enough clearance to get the tube out. The twenty-four inch barrel combined with a shorter, lower capacity magazine solves this problem.
From here, the rifle’s action can be closed and the hammer lowered on an empty chamber. For carry, I prefer to rack the lever action again and chamber a round, but let the hammer back to the half-cock safety position—a safety feature that is traditional and won’t insult your intelligence. With the rifle loaded, all you must do is cock that hammer or rack a fresh cartridge into the chamber.
I lined the semi-buckhorn rear sight with the thick beaded post and to my amazement I couldn’t see the sights over the target—a steel gong at fifty yards. A 22 caliber can would pose no problem—as the sights are high profile. But not high profile enough to use a heavier, thicker 30 caliber can. This has to do with accessories at hand than the rifle itself. So I sighted down the can and let the trigger break. I heard a satisfying clink of lead against steel. I racked the lever effortlessly and fired again. And again.
Despite being too big of a can, the Yankee Hill did a good job of killing the limited noise of the round going off. In fact, I could only hear the hammer falling on the firing pin. No crack. No noise except for when the bullet smacked into the dirt or the steel.
Shooting quietly is a lot of fun and all my ammunition functioned without a hitch. As a suppressed rifle, the Henry Frontier is down-right silent. But how good is the actual rifle itself? That took another range session and another two hundred rounds of CCI Pistol Match, Remington Golden Bullets, and Winchester Western ammunition to set the record straight.
On my next session, I set up my Caldwell Chronograph ten feet from the bench and aimed for velocity.
Brand Bullet Advertised Velocity Actual Velocity
Winchester 36 grain hollow-point 1280 1394
CCI Pistol Match 40 grain lead 1080 1019
Remington 40 grain plated lead 1280 1198
*Shots denoted in feet per second with an average of three rounds fired.
The CCI Pistol Match came in not far behind the advertised velocity, putting it safely in subsonic territory—hence no sonic crack. But the round is not so weak that you can’t use it on small game. There is a balance to be struck when choosing lower powered ammunition to get the most out of your suppressed firearm. Too weak and you lose performance and range on target, not to mention that the round may not have enough power to cycle the action. Since the Henry is lever action, you provide the cycling power and it will feed just about any ammunition regardless of power level. Like most 22 rifles,
At the bench from fifty yards, I found that Remington’s offering was most accurate. I could consistently get five rounds into a two-inch group from that distance. I found it moot to push the rifle any further than this because the front post sight is simply too think to put on a precise part of a bullseye, so a six o’clock hold under the target was needed. The range can be greatly extended with an optic mounted on the 3/8 inch dovetail on the receiver.
From the bench and firing rapidly off hand produced no malfunctions or misfires of any kind. The action remained smooth and accuracy remained consistent without any cleaning during my testing.
I tend to be lukewarm when it comes to Henry rifles, but I found the Frontier Threaded to be a slam dunk. Over its semi-auto competition, the long reload and traditional sights are its only handicap. Even when reloading is concerned, you still get a healthy capacity that won’t leave the plinker or varmint hunter under gunned. Aesthetically, the rifle is very well put together with the quality one would expect from Henry. The rifle’s handling lends itself well to off-hand shooting—if you are an adult. Accuracy is quite good for the bulky sights and those sights have the benefit of being high enough to see with a 22 can in the way. There are plenty of advantages to this platform that don’t bear repeating but suffice to say that the Threaded Frontier is one of the few suppressor ready rifles that has been fully thought out.
About Terril James Hebert
Terril Hebert is a life long hunter and firearm enthusiast from south Louisiana. His interests include custom muzzleloaders, military surplus firearms, and classic revolvers, as well as reloading. He likes to document his firearm adventures on the Mark3smle YouTube channel and he is also the author of the Devil's Dog series of novels.